A New York Story Continued…

A New York Story
March 2003

How can you top the Grammy story? Well, I don’t know if I can, but I’ll tell you
what happened to us to Saturday night and then you can be the judge.

My wife and I had plans to go see the March Required Listening show at the
Bottom Line for some time, basically since it was announced (in January I
think). For those of you not familiar with Required Listening, it is a
concert series sponsored by WFUV 90.7 that features four up-and-coming acts
all in one night. Each set lasts about half an hour and the bands play two
shows (one early, one late) each evening. The past three times we’ve shown
up for this, we’ve never had a problem getting tickets, the bands aren’t
normally huge names, but the sets are enjoyable and it is a good way to
discover new music.

I checked out the Bottom Line website in February and saw the annoucement
for the new show on March 22, not being in any rush, I filed the date away
mentally. The details were the same as usual, two shows, four acts, $15.00
cover. As the date of the show drew nearer I asked my friend John
if he was interested in joining us. “Ah, no dice”, says John, “got to make
the obligatory last trip to ‘Les Miz’ that night”. “Ok”, I say, “maybe next
time”. John may dispute me on whether Les Miz was that night or the next, as
my recall of the details our actual email is a little sketchy. Anyway, I did
mention the show to a few other friends, who actually seemed quite keen on
coming along. So, Monday before the show, I went to the Bottom Line website
to make an “email reservation”. (It’s really as low-tech as high tech can
be). To my surprise the show was sold out and to add insult to injury there
was only one show instead the regular two. What? Required Listening doesn’t SELL OUT,
who are these people? Not to be musically elitist or anything, but I mean if
I haven’t heard of them, (and I do frequent an independent record
store at least 3 days a week on top of my TONY subscribtion), then how good
can they be? My curiousity peaked, I did a little net detective work. Amy
Corriea, no real revelations here, certainly it’s not her that they’re
coming to see. Tony Furtado, could people be mistaking him for Nelly
Furtado? My sources indicate this is probably not the case, strike number
two. “Anyone heard of Les Sans Coullotes?”, I ask at the Academy Records. I
find out they are a pretty popular Brooklyn based franco-pop septet. Maybe I
underestimated their local following. Anyway, I move on to my last chance,
Richard Julian. Interesting, I see he is opening for Norah Jones on her
Eastern tour. I check out his tour calendar and I see that his performance
at the Bottom Line has an asterisk beside it that says with “Very Special
Guests.” Hmmm, let’s put two and two together, he’s opening for Norah Jones,
Norah Jones lives in Brooklyn, they both played at the Living Room (on the
Lower East Side)… I’m pretty convinced I know who the special guest will
be. The only problem is, I still don’t have tickets.

My next move is to call the club. (Insert simulated sounds of phone
Me: “Hi, do you any tickets for the Required…”
Bottom Line: “We’re sold out.”
Me: “Yeah I know, but is there any chance of tickets going on sale the day
of show?”
Bottom Line: “We might do standing room day of show.”
Me: “OK, thanks.”

If you’re still reading at this point, you may remember that two of our
friends were still keen on going to the show. I still felt pretty confident
that we could get tickets, but once my wife told them the show was sold out,
they decided to make dinner plans with some other friends and
invited us join them, (at least that’s how I understood it). Dinner was to take
place on the Upper East Side, we live on the East Side so that was OK with us.

Fast forward to the day of the show, dinner plans are still kind of up in
the air, if we can get tickets to the Bottom Line, maybe we will skip dinner
and do that instead. I go to the box office at about 3:00 in the afternoon
and I am told no standing room for this show, once again I am out of luck.
After being rebuffed once, I flash my Required Listening card and the club
owner says, “Come back at 7:30 and find me and I’ll see what I can do.” This
doesn’t really put us too much further ahead in terms of guaranteed
admittance, so dinner is still looming uncomfortably on the horizon. At
about 6:00, a little kink gets thrown into the mix, dinner is now on the
Upper West Side, really not so convenient for us (midtown-eastsiders that we
are). I get in touch with our friends and basically say I really want to go
the show, eating on the Upper West Side will make it impossible, would you
be really upset if we cancelled. No problem, no problem, they understand,
(remember they are still going with other people). Now that our schedule
clear and we can take our chances down at the club at 7:30.

