Get in off the 294 express bus from Minneapolis and am way early for the gig at Black Dog Wine and Coffee Bar in Lowertown. So, I take a little stroll around and am almost homesick: this part of St. Paul reminds me so much of Greenwich Village back in NYC. Laid back, bohemian – a damn nice place to take a quiet walk. Looking for a burger joint, happen upon the St. Paul Saints’ ballpark. It’s beautiful. Mainly because it’s a professional baseball field with all that electrifying atmosphere and you can actually get close up on the diamond. I drop in at Mike Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill. The food and service are damned good blue-collar fare.
A well-done bacon-cheeseburger, onion rings and a Coke later, I head over to the Black Dog. It has been a hell of a long time since I had a real gig. Not since Hell’s Kitchen about 5 years ago. I’d done a year and a half or so at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, but this was for pay, not tips. Get over and Brian Charles Tischleder is roaming around, trying to do something about parking. Haven’t seen the cat in ages. That was another time opening for him. Well, opening for James Curry, his duo with guitarist Casey Fearing. Reviewed Brian’s Dreams & Fear CD for the Planet – damned good music. We, of course, immediately start chewing the rag, Before he has to get with his wife Ka Vang – poet/spoken word artist with whom he pulled strings to get me on the bill – he promises to see can he dig an old recording of James Curry as a four-piece band. Would love to hear that. Spot a poster for the show on the wall with pictures of names: am in pretty sweet company Rush Merchant headlining, Ka Vang, Lauren Koshere and Brian Charles Tischleder. Nope, not too shabby at all. And Saint Paul Almanac is filming. Make a mental note to swipe that poster before the end of the night.
Am doing my set, happen to catch sight in the back of the room of my man Bill Borea (a/k/a pro rassler Billy Blaze a/k/a William Borea,playwright, screen writer, director, actor). The guy came clear over South Minneapolis. Now, that’s supporting your pal. It’s been a while since I was on stage but, yeah, just like riding a bike, am right back at it, talking trash between songs, getting a kick out of being in front a crowd who’s getting a kick out my being a natural-born wise ass. They like the songs, too.
When I get off, turns out JL Davenport is there. Poet/spoken wordsmith extraordinaire. And real easy on the eyes. I had invited her and actor Charla Marie Bailey down, but Charla had rehearsal. Me and Davenport have a seat – she has tea, I have a beer – and swap books. She autographs her her bangin’ poetry collection Erotic Expressions & Intimate Episodes, I sign my novel Black & Single Blues.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a Wednesday. It is, trust me, very nice to be back in action. If only for the evening.