Thursday, March 31, 2011

a sort of non-call to action

The following is just a bit of personal reflection.

After a month on the road, and finally getting over that little bit of euphoria of being home and enjoying that certain something of New York, I felt that too familiar feeling of annoyance as I rode the train to work today. For some reason it dawned on me (finally) that my misanthropy doesn't come from the travelers or the city or it's smell or dirtiness or anything like that. I actually really love New York and (for the most part) New Yorkers, but what tends to rankle me is the general lack of empathy of people on the street and on subways. It's not a person cutting me off on the street, or taking two seats on the train that makes me angry, it's the feeling of being invisible, that the other person couldn't even waste the microsecond to acknowledge my existence and the fact that I am also trying to get to work.

This got me thinking a lot about how my own ability to put myself in someone else's place has diminished over the years, and especially my relationship to, not only New York, but specifically the organizations and people here who make my existence (musically speaking) possible. I've gotten a lot of emails and had a lot of conversations over the years about musicians banding together and making sure we get what's owed to us and to not fight amongst ourselves, but to unite against a common enemy (either the public or clubs or both). I have no problem with this idea in theory. I think people should be paid better for the amount of work and time they put into developing a craft like playing music, not to mention the amount of ourselves that we put into developing something unique to present to the public. However, I do find, for myself, that this creates the classic us versus them scenario. Sometimes that necessary, but most of the time it creates tension and drama between musicians and audience/promoters out of the ether.

I spend more time thinking about where my food comes from and how I can support local organic farmers than how I can help local arts organizations, musicians, record stores, performance venues, and other musicians. That makes me sad. I have never said thank you to Michael Attias for his years of making Barbes a special place for jazz, not a real, sincere thank you....same thing with all the work Josh Sinton has done for DSMC, or David Leibowitz for somehow putting together a full season of New York Repertory Orchestra concerts for me to enjoy using all volunteer effort. I've never dropped a line to Bruce and Manny at Downtown, or Chris McIntyre of TILT, or all the volunteers at the Stone or Issue Project Room who not only let me put on whatever insane stunt I am thinking of at the moment, but continually present challenging music....what about Joce at Zebulon....I've had my ups and downs at that place, but have I ever really thought about the amount of work he must go through to put on that much music every night? Yeah, okay, they make money from it too, but I guess I don't really feel like I've ever been exploited by it. I'm not being paraded around in a cage like a trained monkey so that someone else can reap the financial benefits. If anything, those places probably lose money when I'm there, and yet they still give me gigs.

There are so many ways that I think someone can deal with this, if they choose to, (and I'm not advocating anything here, just thinking out loud). I'm an introvert, I don't go out. So be it. That's me. But, I can not have that second beer at dinner and give some money to NYRO or Issue Project Room at their next show, or take time to sincerely thank Kevin Reilly for all the work he does volunteering for the Stone and just generally being in the audience as much as he is....or how about Scott Friedlander and Peter Gannushkin....or Patricia Parker....or....or....God forbid, if I love a friend's (or non-friend's) new recording, telling them....I feel like it is a chance to build a community in a way that doesn't have to be about us versus them, doesn't have to be war, war, war, but about dialogue and being honest with the folks around you....taking the time to think about what amount of work a promoter in a small town must have had to go through to get your band there and being polite and open to a hang afterward, or coming out of the dressing room after the show to talk to that guy that drove up from DC to see you....these are things I haven't done in the past and I truly regret it....time and energy wasted on nothing.

In the meantime, here's some shows....

Friday April 1
Chuck Bettis/Jeremiah Cymerman/Nate Wooley
interpreting Chuck's graphic scores
Douglass Street Music Collective
295 Douglass Street
Brooklyn, NY
8 pm

Saturday April 2
TILT Brass record release and benefit!
a whole mess of people (including Russ Johnson, Curtis Hasselbring, John King....I told you it was a whole mess of people!)
Invisible Dog Art Center
51 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY
7-10 pm
I'll be performing a set as a double duo (on top of my duties as a TILTster)
Peter Evans/Nate Wooley duo meets Phantom Orchard (Zeena Parkins/Ikue Mori)
Also, there will be copies of the TILT Vol. 1 CD with a work of mine for brass and tape which TILT killed

Sunday April 3
Lawrence Casserley/Adam Linson/Hans Tammen/Dafna Naphtali/Nate Wooley
7 pm
596 Broadway #602
I have to stop here and say this is a really rare chance to see one of the best live processing electronicists around in Lawrence Casserley, who doesn't get over from England very often, and in such good company with Hans, Adam, and Dafna...should be great

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