The last show of the tour! I found myself roadie-less for the afternoon, so I had to drag all the stuff to the show on my own. And on top of a week of one or two shows per day, in heat approaching 100°F (38°C) on each of those days–including today–I was pretty tired before I played the first note. But there’s adrenalin, and final show energy, and just being in New York, so I felt energized in spite of everything.
The show started off with a couple of setbacks. First, this was not an official show, so when I got to the building I was supposed to play near, I discovered the field had been taken over by a mass-yoga event. A string quartet accompanied a yogi with a megaphone, who presided over a field’s worth of mats and posers. They weren’t going anywhere any time soon.
The obvious thing was to play on the other side of the building, but a crew of rough-looking skateboarders was already there. Undeterred by failing to land tricks over and over (a resilience I’ve observed in most skateboarders) they showed no sign of leaving. Time for Plan C.
The one stroke of luck was that there was no baseball game happening on the field across the path. By now some people had started arriving, and I informed them of my plan to take it to center field. I headed out, set up, and played a little warmup, which drew the people over to sit in a semi-circle around me. So I started up for real.
I played for maybe a dozen old friends and a dozen more new ones. Some were fans of my old band Onion Flavored Rings, curious to see what I’m up to now; some were just intrigued by this crazy project of mine; at least one was just a random passer-by. It was reminiscent of the Worcester house show, in that I was listened to, rather than being incidental street noise, and there’s a huge difference between playing for an attentive audience and fading into (or contributing to) the din of city life.
I played 10 of the songs from my set list, but opened up the penultimate slot for a request. It’s nice when your audience knows your material enough to make a request. It’s even better when you’re still able to play the song! Then I closed with my usual closer (“Used to It”, an old crowd favorite) and hung around with pals old and new until dark, after which we repaired to a friend’s apartment for some more hanging out. It was a nice peaceful end to a sprawling, hectic tour. The next day I was on a plane back to Portland, looking forward to a little break from daily one-man-banding.
Special thanks to Erick Lyle for setting up and promoting the show in McCarren Park, not to mention lodging while we stayed in Brooklyn. And most special thanks to Erin Yanke, the aforementioned roadie for the whole of this tour.
I played just beyond these benches, in the middle of the baseball field…