Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Music

Thoughts All Over The Place

I have started three different posts in the last month, and I just can’t. I don’t quite have Trump fatigue yet, but what I can I say that isn’t already being said? Not much. On Twitter and Instagram, I like and repost a lot of stuff that I think others need to see. I DVR and eventually watch every episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s good for my soul, like chicken soup.

I thought about something the other night. I was out with my husband and some of our best friends in New York. We were, of course, at a jazz club. In the middle of our friend’s set, playing some amazing music, we were conversing about Trump. One of our friends and his wife are Canadian, and they are worried about a number of things: visa renewals, NAFTA, whether a quick visit home could turn them into illegal immigrants. Shit is bananas. Then another of our friends started speaking about the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and threats. Shit is bananas.

It hit me that at this moment in life, I kind of feel the least under attack, at least compared to some others.

I’m worried as shit about what Trump is doing and how many people I know and don’t know that it will affect. But in terms of my body and life, there isn’t much he can do to me. I look at my husband and I worry about Trump reducing funding for arts and possible re-instating Stop & Frisk. I look at my in-laws and worry about Trump’s immigration policies. I look at my friends we’ve met since moving here and I worry about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, hell I worry about generalized xenophobia.

I’m not trying to have any babies, but if I did get pregnant, my husband and I would roll with it, and I’d do my best to match the enthusiasm he and our parents would have. My healthcare comes through my job and is not at the mercy of stock markets and whatnot. People are always going to need/get organ & tissue transplants. My pension also goes through my job. My husband and I have really good healthcare (medical, dental, eye, & pet insurance) through my job.

I’m American born and raised, and I live in a city that’s very multicultural, and people look at me and assume I’m from here. I occasionally have people assume my parents are from whatever country they’ve come from, but they always assume my parents came from said country to America, then had me. They’d be wrong because my parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc. are all American born, but that’s not really important.

My point I’m finally circling back to is that Trump can sign into law that will mess me up any more than I currently am. I live in Brooklyn, where all the cops don’t yet have body cameras, but they can somehow afford to have those airport do-you-have-a-bomb scanners. I got stopped on my way to the A train so they could swab my bookbag-style purse and lunch tote. I had the thickest attitude about it, and the cops were all don’t-hate-me-I’m-just-doing-my-job. And I was all fuck-you-and-your-job-aren’t-you-the-same-ones-who-are-going-to-be-harassing-one-of-my-neighbors-for-being-male-and-black-and-outside-in-a-few-hours?

Ugh, I’m so irritated at everything right now.

Well, not everything. There are moments of wonderfulness. Nights at Smalls Jazz Club are my favorite. That place is like home to me. Literally, I walk in and I feel as comfortable as I do in my favorite places on this planet. Obviously, there’s the caveat that I have to wear pants, but still. And including tonight, I’ll have gone to to Smalls three times in 8 days, so that always gives me happy vibes.

And then there’s the Sims 4. I love me some video games in general, and the Sims in particular. I’ve made time to play more in recent weeks, and that has led to more writing and reading SimsLit. I’m telling you, these little computer generated people & aliens provide a great escape from everyday life. One of my sims fell in love with a man who was young enough to be her son, but she gave him a chance because he’d had a crush on her since he was in high school. They hit it off and she got pregnant. When she told him, he confessed that their child would have a sibling the exact same age. He’d slept with his sister’s fiancee on the night before their wedding, and she got pregnant too. The family’s plan was to raise the children as cousins, not siblings. I promise you that the only thing I had a hand in was letting my Sim sleep with the guy who’d loved her forever. The rest happened on it’s own (with the help of a story progression mod).

And there’s my volunteer work. I finally felt useful this past week. I was helping a high school girl with a ridiculous Algebra II project based on Angry Birds. I dug the movie, but does anyone even play angry birds anymore? Fucking parabolas man. I lost 35 minutes of my life because neither she nor I could remember that the vertex of the parabola is halfway between the two x-intercepts. But it’s cool because we figured it out and she got Part 1 of the project done. I don’t often feel useful tutoring those particular kids, but I really felt useful this week.

I wish I had more cohesive thoughts for this post, but I don’t. Sorry, not sorry.

People, at least black people, aren’t outraged because her feet are on the damn couch, even though that is trifling as hell. If you think the outrage is about feet, then you CLEARLY don’t watch porn, didn’t hang out with black guys and white grls in college, are naive about the politics/optics/history of black men/white women and white people/black people as a whole and are unfamiliar with the basic socialization of women and body language. I won’t call her a thot. But is she thotting? Well. 💅🏾 Get ya damn feet off the couch and close your legs, ma’am. At least TRY to look like a professional woman. You’re supposed to lean in, not bust it open. Part of what’s so infuriating of this is her casual comfort like this room of college presidents is the damn help. It’s like, you’re changing and half naked and a servant walks in, no biggie. They’re like living furniture. You’re changing and someone that actual matters to you comes in, you get embarrassed and throw something on. That she can be so casual and without f**ks and sitting in f*** me formation in the presence of White House guests, and guests of such note at that, or even her boss, is mind-blowing. Also, she is absolutely, 💯 percent putting her ***** on Orange’s sideburns. #kellyanneconway #whitehouse #potus

A post shared by Demetria Lucas D’Oyley (@demetrialucasdoyley) on Feb 28, 2017 at 3:10pm PST

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I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 2

I’m just going to pick up right from where I left off yesterday. I was telling a very long-winded story about my week of going out.

Tuesday, I was back out. This time I was at Moca Lounge. It is my spot on Tuesday nights because they have a poetry set that’s always great. A couple of drinks, some laughs, and always at least one poem that leaves the room speechless.

After Moca, I headed to Small’s Jazz Club. One of the best friends we’ve made since we moved to New York, Corey, had a gig there. His group, the Dubtet, plays and leads in the jam session every other Tuesday night. It just so happens to be the Tuesday I work in my 2 week work shift rotation. I hardly ever go because that means being awake for almost 24 hours straight.

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But I stayed out, and I’m glad I did because his girlfriend Allyson came out. And our friend Noah has his girl out, I was happy to meet her as well. Noah’s so sweet, so of course his girl is too.

I gave her a crash course on what it’s like to get thrown head first in the jazz world simply because you’re with a musician. She seemed interested, so that was a great sign for Noah. And me and Allyson too because we hardly ever see them women from the rest of the guys in the crew.

I think I got to a point where I could barely keep my eyes open, so Chris made me leave. I’m glad I listened to him because I’m no fun when I’m that tired.

Wednesday was my day off, and it takes a lot, a whole whole lot, to get me to leave the house on my day off. I do much better when I’m already out because of work or volunteering. But my friend Dericko, who I used to work with before he switched industries, invited me out.

I haven’t seen him in months, so of course I said yes. His company was having an event at Taproom 307, and there was a lot of beer to be had. I got there super late, as is my way, but I still had time to sit and have one great beer with him and his friends.

We caught up and had a lot of great laughs, then Dericko decided he had to head home because he had work in the morning. We decided to try and grab a quick bite before leaving.

