Tuesday October 4, 2004 - Boston MA to New York, NY I'm on the Fung Wah bus to New York. It's a 4 hour ride, budget style. It's costs $15 to catch the Fung Wah bus. For that price, I was half expecting a slow, bumpy ride full of Asians and lots of chickens in cages heading to the markets in China Town Manhattan. If I wanted that kind of humour only seen on those stupid TV movies, I was sorely disappointed. This bus rides in style. The seats are plush and they even lean back so you can sleep a bit. We even have TV. I'm impressed! Last time I came to Boston from NY, I spent $100 on the train. This is way cooler, and way cheaper ;) Boston in the Fall is really nice. If you make sure you walk on the sunny side of the street, you can keep warm. My favorite past time in Boston is "stooping". It's the thing to do on the weekends. You go and get a coffee to go from somewhere, preferably Starbucks in South End, where all the yuppies and those of any sex persuasion live, and you sit, with leashed and manicured miniature poodle fluff on parade with you, on the stoop of the nearby brownstones. That's right, have dog will be noticed. Brownstones are the oldest terrace-style units in Boston and South End, where I was staying with Chris Marston, our Boston Songsalive! chapter coordinator, has the best Brownstone in the city of its size, location and price. He has a 2 storey mini-mansion, that starts below ground with kitchen, music studio (or second bedroom), mini-wine cellar (he's collected some beautiful wines we happened to taste every night around midnight), a back garden with fountain, a garage for car and even a deck above the garage for outdoor dining or nudist bathing... whichever tickles your fancy. Second storey is main bedroom, dining room, and living room including piano of course. This is a well furnished house and I was impressed with his style. So "stooping" refers to sitting on the front stoop ( the stairs) leading up to the main door of a Brownstone. Chris and I spent time soaking in the sun drinking double whipped 5 shot caramel or vanilla lattes, admiring dogs and their owners reading the Boston Phoenix.. the best music street mag in Boston. Apart from stooping, I did a lot of other "ing" things, like speaking, singing, performing, shopping and walking. I had much to do in Boston. Mission accomplished. The Nemo Music Conference was on the weekend and Songsalive! was a media partner so I needed to attend, and spoke on a panel about the changes in the music industry. I find these music conferences pretty much the same across the country though. Nothing unique about this one, except that some of the artists were fabulous and it even got me out both weekend nights to hit the town and check out the showcases. We first went to Club Passim which is a great songwriters venue in Cambridge. I think we'll end up doing Songsalive! showcases there because the room is congenial to acoustic music, where the audience is there to actually listen. I am always shocked to see most clubs who profess to book and support live music, also have the footy on the big wide screen television blaring out. I'm going to start boycotting sports bars. I hate watching tv while I perform! But Club Passim was built around music and also had some great vegie food. I give it two thumbs up. I caught Keane's performance too. They are really good and very refreshing for a rock band. Out of the U.K they don't have any guitars on stage (what a concept), and the songs are centred around the piano and the drummer. Three guys on stage, hair everywhere, ready to rock, the lead guy sang love songs, showed his sensitive mushy side about being dumped, and had his piano player and drummer (only) back his beautiful voice. The bass and some guitar seemed to come through the speakers though, so they must have been performing to track. It was great though. Girls were screaming in the audience and the room was packed. All in all, the Nemo conference was well worth it, catching up with Madalyn from Go Girls Music, Kelly Z from L.A (who got sloshed and we took lots of funny pics of her that we are going to spread all over the internet as blackmail ;), touring artists, industry reps and more. Being in Boston was very nostalgic because this time last year I was here with the Eric Idle tour. We all started from Boston and bussed it to Rutland Vermont, then returned for a show at the Orpheum. We stayed in the Hyatt, where Nemo was held. Gosh time flies. It's already a year later. Wow! We also kicked off the inaugural Songsalive! Boston showcases this weekend. Chris and I worked well together. He scored the venues and is a really enthusiastic chapter coordinator. Plus, him on sound, and me hosting and cracking stupid jokes, introducing each artist both showcase nights was a blast. We had 14 artists the first night at the Asgard Cambridge, and 8 artists the next night at Dick's Last Resort. The Asgard is an Irish restaurant and pub in the famous university town, just