Monday, November 4, 2013

I Just Felt Like Running




It seems surreal that only 24 hours ago, I was running through the streets of New York City. It exceeded every expectation I had of what it would be like to run the ING NYC Marathon.
My morning started off with a casual caravan of NYPD and FDNY runners being taken to Staten Island. That in itself was an honor. It was even more of an honor running with the Leary Firefighters Foundation.We all talked about how nervous we all were and how we were all convinced that we would forget how to run or our bodies would sabotage us somehow. Waiting - the worst part was the waiting. It was cold, windy and the longest two hours ever.
But, the waiting pays off. When you are called onto the Verrazano Bridge, it all hits you at once. This is the moment you've been training for. After the cannon blast, you hear the cymbal kicking off New York, New York and it is so hard to maintain composure. You laugh and cry at the same time and then you realize, you have to start running.




Crossing the Verrazano Bridge, which is the first two miles of the course, is spectacular. Seeing an NYPD helicopter at eye level, watching you safely cross the bridge in unforgettable. It's at this point that you realize that there will be so many more moments like this for you during the race. This is one of only a handful of times that there will be no spectators. First stop - Brooklyn.
 
Brooklyn is where the crowds begin. And to start off my Fourth Avenue Experience seeing my husband and friends was incredible!! Thank you so much!! And this is where the crowds and the music begin. Mile 3 is in Bay Ridge, my hood. And to see so many familiar faces is great! The bands along the route are also what keep you going. No iPod in this race for me. The Band's Ophelia kept me smiling at mile 4.


When I reached mile five, and passed the man running with a cross attached to his back, I started to have my Forrest Gump moment. In my head, Jackson Browne was singing, but the people of Fourth Avenue were cheering me on. So many bands along this part of the course. I heard everything from Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones and even Ozzy. And you cheerathoners, I have to say, when you see our names, you come up with some creative cheers for us - in all languages.


At Lafayette, you merge with your fellow runners into a narrow strip of energy! Not only seeing so many friends here, you see an entire congregation singing to you! Tons of energy through this part of the race. This might have been my favorite section of the run. Bedford Avenue through Hipsterville - was second. Incredible energy down these streets.
We were coming up to the 13 mile mark which meant we had conquered two boroughs. The jog up the Pulaski Bridge is rough, but you Queens residents made us feel very welcomed!  I was told it would be quiet, but I discovered the opposite. We had lots of support up Vernon Boulevard, onwards towards the Bridge. I was met with a surprise shout out from a friend right before the bridge - and it definitely boosted my spirits. Other than hearing Dead or Alive's You Spin Me Right Round, I heard some Tom Petty, Runnin' Down a Dream. Just like Mr. Sinatra's New York, New York, I will never hear this song the same way again.


I was warned about the next part of the race: The 59th Street Bridge. What makes this so difficult is the unseen incline that seems to go on forever. The silence on the bridge is almost un-nerving. But, after you hit the crest and the decline begins, you hear life again and see signs greeting you that Welcome you to Manhattan and to the last ten miles of the race.
First Avenue is made of rolling hills, but also thankfully, thousands have stayed to cheer you on. Bars upon bars of well wishers greet you along the way. Around 85th, I remember hearing I will Survive and had to start laughing because I all could conjure  up in my mind was the scene from The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert. I must have looked like a mad woman laughing down the Avenue.



The Bronx meet you with bagpipers and the Willis Avenue Bridge. I am borrowing this picture from my friend Janice ... this is what the Bronx looks like to a body nearing "the wall". Thankfully, slowing down a bit until we reached the Madison Avenue Bridge helped. As Ryan Ruiz wrote in his Daily Run blog post on running the Bronx it's just  Left. Right. Left-right-left. And-a-left-and-a-right. Sounds easy but you know you're at the brink of mile 21 and back into Manhattan.

When I ran onto Fifth Avenue and was able to see the Empire State Building in the distance, I began to cry. It was the best sight I think I had ever seen. I was almost there. The run through Harlem was inspiring and the crowds were out, still cheering us on. Around Marcus Garvey Park, they were playing some Aretha, just enough to keep us on a good pace. for our final push to Central Park.


That final run up and then down Fifth Avenue is what you've trained for. You can taste the finish line at this point. The crowds were still so strong, and thank you to everyone single one of you, who called out my name and pushed me through to 90th Street.

