What do you think of when you hear "dance company?"
Asian people in spandex unitards?
Despite what you may think, not every dance company will make you feel like you just dropped 5 hits of acid.
That being said....
The world has become an enormous battle royale to grab your attention. Companies spend millions researching market trends and social patterns, artists use pyrotechnics and scantily clad dancers, TV shows use sex, drugs and scandal. It's all smoke and mirrors and endless gimmicks to convince you that you need what they have, but every once in a while there comes along something that is presented as is, because it needs no market research or polish or ribbons or fireworks for people to desire it. This is exactly what the New York based "Movement Workshop Group" does.
Combining a multi-cultural mix of some of the state's most outstanding talent with extraordinarily poetic choreography, the Movement Workshop Group has created "Racine D'or" a tale of community and spiritualism. Founded by Leslie Guyton and choreographed by Stephanie Jingle, this story is an observation of the push and pull of the spirit world on a group of young friends who find themselves becoming the subject of the devils interest. Beginning innocently and quickly burrowing down into the darkest parts of the human condition, this show is a violent blur of the effects of following the little devil on your shoulder that says "it's ok, just do it, it's not going to hurt anyone".
Movement Workshop Group is creative and original without resorting to weirdness to catch your attention. The story is finely presented with an elegant counterpoint of dance movements carried by authentic Zydeco music played by Grammy nominated Cedric Watson and engrossing narratives told by Colin Summers.
No, these dancers don't live off of unicorn farts and chocolate coins. These men and women work themselves to the bone to dance for a living, some having 13+ hour days, 6-7 days a week, and no they don't get paid for rehearsal time. Their project needs $12,000 in order to actually work and every dollar they receive from generous people who are interested in helping this artistic vision. They are currently accepting donations even anyone who wants to help pass the word on to friends and are looking forward to future audience members when this show begins its national tour. Please at the very least, take a look and get a little glimpse of this fantastic artistic undertaking, pass it on to a friend or dance enthusiast or even donate a couple bucks and help this project fully bloom.
Movement Workshop Group
How are those resolutions coming? Lost twenty pounds yet? Start "Fifty Shades of Grey" yet? Win a Nobel Peace Prize? Yeah, me neither. Let's forget about all that anyway, we have all year! What is coming up soon? Taxtime, or as us musicians like to call it "How-much-can-the-IRS-rape-you-time." Woooo. Yeah we're screwed. It should not be overlooked, however, that often times in history during the darkest hours a little inspiration has sparked the once defeated souls of men only to have them rise up to glory and overcome impossible obstacles. And if you, like me, have made the genius choice to make noise with a piece of wood for a living and actually expect people to pay for this, (the scientific community calls it "playing guitar"), you may find yourself trying to come up with creative ways to lighten the load that is about to give you Spina Bifida (look it up, you'll understand.) for the next four months and make you live off of Ramen Noodles and goat urine.
What ever could this inspiration be, you ask? I'll tell you. It's time to get really damn creative with your tax write offs and I am about to throw you the five most epic, ridiculous write offs that have ever been written off. Ever. If these old rich white men can get away with this crap, then so can you! Let's do this. To make this blog even more fun, I want you to try and guess which of these deductions were legal and which ones were illegal. The answers will be at the bottom.
5. Saying this first man wasn't technologically savvy would be as much an understatement as saying World War II was a disagreement. He adamantly refused to have a computer, a phone or an email address. However, having this anti-techno attitude makes having a business pretty damn difficult. So, without the use of modern communication, how do you communicate with your business partner who lives miles and miles across the city in Phoenix? Anybody? Eh? No brainer! Carrier Pigeons! But pigeons don't feed themselves. Or clean themselves. And sometimes they like to watch "Yo Gabba Gabba", so he added up all the expenses associated with the care of the pigeons over the year and wrote it off.
(I am ready for battle, sir.)
4. Once upon a time, on the Jerry Springer show, there lived a "princess" (stripper) who "danced"(stripped) in a beautiful garden (strip club). She was, how you say, completely disproportional. No, she didn't look like Sloth from the Goonies or have octopus tentacles for limbs. She did, however, pay a five digit sum to have 56FF implants. She made a $2,088 deduction on her taxes one year for how much her wolly mammoth-like mammaries depreciated. She argued that her income at the strip club directly correlated with the size of her boobs, therefore, they were a business expense.
