Monday, April 2, 2012

I Survived Johnny Flynn Last Night….and It Was Awesome!

I discovered Johnny Flynn a little over two years ago. Sam, a friend of mine told me about him and described his music to me. I remember her saying “He’s kind of folksy and plays lots of instruments, including the banjo.” That description did not win me over. Before I heard Johnny Flynn, when I heard the word “Folk,” I thought “Peter Paul and Mary.” Not that there is anything wrong with Peter Paul and Mary, but it’s not something I would listen to all day, every day. Also, I’m from Nashville so I have a love/hate relationship with the banjo. Before Johnny Flynn, when I heard the banjo, I thought clogging, Deliverance and Hee Haw. It took Johnny for me to see it as something different, something amazing. It started with him for me but the bands I’ve discovered though him (IE, Laura Marling, Mumford and others) have worked magic with the banjo as well so he opened a door for me that I wasn’t open to, which is nice because that doesn’t happen enough. I love what’s coming out of London these days and it seems to be all I listen to. Laura Marling is coming again in June and I’ll be seeing Marcus Foster next week with friends! Woot!

Anyhoo, after that horrible description of Johnny’s music, Sam was kind enough to send me the song “Brown Trout Blues.” I was amazed and totally impressed and I fell in love instantly. I think I literally listened to that song and that song alone for a solid week until his CD came after I ordered it online. At the time he only had one but good God was it an incredible collection of music! While I am loving all British music right now, he is by far the one I love the most and is more talented than everyone else I love, combined.

I have seen Johnny Flynn twice before so I didn’t even flinch when I heard he was doing two shows in the US. One in LA on March 30th and the other in Brooklyn New York on April 1st. I knew that if I could talk my husband into it, I was there.

Originally I had planned to get a train and go by myself. I was going to get a hotel in the city by the Brooklyn Bridge and just take a cab over. Then I checked the weekend prices for hotel rooms. No way could I make my husband go for a $350 a night hotel room for me for two nights. That’s just crazy sauce. Also, when discussing hotels in that area with a friend, she happened to say "Oh, don't stay there. Someone was raped there last week!" Ummm, OK. New plan.

So, I recommended asking his Aunt who lives in Queens if we could stay with her and visit and I could just drive to Brooklyn for the show. So that’s what we did. We owe her big time! She made us dinner and even invited other family over to visit. We don’t get to see them often so it was nice.

The trip took us five hours and I drove all the way up on my Johnny Flynn high. It was an easy trip as we bought the DVD player for the kids, a Kindle for my husband and Johnny Flynn CDs for me with some Laura Marling for good measure. The weather was a little cold and rainy so we couldn’t even see the city from Rockaway but it was still nice. We bent over and took it in the rear on tolls but that's just the deal when you make that trip. $13 to cross a bridge is normal if you live there but it's just a ridiculous price to cross a bridge that has the shittiest pavement ever. So, I chose to look up.

Since I have the world’s shittiest sense of direction, my husband suggested a dry run to the venue so I would know where I was going and where I could park. We headed down Flatbush Avenue and I learned one thing quickly. I have the perfect level of aggression for New York driving. You really have to be two thirds asshole to get anywhere in that area so I was good to go. At some point I even stopped hearing the honking. I mean people five cars back honk as soon as the light turns green just in case someone is sleeping at the wheel or sneezing or something. I don't really have any idea why someone does that. It's kind of an asshole move.

Mapquest said it should take us thirty seven minutes. I assumed that meant it would take us an hour and twenty minutes. In traffic on Flatbush it took an hour and forty five minutes. Good to know. We found the venue which was so easy to miss that I drove past it three times totally confused but we found it, good parking and then we drove home so I could drop off the family and go back.

I needed to be there early for sound check and I wasn’t 100% sure what time that would be. I didn't give a shit. I made Flatbush Avenue my bitch and got there in record time. I got there before Johnny and Rebecca (the girl who runs @JohnnyFlynnNews on Twitter) and I waited patiently in the car. I am diabetic and didn’t want my sugar to get low so I ate a couple of bites of a burger I’d gotten when we picked up dinner for the kids. It was like an onion sandwich so I didn’t eat more than that. I just didn’t want to taste that all night long but I knew I needed something or I’d regret it. We’ll get back to that later.

