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Archive for May 9th, 2007

New York, Friday Night: Showtime!

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Friday night was our concert night for NYUkefest 2007. I must admit, I’m still just thrilled to be on stage… especially in New York. And to share the stage that night with such fine musicians! It is hard to imagine a better time.

The musicians Friday night were (in order, or so I believe):

The Fabulous Heftones
The Mad Tea Party
Craig Robertson
The Strum Bums led by Dan “Cool Hand Uke” Scanlan
Abe Lagrimas Jr.
Greg Hawkes (surprise guest)
The Moonlighters
Dr Sparkles and the Mystic Nomads

It was good to perform first, because that way we could really enjoy the rest of the concert. As usual, I felt loved by the crowd and really enjoyed my time on the stage. I sang better than ever, or so it felt at the time, and Brian was his usual fine self.


What can I say? There is just nothing like being me when it comes time for this sort of experience. I could not ask for any life other than the one I somehow inhabit these days. I dreamed of this as a child, but it’s better than I thought… it’s more real, there are more relationships involved. It’s also less fairy-tale, and there are still dishes to wash and the rest, but I have more good times and fewer down times than I thought I’d ever have.

I’m not alone on a big stage, I’m with my sweetie on a stage with friends, family and fans surrounding us, and they love us and they let us know. We get to meet these folks after we sing, we chat and hear what they enjoyed best. Sometimes they buy a CD and take our music home with them. I just love this life!

But it was even better than all that. I can not help my status as a fan for so many of the other acts who played the festival. Personally, if my CD of Mad Tea Party’s “Flying Saucers” album was vinyl, I would have needed to replace it by now. I have three of their albums… I’m definitely a fan. And they played directly after us. Can I be just a little emotional about that?


While they were up on stage, Ami even made a mention to the audience that she felt that “The Fabulous Heftones are aptly named.” Awwww. They hadn’t heard us play last year, as we were on a different night and they didn’t stay for the whole festival as we did. Later Craig Robertson took a photo of them dancing backstage as we sang… more awwww. I loved their set, it was full of the raw energy, showmanship and musicianship we would have expected. Great fun.

After they were done, Craig Robertson (the host of the night’s show) played a few tunes with a whole number of folks. In fact, the photo of us above was taken during our time during Craig’s set. In this photo, he’s with Alli Bee from England at right, and Bliss Blood (The Moonlighters, New York) on musical Saw at left.


Following Craig was the largest group of the evening, all the way from California. The Strum Bums, led by Dan “Cool Hand Uke” Scanlan. They were energetic, musical and entertaining. I did see them but it was pretty impossible to get a reasonable photo from backstage. You can visit the Flickr NYUkefest photoset I posted a few days ago, for a photo Fred took from the front row.

Abe Lagrimas followed The Strum Bums and Brian saw that part of the show. I missed it, I’m thinking I was out front selling/signing CDs during his piece. I did see him last year as one of the musicians in Akamai Brain Collective, a high-energy musical group with Hawaiian influence but also jazz and many other musical roots. Fred had two photos of Abe’s act, in the above-mentioned Flickr photos.

While the Strum Bums and Abe were playing a few of us were lobbying backstage to get Greg Hawkes his own piece of the show. Since he had come as a “surprise guest” (he is a friend of Craig Robertson’s) they had not placed him as a solo act on the printed schedule.

It didn’t take much to convince the folks in charge to give Greg a set of his own… maybe they had planned on it all along, who knows. In this photo, he is at the front microphone turned toward the camera, and has a friend with him, I think it was Arch. They were playing a song Greg wrote, I think the title was “Sail Away.”


But we all were delighted to have him come out. (For those who don’t follow band members in popular music, Greg was the keyboardist in the band The Cars and is now touring with The New Cars… will be in Lansing in July at the Common Ground Festival.) He is a great all-around musician, playing ukulele, keyboards and woodwind instruments professionally. He’s also a kind and thoughtful person whose brief company I enjoyed backstage.

I ran around the internet a bit looking for information on Greg and his music, and I found that if I searched on his name at the Midnight Ukulele Disco I found a good number of short videos with Greg featured or in a group of friends. I particularly enjoy the one of The Cars’ hit My Best Friend’s Girl, with three other musicians including Craig Robertson. See it at: http://www.ukuleledisco.com/bestgirl

Then came the next band for whom I’m a total and absolute fan, The Moonlighters led by Bliss Blood. We first heard them in the Pocanos a few years ago at a Ukefest there, and we traded CDs at that point if I remember right. I have several of their CDs and my favorite is “Live in Baden Baden.” Wow.

Last year Bliss and I sat next to one another while selling CDs after shows, so we got to talk a bit. She knits and crochets, and wore a capelet to the theatre that she made (see photo with Craig above). She’s a dynamo on stage, totally professional and musical, yet offstage she’s approachable and kind. I snuck into the audience to hear them, I just could not stand to be backstage once I was done singing, if I could help it.

The photo here was taken by one of our Swedish friends, one more time… he just whispered to me between songs that he had a better angle than I did, and he was right. He had the camera for half a song and got a great shot.


Last was Dr. Sparkles. His backup band included a man who I talked to quite a bit before the show. The gentleman plays stringed bass as you see in this photo, but he also played tuba for “Oompa Loompa.” Yes, really. Fun stuff! Dr. Sparkles had the best costumes. This night he wore the largest of his hats, but every day he was sparkly (even days he wasn’t on stage) and every day he had a great hat.


Well, of course I’m a little nerdy and I had to ask Ami and Bliss if we could get a photo of the three of us in our pink/red outfits all together. They agreed in principle but there was so much going on after the concert, and we all were of course doing our best to keep people who wanted CDs happy, signing autographs when we could. In the midst of it all Brian took a photo of me with Bliss and her friend whose name I have sadly forgotten even though I really worked at remembering it…


And later when things calmed down just a bit, Bliss had left but Ami and I got a chance for a photo:


I think we look swell together in our fancy red stage gear, wouldn’t you say so? There are not a lot of women in the Ukulele circuit and although I am the most basic of uke players I enjoy being in their company.

Well, that was the big news day for Lynn “Heftone” and it was more fun than I could ever have imagined. Actually, it didn’t end with the show because after they locked the theatre we ended up playing tunes on the sidewalk of the side street, with a few friends of Mad Tea Party (including Sam the mandolin player who took the photo of us with Craig). We just were jamming, but people came out of the bar next door and started throwing down dollar bills and singing along. It was SO New York. So welcoming and yet so citylike. I loved every second.

We walked back to our hotel (thank goodness it was no longer raining as it had been that morning) and we stopped at the Grammercy Diner. I hadn’t had dinner so at 3am I ordered a lovely fresh salad with grilled salmon and olive oil on it. Only in New York!! Never mind that we then didn’t get to bed till 4am and with a full stomach, but it was better than sleeping hungry.

New York, I love you!