One Google search later, we were at this place called Dos Caminos. This was not a quick bite, it was a full sit down restaurant. Didn’t mean to end up there at all, but I’m so glad we did. I’m not sure if that area counts at Gramercy Park or Flatiron District, but either way I would recommend it.The environment was perfect for a date or drinks out with friends.

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And the food was great. Freshly made guacamole anyone? My only complaint was the way they sliced their skirt steak. A few degrees in the wrong angle while slicing, and you take a perfectly tender bite and make it chewy. But everything was delicious, and it was great to get even more time to catch up with Dericko, and to get to know his new friend Liz.

The best thing to come out of the night was finding out that he moved into a new place. He said his place is large enough to accommodate all the people Chris and I have invited for Thanksgiving. Chris and I will probably take him up on that. We’re going to combine Friendsgiving with the McBride Thanksgiving for Traveling and Wayward Musicians.

Our tiny ass apartment was going to be really pushing it, but if his place is really big enough, that will take a big worry off my shoulders. I’ll probably still cook at home, where I’m familiar with the oven, but transporting the food over to his house shouldn’t be a problem.

Even though my DVR is busting at the seams, and I still haven’t unpacked from my visit to Chicago and St. Louis two weeks ago, I’d say it’s a fair trade off. I had a great time this past week.


The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

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I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.


Husbands and Birthdays

My daddy came into town this past weekend. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, along with some family friends from church. There were five of them total; the couple has a 10-year-old son.

Once we realized we could comfortable fit 6 adults and one kid into the apartment, a whole world of opportunity opened up. That’s why we keep doing musician’s dinners, and we’ll probably do a Super Bowl party this weekend.

But this post isn’t about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, it’s about my daddy’s trip. When they were here for Thanksgiving, my daddy and the husband of the family friend couple decided they loved New York City so much that they were coming back– with or without their wives.

The timing ended up working out so they could come at the end of January. The husband had a pretty big couple of gigs with Winard Harper at Smalls Jazz Club. Plus it was my daddy’s birthday.

Is it weird that my daddy took a birthday trip out-of-town for his birthday without my mom? Honestly, it’s not. My parents are cool like that. They do their own thing from time to time and I think it’s great. Plus, he came to see his daughter, so it’s not exactly like he was running off.

That didn’t stop me from making many wife-centered jokes for the weekend. The one I really ran into the ground was when I kept checking to make sure it was fine I was there seeing as how they uninvited all the wives for the weekend. But spending time with the husband, my daddy, and our good family friend was a lot of fun.

They came to the Brooklyn brownstone for dinner with some of the members of Winard’s band before the gig on Friday.

There is this scene in the Temptations movie that shows the guys sitting around the dinner table eating dinner after one of their gigs. They’re just bonding and eating home-made good food and becoming even more themselves because of the time spent.

At some point, one of these musicians is going to get a movie made about them, and I need a scene with me serving these guys dinner.

And I need the actress who plays me to look like Lela Rochon.

Lela Rochon with her husband from Wikipedia

But anyway. My daddy and our family friend are just so much fun. Cooking dinner for the guys as we’re all laughing, talking, drinking, and listening to music before the gig was so much fun. Socializing is so much easier in the comfort of my home.

After dinner, we headed out to the gig and the music was amazing. I’ve never heard Winard Harper play before, but I immediately understood why he’s famous. He’s Wikipedia-paging, Lincoln Center-gigging, Google update-requesting famous.

And he’s so nice and gregarious and funny. That man knows how to command a microphone in between songs.

The fact that we’re barely six months in to our lives here in New York and the husband is already doing these things is freaking amazing.

winard smalls 1 winard smalls 2

The first picture is from the last song they played Friday night. If you look on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a line of horns reflecting the soft lighting.

Winard Harper announced they were going to finish it out with a short song, and they would just take one chorus each. If you know anything about jazz, you know that means shorter solos and a (possibly) shorter song.

Then he invited all the horn guys he saw in the back to “come up and get some of this.” If you know anything about jazz, you know that means that even though they were only playing one solo each, he’d just invited an additional 3-6 guys to each take a solo, thus lengthening the song even further.

But man, if you could’ve been there, you would’ve been glad for it. They played the hell out of that song. Because there were so many playing, they kept building and building and by the time they got to the end, the whole crowd was screaming in approval.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes, and we were all sad for them to finally stop playing.

My daddy, who loves live music had an amazing time. I don’t think he could’ve had a better birthday in Chicago this year.

He ended up going to the 9/11 Memorial early Saturday with the family friend. They found it really interesting. I can totally see why as my daddy is a fan of history and America and tourism.

After they finished with that, the four of us went to dinner. I was so tired at this point, I went to their hotel room to take a nap while the three men went back to Smalls for another gig.

I of course cracked some more jokes about how they finally got rid of the last wife.

My daddy and our family friend headed back to Chicago on Sunday evening. They had a really great weekend hanging out in New York.

I feel like a need to get a testimonial posted somewhere that a quick celebratory trip to NYC is great. Especially if you get your hotel room. Please tell my friends and family that so more of them can come visit us.

So far, I’ve had 7 of the 10 people who stood up with me at my wedding come visit me, which is actually pretty amazing. I love my friends. I’m trying to get a perfect 10 before our one year anniversary here in NYC, but it probably won’t happen since one of my girls had a baby a few days ago.

Poor thing was in labor for two days.

Two days.

Think on that for a minute. I’m personally making a note to postpone having children for at least a few more months.

And I’m also making a note so that whenever I do have children, my daughter will know I’m making a birthday trip to come visit her without the husband in 30 years, and she better show me a good time.

Super random, I wasn’t the only one tuckered out this weekend.

sleepy jazz

That’s our cat Jazz giving me the eye for daring to photograph her while she’s trying to sleep


What’s Hot In New York City? Smalls Jazz Club

After my adventurous weekend, plus all the wonderful jazz clubs I’ve been to for the husband’s gigs, I’m going to write a few of these in the coming weeks.

Smalls Jazz Club is hot. Located in my favorite NYC neighborhood, Greenwich Village, it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and hear live jazz all night long.

Smalls Jazz Club   183 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014  Open 4pm-4am daily.

I’ve been to this club several times now. Every time I go, I love it more. I love the staff, I love the atmosphere, and I love the music. Just be careful not to share anything super personal if you sit near the front because on big gig nights, they live stream the music from the stage and you can hear everything.

If you’re not used to navigating the Village around 7th Avenue & 10th Street, good luck finding this place. But once you’ve found it, head down the narrow staircase, following the amazing music, and cross your fingers that there’s no need for a fire drill while you’re downstairs. Once you’re inside, peruse the drink list, check out the night’s special on the chalkboard, or ask the bartender to whip up something random for you. The worst drink I had here could be described as “good, but too sweet.”

