Peaceful, comforting, the busy streets - Luna in New York and Brooklyn, part three: Friday
We woke up to the low pitched sound from the bridge. We decided to go to Greenwich Village like we always do when in town. We always go to The Blind Tiger at the corner of Jones Street and Bleecker Street.
If you go there early it's the best place in town with the best beer selection and friendliest and most knowledgable staff. I like how they alway seem to really get what I mean when I ask for something, it's not like in other places, where they just go "my favourite is blah blah" without even thinking about that I might not have the same taste.
Jones Street is of course the street where Bob Dylan and Suze Rotolo posed for the Freewheelin' album cover a cold and snowy day in 1963. His first apartment was on 161 West 4th Street, in the same spot where there's actually a sex toy store called Tic Tac Toe at the moment. I like going to The Blind Tiger and so we did again.
I have now spent about two years listening to and writing about every Bob Dylan show he did in 1995 and I thought it would be nice to do one in Greenwich Village. I listened to concert number 70 out of 116 in total he did that year. I'm so glad almost all of the concerts he's ever done exist on recordings. I think recording of concerts is just as important as the preservation of Mona Lisa. If not more.
Ulrika read Dean's book and at one point she had a strange look on her face and I knew pretty much right away that she was reading about Hamburg. I took pictures of her reading facts about Hamburg. I like Hamburg very much, I once went to Hamburg to buy a tube amplifier. The seller was married to an Italian soprano vocalist and they gave me wine and roses, no wine and locally baked bread. I stayed in a hotel near the train station and was offered both this and that at night time, I went for the pork knuckle in a restaurant instead.
Patrick told us he had seen Dean & Britta in a guitar store on Bleecker Street. A few years ago I was sitting at The Blind Tiger as usual and saw a sloppy man walk by outside, with a bag over his shoulders, he had a big grey beard and three quarters shorts. It has to be Steve Earle and I went out to see if it really was. But I couldn't see him any more, then I saw him in the guitar store by the desk. I waited outside, there are always several cool looking guitars in the window. I can stare for hours at a green Guild Starfire.
Steve Earle later stepped out and I had to say hello, I've loved his music since the bluegrass album with the Del McCoury Band was released 1999. We were also watching Treme at the time, one of the best television shows ever, it's actually good for real and not just some silly nonsense piffle like Game of Thrones. It's a shame not more people knows about Treme.
I got Steve Earle to sign a beer coaster. He told me he had had one of his guitars fixed and seemed in a good mood, then he kept walking further down Bleecker Street, a Diet Pepsi with a straw in his right hand. He was going home to prepare for an Obama fundraiser later that evening. Maybe it was the same guitar store Dean & Britta went to.
We were going to Brooklyn two days in a row. On Saturday we did a record store cruise in Greenpoint, going to Academy Records and Captured Tracks Shop among others. We asked if they knew anything about the Luna vinyl box that will be released later but they didn't know much. I bought a couple of Blue Note records with organ player Jimmy Smith and one of my favourite guitar players Kenny Burrell.
Later that night we went to see Nick Lowe and Yo La Tengo play acoustic at the spectacular Kings Theatre. We were both feeling a bit tired and a bit sad that we weren't going to see more Luna shows but it was still a nice concert. But I've seen them both do much better concerts on their own, especially Nick Lowe who deserves to play many more of his spot on perfect songs, his records from the last 20 years are all stunningly good, like The Impossible Bird, Dig My Mood and The Convincer. Even his recent records are as good as it gets. Yo La Tengo on the other hand sound better with electric instruments for sure, even if their new acoustic album is nice as a complement.
But this Friday Luna was playing at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and we were excited like always, a new venue too and we went there early again.
In the front we met Giselle, Alan, Audrey and the Spanish girl again, she was looking sparkling and happy. Even Mike was there, who we met during Luna's short UK tour in the summer. Mike is a great guy. He is a bit like John Locke from Lost, probably always carries a pocket knife and a survival kit. Good to know.
