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In the past four years I have probably played close to 500 gigs. Out of these, probably 50 or fewer were with a band. I generally tour solo for one reason: money. Most nights I am not able to afford a single accompanist, let alone a trio or quartet (at least not at a fair wage). It’s for this reason I relish the nights that I get to perform alongside other musicians. This is made all the more exciting when I get to perform with not only musicians, but friends.
Jeff and Dylan in the Soho
Jeff Rogers (drums) and Haley Shaw (harmony vocals) both appear on my latest record, Texodus. Both also performed with me at The Living Room Saturday night. Jeff lives in New York with his wife Allison and Haley just happened to be visiting friends this weekend.
(Jeff surprised Allison on their 6 year anniversary - which happened to be the night of the show)
The three of us, along with Sara, met Saturday afternoon for brunch at a great spot in Astoria called Sandford’s. We then walked over to Jeff and Allison’s apartment for a quick run-through of the set. Later that night we reconvened at The Living Room, one of my favorite NYC venues.
One of the challenges of playing a place like The Living Room is resisting the urge to rush through your set and play as many songs as possible. It can be difficult to sit back and enjoy the moment. For whatever reason, I felt more patient at this performance. I knew we only had 45 minutes and that another band was waiting in the wings, but for our allotted time I felt calm and confident. I took time to look at the audience and to talk to Haley and Jeff on stage, just as if we were back in the apartment goofing off. Haley also performed her song “Swing Low,” to the delight of the nearly packed house.
I was thankful for Sara’s perspective on this night. She remarked on how different I appeared to feel compared to the gig in Charlottesville. I notice these things, too, but sometimes wonder if it’s just me overanalyzing. The reason for a different performance seems simple: Haley and Jeff.
Please check out Haley’s songs here. She’s one of my favorites. Send her an email and let her know how much you’re looking forward to her new album. And please visit Jeff’s site here. I’m honored to know him and his wife Allison. They are a constant source of inspiration.
Thanks for following. To check out more of Sara’s photos go here.
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Driving from Charlottesville, VA, to New York City costs around $30. $30 in tolls. This does not include gas, wear and tear on your car, or food. If you decide to go out to eat and have a couple of drinks with friends once you arrive, you will probably spend another $40. This does not include cab fare or a Metro card. If you decide to take your own car instead of public transportation, expect to pay another $10 in parking. And if you drive back to your friend’s apartment, be sure to not park on the side of the road where they will be sweeping in the morning or you will be fined, towed, or have a boot put on your tire.
Oh, and welcome to New York.
My older sister and my best friend both have lived in New York for a few years now, so I have made it a point to book tours to The Big Apple twice a year or so. This allows me to get in a good visit with each of them. If they didn’t live there, however, I’m not sure how often I would visit.
The trade off seems clear: if you’re willing to do battle with one of the world’s hardest cities, you may be rewarded by the realization of your dreams. People move to New York every day because it is where so much is happening on such a high level. Art, music, dancing, fashion, business. All these fields have a home in the city that never sleeps. But as Rosie Thomas asks, “If this city never sleeps, does it mean that no one dreams?”
It stands to reason that for every dream realized in New York, thousands—maybe tens of thousands—die. Perhaps they die because the dreamer can never get it together financially. Or maybe like the shepherd boy in Cohelo’s The Alchemist, the dreamer is distracted by a lesser, more attainable achievement and ends up settling for a while, the mist of his original dream dissipating into the noisy sky above. It seems a dream is all at once more safe and more vulnerable in a city like New York.
I’m thankful that my livelihood affords me the chance to visit far away loved ones, and the fact that I’m an independent artist means I can book tours up the east coast any time I want. And don’t get me wrong, New York is without a doubt one of the singular most exciting places I have visited. However, my fondest memories of New York City have one crucial commonality with my fondest memories of anywhere else in the world: they were made in the company of people I love.
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Dylan played at The Garage tonight - located in Charlottesville, VA. (photos for that will be posted Friday). This town is home to the gorgeous campus of the University of Virginia. We got to stay with Sam Bush, the booking agent for The Garage. He lives with two other guys in “The Blue House”(see photos below). Today Sam, Dylan, Anna, and I took a 50 mile drive south to Swoope, VA to visit Polyface Farms. It was a very cool place to see. Very modest farm doing honest business, and raising healthy, hormone free animals. -Sara
Polyface Farms pictures
Look at that goose yelling at the dog!
This was the restaurant we ate at after the farm. I had hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, two biscuits, and an unsweetened iced tea.
Dylan with Sam and Anna on the way back to Charlottesville, VA.