I’d Recommend: Hanging out by the bar. Bar stools aren’t as comfortable as the benches, but the company is great. There are wonderful bartenders, and at least a handful of local musicians to mix it up with. I always meet someone new and interesting when I sit at the bar. I’d also recommend eating before you go. There are great restaurants all around, and the only food at Smalls are delicious pretzel sticks that get snatched up as soon as they’re put out.

Stay Away From: The front. As I said, the live streaming will share your whole conversation if you’re not careful. The club is small enough to feel intimate no matter where you land. There’s a bartender and a roaming waitress who will get your drink order, even if you’re crammed in a corner by the bathroom.

This club gets the extra factor because every single person I’ve heard make a comment about it says this place is their ideal watering hole. Even people who don’t live in Greenwich Village seem to agree. I dare you to come here, wearing whatever you currently have on, and not feel warm and welcome. The atmosphere is great, but not perfect. Plenty of people show up wearing fancy clothes, and plenty of people show up wearing jeans. It’s difficult to pinpoint which one is more accurate to the club’s vibe.The price range is what you’d expect for a bar in the Village, which means it’s more than what’d you’d like to pay, but you understand. The average of reviews on Yelp is 4.5/5 or so, which is really great.

The only caveat is that if you have a tendency to feel claustrophobic in tight spaces and/or you are short on patience with strangers, maybe wait until a weeknight to try Smalls for the first time.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (0); Music (4); Drinks (4); Atmosphere (3); Price (3); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

The Jazz Showcase gets a score of 18 out of 25. They could improve their score if they lowered their prices. I don’t expect they’ll ever add food, and you just can’t get over a 20 it seems without that. And now on to the pictures and links.

Smalls Jazz Club Website

Smalls Jazz Club Wikipedia

Smalls Jazz Club Yelp

Picture from Revive Music

Picture from Phernandez Fotos

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls


Chicago-Style Girl’s Day Off

What would you do with a day off?

Maybe you’d go shopping and have lunch with the girls? Well, I have no money for shopping and my girls live in Chicago, so that wasn’t an option.

Maybe you’d finally see a movie you’ve been dying to see and maybe even make it a double feature? There are a ton of movies out I’d like to see, but the thought didn’t even occur to me to try to see a film.

Maybe you’d stay up late dancing in your pajamas, just happy to have some time to yourself? That was an appealing thought, but I was out of the house last night, so pajamas dancing will have to wait.

Wednesday was a true day off for me for the first time since I’ve moved to New York. I normally work Monday through Friday, but some schedule shuffling made it possible.

I should have slept in, making myself mimosas and frittatas whenever I finally woke up. I should have walked around with no pants on, letting the hours slip away.

I should have been glad that for once, I didn’t have to wake up to get ready for work, or get ready for the soup kitchen, or get ready for church.

But instead, I volunteered my one morning of free time to the home I volunteer at. I mentioned before how I do tutoring at this home for new mothers who don’t have anywhere else to go. Since I started, the tutoring volunteering has expanded to include much more.

On Wednesday, it extended to babysitting an adorable 2 month old while her mom had a job interview. Getting a job is one of the big steps towards independence at the home, and I was happy to help facilitate it. Plus, that baby is freaking adorable and despite being a bit fussy, she’s a cool baby to be around.

So when I should’ve been at home determining the best proportion of orange juice to champagne, I was instead trying to coax a con artist baby to stay asleep even after I put her down.

I guess it’s not a bad trade. As much as I’m nowhere near ready for my own children, I do enjoy the companies of babies who aren’t jerks. And this baby is definitely not a jerk, so it was fine.

I’m looking forward to helping her mom more in the future once she starts her job. That’s right, she got the job!

After babysitting, I did finally engage in some day-off behavior. I sat on the couch with the husband catching up on TV shows. We watched MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revenge, Castle, Almost Human, and a couple of other shows too. There really is some great writing on TV these days.

Then it was nap time. I highly encourage anyone with a day off to embrace nap time like you’re five years old. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a lovely nap. My heart goes out to kindergarteners who don’t have nap time these days. Poor guys. What are they going to take away next? That wonderfully goopy paste that they use to make crappy crafts projects?

After my nap, the husband and I went out because he had a gig. We went to Small’s Jazz Club, a place I love to go to. The staff is great, the venue is unique, and bonus– it’s in the Village.

I know what you’re thinking. I give any and everything in the Village extra weight of special-ness just because it’s in the Village. Well, maybe you’d be right. Or maybe they just make better versions of everything in the Village and that’s why I love it so much. No way to know.

So we’re out at the club, and as now is the trend, as soon as I sat at the bar, I attracted the attention of a random stranger who’s super friendly. Last week, the attention I attracted was awesome because I met a great couple who I can actually see the husband and myself becoming friends with. We’re hanging out with them next week I think and it will be great.

Now the random European guy who’s attention I attracted last night was a different story. This guy seemed to mean well, but this crazy European man was systematically irritating, annoying, and perplexing everyone in our general vicinity.

He made the sweet bartender ladies roll their eyes because of the way he ordered his drinks. Ten minutes to decide on Stella Artois on tap? Really?

He got pushed aside by the bass player/sound man/ general peacekeeper dude because he wouldn’t stop blocking the aisle even though he had a bar stool.

He got hushed by an already boisterous crowd because his voice carried and was interrupting other people’s ability to hear the solos. I don’t know how much time you all spend in jazz clubs, but you’re really doing too much when you get hushed by the crowd who is also talking and laughing.

And to top it all off, the crazy European man got really drunk and almost threw up, so he got kicked out of the club. I’ve never even seen someone get kicked out of a jazz club before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen someone get throw-up drunk at a jazz club before.

Needless to say, I didn’t exchange contact information with this crazy European man (who tried to convince me my parents are hippies at heart as illustrated by the uniqueness of my name), nor did I make plans to hang out again.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the husband and his musician friends.

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Yeah, I have glasses now. Anyway.

Everyone was talking about how much fun our Sunday dinner was, and how they can’t wait until we do it again. I think we’ve started a new tradition, and when they make the movie about one of these musician’s lives one day, my Sunday dinners should make the script, at least it better.

Making new friends is hard, you know?

Especially when the options available are so damn weird.

But I have hope. The husband has another gig on Monday that promises a lot of fun. I ended up inviting 6 people to join me out. I didn’t even know I knew six people here in New York I’d like to hang out with socially outside of a work shift, a Sunday service, or a quick drink after the soup kitchen. The couple we met last week, a guy from work and a friend of his I haven’t met yet, and a guy we met at a bar back in September and his girlfriend.

The fact that I even had more than one person I could think of to invite made me happy. I’m perfectly comfortable hanging by myself at the husband’s gigs, but it would be nice to have some friends with me too.

On that note, I’m going to go make a list of cool ways to spend a day off. The only thing I know is that the next time it happens, I’m definitely not starting my day until after noon.

Any ideas?


Are You Feeling Jazzy? Are You?!

I fully intend to discuss my flights to Chicago, Atlanta, and New York from last weekend. You all are all groaning in advance at the detail provided in these posts, I know. But before I get to that, I want to discuss why I went to Chicago in the first place.