("I just don't understand why they can't my inner beauty....will ever find a man who loves me for me")
3. This next person may have very well been smoking something. The very responsible "entrepenuer" decided it was time to join the ranks of the tax paying adult world. So he made sure that he calculated honestly and deducted everything he could, including the yearly maintenance expenses of his massive field of marijuana. Oh yes he did.
(yeah, man, I uh.....I'm like really into the whole like....essence of being responsible)
2. A hip replacement. You work hard, you lift heavy things your. Your tendons and joints begin to take some wear and tear. It seems only fair that the IRS would let you deduct the cost of the surgery to turn you into a bionic man so you can keep working. But this rule does not also apply to your dog. Yes, some dude wrote off his dog's hip replacement.
(here is your dog, all fixed up, we added some extra "enhancments"...some NO2 boosters and photon lasers)
1. So a guy went to sperm bank repeatedly for a year. He thought that despite the fact he was already getting paid for his "deposits", the sperm that he lost each time was considered a deductible expense. All those little twinkles in his eye were like miniature children. Yes the number one most ridiculous write off ever is a man's own sperm .
(um....so where are you guys from?)
5-Legal. Although he was carefully inspected, because he truly did not and had not ever used any modern means of communication (EVER!) the pigeons were legit. That's right, brotha, stick it to the man.
4-Legal. She took the IRS to tax court and actually won! Because her income at the strip club was directly correlational to how big her boobs were, the court ruled it as a business expense.
3-Illegal. Haha, yeah right, are you kidding? His house was raided and all of his things were taken. This would be one case where it's better not to report anything and take your chances.
2-Illegal. The man claimed the surgery was for a "dependent". Not happening, buddy. This didn't even make it to tax court. The CPA had a good laugh and said, "hell no".
1- Illegal. The IRS had to use everything in their power not to Chuck Norris this dude in the Mommy-Daddy button. No more kids for you.
No I didn't make any workout resolutions with Sean T. and no, I haven't become Winona Ryder in "Girl Interrupted". But I did play a show with my band, The Piranhas, and got the audience so worked up it ended up looking like the basement in Jeepers Creepers.
Jake and Al's was stuffed with patrons, laughing, dining, talking and thinking up resolutions they will probably break two weeks into 2013. The stage had been set. The soundcheck complete. The amps had a feint buzz, anticipating the metallic crunch of human hands gouging out rock riffs. The house music faded into silence. The stage lights melted from purple to blue to green to red. One by one, we walked onto the stage and kicked off the night a southern MD favorite, Steve Miller's "The Joker". The audience was hooked. We received applause after every song, people cheered at our solos and intently listened to our every word.
As the second set was in full steam, we began to pull out some of our harder hitting stuff, like "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Too Close" by Alex Clare. Influenced by a combination of our on stage intensity, an exorbitant amount of hard alcohol and the notion that the world was only moments away from ending, a large group of people jumped up on some of the dining tables and began to dance. Rage Against the Machine + glasses full of beer + standing on tables = oops. Almost in slow motion, like the titanic tilting vertically before its plunge into the frigid waters, the table wobbled and toppled onto the ground, almost a dozen people being flung off, shirts ripping, dresses coming up, beer and liquor spilling everywhere, glass shattering on the ground and screams and laughs rippling out of the falling bodies. The injuries were minor. If there were any major injuries, no one seemed to care too much, the new year held priority over broken bones and lacerations.
I actually got a kiss this new years! WOOOO!!!! Thanks Steph.
(Despite claims to the contrary a scarf does not make you gay. See?)
The third set was the insanity I was talking about. The countdown to New Years had just finished. Confetti was everywhere. Fireworks were being lit and thrown at people.
Anthony (bass) was warping the tone of his Warwick bass using magic he learned at Hogwarts, Mike (vocals, guitars) was ninja kicking girls in the face, Sean (drums) was headbutting his snare drum. The inside of Jake and Al's started to look like an episode of The Walking Dead. Dozens of people were tessellated on the floor, motionless. Three riot patrol police officers were crawling out of the women's bathroom completely naked (someone had sprayed them with liquid L.S.D.). One woman took her 10 month old baby and Tony Romo'ed it into a wall (perfect spiral...oh no wait she missed, just like Romo, the baby is fine!). Yoda showed up.....naked. He is well endowed. Who knew? Everyone was screaming and punching each other, people were being thrown out, some 85 year old couple was making out on top of the bar. Right when I swore that we were all about to die from the same crowd we worked in to this rabid frenzy we finished out last song and breathed a sigh of relief. We had lived. The fourty-thousandth supposed apocalypse had been averted (seriously, people have been incorrectly predicting it for a few thousand years check it out). The crowd was winding down. What a night. New year's of 2013, I will not forget you. Never forget. Never give up. Never surrender. To infinity and beyond. Never let go Rose. I'll never let go Jack.
