What a wonderful, overpopulated, over-occupied, crazy, frenetic ball of energy that town is. I love it of course. It is like no other. By the way, we have said it for years but it is now official…It is actually quicker to walk ten blocks than to drive ten blocks in Manhattan. Nonetheless every trip to Gotham is worthy of remembrance. This one started with a visit to WFUV(Fordham University’s wonderful radio station). I usually visit the station by myself with my guitar. This time the band accompanied me as we had been driving from Nashville. The station has a wonderful new studio and its very capable staff rearranged a couple of things to make way for the expanded lineup. I don’t mind doing these visits by myself but if I have the band…Not to brag about my band here, but they really have the ability to sound great under any circumstance, regardless of equipment or situation. And of course, they lived up to their reputation as world-class musicians. Rita Houston was our very gracious host and we had ourselves a lovely interview. We got to perform several songs from the new record, we talked about the upcoming shows…mission accomplished. During one of the breaks, I pointed out to Rita that on their brochure/flier/ promotional pamphlet, used to promote upcoming events, there was a very unusual photo of me. It turns out it wasn’t even me! It was a photo of an impersonator from a television show from the UK! I laughed my ass off at their horror. At least the name was right, as was the time and place. Anyways it was very funny. After years in this business, trust me, little things like that are nothing to get mad about. Besides WFUV have always been very supportive and it is always a pleasure to visit with them. Now, it was time to get to W 29th St. from where we were (Brooklyn) and enjoy some midday traffic. Luckily, Rita gave us an alternate route to the one we received from Mapquest. It proved to be the right move for us.
We finally made it to our hotel with just enough time for a much needed shower and a change of clothes. We still had to make time for a soundcheck on the boat. We unloaded the van and checked into the hotel only to come out a few minutes later to the friendly welcome of a $150.00 parking ticket! $150.00! How’s that song go…”if you can make it there, you’ll make it anywhere…” Nothing we could do about it now. Chalk it up as another road expense. We had a boat to catch. So off we went to the pier with midtown bumper to bumper traffic accompanying us all the way.
After a brief soundcheck, Marty Smith (stage manager) showed us to our dressing room for some much needed “chill” time. Our dressing room was at the back of the boat (stern) and on a lower deck (very glamorous). After a while somebody came back to tell us that there was this wild crowd on board and they were ready to rock. We immediately threw that person overboard to fend for himself in the currents of the Hudson. (I’m just kidding here). However we did look at him with our usual bit of cautious optimism. Mind you, we really had no idea what to expect. Suffice it to say what transpired on these next two nights was really unbelievable. On the first night, the crowd was so loud I could not hear my introduction nor could I see who did it. (I think it was John Platt from WFUV). The second night Claudia Marshall from FUV introduced me. As crowded as it was on the first night, the second night was even more crowded. I never get to be a tourist in all these great cities that I spend time in. So when we pulled in front of the Statue of Liberty I stopped the show so that we could just take a moment and admire. Thank you to everyone that went on that boat. You really made it special for us, New York.
The next morning I was off to Sirius Radio for my guest spot on Jeremy Teppen’s Outlaw Country radio show. I had the opportunity to use my radio voice for an “After Hours” special which will air through August. (More details on that later). In speaking with Jeremy, we may even turn it into a regular show for me. (Deep radio voice) “this is Raul Malo on Sirius, with the “After Hours” radio show”…Anyways, it would be a heck of a lot of fun. After the taping at Sirius I had to make my way across town to the J&R record store in the financial district for our in- store performance. I was so tired at this point that I don’t think I ever took my glasses off. I wasn’t pretending to be cool I was just preventing people from a hideous site, my bloodshot eyes. In spite of my well worn hangover, the show went well and we got to do a little shopping. After the in-store, we had nothing to do. Done? Finished? What? No way. An afternoon in the greatest city in the world with no more responsibilities? Well, guess what I did. I went back to my hotel to my very, very cold room and went to sleep! Man I’m old.
Next stop, Amagansett. Now, on paper this gig really does not make a lot of sense. There are no hotels out there. (They are always booked.) So you basically go way out of the way only to leave after the gig. The traffic is, well, horrible. You take about an hour to travel a mile or so. The money’s pretty good, sure, but nothing to retire on. Yet no matter what, we always come back. For starters, it is always a really fun gig. The crowds are always ready to party with you and let their hair down, so to speak. The club (Stephen Talkhouse), though at first glance is probably nothing to look at, is one of those places that has a vast and rich musical history. And the staff (great folks) treat the musicians with respect and class and always find a way to turn a difficult journey into a pleasure trip. It’s one of those places that make you feel like you’ve been there and in some ways I have. There was a Stephen Talkhouse on Collins Ave. in South Beach where the Mavericks played often. (Back when South Beach was cool and you could actually go and hear live music.) So, I have a personal musical connection to the Talkhouse. Seeing as how some of the folks that worked the club in South Beach have at different times worked for the one on Long Island, it becomes a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. I’m not one to reminisce much, but it is nice to talk to folks from the old days. After all, in the end all you have are memories so they may as well be good ones.
Anyways, there is my story for that wonderful, crazy week in New York. Thanks everyone for coming out to the shows and for spreading the word. Take care…