Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “night life

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.

2015-04-21 23.20.29 2015-04-21 23.19.56-6 2015-04-21 23.14.49 2015-04-21 23.07.55 2015-04-21 22.22.25-13

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.


Celebrating A Cross-Country Anniversary

As I mentioned in my last post, the husband is in Chicago, so we weren’t together for our anniversary. But in honor of our anniversary, I’m giving him a request he probably doesn’t even know I paid attention to. The husband doesn’t want the name “the husband” anymore on this blog.

I previously called him Easy (which was a random ass reference to a book by the author of Gossip Girl), and he wants to go back to that. I apologize for the future confusion, but he is now Easy.

You’re welcome Easy.

We couldn’t do dinner or sex or a carriage ride or anything else celebratory for our anniversary, but we could exchange gifts. Seeing as how gift giving is my love language, I was all for this cross-country gift exchange.

Our anniversaries are Feb 8th and Feb 11th (married one day, wedding the other day). I wanted to do something for Easy for both, but I also wanted to get gifts that are the traditional 2nd anniversary gift category.

There just aren’t a lot of options for cotton anniversary gifts.

I settled on getting him a pair of jeans and something else that I can’t reveal yet because for some reason, it has yet to arrive in the mail. But the jeans were a good purchase if I do say so myself. I got the size wrong because I suck.

Easy was nice enough to tell me the jeans weren’t that far off and he even wore them out to his gigs last night. All we’ll have to do is get them shortened when he gets back. I have a pair of pants bought for me as a birthday gift by my mother last year that still need to go to the tailor.

This is a perfect opportunity to finally get a tailor!

Easy says my gift is in the mail. But he said that days ago, so I assume he meant it and I will just have to get a lovely delivery soon. I don’t think he meant, “the gift is in the mail” like an overdue bill. We’ll see.

Just kidding, if he says he sent me something, I know it’s coming.

But enough about yesterday. Let’s back up to Saturday, as that was our first second anniversary.

Originally I wasn’t going to get him anything because like I said, there aren’t a lot of great cotton gift options.

But we spoke on the phone Saturday afternoon and I felt a surge of gift-giving love towards Easy, and I wanted to make it happen.

Plus, when I was at the soup kitchen earlier, my friends told me I should send him something like flowers to one of his gigs for Valentine’s Day. I’m certainly not going to do that, but it did plant the seed for sending something for our anniversary.

After we got off the phone, I checked with Google (who knows my life and loves me) and found a couple of bakeries near where his gig was that were still open.

I picked the one with the best yelp reviews and called them up. They don’t take same day orders and it was past their delivery window, but the girl on the phone worked with me once I told her what I wanted.

They had cupcakes in-house already prepared fresh that day. She said if I could get someone to their location in the next 70 minutes, she would let me pay over the phone and they could pickup the cupcakes of my choice.

I made some calls to some of the hundreds of members of our wedding party. I finally found a friend who came the closest to what I needed (doing nothing, in the city, has a car, wearing pants), and asked if she would do me this huge favor.

She didn’t have on pants, but she quickly rectified that and hopped in her car to race against the clock and the snow to make it to the bakery before closing.

I called back to the bakery, placed my order, paid over the phone and crossed my fingers.

In the meantime, I called our friend who works at the place where the gig was, pleaded her help to get in the outside surprise anniversary food, and secured her assistance.

The whole thing felt like a covert op that could fall apart if you pulled on errant string.

My friend managed to make it to the bakery right on time, and got the cupcakes delivered before Easy arrived for his gig. If she wasn’t already (which I suspect she was), she is now Easy’s favorite of all my friends.

But it worked out!

chris eat cupcakes chris with cupcakes

As Easy was making some sort of speech near the end of the night about how awesome the club was and how happy he was that he was back at a place that always felt like home, our friend brought out the cupcakes.

He got so excited thinking they bought him cupcakes. When she clarified they were from me, he got even more excited. That’s me he’s on the phone with while he’s eating one of the cupcakes.

All I could think when I saw those pictures was how much I wanted a cupcake.

But no cupcakes for me because I’m trying to get healthier. Which is what I’ll discuss in my next post.

Easy liked his anniversary presents, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Now I just have to figure out Valentine’s Day. I’m sure Google has a good idea for me.


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