13 bottles of Gatorade, 5 boxes of Kleenex, 1 Bottle of Clindamycin, 2 bottles of Nazonol, and 6 sessions with the Nettie Pot; this is how I rolled last week trying to recover from a 103-degree temp and Strep Throat before heading to NYC for one of the most important trips I've had in a while. Sounds fun, huh?
Kidding aside, last week was really rough in deciding whether or not Jim and I should cancel our trip to NYC for some cool KIRBY KRACKLE shows and meetings at the Marvel Comics office. A lot of work had gone into planning this trip, so waiting till the last minute we decided to roll the dice and gamble that I would be able to sing for the shows on Friday and Saturday night. This post isn't at all meant to be a woe session or a request for sympathy, but thought I'd share because this blog is about keeping it real I just thought I'd give an accurate account of how the trip went; both hard and fun. This is showbiz people...
Leaving Friday morn, I told Jim that I was barely functional and with him being the healthy one he helped me out a lot on the trip in general. Good little nurse wife in the form of a Greek guy with sideburns. The first time I could taste/smell in a week was when we first arrived in NYC, dropped off our bags, and headed to lunch at BLUE SMOKE. It was truly some of the best BBQ I've ever had and paired with a Hot Toddie was welcomed completely as a journey back into the full senses. An ability stripped away as quickly as it was given, I was glad it was for this meal that I could taste. Amazing Amazing Amazing.
Later that night we stopped by the bar where the Marvel guys hang out and chatted (Jim did, I was trying to save my quickly fading voice) for a while before heading back to the room. Upon returning to our hotel, we noticed along the way that some seemingly emergency road work was being done to the intersection and thought nothing of it...until we got back to our room and realized it was right under our window. I've never slept with a jackhammer in my room nor a steel lined truck bed having concrete thrown in it, but that's basically what we were experiencing. After calling the concierge we had it confirmed that the emergency road work would be going on all night and after briefly laughing hysterically about our situation astoundingly fell asleep through the destruction right outside. When we woke up we could not for the life of us understand how we slept through that; an abomination of all that was good that I thought for sure would rob us of any rest and thus send me further into the UGH. This was miracle number one.
The next morning we got up early to go drop my instruments off at JIM HANLEY'S UNIVERSE which was to be our performance venue for the night. After stocking up at the local CVS on Kleenex and meds, we grabbed some breakfast and went to go drop our stuff of at our host's house for the remainder of the trip. Jim's friend Gregg Schigiel is a cool artist that currently works for the Spongebob Squarepants franchise as well as his own creator owned characters. Besides being the host with the most, Gregg is also a hardcore "foodie"; someone who is wise to the best food that NYC has to offer regardless of price or accessibility. A "Foodie" is not a food snob at all, but instead someone who understands and appreciates quality and flavor in a non-discriminatory way. We were in good hands and all weekend I felt like my culinary experiences (despite the fact that I couldn't taste) made up for our lack of taste adventure in San Francisco.
The shows were only half of the reason we took the trip, the other parts being a few meetings regarding KK that we had the the guys at Marvel which took up the majority of Friday afternoon. The meetings went great and honestly not trying to sound like a douche when I say this (hard not to I know) but even though I would freaking LOVE to talk about what KK has in the works...I can't. Yeah, douche...I know. Seriously though, we're very very excited and the moment we can you know we'll share. Better than lying and saying nothing happened though...and again can't wait. :)
That night we were all set to play other than the fact my voice was deteriorating throughout the day at a rapid pace. This was not the "oh my voice is sore" stuff that I sometimes experience but more I could barely talk above a whisper. As a singer, stuff like this is my worst nightmare. If you break a guitar string you can buy a new one. If you bust a drum stick, you reach into your back and pull one out. When your voice goes out...you're f'ed. The only thing that will make it better is time and with 2 hours before the show, time is what I did not have. I sucked down any liquid I could get my hands on with hopes that the extra hydration would help me out. As the opening band finished I realized I was where I was and that I just had to do it. Quickly I ran down the set list lowering octaves where I could and thankful I could do that last minute if anything.
