Friday, December 3, 2010

in the black night river

We were in Virginia. We we in Virginia; The men of The High and Mighty Brass Band and me. Virginia, West Virginia.. right on a border or some thing. Right on a river. We had driven there. In our new old Korean church bus band van. It broke down about 30 miles past Newark airport. We had beers in the slighty fancy joint down the road. An engagement party was happening. E Train midly stressed, Barnez mysteriously disappearing and hanging with the mechanics. I'm having the best time. We lined up a possible replacement band. The van is fixed, we're on the road. Drive into the night and end up there right on time to unload. We've got 2 tents and a pop up trailer for ourselves. super nice. On the river. We're ready to play. We're closing down this blue grass festival. We start out blowin on a small stage and second line with all these hippies, bare footed with  mason jars of moonshine, to a main stage and just throw down. such good people. hipppies freaking out dancing. to anything man. and with the biggest smiles you ever saw. It was so fun to play there with them and smile with them and dance and shake and meet the kids with wet pants, they didn't pay. They just crossed the river, rolled up their cuffs and went. And then it was over and they wanted more and I'm handed moonshine outta jars. Never a drink in hand did I have but little sippers out of heavy jars being passed around. And I was drunk , boy! And the river was so black. It was dark in the center, dark and as if voodoo were bubbling just below, feeding on the bottom. So I marched OUT. Out to the center of that river, in my tap shoes, well one black boot and one white tap and golden legs and I did march to that river center cause I heard I could make it all the way across with no problem too much. "I went down to St. James Infirmary. I saw my baby there. She was stretched out on a long white table. So white, so cold, so fair. Let her go. let her.. god bless her, wherever she may be, if the devil don't get her. You can search this whole world over but she'll never find a sweet man like me." I sang in that river, with people calling me back trepidatiously smiling, and I sang the whole song as it was and marched on  back. .. And, oof, I felt Good! And that white boot on the one foot is still covered in that river mud. That murky upside down frog in the mud voodoo thing happenin on the bottom of that river is now soaked into that shoe. Seeping in to the beat my feet make. Just on that one side, Oooo. So every floor I dance on after that has a little bit of that Virginia voodoo on it. And this is why we go on the road, or at least why I do, to take a bit from every place with me. Making home wherever I tap my feet.  Wherever I tap my feet I'll call home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And then we got KICKED OUT outta the shit

