On Monday night, I experienced my first NYC performance.
Here's how it went.
I waited patiently for Alec's bus to arrive from Philly, and in the fantastic chaos of NYC, he arrived just after my friend Kate went to go find him. (Which is kinda funny, cause she's never met him. She was just going out to find a guy with a guitar walking on Rivington.) So there I was holding a baby, feeding a toddler, and there was Alec at the door. A bit sweaty after sprinting with a guitar so that we could make it to open-mic up sign ups. It's been almost two years since I have seen Alec. This reunion was bliss. He is a music soul-mate. And we musicians need music soul mates to survive.
I handed off Josie to Kate, said goodbye to them and Orion, and headed out to Caffe Vivaldi. We ordered a car to get us there in time. We needed to get there at 6:00 for sign-up. At 5:58, I asked the driver if he could get us there by 6. Yes, a mid-western girl with no real understanding of NYC traffic. But The fates were on my side, cause we got there and there were still some remaining slots at 6:03. I got slot 22, and Alec got slot 9. We politely bowed out of there, turned the corner, and felt as though we knew exactly where we were going. But we had ZERO idea where the Sidewalk Cafe was. Funny how confident you can feel, when you are high on life! We stepped inside a store, asked for directions, and headed in the completely wrong direction for 15 minutes.
Sweaty and buzzing with excitement and realizing we were lost, we decided to get a taxi. Which is quite a tricky thing to do in a NYC rush hour. But I worked my hips (actually just leaned on my guitar case) and Alec worked his red-head flare. And together, after ten minutes and a few different corners, we landed a cab. We got in and he drove us back past the 15 minutes of wrong direction we had just dragged ourselves through. But I didn't care. And I don't think Alec cared. I was ecstatic to be in NYC, with a dear friend, working on following my dreams.
We got to Sidewalk Cafe and headed into the back to find this amazing little space and stage. I felt the history come alive in my bones. This is where Beck and Regina Spektor launched themselves. I imagined Regina on the upright piano, young and fresh, and undiscovered. I was floored. Alec and I crashed ourselves into a table and ordered drinks. We had a half hour to catch our breath and take in the space before they started the lottery system.
Nearly 60 people showed up for the lottery. SIXTY! Sixty aspiring singer-songwriters, comics, rappers, beat-boxers, poets. I have not been in a room full of oozing creativity like that in years. Alive. That's the feeling. I felt so very, very ALIVE.
And then I drew my number. 55. Alec drew his number. 52. Ha! Which meant we would play around 1 a.m. So after finishing our drinks and an order of nachos, we headed back to Vivaldi and Katie met us there. We sat, and drank, and listened to some impressive, and some not so impressive people do their thing.
And then it was my turn. My chance. I chose Dirty Blonde and Damn Angels. In that order. I admit, I was super nervous. But I felt the magic of music unfold and I introduced myself and shared that this was my first NYC open mic. The crowd responded with warmth. I played Dirty Blonde. And it was silent. And I knew, that I was in the exact space I was meant to be. I felt things connecting in ways that I have imagined, but maybe didn't believe possible for the past few years.
Something dawned on me in this moment.
I realized that regardless of what comes out of this trip, I am learning that I have something truly unique to bring to a room, and it's my purpose, my responsibility to share this with as many people as I can. I'm realizing that when I do share, whether it's in the Beachland Tavern with friends and family, or in a historic NYC music venue with strangers, people stop and listen. It's kinda scary. But it's also beautiful. Very beautiful. I hope this doesn't come across as egotistical. It's just that it's been years of feeling out of sorts, yearning for something more, not believing in myself. And holding back. In so many ways. But I felt so very different. I felt like I was where I meant to be, musically and spiritually. And that feeling stayed with me all the way through til 1 a.m. when I played at Sidewalk. I sang again. Again, there was silence.
Silence has never stirred such emotion within me. I know I am meant to do this. I trust that I am meant to be on this journey.
(I just have to figure out the logistics of how to do it more.)