We entered the park and now you can feel it. And my first comment was how absolutely gorgeous the fall leaves looked as our backdrop. I enjoyed running down Cat Hill but I knew that final hill was approaching at 72nd. And let me tell you something. I never realized how long Central Park South really is. I really thought at one point they had us on a treadmill that was going in the opposite direction.

But, finally, the towers of the Time Warner Building told me it was finally time as I made a right turn back into Central Park. We were met with the yellow line accompanying the blue line, to show support for Boston. Then you see the 26 miles sign, followed by signs to count down the final yards. And then you see the finish line. There are no trumpets and no bells, just the sound of all of those around you thankful to have finished. My dear friend was in the park and saw me finish. So happy to have her there taking the picture of me with my medal!!

What does it feel like - it feels like this:


 The day after, you feel like it was all a dream (well, depending on how well you worked on your recovery). The run down Fourth Avenue feels like you imagined it, and the Pulaski Bridge didn't feel too steep after all.
For the past 16 weeks, I joked that I was also married to the marathon. I have the most incredible, amazing support from my husband. He put up with me going to bed early, waking up even earlier, nerves, tears, and doubts. I could not have done this without his encouragement and support. Seeing him along the route was so special, since I knew he logistically had quite the feat ahead of him as well to catch up to me.
Friends and family, you too are such a support network for me. You listen to me go on and on about running. You give advice and also support when I need it most. It really does take a village to help a marathoner cross that finish line.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

We Went Right On With The Show


Rockaway Beach Blvd - One month post Sandy.  PMCarlson2012



I don't even know where to begin. One year ago, we were faced with the unknown, only things we had practiced in drills and were taunted with Irene. One week I was training for the marathon and the next working marathon tours to help our devastated city. Time and again, our resilience was proven.
 
Personally, three things that got me through the most. First, the support of all of you and friends on social media. You checked in and  sent out updates.  You passed along the word of where and how to donate. You sent me music, jokes about hipsters and reminded me to sleep. More importantly, you asked "how can I help?"
 
From Australia, England, Scotland, TriBeCa, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Philly, Seattle, Albany, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and from runners, music lovers, and givers - thank you!! Jill P, you sent me this and I can't thank you enough. This is THE song that makes me so thankful and know how blessed I am. It was such a special performance from The Avett Brothers. http://www.metatube.com/en/videos/158499/The-Avett-Brothers-with-the-Brooklyn-Philharmonic-Perform-I-and-Love-and-You-On-JK-Live-show/

Second, music. Music was that blanket at 3am when I slept feet away from those working with the hospitals, my therapy on the subway to clear my head, and a much needed night of enjoyment at the 12-12-12 concert. So many artists from NY and NJ were impacted by this storm that music was the only thing they could offer to help. It was also these same musicians that weren't afraid to get their hands dirty. So many helped to rebuild, feed and visit those affected.
 
Third, okay you know this answer. Without my loving husband, I would not have gotten through this. Granted, we saw each other maybe three or four times in one month since he too was helping in the affected areas. But your encouragement was felt and without that, I would not have made it through.
 
 
One year, so many memories and lessons learned. It made me a stronger person, a harder worker and apt to slow down and enjoy the moment a little more. The final chapter of Sandy for me is almost here, as next week, I join 40,000 others to run the NYC Marathon. Maybe I had to earn the marathon, to really appreciate it. Well, I think I have and I am ready. See you out there New York City.



Sunday, September 29, 2013

October



 
Before there was the Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, in 1981 U2 produced an album that would spawn only one recognizable song. October is one of my favorite U2 albums. The only recognizable song to many would be Gloria. The rest of the songs, gems if you ask me, are dreamy at times and are wrought with politics, religion, and young angst.

 
Gloria
This is where our Bono becomes David, the King and Psalm writer and makes his debut of sorts. He mixes traditional Catholic Latin Gloria...in te domine (Glory, In You Lord) with a sort of power ballad to the father, son and Holy Ghost Himself. Statements like But only in you I'm complete make reference to the band's overall Christian beliefs. Add a catchy bass solo by Adam Clayton and the praise-filled song become a band favorite.

I Fall Down
I don't know who Julie and John are but it seems as if they are down on their luck. But Julie seems like a pretty positive person. And let's just say that The Edge really loves pianos on this album.

