Saturday, February 20, 2010

Urban Survival Tip #3

Last night, I saw one of the best shows of my life at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea. The Ryan Montbleau Band, which happens to be one of my favorite bands, opened things up with a set that included most of their feel-good foot-stompers, including one of their best numbers, "Honeymoon Eyes."

The band was cooking. Great solos from the keyboard player and the viola player (yes, viola), and then there was Ryan Montbleau himself, all cool charisma and playful intensity, who just totally rocked the place.

Then. THEN. Oh, man. Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue took the stage and proceeded to scramble what remained of my functioning brain cells into disbelieving goo.

Trombone Shorty is from New Orleans and almost literally sang with his trombone (and his trumpet, which he plays just as well). This guy's raw ability and presence is absurd. And the band was an exuberant, criminally talented bunch of guys who looked like they would have to lie about their ages to join the military. Seriously, the guitarist looked like he might have been fifteen, and he was shredding like a mini-Hendrix, sparkly shirt and silver jewelry and all.

Most of the crowd was wearing Mardi Gras beads and Saints jerseys, and I don't think I've ever seen an audience so beside themselves. After making me almost die from an overdose of awesome with a cover of "Let's Get It On," the band finished off their epic set with a bring-down-the-house rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In" during which they came down onto the floor and played their way out around the room. People were practically weeping.

And get this: I saw all this - at a swankified place in Chelsea where tickets were about 30 bucks a pop, more for VIP tables - for free. I even got a free T-shirt out of it.

And how, you ask, did I manage this? The answer brings me to your third Urban Survival Tip: selling merchandise.

Like many people of limited means, I want to take advantage of all that New York has to offer, but often find myself stymied by how expensive everything is. I can't emphasize enough how much a little research and resourcefulness can pay off if you want to get out and experience some culture. In the last few months, I have seen a free Barefoot Truth show at the Canal Room, free NY Gilbert and Sullivan Players' performances of "Pirates of Penzance" and "The Mikado" at New York City Center, and then last night what was, again, possibly the best show I've ever seen - all for free. And I just had to sell some T-shirts to do it.

A free show usually isn't the only perk, either. I got to mingle with the actors and musicians. I was invited to an opening night afterparty. Barefoot Truth gave me some free CDs as thanks for helping out. NYGASP even paid me 50 bucks to run the merch table and coordinate the other volunteers one day.

So get on mailing lists of all your favorite bands. Check their websites for upcoming performances and see if they need a hand. Make friends at theaters and ask if they need volunteers.

We could all use a little more awesome in our lives. And FREE awesome is even better.

1 comment:


    I've given you a blog award. :)