Friday, September 17, 2010

Gorevette opens for Blondie at the Nokia Theatre, Times Square, NYC

My band with Nikki Corvette, Gorevette, opened for Blondie at the now previously named Nokia Theatre NYC on August 31, 2010. We were excited and maybe a little nervous. Gorevette played with Blondie on the West Coast in early August, but we had some time off before the show in New York City. So, we had been rehearsing in Detroit in anticipation of what might be the biggest show of the tour.

We showed up in Times Square ready to play. Show day had it's stressful moments. First, we traveled from Brooklyn to Times Square only to discover we'd left some things behind. We had to go back. Then, a few hours before our set, Nikki realized she'd left her show clothes on the Upper West Side where she was staying. A quick cab ride later, Nikki returned to the dressing room flushed and smiling, her clothes in hand.

Blondie's sound check at the Nokia was amazing. The band added songs to the set different from the West Coast shows. They did the Doll's "Jet Boys" and Bowie's "Heroes" in addition to a cover of the Ramone's "Pet Cemetary". While watching the check, I got a phone call from my rep at Gretsch Guitars. Gretsch is going to have me as their featured guitarist at!

All of a sudden, everything seemed to speed up and we had only minutes to go before our set. We heard that the show was now sold out. Time's up: we recited our pre-show mantra and marched on-stage. The first thing I saw once I looked out into the sea of people at the Nokia was Mary Weiss waving 'Hello' to me. I grabbed my guitar and we started the set. We brought it at the Nokia; I could feel tremendous energy behind us. Our 30 minute set came and went in a flash.

After the set I met up with Little Steven Van Zandt and his beautiful wife Maureen and the one and only Mary Weiss of Shangri-Las fame. Mary Weiss is the sweetest, toughest, coolest woman I've ever met. She wanted to say Hi to Blondie drummer Clem Burke. In addition to being quite possibly the best drummer alive, Clem Burke is the consummate host. He seems to always have a party in his room after the shows. In Detroit, Deborah Harry entered Clem's backstage with a bottle of wine in hand proclaiming "Party in Clem's room!" This show was no different. After the show, Nikki Corvette, Mary Weiss and I crammed into Clem's room, now crowded with people. Little Steven was there talking to the Plimsoul's Eddie Munoz, and in between the hob-nobbery Nikki suggested we pose for a photo:

After the show, we wandered around Times Square and then headed to the Hudson Hotel for an after party hosted by the one and only DJ Miss Guy. The Library Bar was packed. All of Blondie was in attendance, the lovely Deborah Harry at the turntables with Miss Guy & Co. The featured drink was the 'Blondie': Grey Goose & Red Bull. I was introduced to Lee Childers at the bar, we had a fabulous conversation about vacationing in Tangier and his recently procured costume jewelry.

Blondie live at the Nokia

Somehow we made it back to our digs in Brooklyn, and Nikki back to the Upper West Side. I do not remember how. I do remember it was the best time I've had in New York, ever. Thank you and goodnight!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Japan Day 3: The Truth About Osaka

Saturday, May 1, 2010: Gorevette departs our hotel in Yokohama en route to Osaka. Everything in Japan runs on time, except driving during the 'Golden Week', a national holiday.

We had an approx. 5 hour drive past Mt. Fuji, which turned into an 8 hour drive with holiday traffic. At Mt. Fuji, we stop and pose for a photo with our friends The Havenots.

... and a band photo at Mt. Fuji.

Osaka is an old and wild place; truly feral. I loved it. We wandered the streets wide-eyed and smiling. This is Osaka Tower, a centerpiece. All cities in Japan have towers. The tower is the subject of a new song and dance soon to take Japan by storm: Osaka Tower! It's catchy.

