It occurred to me that some folks who are kind enough to follow along with our antics in our News Letters, might not follow us on FB. (http://facebook.com/coyotelove)
Now, not being a facebooker is just fine with us, but I realized that those of you who only follow us on email have no idea what our trip was like to New Orleans in December. So let me backtrack a bit in the newsletter chronology.
New Orleans was earth-shattering, game changing and inspiring. It hurt, like the way falling in love does. I will never be the same. Rachel pretty much told me I would feel like that, as did friend and blues player Mike Davidson. And they were soooooooooooooo right.
Our mission was simple. Play a showcase in a large club in the city, hire only local musicians (turns out the bass player was from Troy, NY…lol), play a small club, and make connections. Our staff was Rachel, myself and Rachel’s awesome beau, Spencer. We stayed in a lovely place in The Bywater district, that we found on Air B&B.
Our plan to hire Ari Shagal, fellow Cari Cole alumni, to make charts for us totally paid off (she is a talented arranger, did a great job, and charges indie rates to indie musicians firstname.lastname@example.org) . It enabled us to find great musicians from down there to play show with us, with only one rehearsal.
The whole experience was powerful. I’d say the actual showcase was “pretty good.” But I have never been easy on myself. I liked the rehearsal a lot better. But that happens. It was a one-off, so whatever happened on stage happened. Some mistakes here and there that felt like eternities to me were just tiny moments for those in the audience. Teaches me to give better notes before shows and cues onstage. But people dug the music, we played and networked with great musicians, and we further developed our relationship with the RAW Natural Born Artists organization.
The actual highlight was sitting in later that evening at “The Spotted Cat,” (thanks to an invite from saxophone killer, Bryce Eastwood) on Frenchmen St., which, I learned, is where the real shit happens with live music in New Orleans.
The vibe at the Spotted Cat was ridiculously awesome. We were allowed to sit in with the devastating, opera-trained, soul singing tenor, Antoine Diel and his band. Coyote on 10 hole Harmonica and Rach on tenor sax, playing along to some Jazz standards and working very hard to keep up with the changes. We got schooled on how to really play one’s ass off, but we did okay, and the schooling was welcome. Just listening to them up close was mind blowing. Sitting in made the whole trip worth it right there.
The next night, we saw an insanely good funk band at a place called Vaughn’s near our place in The Bywater. Since we had the use of free bikes, we rolled on over. And again. WHABAMB! Mind blowing music. Also served up was free red beans, rice, and sausage. What? Needless to say we drank lots of steeply poured inexpensive alcohol and had a fucking ball. That falling in love feeling. Oh New Orleans it hurts so good
The people in New Orleans think and live differently than we do in NYC. The musicians and food are just….better (in general); the reason seemingly being that local food and music are embedded in your daily life there. I suppose, if you had to climb a cliff every day to go to work, you’d be an awesome cliff climber. And that is the way of things down there. In New York City, usually most of us do both a money job and then play music as well, sometimes for money even. And we don’t sleep enough to make this happen. And even the best of the best often have to leave town to make money.
Musicians in New Orleans achieve a living and/or gain notoriety from just…playing music. They climb the cliff every day. Their day job is music (corporate functions, street fairs, tourist stuff) an their night job is music. There are 2-3 sets between 8pm and 2am in a lot of clubs in NOLA. Most musicians in New Orleans play ALL those gigs before they go to bed. So the “pretty good player” down there becomes AN ASTOUNDING musician after a few years. They survive, they work, they make (and eat) art all day and night. We liked that.
Those same amazing players come to NYC and all of a sudden need more PR and an agent and a FaceBook Page, and a competitive website, and….a day job (usually), before they can break through all the other noise, pay the exorbitant rent here, and move forward. Or you go on tour, away from here, to make it work.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the the most inspiring and accomplished musicians on the planet play in NYC. Some play, have played, and will play with my band. And many of them spend 8hrs a day working for banks, and other corporate entities and NOT PLAYING MUSIC. This is despite their training, and talent. What the fuck?
Do I wanna move to NOLA? Well sure. But…..not exactly. I have a family and a life to tend to in the NorthEast. But I sure want to BE there more often. Physically or otherwise. I want to record and perform there a hell of a lot more.
Having Ari make charts for us and finding a band proved that Rachel and I can tour in areas far from home without paying for 5 other musicians to travel with us. Actually, the dream IS to travel with our beloved posse because the music is best played over and over and over and over by the same folks, but right now we are talking about survival. If we can show up in Nashville, Detroit, Tokyo or Oslo and play Coyote Music with local musicians that we find through trusted sources…and only have to fly each other and an assistant (or two) out to make that happen; from the this Executive Director’s point of view…it makes a lot of sense. In that aspect, it was a complete success. But, the more important point for me is…there is a whole world of ways to make, share, develop, and BE your art form. Forming my perspective on life, creativity, and the entertainment industry based on what happens in New York or Los Angeles…may be the most damaging thing I have ever done to myself. And I have done it all my life. Thank you, New Orleans, for opening up my mind and perceptions. Any suggestions for the next city, town or corner of the world that will blow our minds are welcome, of course. Hit us with a return email and we will talk about it at our next meeting.
And OMG…the food! The people over there make some serious food. There was even amazing gluten-free food. Coincidentally both Rachel and I have gluten issues, and we still were able to go out and not have to drool over what Spencer could eat. On Friday we had gluten free crab cake Po’ Boys. What? That’s right you heard me. Say it slowely now…”Gluten…free…crab…cake…po’ boy.” Yes they had it, we ate it, and the world shook.
Now don’t go thinkin’ that we are thinkin’ New Orleans is perfect. Like anywhere there are humans…perfect, it is not. There is some nasty shit down there, and many think the devil has an apartment in New Orleans. But from a music maker’s point of view…it was a mecca.
Thank you New Orleans. We’ll be back.