I was in Chicago for less than 24 hours, but I had to go. The husband was playing in the Chicago Jazz Fest. He was playing with his band, Quatuor de Force, on the Von Freeman Stage. It was a pretty big deal, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I don’t qualify for paid time off yet since I just started my new job, but I went in on Sunday and stayed late earlier in the week so I would be able to go to Chicago on Friday. I arrived super early in the morning and the husband picked me up at the airport.

He dropped me at my parents’ house where I had important business to attend to. I had to wait on the delivery of my new phone: the Samsung Galaxy S4. Also, I am still catching up on episodes of American Idol.

Yes, I’m still catching up on American Idol. I DVR’d all the episodes on my parent’s TV and I’ve been catching up very slowly for months now. They’ve already picked the judges for the next season, so I know I’m hopelessly behind, but I like watching the episodes. So if any of you even still watch that show, please don’t ruin it for me. I’ve managed to avoid finding out who won all this time. I’m trusting you people, don’t let me down.

The husband ran some errands and got his hair freshly cut (shaved? He’s bald), then came to pick me up. We headed downtown and parked in the Millenium Park Garage right near the festival.

At first, we couldn’t find the Von Freeman Pavillion, but eventually we found it. It looked pretty impressive for a music festival.

It was also so freaking hot out. So humid and so hot, and the fans in the tent weren’t doing anything.

But aside from the heat, it was wonderful. My friend, the husband’s friends, my family, and the husband’s family came out in large numbers. It was so amazing to see all the support from all these people who hadn’t gathered in such large numbers since his CD release party last year.

The music was amazing and the husband put together a really great set list. The crowd enjoyed every song and the whole tent filled up with people listening to his music. In moments like these, I’m still amazed that I’m married to such a talented man and that he’s able to share his gift with so many people.

After the show, he was selling CDs, signing autographs, and giving interviews.

Then I realized I was about to turn into a Snickers commercial, so we went to get food. We hung out with our friends some more and laughed and talked. Then we went back to the fest to check out some more music.

This big band was playing, and I love me some big band music. We were really enjoying ourselves when they made an announcement that a brief but badass storm was heading our way and they were going to temporarily evacuate the festival.

They asked everyone to head to the parking garage for dryness/safety and they would pickup again after the storm passed.

Yeah, that was my queue to leave. So we headed up north (through the storm) for some Mexican food before calling it a night. The husband and I went to my parents’ house to hang out for the night and go back over how great the whole day was.

Seeing as how the Chicago Jazz Fest is one of the last things the husband is doing in Chicago that he setup while he was still a resident there, I’m so glad it went well. He’s really going out on top. Already people were starting to talk about him as a “New York musician originally from Chicago.”

The designation doesn’t mean much except that you are good enough to survive in New York. It’s nice to hear because it feels like they respect his skills, but it’s also amusing because he’s hasn’t been in New York long enough yet. He’s only had one gig here because he keeps leaving town.

I’m sure once the husband sets up shop here for a few months, he’ll earn the designation they are already starting to give him. I’m just excited I’ll be here with him to see it happen.

Of all the posts I write and never have pictures, you all would probably be quite upset by this one having no pictures. So, just scroll down and there are pictures!

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What’s Hot In Chicago? Enye

Enye is hot. If you’ve already ready my blog post about it, you don’t need to read this. I am just writing this for my What’s Hot series. It just happened that it also made a blog post as well.

Enye.  2977 N. Elston, Chicago, IL 60618, (773) 866-9898. Hours not listed online, but they’re pretty much open for lunch and dinner and after dinner.

This restaurant is nice. When it gets call-the-fire-marshal crowded as a dance club, it’s even better. The service is slow, likely because it’s so crowded. Don’t forget your ID or the bouncer won’t let you in. Get ready to sweat if you show up after 10pm.

 

I’d Recommend: Going on Tuesday night. The music is fantastic and the crowd is too. Everyone there just seems happy to be there and ready for a good time.If you prefer lounges over clubs, but occasionally want that club feel to go dancing, this is the place to get your Latin dancing on.

Stay Away From: Aggressive men trying to dance with you. I’m not trying to make any sweeping cultural statements here, but if you don’t want to dance with someone, make it super clear. Some of the men are pretty aggressive on the dance floor.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (3); Music (4); Drinks (4); Atmosphere (3); Price (3); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

Enye gets 21 points, which is pretty damn good. They’re almost there. I didn’t give them a four for food because i haven’t tried enough of it to vouch for the whole menu. I didn’t even order a drink myself, but when I went, it was with such a large crowd that I got to try several cocktails and there were all amazing. Atmosphere is great, but not if you don’t like loud or crowded. Assuming you’re going to get your groove on, you shouldn’t mind too much. And price is good, but not perfect. Even though their online presence is lacking, they have over 25 reviews on Yelp and they’re pretty much all positive.

I highly recommend this place. Whether you live in Avondale and you’re looking for a local watering hole or you are looking for something new and different to try on a weekday date night.


Ele, Eme, Enye

If you speak Spanish, then you are properly reading the title of this post. Otherwise, it’s just me spelling out the pronunciation of the letters L, M, and N (with a tielde) in Spanish.

I know I just went through the long explanation of apartment hunting in Brooklyn and Manhattan for my big move to New York City. But now I’m going back to before I left. Go back in time with me.

There are a couple of great places in Chicago I never got around to talking about because I was neglecting this blog. What can I say? I was so busy being a new supervisor at work that I simply didn’t have the time.

After this post, I’ll update the What’s Hot page with the information about this place I’m going to tell you about.

It’s called Enye. That’s the name of this great restaurant/bar/club joint in Chicago. Google doesn’t easily link to their website, so you have to go through yelp. But then you can get there.

The husband and I ended up there totally on accident one Tuesday night. So here’s what happened.

With the supervisor job at my old job upended again (new director), I had a weird schedule. It was great though because that meant I was less likely to accidentally work a 60 hour week. And I got a lot more say in how my schedule turned out each week. You know how that goes, or maybe you don’t, but I’m gonna tell you.

Wednesday was meeting day usually, so I adjusted my schedule so I didn’t have to be at work on Wednesdays until after 10:00 most days. That meant Tuesday night was open for a little socializing.

This was perfect for the husband because he had a Tuesday night gig at Dolphin (formerly The Green Dolphin) most of these nights. I was feeling energetic enough to not go straight home, so I headed to the Dolphin after work one Tuesday.

He was playing with some people. I honestly can’t remember who we was playing with for the most part. Could’ve been a trio, could’ve been a quartet. All I know is there was a bass player I’d never seen before. And he was good. I mean really good. And it didn’t hurt that he was pretty good looking as well.

The main reason I noticed him is because there aren’t many really good upright bass players in Chicago. Not who play jazz really well. This is not coming from my vast knowledge; it’s just something the husband and his musician friends talked about. Whenever someone needed a bass player for a band or a gig, there were never a lot of options.