Like this post? Comment below!
The cold bite of winter is here. Wreathes, lights and wire frame reindeer adorn the front lawns, doorsteps and rooftops of your neighbors. Some of them may have gone overboard with the robotic waving Santas or excessive amounts of inflatable animals and/or creatures.
(check out that tasteful little lawn arrangement)
Christmas will be here soon! I tried really hard to somehow incorporate music into this post, but it's just not happening this week. I also wanted to make a list of some great ideas to get for that special someone, but seeing as I am a musician in Southern MD my list would be what $1.00 DVD's at Wal-Mart to buy. So what's just as insightful and beneficial as a list of things your significant other will love? Things NOT to get your significant other this Christmas! YAY! This means you won't have to buy anything! Just DON'T buy the things on this list! FREE!!!!
By significant other I mean girlfriend, because, of course all men need all the advice/assistance we can get for our lady's Christmas gifts. The search for the right present for your woman ends up turning you into Liam Neeson in Taken after a couple of weeks..
All women have to do is go to Gamestop and pick up Halo 4. Boom. Christmas for the man, done. Throw in some beef jerky, he's happy for the next 4 months. So, since I'm sure many of you guys out there might be running out of time and growing increasingly nervous, I compiled this little list so you can avoid an awkward moment of silence and potentially sleeping on the couch this Christmas.
The absolute WORST things you could possibly get your girlfriend this Christmas.
(in reverse order to emphasize climax....that's what she said)
5. Kind of joking but not really gifts
Including but not limited to: turkey sandwich making kit, coupon to BoobJobsRUs (yes it is a real place), lingerie deliberately a few sizes smaller, lip waxing kit, super-duper push-up bra, a long paid vacation......for one (yeah honey I'll just stay here while you go have fun in Aruba, I'll miss you! Don't get kidnapped! Love ya! Bye!)
4. Clothing of any sort!
Don't even try. Nothing is as difficult to try and properly clothe as the amorphous, shape-shifting body of a woman. The esoteric knowledge of a woman's dress size is something the ancients have guarded from mankind for centuries. The intellectual process is roughly equatable to reverse engineering a Russian Mig blindfolded while using nothing but a screwdriver....and your feet. We have no chance at all of solving this gordian knot. Our feeble attempts at finding the perfect size, shape, color and style of any clothing a woman might want will be laughable at best. At worst, you will get her something that is too small and she will think you are implying she is fat (see #3 for more things to avoid to prevent this)
3. Gym Membership
Nothing says "Honey you remind me of something........oh yeah! a Hershey's Kiss" like a gym membership. Seriously avoid this. She will be offended. It might be safer to get a duel membership so the both of you can work of those parts of your body that look like Zip-Lock bags filled with Jell-O together, but it would be wise to talk about it first. If you get her a membership to a gym or even any exercise equipment she didn't ask for, you might as well get her a card that says "Merry Christmas, Fatty, here's a $3000 gift card to Golden Corral, since you're obviously not too concerned with your weight anymore. PS - boy do I love the 'Venus of Willendorf' look you're going for. It fills out those stretch marks so you can hardly tell."
2. The Snuggie
Forget insulting just her figure. The message is clear. In so many words, you have just informed your girlfriend/wife she has given up on attempting to look nice entirely. If Richard Simmons was the Kl Klux Klan's fashion consultant, he would probably come up with a Snuggie . (Your robes are so fabulous, but I just want to add a splash of color!). Since comfortability takes rule over everything else, as Snuggie wearers gladly demonstrate, let's just all lay on the couch with robots that bring Doritos and Cinnabon to us and change our adult diapers as we sit motionlessly transfixed on American Pickers, pooping ourselves in pure infantile bliss. This is what wearing a Snuggie implies. You want to be warm and comfortable but you are just too lazy to hold a blanket around yourself. In this sense you almost don't deserve to be comfortable if you are really that lazy . I digress, the world doesn't need any more cults so please, don't get her a Snuggie.
For more details on why you should NOT get one, please watch this very informative video.
1. A Gift That Shows You Don't Pay Attention and/or Put No Effort Into It
"A check for $50? How romantic, you really went the extra mile this time."