I Threw A Brick Through A Window
Adam has strong bass presence on this song, one of my favorites on the album. It could be a song about a typical male adolescent sibling argument; it could also be about the Troubles. And in this song, Bono is flirting with symbolism and allegory, his literary genius comes out in this song with lyrics such as No one...no one is blinder, Than he who will not see, No one...no one is blinder, Than me. Its definitely a song about conflict of some kind and it has a very haunting feeling to it.
 
 
Rejoice
Did you know how devout to Christianity Bono, The Edge and Larry were? Enough to not only write this song, but to write this song about Adam not carrying that same devout belief that the others did.
These are some extremely deep lyrics for 20 something kids to be writing Just tell me what am I supposed to say, I can't change the world, But I can change the world in me, If I rejoice, Rejoice...

Fire
Yup, if you haven't gotten the religious overtones of the album yet, this one might just do it. It even starts out with sort of a chant that you might hear in church. It's a very apocalyptic, fire and brimstone song. He also references going home in this song, and I don't think he meant anywhere near the River Liffey.
 
Tomorrow
Such a beautiful, sad, haunting song about the Troubles. The pipes even add to the sorrow of this song. Won't you come back tomorrow, Won't you be back tomorrow, Will you be back tomorrow, Can I sleep tonight?It isn't about the person who died, but the song writer himself, telling a black funeral cab to return another day. It's also the cry for what  Christ stands for Open up, open up, To the lamb of God, To the love of he who made , The blind to see, He's coming back, He's coming back, I believe it, Jesus coming.
 
October
Ahh, the song I play each October 1st. The piano notes are like the first chilly nights of the month. Simple song about the month the album was released.
 

With A Shout
When a song contains references to Jerusalem, sides of the hill and messiah, you know where the band was coming from. It shocks so many that songs that sound like typical U2, Larry's Apprentice Boys sharpshooter drumming, Adam's bass and the perfect notes from The Edge, could really be about the crucifixion of Christ. Again, it was songs like this that almost drove the band apart since Adam was not devout like his band mates.

Stranger In A Strange Land
A song NEVER performed live that was inspired not my Northern Ireland like many think, but my an encounter with a soldier at a crossing in Germany. It was the beginning of Bono reflecting on politics and life around the world.

Scarlet
It has some future Passengers sounds, and some sounds that U2 don't reproduce until 2000. Chant worthy and very tribal.
 

Is That All
This song seems like a temper tantrum to me. Singing this song makes me angry ...  Singing this song makes me happy. This seems like a song to just get the album over but I could be wrong. Bono, if you're out there - help me out on this one
 
 
So there you have it. The religious undertones of a young U2, just mastering what would be their signature sound before The Joshua Tree. They would have been great, very energetic men of the religious word, but secretly, I am glad they found that maybe being in a band could also be a platform for preaching the word ...
 

Begin One Direction comments ... now!
 


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10th, 2001


May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love
Bruce Springsteen - Into the Fire

Fourteen years ago today, life was simple for us. Terrorism was in Israel, Northern Ireland and Colombia. Thirteen years ago today, we could look at an azure sky and enjoy it for what it was – pure, deep and inviting. People rode the subways, planes and buses without cause for concern. Washington D.C., Shanksville PA and New York City would never be mentioned in the same sentence on September 10, 2001.

Fourteen years ago today, we saw and spoke to friends and family members for the final time. We watched as firemen parked their cars at the firehouse for the night tour, hoping to watch the Giants-Broncos game between runs. Police officers stood at roll call for a quiet September night patrolling the city. Husbands, wives and flight attendants packed for their flights the next morning.


Fourteen years ago today, we said goodbye to our innocence as we woke to a new world. In 102 Minutes, our lives would be forever changed

Now, blue skies remind us of that day when they were blackened by smoke, when we heard the skies become silent and saw many act courageously in their final moments. Statements like, Let’s Roll and We're Three Truck and We’re Still Heading Up exemplify moments of bravery and final acts of humanity in a day filled with so much fear. Stories of the fire safety director who wouldn’t leave the Trade Center until he accounted for all of his employees, the equities trader with the red bandanna who saved 12 people, the final fight for their lives on board a hurdling plane, the firefighter running through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in full gear to do his job, the police officer last seen as she helped victims to safety -- each one of these heroes gave their lives for others...this is what September 11th should be remembered as...selfless acts of courage.
Our September 10th heroes looked up to our September 11th heroes in the following days.
Fourteen years ago on September 11th, our world changed and it will never go back to the way it was. Something always reminds you of that day – a song, a fire truck, a plane, dust on the sidewalk. Although we must move on – never forget the sacrifices, the unspoken hurt that still remains, the friend’s phone number still on the cell phone after ten years or the want of a memorial for those never recovered.

