The Mercury Lounge
eleventh dream day will be back at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on Friday, August 21st.
On the bill will be our good pals Antietam and 75 Dollar Bill
New York has always been a special place to play. I remember the first time going in to do a show–we booked ourselves onto a bill at CBGBs with Prairie School Freakout out. I was nervous on the drive as we came in through New Jersey–Baird actually drove us the wrong way out of the Lincoln Tunnel into the bus exit at Port Authority. I had been to New York City many times before, driving in from Ithaca where I worked for A.C. Nielsen in 1981-83, but it was different to be playing.
My first time ever in the city was a drive in to Times Square to visit. I parked my car for $20 in a garage (outlandishly expensive back then), walked toward Times Square with my head in the sky, almost got hit by a taxi, then was offered a ticket for $5 to see the Clash at Bonds International. I didn’t even know the Clash was playing that day–it was a matinee and it wasn’t sold out–it was a late add-on to their week long run. So, I saw the Clash within an hour of my first trip to New York. I came in for other visits later that year–New Order at the Peppermint Lounge, Gang of Four with R.E.M. opening at theRitz,The Cure at the Ritz, and a blind date with a girl from Jersey that ended up at the Mudd Club.
Walking into CBGBs that first time as a band was a trip. I had seen Tom Verlaine play solo there some years before on a visit, but now the first face I was seeing was Hilly Kristal’s with his dog next to him. That night, I forget who we played with, but I’m sure we had a late, late slot on the five band bill. I know we played with Antietam, Giant Sand, maybe Run On at various times–we probably played there 3 or 4 times over the years though and it’s a bit of a blur.
[ Doug has weighed in on this: “Our first show at CB’s was with Band of Susans, Antietam, and Fish & Roses, all couples bands though I can’t say that Band of Susans had a couple. I think we played first. This may have been before the “opening band” played at 2 a.m.. This led to Band of Susans asking us to play with them in Chicago.”]
One night when we were headlining, we were playing an encore. The soundman came on through our monitors loud and clear to us in the middle of the song-“You gonna be done any time soon?”
When we came back to the city after signing to Atlantic, opening for the Meat Puppets, we got out of the van with a few autograph hounds hovering. I didn’t know then that these people probably had no idea who we were, but it was nice to get asked for what was probably the first time. The show was one of our biggest, and we had energy coming out of our eyeballs. Verlaine was there backstage with a kind of shroud around his head looking mysterious and it was also rumored that Scorcese was there in the crowd (to see the Meat Puppets, I know)
On our first visit to the Atlantic offices at 75 Rockefeller, we pulled up in our 39 foot R.V. pulling a trailer. I felt like the Beverly Hillbillies. We walked past Ahmet’s office, saw him in there, but were advised to keep walking to our little corner of the floor. Then we got the media blitz–Janet and I got interviewed on MTV, but only 2 of us were allowed–we held up Baird and Doug’s drivers license to the cameras.
The highlight of all NY visits though was to be able to live there for a month while making El Moodio. We had the chance to stay in Keith Richard’s vacant apartment, but it had two floors and a spiral staircase–there was a worry that our then toddler Matt would toddle over the rail. We ended up in an amazing 3 story condo in Little Italy near Prince and Mott next door to Ray’s Pizza. It couldn’t have been nicer–crisp October beauty and a short walk to Sorcerer Studios to make music. When it was all wrapped up we had a listening party at the studio. Matt had a grand mal seizure and we had to rush him to the hospital. That was the end of the stay.
For a while, the band and/or I made it back to New York at least once or twice a year to play and make music. Those visits have slowed down in recent years but have never really stopped.
And now it’s time for our third show at the excellent Mercury Lounge. Hope to see you there.