The Music Hall of Williamsburg is very similar to the Bowery Ballroom with its upper balcony floor, but of course we placed ourselves downstairs on the main floor close to the stage, a little to the left. The opening act reminded me a bit of Teenage Fanclub, or The Clean like Giselle thought. They sounded good but weren't as entertaining as Diane Coffee whp had opened up the two previous nights. We couldn't wait for Luna, and we knew there something a little different was going to happen during the show. I think it was Dean and Lee that told us before the show.
Still at Home means a lot to us, not just because it is a wonderful song, but we also had the luck to hear it in Barcelona as a request. Sean isn't as comfortable with singing as Dean is with the other songs, but he always puts his full heart behind it and this was without doubt the best version we've heard, I got goosebumps all over my skin and when Dean said out Sean's name after the song he got the single loudest cheers of all nights.
Then the door opened up in the corner and Stan Demeski, the former drummer of Luna, came out on stage. Lee helped him getting set up. The last time Stan was on stage with Luna was in July 1996 at the Mercury Lounge. And they hadn't had time to practice due to bad traffic. And they roared into 23 Minutes in Brussels. Stan's drumming is clearly different to Lee's, Stan is hitting the tom-toms, snare and cymbals a little more peppy and distinct. But he is a bit looser. Both ways are good for Luna.
Sean gives one of those delicate solos again and then Dean takes over by lowering the E string tuning, I think it is, changing the sound to be more rugged. The perfect contrast. "Say a prayer, for you and me. Say a prayer, tell me do you miss me".
I pressed rec on the camera and only wish I had recorded much more. Every step should be recorded. I know the art, or whatever you want to call it, is best being enjoyed live of course, right in the middle of it, but if it's recorded the art it will continue.
The audience are singing along to Friendly Advice, ba ba ba, pa pa pa, you know how it goes, doesn't sound good in text I admit. It should be recorded. Friendly Advice turns out amazingly well also. With perfect dimming in sound in places, and Britta's little side trip on the bass and Sean's heavy rhythm and Stan's loud fast sound. I asked Audrey how Dean & Britta are doing with their french, I think she said they do well.
And Bonnie and Clyde was up next. Dean's pedal board stops working a bit into the song, it has to be frustrating but he first acts cool about it, then finds outs which one of his pedals is defective and removes it. I liked the peculiar sound of that pedal, hand made in Valencia apparently, I hope he'll fix it half way. Bonnie and Clyde was meant to be last song of the main set but since things didn't go as planned they play Time to Quit instead.
Donovan's Season of the Witch is the first encore, it made us happy the day before and did the same this time. It's always nice to hear b-sides being played. They actually did a nice video for the song when it came out, Dean's kissing a pretty girl and the others just looks cool. The song is one of those with a really calm verse and big intense chorus. It's very effective live. They played Indian Summer again and closed the show with Fuzzy Wuzzy as the second encore.
After the concert we had the chance to say goodbye to Sean and Ashley. We met her in Barcelona and both of them are always very nice to us. We said goodbye to Mike and to everyone else. Stan was there too. We didn't want this to be the last show for us but unfortunately it was. We were having such a great time and didn't want it to end. We followed Audrey to a small bar with happy but crazy drunk people, we weren't on the same level so we went back to the hotel around 2.
Audrey later told us she had stayed up until 8 in the morning, making popcorn without a lid, there were popped corn all over the place. The day after we went to Brooklyn again for the record stores and the Yo La Tengo concert, and on Sunday morning before we went home, we got to see Dean's apartment buildings he told us about. Taking pictures and making up stories in our heads. And we went to Milano's Bar and sat there quietly, just listening to the sound of an empty bar, early in the day. It's a nice sound. Peaceful. Comforting. The busy streets outside, people rushing by, got nothing else to do I guess. It's a nice sound. It's always good to be back in New York City. We all will be again.