The Trouble with New York

Here’s the trouble, see. Last night I’m getting ready to submit a review of Tompkins Square Records‘ new compilation of old murder ballads and disaster songs. I’m emailing with the record label guy about it and he tells me they’re having a CD release party later that night at Cake Shop and do I want to come? If I lived in Lansing, MI or Natural Bridge, VA this sort of thing wouldn’t happen. I’d post my review and then sit at home by the fire reading a book or something, probably petting a cat and listening to the crickets out my window or the distant crack of the polar ice melting into the ocean.

But because I live in New York everything seems to be happening right here and it’s so hard not to go out. Can’t miss anything! Maybe there’ll be well-connected people to network with! Maybe something awesome will happen! Maybe I’ll meet a celebrity! Or get a free drink! Gotta go! Gotta run downtown!

It’s even worse now that I’ve moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan. In spite of the great Brooklyn cultural renaissance of the past decade, Manhattan still has a greater concentration of stuff to do – if only because of sheer geography.

Greg Jamie

So I go down to Cake Shop and I meet the head of the label and the producers and I hear and meet some fantastic musicians. Singer and banjo picker Hank Sapoznik, who co-produced the album, got a pick-up group together, including the wonderful fiddler Michelle Yu of The Moonshiners, to play a set of jumpin’ old-timey music. Following them, Greg Jamie of O Death came on to perform some of the numbers from the album. Chris King, the other producer, had seemed disappointed when I told him the songs on the compilation hadn’t “disturbed” me, but Jamie’s band was certainly one of the oddest and most disturbing groups I’ve seen. So there you go, Chris – I was disturbed in the end, after all. By live music. Which is as it should be. Of course, James Blunt disturbs me too. But that’s different. That’s not in a good way.

There are some things you won’t get to see in New York, of course. Foamhenge, for example. So it’s important to get out of town once in a while.