So, it's May 1st, I had a pretty good flight over to JFK, two seats to myself, a lovely in flight meal & watched Tower Heist too (good times!). I got through to the security check area and what a surprise, the English dude travelling alone gets pulled over to one side! The officer, calmly but in a blunt tone asks me to open all my bags for her to look through. It is at this time I see she's wearing a holster... and in that holster was sitting a rather large hand gun! I'm in America! Luckily, there was no need for that gun to be shown to me any closer & I was sent on my merry little way, into the maze that is JFK Airport! Fortunately, my good friend Chris was there to meet me at the airport, otherwise I'd most likely still be travelling on the train there!
The first night in Brooklyn was pretty chilled and I went out to my very first American bar with Chris and his wife Sara. I'd never seen so many flat screen TVs in one place, with a different sport on each one... not to mention America flags hanging from wall to wall! This was it, I was finally here...I'm in the USA, BABY!!
Over the next couple of days, I learned how the subway system worked, which helped me get around Manhattan a lot easier & also that by walking just a little bit faster than the people next to you, you don't look so much like a tourist! I visited Times Square...and yes, there are always that amount of yellow taxi cabs there! I went to Central Park...got lost in Central Park....And refused to buy a map to find my way out of Central Park! I had a NYC Hot Dog before heading towards the buildings which towered above the trees and eventually found my way out of the park and back to the crazy paced sidewalks of Manhattan.
I decided to head to 14th Street to the Guitar Centre, where I'd end up buying a Yamaha AC1M electro acoustic guitar, with flight case and a few needed extras. This would be the guitar I'd use to hopefully win over the American audiences during my stay. I couldn't wait to get to my first Open Mic night!
Sadly, I got lost in Williamsburg that night (haha! Classic Tippins!), where I spent 2 hours walking around the near by streets looking for LP n Harmony's Open Mic night. It was getting dark, I was getting tired and everyone seemed to be looking at me like they all wanted to hurt me (I doubt that was actually the case though!). So, I decided to admit defeat and head back on the subway to live another day. It sucked that I missed out on that show, i was so hyped up for it but I think looking back, it was actually a very good learning experience being out there on my own, in a strange place/surroundings, needing to figure things out by myself. I wouldn't be letting this happen again though!
I searched online for awhile looking for some more Open Mic nights but I was to find that Fridays and Saturdays were pretty much a no go on the Open Mic front in NYC & Brooklyn. So, I decided that these days would be used to get my touristing on! I headed down to the WTC site, where I saw the new towers being constructed. Then I headed over to the ESB, where I managed to get in straight away with no wait or queue! When I got back outside, I saw two of NYC's finest and asked if they would mind if I had a photo with one of them... They didn't mind one bit!
That evening we went to 'The Living Room' in the East Village, where some live music was, which was great fun!
Saturday, we visited Coney Island, where I watched their famous Freak/Sideshow. This included women swallowing fire & swords, people given electric shocks and a man putting his hand into an animal trap and also hanging a small anchor from his eyelids, attached via fish hooks! We visited the fairground at the beach and look what I found!!!
The Zoltar machine, like in the film 'BIG' !
We then went to the 'Chip Shop' for dinner. It was an English run Arsenal FC bar... It was awesome!
Sunday, I went to see the Statue of Liberty. Luckily, I wasn't seasick on the ferry (it doesn't normally take a lot for me!). Once on the island, the first thing I realised was that they had lied in Ghostbusters 2! There's no way she walked off of her podium and walked across the sea to Manhattan. She's way too small! Also, from where I was, it was hard to tell if she was wearing anything under that toga. The mystery continues *She's French, you know!* . Looked around the island awhile and saw the bike the guys from American Chopper had made , then visited Ellis Island too.
|Manhattan, Me and a Pigeon.|
Tonight was the night though, I was off for my (actual) first Open Mic night! It was at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. Held in the backroom of the bar, it was an 'intimate' setting, mainly filled with the other performers and their friends but for me it was all about that little raised area at the very back, with the microphone set up awaiting me! I was allowed to play 2 songs and they went in a flash but I loved every single micro second of it. I had brought some promo CDs with me to hand out at shows while I was visiting. So , I gave a few of those out, which seemed to go down well too.
I had done it, I had come to America and played my music.. From dreams, I have become!!!!
So, it's my last full day in NYC, before I head off to South Carolina. This would be my last chance to play a show here and I had found the perfect venue. I had joined a FaceBook group for 'The Inspired Word Open Mic Joint' several months ago and was really hoping to play there during my stay. It just so happened this Open Mic was held on Mondays. So, off I went to the One & One bar to play my final NYC show!
It was such a warm and welcoming atmosphere, where everyone listens and respects each artist fully. I was the only Singer/Songwriter performing that evening and I opened the night off, playing 'From Dreams, I have Become...' which seemed to go down rather well & was later referred to by comedian David Rey Martinez
, as he thought that song should be used in the TV show Smallville! What with me being a full blown Superman geek, I was loving this!
I was then later interviewed on stage,as part of an 'Ask the audience' act but luckily none of the questions were too bad! I was lucky enough to be allowed time to play a 2nd song and chose to perform 'Home' , which people seemed to connect & respond too well. There were a whole host of different performers at this show. Lyricists, comedians , singers & poets, all inspired from all walks of life, which made for a very entertaining evening. Comedian Beth Maria was amazing, with a very unique style that had everyone hanging on her every word. Jaime Summers sang 'At last' beautifully and as mentioned previously, David Rey Martinez put on a very funny set too, mixed with his contagious laugh, everyone couldn't help but laugh & have a smile on their faces! I was lucky enough to meet these lovely individuals after the show for a chat and it truly was an honor getting to know them a little better. Everyone was so nice & supportive, I was quite taken back. What a lovely mix of people! Again, I gave out my promo CDs and a large number were taken on this night, which pleased me greatly. Mike Geffner & Marvin Mendlinger run the Open Mic night at the One & One Bar and I really can't speak highly enough of these two men and The Inspired Word Open Mic Joint. Such nice , welcoming & supportive gentlemen. I can't end this section without mentioning the host, Nathan P. He has to be, not only one of the nicest people you'll ever meet but also, the coolest, smooth talking individual in NYC! A great entertainer and a brilliant host! What an awesome night!
So, tomorrow I fly out to South Carolina. What adventures await... Find out in Part Two of my 'From American Dreams, I Have Become... Blog' !