Sunday, August 25, 2013

a Saturday night gig with too much caffeine

So last night, I had the chance to play the Storefront Acoustic concert series again with my buddy, Garry Novikoff and the lovely Beth Zucker, whom I’d never met before.

Truth be told, I like playing intimate settings like this coffee and tea boutique. And I’ve done it so many times that I don’t stress about it and I have a really good time…so the audience usually does, too. The thing is last night, though no one knew it, a few other things were going on for me. And I, who feel it my duty to share with you, my beloved blog readers, the behind the scenes scoop, will relive it for you now.

I had a brutal migraine all day and I was trying out a new medication that wasn’t really working all that well, so I took over the counter stuff in addition to the prescription medication, because I had a show to do, darn it. (That’s me, always thinking of the audience.) So I got there in time as opposed to on time. And the first obvious thing was the air conditioning wasn’t working. I won’t even talk about the fact that I remembered to change my t-shirt to a performance top but forgot to change out of the flip flops. Fortunately, they had rhinestones, so I decided to call it a fashion statement.

A word about my hair. I’ve spent all kinds of money buying all kinds of goop and apparatuses in order to get it to look straight and smooth and nicely coiffed. But when I’m sweating from head to toe in high humidity, there is nothing that will stop it from turning into a wild, curly, frizzy mess before your very eyes. It was a fantastic look with the flip flops.

So I went to sit behind Garry’s keyboard, nicely set up where it always is, and I forgot that at this particular venue, the floor is slanted where we play, so even though the audience doesn’t know it, I’m very aware that I’m lopsided and my equilibrium is challenged, because did I mention that I had a migraine and was medicated? No worries, though, because I’m a pro. I’m sure I won’t fall off the stool.

Being at a coffee shop with no AC, I ordered myself a large black iced coffee, figuring the caffeine might help the headache. At this point, really, could anything hurt? So I sat sipping in between numbers, not really giving forethought to the possibility of regretting that decision at, say, 2:30 a.m. when I’m still awake.

I get to what should be my next to last song, and the play list that is conveniently located inside my head for this particular gig is telling me the title of my closing song and my closing song only. Crap. What was the other song I was gonna sing here? Don’t know. Practiced it mere hours ago. Have played it three million times in my life. What was it, again? No idea. So I go with my closing song and decide that I will just have to think of another one to do on the fly after Garry and Beth have each played. No worries.

Beth is up next and she says, “I wish I could just sit here and listen to you play all night, Ilene.” So sweet. Very complimentary. Except I can’t even remember the titles of the songs I’m supposed to be playing.

So Garry and Beth continue on in the round, during which time a childhood friend of mine who has never heard me perform comes in with her daughter. I’ve got one song left – a closing number. I finally remember the song I forgot to play earlier. It’s possibly the saddest thing I’ve written. You can’t close with a sad ballad. That would be performance suicide. I momentarily weigh whether I care or not about committing professional suicide, and I decide I do.

I ask Garry if I could possibly do two more songs, since my friend wandered in and she’s never heard me. He’s totally fine with it. I did the sad one, followed by an uplifting, leave-‘em-on-a-positive note closing song. Crisis averted.

The show ends. It was a resounding success, as determined by the sale of two CD’s. No one knows my pained expression all night was anything other than expressive emoting.

I visit with my childhood friend afterwards, who is Orthodox, by the way, and has decided that she must fix me up with the Orthodox Jewish guy who lives down the street from me, because we have this wonderful and unique thing in common – we’re both single. I do not have the heart or the strength to tell her that I eat BLT’s, have no intention of wearing a wig, and have expanded my spiritual beliefs and practices to include things that would surely make her sit shiva for me. Her heart’s in the right place, so this is a discussion that will have to wait for another day…unless she happens to read this blog….in which case the cat’s out of the bag and there’s really nothing I can do about it.

I hope you are having a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by. And please tell your friends.


  1. Your'e hysterical. So glad you're in my life, buddy.

  2. I sure hope that headache has subsided. I know the pain of which you speak. I would love to have listened to you in that kind of laid back setting.

    1. That headache, alas, is gone. And I love the laid back settings. So much fun!!

  3. Love to read what you post. You have a gift for writing, be they songs, blog posts or books. Hope you are feeling better!

    1. Sami, thank you so much! You just totally made my day (and night)!!!