"Cubic Zirconium....yeah, that's almost a diamond...Honey, you also signed the card "sincerely, John".....wow"
"Hey this looks just like...wait...this IS one of my dresses! You seriously wrapped up my own red dress as my present? I have been looking for this for three weeks."
"That pecan pie I love that your mom makes? Remember your ex, Samantha? Yeah, that was HER favorite. I am allergic to pecans."
"Tickets to Warped tour? But we're 40."
"Halo 4? You're an asshole."
"A Snuggie? Get out. Now."
And there you have it! Please, for the sake of fellow men everywhere, at all costs avoid any of these gifts this Christmas unless your lady friend has very clearly specified she actually wants one of these things, which she probably hasn't.
Ok so now it's your turn. Below list either the WORST gift you have ever recieved OR the worst gift you can possibly think of as a Christmas present. Happy shopping!
This is a continuation/revamp of a previous post from about a year ago with a little less rant and a little more helpful info.
Onto the damage.
Artists in popular music have (for the most part) either have completely forgotten or are just neglecting the art of writing effective lyrics. Why does no one care anymore? WHY!? Waves and waves of crap just keep splattering against our poor, defenseless ears year after year and now we are covered in a thick stew of fecal matter that was once called music. It's not all of the artists and it's not all the radio stations, but it's way too many. Extremely talented producers seem to be doing the heavy lifting by layering these ass nuggets with beautiful blankets of sonic silk until all of the sudden you are completely distracted at how bad the lyrics suck. Apparently all you need is a four to the floor beat and then you can just yell all kinds of gibberish over it and everyone will just eat up your little aural dingleberries like Ferrero Rocher chocholates.
What makes a good lyric? Lemme esplain to you, Lucy. Why should you trust me? Don't. Trust my degree from Berklee.
Qualities of "good" lyrics:
The song should sound like nothing else. Unless you have a twin you are genetically unique, and so should your songs be. Songs about drinking and going to the club and songs bragging about how awesome you are seem to be a everywhere you listen. Although sometimes these songs are fun they typically have little to no actual lyrical value because of their lack of originality pertaining to the choice of subject matter and the cliched lyrics within.
Singing about a very specific thing that happened in your life is a very good way to avoid bland subject matter. If you had a breakup, don't just sing "oh baby you broke my heart"....of course she broke your heart, quit stating the obvious. Write about what exactly she said to you, how she looked, what you felt, delve down into your senses and pull out details from the situation. When you do that, all of the sudden, you song will gain a uniqueness that no one else has ever experienced.
P.O.V. should be consistent throughout the whole song. If your song begins in third person (like a Ben Fold's song) with "he and she" don't just start whipping out "I and you" and change the song to first person. This is confusing to smart people and shows that you don't really know what the hell you are doing or you seriously need to invest in a proofreader.
Cee-lo Green's "F*#@ You" notoriously disregards this rule and still almost won a grammy, so people aren't listening too hard in the first place, but us songwriter's cringe at unexplained shifts in P.O.V. "I see you driving round town with the girl I love" - obviously written not to the girl but to the man who stole his girl. The verse goes on to say "I'm sorry I can't afford a Ferrari, but that don't mean I can't get you there"....wait, is Cee-Lo still singing to the guy that stole his girl? Is he going to buy that man a Ferrari? This song switches back and forth between being directed to the girl who left Cee-Lo and the guy who she left Cee-Lo with.
(I might add that overall this song is actually pretty clever, but read the lyrics again carefully with P.O.V. in mind and all of sudden you go, "Wow, that song doesn't make as nearly as much sense as I thought it did.") F$#% You by Cee-Lo lyrics
The verse should tell a story. The chorus should sum up that story. Each verse should tell more of the story. Verse 2 should introduce new material and continue the story, not just reiterate verse 1 with difference words.
Songs that do this well:
Strawberry Wine by Deanna Carter
Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon
Walt Grace's Submarine Test by John Mayer
Songs that do not do this well:
Mambo #5 by Lou Bega
Milkshake by Kelis
Little Lion Man by Mumford and Songs
(Note that I do love this song, musically, and I love Mumford and Sons, but honestly about 90% of the time I find myself thinking, man I love this song....but what the hell is it even about.)