Future generations won't know what life was life before this day. They will hear about it in reminisced stories by survivors, witnesses , victims families, songs and TV. It is our job to keep the memories alive of  the almost 3,000 victims who perished that day, the first responders who are dying now as a result of their rescue and recovery work and our soldiers who fight to defend our country. Our future generations need to know more than we were attacked by terrorists. They need to know that we were attacked by terrorists and brave human beings from 90 countries - civilian and military and even a bomb sniffing dog, died  and many survived through brave acts by fellow human beings. They also need to know that day was hell -- it was terrifying to not know what was next, to watch humans perish in front of our eyes on live satellite television.  Life was extinguised and disappeared in an instant and we all experienced or watched it first hand.

Fourteen years on -- we have grieved, we are remembering, we are moving along but never forgetting.




Sunday, August 25, 2013

I Want Your Sax -- Best Sax Solos of the 80's (According to Me)


Ever since I was a young yinzer growing up in Western PA, I wanted to move to NYC. Because of Cyndi Lauper, Reading Rainbow, Tina Turner -- I was moving to NYC and no one was going to stop me. If you ask me what I remember about moving to NYC, part of it was the romantic image in my head of the sax player in Central Park or the subway,the sound of it echoing into the dark, steamy night (steamy now I know courtesy of Con Ed). Tina Turner, Glen Fry, Bananarama all used NYC as the backdrop. It was the sax that capped it for me.

So without any order in mind, my favorite Sax Solos of the 1980's.

You Belong to the City by Glen Fry. You cannot get anymore NYC than this - the opening scene alone, a vantage point from Brooklyn, starting at the South Street Seaport then panning wide to reveal the World Trade Center. It's a classic night-life NYC. The lyrics alone paint the picture of anonymity in NYC, even more so at night. The interwoven scenes of Miami Vice also help the 80's feel. Love this song, it's NYC to me.



  
Next up, Quarterflash with Harden My Heart. I actually had not seen the video until recently (nothing says 80's more than swinging light bulbs and a wood paneled trailer). The sax intro makes this song and helps to give it that sound that means the 80's to me ... almost as much as the next song.




Yes, George Michael, Wham! and Careless Whisper. From an early age, I have loved Georgios Kyriacos PanagiĆ²tou, or as we all know him, George Michael. Faith, while I had no idea at the time (nor should any ten year old) what half of those songs were talking about, introduced me to sounds like I had never heard before and haunting videos life Father Figure. It would be one of his last Wham! songs though that would always remind me of those 80's.




Quintessential 80's sound with sultry sax and lots of hair: Hall and Oates Maneater. While not one of their best songs when it comes to complexity, it is a defining sound for Hall and Oates and hands down one of the most recognized songs from the 80's.
 

This next song not only has an incredible sax solo but has one of the best bass lines of an 80's song (fangirl moment for John Taylor). Duran Duran's Rio is arguably another one of those 80's best of hits ever with one of the top videos from the 80's as well. But here is some trivia for you all. Who played the sax solo for the song? Well, if you watch the video you would say "John Taylor or Nick Rhodes" but no - you have been duped. It was actually Andy Hamilton, a British saxophone player who has played with not only Duran, but with Wham (see above) Elton John, David Bowie, and more.




Ahh, the mates from Down Unda, Men at Work with Overkill. And, again, another haunting video full of sunsets and mystery ... and Colin Hay going through some type of paranoia. Ghosts appear and fade away ...



And who can forget Sade's Smooth Operator? The jazzy song begs for the saxophone. Without the woodwind, this song would be missing something. This song song about a jet-setting, womanizing business man was usually never heard in its full form and was nominated for a VMA for it's 4 minute version. Ladies and gents, here is the eight minute full version.