The second the gig was done, I inquired of the husband who this man was. He gave me this look that indicated he could totally tell I found the man attractive, but just chuckled at me and took me over to introduce us.

The guy was pretty nice and not all put off (that I could tell) by my effusive praise of his skills. During the course of our conversation, he mentions that he’s on his way to another gig right at that moment and invited us out. The husband and I are used to these impromptu invites and promptly accepted. I really am more fun when I’m with the husband. I never make new friends so easily when I’m by myself, but that’s a concern for another time.

The bass player’s gig was at Enye. We finished our drinks at Dolphin, then headed over. The husband had been there before and thought this place was great. I expressed my doubt about its greatness because he’d never mentioned it before.

When we pulled up, it looked authentic. By authentic I mean the patrons were majority Hispanic with only a few non-Hispanic looking people mixed in. The husband is half-Honduran so he counted. I’m 100% African-American, but people always think I’m something else. The bouncer gave us a look for only a second like we might not belong, but gave us the pass likely because the husband was carrying his saxophone.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t going to refuse us entry or anything. But you know how it is when you walk into a spot and people just give you the curious looks. They’re wondering how you even heard about the place let alone decided to come check it out.

So we walked in and we’re immediately immersed in Spanish. Spanish food, Spanish music, Spanish speaking. I really want to become fluent in Spanish to I can help my kids hold on to their heritage, but that’s again a concern for another time.

I was getting into the music and dancing my way through the crowd as I followed the husband to the back, pas the restaurant area. There a live band playing amazing music in the back, including the bass player. Except now he traded out the upright bass for an electric bass.

The husband immediately pulled out his saxophone and started playing along. I love that he knows so much music that he can walk into a club and just join in no matter what the song is. I joined in dancing with everyone around me.

The people were packed in tight and no one seemed to mind. If someone bumped into you while they turned, people just absorbed it and kept dancing. Next thing I know, I’ve taken off my jacket and put up my hair, and I’m sweating along to the music with everyone else.

The husband is playing and having a good time. I’m dancing and having a good time. Out of nowhere, this totally random woman comes up to me and throws her arms around me, hugging me tight.

This is why I don’t make friends easily y’all. I gave her this look that indicated she had about five seconds to explain herself or I was starting in with my patented karate chop on that ass. In spite of my unfriendly face, she continued to smile brightly, but she did quickly explain herself.

It turns out she was the wife of the bass player.

So my from-the-hood-who-is-this-bitch look immediately turned to from-the-hood-we-have-connections-so-hey-girl look. Once he got a break in his playing, the husband came over and hugged her too, The fact that he already knew her helped further explain her extra familiarity with me.

People who I meet through the husband tend to act as if they know me. Apparently, he regales them with stories (or forces stories upon them) about me and us and so they feel like they already know me by the time we meet. This woman was no exception.

So we were dancing and talking and enjoying the music. I decided I liked her. Even though she was extra familiar, but not familiar enough to know I’m not a hugger, I liked her. At this point, I knew we were headed to New York sooner rather than later, and I was genuinely sad that I might not be able to hang with her again.

After a while, the husband put down his horn. He came over and danced with us. We were having a really good time, but unfortunately, we had to leave not too long after that. I did have to be at work in the morning, even if it was later in the morning.

Oh, I forgot, I danced with this other man before I met the bass player’s wife. It was the totally random man who came up to me and started dancing with me. I was trying to follow his steps and only doing an okay job. Mostly, he just spun me around a lot. Even though I don’t really consider myself a friendly person, I really do appreciate it when other people, especially strangers, are friendly to me.

We had so much fun at Enye, we went back again the next time I went to the Dolphin for the Tuesday gig. This time, we had a ton of friends with us. There were three or four other couples that joined us, as well as a bunch of the musicians who were playing at Dolphin.

This time, I got to try the food, and it was pretty good. They make chorizo at the restaurant and it was delicious!

I didn’t try any of the drinks because I had quite enough to drink at Dolphin. But I’m looking forward to trying some drinks there whenever we’re back in Chicago with the time to head up there.

So if you’re in Chicago and you can make your way up to the north side, go to Enye. Dancing, great live music, and amazing food awaits.


Strep Throat and Strippers

To swing fully away from my last few work-centric posts, I’d like to completely switch gears. Let’s talk about strippers. Stripper and strep throat.

Okay, one last thing about work. Strep is going around. Sore throats and fevers popping up here and there. I was lucky enough to escape the flu going around. But the strep got me. I blame changing weather and a 60+ hour work week. Stupid lack of overtime pay.

Moving on back to the strippers. One of the husband’s good friends has a show tonight. Two of them do actually. In fact, it’s likely that most of them do because it’s a Saturday night. But there are two shows we’re going to try to see tonight since the husband has no gig.

I’m looking forward to seeing both guys because I’ve never seen them playing their own gigs. I’ve only ever seen them on someone else’s gig. I’d love to see what type of set list and song choices they put together. The music is just totally different when you’re playing to your own preferences.

One of the friends is getting married this September, so the strippers aren’t related to him. Not that being married means strippers go out of your life. I wouldn’t suggest anyone pretend they don’t like strippers just because they said I do. But that’s a conversation for another time.

The friend who is nowhere near getting married is the one involving the strippers into tonight. After his gig, he has a party bus, and there are reports there will be a stripper or strippers there. The husband thought it would be fun for us to go to the shows and then join the party bus.

Of course I said yes, mostly because it’s one of those experiences to cross off a bucket list, should I ever get around to making one. I mean, think about it. A party bus just sounds fun, even more so under these circumstances.

This was all before the strep. Now I feel like crap. All the lights are too bright, the sounds are too loud. My throat hurts and I’m tired as hell. And truly, if I’m contagious with strep (unconfirmed strep), should I really hang  around strippers tonight?

What if I sneeze on one of them or something? I would never sneeze on a person if I could help it, but I’m trying to figure out why I would be that close to the stripper in the first place. On a party bus, they’d have my married heterosexual self in the back of the bus so I don’t get in the way of anything.

But in this sneezing scenario, I’ve infected the stripper. Let’s say she doesn’t get sick. What if she just becomes some highly contagious strep carrier? She’d start infecting people and there would be a small strep epidemic.

It wouldn’t take long before some sap visiting her strip club walks in with a weak or weakened immune system. Next thing you know, that guy’s dead. Then people will be tracing all the strep back to the stripper, who will point the finger at me.

Then I’ll have to explain how I could’ve possibly infected a stripper with strep, and only the 13 1/2 people who read this blog will know the truth.

And then the local news will want to talk to the source of the outbreak because it didn’t follow normal disease patterns. I’ll end up on Wikipedia after a few more people die. Let’s face it, if you’re going to find a grouping of people with weakened immune systems, a strip club is a great candidate.

I can’t have that. I can’t become famous or infamous.

I guess that means we’ll have to avoid the party bus with the stripper(s). Not that I wasn’t dying to go, mind you. I’m just trying to save lives here.

I guess we’ll have to figure out something  else to do. Maybe we can double date with the husband’s work wife, but without her non-boyfriend.