Avoid Cliche Rhymes:
(love/above, baby/crazy, heart/start, phone/alone/home, girl/world, fun/one/young)
Rhymes are a huge part of writing and cliched rhymes aren't actually bad, they were once actually very clever. However, after about five million artists exploited these rhymes, the effectiveness they once had began to loose their luster. The more times something is repeated the less an impact it has from the first time. The first time you watch Inception, you will probably be more excited than the 3,000 time you watch it. The same is true with using words. If you use a cliche rhyme, try to put a new twist on the old rhyme. Don't just say "oh baby, you make me crazy" or "I'm all alone/waiting by the phone" or "I'm so in love/you came from above". It's been done.
Think about what you're saying.
The growing trend seems to be to just try and sound like you are Leonardo DiCaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" just shouting and singing nonsensical phrases, metaphors that don't make sense, much like these little lyrical turds:
"Just a shy guy looking for a two ply Hefty bag to hold my love"
(C'mon Pat Monahan I understand you like metaphors, but you're really stretching it. Pun intended.)
"Hmm thinks, 1, 2, 3, to the Nicki Minaj blink"
(so first off I wasn't aware that a countdown was necessary to prepare oneself for blinking, second, I guess "Nikki Manaj" blinks are better than normal blinks.)
The first thing that pops into your head isn't always a good idea. The original lyrics for The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" were: "All in a tonguey, blowing his mind in the dark with a pipe full of clay, no one would say". The original lyrics to The Beatles "Yesterday" were "Scrambled eggs, oh my baby how I love your legs". Paul McCartney understands this idea. Fergie does not.
"My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps"
(Fergie. Ew. Beautiful breasts do not come to mind, lumpy, disfigured blobs of cottage cheese do. Please never call anything on your body humps or lumps unless you want people to think you look like a mutant camel naked.)
This post is subjective and technically, there really are no rules to songwriting, but there are certain things you can do to a song to more clearly present an idea inside of your head to other people. One of my professors during my time at Berklee, Pat Pattison, has thoroughly analyzed and broken down all the tools of making effective lyrics into a science. His book, Writing Better Lyrics is basically the bible of lyric writing and I would venture so far as to say it is absolutely essential for any songwriters, beginner or professional. It uses popular examples of very well written songs to help you understand each concept and gives you very fun exercises to help develop your own abilities. This concludes a very brief "lyrics 101". Now get out there and start differentiating between well constructed lyrics and steaming dumps. Let's make fun of crappy lyrics together!
Click below to comment and tell me some of the worst lyrics you have ever heard!!
Here's a little acoustic cover I sometimes do at shows. Let me know whatcha think.
Spending my whole life in Southern Maryland I have realized, as many of you have, sometimes Southern Maryland is not always the most eventful place in the world. But recently, there seems to be a little buzz around this place. It seems that Southern Maryland is beginning to give birth to a growing music scene. Although still in it's infancy, more and more bars and restaurants are bringing live music to their establishments and a growing number of musicians are melding together and forming bands. The radio is great but nothing beats the chemistry of people playing live music together, jumping, singing in harmony, trading solos, packed full of all the energy and risk involved of playing in front of a live audience.
Who are some of the prominent bands in Southern Maryland? Let's begin the introductions.
Sam Grow Band - They are the undisputed champions of Southern Maryland. They have shared the stage with Ronnie Dunn, Boston, Sister Hazel, Kanye West, Bill Engvall and tons of other nationally touring acts. Their set list, now almost entirely original music, combines southern rock, hard rock, soul and pop. The band showcases 800 horsepower vocals, time bending rock-shredding, and a rhythm section tighter than Honey Boo-Boo's mother's socks. Everywhere you look these guys are headlining shows, packing houses night after night, touring, making radio appearances, doing interviews, and selling merchandise.
No Green Jelly Beenz - This is probably the most popular of all the cover bands in the area. These guys pull a ton of people wherever they go and have a fantastic party-til-you-drop showmanship that helps you understand how they got to where they are. They have an absurd number of cover songs and have the crowds eating out of their hands every time. Superstorm Sandy? That was just the leftover energy from a N.G.J.B. show. Yeah, it get's that ridiculous. Michael J. Fox? He doesn't actually have Parkinson's he just sat front row at a Beenz concert 5 years ago. Typically, on most nights they play, the police just close the rest of county so they can make sure the insanity from the show doesn't turn into an episode of The Walking Dead.