And how can you mention sax solos without mentioning INXS? Kirk Pengilly made the sax sexy in the 80's. While bands were jamming to guitar and synthesizer solos, Kirk made us weak in the knees with his famous sax solos in songs such as New Sensation, Johnson's Aeroplane, Kick, The One Thing, Mediate and this one - Never Tear Us Apart. I personally wish it could have been a longer solo, or spread throughout the song, but then I realize, oh yeah, he also has to play guitar.


 So there is my list of some of the best sax solos of the 80's ... you think they will ever make a comeback?





Friday, August 23, 2013

It Will Take Care of You

Courtesy Lisa Seifert
Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce to you the greatest guitar player in the world...
Eric Clapton introducing Stevie Ray Vaughan on August 26, 1990 Alpine Valley

Every August for me is a reminder of how brief and wonderful life really is. In a span of 7 days in August of 1990, I lost my father and the musician that helped me through his illness, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Although I didn't know then, I know now why Stevie had such a lasting impact on me and why his music was like a security blanket in my twelve year old mind full of questions, angst and sadness. Stevie had been to hell and back and his takeaway was that Love was the answer. He'd seen greed and known addiction, but love seemed to be his saving grace. Love yourself and love one another was his constant message.

Tonight, I made the realization that not only is it 23 years since his passing, but I am the exact same age that he was when he boarded that helicopter in Alpine Valley. Knowing that he had almost seen death, overcome addiction, been divorced, played Carnegie Hall when he was 30, had Eric Clapton calling him the greatest guitar player, fell in love, and inspired so many that they could overcome anything by the age of 35 is simply incredible to me. To be that good, I understand how hard he had to work, how dedicated he was and how much he loved music.

To this day, I still chase the ghost of Stevie Ray. Every artist I see thinking, I don't want to miss the opportunity again. I was twelve, it wasn't like I was given much choice, but he is one of less than a handful of artists that I feel that way about. He inspired me and speaks to me that much.

Stevie also reminds me of those last months with a man I knew so little about. Sitting in my room, not far from my ill father, I would listen to Stevie sing and play from the heart. It's a connection that will be forever.

Not one video (that anyone knows of) exists of Stevie's last show. There are several taper recordings of those final songs this legend played. Rumor is he played the best he ever played that night - the sound coming out of his guitar larger than the valley itself.
The last song Stevie ever played, he played it with his heroes, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and his brother Jimmy Vaughan.
It was fitting that Stevie would play Sweet Home Chicago with his heroes who in turn would look to him, as theirs.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, I cannot thank you enough for what you have given me as a gift. It isn't just your songs, its your lessons of love, hope and understanding. You also give me the soundtrack to the priceless memories of my father.


Stevie Ray Vaughan set list from Alpine Valley WI August 26, 1990
  • Collins' Shuffle
  • The House is Rockin'
  • Tightrope
  • The Things (That) I Used To Do
  • Let Me Love You Baby
  • Leave My Girl Alone
  • Pride and Joy
  • Wall of Denial
  • Riviera Paradise
  • Superstition
  • Couldn't Stand the Weather
  • Goin' Down
  • Crossfire
  • Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
  • Sweet Home Chicago (Clapton, Cray, Guy, Vaughan)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gypsies, Golden Hair Rock Gods and the Belle of St. Marks

Robert Plant Prospect Park
 
I have to surmise that it seems that my music adventures come in tsunamis. No, I cannot simply go to see a show. My behavior is quite obsessive when it comes to music, I openly admit. I had a perfect close to July this year, seeing a legend. one of my favorite bands multiple times, and an 80's icon.
 
When you are a rock and roll fan, you would travel far and wide to see legend, Robert Plant. Although some are mad at him that he won't do a Zeppelin reunion - I get it. He's moved on and in true artist style, he isn't in that vibe anymore. He has embraced southern blues and he has done so with his entire being.
 
I've seen him in Tennessee and twice in New York, but when I heard he was playing in Brooklyn, it was an opportunity not to be missed.
 There was quite the mix of audience members from four year- olds to probable 1970's groupies. And we were all there for the same reason. I knew the show would be good, but when he opened with Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You, I just knew the night would be fantastic. He didn't disappoint. He continued with varied versions of In the Mood, Black Dog, Goin' to California, Four Sticks, Friends, a soulful cover of Fixin' to Die, What is and What Should Never Be, Rock and Roll and a few others. For someone not in the Zeppelin mood - he was that night. The songs would all start out mysterious, bluesy, tribal, and then WHAM, pure rock and roll Led Zeppelin. What everyone is Prospect Park received that night was a gift. Robert Plant is not only a legend but he is a talented musician who continues to learn about the job he loves so very much.
 
