Dogstar’s Guide to the Top 10 NYC Open Mics

Dogstar is ……

…..a born and bred Londoner who, for the past 13 years, has lived (and been adopted) into the ‘self-penned’ musical capital of the world ‘Liverpool’ UK.  As recently as November 2014 ‘the dog’ touched down in NYC with the aim and ambition of ‘testing the water’ on the musical range of The Big Apple ……  for the past 70 days she has trekked, traipsed and tinkered to and fro to discover which venues and hosts are the best of the best on the music circuit here in NYC.  Within that time frame (having part mastered the New York Metro, which is a must if you really want to get to these places) Dogstar now pulls together for you (who wish to follow in the footsteps of rhythm, melody, harmony, color and adventure) all thoughts and experiences to bring a well-rounded and personalised top ten favourite list of the New York Open Mic tour …..

1.     Pete’s Candy Store : 709 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn NY11211 / Tel : (718) 302-3770

This open mic takes place every Sunday from 5pm to 8pm – sign up commences about a quarter to five and is pretty fast and furious as there are many performers who turn up from around 4.30pm and thus you really do have to stand your ground in getting your name on that list. You will find that as with many of these open mic ‘sign ups’ the difference in just a few minutes of your arrival time at the venue could put you anywhere from top of the list to the very bottom (which can often mean a good two to three-hour wait before you actually reach the stage) …  This open mic has been running for over 14 years and is currently hosted by the very charismatic Bruce Martin.  Original compositions are preferred but there are some performers who throw in the odd cover here and there, however it is not wanted to be renown as being a ‘covers forum’.  No ‘singers to track’ or full bands are allowed at this event.  The Open Mic at Pete’s is intended as a high quality affair for musicians to present their original material.

The location is pretty easy to navigate; closest tube station is Lorimer Street on the L Train.  The open mic takes place at the back of the venue in a small intimate portion of space that gives off an ambient of being on the ‘Orient Express’ with its dark red upholstery and narrow channeled wooden room. The bar at the front feels cosy and the barmen/women friendly and attentive, drinks are reasonably priced (it’s all pretty expensive in NYC to be honest)… my favoured hot toddy with a ‘well’ scotch or rye mash was 10 bucks (which equates, at this moment in 2015 time to GBP 6.60) …if you’re hungry you can get some basic fare (sandwiches) for 7-9 bucks and then if you’re up for cocktails (which are pretty stacked in alcohol) you can indulge yourself for 11 bucks.

You must be 21 to participate.  There is no cover charge and no minimum drink rules here so this creates an easier relaxed atmosphere without that ‘pay to play’ feeling.

Pete’s Candy Store actually did used to be a Candy Store many moons ago.

I give this event 4/5 stars …. ”A welcoming charm”

at petes candyPhoto Courtesy of : Azbo Drums

www.petescandystore.com

2.     The Bitter End : 147 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 / Tel : (212) 673-7030

Taking place on a Saturday afternoon makes this open mic a great alternative to all those nightly affairs. Sign up is at 1pm and it runs until 6.30pm. Getting to the venue just a bit before 1pm can make all the difference for achieving a performance slot that’s higher up on the list, otherwise you could be number 20 plus before you know it and have a long wait whilst the rest of the crowd hog the spotlight. The very lovely Evan Kremin is your host and you’re in good hands with this guy as each week he’ll open proceedings with a thorough outline of what is to occur. He takes the time to sound engineer you and then turns photographer to snap you in full flow and on top of this you can get yourself a live recording on CD for just ten bucks if you give him the nod before you head on up to the mic. All photos are then displayed on the facebook page so you can save and download. A nice little piece of memorabilia for your scrapbook. You’re ensured a very warm welcome from him every time you attend and although the audience is predominantly like-minded musicians/performers (poets, comedians and spoken word are welcomed too) there is a good community feel here and your performance is actively listened to and appreciated.

Occasionally there is ‘live stream’ video taking place.

You can reach this ‘heart of Greenwich Village’ venue by taking the (Green) 4, 5 or 6 Train direct to Bleecker Street and then you have about a 7 minute walk to reach your entrance. There is no cover charge and no minimum drink purchase rule so this is another wonderful place where you can relax and not feel like you have ‘paid to play’.