Hydra FX - This band has been rocking stages for over ten years. They blend reggae, rock, hard rock and funk into a balls-to-the-wall style that makes even the laziest of bastards get up off of their fat asses and start dancing. Newly adopted Dream Theatre shredder and Met-rx Strong Man contestant John Kinkaid, who sometimes has to pick up his own bicep and move it out of the way to play a solo, is like tossing a handful of bottle rockets into the fire (..Let's Burn it Brighter). This band's rhythm section is more solid than a bowel movement after two blocks of cheese and when they whip out their highly syncopated rock-reggae breakdowns, it takes everything in your will power not punch the old lady sitting next to you in the face out of sheer joy. Now fronted by everyone's favorite Ginger, Greg Barrick, whose on stage antics may remind you of Angus Young + an 8 ball of cocaine. This band could play at a morgue and by the end of the first set, the bodies would be doing the Wobble.
Jukebox Thieves - This tight-knit cover band has a clean and driving sound and is fronted by one of the best vocalists in the area, Tara Rae, showing off her dynamics and range from song to song and channeling popular greats like Christina Aguilera, Adele and Hayley Williams (Paramore) . (She is unfortunately taking a several week hiatus to rest those beautiful pipes and come back even stronger.) Their guitar player also has some pipes of his own, rocking out McCartney style thumping lines while belting out in the middle of sets. These guys know a ridiculous number of top 40's hits and they know how to please a crowd.
The Piranhas - Well I hope you like crapping your pants because that happens from time to time towards the end of our shows. Versatility is our middle name, we play everything from Bon Jovi and The Outfield to Rage Against the Machine, Bob Marley, Alex Clare, C.C.R., Jessie J, Guns and Roses, Gnarles Barkley, Ben Harper, Maroon 5 and so many more that if I listed them all, this blog would turn into a J.R Tolkein novel. We have a very climactic show, usually beginning with something soft, slow and simple and ending with dual harmonized guitar finger-tapping, headbanging, jumping off of chairs, climbing up poles, throwing dead chipmunks, etc. You just have to come see it for yourself.
Justin Myles - This STOMP! performer has joined forces with Rusty Williams to put on a mesmerizing blend of jazz, funk and pop. You may even see Justin pull out his tap board and begin trading fours with Rusty. His covers are soulful and entertaining and his song selection is a breath of fresh air, choosing songs like Moondance by Van Morrison, Senorita by Justin Timberlake and Maneater by Hall and Oats. He also incorporates some of his rhythmically savvy originals. His influences, Dave Matthews, Bobby Mcferrin and Jamie Cullum are quite apparent in his highly stylized playing, singing and writing. It would be a good idea to check out one of his live shows.
Diojee - No, not D.O.G. These guys have a very unique island-esque vibe and sound like they might be closer to the Caribbean than Southern Maryland. They have a solid list of original acoustic-reggae influenced grooves, carried by calming vocals and peppered with percussion. After listening to Diojee, you may feel an uncontrollable urge to buy a boat and move a little closer to the beach.
Since I would have to write a fifteen page blog to properly introduce all the great acts around this area, check out these links to get to know some of the prominent local performers in Southern Maryland:
Dave and Kevin,
Pet the Monster,
No Luck for Landes,
Don't Call Me Shirley
Colossus of Clout
To anyone else I didn't mention - my apologies. Feel free to post your name and link below in the comment box!
Ahhhhh, New York City. Back again, so soon. Why? To visit beautiful girlfriend (but also to try and make a few connections and scope out the music scene) This is her. (Pretty hot? Don't worry, I know.) But what happens when she is gone all day teaching at her dance studio and you have an entire day in New York by yourself? You take a crash course of New York City subway and test your luck at busking at the most populated spots. But it can get very confusing and sometimes you find yourself lost. Very lost. Just ask Tom Hanks. He was just trying to find Central Park.
What is busking for you music noobs? It's performing (typically unamplified) in a highly populated public area in an effort to earn tips from listeners or watchers. Forget oil rig operating or skydiving. Step aside Deadliest Catch. Billy The Exterminator? Nope. Wrestling alligators is child's play. Dodging pigeon turds while playing music is for the big kids. Cops chase you. Rival buskers are trying to out-play you. Mimes surround you and stare lividly. Sometimes people just throw half eaten hot dogs for no reason. Dogs pee on you. Little kids laugh and point and walk up to you and kick you in the balls. You can be imprisoned for up to fifteen years. Even sent to another country as slave labor. Yes, busking makes even Evel Knievel look like Stephen Hawking.
Actually all of that is completely untrue. Typically cops won't bother you if you are not amplified, other buskers don't care unless you are in a reserved spot (which requires a permit and if you're in New York, an audition held only once a year that only two people get accepted from). Pigeons also very rarely take the time to fly all the way down into the subway, hover above you, and crap on your head (they are too busy eating dirty gum and styrofoam cups on the sidewalk).
