Next stop, Stamford? Indeed, as that was my meeting place to catch a ride to the venue for the night’s show. Leslie, Sebastian, and Gaby showed up in the rental van with FL plates (really, as if you needed any more reason for drivers in NY to hate you!), and it was great to see some old friends. Well over two years has passed since I have seen Gaby and Sebastian. Listening to their stories, it was great to hear where everyone has been and is headed as we drove through rural Connecticut. The conversation subsided, and we all seemed to gaze out the window and look around. Everywhere you turned, there seemed to be a picture perfect little house built in the colonial style with just the right amount of fallen leaves sprinkled ever so carefully across a sprawling yard. But it was also spooky at the same time. It must have been all those puritan graveyards. You know the ones with the creepy statues of flying harpies to bring you to the River Stix (wait, I seem to be getting my mythology confused). Anyway, I digress… it was a surreal place. Lots of money, perfectly trimmed houses, and creepy graveyards. What more could you ask for… the Headless Horseman?
Leaving Sleepy Hollow, we said goodbye to Icabad Crane and arrived at the Ridgefield Playhouse with time to spare. Unloading the gear and meeting some of the road crew, I poked around a corner here and there. Took a peek at the stage and venue. A pretty small setup by most standards, the maximum capacity rests around 600 or so. It’s a very intimate setting for sure. I met with some of the crew and had a few bites to eat of the delicious salmon and steamed veggies that were on hand for the dinner. Then it was time for the sound check.
Gaby and crew headed out towards the stage and worked through the different songs on the playlist for the evening. As Gaby’s voice raced around different keys and made Sebastian’s snare vibrate, I literally got chills from the enormity of her voice. It fills a room so beautifully. There’s not much more I can say. Buy her album on iTunes! You won’t regret it. As I walked around, I shot a few different angles and tested the light. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Ani in the seats, watching the group amiably as they went through their sound check. I think she really enjoys helping musicians who were once in a position where she started from. Once the check was finished, it was time to wait.
Showtime: “I could really use that glass of wine!” piped Leslie as she readied herself. Yes, even very talented and experienced musicians still get nervous before shows. But there was no time, and the trio opened the doors and headed onto the stage. As Sebastian took his seat and wires were plugged into amps, there was a weird silence in the air. I think the beginning moments before that first note is struck are the most awkward. A moment to think, “What could go wrong?” Does it go through the audience as well? Do they think, “I paid how much to see her?” I really don’t know. But as soon as she rips that first verse the thought vanishes, and you know a true professional is in front of you.
As their 30 minutes of play time expired, the crowd hooted and hollered with clapping hands. They walked off stage stoked and vibrant. It was a good show. What a rush it must be; to be a rock star. Personally, I know what the feeling is like from my many rousing karaoke sessions in late night Japan, but I don’t want to speak for everyone. Just know this: It’s damn good.
Out to mingle with the crowd and sell albums, Gaby headed to the lobby to sign CD’s and meet her fans. It was a real treat to hang around and listen to compliments and see the smiles that they bring to everyone. And that is the baseline of any artist, whether you paint or photograph or sing; you want to make people happy. I can tell you that many a happy soul left tonight.
Sticking around to catch Ani’s set, I found myself laughing, grooving, and enjoying her show. She has a wonderful stage presence, and she talks and works the crowd so well. From what’s on her mind to a funny interview she gave, she’s always in control. I must admit I never really listened to her music, but live she’s another entity altogether. I think I may be a convert.
Thursday is a day off. So tomorrow ( which is really today as I write at 3am) we’ll kick around NYC. Gaby and crew play a small venue by themselves, but otherwise the day is ours. Then it’s on to Philadelphia to play at the Electric Factory. Until then…
See you down the road.