One gripe to point out is that (in my personal opinion) the level of bar tending is below par. On three separate occasions (from the same member of staff) service emitted a ‘moodiness’ and ‘lack of customer appreciation’ … and the drinks are expensive. On one occasion I was charged $5 for a rank coffee and it was served with a scowl to boot. Not sure whether the bartender in question was just having ‘off’ days but thrice the service marred the otherwise loveliness of the experience.

This venue established itself in 1961 and is known as the oldest rock and roll club in New York City. The stage not only boasts a classic red brick backdrop but also has the most beautiful grand piano which has had many a great artist tickle its ivories ….. although this venue has a 230 crowd capacity as a nightclub it still has the ability to emit an intimate vibe on these Saturday afternoon jollies.  The historic venue is almost as iconic as its headliners having had legendary artists like Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Gavin DeGraw, Woody Allen, Billy Crystal, Norah Jones, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, and thousands more grace the boards.

I give this event 3.5/5 stars …. ”Does what is says on the tin”

10906389_1528170694128018_4626317323952911230_n Photo Courtesy of : Evan Kremin

http://www.bitterend.com

3.     Bijan’s : 81 Hoyt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217 / Tel : (718) 855-5574

This is a particular favourite. Bijan’s is a stylish, quaint and quirky place, has an open log fire and serves some of the best cocktails and cuisine for a fair price.  Bartender Ross is great at his job and always greets you with a welcoming smile and his service is second to none, with attention to detail being paid with every drink served. The Persian inspired food is delicious and after four visits I’d happily return again and again.  This place and the people within it aspire to offer the very best in hospitality and indeed succeed on many levels. The host of the open mic, which takes place every Tuesday night, is Sharief Hobley and this guy not only makes you feel welcome from the outset but also offers a genuine friendship into his community.  On top of this he is one heck of a musician. The quality of performers at this open mic will make you up your game tenfold. Sharief makes you feel cordially received into the music mix at this laid back, casual yet classy night. The stage may be small but the benefits of playing are big. You get listened to and appreciated and there are always a plethora of highly skilled ‘players’ ready to accompany you if you wish.  The night starts around 10pm and goes through till the wee hours so is great for the ‘night owl’ musician.

Pretty easy to access if you find your way to Dekalb Avenue metro station which can be reached via the B,Q and R Trains (Careful not to confuse this Dekalb stop with the Dekalb Avenue on the L Train). When you surface at street level you look for Fulton Street and walk for about 5 minutes until you swing a left onto Hoyt Street.  Another five minutes and you’ll find Bijan’s on your left hand side.

I give this event 5/5 stars ….. ”Sparkling”

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http://www.bijansbrooklyn.com

https://twitter.com/shariefhobley

4.     The Sugar Bar : 254 West 72nd Street #1A, New York, NY 10023 / Tel : (212) 579-0222

Even though I only went once I feel this open mic deserves a mention, if only for the high-caliber and possible epitome of music performance. The ‘Sugar Bar All Star’ house band’s competence and ability was nothing short of phenomenal and indeed the incredible musicians were referred to numerous times as ‘The Band That Can’ …. all singing artists were made of sheer greatness and my breath was taken away a little bit more each time a new act got up to perform. This is not for the fainthearted, notwithstanding however that all are welcome to this well renown NYC oasis.

Owned by Ashford & Simpson (of ‘Solid (As A Rock)’, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ and ‘I’m Every Woman’ to name but three of the many hits from this famous duo) and this is possibly a reflection to the distinction of each performer that graces the stage at this Venue. Again, another open mic that sets a standard beyond anything you may have experienced before. One thing is sure, it will be memorable.

For a relatively ‘new’ open mic (this event has run for the last three years) it’s already hugely popular and the clientele is booming.  It’s every Thursday Night, sign up at 9pm (one song only). Your host is Andre Smith, not a particularly welcoming master of ceremonies but a compellingly flawless and impressive singer nevertheless. No ‘singing to CD tracks’ but covers are allowed (indeed most of the singers performed covers) original material is openly welcome. There is a cover charge of $10 and drinks are expensive (so it really does have the ‘pay to play’ feel about it) although totally worth it for this golden opportunity. The bartenders, though not the greatest at first (I sat for twenty minutes before either one of the two on duty gave me the slightest flicker of acknowledgement) however warmed to me after I had spent a few bucks, played a song on stage and stayed to support the entire night …. by the end of the event we were on first name terms and all previous lack of attentiveness had been forgotten.

Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan this venue is elegant and has an air of embellishment of the rich and famous, you can almost smell the stardust and trappings of fame in the soft furnishings ….. indeed stars such as Michael Douglas, Pattie La Belle, Queen Latifah, Stevie Wonder and Whoopi Goldberg have passed through the doors for some fine dining and sweet soulful entertainment.

It’s the 1, 2, or 3 (Red) Train that you’ll need to take, alight at 72nd Street and then it’s a brisk 3 minute walk (heading toward the Henry Hudson Parkway) and The Sugar Bar’s Sweet light will shine on you from the left hand of the sidewalk.

I give this night 4/5 stars ….. ”Impressive”

http://www.sugarbarnyc.com

5.     Parkside Lounge, Parkside 317E Houston St, NY 10002 / Tel : (212) 673-6270

This is one of the NYC ‘landmark’ places for the eclectic folk and indeed it has the accolade of being a ‘old school music venue’. The open mic here takes place on a Monday night and is hosted by Mike Geffner of ‘The Inspired Word’ legacy. Sign Up is at 7pm and for a cover charge of $8 (per performer) you get the privilege of performing 2 songs or if you’re a poet, comedian or ‘spoken word’ artist you get 8 minutes.  It’s 21 plus age limit.   It’s pitched as comfy cabaret-style seating but if my memory serves me correct it felt less than comfortable with basic seating and tables but you do get waitress ‘table’ service (remember to tip, tip, tip!) and the drinks are pretty cheap in comparison to other venues on the circuit. There’s also a full back line including a honky-tonk piano and the raised stage is of good size ensuring your place in the entertainment ‘spotlight’.  Photographs are taken as you perform and these are then uploaded to ‘The Inspired Word’s’ website. Overall it was a nice atmosphere (improving as the night unfolded), the crowd were pretty good too with lots of encouraging applause and attentive listening.

1st Avenue is the nearest Metro Station you’ll need to alight at and then it’s a walk on the east side to your destination.

I rate this open mic with 3.5/5 stars …. ”inspiration in moderation”

10615495_750552345000374_3069705106739142209_nPhoto Courtesy of : Mike Geffner

https://www.facebook.com/InspiredWordNYC

6.     The Local, 1302 44th Avenue, Long Island City, NY 11101 / Tel : (347) 738-5251

Not only is this a great hostel for the intrepid traveller but it doubles as a great place for Open Mic and indeed Live Music Entertainment several nights of the week.  Hosted by the particularly beautiful Hannah Fairchild and the uber talented Matthew DeGroat (Drink More Records) this is definitely one to attend.  It may be a little out there right up in Queens, Long Island City but it’s a ‘cool’ neighbourhood and as with all of these venues, if you get to grips with the Metro System, you can bite your way through the whole of the Big Apple with relative ease.  This newly established event takes place every Monday night and sign up is 6pm.  Performances commence around 7pm and dependent upon the sign up you could get 3 to 4 songs which gives you the chance to shine!  There is no cover charge, no minimum drink rules apply and possibly one of the friendliest run bars on the scene.  There is always time for a personalised chat with the bar staff who go above and beyond to ensure you are made to feel welcome into ‘The Local’ community.  The night runs for as long as there are people singing and playing or up until 1am when the bar closes…… the atmosphere here is chilled, laid back, easy-going, and all those words that can be tagged to a stress free comfortable night.  Another great pointer is that you play to a global audience which makes for a refreshing alternative to being in the ‘thick’ of artistes at most other events.

I rate this Open Mic night as a 4/5 stars …. ”Hip n Happening”

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http://thelocalny.com

7.     The Shillilagh Tavern, 4722 30th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103 / Tel : (718) 728-9028

Now this venue is a good trek up to 46th street on the M or the R Train (Orange/Yellow) and then a probable ten to 15 minute walk to 30th Avenue. It’s worth it. It’s not a particularly glamorous venue but you get a real feel of the American neighbourhood here with the locals propping up the bar watching ice hockey as temperatures plummet … I ventured here once and will definitely return and that’s mostly due to the genuine niceness of the host, Justin Howard. A particularly gifted musician working the scene for other musicians, a great guy who meets your needs, wants and wishes without missing a beat.  Sign up is 9.30pm and the action starts at 10pm.  There is no cover charge and no minimum spend on drink, which again is a bonus because there is nothing more disheartening than having house rules landed on you before you can even think of relaxing into ‘play’ mode. Level of performance here is pretty good too and you get a sound engineer to boot.  Another dedicated musician was taking photographs from the sideline and uploading to facebook which again, helps build the portfolio.