Did you follow all that? The husband has a friend we both consider his work wife. We’ve been trying to double date for a while, but she’s not really a fan of her current guy, so we’re thinking of double dating without him.

Is it even still a double date if it’s just three people? I need a name for it other than having a third wheel because it wouldn’t be like that at all.

The husband’s work wife is a waitress though, so there is epidemic potential there as well. Eh, I won’t worry about it because her job has signs everywhere telling the employees to constantly wash their hands. I doubt the party bus even has a sink.


Yesterday Things Changed

Everything didn’t change. I’m still sick. I’m still being carted off to a wedding in Virginia this weekend. I’m still going to kick butt at Fantasy Football this weekend.

But something else changed…

Trust me, it sound even better than it looks, and it looks amazing!

The husband’s CD arrived yesterday, which you know if you follow me on Twitter. For the rest of you, why don’t you follow me on Twitter?

Last summer, the husband got together with some amazing musicians and recorded this project. With all that we’ve had going on in the last 18 months or so– getting engaged, married, moving, job changes– there hasn’t been a lot of room to make the husband’s music a priority like we wanted to.

But all that has changed. And it’s culminated in his completed CD. Actually, for me, the culmination will be the CD release party next week in Chicago. It will be next Thursday at L26, the restaurant that I love so much I’ve mentioned it in a blog post before. We had our engagement party there last year in August.

The CD design, which looks amazing on the front, back, and inside, is the work of a friend of ours who is an amazing artist. She did our wedding invitations too. Please check out her blog and see how amazing she is.

The husband sold his first copy of his CD last night. He sold way more than one, and for that I’m excited. He’s had this dream for so long, and it means the world to me to witness it as it happens. Because of this wedding this weekend, I had to trade nights with someone and work the night of his first gig with his newly formed band, so I could be off tomorrow for the drive to VA. It sucks that I wasn’t there looking sexified to support the man I married. But I know he understands that I was there in spirit.

I’ll definitely be there Thursday night next week. The original group he gathered to record the CD are the ones playing the release party, and I love them so much. I will show that I can support and schmooze (and swipe credit cards for CD purchases) with the best of them, and I can’t wait. If you want to check out some of the husband’s music (yes, you’re still “the husband” even though your whole name is now plastered on my blog), go to his website www.crmcbride.com.

We’ve invited family, friends, co-workers, random folks who’ve come to music events the husband has played at throughout the summer, and now you. If you read my blog and you live in Chicago, you should come to the release party. Let me know ahead of time and I’ll have one of L26’s famous “L” line martinis waiting for you when you arrive.

The party starts at 8:00 PM. The DJ, who’s from St. Louis, is kicking off the night. He’s so amazing, he did us a favor by doing our wedding reception, even though he doesn’t really do weddings. Notice a theme here? The husband and I are big supporters of hard workers who produce a good product. If we like your work, and we like you, we keep coming back, bringing lots of business along with us.

I never thought I’d be married to a musician. I mean never. But being the wife of a musician is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I’m so grateful he’s letting me be such a big part of this process. Hey husband, yeah you, I’m so freaking proud of you and I love you. You did good.


What’s Hot In Chicago? The Jazz Showcase

The Jazz Showcase is hot.

Jazz Showcase   806 S. Plymouth Ct. Chicago, IL  Sets at 8PM and 10PM Mon-Sat; sets at 4PM, 8PM, 10PM on Sunday.

This jazz club is located in the historic Dearborn Station Building in Chicago. You can miss it if you drive past it too quickly. This place is great for live jazz. You’ll get local artists, national artists, and big stars. It just depends on the night.

The night I took the pictures below was a great night. The husband and I headed a gig for a friend of his, Milton Suggs, who has an amazing voice. This place was perfect for a date night with the low lighting, good wine, and great music.

Everything in there is red, so don’t wear red if you intend to take pictures. But the red is a perfect color to compliment all the pictures on the walls. Most of the wall space in this venue has pictures of jazz greats, well-known, and not so well-known. It’s a low-lit chill spot where you can listen to some live music and enjoy a drink with your friends or on a date. I would suggest you make dinner plans beforehand. They start late and there aren’t many places open nearby for food after the set lets out.

It’s worth it to note how great the staff is. The bartender is friendly and knowledgeable. The guy who works the door is hilarious and warm. The waitresses are timely and always have a smile. And if they decide you are worth flirting with, you’ll get even better service.

I’d Recommend: Sitting close to the stage. There are lounge chairs and couches spread around, so you can choose your level of comfort. But when you are close to the stage, there is an intimacy you feel with the artists on stage. It’s like they’re doing the show for you. And if you want to talk to them after the set (which most artists seem to love), you won’t really have to wait in line because you’re already in the front.

Stay Away From: The walls. There are tables lining the walls, but there is a lot of traffic as that’s where people have to walk to go the bar and to go to the bathroom. And in the winter, there is a draft by the windows. It’s just kind of disconnected from the rest of the venue even though it’s right in the same room. The point of going to a club like this is for that close-up-to-the-music feeling, so don’t take away from it.

This club gets the extra factor because of how cozy it is and also because of how great the service is from the staff.  There is no food, so no points there. The music is top notch, just make sure you do some research on the type of artist playing the night you go so you don’t stumble upon free jazz when you wanted standards. The drinks are adequate, as they have all the staples you need (312 beer, at least 4 red and 4 white wines, etc.). The atmosphere is great, but not perfect. The price range is what you’d expect for a bar in the South Loop area of Chicago, which means it’s more than what’d you’d like to pay. They consistently got 3/3 and 4/5 out of many reviews.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (0); Music (4); Drinks (2); Atmosphere (4); Price (2); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

The Jazz Showcase gets a score of 16 out of 25. They could improve their score if they lowered their prices or expanded their drinks menu. I don’t expect they’ll ever add food, and you just can’t get over a 20 without that. And now on to the pictures.

When you first walk in to the main area, you see this behind the stage. It doesn’t actually glow red, that’s just the red curtains, lights, and walls making it glow in photo.

This blurry picture is a shot towards the back. There are some great light fixtures making the low lighting over the bar. At least over there you can read the menus.

As you can see in this pic of the husband and me, there aren’t a lot of lights around the room. All the more reason to sit close to the stage. Unless of course, you like hanging out in the dark corners…

Two nice glasses of wine and we didn’t even have to ask for the water. They really do have great service here. Just keep your cell phone out so you can read the drinks menu. That little candle was the only light within 10 feet of our table.

This is Milton Suggs singing. He has an amazing voice. Also, you can see the basic layout of the stage here. Every show I’ve been to is set up this way, thought you can see the drums off to the side.

I just had to throw in this shot because it’s the husband playing. He hates wearing his glasses, so he’s not a fan of this pic. But come on son, I had to show him on the horn at the Jazz Showcase!

Image via chicagostudioclub.com. This is what the Jazz Showcase looks like from the outside.