but let me start at the beginning.
The boys of HMBB are playing hard one day, like they do, in central park.
This lady leaves a card. Takes a card. calls the next day for an audition and we're doing the Knicks game.
So i got my pimp lady JoAnn Berman on the crazy clothes for me. it is her specialty and damn i love to wear it. The boys just chillin playin. makin music as they always do. and damn i love each o those sexy men. keepin it real how we do new orleans up in brooklyn all over manhattan playin the shit. and dancing. movin celebratin cause what else do you do. They gave us our own stage. we drapped ourselves all over the shit during the game, before. jameson for the boys, hung and didn't drink in the irish pub in madison square garden and it's nice. I like this place. The people are a little uptight, but not too much.. you know rules. rules, everywhere rules. "you need a permit to pee in new york city" screams my boy on the tuba. he's in it. The lil lady in charge with her clipboard and high heels is asking me if I can keep my jacket closed. It's a hot number with a kinda short polk a dot top and she says, "It's a weekend game so there's kids here." Im thinkin, "the kids don't have stomachs?!" but i dont say it cause ev is next to me and i know how he likes to keep things business. Don't screw off too much, cookie. But i do what i do. So this lil lady is asking me if i wanna just wear a Knicks jersey over my outfit. Ha! im : this is bad ass designer shit and the designer is here and i think she would appreciate seeing me in the steamy- street-crazy shit she is making for me! I put a safety pin. whoever said i wasnt a team player is mistaken.
we got our own stage. they tried to keep me to it but you know the people of madison square garden need  some lovin too.. but now i talk shit cause i didn't run that whole arena. Even with ron in my ear telling me to go grab the ball from the players and make a shot. I chilled in my area. and it was an area. A lil space but we got to be right up in the audience. I was looking a round. people were feeling it. So good to look at these people and to smile. This is music, people. This is it. This is your celebration shake your ass. now. now and so we played to open and we played at a time out and we were on the big screen. lookin good i assume. kev played along to the game. this solo trumpet during penalty shots. and when we werent playin anymore we took it out to the front. We set up right in FRONT of Madison Square Garden and just started playing. Instant crowd. people throwin money. The guard from next store. shuts it down. he is serious. This courtyard belongs to the building next door. the front there. We got badges. we were told we could play there..we just played inside. Gotta go indoors. We just pick the shit up move in to where all the people are filling out. inside. And we throw down. Good. We're just supposed to be there. what can we say. and we got a good 5 tunes in and the people were dancing. people from boston a lil more that the new yorkers cause they had just won the game at the last second.. but New York was feelin it too. it was a good game. a nice way to spend the day. and everyone seemed pretty good. pretty into the celebratin. I felt happy that's for damn sure. And then prissy high heels and clipboard is here and this in not cool, she explains. And i had my shirt open.. my shirt off dancing and shakin asses with the people. we've got too! (the older ladies always get it).
so then we packed. but we had some more bones and some new friends i think. we got kicked out and we got paid. ah. This be a good day....
Were you there? cause it was packed. 20,000 people. come on and see me. i could really get down again. with you. we can get kicked out of everywhere the HMBB play if it means we all had a good time while it was goin. we're at FAt cAT *New Years eve. we're counting the shit down. we're playing all into the night. we're gonna dance on the walls and pool tables and scrabble tables, bars, sofas everywhere. cause we got to, people! we got nothing else to do. Just dance. Always dance and celebrate and do what we do!

The High and Mighty Brass Band!

*photo courtesy of Dan Keinan

Monday, November 30, 2009

work with love

  I'm never wanting to learn.. no, that's not quite right.... i just need to learn through action. And by "need" i mean I want-cant hold me back- give me the paddle I'll spank er myself NEED to learn through action. I like the doing.. the intial burst into a project. I'm great at the vision part. Good at knowing what needs to happen when you're working with a BIG mess. I can see how to make it simpler in one fell swoop and I'm all for doing the labor required within that swoop. The detail work can be left to someone else.
In acting: I can read a play, see a part and just know, go in there and start working flying to the rafters releasing into it and then it's that homework, the getting down to details I'm constantly reminding myself of. Aha! Details. Here be the theme.          
  When I'm learning I want to be given a quick lesson, show me how it's done and then let me at it. To be of action is good (I just told myself). But then patience must follow. Not to be moving forward at a speed where you're missing the instructions along the way. But carefully stepping as is you're planting seeds and looking out, always out, out and over it all like the overseer on a plantation.
On top of that, I think we have to approach work with love. Any work. Because, it seems, all beings must work (build a house, find food, survive). So we must do that work with the utmost care, love and gentleness. You can fill a whole day, every day with the down to the dirt details of just living. And the process of doing that work is the enjoyment, not all the possibilities of what you can own, the "if i do this, it'll get me this" mind-set thang. Process oriented. Not goal oriented.
  I'm jumping around a bit. It is how I do my do at times. These big Ideas lead to many more. 
  If you've ever gone to yoga school or read the yoga sutras or the bhagavad gita, or any other teachings, philosophy, religion, practices for a way to be you know it's big. It's vast. And it's attainable. It just is... but oooo.. meditate. Put the phone down, no! the computer can wait 3 minutes, release your brain chatter and just be. AAh! You know it's so good. You can read the Prophet and it's a fucking weight off your shoulders. Ah, god. This person is telling me how to be. Simply, Humbly. And if you know, you know! That YOU that is everyone else hears when someone is speakin your truth.
  So when I think of these teachings, things I've heard and am constantly learning, I understand that that first impulse to jump into something without the patience for the details is just the first part of my cycle. Perhaps it's the ego getting in the way. I can't bear for someone to teach me because I already know.... because I do (the collective intelligence) but that ego is the saucy spouter of sass that forgets I can always learn again. The basics. The planting, hunting, building and surviving of your soul.
  And if that's the FIRST part of my cycle there must be two more... for everything that has a beginning has a middle and an end. The om cycle. Delicious. So then next, it seems, comes the detail work, the tedium I avoid.. but you know when we dig, dig, work, get down farther, planting deeper it is the tallest, firmest tree that grows; always.. Something of which we are proud because of the love we put into it. I could put the 38 garbage bags from yesterday's party on the street.. and then I can god damn paint the walls if i wanted. I can KNOW a character because it is me and then I can get to really, really know the things that are not inherent in my personality, and yet saturating someone elses (the unique details of human stories) and know that although we are the same there are these tiny vessels walking, crawling everywhere having a ball doing different adventurous things.
  And then the end. To finish the work. Delve so deep into the details that the thing is just devoured and done. To do the work with such care that there is nothing left to do but end it. That's it. It sounds scary,doesnt it? The end. Death. Completion. "But it was so fun!" And now it's over. Leaving room for the next adventurous thing... leaving all the room possible beause the thing we were doing before is done. Because we finished the work with love. We are Empty. and Ready. for the next.... ........
*photo courtesy of samantha casolari