Dogstar rates this one at 3.8/5 stars ….. ”Raising the Bar in Astoria”

1509688_918176558195058_7783902997113112483_n Photo Courtesy of : Andrew Sydor

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Shillelagh-Tavern

https://www.facebook.com/justin.howard

Justin also has his own blog whereby he video’s and writes about performers at his open mic events ….

https://owlsforolive.wordpress.com/2015/01/19/cluster-f-averted-at-the-open-mic-the-shil-11315/

8.     Paddy Reilly’s Music Bar, 519 2nd Ave, NY 10016 / Tel : (212) 686 1210

You need to jump the 6 (Green) Train to get to this one and it happens twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday, sign up at 6.30pm and 5.30pm respectively.  No cover charge, no minimum drink rules and you’re usually lucky in getting 3 songs. In this traditional Irish pub the bar staff are lovely, you get service with a smile and you’re not prodded into having to buy drinks every ten to fifteen minutes (as is the case with some of the venues covered). Price of drinks is pretty comparable to the rest of the clan, if you buy ‘well’ drinks (basic vodka, gin, scotch etc) then you can probably look at $5 per drink (remembering there is the customary $1 per drink tip which edges your nightly quota ever upwards) …. but, if you get good service, then tipping is the polite thing to do, and bear in mind there’s always those wonderful ‘happy hours’ which can last anything up 180 minutes in some cases.  This pub has been going for 3 decades now and is definitely worth checking out in person and indeed their website as there is some notary facts about the interior decor that some of you will find of interest. I’ve been a couple of times and enjoyed the experience fully. I’m heading back there for another stage performance very soon.

This event gets 3.9/5 stars from me …… ”Infectious”

http://www.paddyreillysmusicbar.us

9.     Sidewalk Cafe, 94 Avenue A, NY 10009 / Tel : (212) 473 7373

This has to be one of the craziest open mic events I have ever bore witness to. It takes place every Monday night and sign up commences at 7pm. Doesn’t matter if you get there early to avoid the masses, cos the masses is what you get each and every week. The sign up process is quite long and drawn out whereby the host ‘Ben Kriegar’ (a very able and esteemed presenter) will give his opening speech to the swelling crowd (almost every single attendee being a musician of some level of skill) and once he’s done with that he directs you to form an orderly queue (which can get up to and beyond 40 persons) whereby you patiently shuffle forward until you come face to face with said ‘Ben’ who reaches both fists out to you and you have to utter the word ‘left’ or ‘right’ … he’ll then open said appointed fist to reveal a tiny piece of paper with a number on it … and that little number there denotes your performance slot …. I drew the well rounded ’33’ which equated a possible 3 to 4 hour wait for which I would get to play 2 songs, unless the ‘hour’ between ten and eleven arrived whereby proceedings would revert to a 1 song each rule …. I found this to be sheer madness …. who would want to wait up to that level of time span to play just one song??  but hey, people do exactly that, week in, week out …. this Open Mic has been going strong for years and the venue itself is famed for being the centre for Anti-folk and underground music  …. there’s a 2 item minimum (food or drink) but no cover charge.  Needless to say I didn’t wait for my No.33 placement but I did try the food and that was of a good standard, the barmaid was okay, she knew her job well enough and was courteous but not overly so, service with pizzazz was certainly missing.  Notwithstanding the venue is worth visiting, eat drink and be merry here, it does have potential great music nights going on …..

Jump the L Train (Grey) to 1st Avenue and take a shrift walk for ten minutes and you shall reach your destination.

