Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Verse 2 - Make Hay When the Sun Shines

Lisa is a smart woman. (Well, she married me, right?)  Having almost a full degree in accounting under her belt, and after having taken a pause from higher ed, she made the bold decision to return to College for a degree in education.  Her perseverance impressed me.  It made me think about my own development.  At the time, I ran a collection of small businesses, from DJing weddings, to building decks and lofts for College kids, to taking photos with Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny in area malls. I worked radio, even dabbled in flying, and worked the doors at area bars.  Of course, I had to dabble in politics, at one point even serving on the Burlington City Council.

While individually this odd assortment of seasonal endeavors seemed insignificant, collectively it made some good coin, and I enjoyed serious flexibility with my time.   I had a ski pass and two golf memberships...and more importantly, the chance to use them.  I could even break away to the Keys two or three times a year, or deer camp, or disappear for lost weekends in Montreal, Boston or New York.   Yes, admittedly, I was a jack of all trades, and most obviously... a master of none....but it was a decent lifestyle.

A bit off topic at this point, but very important to note.  One yearly endeavor I enjoyed was working in Jamaica as a DJ for college kids in March.  It was the heyday of MTV in Negril on Spring Break... and I was one of the boys at the helm of the mixing board coordinating drinking and other competitive collegiate events!  On one such jaunt, I acquired a ball cap from a drunken Ball State University student.  It read... BSU.  I wore it religiously back home for years.  Never had I adorned myself with a shirt, or cap that garnished so much attention.... almost to a person, people would noticed the hat and comment on it...they were fascinated, both with the BS, and the BS...U.   BS in my mind had begun.  Over the years I had dabbled in the potential of running a bar here or there, but I realized even then... if I ever really did, it would have to have a name whose initials were BS!

So why in the world would anyone ruin a flexible life with no real commitments, right?

Well, I had a good amount of learnin' under my belt, but nothing that amounted to a degree.  I had started at Cornell, but Electrical Engineering is as dry as it gets, so I dabble in other degrees at UVM and St. Michael's College.  I even, at one point tried to mix a more exciting degree with warm weather, and spent a semester at Embry-Riddle in Daytona learning to fly.  Hell, being in College and on Spring Break full time...sounded right up my alley.  Then I saw the student loans piling up and decided to finish my Commercial rating at a small FBO in VT.  However, evaluating the prospects of trying to pile up flight hours at $6 as an instructor compared with DJing a wedding on the weekends for what at the time was a couple of hundred bucks....and a full week off to ski and golf....I intuitively put flying on the back burner as well.

But time had passed, and I yearned for a profession that might garner more respect and potential.  I felt that the growing tech scene was slipping by me and I needed to know more.  So, inspired by Lisa who was ardently pursuing her goals of teaching, and with all my amassed scattered credits... and the knowledge I could eek out an Associates degree in a year...I slipped my way up the frozen hill to Champlain College, and signed up for another tour of doodie!  Hell, I had been to four colleges, why not make it five.  For the record, having attended Cornell, and Champlain, I can unequivocally state...Champlain is by far a better institution of learning... by far. All those Ivy lagers never matched up to a hometown brew.  Don't fall for the hype, learn something tangible.

A year passed and we both found that we had dun gradeated.  I'm sure taking seventeen years and five schools to earn an Associate Degree made my parents proud in comparison to the other Doctors and such they had raised.  Lisa took a job teaching at my former grade school, oddly teaching the children of my former grade school classmates.  Nothing spoke more to time slipping by than knowing Lisa was having parent teacher conferences with the girl, now woman, I had taken to my 8th grade graduation dance.  The concept of how fast time flies was finally thrust in our faces...and I felt like an old fart in my mid thirties.

Stay tuned as the story of Bowery Station unfolds.....

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Verse 1 - The Hay That Fed the Bull!

We like beer.  We like live music.  When I say we, I am referring to both me and my wife Lisa.

I grew up in Vermont and Lisa moved there in her early 20s, during the early 1990s.  We met in Burlington, which at the time had become a live music mecca...around the time Phish was just hitting stride, catapulting from the bars of Burlington into the national scene and onto the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine.