Again, I try not to be a perfectionist to the extreme with my music, but I know elements of that tendency are very much there. There's a certain presentation that one likes to put out and this time it was something I was on the opposite of control of. Explaining to the crowd I was a little under the whether without apologizing, I ran down the set list of songs. After a pretty rough start and some concerned eyebrows directed my way I started to warm up a little bit but could definitely feel the burn in my vocal cords. Looking back, each song I thought I as able to push it a little further and by the end felt that it was tolerable. Getting through the show was something that up until the last song I didn't think I would be able to do and for that reason I call this miracle number two.
The next morning I woke up to the absolutely worst feeling in my vocal cords that I have ever felt, blood in my saliva, and no voice. An acknowledgment that I shouldn't have sang the night before and the fact that I'm a dumbass. We really didn't have anything to do Saturday day, but that night was the big show on Staten Island for our buddy "Socko", the owner of COMIC BOOK JONES. We met Socko in January when we were at the NYC convention and after declaring his love for KK gave us an open invitation to perform at this store with promises "we would be treated like kings". You can imagine how it felt knowing that this guy had put together an amazing night with catering, store sales, and the renting of a sound system combined with the fact that there was no way in hell I could sing. Jim and I weighed the options to cancel (the last thing we wanted to do at all costs), or something else we thought of. Being that I had the album on my iPod, came to the conclusion that the only way to pull it off was to play the album over the P.A. while I played extra accompaniment guitar and performed along with it. Many folks would have heard the album, but many folks wouldn't have either. The lyrics are the thing that sets KK into the niche that it resides in so as long as they were there and sung well (not gonna happen with me) it would be ok. (?)
Like most of us, I hate disappointing people so the call and proposition to Socko was kind of pride swallowing but was received with open arms. His brother is a performer so he completely understood the haywire-ness of things sometimes so was very open to the idea and just wanted us to be there regardless. A classy and a good guy, that helped us look forward to the show and get excited despite our current situation.
We took the ferry to Staten Island and after a 1/2 hour of watching some little kid "machine gun" everybody on our side of the boat, made our way to the venue. When we got out of the car were greeted by the COMIC BOOK JONES family and welcomed in the warmest way possible. I say family because they truly are. Never have I (nor Jim and he owns 3 shops) seen employees so dedicated to their employer to the point of me wanting to work there and to be part of this amazing and tight knit group. Socko introduced us to his crew, "Tiger", "Max Organized Flamingo", "Mild-Mannered Jones", and my fave..."Waffle". The food arrived as Socko had promised; pizza from the local Staten Island pizza place and even old-family recipe lasagna that his mother had made for the event. Unbelievable. Before we got down to serving the food, Socko had the following announcement...
"Welcome to my store as you are all guests here. This store is to be treated like my home, and in my home I have people love each other and respect each other. Kirby Krackle is here to entertain you guys and have fun. They are my guests and when they are done with a song, you will clap for them and show them you are glad they made the trip. Have a good night and let's have fun." Socko is my new favorite person ever.
After a delicious meal, we set up to play in the swankiest comic book shop I have ever seen. The walls were blood red, it was clean, and even feeling as bad as I did I couldn't resist the contagious positive energy that pulsed from the room. The crowd was big and as we were hitting the stage I asked the them if they were down with the MILLI-VANILLI action that was going to have to happen that night. They cheered and I knew it would be a great show regardless. They were just happy we were here. This is what I call miracle number three.
There were even two "Super Fans" who showed up and I say "Super Fans" because I had no idea who these people are but they gyrated, danced, and sang along with EVERY word of the show. Freaking crazy. Freaking awesome.
After the show we signed albums, talked (tried to talk) to fans, and soaked in the post show glow. I couldn't believe we had pulled it off and that the crowd was into the unorthodox-ness of the night. We ended up getting home late and crashing before flying out on Sunday afternoon.
It was a good trip, but a hard trip. I'm sure this post would have been much different had a not been seeing it through the viewing lens of mucous and throat issues, but even with that some really great things happened.
Currently I've been given the task of not talking at all before I meet with a vocal specialist on Thursday. We'll hope for the best huh? With a bevy of KK shows and the Collider CD Release on the not to distant horizon that's what I gotta do!
Thanks for reading and thanks to all the NYC fans for showing the love,
Hi, my name is Kyle Stevens and I am a Seattle based musician that has been writing/performing since 1994. This is a blog documenting my experiences as an professional songwriter, as well as my adventures with in music with KYLE STEVENS BAND, COLLIDER, GIGI EDGLEY, and KIRBY KRACKLE. Thanks for reading, join my email list, and please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by!
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