Monday, May 17, 2010

Taking A Break From All Your Worries

If this sounds like a love letter to Joe's Pub, then so be it.

I hadn't planned to stop by the Pub Friday night, so I didn't have any pens or paper with me, but Arati and Caro were only in town for the weekend and Bernie and Laura wanted them to see the place. So, finding ourselves in the neighborhood, we slipped in for a quick visit, just to show the folks from out of town where we spend so much time.

And that's where we encountered PJ Morton and the people who love him.

We took our place up in the booth just about the time his first set was ending, so we were there at Last Song and Encore Time--a song called, "I Need You" which echoed the build of Prince's Purple Rain until switching gears seamlessly into a sing-along cover of the Theme from Cheers which in turn became an impromptu gospel workout.

I borrowed a ball point pen from Kevin and started drawing on the back of an equipment-inventory sheet.

A few days earlier I had asked Sara and Alex what was coming up soon on the Pub calendar that was an absolute Do-Not-Miss. They both rolled their eyes, sighed and complained that everyone always wants to know that and that there's so much potential for amazing every night, there's so much that they look forward to booking and sharing, that it all sort of blends together. They didn't mention PJ Morton, but he was exactly the sort of thing they weren't talking about.

Alex and Sara have what we call "Good Problems."

Bernie, Laura, Caro, Arati and I had intended to stay just for the last couple of songs, but we remained where we stood (and Lauren joined us) for Morton's late show. It would have been impossible to leave, to step out on a show that built to that type of finish. The crowd was testifying and texting, singing along and sending pictures to people who were missing it.

"I want you to know my name!" declared PJ Morton as he worked his way from I Need You into the Cheers theme for the second-set crowd.

A choir that had been a crowd responded in song.

I'll tell you what.

PJ Morton played a set so good at Joe's Pub, he made me use a ball point pen.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Clare and the Reasons, last night at Joe's Pub.

It's been a while, I know, but I moved studios, Laura and I moved apartments, I went through all my stuff and packed it and then I unpacked it; except for the stuff I got rid of, the stuff I left behind, the stuff that was part of my life but isn't now. Because you can't keep everything if you want to live in New York City. Especially when you're trying to fit two lives in to one apartment.

I used to put a lot of arrows in my drawings. I thought they were neat.

I thought they were an interesting way to add movement to a drawing. Plus, they're sort of a challenge to draw free hand, to get good and pointy and to get the proportions right.

Then Kimberlee told me they weren't neat and she didn't like them and I realized she was probably right. Plus, they were a pain to draw, to get them nice and pointy, to make the proportions work and stuff.

Besides, frankly, they were a cheat.

I was drawing a lot of dancers at the time and, as a graphic representation of motion, well, arrows were a pretty clever cheat. Still, when it came down to it--and either Kimberlee knew this or she just had a thing about arrows--there were better ways to draw movement and I would figure them out.

So, I used to really like to draw arrows, but I don't anymore and I don't miss them.

Last night, Clare and the Reasons ended their set at the Pub with their cover of That's All by Genesis.

I used to love Genesis.

Back in college, I used to love Genesis.

I saw them live in concert a few times and I remember thinking--when the album with That's All came out--that I didn't like Genesis as much as I used to, that That's All wasn't a very good song and Genesis wasn't a very good album and I probably started listening to REM or 10.000 Maniacs about then.

Last year, when I first heard Clare and the Reasons' version of That's All, I grinned from ear to ear because they had found something wonderful in a song I hadn't much cared for and they had turned it into something truly special.

As far as I'm concerned, Clare and the Reasons now own That's All. (Although, I bet Banks, Collins and Rutherford charge them something for the privilege.)

Now, I liked Clare and the Reasons from the first time I heard them a few years ago singing Pluto, their song about how we got rid of Pluto, decided it wasn't a planet we wanted to keep and tossed it. I like how they said the New York Times reported it and so it was true, but that Pluto shouldn't take it so hard.

It was a great song and I made everyone listen to it. I put it on mix CDs and stuff at the end of that year and gave it to folks and told them it was one of my favorite songs from the then last 12 months.

Right now, I think Clare and the Reasons are better than Genesis. There. I said it.

Also, last night, in honor of their new album, Arrow, Clare and the Reasons wore shirts with silver arrows and jeans with a black tape arrow which meant I got to draw arrows for a reason other than cheating. And that's new.

There's all this stuff we carry with us in life, and there's all this stuff we leave by the wayside and there's all this magic sitting in places you never expect to find it. Arrows can be direction markers or shortcuts, always pointing us one way or another. For good or bad, that's what they do. We can obey and go where they say. We can try to draw them like we know where they should aim. Or we can aim to move forward like a perfect point at the end of a line and hope for the best.

That's all.