I joined Rebecca in her car when she arrived in the torrential downpour. Such a sweet person! We talk often but had never met in person so it was nice to be able to meet up with her. Poor thing broke her glasses in a loving embrace and had to tape them with Scotch tape. I've sooooo been there. It's not like you can drop your glasses off to be fixed when they're your only pair!

Sitting in her car, we saw Johnny arrive in the rain and wander around looking for the door of the venue. It’s not like he’s stupid. Hell, I drove past it three times looking for it. It’s a total hole in the wall and the address is spray painted on a brick wall but I liked the inside much better than I thought I would. I took the photo of Johnny arriving in the rain through a wet, fogged up window. I’ll post some photos of the tissue paper ceiling above the stage that looks like clouds. I thought it was a hella cool fire hazard. One match and that place would go up like a lost balloon. I'm still trying to figure out what this thing above the bar is:

Is this not the coolest thing? It looks like an electrical storm.

We walked in with Johnny, who just could not be any more genuine and sweet, which makes me love him even more. I mean crazy talented AND kind don’t always travel together but it sure is nice when it does. It was wonderful to be able to talk to him about his son and just things in general before the masses started to arrive. It was nice to have his ear to tell him how much my family loves him. Yeah, my kids are fans too.

These photos, which were mostly taken on my Droid are kind of priceless for me. So glad I snapped them!

This thing was above the entrance door. Hella creepy:

I watched him during sound check and took a few photos but I didn’t want to harass him so I laid low which IS NOT my strong suit. It was just nice to be there. He sounded wonderful even when just tuning up. We were able to talk to him a little bit and since my kids were unable to attend which was more upsetting to them than you might think, I allowed them to buy a few gifts for Johnny, whose son just turned one last month. My kids were very sad they couldn’t come with me to see him. They really do love him and at 3 and 5, they don’t understand why it’s not really an appropriate place for them. When I told Owen he couldn’t come, he yelled “I just want Cold Bread, Momma!” Such an angel.

We picked out their favorite books to send along and Johnny was so appreciative and thankful. River sent Karen Katz’s Counting Kisses and Owen picked out Karma Wilson's The Bear Snores On. Both books we read each night. I let the kids sign the books for Gabriel which I think they really loved. We don’t even pick up the books anymore because we’ve memorized them. Hopefully little Gabriel will love them just as much.

The opening band was called Peggy Sue and they were new to me. I’d never heard of them before finding out they were opening for Johnny. They were hella talented! Beautiful voices and their harmonizing was better than most mainstream bands and so was their drummer. All British. In fact, there were so many British people there last night that I’m not sure why they didn’t just charter a boat and come over together. While it’s awesome, I was just kind of surprised how many were there.

By the time Johnny came on, I’ll be honest, I felt like shit but like always I decided to ignore it because it didn’t fit into my plans. This is my way. I mean this is my third Johnny Flynn show and I’m always in the same place, right below his mike stand. At each show, I’ve been so close that I could have counted his nose hairs if I’d wanted to, I didn’t. But you see what I’m saying. I’m not giving that up to go and get some air which is exactly what I should have done. Also, some orange juice would have been a really good fucking idea at that point as my blood sugar was in the toilet.

He stared out with “Lost and Found,” “Brown Trout Blues,” “The Water,” “The Wrote and the Writ” and “The Lady Has Risen” which is a new song and he sounded amazing! I had always wanted to hear him sing “The Water” by himself in person so I was glad that I got that chance. “The Wrote and the Writ” is a song I just LOVE when he does it by himself. Without a full band there are things he has to do with one guitar that he doesn’t when the Sussex Wit is there and I appreciate a solo version of that song while still loving the original version. It was also great to hear “The Lady Has Risen” in person as I’d only seen him sing it once. He really is perversely talented.