Our hosts Matt & Shimmi take us down an old and famous street past the Tower. It's tight and small feeling, and lined with sushi bars and gambling 'rooms', I guess you'd call it. Old Japanese men huddle past and crowd the machines. None looks at us much. Matt tells us people drink more in Osaka, and earlier compared to all of Japan. I was feeling Hamtramck, MI deja-vu ... that is a Detroit thing! ;)

We arrive at Rock Rider, the club. The Japanese are efficient. All the clubs have gear, and at Rock Rider, they went a step beyond. Just inside the entrance are lockers and a Asahi Beer vending machine! PERFECT.

The show ... well, I could try to explain this with words, but this would not be accurate. Recall I said Osaka was wild?

Before the show, we sampled traditional Osaka fare on the streets, Japanese 'Soul Food'. The restaurant was loud, crowded and greasy. Our hosts ordered a sampling off the menu, we sat patiently awaiting it's arrival. This is where the truth comes in: in Osaka, they like their meat on a stick!

This is how it is served, in metal trays, family-style. The sauce is kind of like tempura dipping sauce mixed with soy. Cabbage completes the table. It resembled what I had as a kid called City Chicken, which is actually veal. I don't eat meat, so the other options here are cheese and quail egg. Tiny quail eggs deep-fried in a fine batter and presented on a stick. Delicious and adorable!

In conclusion, I can handle the truth about Osaka. Tomorrow we play in Nagoya at the Day Trip club ...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Japan Day 2 cont'd ... Tune in Tokyo

April 29, 2010. We drove 45 minutes from Yokohama to play our first show at MoonStep club in Tokyo. I found this display of tires at a gas station on the way, the photo on top, Leonardo DiCaprio for Bridgestone Tires.

In Japan, they drive on the right, it's in reverse. I'm glad I'm not driving.

At soundcheck I checked out my amp for tour, a Marshall JCM 900. Me like. We checked early, at 2:30, doors were at 5. All the shows here are earlier than shows in the US. The clubs are small, about 300 capacity. 5 Bands on each bill, Gorevette headlines at 8 or 9 each night.

After soundcheck, we had pizza and cokes at a restaurant next to the club and walked around. The pizza was good, actually, and authentic. Right at doors the club filled up. Nikki, Lianna and I stayed in the dressing room upstairs.

Nikki tried to use the w/c outside the dressing room and was assaulted by fans. The club filled up so fast and fans came upstairs to wait outside to see her! She couldn't leave the room. Girls dressed like her and brought presents, they squealed with delight upon seeing the one and only Queen of Power Pop, Nikki Corvette.

Then, we play. The show flew by. We had two encores planned for this tour, and even though Nikki told us to cut out after a certain point, we couldn't leave the stage. They go crazy for the Corvettes songs and the Buzzcocks cover. And Search & Destroy in the encore. I've not seen people this excited about Rock N Roll in a long time ... or ever.

After we played, Nikki's fans wouldn't leave her alone. She stayed by the Gorevette merchandise signing and talking to people until the line of fans went away... it took awhile.

I stayed in the dressing room until someone told me a girl was waiting to see me ... this adorable gal Makiko brought the first Gore Gore Girls album for me to sign!

Lianna and Al relax after the first show by the Gorevette Japanese shirts and stuff for sale. Dig the superfan in the Japanese satin jacket!

Nikki makes her fans happy...

We drove back to Yokohama exhausted and excited, I was totally wiped out. Tomorrow is day 3, on to Osaka and past Mt. Fuji ... !!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

JAPAN Day 2: Gorevette Goes to the Zoo

April 29, 2010. After a strange breakfast at the hotel, we got ready to walk around Yokohama. Our hosts picked us up in the lobby for sightseeing before driving into Tokyo for our first show. First, we visit a Yokohama shrine.

Up a stone stairway we climbed to the entrance of the shrine. Before entering the grounds, Matt showed us how to ceremonially wash our hands, so to speak. We used a bamboo ladle to alternately splash water on our hands. I got excited and over-splashed.

A ceremony is happening at the shrine in memory of a past Emperor's birthday. We are lucky to witness the ceremony, I am told. It's quiet and windy, no music is being played, only people reciting things. A line of men in white robes depart the shrine and walk in line silently past us.