Their justified rise to stardom drew musicians from Boston, New York, and around the Country to Burlington, only to electrify the live music scene further.  Everyone looked for their chance to play the stage at Nectar's, the namesake bar of Phish's first album, A Picture of Nectar, and one of the stages they developed their unique sound on.  Lisa and I were blessed to be able to wonder out on any given night and find an array of live music options, with exceptionally high levels of talent.  The days of my youth in Vermont of sneaking in the fire exit of a smoke filled beer hall on a back road and listening to cover rock bands as underage kids were far gone, along with the mullet.  This was the early 90s in Burlington, and the live music scene was on.... big time.

One thing Lisa and I both noticed on our almost nightly ventures bouncing between blues, jazz, grunge and zydeco venues while sucking down the suds of the evolving Vermont Craft beer scene was.... it was friggin' cold.  I mean full on bugger freezing cold.  People whom have never experienced the term, or it's inspiration, don't get it...  you step outside, and even if you don't suck air in your nostrils, you feel everything that is exposed to the air begin to freeze immediately... immediately.  That's bugger freezing cold.  The kind of cold that hurts to breath.  When it wasn't cold, it was raw.  Damp, rainy, dreary and well ....still damn cold.  Summer, which might occur for a week or two sometime in July or August depending on the cold fronts, was short.  Like weekend short... over before you know it kind of short.  Like, don't take too long a nap short. Thus standing in line to hear your favorite musical act was more than likely a painful wait...but ultimately worth it as always.
The bugger freezing cold led us to expand the radius of our outings....like for EIGHTEEN HUNDRED MILES of an expansion.

As often as we could we would scrape together enough gas money, and Lisa and I would jump into whichever vehicle of ours at the time showed the most promise of making it... and make an old school road trip to Key West.  I had done this on my own since High School and during my many spring breaks in Colleges...  (Seventeen Years and Five Colleges to gain an Associates Degrees to be exact) and had already learned it was never good enough to simply make it to points in Northern Florida such as Daytona, or St. Pete, but rather, one must dig deep and go the distance... yup, Key West always offered a guarantee of shorts and flip flops.  There wasn't nearly as much craft beer, and the music was much more Buffett-centric at the time, but the need to thaw out took precedence over our other entertainment priorities.

It needs to be mentioned that I had played guitar most of my life...well I should say that I played with guitars.  The reality was that I never really seemed to get past a collection of five songs that I had currently memorized at any one time to really impress any chicks.  I also, frequently put it down long enough to lose any sort of callouses I had developed, making the choice to pick it back up that much more painful.  I occasionally would try to check out an Open Mic in Burlington, but inevitably due to the talent base in town... someone like Trey Anastasio would step on stage for an all night jam with comparably talented musicians... thus it quickly dashed any hope I had of auditioning my bastardized version of Country Roads for all the world to see.  As well it discouraged my interest in developing my talent any further on the ol' six string.

Ultimately,  I relegated myself to the friendly Vermont campfire, although I'm sure my friends were none too thrilled with my sixth rendition of Brown Eyed Girl as they roasted their marshmallow and swigged back 32oz Gennie Cream Ales.  Needless to say, I left the performing for the pros, but always wished there was a venue or stage to showcase my level of performing, and get the experience of playing through a sound system in front of a crowd.

Stay tuned as the story of Bowery Station unfolds....

When in Rome....

Trevi Fountain here I come!   I found this nice little garden to appreciate as we anxiously await to depart for fair Italia.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

La Bocca Del Toro

The Mouth of the Bull... AKA How BS began...

So, as folks that never knew where Apalachicola was, nor would have ever thought we would have run a music venue in the panhandle of Florida, we find ourselves in a very strange paradigm, and ask ourselves often...  well.... how the hell did we get there??
Now that we have sold and began to move onto new adventures, we thought we would write a book (originating in Blog format)... well not so much a book but rather an explanation or better said ...an exploration, or even more so an exploration... of why... or how.... but ultimately a tale about the trials and tribulations of how something, anything for that matter, manifests itself.  But in particular in this case that something that manifested itself, or festered like a disgusting infected boil... became Bowery Station.  Essentially and ultimately...well... why.... That's BS!

