Sunday, July 18, 2010
Summer vacation has meant music and travel again. On the first day I headed to Jim Thorpe, PA to see Todd Snider, then home for a day before heading out on my bike for the Great Blue Heron Festival (see July 2009 to the right) and most recently to New York City and Montclair, NJ. Natalie Merchant, an old companion who used to sing on the school bus back in Westfield (New York that is) was opening her US tour in the current town of other friends from Westfield, Sue and Brian Collins. Natalie is promoting her new album, Leave Your Sleep which features over 130 musicians and songs of poetry she has put to music. On the cd and in her band are two of my favorite musicians and fellow Ithacans, Judy Hyman and Richie Stearns, from The Horse Flies. So I took the Cornell Campus-to-Campus bus to NY, visited with an Adirondack winter camping buddy, Glenn DiBiase, stayed with Sue and Brian in Montclair with their boys Walter and Harlan, and enjoyed a couple of days walking around the city.
Hayseed that I am, I couldn't figure out how to get up past the 14th floor and kept finding all these vacant floors that were being renovated. They were pretty cool, but how long can even the greenest horn be fascinated by unpainted drywall and exposed electrical outlets? Eventually I went back to the lobby to ask the receptionist. When I initially entered I tried to impress her with how savvy I am and just gave a nod as I went to the elevators. She was kind enough to point out the large signs by each elevator that read 1-14 and 15-40 and that those numbers indicated the floors of the building they would take me to.
The concert was stellar, especially for an opening night of a tour. At one point Natalie chided an audience member for taking her picture (or video) which was a bit ironic since an integral part of the show was her showing pictures on a giant screen of the poets whose work she's interpreted. So I only took one photo all night, and that was of the band while she was off stage. It came out lousy, but maybe that will protect their souls better. Efforts to go down to the stage after the show were thwarted by an overzealous security dude who insisted we had to "clear the house" despite my assurances that we had permission from Judy come down and say "hi" afterward.
Brian's always good for a cheesy pose, and the section of Broadway that has been closed to traffic and opened to art and pedestrians offered a perfect opportunity. We had time for a nice walk from Port Authority down to the East Village where he had to do some work for The Village Voice.
When you haven't had breakfast and it starts to pour at 11:30 am, the thing to do is find a nice restaurant, order a lime margarita, the lunch special and sit under the awning and watch how New Yorkers deal with the rain. Even if it's not raining, I highly recommend La Palapa on St. Marks Place between 1st and 2nd Ave.
When it came time to return to Ithaca, I considered stealing this little rig abandoned in the East Village, but it would have taken hours to get the cardboard and plastic off the windows, changed the flat tires, and figured out how to get the rear bumper off the pavement. Besides, I figured Richie was probably counting on it to get to the next gig.