Archive for November, 2006

DAY 153 – you got off the train??

Posted: Nov 30, 2006

West Hollywood 012Usually my life is a sea of ups and downs.There’s good days and bad days and better days and worse days. But sometimes you have really good days, and then every once in awhile, you have :there’s no way I’m going to sleep tonight” days. Kinda like the one I just had. It’s 3:30am now as I’m typing from a hotel in San Diego and I’m still wired…

I woke up this morning 3 snooze button hits past 5am to catch a 6am flight from Santa Maria to San Diego, then drove up to Rancho Bernardo for work, knowing full well I had a show tonight in Hollywood (again at the Rainbow). The plan was to catch a train with my friend Aubrey after work in Oceanside and take it straight into downtown L.A. and cab it to the gig at 8pm.

Right on schedule (which is fairly unusual for me), I pulled up to the Amtrak depot and paid for my tickets. Expecting Aubrey to show up any minute, I lugged my guitar and equipment to the loading dock while the train pulled up and slowed to a halt.

But, as luck — or fate perhaps — would have it, Aubrey was late — stuck in traffic. I panicked. The conductor was on a schedule and he wasn’t about to slow down for any stragglers, even if they were only 10 minutes away.

It was gut check time. Should I board the train without her and go to the gig anyway, or should I let the train go on without me? Damn it, where was she?

Maybe I’ve watched Good Will Hunting one too many times. Maybe I had to go see about a girl. Maybe there would be other gigs for me and people wouldn’t be too upset if I had to cancel. Maybe I was about to do the most romantic thing I’d ever done…

I got off the train.

Left it. Waved goodbye to my would-have-been Amtrak co-passengers.

I refunded the tickets, and waited — by myself — in an empty Amtrak terminal.

15 minutes later, Aubrey showed up, as frustrated as I’ve ever seen her. “Let’s go,’ I said, walking with her toward my car. “If we hurry we might still make it if traffic’s not too bad.”

So we drove, and drove, and drove — through L.A. in rush hour, pulling into West Hollywood with no less than 20 minutes to spare before I was supposed to go on stage.

IMGP0592_edited It was a good show at the Rainbow with Voyce, but the craziest scenario was unfolding right next door, and I almost didn’t notice.

I have to preface the next part of the story by saying that my little sister has been trying to get me to listen to a Nashville singer/songwriter named Dave Barnes for a couple of months now.

“You gotta see him live!” she said. “He’s so funny.”

“Yeah, but he lives in Nashville,” I said smartly. ‘He probably doesn’t tour L.A. much — if ever. I’ll check out his show next time I’m back in the South.”

(Next comes the part of the story where Nick eats his words…)

So I finished my show, packed up, and headed out the valet. (Yes, everybody must valet their car when in Hollywood.) Right next door to the Rainbow is another famous venue called the Roxy, and guess who was playing there tonight?!

It was none other than Dave Barnes! Not just Dave, but David Ryan Harris was there too, on the same bill! I still can’t believe that just happened. Guess you never know what to expect in Hollywood.

I just realized this is the longest post I’ve written yet. Oh well, I’m not going to sleep any time soon…

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DAY 125 – all hail the taxi road rally

Posted: Nov 8, 2006

I’ve been waiting for this weekend for several months now. One of the biggest conventions for songwriters and musicians is here: the Taxi Road Rally

For the past 9 years, thousands and thousands of crooners and songbirds have flooded into Hollywood for this event, and this year promises to be the best yet. Mentoring sessions and A-list guest speakers, A&R listening panels, and of course, the Hollywood Open Mic. (stay tuned…)

Day 1 was pretty much a lot of waiting in line, but I guess I’m getting good at that. (Took 2 hours to get here from my house 20 miles away — in L.A. waiting in the traffic line counts too.) Another 2 hours in the Taxi line to get registered, and I was just… well, happy to be alive.

When you register, they give you a little yellow slip to play in the open mic. You fill out your info and toss it into a big box of other yellow slips. Everyone I talked to said, “Yeah, everybody wants to play at this open mic. If you get to play at all, you’re lucky.”

Nick with Drummer and Taxi screener Ric Menck
So I figured I’d go check it out, thinking the odds were against me. Nope.

“And the third act tonight,” Rick Menck, the host says, “Nick Dar… um Daugherty. Let’s give him a hand folks.”

Gulp. That’s my name.

So I played in front of a crowd of 200 or so people, including Taxi President Michael Laskow and L.A. Songwiting guru and a new mentor of mine, John Braheny. This is the stuff you dream about. And my gosh, it just happened.

I gotta sit down.

Nick with Taxi President Michael Laskow
Nick with Taxi President Michael Laskow

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DAY 118 – too many firsts to miss one second in hollywood

Posted: Nov 1, 2006

Tonight was my first show EVER in Hollywood and I was as nervous as ever stepping on that stage.

I say “stage” liberally, because at the Rainbow Room on the Sunset Strip, the stage is where the audience sits… seriously.

What a cool — and quirky — place! It’s not exactly Mecca for musicians, but hey, it’s a start. Dim lights and big plush red vinyl booths make for a classic Hollywood ambience downstairs, complete with 75 years of decor on the walls. This place has more history than my 6th- and 7th-grade textbooks combined.

Of course, to play or hear any live music above the historical flat panel TVs, you have to move far away from any restaurant patrons.

Head up the creaky stairs which lead to an unmarked door, which opens to more stairs, which leads to the semi-hidden third floor. There’s an old bar there with a medium-sized dance floor, perfectly designed to keep live music away.

No, to set up the band, you must head down a different set of stairs to another empty floor, leaving you with no other option but to look up at the crowd while you play your set.

It was different. Very different. But I guess if you’re not just a little uncomfortable, then you’re not growing. And I had to grow into a lot of firsts tonight:

  • First show in Hollywood
  • First show with Voyce, percussionist extraordinaire
  • First show with Mandi in the audience (she would later tell me tonight was the acid test ‘to determine whether this kid could hang in the big leagues’)
  • First show in awhile that Pep didn’t tape (thanks for leaving the camera downstairs dude) 🙂
  • First show to play “Please Come Back Home” – my new song! (that has yet to be finished)

I’m just happy to have made some toes tap tonight. Good show. Good show.

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