We show at 7:30 and Norah Jones is standing outside the club with her
songwriter/friend Jesse Harris. Bingo. Can I call it or what? I go to the
box office, say my shpiel about coming back at 7:30, and basically I am told
that there are no more tickets. After that, I see the guy I had spoken to in
the afternoon and he tells me to hang tight. While we are waiting, we start
talking to the other people outside who are still waiting to get in. People
start talking about the special guest and we say yeah, “Norah Jones, didn’t
you see her”, someone overhears and says, “Really, I thought Ringo Starr was
playing tonight.” The guy behind me then proceeded to tell me that he saw
Ringo’s band outside the club in the afternoon after they finished their
sound check. Ok, now this is much cooler than I thought, Norah Jones would
have been nice, but a former Beatle in a club of 300, woo hoo! After about
15 minutes or so, like a miracle (in a Grateful Dead sort of way), we get
our tickets to the show. The place is really packed save 5 or 6 long tables
set aside as reserved (for the press).

By the time we get inside, Tony Furtado is about to close his first set. The
next three bands play and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Les Sans
Coullotes play a very enjoyable set, they are a lot of fun to watch, but I
don’t think I will buy the album. Once they are finished, Claudia Marshall
(the host) comes back and basically tells us to sit tight until our special
guest gets set up. After about 45 minutes, Ringo hits the stage. The crowd,
is of course, very enthusiastic. By this time, the heretofore unoccupied
press tables are full and there are actually probably more journalists
around than clubgoers.

Here’s what I can remember of the setlist:
1. It Don’t Come Easy
2. Memphis In Your Mind
3. Never Without You (song is dedicated to George Harrison – although
Clapton plays on this track on the album, he wasn’t there last night)
4. Yellow Submarine
5. With A Little Help From My Friends (with Norah Jones and Richard Julian)

There was one other song at least, I’m pretty sure it was, “I Wanna Be Your
Man”. I’m not sure where it fell in the set, somewhere in the middle

He played for about a half hour with his band, the Roundheads. Norah Jones
and Richard Julian (halfheartedly introduced by Starr as, “her friend
Richard”), sang back up vocals on “With A Little Help From My Friends”. Of
Jones, Starr said, “I want to welcome a very special guest, Ms. Norah Jones.
She’s built up her arms a bit since I last saw her.” Then he sang the chorus
of “Come Away With Me” (just the four words actually), and Jones said, “This
is so cool.” Ringo replied, “Now finally I’m cool.” That got a pretty big
laugh from the crowd.

Ringo was behind the kit for two songs. During those songs, the band played
with two drummers, the regular drummer, Greg, and Ringo of course. Ringo
sang the rest of songs out in front of the stage. He was looking fit and
seemed to be enjoying himself. His singing voice is, well, not fantastic to
say the least. The new Ringo songs (of his new album Ringorama) were pretty
simple rockers, (kind of early Beatles without the edge), and lyrically they
were not so challenging either. Hey, I’m not knocking it, it was a great
treat and I’ll not soon forget it.

Reporting another fine New York experience,

Dave (March 2003)

UPDATE: March 2007

OK, I never really actually met Ringo Starr, but the title sounds a lot cooler that way, doesn’t it? Anyway, if this happened today, I’d have video and pictures and it would be all over YouTube and Flickr. But ah, that was 2003 and the times, well, they were a little different back then, in both a good way and a bad way. In 2003, if you got the chance to see a secret show, well, it was probably, a secret, and that was good thing. The bad thing is that if there were a 100 secret shows in 2003, I guess I saw one, and was clueless about the other 99. But, since I didn’t know any better at the time, I’m not too upset about it. I suppose the great thing about blogs today is that you can really find about everything, so if you’ve got the time and the energy, you can take it all in. With that knowledge, however, comes a loss innocence; there are no more secret shows, only secret marketing events run by Chili’s, and a truly serendipitous experience like the one I had will probably never happen again.