Hmmmmm a 2/5 star from me ….  ”hours waiting to be filled in any way we choose”

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http://www.sidewalkny.com

10.     The Tea Lounge, 837 Union Street, Brooklyn

Finally at the end of the top 10 list this one has to get a mention albeit that it has now gone to the great Open Mic heaven in the sky.  It ran for years and was as cool as cool could be.  The ‘high’ly excitable host Nigel (aka Nige) was absolutely brilliant and although there was a hell of a lot of ‘mother f**king expletives’ being used in every sentence, this night was hugely popular, and rightly so.  Nige could whip the crowd into an instant frenzy with his down to earth genuine good time for all nature. The venue was in the heart of Brooklyn and in a madly paradoxical universe could have been twinned with ‘Leaf’ Liverpool UK…. There was no cover charge, no minimum buy, no rules at all really, other than you signed up at 7pm and when your name was called you were ready to take to the stage (well, the area of flooring in front of the packed lounging sofas and low rise tables) two songs or 8 minutes for any other performance…. you didn’t know what was gonna happen at any one point as the spectrum of performers ranged from rap artists to dancers to comedians to musicians to poets to storytellers to some good ole plain darn ranting peoples…. The bar staff were buoyant as was the atmosphere in general …. There was much protest at its closure but alas, to no avail … Word on the street is that Nige has ‘popped up’ again in a new midtown Brooklyn venue so i’m heading out the door with guitar strapped to my back to go find the motherf**ker …..

The Tea Lounge receives a posthumous 4.3/5 stars …. ”motherf**king brilliant

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White lines rule

Thought I’d wear a trilby hat cos the temperature had dipped and it’s said that 30-40% of your body heat can be lost through your head, not sure how true that is but I definitely feel warmer with headwear, especially when it’s been loaned to me by a warm hearted friend…

So I head into town in my green parka and said trilby (with personalised gold band which then happened to make me look a bit like a smooth criminal) and I hadn’t even made it into the pub before being affectionately ridiculed for looking something like the aforementioned smooth criminal… Admittedly the lager fuelled lad did do a fair mimic of the deceased Micky Jackson in my honour and i, deciding to have a bouncy night from the start, went along with it and flicked my heels and busted a couple of moves for him and his pal’s entertainment..

I click my heels and whisk into the pub, which, as always on a friday night, is booming.. I head straight for the bar and yeah i’m getting a few looks, the trilby certainly seems to draw favour, coupled with my blue n pink hair bobbing out the base of the hatline … i’m wanting a whiskey and ask the barmaid for a Glen Moray, they don’t have, so i asks for a Famous Grouse, they don’t have  that either… they hands me a list of the scotch they have so i go for johnny walker but hey, they’re all out of that … i’ll have a G&T then … so the barmaid asks which type of Gin i’d like… i think my look from beneath the rim of my hat just about gave her the answer ….

Anyway, i’m in the pub to meet an ex-band member mate so we can catch up on some lost time. All starts well but i cant help sense that i no longer feel the same way about this person, there’s too much water passed under our bridges and i’m left realising that our relationship is really teetering … Weirdly enough we move on to another pub and then one more, we have crossed words, then make up, have one last pint together, sing a karaoke song each and then my wayward airhead mind steers me out of the ale house and i jog on quickly across town, on my own.

As i turn a corner there ahead of me is a good friend, busking out in the cool night air.. ‘can i do a couple’ i hear meself asking, ‘for sure, be my guest’ says the captain and he sits off for a smoke whilst i promptly cue mad world.. Get some coins thrown in, the acoustics on lord street absolutely amazing, felt like i was a superstar as my voice carried right on up the buildings and into the sky above the city.. One more song, played ‘tick tock’ by futurejack and relished every moment, thankful to the people who put their money into the captain’s pot whilst on their friday night out.

Says my goodbyes to the captain.
Phone ringing.
Ex band member, fuming.
Texting.
I shouldn’t be getting off
Without saying goodbye.
Good goodbyes are always better left unsaid.

Moving swiftly on and i jump a bus out of town. Heading for Smithdown road, gonna meet a new friend who actually doesn’t show up but does ensure that i find my way to a wonderful little bar where the ratio of men to women has the best odds going. I know enough people in there and start having a ball. The band start playing their deep south rumba salsa swing thing and i keep on drinking…

I have a sweet spot for drummers, always have, always will i reckon.
And so, the band finish their set and the drummer is soon by my side and we’re getting on just fine, great little dancer he was too, swinging me about, making me laugh and smile. But then someone else comes in the room, someone i like a lot, a recent friend and then everything starts to change and the odds stack in my favour…

More drinking, more music, and the guys getting on the piano, striking out some grand tunes .. The atmosphere was boss..