Free Time, Schmee Time

I don’t really remember what free time is anymore. Technically, free time is time spent doing nothing when I am avoiding other responsibilities. There’s always something waiting for my free hands. I wonder if I will ever reach the end of my to do list. I likely never will, but I have decided I will be okay with that and just make the most of the time I do have.

The husband and I had quite the busy weekend with only stolen moments of free time. He had four gigs, our niece spent the entire weekend with us, one of my friends threw a birthday party for her twins, and we had our fantasy football draft. I have to tell you, I am not a person who can wake up at 8 am, stay out all day visiting places that are 30-50 miles apart, and then finally get home around 2 am. And then you want me to do it again the next day? Shit, I was so wore out this weekend.

I finally lost steam late Saturday night and had to beg off the husband’s gig that night. I stayed at home with our niece and played a bit of the Sims 3 on the PS3 before going to bed. The weekend did have some pretty good highlights. The niece and I made home-made pancakes using a recipe from my favorite cookbook. If I end up doing that cooking blog, this recipe will be the first one I blog about.

Another highlight is that I finally washed clothes. How damn domestic can I be that a highlight of my weekend is that I washed clothes? Turns out I actually kind of like washing clothes. Put it on the shit-I-shouldn’t-like-but-do list along with making spreadsheets, feeding everyone asparagus, and weighing myself daily.

The pinnacle of the weekend was the fantasy football draft. This league is pretty serious for me. The team includes lots of the husband’s friends. Friends like groomsmen and wedding guests. Friends who have been around and will be around for years. So the bragging rights and shit talking that come with this draft is a huge deal. The husband isn’t really a football person, but I am. So when this draft went down, I felt like I had to represent for our whole household. The husband couldn’t even do the draft because he had a gig, so his whole team was on autopick.

Am I taking this fantasy football team too serious? Definitely. But when I am whooping ass and taking names, the husband will be keeping count so he can bring it up with his friends for the next 50 years. This fantasy league is really more of a long-term investment in my marriage, you see. And in the far-fetched chance that I don’t come out on top, I can just claim I’m a girl and out-matched, drop my handkerchief on the ground, and pout or faint or something.

After the weekend passed successfully, I was proud to report that the house was still clean and the pets were still alive. Unfortunately, we were grocery-less, baked goods-less, out of washing detergent, the cats were in a fight, and I had only worked out twice. I did learn a lesson about being busy and staying productive. They are not even close to the same thing. don’t get so busy that you don’t handle your business. Next time a weekend like this rolls around, which is just next weekend (Labor Day), I will be more prepared. It’s hard being both busy and productive. Okay, I’ll stop whining now.

How was your weekend?


Playing Catch-Up All Weekend

I had gotten quite used to working just two days in a row and then having a day or two off. That is officially my favorite way to work, at least at my job. There’s virtually no chance of emotional or mental burn out. But that is not always my life. This weekend, I’m working three days (Friday-Sunday), and I’m trying to be okay with it. But there’s just so much to do. As I’m writing this, I’m half-way through the weekend, but I already feel behind.

My job is doing this annual competency review thing. It basically means we do all the things we normally do every day for work. But instead of it being real life-saving work, we’re doing it for fake. And we’re putting it into a binder for our supervisors to go through. My opinion on this project can be deduced, so I’ll just not state it.

My job is pretty extensive, so my binder is freaking huge. It’s due in a few days, but I haven’t had the time to work on the fake job assignments because I’m too busy doing real job assignments. I long for last years review when I wasn’t fully trained yet so I was exempt from several parts of the binder.

To make like just a bit more crowded, I had to get up early before work yesterday. A girl from my church I mentor is headed to Hampton for college on Thursday. HBCU whoop whoop! Her trunk party was yesterday. I was representing both of my families: my parents/sibling, and my husband/in-laws.

I had to drop off a gift, grab a snack, a snap some pictures before heading to work. Her parents live about 35 min south of me and work it about 35 miles northwest of me. That wasn’t a fun driving trip, but it was worth it because otherwise I wouldn’t see her before she left.

I feel good about taking care of my girl. I gave her an ATM card that goes to an emergency fund. Anyone who has been to college without a silver spoon in their mouth knows having that emergency fund is a lifesaver when you can’t take the meal plan or you need to bail a friend out of jail. What? You didn’t bail at least three friends out of jail while you were at college? Well, she is going to Hampton and not FAMU, so maybe she won’t need to use the emergency money for bail like I did.

Once I got my butt to work, I decided today was the day for some serious multi-tasking. I had a big stack of charts to QA, so I figured I’d watch the Olympics while I was working. I know, the Olympics have been over for a week. I don’t want to hear it though because I didn’t get to watch a single event. I was always at work, or sleep, or doing laundry at my apartment without a laptop or cable. So I didn’t get to see anything. I’m playing late as hell catchup.

Mostly the events played in the background and I kept and eye out for runners crossing the finish line and things like that. The rhythmic gymnastics made me pause my work and really pay attention. Luckily, I had break time to use to do this because I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know how I missed this is previous Olympic years, but I had missed it. I thought the floor routine and balance beams were great. But those things don’t have anything on this team event. It was like ballet and Cirque du Soleil and that one scene from Old School with Will Ferrel all mixed in. The things they could do in synchronization. Okay, I’m done going on about it, but seriously, if you’ve never seen it, you should check it out.

As the night came to and end, it really hit me that I am to getting enough sleep this weekend. I know I’ll pay for that on Monday when I’m still playing catch-up with chores. And working 5 days out of 6 makes it hard. I’ll have to clean the floor, the mirrors, the laundry, the cats’ area, etc. all in one day. So even though I do get one day off, I won’t be doing anything fun with that time. Unless you count whatever lingerie the husband picks for me to put on after my workout. Giggity.

I’m also looking forward to next weekend. The husband is playing in downtown Chicago. Then one of the bands he plays with is having a CD release party. If it goes well, I will be taking notes on things we can make happen for the husband’s CD release party which will hopefully be next month. If you like jazz, check out the group the husband will be playing with. It’s called Marquis Hill’s Blacktet.


Trying To Stop Drooling

As an 80’s baby, I entered my adolescent/teenage years addicted to TGIF. Step by Step, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, I loved it all. I remember Corey and Topanga getting married on Boy Meets World. I remember Alex growing boobs on Step by Step. Most importantly, I remember when Steve Urkel became Stefan Urkel.

As a young girl, I damn near melted. Drooling in front of my TV set was a regular occurrence, and I was flabbergasted when Laura ultimately ended up with Steve while Stefan became a model in Paris. Seriously, to this day, I’m like what the fuck?!

But this is not about my childhood, this is about my adulthood. And as an adult, my lust for the character Stefan Urkel has been transferred to Jaleel White the adult. He’s on Dancing with the Stars this season and I can’t get enough.

Every time he comes on screen, I’m thankful that the husband isn’t nearby so he can’t see my face. I know when he sees this post, he’ll be able to imagine. He’ll just imagine the face I usually reserve only for Will Smith. But I had forgotten how much I love me some Jaleel White.

