Recap: Stories from Storytown 1

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I am very late in recapping our kick-off event for the Stories from Storytown series.  SORRY. 

We led off with a relatively new song, Very Fine People, and, in my scatterbrainedness, I completely forgot the bridge.  I only learned about this a couple of days later, when our bassist Rick pointed it out to me.  When I listened to the recorded audio, I can hear Rick and Charly start into the bridge, then switch to what I’m playing (the chorus). Then you hear them tentatively take a second shot at the bridge after the chorus.  I, however, am ending the song.  Very funny.  Haha.  Since very few people had heard this song before, I don’t think anyone noticed the mistake.  Nonetheless I have shared the complete lyrics of the song, including the bridge, at the end of this post – for all you lyrics lovers out there.  You know who you are.

OK, back to the evening.  We had four very distinctive and interesting storytellers – a venerable guitar shop owner, a noted musician and writer, a long time rehearsal studio owner, and a polymath musician/author/radio host.  All were engaging and worthy of much longer conversations.  Here are some excerpts:

David Sokol founded Euphoria Studios in 1992. Euphoria is a small, high quality operation with a reputation that has attracted musicians from all genres, including Sting, Yoko Ono, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Michael Feinstein, Steven Van Zandt, Chaka Khan, Joe Jackson, and Suzanne Vega.

Lauren Agnelli began her musical and writing career in NYC in the late ‘70's writing about the burgeoning New York rock scene for the Village Voice and Creem Magazine as rock writer Trixie A. Balm. In the 1980’s she co-founded Nervus Rex, a new wave pop band with roots in the New York City independent music scene. Nervus Rex performed regularly at CBCG and released a single album on Dreamland, the self-titled "Nervus Rex." After the band's demise, Agnelli joined the Washington Squares, a new generation beat folk group who dressed, played, and sang in a style evocative of the idealistic, left-leaning folk revival groups of the Kennedy era, adding a layer of post-punk Reagan-era irony.

Raised in Brooklyn by a mom who was a concert pianist and an attorney father, Matt Umanov was attracted to taking apart and fixing radios and listening to the eclectic music of Frederic Chopin, Hank Williams and Johnny Mercer. After attending Brooklyn Tech H.S. – and learning guitar repair at the Folklore Center on Sixth Avenue – he was accepted into the engineering program at Northeastern University. But Umanov changed course and, following his real passion, opened a little guitar shop on Bedford Street in the West Village. Sitting amidst the constant change of New York retail, Matt Umanov Guitars (which moved to Bleecker Street in 1977) survived and thrived for 53 years, until its recent closing in December 2017.

Meredith Ochs is an award-winning broadcast journalist and a commentator for NPR's All Things Considered, where she created the series "The Women Behind the Songs". She is the author of several books, including Rock-and-Roll Woman and Aretha: The Queen of Soul (Sterling Publishing), and she's also a deejay, musician, culinary judge, and sailor. For more than a dozen years, she hosted a daily entertainment talk show, “Freewheelin’”, at Sirius XM, was a contributing editor at Guitar World magazine, and has written for Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and numerous other publications.

We were also entertained with a video interlude created by our live show producer, Heba Elorbany, who is also a videographer.  The video, Going to Storytown, was set to the instrumental track of an upcoming Storytown song.  I think it’s really fun.  Here it is:

During the evening, Storytown played seven songs:

Very Fine People
How the Other Half Live (from the album Welcome to Storytown)
Back to Loving (from the album Welcome to Storytown)
Social Animals (Don’t Ever Leave)
Broken Promised Land (from the album Welcome to Storytown)
I Am More Than This (from the album Welcome to Storytown)
Everybody Rise

OK, TWO BIG THINGS y’all should know about: First, we have a new video coming shortly. I won’t say much more about it except that it’s a collaboration between me (Guy) and Dana Schechter, the very creative animator who did the video for I Thought We Had a Deal. It’s going to be worth four minutes of your time, IMHO. Watch this space as well as our postings on Instagram and Facebook.

The second big thing is a brief preview of Stories from Storytown 2: Wednesday July 3 (a k a Independence Day Eve), 7-8:20pm, again at Caveat. I will share more details in a subsequent post, but I can already tell you that our storytellers will be music writer and journalist David Hajdu, music event producer Wendy Magro, and guitarist extraordinaire Gary Lucas. More soon in a separate blog.

Thanks for listening.  And here are the lyrics I promised you:

Very Fine People

I had a feeling you’d be there
I really wasn’t sure just where
So many things we don’t agree on

I saw the torches fill the air
Signifying someone’s dare
To take a stand I could not be on

A lone figure stood between
Maybe to try and intervene
And find some common ground to meet on

“Stay in formation two by two
our blood our soil is not for you
You won’t replace us no retreating”

Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
On both sides

You know someone died that day
So very very far from okay
No matter what they say’s the reason

Enough’s enough we have to say
We’ve got no choice we have to stay
And fight the lies that they have seized on

Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
On both sides

In the end you’ve got to say it
Say you love or say you hate it
There’s no in between when our lives matter

You know I love you but really
You must confess what your heart’s feeling
It’s no longer fine to just sit by

Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
Very fine very fine very fine people
On both sides
On both sides

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Guy Story