The drummer offers me a hotel room with him for the night but my other mate, the dark haired talented lad, well i reckon he cast a spell on me, which is particularly good cos by now the drummer has lost me, as soon as he starts offering up some white line indulgence. My rule of thumb is, almost always, decline.

Suffice to say the rest of the night was brilliant and it carried on and spilt over into the next day and it carried on and t’was about 30 hours until i returned the said trilby to its rightful owner. It would easily have been on my head for another twelve hours had the talented lad not burst the spell and popped me out of my weekend bubble for ending up being just like the majority, preferring white lines to me..

My rule of thumb when it comes down to choice… almost always, decline.

So it all ended when, just about 2am when i left the bar and walked from smithdown road back to the other side of town … i freely admit i was feeling pretty flat, disappointed and let down, but i had to smile to myself and acknowledge and savour the fun i’d had, the golden hours i’d spent in between.  Sometimes just got to bite the bullet, when White Lines Rule is best to know when to quit.

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A little nip turns into a red hot night

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A bit of a cold start to bonfire night amidst a circle of students who looked upon me quite simply as a bit of flesh.. The emaciated bespectacled organiser and his cute looking counterpart, both too young and inexperienced to even bother to offer that tiny shred of necessity… ‘heat’ to a naked model… Uh huh, just a hard seat, a cold hard table and admittedly a luxury purple blanket was what they presented.  It was brass monkeys in that their grandiose room at the student guild.. A perfect temperature for perfect nipples, there is always a saving grace to every darn hellish situation…
And saving grace continued from there with the night improving somewhat as each step of the way got more drunken, every sambuca swigged, warming the cockles (and said frosted nipples)  to the point where invitation came through via text, to ‘the bonfire party’…
A quick stop at the city centre booze palace, where they are no longer offering any sort of bargains and indeed rob n thieve you of your small change..having got onto the game that every drinker just wants to leave the premises with their said drink and will not quibble over the few pence not forthcoming in change… Disgruntled, I obliged this game of theft because, i too just wanted to leave the shop with said alcohol, what i do remember is calling out loudly it be ‘dirty’… It’s an extra revenue all of its own… (the corner shop in my hometown where I grew up was doing it more than 25 years ago too, they know what they’re doing)…
So…ahoy the bonfire

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What an extremely wonderful warm collection of people were to be found in the vicinity..
I could possibly recount all that took place because I remember every enlightening conversation going on (even though I was well n truly under the influence) however… Personally for me, the best part of the night was when my good friend and I being deep deep in conversation suddenly took a swerve for the worse when he, totally wasted, lost his footing and stumbled, tripped and whooshed himself through the fire to fall in the lap of another good friend over t’other side… Everyone gathered to check he was okay… Then, sweet dear little Helen chirped up, looking at me.. ‘did you push him’…
It’s lucky we were all unashamedly very drunk and found it all to be hysterical

I’d like to elaborate on the unfolding of the rest of the night but alas that would mean I’d be telling my secrets, what I will garnish is that it was sweet n splendid and I think my ‘dry run’ new york nakedness is working already….

A conclusion is the place where you find yourelf . . . when tired of thinking

Today is the anniversary of my 44th year of being on this planet….. and i find myself on a parodoxical plane of being tired of this life yet gripped by the thrill of what could become of it.  So much fun, but in equal portion so many troubles … a plague on the lifeline …. but in the meantime … i’ll get a cut n colour, stop the carbs, drop a dress size and go drink some more sambuca and have some more fun.  Happiness is always just around the corner, in fact it hides in the shadows, flits across the peripheral vision, resides in the chinks of light and the cracks in the walls and slopes about at home when you’re out trying to find it.  Today I wear the colour of the rainbows, either putting a brave face on it or actually living and feeling it … that is my conclusion …….

from morrisons to the knights’ bonfire …..

ahhhhh, familiar territory in the shape of Liverpool …

i’m still sick

i quickly collect the wee lad otherwise known as ‘Slippers’ (cos he pretty much likes to sit on your feet whenever possible, with or without a shitty ring hole), a quick thanks to the friend who watched over him (and wanted to give him back to me as soon as, which made the sick drive possible) … but anyway, i honoured my vow to collect the four-legged pooch before midnight on a (i think it was) Wednesday night – but this homelessness business (and not believing in the gregorian calendar) makes way for losing track of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and ….well, life in general.