Here are a few videos from the show:

Lost and Found

Brown Trout Blues

The Lady Has Risen & The Water

The Wrote and The Writ

Oh My Darling Part I & Part II

Tickle Me Pink

These are some of my favorite photos from the show:

It always makes me giggle how the most talented person in the room in the most nervous or questions their talent the most. It reminds me of when I saw Adele on the Grammies (I think) and she looked like she was going to vomit while performing. I swear she was green as well as being the most talented person in the room. So when Johnny told me before sound check that he felt rusty and perhaps a little nervous, I tried not to laugh. He mentioned forgetting the cords to a new song at the L.A. show. If he was rusty, I didn’t see it. I thought he did amazing and I was really excited for the new songs we got. He wrote a song called “Oh My Darling” as a way to get his son to go to sleep. He said it didn’t work. When he played it, Gabriel just wanted to get inside the guitar and tap on the stings but what a beautifully sweet song for us to enjoy. The kids will love that one and hopefully it will be on the new CD.

Now it was about this point that things started to go south for me. It was cold and rainy yesterday so the thought of being overheated had never crossed my mind. But that place was packed! It was a sold out show so I guess that shouldn’t have been shocking to me but damn it was hotter than shit in that tiny place. I wore more than I usually would because of the outside weather. I wore a cami, a tank top and a long sleeve cover along with jeans and Chucks. I could tell my blood sugar was plummeting but in my defense, I’d brought peppermints with me to combat this. Once I was done with all my peppermints, I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t even have water. I was in the middle of recording “Oh My Darling” and I swear my world started to go vignette. It was like my eyes were rimmed in black and everything was disappearing. How the hell I didn’t pass out right there in front of the stage is beyond me. I turned to my new Greek friend next to me and said “I need help.” Now, she’s new to me but anyone who really knows me knows that I don’t do that. By the time I ask for help, it means I needed it thirty minutes ago and I’ll need an ambulance in another ten. Somehow I got away from the stage in a mad rush to the bar for orange juice and air. I tripped all over the opening band who actually tried to help me before I fell into the fucking photo booth. It took a minute but I finally got them to understand that I was diabetic and not just some drunk chick. They got me water and tried to help me get to the bar and I ended up in the bathroom where I immediately stripped of all non essential clothing and downed the water. It helped immediately as I was clearly over heated. I sat in that bathroom stall and literally felt like I was going to die. I learned my face against the wall to cool myself while I listed to Johnny break into Been Listeneing. I felt like I was taking my life into my own hands but what choice did I have? Fuck! I was missing the show! I got some orange juice from the bar and downed that puppy and felt much better but that kind of sugar drop takes time to recover from and even the next day, I still don’t feel 100%. It’s just kind of funny that this happened a couple of days after my mother called and asked me if I was in control of my diabetes. I know she’ll read this so yes momma, I am in control but it was hot as shit in there and I didn’t have water! Diabetes and dehydration are an ugly combination

Nothing sucks worse that almost slipping into a diabetic coma right in front of Johnny Flynn. Good times.

So, in the end I shot a few videos, sorry about “Oh My Darling” being cut in the middle and kinda shaky. That’s when I started to go downhill. I also took hundreds of photos that I have just started to edit but I did post a few of my favorites. I also brought these photos from the last time I saw him. I had him sign all of them and then I gave them to Rebecca who will give them away on Twitter at @JohnnyFlynnNews. He also signed a few for me and for my children who again, absolutly adore him.

He really was very sweet and signed those photos without a second thought. His wife was pushing him to leave so I knew he was rushed. Once he signed the photos, I got my photo with him and took one for Philippia and he was gone. He’ll be heading back to London soon as his wife’s work in the city is coming to an end. He’ll be in London for a while as well working so I may not see him again until the new album comes out so I’m really glad I got up there, even as I sit here now on the New Jersey Turnpike in accident traffic. I have a feeling we’ll be here a while as it involves several cars but we’ve got plenty of gas, lots of snack foods and water and I’m still on my Johnny Flynn high.

Now if I could just find a way to explain to my husband why I came home with my bra in my camera bag.

These are photos of my with Johnny after each show:

Here are the posts for the FIRST and SECOND time I saw him live along with a few other of my favorite Johnny Flynn posts.