down the road from Harvard and Berklee school of music. Whilst I wasn't fussed on the food, the Boddingtons beer was delicious (I can never find that beer but it's my favourite) and he area where we set up the stage was like a little cul-de-sac so that those who wanted to dine and talk could do so further away, and those who wanted to fervently watch the show and listen quietly could too. Dick's Last Resort, on the other hand, is an all american seafood joint in Boston where the waiters' job is to make fun of you. So we and the general patrons were constantly berated, picked on and laughed at. Kind of a sick theme for a venue, but we managed through it with a sense of humour. After all our performers finished singing original tunes, we got a bunch of yahoos from the audience to come up and sing Sweet Caroline, which got the whole place jumping. I was so impressed with the calibre of musicianship from our songwriters here, plus the amount of keen writers who want to see Songsalive! grow in the area. We hosted some touring artists, like Kat Parsons and Kristin Sweetland, and discovered a few locals, such as Freddy Hall, a 19 year old from Berklee who will be big. Mark my words! Some hot artists to watch are Kristi Martel, Susan Levine, Sarah Woolf, Arielle Silver, Bill Downes and Patty Keough. Plus Chris Marston writes beautiful romantic songs that are real hits! I think it was a good idea getting the Boston chapter going. It's much needed in this town. Songwriting can be such a lonely process, and the reason why I started Songsalive! was to create a community, a "home" for songwriters to gather, share, find support and network. I found, after this weekend's experience, that it really is important I visit the chapters and the new cities, to kick off their programs and events. This past weekend was a true example of how successful it can be. So I'm on the bus off to New York. Manhattan here I come. Saturday night I have a show at the Bitter End in the Village. I love the Bitter End. I played it last year. The best piano players of all time have played their honky tonk piano. It's only honky tonk now because it's so old. Billy Joel, Elton John and more have played here. I'll be sure to write the names later. So a few days milling about in NYC with friends, take in a few shows, pop into the Australian Institute of Dramatic Arts for an acting class, and hey I might even vote our prime minister out at the Aussie consulate. Our elections are coming up. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wednesday October 5, 2004 - New York, NY First night in Manhattan and I already feel like a native. Well, as long as I have my trusty subway map with me I'm fine. (They come free by the way, from the subway peeps.) I had tea with Francie Alston, a dear dear friend of our family. Then I ran across 39th street to 7th to AIDA for a free Acting class with Paul Parker. I'd only met Paul in social scenarios in L.A but his Australian Institute of Dramatic Art has gotten some hot attention in l.a. Now he has set up a NY chapter and I think it's great. I'm not sure what the means by the "aussie technique" in acting, but i gave it a shot and got chakrad, breathed, emoted and worked on for 2 hours last night, and I seriously think I'll join the l.a school. Their website is www.aidaacting.com. Go check it out. Off to Bleeker street to meet Eric De Fontenay, who I was staying with. Eric and Sounni are probably the most famous brothers in the indie music biz, and I am their house guest this week. Sounni runs a Mexican restaurant called Gonzalez y Gonzalez on Broadway and Bleeker and he treated me like royalty with one margarita after the other and delicious tasters from the kitchen. Eric and I talked till 2 in the morning on politics, music business, creativity and anything else that came to our minds. We talked in the restaurant, we talked walking to the subway, on the subway and back at the pad. He's got a great mind and I was thrilled. I don't know what the homeless guy thought! Slept like a log and am off to vote, have lunch with Francie, and record some songs with a label for some dance releases. Only in NY! -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thursday October 6, 2004 - Montclair NJ Three states in 3 days. World traveller! I'm staying with SmartWomen.Org founder Patti Wolf, in Montclair NJ, once home to La Toya Jackson apparently. I was here last year when on my first East Coast Tour. Yesterday I met up with Lilla and Eddie from Kult Records and we cut a new song called Crave, to be released through their new compilation coming up. It's quite exciting to cross musical boundaries into dance. They have some mean beats. Eric and I have been chatting to the wee hours of the morning about the upcoming election and also about rock music, which sometimes is part of the same topic really, and so i had to escape to Patti's place to rest up and sleep for da bigga show at the Bitter End on Sat night. Should be a hoot.