 
Moving right along. Back in 2008, I witnessed the beginning of my love affair with this Gypsy Punk band from New York City's Lower East Side: Gogol Bordello. Maybe it is my Slovak background and the numerous Sunday's spent listening to polkas, but I fell in love immediately. With the  release of their latest album Pura Vida Conspiracy, I had the opportunity to see them three obsessive times in one week. 


Pasha and Elizabeth
Every time I see Gogol Bordello, there seems to be more energy, more synergy and more mosh pits. Eugene exudes nothing but positive energy, Sergey is a Russian violin god and, I do miss Yuri, but he chose well with the new accordion player, Pasha. If you get the opportunity - do not miss them. Warning though, if you stand up front, be prepared to dance, fit pump, jump up and down and crowd surf.
  
 
 
Just when I thought my musical adventure had come to an end, a co-worker told me that none other than Sheila E was performing for free at BAM's Metrotech lunch series. You must check out their summer calendar folks. I saw Richie Havens a few years back - and it's free!
 
So I trekked down to Metrotech in the rain and made it just in time to hear the first cheers from the crowd. And there she was - the drummer for Prince,  Sheila E. Highlight of the lunch hour show? Hearing the classic Belle of St. Marks live
  
 
So there you have it, my end of July music extravaganza. I never, ever pass up the opportunity to see music if it is possible. If you love music as much as I do, surround yourself with musicians that do the same. You want to walk away from a show knowing they gave their all for you and enjoyed every minute of it!
 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Lucky

Dan Avery at the 5th Avenue Street Festival


My only true want in life was to always live somewhere where I could have access to music. Not just record stores but live music - large venues, small venues, backyards and barrooms.

I am blessed to live in the neighborhood of music: Bay Ridge Brooklyn. From Kitty Kiernan's to the Kettle Black all the way down to the Irish Haven, you can hear musicians singing their dreams into the streets at all hours of the day.

Below are some local artists to check out (and in truth many have become friends and I am blessed to know such talented folk). I have included their website / facebook info.
 
Let's start with John Rafferty, Brooklyn's story teller. His latest album, Lucky, is simply perfect. Done in mere days, this album captures a the ups and downs of life. And let me tell, you , he loves this album and he should be proud of it. Many artists strive to capture what came to him naturally.

You can find all of his dates on facebook... he seems to be fond of the rockaways in the summer;)
http://www.reverbnation.com/brooklynraff                            http://www.brooklynraff.com/index


Next up is Xavier Cadriche. A swimmer, Irish lover and singer rolled into one -- come on what is not to lose? Xavier plays all around the Ridge and has been doing some gigs at the LIC Bar as well. I have to say what impresses me the most about Xavier is that you can tell he loves music - he knows music! You wont be disappointed if you make the trek out to see him


http://xaviercardriche.com/
https://www.facebook.com/XavierCardriche


What can I say about Dan Avery? On a Sunday in Bay Ridge after lingering to the end of the 5th Avenue Street Festival, the about mentioned John Rafferty said "we gotta go see this kid." And John, you were so right!

He played acoustic from all generations and then his own material. The talent glowed around this this kid (kid I say). There is hope, America, these young ones remember the classics. When he played Simon and Garfunkel's The Boxer, I was completely sold. He was so good that, in fact, we told Mr. Rafferty himself this kid was going to put him out of business.
 
Dan, I know you're from Jersey, but you have been playing a lot here in the Ridge (Kelly's and the Monk)so consider yourself a Bay Ridge artist.
https://www.facebook.com/#!/freedanavery



Now, these aren't the only Bay Ridge artists, there are so many more. Some don't play as much as we'd like, but they are still Bay Ridge's best - folks like Andrew Gerardi or Pill Hill Radio. If you see them on a playbill outside your local haunt (which I believe Andrew is playing out in the Hamptons at the Boardy Barn September 9th)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Once I Was...