He’s no conventionally attractive, at least all my friends keep telling me I’m alone in finding him so damn irresistible. But I don’t give a damn. I likes what I likes. And when I finally got around to watching Monday’s episode of DTWS online, I melted again.

He danced with his partners to Babyface’s For The Cool In You. Everything I loved about the 90s was personified on my computer screen. And what’s more, it was all grown up.

It actually reminded me of one of my favorite things about the husband. He was some random boy I had a crush on when we were kids at the same music conservatory. I didn’t know him then and didn’t care too. I just liked watching the cute boy with the big afro play his saxophone. And now he’s all grown and sexy and everything I might’ve imagined he would be all grown up, if I’d cared to imagine such things as a child.

Jaleel White is all grown up. And I will be so sad if/when he leaves DWTS this season. There’s no Olympic athlete, the football player is just so-so, and there’s not a standout dancer that’s got enough fans prior to the start of the season to be ahead with no chance of catchup. That bodes well for his chances. We’ll have to see.

Now, please excuse me while I watch this dance on repeat for the thirtieth time.


Msuic On My Honeymoon

In the spirit of thinking about things that help keep me happy, I want to talk about my honeymoon. At first, our honeymoon was supposed to be in Panama and New Orleans. As a lover of holidays (y’all know how I was about Christmas), I was over the moon with our original plans.

We were going to go to Panama for Carnival (and Valentine’s Day). Then we were going to fly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Every time we make plans, something gets changed because of the fiancé’s music.

Since these were major and expensive plans, I made him promise not to take any gigs in the days before all the way up to 12 days after the wedding. We were planning on a long honeymoon so he agreed. I didn’t completely ban music, in fact I asked him to bring his horn with him in case an opportunity to play came up.

But of course, the plans changed. He got an amazing opportunity to be in this contest. This contest is geared towards young jazz musicians in Chicago. One of the people who is pretty important in this group who runs the contest attended one of the fiancé’s gigs. He told him it would be a good idea for him to sign up for this competition.

This competition is a great way to gain recognition as a young jazz musician. It has an amazing first place prize: $10,000.  Also, it was the Wednesday after our honeymoon, when we were supposed to be in Panama.

I had tried to book our honeymoon the day before this came up, but hit a snag. Thank God I did because I was all for switching course. We decided to do the first part of our honeymoon in Chicago and then fly to New Orleans for Mardi Gras as planned.

Technically this contest isn’t a gig, so he didn’t break his promise. It just so happened that after we decided to stay in Chicago, other gig opportunities popped up. We reasoned that we’d already be in downtown Chicago at a great spa hotel, so why not?

The honeymoon isn’t starting the way I expected, but I have to admit that I’m feeling pretty good about starting our marriage off in a way that shows him how much I support his career ambitions. I traded warmth, sun, and sand on our first real vacation for a competition. I think it’s a fair trade because he’s really talented and has a good shot at it.

And hey, if he wins, we’ll still go on a vacation somewhere warm, sunny, and sandy.


An Unexpected Night

After a night of working, I only got a small amount of sleep. I had to wake up so the fiancé and I could go have our mini photo shoot with our wedding photographer to get our guest book taken care of (hint: it’s a photo that people sign).

After the shoot, we were supposed to hang out doing his music thing. Because of our opposite schedules, it had been a while since we’d done that, so I was down.

A weird turkey patty, some Dr. Seuss rhymes, and a freezing cold club later, and I was over supporting the music.

To be fair, it wasn’t the fiancé’s music. But it was a group he regularly plays with that was adding live music to a hip hop show. The sound check was at 4:30. We didn’t get there til almost 6 and there were only 2 other people there. We were hungry so we went to a bar and grill up the street where I ordered the worst turkey burger I’d ever tasted.
I’m used to real burgers. They start with ground meat, form a patty, and throw it on the grill. It’s a bar and GRILL, why wouldn’t they do that? Instead they had these pre-made things that had the consistency of children’s chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs.

After that harrowing experience (I take my food seriously), a trip to Burger King to get a Hershey’s chocolate cream pie made me feel better and slightly less hungry. Back to the club we went.

The show was supposed to start at 8. Fast forward to 9:45 pm. There were finally more than 10 people there and we were ready to start. The opening emcee was the

 

one with the Dr. Seuss rhymes. He did get better as he was going, but it didn’t start well. I was just ready for the actual rapper who’s show it was. I like his songs.

He opened for Talib Kweli at his show at the Shrine earlier this year. This same group the fiancé plays with did the live music. Moments like that make moments like this almost bearable.

Even thought the music got better (except the singer who used the phrase “on tonight”, ugh), the club was too cold and it never got better cause there were 11.5 people there and not enough body heat. Sometimes things aren’t quite ideal, but there’s always a silver lining. In the almost 2 hrs the show was delayed, the fiancé kept me warm. He sat there with his arms wrapped around me instead of networking. So sweet!

 


“The Wrath of…”

The fiancé told me the funniest story today. But before I can tell you the story, you need a bit of background.

1) The fiancé was in a relationship for 5 years that ended about 4 months before we met. He ended up writing a song about her called the Wrath of Kneecoal. It’s a very good song, one of the best of the 10 he’s putting on his jazz CD he’s about to put out.

2) I’ve only met her once. It was at one of his gigs down in St. Louis, near where she lives. I didn’t make a good impression (not that I cared). He played her song and introduced it as “being influenced by a friend of his that can be quite scary when she’s angry or fussing.” A friend at the next table leans over and asks was the song about me. She was sitting at the table behind me so I throw a thumb over my shoulder in her direction and say, “Hell naw! The song is about her.” She didn’t appreciate that. I was all, whatevs, the song is about you and your anger.

3) The fiancé and his ex are trying to be friends. I think this is okay because I believe she doesn’t want him anymore and he certainly doesn’t want her anymore, so if they think friendship is a good idea, go for it. They’re also friends on Facebook. Part of the reason this friendship is only mildly successful is that almost every time they talk, she says something that upsets the fiancé and reminds him why they aren’t together anymore.

So on to the story.

The fiancé puts up a Facebook status that says something to the effect of: “It really grinds my gears when random musicians advertise their music/gigs/albums on my Facebook page without asking first.” A couple of his friends agreed. After all, who wants unwanted crap from random folks on their Facebook wall? Nobody, that’s who.

Of course, most people loved the Family Guy reference to gear-grinding. If you don’t know what I mean, Google “Grind My Gears”.

The fiancé’s ex put a comment on his page that said, “Grind my gears. Lame.”

Another friend of the fiancé puts a comment beneath hers that said, “The Wrath of…”

When the fiancé told me that story, I was dying laughing. This friend of his that wrote that comment is bass player on the recording of the song. When the guys were first practicing the songs, they didn’t really know the story behind all the songs. The fiancé explained this particular song to them, so they have several examples of how she can be and how she tends to treat the fiancé.

Having someone come back at you on Facebook quoting a song title written about how horrible you are is a bit cruel, but goodness it’s funny!