as i write/type, i’m trying to remember where i went from collecting the dog…. ?!! without a home i’m finding it more challenging to remember where i’ve been

what i do know (only due to photographic evidence) … is that the following morning I had a Morrisons ‘Flying Start’ breakfast … and ahhhh! now i remember, the morrisons i went into was the one in Huyton and that would mean that i had a three day window of grace staying at a very good friends’ flat (where me and the two dogs had turned up the night before just around a half past midnight!!) … now it’s coming back to me. …..

this was breakfast (after walking the two dogs of course)

the flying start breakfast at morrisons

it cost about £3.60 all in with a cup of sugary tea, and it done the trick, revived me, sorted my immediate sanity issues …

and then i headed for Lark Lane ….  when i bought my halloween outfit a couple of days previously, i’d also seen a couple of things to make great presents … and there’s someone in my life (only via facebook) whom i haven’t seen since they were approximately 6 years old and very soon they were heading for 22!  so i had a gift to purchase and a shop to get to

and to get there i passed by somewhere which reminded me of my drummer

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…. and so i took a few more steps along the lane and thought, i have time for a coffee

so i went into the Green Days Cafe

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looked out of the window to keep dog’s eye on the little shop across the road …. the sun was streaming through the window and i sat back for a moment to renew my levels of sanity …. much in need as they were for renewal

and then, after coffee

i

had a little wander round this shop ….

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the bonny experience …….

life is tough, so much so that its proving difficult to smile, and that’s how i know that things aren’t right … smiling has always been an enjoyable pastime for me, but right now, i can’t seem to pull any out of the face

even when this was on offer, a welcoming gesture upon arrival at my wonderful baby sister’s home

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admittedly, it was a sunshine moment at the height of despair and it was definitely cheering.
But so soon afterward, more grey troubles presented themselves.

I’m thinking there’s just something de-motivating in the energy down South, having lived so long and pretty much happily up North for over a decade…

I’m here to find a motorhome, as nothing so far has presented itself as ticking the boxes to my requirements.  Am i too fussy? do i want too much? obviously so

there’s no internet at my sisters so i head for the parents house, having to get the timing right because there are a couple of monsters (siblings) amidst and they definitely require the widest berth you could ever imagine …

so i gets on the internet and i commence yet another lengthy search via e-bay, preloved, gumtree, and any other google search i can think of ….. suddenly a Winnebago Brave presents itself and the pictures look pretty good, the number plate is enchanting and its only been up for sale for 59 minutes .. i dial the number

the bloke on the other end talks very very fast so i ask him to slow down, and it’s quite funny that he slows down to a very strange and warped ‘grave’ tempo … (this, i should have taken into account as an omen)

anyway, we manage to understand each other and i book a viewing for the next day, out near Wembley …

from the parents house me and my sister go off to do some errands together, i’m feeling a bit sick because my life is an upside down mess, my possessions scattered around Merseyside, my home is currently my van with a suitcase and guitar and dog food in it … one of my dogs is with me, one is with a friend up North … my head is battered and bruised – i’m usually an organised, neat ‘place for everything and everything in its place’ type o girl .. and here and now, it looks nothing like the calm and tranquil lake in my mind – in fact it looks more like the landfill experience i had two decades ago where all the shit and rubbish from all over Essex, Middlesex and Hertfordshire was dumped …

anyway, we find ourselves in Hertford, both hungry and thirsty, so we decide to treat ourselves to lunch and our feet take us to a nice little number in what is called ‘Saloon’

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and so on a personal selfish level, i get an hour reprieve from the monsters in my head, and i feast on good food and wine (but of course, over indulgence comes back to kick you in the head, as you will find out as you read on)

thus, being in the mood to continue drinking and dining, the mother parent wants to spend time with her daughters and granddaughter so that very same night, we prepare to go out for a meal … and this we do, to a rather posh and nice restaurant

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another glorious break from reality, an expensive meal, but that’s what expensive taste buds do for you ……..

and then we get home

and then we drink another two bottles of red wine, and a rather rotten white!