You want to do some research to find out high traffic areas. You also need to find a place where people are forced to stop walking, or else hardly anyone will take the time to listen. NY is an extremely fast-paced place and people generally aren't on mid-afternoon strolls around subway stations. If you play right next to the stops, where the people are waiting for their train, they will hear you, but the subways themselves are absurdly loud and you will be drowned out from time to time. You have to project yourself and be unafraid of getting peoples attention. It's great practice for live performers. Some people who got their start busking include: BB King, Bernie Mac, Bob Dylan, Blue Man Group, Bon Jovi, Cirque de Soliel (WHAT!?), Damien Rice, Eric Clapton, Jaoquin Peonix, Kanye West, Norah Jones, Sheryl Crow, STOMP, Simon and Garfunkel, Jason Mraz, Martin Sexton and way too many more to list. The complete list is here.
The average busker typically makes about $15-$20 a day. However if you have some real talent and can really work a crowd, buskers can make an upwards of $300 a day. Not to mention you get a ton of exposure to thousands and thousands of people every day, even if it's only for a few minutes or seconds at a time. I plan on moving to NYC in the not-so-distant future and will be busking a whole lot - I definitely plan on attempting to break the $300.00 mark at some point. If you are interested in trying busking yourself, check out this link! I will also be putting together a pretty hefty group of songs to get some heads turning. So if you have any ideas for an ultimate NYC set list, put them below in the comment box. Happy busking. Stay thirsty my friends.
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The Statue of Liberty. The Empire State Building. The Big Apple. The land of hopes and dreams. Even if it is home to the undeniably evil Yankees, it's actually a beautiful place.
It begins with a bus ride. Megabus. MEGABUS. Four and a half hours of sitting still in near silence sounds to me like a purgatorial punishment, unless of course, you have your electric guitar and an unquenchable thirst for practicing. Time flies when you are annoying the Asian tourists sitting in front of you by repeating scale patterns for hours on end. I arrive at 10:45 PM. They did not love me long time. I am greeted by a tall, beautiful, stylish blonde wearing coal eye shadow and a brown leather jacket. Her name is Stephanie and she is the reason why I am on this trip. I may explain more about that in another blog, but on with the chlorophyll. She helps me grab some of my luggage and we head to her car where I meet her roomate, Avish, think Asis Ansari meets Robert Downey Jr., and her friend Bryan, equal parts Paul Rudd and Matthew Mcconaughey. We begin what will be one of the most interesting nights of my life.
The first club we go to was called "Nine". A burly, fourty-something man stands guard at the door to what looks like John Wayne Gacey's basement, checks our ID's and we descend into a darkened rectangular dance floor pulsing with rotating club lights decorated with a small bar on the right and a DJ room in the back (which had about as many people as were on the dance floor). I have never been to any bar or club in NY before, so at some point between watching an obese pirate girl doing splits on the floor or the not-sure-of-sexual-preference black guy with a bull ring and a turquoise mohawk grinding himself on one of the stripper poles, scantily clad in a one-piece spandex suit, I realized I wasn't in Kansas anymore. This is a sharp contrast from the usual Bud Light drinking, football watching bars adorning the Southern Maryland area. It seems inhibitions are something people use as toilet paper here in the big city. Like soldiers on the beaches of Normandy, Avish began sending wave after wave of drinks our way and party time had been initiated.
After an hour or so, we relocated to a place called R-Bar. After Avish schmoozed us past the leather clad, feather wearing "hostess" into the place for half price, no amount of psychological training could have prepared me for what I was about to see.
It went something like this:
A sheek bar, decked out in red and black, looking like something from a scene in the Matrix,
a World War II-based softcore porn playing on all the TV's, middle aged women covered in brightly-colored feather boas, one wearing nothing but star-shaped pasties (she could have used a few weeks of Zumba if she was going to go shirtless...just sayin), an Annie Lennox look-alike contorting herself atop the bar wearing nothing but a thong and a leather strap for a top (I'm pretty sure she actually does Zumba), a man in a beautifully self-made costume who looked like a male Queen Amidala from Star Wars Episode I - his name was King Vulcanus and was the host of this crazy feather-themed bar party.
See!? Male Queen Amidala, right?
