We've come for the Festival


This weekend is full of the kind of plans I never could have imagined myself having during my first year in New York. Nothing fancy, just particular to my life and the people who I've ended up on the same path with. (That was awful; "people with whom the same path I have ended upon"? No. Gimme a minute...) In a matter of minutes I'm off to Port Authority (Ah, Grand ol' P.A., how I love thy grandeur!) to catch the Martz bus out to Scranton, PA. There will dear John Beck pick me up, feed me lunch, then we'll catch my friend Billy Rogan's concert at The Northeast Theatre, after which will come dinner and the main event, Almost, Maine, with a cast of people with whom I've worked with on different shows. (Grammar lobe broken is. Resist must I joke of Yoda.) Afterwards, there will probably be much rejoicing, I'll spend the night at John's, then after a leisurely breakfast with said John, catch the bus back here in time to rehearse for a reading that night at The Knitting Factory.

Now, let's see how the events described above surprise us...
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Man. Let me just say, the genius of my friends astounds and humbles me. It was a very musical weekend. Billy Rogan is a genius of technique. GET his album, if for nothing else than to get on the cultural ground floor of a guy who is on his way to gifted reinvention of guitar music. Honestly, his current effort is a bit beyond my capacity for complete appreciation. He's so freaking good at his self-proclaimed "two-hand" approach that I can't quite keep up with its versatility, but nevertheless, he is good and good. Give a listen: Billy G.D. Rogan, Ya'll.

So I attended his debut concert, and it was wonderful. Part of what's great about Billy (name-dropping, I assure you, because this guy's going places) and his craft is that the practice of it is so lofty, yet his personal demeanor is so unassuming. He almost apologized for performing his unique and demanding art, yet revelled in it and shared his joy for it with all of us mere mortals. The music sounds like a whole rock band at times, replete with lead guitar, bass, and drum set, yet all performed on Billy's lone acoustic guitar. When he just relaxes a bit, and performs for individual connection more than virtuosity, he will take every audience by storm. And that's not a critique of his concert; just a perspective on where this impressive and unlimited young artist will be headed. The concert was still beautiful and surprisingly magnificent. (Hi Guillermo. This is your shamelessly unabashed plug.)

Reeling from that, I caught The Northeast Theatre's production of Almost, Maine, by John Cariani. I must admit here that I am horribly biased about this production, having worked with all of the four-member cast in one capacity or another. Nevertheless, I must say that I believe this production was leagues beyond the accomplishment of the New York debut, which I took in about a year or more ago. When I saw that production, I thought it was enjoyable, but largely ineffective. I don't know what to attribute it to specifically, but that show left me a little cold. Technically proficient, but a little "below" the actors in some respect. TNT's show, however, made me care about the characters so much I didn't want to leave them. Brilliant. Heather Stuart, Duane Noch, Conor McGuigan and Amber Irvin, my hat's off to you. It might have been simple romantic entertainment, but you guys made it more. Significant. True. Lovely.

Following that, festivities ensued at John Beck's house, and they were lovely. Beer, wine, snack food...what more could we ask? I stayed up too late, and when 8:00 AM rolled around, I wanted to stay in bed in John's guest room (replete with a walnut-veneer work desk) for a few hours more. I left, however, treading boot prints in the shallow snowfall on my way to the Martz Bus station.

Upon arriving back in The Big Apple, it was off to perform in Nat Cassidy's reading at The Knitting Factory. It was my first time at TKF, and it was great fun. Three floors of entertainment, that place is. Oddly enough, though I didn't catch them, one of the few local bands I know, Nakatomi Plaza (Ya'll get the reference, right? Die Hard? If you don't get that--get out.), was playing there that night as well. The reading went well, and was even well-attended. Nat hopes to succeed in submitting the play to the NYC Fringe Festival. We'll see how that turns out, but the reading itself got nothing but positive reactions. Afterward, there was much brew-ha-ha, and bands. Nat's girlfriend, Alexis, performed, and I was duly impressed with her folky glory. Then Nat (Cassidy and the Nines) took stage, and was wonderful. I heard Nat's first NYC demo when we met, working in New Hampshire, and liked it, but had no idea how great his live show would be until I saw it tonight. It was like watching Dylan with a sense of humor. That able, and that entertaining. The crowd had a ball. That final act contained a member of the reading, and the band was Stephanie Podunk and Ghost Town. They were great too, with dual female vocals and rock sensibility, though they suffered a bit from classic sound-mixing issues in live performance.

It was surprising and musical weekend. I had many moments of lament for how little work I was actually doing (though the audience of "The Exiled" was very complimentary of my reading) but I can't help but grin at the abundancy of creation. It was inspiring.

And Patrick: Somehow I had pancakes both Saturday and Sunday. Miraculous pancakes...
 
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