Across from the shrine, Nikki and Matt take fortunes from what appears to be the Wall of Fortune.

For a few yen, one takes a small fortune package off the wall. After discovering one's fortune and the corresponding charm held within the package, the fortune is tied with the others on the wall adjacent. Nikki got the 'big money' fortune complete with a lucky cat charm. Everyone is happy.

The girls manning what appears to be the shrine's 'shop', for lack of a better Japanese term that I do not know, are summoned from their posts to take a photo with us. I do not know why, but what a nice shot.

We descend the staircase and make our way to the next destination: The Yokohama Zoo.

Wow, the zoo. It was similar to other zoos, I guess, I've been only to the Detroit Zoo as a reference. Differences are subtle, for instance, there are kids everywhere, a gift shop, and it's landscaped, as one would suppose. Except that the landscaping is wild and crazy!

The distance between the zoo-goers and the animals is slight and kept with only a single fence or set of bars. The Japanese are smart and respectful; no tom-foolery or reaching in cages ...

... and well-dressed, as Americans in general seem to completely ignore this concept. Check out this typical, and stylish, Japanese family at the zoo. Note metallic gold sneakers.

A crowd surrounds the red pandas. This exhibit charmed everyone to death. The red panda looks like a raccoon crossed with a mouse, not like a Chinese panda.

We come to the petting zoo and things get weird...and cute! The entrance is marked with a parking lot of strollers. Yuck!

Small animals are displayed openly on tables with high rimmed wooden edges. Children crowd around the edges, arms outstretched in the shavings, reaching for something to hold. Mice are the first animals in the Japanese petting zoo.

Guinea pigs are the next offering. They grunt and wiggle on a table. The pigs are scooped up in what Nikki calls a 'guinea pig burrito', on a small square blanket (provided), and then taken over on one's lap and gingerly brushed with a teeny-tiny wire brush (also provided).

Chicks and hens complete the petting zoo experience. I am experiencing cute overload and have to step away.

Check the petting zoo signs' dos and don'ts: don't squeeze the mice too hard or drop them or run away with them. Also, the guinea pigs may bite.

In conclusion, the zoo rules! On to Tokyo, 45 minutes away, our first show at MoonStep.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ICHIBAN! Japan Tour 2010

It's Wednesday, 4/28 @ 4:40 am in Tokyo and 3 pm Tuesday 4/27 in the States. Eight more hours on the plane. We're at 34,000 ft and traveling at 543 mph just passing Vancouver heading for Juneau. I like the skymap, knowing exactly where the plane is. I had dinner and checked on my band mates: all asleep.

Our hosts met us at Tokyo Narita airport. Matt and Shimmi from the Japanese band The Havenots drove us to Yokohama where we'll stay for two days. After checking in, Nikki and I checked out the tiny bathroom and tried on the traditional robes and slippers in the room.

I checked out the guitar I had for this tour. I opened the case to find a perfectly in-tune Gretsch White Falcon 6136, strung up just right. Yes. Lianna came over from her room and we played a little bit.

Then we went to dinner with our hosts. Matt, Shimmi and Toshio took us down winding narrow streets to a small place with one large table and a bar. We were the only ones in the restaurant. I like. They ordered for us appetizers and a noodle dish, all of which were excellent.
Despite being winded from the 14 hour flight, Nikki and I went out to further imbibe. We wandered through the streets of Yokohama, finding a tank full of giant squid and the Yokohama red-light district, which is comprised of exactly one adult video store.

Matt led us to a second bar where we sat on milk crates duct-taped together with slats of wood for seats on top. Rustic Japanese chic ... or just cheap? None cared. The beer was flowing and snacks such as whole tiny dried fishes came to the table.

In a bold cultural display, Matt proceeded to show us an ancient Japanese trick: lighting a cigarette incorporating chopsticks. Impressive.
All this makes for a fine evening and is an omen of a good tour. Tomorrow is sightseeing and show day #1: Tokyo.