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sojourn South

So my girl sab is a bad ass works-from-home surfing action business capoiera-livin may i repeat, bad ass. And we roll down to San Diego to hit up a big business thang. I drive so she can do her lady things and phone calls. We stayed up late and got up late(r) than expected. So i drive and we listen to david bowie singing and screaming about 5 years over and over. And we sing along. Scream along. And smile. And drive down down to diego.Put the car in a garage and walk out into the sun. She goes to meet her people and I go to explore. I walk across town to a bank. it's closed. I walk around. Enough walking that all there's left to be done is have a drink. There's this outdoor debacle with a lifeguard stand at the front entrance. I think of it for a second, walk a bit more and.. "Yes." Here's a place. The design looks damn good. I walk in the door. The bartender looks good too. We smile, it's on... a bit of talking.. he used to live in brooklyn, around the block from me.. Wait this place is Australian. Ah.. My girl sab had said this is the place we were going to meet for lunch. she shows up. we drink a fabulous bloody. two guys sit down at the bar. One had just been with us in the desert. Alright. My people are everywhere.It's quick like this. Friends made in an instant. This new bar friend is a musician. He's playing a hotel pool roof party. Ok. We're on the list. Ok.We go to the car to grab suits and necessary daytime things for people like us and on the way out of the spot someone's on a bike with a broken foot. "How'd you hurt that foot?" "Wanna get a beer?" "Ok." New friends.(Now, I forgot to say on the walk to the garage I'd seen this girl sittin on the steps and she smiled at me.. right as I looked away. And I tried to look back but she'd looked away... and I said, "damn. I wanted to smile at that girl.")So.. new friends go for a beer.. there's my girl from the street. sittin in a chair. And we recognize. Another new friend.So we're rollin 5 deep and we go see our musician/bartender and other really lovely folk singers on this roof, in downtown, and we were in the pool drinking tequila and doing the narlwhal yell and having a fan fucking tastic time. We go for sushi. Good sushi. Fancy sushi and we're yelling in the middle of the room.. just making ridiculous noises.. as loud as we could... and playing spin the bottle at the dinner table.. and people are asking if we can get kicked out, but the waiters love us and we tip and PAY a lot of money, and we grab a room at the nice hotel with the view of mexico and we listen to the radio and laugh and drink and smoke and fall asleep and all share an omlette and coffee room service breakfast and we hug and we kiss and we all go on our ways. Numbers exchanged, happy, happy feelings and I'm left feeling I've got friends everywhere. My people are out there... and I'm coming to find you.
*photo courtesy of samantha casolari