8/17/11, The Iri ium, NYC
Empanadas in Hell's Kitchen -> Times Square. This general area was a work Hub for me for a very long time. What strikes me about Hell's Kitchen now, is that after only 3-4 years of being removed from it, roughly 60% more of it seems to have been regentrified. It's cleaner and brighter somehow. A ton of new yummy looking restaurants have popped up where total shitholes once stood. So many more places to grab a good lunch, now that I am no longer there, looking for lunch, every day. Where did all the shit go? Penn Station? Then of course, you walk 2 blocks over to Times Square, and Mars 2112 with that fucking alien (forever waving out front) remains. As does my old office building, the good ol' 1633. Ah, nostalgia.
Anyways, the Iridium Jazz Club is right across the street from there. I used to spy it from the plaza and think, "Now there's a venue I've never been to." The 'd' in the neon blue sign out front is now dead, so I will henceforth refer to it as the Iri ium, which is more fun to say. It's downstairs from Ellen's Stardust Diner, a joint where tourists flock to see waitstaff bust into song with the regularity of a traffic report. The Iri ium is a mostly seated venue, with a $15 per person, per table, per show (this night counted as two shows) minimum (+ cover). On the upside, the drinks are pricey, so it takes very little effort to hit those minimums, and the room sounds positively *gorgeous*, which makes up for everything else. So, despite being slightly poorer, at least you'll be sober and entertained by the time you leave. Yah, it's totally criminal, and it's definitely Times Square.
Tonight the schedule was for an 8PM show of Jason Crosby & Megan Palmer / GSW Variant, and a 10PM show of Jason Crosby & Megan Palmer / GSW Variant. They were able to arrange with the venue to allow people to stay for the 2nd show without paying a 2nd cover, which was very nice, but they still separated out the acts into 4 alternating chunks (and there was still an additional per table minimum for the 10PM show).
Super Musician & longtime Wino, Jason Crosby, has been hosting Iri ium Singer Songwriter Sessions at the Iri ium each month, and inviting his collaborator-friends to join him. Last month, the series premiere featured Reid Genauer (Strangefolk, Assembly of Dust) as his guest. This month, it was Lo Faber & Aaron Maxwell's (God Street Wine, The Jon Bevo's Love Orchestra) turn. SUH-WEET!
The tables filled up, the pmarkgliatelle was flowing, and Jason Crosby & Megan Palmer opened the show. The duo play moody Folky alt art Rock. Kiiiind of. It's hard to explain, but it's really beautiful and filled with hooks. Megan also rocked the mic on some pretty adorable quirky bouncy Country Rag Timey type tunes that would make Sara Bareilles totes jealous. Over the 2 sets, they took turns switching off on Guitar, Violin, & Piano. These two would dominate a movie soundtrack.
Lo & Aaron took the stage and immediately kicked into gear with a sweet Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter. Aaron's voice, wow. Beautiful Lies (psyched this song has been injected into the repertoire), Light My Candles, & Run To You (Lo's voice, sigh.) -- all gorgeous. The room was soaking it in. Lots of smiles, lots of people REALLY rockin' out in their seats… Like, busting OUT of those seats. I spied some air guitar. Sitting at these shows is obnoxious. Don't like it. Nope, not one bit. Lame.
The boys started a delightful Nightingale and were jamming it out, when suddenly, a figure sprinted from the back of the room, hopped on stage, and started banging on the Grand Piano! It was in fact, THE Jon Bevo (The Jon Bevo Love Orchestra, God Street Wine) joining the band mid-song, like some sort of fucking Piano Ninja! He must have been busy until this point, perhaps finishing up a NYT crossword puzzle (in Sharpie) back at the bar. 8 letters, Jon Bevo's Grand bitch: STEINWAY. -> Awesome Nightingale conclusion! What followed was a fantastic Vanity Street (lovin' the stripped down arrangement), a sweet Good Dream, and a bouncy Tide.
Jason Crosby joined the boys on complimentary violin for the rest of the set. He explained how psyched he was to be playing that evening with members of God Street Wine. That he's been a GSW fan since he was a young kid (I read somewhere that his older brother used to bring him to Wetlands), they were his favorite band back then, and they still are now. Awww.
During the absolutely fucking RIDICULOUS Change Your Mind, I got a text from D. Mighty, which led me to immediately check my Fantasy Baseball scores -> cackling like an evil genius, when I saw my team (SHABLAGOOOO) was absolutely crushing his (The Salty Matzah Balls), 9-0. This may have been the proudest moment of my entire Season, because D. Mighty's tears taste like Cashew Butter. They are fucking DELICIOUS and I will collect them in a jar and eat them with a spoon.
Then, I went right back to rockin' out Change Your Mind, which was still ABSOLUTELY FUCKING RIDICULOUS. They CRUSHED it. So much energy! Goddamn, I love that song! She Comes Up Softly was beautiful and Wendy was a sweet set closer and totally got the crowd buzzing and left them that way.
It was time for the switchover again, so the stage got re-set for the 10PM show and Jason & Megan's 2nd set (see above). Much of the crowd had to take off for the "2nd seating", cuz I suppose some people have Day Jobs and/or train schedules to contend with.
Lo & Aaron's 2nd set opened with the hauntingly sweet Epilog. We got a lovely Ballroom, Driving West, Straight Line, and tender Strange As It Seems. Jason came back out and we were treated to a new guest on Piano- Pete Levin (The Blind Boys of Alabama, God Street Wine, etc.), who totally rocked that shit out for the rest of the set! A spirited Borderline. Thirsty, which we learned Lo wrote after reading Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker. Cute. Goodnight Gretchen and a siiiiiick, rockin' Hellfire, complete with Super Jam, where everyone got a chance to shine. Everyone still in the room, both on the stage & in the crowd-- everyone had a shit-ton of fun. Hell, even the people who had to leave early- those motherfuckers had fun during the 2nd show too, they just may not have known why. It was a fun fun night.
Awesome, sounded beautiful, and left me approximately $60 poorer, but what are ya gonna do?
I love the fact that some spectacular keyboard players who used to be in God Street Wine just happened to drop by. Fuck yeah. They should do this more often. Next time at Brooklyn Bowl w/ Dan Pifer & Joe Russo! Or ya know, Dan & Tomo. YES! Either way, I'm in. LET'S DO THIS!
Thanks to Jason Crosby for putting an awesome night of music together! Jason Crosby & Megan Palmer -> GSW Variant -> Jason Crosby & Megan Palmer -> GSW Variant, 8/17/11, The Iri ium: 9 HUZZAHS!! All sorts of bonus points made up for the monetary deductions.
Sit Right Down & Write Myself a Letter
Light My Candles
Run To You
Vanity Street *
Good Dream *
Change Your Mind *#
She Comes Up Softly *#
Strange As It Seems
* Jon Bevo
# Jason Crosby
% Pete Levin
*** DOWNLOAD THE SHOW!! Thanks, Scott Bernstein! http://www.archive.org/details/loaaron2011-08-17.tlm170.flac16 ***