Apologies that it’s taken us 13 days, but here’s a recap of the wonderful success that was Perfect Lives Jersey City.
We started the day just off of Newark Ave, the main stretch of a lot of JC. Brian held down the lead of the Park wonderfully, bringing back his arrangement from Pittsburgh (this was a common theme – at least four episodes this go round were more or less identical to how they were set up in PGH, we just got more time to hone & rehearse them). One difference, from my perspective, was that I stopped being grumpy as I often can and played the clarinet parts all generally high up, where they sounded much better, as Brian had designed them. We were followed by some school kids singing songs from the Lion King, which unfortunately we missed most of.
Next us was the Bank. This was the first time we ever got to do it INSIDE an actual bank! We started a little late so they could properly close up the bank, so it was 1:40 or so by the time we started. The more we do this, the looser we are about start times. Gelsey took the lead but kept Aliza’s trombone parts from PGH, and redid the Wolf section, with some additional props. This was a very spirited performance, as per uzh, and the incomparable Jen Baker took it up a notch.
Next up was the Supermarket, at Key Food (we also used a Key Food in Perfect Lives Brooklyn). This was another PGH duplicate – last year we used a spacious & fancy market in the Strip District and had few people there to hear us. This time, we packed the house! The aisles were already pretty narrow, but man, did we stop things up! The staff was generally entertained and people seemed to really dig it. We were joined by Jen again, as well as violinists Jenny & Sean, and the great Zach Herchen on bari sax. Zach was not only our producer and our sound guy all day (which meant working in some rushed & less than optimal conditions), but Zach held it down in this episode on bari! He’s a miracle worker. You can see him in the photo on the right trying to get the wireless mic hooked up to the house PA.
Next up was Paul’s Church, v 2.0. This is another gem that was not seen by many in Pittsburgh last year, but it got a great hearing at St Paul (appropriate name), closer to Journal Square, up the hill. Paul scored out the parts to a much greater extent that anyone previously had for the Church, and we had some ace guests to sing/play it with us (Esha, Meredyth, Chris, Marcus, & Mike). As always, the responsive part of the Church was well received, and Paul really brought it home with the Dwayne section, in my opinion, asshole.
From there, we moved down the hill to the Backyard, held in a historic cemetery. There were gravestones marked Giordano & Payne, for those of you keeping score. Aliza took over the lead again after Gelsey did it the previous two times, but we kept the roving accordionist that Gelsey’s arrangements had introduced. We were reunited with Woody Leslie, who played tabla with us in Brooklyn & Manhattan (we had him flown in special from Chicago for the occasion!). The sun set in the middle of this one, which was pretty magical. The sounds of the cemetery were quite wonderful too, and though there were goats & turkeys around, I didn’t hear either during the performance.
From there, we went to historic Barrow Mansion for the Living Room. This was the same noir + strings arrangement we did in PGH (sans the bass part), and we really got it going this time! Sean, Jenny, Mike & Meaghan were a kick-ass quartet with Brian leading them from the synth, and the staging was real nice in such a special old house. I remember the laugh lines all landing really well in this one. I think the Living Room has been my favorite one to perform the last two times. Maybe it’s the time of day, the realization that you’re in the home stretch but not at the end. Something.
For the Bar at Brightside Tavern, the ladies took over the lead parts and the fellas were the back up band. This was a nice innovation. Everything was in 7/4, which made it clear & steady, and we also had some hugely uplifting guest solos from Sean on violin & Zach on alto sax. A funny thing about doing something in JC when most of the audience lives in NYC and it’s a Saturday night – people wanna catch the PATH once it gets to be late. There wasn’t an all night party like the usually is after we finish. The Catskills, for instance, was great because where were people gonna go? Everyone still there at the end was staying at or near Mt Tremper Arts. A blessing & a curse to do this piece close to home. A blessing til the party hour, anyway.
I’d like to shout out to some of the folks where spent many hours with us – Mimi, Carlota, Barbara, my folks Ginny & Brian, Aliza’s folks Loren & Josh, Esther, the folks from Arthouse Productions, Ian, Jeff, Jill, Jack, Charles and his friends, and some other folks whose names I’m coming up short on. HUGE thanks to Amanda Pinto, Zach, Sean, & Mike for technical & practical help on the day of the show. I’m sure I’m forgetting people, but my cohorts can chime in here.
Anyway, more to come!