What will follow in this escapade of a tortured memoir, is a history, a down to earth, real life explanation of how Bowery Station came to be, and perhaps why it ended.  From the essence of who we are, who we were, and what inspiration created the small, humble, lost in time music venue that had become what it was...a space so many found to be home... the joyful, performer centric music venue in the last part of old Florida that we all have come to love and appreciate.

Herein, entwined in factual history, you will find truth, guttural honesty, detailed information, mixed with embellishment when needed, and even yarns of service industry woes. (Not to mention run on sentences!)  Those painful and empathetic tales of the service industry will be easily recognized by those who serve the public, and this is coupled with some straight out bitchin'... cause we all bitch.  Anyone who takes on a creative project knows, you will be faced with adoration mixed equally with critique... which requires a vent to exhaust such frustration.   Deal with it.  You will find it herein as well.

It is a history, a story riddled with rumor and whereby we will set the record straight.  Some may see their face in the story line, others may feel they resemble an individual character, but rest assured all the names and faces have been fairly well replicated so as to portray exactly who the scoundrels are, but we will cover our asses well enough to provide plausible deniability.  So let the lawyers sort it out if there are any "crybabies," .... after we publish and make our millions on selling this poor excuse for toilet paper...of course.   Some folks and businesses will be referenced by their real names, mainly because we trust them not to sue us, or we hope our yarns will compliment their own business efforts.

Sections of this diatribe will be denoted by an historical and factual section, alternating with service industry woes, and ultimately painfully true anecdotes that have occurred at Bowery Station.  It is composed primarily in the first person, from my perspective, but representative of OUR perspective, both Lisa's... my proofreading consigliere... and mine.
So enjoy, or should this rambling eventually make it to print form... use each page as a much better purpose...if you have placed it appropriately atop the old crapper tank as bathroom reading material.

(*Please note that all blog posts associated with the story of BS will all appear under the category of The Bowery Station Story)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Living Street rocks LaBelle Florida

A strange thing happened on the way to Southern Florida... we ran into The Living Street in LaBelle FL!!   As always they are putting on a great show, and opening eyes.  It reminds me of one of their first journeys into Apalachicola and we enjoyed watching them grow a following.   Shannon Lease.... where is my dance partner!!!???

Monday, February 17, 2020

Infamous Stringdusters rule!

We were able to catch the Infamous Stringdusters for a blowout show at a place called The Attic in Tampa.  The band was absolutely amazing, putting on a high energy contemporary folk show!  The venue left a bit to be desired as the crowd stood for the show.  Very very tall people in Tampa.... and being the short Italians we are made it a bit of a challenge.  We ran into some Bowery Station fanatics in the crowd, always good to feel the BS love in places faraway!  We recommend catching these guys if you ever get the chance.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Checking out the scene in Ybor with our friends Susan and Jorge

It's nice and toasty warm down here in the Tampa area as we hang with our good friends Susan and Jorge.  Eating and drinking our way through Ybor City and chasing down some tunes as well.  Next week we are back up at a house on SGI for our last week before we head to fair Italia!  Hope to catch up with all our Island peeps then.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

What a great day playing Paddy's Raw Bar

What a fun day it was catching up with everyone at my show at Paddy's Raw Bar.  We all braved a few sprinkles, but we brought the sunshine with all the smiles.  Thanks to everyone for turning up for the afternoon, it was like old time BS with the family!  The Stop Playing tip bucket was overflowing... thank you one and all.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

BS Pop up event at Paddy's Raw Bar on SGI

All right friends, it's going to be a fun day today at Paddy's Raw bar, as we are excited for a BS Pop up event and gather with old friends for the afternoon, rain or shine!!  Fear not, we have the Stop Playing Tip bucket tuned up and ready!  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Heading Back North up the West Coast of FL

We left our friends in the Keys, to scope out a little on the West coast of Florida once again.  A stop in Goodland was very cool, tiny little hamlet close to Marco, but very laid back.  Then we were pleasantly surprised by how Bradenton had progressed,  especially it's historic district.  Some nice little pubs and restaurants. The beach of course was packed out for the season, and finally a stopover in Cedar Key for a nice sunset.  But alas, back towards Apalachicola and SGI soon for our pop up BS gig at Paddy's raw bar!