I will never forget the moment I first heard Jeff Buckley's sweet yet complex voice in Sydney. From that moment on, I searched for all of his music, eventually stumbling upon his father's. I am sure that statement would make him haunt my dreams again - but Jeff, it's true for so many.  And besides, your father's music played the role of being the soundtrack to the very first roadtrip I took with the man who is now my husband. You have played such an important part of my life.


When I heard that a "bio-pic" of Jeff and his father was being filmed, I was so skeptical. I am not usually a fan of bio pics. Also, what possible story could you tell about a man who didn't really know his famous father?

A little background for those who are not familiar. Tim Buckley was a musician who rose to fame in the 60s. You can try and classify him as folk, but his influences showed in his later works - funk, psychedelic and rock. He made nine studio albums and other live recordings -- all before he died at the age of 28. In 1966, at the age of 19 his son Jeff was born but he rarely saw him, as he and Jeff's mother divorced.

Fast forward to 1991. You're the son of famous singer and someone asks you to perform at a memorial concert in honor of a father you've met twice. You don't sing his songs but you bear an uncanny resemblance to him. Curiosity, doing the right thing, uncertainty - who knows what Jeff must have been thinking.

That is where the director Daniel Algrant gets involved. Because Jeff sadly passed in 1997, there was no recantation of the event or what feelings were behind the performance. So, how do you take the story  of a very famous son who is conflicted about his father's legacy and make it believable?


In the summer of 2012, signs for filming went up for Greetings From Tim Buckley  at St. Ann's Church. Wow, I thought, this must be about the Tim Buckley memorial as well. Ok, I was starting to give the movie a chance. I began to research Penn Badgley, the actor made famous from Gossip Girls, who was picked to play the role. I was a little dismayed - I just could not see it happening to appease so many loyal fans.


The chance to see the premiere of the film at the Tribeca Film Festival - would not be missed. I chatted with some people in the crowd. Some where Penn Badgley fans, others Jeff fans. I waited and wondered how I would walk out of their feeling since I walked in a skeptic.


St. Anns Church Today
 
If you weren't a Tim Buckley fan before the film, chances are you will be when you leave the theatre. The story of Jeff and his father is told beautifully and cleverly through the Memorial Concert at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn. The invitation to play of course stirs emotion in Jeff, but that emotion is played through flashbacks of his famous father's start in music.


Eveything but the concert itself is semi fiction, a genius way of telling what Jeff must have gone through preparing to play the concert. The story is woven between 1991 and 1966 without seeming too wrought with flashbacks. Most of the music is Tim Buckley, except for two scenes: One that  involves Tim watching Charles Mingus perform in the village following a night of his own performance at Cafe Wha? The second is the ending when Jeff (actually Penn) sings Lilac Wine ( a song Jeff used on his debut album, Grace).

As Jeff struggles with the memory of a father who was absent most of his life, Tim struggles with being s lost soul in a seemingly loveless marriage. The buildup to the concert is essentially taking the viewer to the point where Jeff Buckley became a blip on the radar. When people recognized that he wasn't Tim Buckley's son, but that he was Jeff Buckley happened that day in 1991 in that church. Jeff walked out of his father's shadow.

I said I was doubtful about anyone playing Jeff. Penn Badgley proved me wrong. He captured the essence of Jeff  between the quirkiness, the mannerisms that were uncanny and the way he was able to turn his voice into the instrument that Jeff had. I was able to ask Penn,Daniel, and Anthrax's Frank Bello  if they studied the photographs of Jeff that Merri Cyr had taken over the years that she worked with him. They both said they had seen some of her pictures but didn't focus on mimicing. It truly was as if they had taken her photographs and brought them to life.

The highlight for all was listening to an audience member state the following: I knew Jeff and I knew Tim and I was at the concert. He went onto say how he appreciated the liberties that they had taken with the film because it told the story beautifully.

 For me, as a fan who knows the Jeff and Tim story,and knows who all the characters were, it was a surprisingly great film. For those who don't know the ins and outs and back story, I would be curious as to what they thought. Is it necessary to know who Gary Lucas is and how important he would become in Jeff's life?

Jeff and his father deserved to have a film this beautiful, musical and honestly told. Walking out of the theatre, I  began to think that this was probably the longest that Jeff and Tim had ever spent together.

                                         Tim Buckley - Once I Was


                                   Jeff Buckley 1991- Tribute to Tim Buckley - Once I Was