About seven years ago I embarked on my solo career. Up until then I'd only ever performed live with a full band and I wasn't comfortable being a pianist actually. I wasn't sure of myself on stage and I didn't think I was technically good enough to make a career out of playing the piano. So I mostly stood up front of the band and sang, or sat behind a Rhodes piano and played and sang while allowing the band to "make me look good"..... I hear you screaming at me but that's where I was at.
Due to a major relationship breakup however, which felt like learning to breath, walk and talk all over again, I decided that if I was going to have a music career at all, I'd better "man up" and learn to play solo.
I took a few piano lessons from a well renowned jazz pianist in Sydney, only to have him confirm to me that I was quite capable of accompanying myself on stage. With that and my newly acquired 'f-you' attitude that only a serious break up can provide, (now I hear you laughing - those who really know me), I boldly took to the stage in Sydney and began my apprenticeship as a solo performer. Very soon I was feeling confident and I headed back to the U.K. where I'd spent a few years previously, to finish recording my Le Cafe Ancien album.
I decided to stop over in New York City as I'd never been before and always wanted to go. I went on-line, booked myself into a hostel for 9 nights on the Upper West of Manhattan. Arriving at JFK airport, I took a shuttle to the hostel, and as I was leaving the shuttle, this very friendly woman, Nikki from Phoenix Arizona, caught my attention, asked me what I was doing and then gave me her number and invited me to lunch with herself and a girlfriend. How exciting, I'd just arrived and I already had a date lol! We all met up, and Nikki's friend's name was Robin Craig. For some mysterious reason, Robin and I felt like old friends and she invited me to look her up again if ever I returned to HER city!
New York City was mind-blowingly crazy fun for me! I had no idea what to expect but the place exceeded anything I could ever have imagined. The buildings, the cafes, restaurants and diners, the hustle the bustle, the majesty of it all. No wonder so many people want to write about it. It swallowed me up in such a great way and I willingly gave all of myself to that city and just soaked in every moment. I loved that I could walk around at night on my own and feel safe, and that I could walk into a bar on my own, sit at the counter and make new friends without feeling conspicuous or vulnerable. I googled open mic venues that had a piano and went out every night and played. I played Caffe Vivaldi, Googies Lounge (above the Livingroom), The Path Cafe, Waltz Astoria, Banjo Jim's (now closed), Cleopatra's Needle, The Rockwood Music Hall, and I stayed out listening to music into the wee hours. I made lots of friends and gained performance experience that I never could have bought, which set me up for the tours that I had no idea were coming.
The following year I returned to NYC (wild horses could not have kept me away) and I did get in touch with Robin. In fact we'd remained friends via the internet so it wasn't hard to find her. I stayed with Robin for four days, and as it turned out, she was a photographic enthusiast. Asked if I'd like to go out in the city and take a few shots, I squealed and said yes!
Actually, I'd already started thinking about a music video for my song 'That Face' ( Le Cafe Ancien), and I suggested she bring her video camera as well and just see if we could make something happen. Well we spent three days running, skipping and giggling our way around the city and I swear, I have never had so much fun. We were just on the same page. We were like teenagers and it was all about the fun factor. Below is the video that came out of those three days (bar the cat-face shots at the beginning which were filmed at a party in Brisbane).
To be continued....... Click HERE for Part 2.
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