Thursday, February 23, 2006

Out On the Town

Debbie Harry sang an incandescent version of Roxy Music's "More Than This" (well it's really Bryan Ferry's tune all the way, and Bryan would have been proud--must tell him) tonight at the 3rd annual John Giorno Poetry Festival at what is fast shaping up as one of the city's premier cutting edge cultural institutions: the Rubin Museum of Art.

She and longtime Blondie partner Chris Stein and bassist Fox rounded out a bill which included a wired, skinny-ass Jim Carroll (looking really good) reading from a new novel in progress about a young artiste tyro and a Geldzahler-esque curator (shades of Wyndham Lewis' "The Apes of God"--although Carroll views his jejune painter/naif sympathetically, Lewis through a prismatic, jaundiced eye). Sonic Youth-er Lee Ranaldo read some of his new poems, several derived from the random textual spew of recent internet spam proliferation ('twas Lee who encouraged me early on to continue developing my 30's Chinese pop arrangements after performing them at a wedding in Chinatown which he also attended)--and Giorno started the festivities by knocking the living bejesus out of his own work, his own words, from memory, pacing the boards like a balletic prize-fighter and rolling out images in an incantatory sprechtspiel (always thought he was one of the greatest word-slinging performers going in realms poetical--which reminds me, I am improvising on Sunday with another formidable shadowboxer of the immanent, Bob Holman, at his Bowery Poetry Club hang).

Anyhow a whole gaggle of folks showed up including the ubiquitous Steve Paul, who figured in my last posting (and who come to think of it was living quite large last year in a huge two story loft in the infamous old Bowery building/ex-Y, ze building which also houses the infamous William Burroughs Bunker: if memory serves me well, Giorno owns that building). Also ran into sex outrider/ringmistress Veronica Vera, who I haven't seen in oh 'bout a dozen years or so since starring her as the ultimate Vampira in the video for my song "Vampire Circus" (free mp3 download coming soon to my homepage)...and she looked radiant as I remembered was a nicely nicely NYC-ly kind of night out!

Sunday night at the Avalon (shades of Bryan Ferry again! club's the newly renovated old s'Limelight), David Johansen and the New York Dolls gave probably the best rock show I've seen in town in a couple years--and it may have been the best Johansen show I've ever seen, period. Made a point of catching the Dolls' first reunion show at London's Royal Festival Hall in 2004 right before the Magic Band started a concurrent tour in Amsterdam, and while that show was good (and boasted an appearance by Arthur Killer Kane shortly before his untimely demise--plus backstage cameos from Sir Bob G, Mick Jones, Chrissie Hynde, and the Meltdown Festival's curator for the duration Morrissey), this one was light years better. Steve Conte was really laying it down on guitar, Syl Sylvain more than held his own (particularly appealing was his rendition of Johnny Thunders' classic "You Can't Put Your Arm Around a Memory"), and the crowd was going nuts (a really young, glammed-out kinda crowd too, stayin' up late on Sunday as it was President's Day on the morrow). Good to see the legendary Night Bob back in action doing front-of-house duty on the board (and general tour managing), and me and my boy Bob Strano chilled upstairs in the dressingroom/backstage belfry (joint's an old unconsecrated church) for a couple hours max'n and relax'n with the lads and lassies before the Dolls went down onstage and made their midnight creep...New York Dolls Rule!

And the week before, night of the big blizzard, my downstairs neighbor Scott called with a free ticket to Phil Lesh and Friends at the Beacon--and hey! Presto! Dope fumes so thick "you can get a contact high!" (question--what movie is this line from? first correct answer to wins a copy of my new DVD "Russian Fireworks--Gary Lucas Live in Saint Petersburg"), lots of genial dancing in the overflowing aisles (including meself--some of the Dead tunes really caught me in their one wheel turnin' sway)--and at intermission I ran into my friendl Larry Campbell's mother Maggie who sheparded us backstage where I said hi to Larry who was pickin' up a storm that night on all manner of stringed instruments--and then I had a sweet reunion with old friend and songwriting collaborator the mighty fine Joan Osborne (who looks fantastic onstage and off--mamahood sure does agree with her!)--Joan really contributes so much to the front line of this show, beatific and totally mesmerizing to the eye and ear (and what a voice...and I've worked with some of the best). And then in walked Warren Haynes, who I last caught in London with Gov't. Mule, Warren was also guesting at this show, and we, another fine night of good music and good company in New York town!

and when I left the theater

the snowflakes were falling thick and fast

as the wind whipped them up to a white froth

and the city never looked so beautiful.




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