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Friday, December 20, 2013

A Simple Twist of Fate, Wormburner, 12.19.13 Mercury Lounge

Wormburner, Mercury Lounge 12.19.13

The Holidays can really wear a brother out.  The day to day business is hard enough.  Throw in work get togethers, gift shopping, and the inherent stress that comes with December before long it will break a man.   It is no coincidence suicide rates climb right about now.  Shit be real.

It is that stress that led some friends and I to make dinner reservations to one of NJ's finest restaurants, Serenade.  I am no foodie and am deeply uncomfortable sitting in their dining room (and most dining rooms really.)   Sitting in their quaint bar with access to chef James Laird's creativity and skill is a different story altogether.  The bar is a gem.  It is easily the best around We had to set it up about 6 weeks ago.  When is their a night, without sports or car pooling, tests, deadlines, that could work for an early bird special?  The logistics can be overwhelming.

But sure enough, at 6pm, we were seated in a cozy 4 top sipping our first cocktails.  We made it.

If we ended up simply having the meal, and it was exceptional believe me, the night would have been an unmitigated success.  The conversation was as complex and entertaining as the food.  From parenting issues, to the economy, values of college, tonight's 6th grade hoops game (I coach, good grief), cell phones, home improvements, it was ALL on the table.  The shopping and stress disappeared for a while.  Mission friggin accomplished.

I can be a bit of a phone hog during the day.  I never really figured out how to fix my settings after the IOS update.  The thing doesn't ring or vibrate, then it will, or not.  It's all messed up and I just can't be bothered.  Since the update I now get ALL of my 11 year olds texts and, gasp!, Face Time requests.  Gentlemen callers ask to face time my daughter constantly.

FT me.






I even saw a 'WTF won't you FT me one?"  It is a touch on the creepy side.  Come on boys, talk to her at school.  IT IS totally lame to harass her on the phone when you see her all day.  You can act like a man!  But anyway,  I am constantly looking to see if I missed a call, text, or Duck Dynasty news alert.   However, at social events I put the damn thing away.  I am not an animal.

Midway through dinner I will take a peek.  There could be a chance the babysitter is flaking out.  Or more accurately that lovely 11 year old all the young men seem to like.

I did have a text it from an old high school pal.   you remember this guy, right?  It read:  "you should be meeting me in Mercury Lounge tonight"

"Yeah right" I thought to myself.  He had been mentioning this show for months.  Wormburner and The Yule Dogs were headlining a Christmas show.   He is tight with Wormburner's drummer Jim Spengler.  I was unable to commit to the show prior to making last nights dinner plans.  Now?  Forget about it.

I was itching to see a live show though.  It felt like forever since Caveman's Bowery show.

But no, I reminded myself, it's impossible.  The dinner is the event.  Make it an early night and get some much needed sleep.

Funny thing happened though.  Our friends knew some folks at the bar.  They were from the same town and it turned out we knew them peripherally too.  It is a small town so that is not an Earth-shattering coincidence. What they told us as we were making small talk exiting the restaurant was a bit shocking.  They said they were off to a concert.

"Oh yeah" I asked.  "Who?"

"Wormburner" they told me matter of factly.  "Mercury Lounge."


Mercury Lounge is tiny.  Maybe 250 squeeze in there on the busiest night.  Its friggin small.  Which is why I love it.  I get there far too infrequently.  Most of the bands I want to see there end up playing  Wednesday's at midnight.  That's a hard sell.

Point is, this is a very random event.  Why on Earth would I be in contact with 2 human beings that are both going to a fairly obscure concert.  One is from the suburbs.  One is from the City.

Their connections brought them together with the band and now I was involved.

2 Degrees of Wormburner.  One knows a guy from College.  One know the guy from town, or is related to, or whatever.  

I am not one to believe in the supernatural, fate, or any of that happy horse shit.  But this one stopped me in my tracks.  How could I not go to Wormburner?  Stars were aligning.

We were not prepared for night time baby sitting and the Mrs had spent the better part of yesterday working in NYC.    She easily made the decision to stay back with the little one.  They probably made it through one episode of Property Brothers before sleep grabbed hold of them.

By 9:30 I was at Mercury Lounge.  It was a joyous 35 minute drive.  The Turnpike was wide open, almost as empty as my attempted drive into Lower Manhattan on 9.12.11.  Mad Maxian if you will.  On that ride I also came to the realization that I really like The Head and The Heart.  Their record Let's Be Still has provided many smiles from me this year.  Where was I?

I caught the final two songs of The East River Bandits set.  East Village country rock served with a big, brimming smile.  They recently funded their debut record through Kickstarter and seem poised to be headlining a gig like this in the near future.  Warning, you must like mandolin and twang.  If you don't you probably aren't reading this anyway.

Wormburner is an East Coast act too, by way of Hoboken, Colgate University, Philadelphia, and clearly New York City.  Those who attended last night were engaged, invested and genuinely glad to see these happy lads.  I had never heard one of their songs prior to the show.  I barely knew of them a mere two hours before.  But when a crowd fills a  room with energy and joy, particularly a club as intimate as Mercury Lounge,  its hard to ignore it.

Frontman Steve "Hank" Henry, Alec, Paul, Jim and Terry have been doing this for a while.  The grooves are tight.  The songs are precise and well rehearsed.  Henry's lyrics are fun and sing-a-long worthy.  Their are not so subtle nods to Bruce Springsteen and subtler ones to Shane McGowan and Elvis Costello.  Their second album, Placed By The Gideons, was released in 2010.  That record was well represented.  They also threw in some new material, and two sweet and timely covers.  "Let My Love Open the Door" was a pleasant surprise.  But it was their cover of Lou Reed's "Ride Into the Sun" that was the sets high water mark.  It didn't hurt that ex-Luna guitarist Sean Eden absolutely killed a few blistering solos.

It was another example of what little I know.  Why had I never seen Wormburner before?  And furthermore, where has Luna been all my life?

The power of song.  The healing feeling that comes from live music.  The event.  All of it.

Friend of a friend one minute, concert bound the next.

Something tells me to keep going with this blog thing.  Forces are at work and I am not sure I know where they are taken me.  Come with me?

Join me?  We work too hard in this life to not stop and enjoy it once in a while.  Thanks mysterious force that got me off the couch after a wonderful filet dinner.  Looking forward to the next adventure!

For more:  Wormburner Official Site or Luna or East River Bandits
Hank from Wormburner

Wormburner, Mercury Lounge 12.19.13

The Yule Dogs, Mercury Lounge 12.19.13

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