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it was off! uurrgggghhhhhhhh, took it back to the late night off licence and advised them that it’s shelf life was most certainly over

and then the next morning, there’s a density in the air, or is it in our  heads?

and i have to meet up with the female parent to go and view a motorhome that i am to potentially purchase and travel by car to a place outside of Wembley …. i pull myself together as we pull into the farm where the motorhome is parked.  we meet the seller, a gypsy looking man with two gold bottom teeth and a large scar from top lip cross ways, looking like at some point in his life he may have taken a baseball bat to the mouth (possibly?!) … anyway, this man chats away, using coin of phrases over and over again … i’m in a part desperate position (cos i’m homeless) and i’m pinning my hopes on this motorhome …. and it looks pretty decent

it has almost everything i need (other than a kennel for the dogs!) … it even has a full on bike rack on the back, for a scooter to be carried.  we agree a price, shake hands on it and i say i’ll be back the following Wednesday to collect … so now i’m beginning to feel hungry so me and the parent make haste toward a feeding venue, we’re in a little place outside of Wembley so unknown territory to us, and then i catch sight of a garden centre and there’s a cafe within its grounds – quicker than you can say ‘full english’ we’re in the wonders of the tinsel lined aisles and into the cafe…. we order salmon and scrambled eggs on toast and tea and orange juice whilst we wait … i’m waning, feeling pretty empty, thirsty and deflated from the adrenalin rush of looking over my potential new home.  Breakfast is served and it looks fantastic … i tuck my fork into the scrambled egg and savour the first mouthful, next forkful in includes the salmon, and then another polite mouthful, alas, my nightmare continues as the blood drains from around my mouth and my lips begin to tingle … i feel like i’m going to fall off my chair and within seconds i’m doubled over, my parent still merrily stuffing their food and then looking on in distaste and weary shock too.  I feel as if my world is crashing in and i just want to get out of the place and curl up featal like somewhere under a rock or a stone.

can’t believe how ill i have become so quickly

i spend the rest of the day doubled over, trying to sleep, knowing that i have to make a three and a half hour journey back up the motorways to Liverpool, to no home, to have to collect my other dog …. feeling sick as a dog …. can life throw anything else at me?!

yep, it sure can, it comes gratuitously by way of torrential rain for three hours (200 miles) of motorway driving, by this time i haven’t eaten or drank anything for almost 24 hours and i’m battling nature, arctic lorries, speeding cars and mile upon mile of cats eyes ……….

Halloween happiness …..

My beautiful friend again gave me her sofa for the night before Halloween, and we spent the evening along Lark Lane, in Keith’s wine bar to be precise. It was lovely because i’d started the evening at the Lark Lane Artelier run by Alex Corina – there was some kooky artwork on show; being the opening night of their Christmas exhibition. Well well worth a visit…. i made some new friends and met a couple of artsy pals too. We drank red wine, chatted artistically, enthusiastically and even futuristically.

 

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Then i met my favourite Harpsichord player and we ate at Raga’s across the lane. Unbelievably hot stuff!

Then we went to Keith’s and got stuck in over a bottle (or two) – of good red wine.

There was some fantastic live Jazz being played and the atmosphere was particularly chilled.

On my walk to Keith’s i spotted something fantastic in a little shop window and thought to myself, that could make up part of a great Halloween costume …

The night continued on to be a great one, with lots of red wine drinking and then some happy threesome partying back at the flat (meaning three people having good solid banter and drinks and nibbles) !!!

Thus, i returned to the Lane the following morning (Halloween itself) and purchased the very wonderful mask i’d seen – and prior to getting to that shop and upon when i jumped out of the boogie bus, in another shop window i saw the best accompaniment to that mask and immediately went in and purchased it ….

So here’s how i went to the Lomax Liverpool for Halloween (via Brink and a bit of an acoustic slot)

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aha! and i’d booked into a local motel so as me and my wonderful drummer could party and then go get a couple of hours worth of zeds before we had to go our separate ways into the madness thereafter …

Personally Halloween came and went in a particularly laid back way – the quality of costumes seen at the Lomax was gruesomely brilliant and there were lots of live performances …. WE, futurejack, played in the downstairs cellar bar and it was horridly enjoyable.

Back to the motel. Lots of chatting and a couple of Gin Toddy’s ….. and then some zeds zzzzzzzzzzzz