The ride through the Pennsylvania mountains dotted with snow and full of memories. Memories of long ago when these mountains stood proud and tall. Long before man learned to cut them down. Long before wind bent them and man replaced their silent truth with rail lines, churches, front porches.
One particular climb draws the highway up over a proud ridge. The slices carved in the mountain designed to keep it off the road, are instead worn more like a tattoo than whip scars. There the exposed rock rises up and up. The forest wrapping around in fullness. There, a dimension emerges beyond foothills.
I am Mountain, sings from every tree, every rock, every cloud. Defiant. Untouchable.
And then gone.
Once you cross the Delaware River, you realize these are no longer mountains. These are suburbs. The forested vistas, the Eagle trees, the space between, give way to litter. And traffic. And hills of houses.
Jersey City emerges from around a bend. The smell of a city overwhelms the pines, the oaks, then maples, the peppermint. The trees that grow here tell of exhaust and impatient drivers. Of factories and stuff. Living replaced by survival.
Yet, the magnanimity of the City is impressive. It is a city of infinite dreams.
My first show was in Jersey City. I had never been there before, other than driving to one of the tunnels to the City. Everything close to the City seems to feel like the City. Close, narrow streets and erratic driving. People everywhere. All the time.
The house concert was in a lovely early 1900's house. A gorgeous feat of architecture standard for the time, but brilliant now as we look around at cookie cutter houses with no style or personality, much less functionality. The banister was carved wood than wrapped and wound up, curved and perfect. The main rooms flaunted high ceilings great for entertaining, and the acoustics were most enjoyable.
These shows were with my good friends Randi Driscoll (www.randidriscoll.com) and Noah Heldman, two of the kindest, most fun folks I have met in the music world. The evening turned into more of a comedy routine than just a concert, as we all reminisced about shows gone wrong. Evenings where at some point you can hear yourself say, wow, this is gonna be an hilarious story, someday.
House concerts are my favorite shows. To meet interesting folks in a setting where you can actually chat and have meaningful conversations is some a marvelous thing. Some interesting and cool folks made up the audience. One of them read palms and did numerology. I was told I have an "Ancient" soul. And that I would live forever.
So that's something I don't have to worry about.
I am also a 10, on the numerology scale, which is apparently important. I am reminded I should spend a few moments when I can to research more into this. I am intrigued.
During one of the conversations, I was informed of a great morning yoga happening a few blocks away. So I made plans to attend in the morning.
The yoga class was in an art gallery called the Distillery. On the way I passed my favorite sign of the whole trip. It said simply:
No loitering. Or hanging out.
Gotta love the City.
Yoga. It was a medium-sized square room with paintings on all the walls. Many of the pieces were painted portraits of some sort, and there were a couple mixed-media pieces, including one where the coat and hair of the man in the painting was bottle caps.
The class was good and challenging. We did compass, which I have never before done. It involves a leg over your shoulder, and I was more like broken compass, but was excited to learn a new pose.
Then it was time to enter the City.
After rounding the blocks nearest the club for 20 minutes, I found a spot to park and set about on foot. I love walking cities. Actually, I love walking. Period.
A vegan bakery called Blossom was a handful of blocks away, and already having had lunch, I felt a cookie would be perfect. The bakery was small, but had a huge list of offerings. It was a little hard to decide. Some of the things I would have loved to try were a little expensive for me, like a $6 piece of pumpkin pie. I went with the Oatmeal harvest cookie. It hit the spot, and I made my way a few blocks over to the highline.
The highline is a converted raised rail system. It is now a park and walking area. You walk two and a half stories or so about the ground along the old rail, and there are dozens of large public art, small sculptures, performance art, and in general people. Though it was crammed with folks, I enjoyed the views of the City and the early-stage blooming cherry trees. I had read about this park a few years ago, and had been hoping to make it here.
The show was in a cool little club. One of my favorite things about playing NYC, is their small clubs. In the midwest, we have so few small venues. You either have places that hold 30 people or 500 people. Nothing in between, and NYC seems to have many such places. The sounds was amazing, as the room was built for good sound. We had a great show and raised some money for the AIDS Lifescycle group.
And I was out of the City far too quickly.
I look forward to returning in July.