Thursday, 22 January 2015

Reflections on the first 3 weeks of the New Year

What a whirlwind. I write from my sickbed as a dreadful lurgy struck me just as I was to leave for London from the East Village. Jane, my fabulous friend and theatrical landlady to the stars, and Luka, her son and tech wizard, were at home due to Martin Luther King day, and I could barely open my eyes let alone get to an airport. But buoyed up by vitamin C tablets and natural vim and vigour I managed to get myself back to London.

So many wonderful things, times places. Such great work. Fabulous people.

Apart from Jane and Luka, highlights included the 54 Below run which was a total joy and resulted in some lovely reviews and the making of new friends.

and a massage from the fabulous bodyworker George Russell - cannot recommend more. You can find out more about him, here - he's sorted my lower back pain in one session with a set of brilliant exercises.

Then I found out Hard Rain had won a award for best CD of 2014 which is just mind blowing. There was a nice piece about it in the Examiner, here

Then I started working with the terrific singer, Pamela Lewis and her band of musicians - a delight from start to finish and great to see her do 2 really terrific opening shows of this new Billy Joel material New York State Of Mind at The Metropolitan Room with Ritt Henn on bass, John Hurley on guitar, Marcus Parsley on trumpet and Bill Heller on piano and really nice arrangements. She'll be doing another performance of this in early March in NYC if you missed her this time around.

I managed to fit in some fun time with New York's best Doctor Thelma Reyes, writer Kristine Reyes and her husband, photographer Jason De Crow, and we had lunch at Veselka on 2nd Avenue.

Jason, Kristine, me and Thelma on 2nd Avenue in sub zero tempertures.

Jane got me started watching Celebrity Big Brother, which I have managed to avoid for, what, decades? Now I know why. Addictive and vindictive and other words ending in "ive". Destructive. There are more I'm sure. Luckily being back home has broken the cycle and I've been able to detox by watching the first magnificent episode of Wolf Hall, and marvelling at Mark Rylance's fabulous acting, again.

I digress. APAP was amazing. Its in the New York Hilton and its mind boggling. Every musician within a hundred mile radius of New York must have been playing and there were people there from all over the world come to ply their wares at the world's biggest performers and agents trade fair. At one point in our green room there were jazz musicians, close harmony blonde country chicks dressed in shortie pink lace, pirates (not kidding) there were basemen, drummers, trombonists, percussionists, every kind of stringed instrument you can imagine. Walking past each conference room you'd hear bluegrass, then there would be a group of what looked like Japanese schoolgirls dancing on chairs, a woman with a lute, a jazz combo. It was chocca with life.  Liz Thomson from Book Brunch was around, too. She's working on a great new project to bring it all back to Greenwich Village. More here…..

And Tammy McCann the great singer from Chicago was performing.
Tammy and Barb at APAP
As was the fabulous pianist Laurence Hobgood.

Laurence and Barb at APAP
Gail Boyd Management, who look after us all, had a booth downstairs, and we all dropped by on Monday to hang and have fun and eat popcorn.

Tammy, Gail, Barb and Laurence in front of the best booth at APAP no mistaking.
There was time to have lunch and a really good chinwag with James Gavin, mid tour of his Lena Horne show. And the wonderful pianist Aaron Graves took me to meet Barry Harris and to one of Barry's now legendary workshops. Ask Simon Wallace how important Barry is, he'll tell you for sure.

Lenny Watts, Tracy Stark and I workshopped with a bunch of lovely singers, and we reconnected with Jay, one of our alumni from last year's Connecticut Eugene O'Neill Cabaret Conference.

Both Mike Lunoe and I got food poisoning from what used to be my favourite Thai restaurant - I will never eat at Room Service on 9th Avenue again. I have returned, tail between my legs, to Pam's Pad Thai, and now all is well.

And the Sunday on Long Island working with arranger and composer John McDaniel on our new show for this year's Connecticut Conference was a joy of joys. But much more about all of that, soon……

And a mention of the weather. Which was brutal, to put it mildly. But clear and sunny, often, and cleansing in a mad wintry way.

Meanwhile, there's a new series of French cop genius show Spiral on iplayer, and time flies…..

And Tom Lescher, as always, has great advice from the heavens……

Namaste, be well, and keep on trucking!

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