....oh yeah, and men walking around in what looked like jewel studded jock straps (and nothing else). At some point in the night, I noticed a homeless man sleeping next to the bar, all wrapped up in blankets. I thought to myself, "oh wow, what a sweet thing to do; to house a homeless man overnight on a cold New York night like this. But holy crap it must be hard to sleep with this window shattering house music blasting all night." As I'm watching this homeless man lay there with a smile on his face, dreaming of who knows what, I witness two women in high heels step on him and begin stomping all over his chest and groin. I immediately go to the bar tender and inform him that evil women are stomping on the sleeping homeless man. He says "It's ok, he wants them to"....Hu...mu....na? Then I noticed, it wasn't blankets he was wrapped up in, it was a carpet, and next to him was a sign that read STAND ON ME. He was a fetishist, and apparently his thing was being walked on. "Well, that's new." So was my first night ever in New York City, the land of the free and the home of the strange. But I honestly think strange is better than inhibited and miserable, so more power to them.
I made sure to hold on to Stephanie's arm very tightly for the rest of the night, but despite the weirdness, it's still a beautiful place.
Six Flags. More flags = more fun? Not sure of the logic here but lets overlook that. So if I only had one flag I guess I wouldn't be having a good time. I guess the CEO is praying every night at his bed that a place named Seven Flags never opens up, because even if it's a lemonade stand, based on the flag logic alone, it is sure to put Six Flags out of business. But hey, there's no need for logic when you have a mascot this sexy to lure in hot singles from every corner of the state.
Im not sure if any of you have wondered the same thing but wouldn't you have loved to be at the board meeting when 'captain rape' was selected to be the face of six flags? It's like Turtle Wax meets Herbert the Pervert from family guy. I guess who better to lure in little children than a vigorous old pedophile with a colorful van and free tickets to an amusement park.
If you are able to get past the questionable advertising and actually enter the park in person you will come to find you do actually get access to a pretty respectable variety of rides. And it doesn't hurt being accompanied by a very pretty gal (who will later school you in video games....wtf!?). I would highly advise this tactic of opposite sex accompaniment so that you are less likely to check out a hottie from afar only to realize she is a 14 year old......................................boy....or fall into a hypnotic trance from the morbidly obese soul sista pouring out of her size three impromptu booty shorts, the soft undulating blubber demanding your gaze and then disorienting your spacial awareness. Hold on to your pretty girl's (or guy's) arm tightly, maintain eye contact with them at all times and wade through the Picasso painting of a crowd to get to the good stuff. Six Flags people makes People of Walmart look like Victoria's Secret models. And make sure you don't walk to fast either, or they will mistake your hurriedness for fear and once they smell your fear they will bite.
Whats the best thing in the park? Rollercoasters! Yay! Amazingly enough we didn't wait in a single line for more than ten minutes, an all time record, especially since lots A-K were full and we had to park in reserve lot 1, but I'm guessing the heart of the mob was too busy absorbing each other's Hepatitis C in the Waterpark. Wild One is rickety and very likely to derail soon. Do not go on that one. Apocalypse is outstanding (no pun intended, ride it to find out why). Superman reigns supreme. It's like a first person view from Jason Statham's balls in the movie Crank. Pure adrenaline. The downside of roller coasters: when you get done for the day after being strapped in all the harness and seats you will smell like a Persian man's thong after a marathon.
Most of the games are impossible. The ones that are possible cost ten dollars to play and the prize is comparable to a cardboard cut-out of Justin Beiber (clearly not worth ten dollars). Although I must say the squid hats were pretty bawler. I wouldn't mind making an entrance with a neon colored squid on my head.
Before squid hat:
After Squid Hat:
Arcade = yes. Almost as good as the roller coasters without even moving. Especially when you have a girl that outscores you in LA Machineguns (a 1st person shooter where you and your partner are on magic Jet-Skis shooting holding infinitely reloading machine guns and shooting at robots that try to kidnap the president...clearly a plot that would make Christopher Nolan soil his pants in awe of such genius.) Air hockey (she beat me), Ski ball, Hoops (she beat me), DDR (she did NOT beat me)....enough said. 20 bucks and the next few hours are pure bliss.
One last thing you should know about Six Flags before you go. Do NOT go into the "Hurricane Simulator". If you would like to experience this, merely go into your bedroom. Turn on your ceiling fan. Put your face close to it. Wait twenty seconds. Turn off of your fan. Take two dollars out of your wallet. Wipe your ass with them and then throw them out of the window. Congratulations you have experienced The Six Flags Hurricane simulator.
I hope this has been informational for you and will one day be printed in color and placed in the Six Flags directory right next the maps and show schedules. A good day to you!