I have adored Conan O’Brien since I was was ten. I would endure Leno on school nights just to watch Late Night, trying to stay awake until the end to see the musical guest. I always noticed how Conan would come over after the song and shake the hand of everyone in the band, saying “That was great! Thanks for doing it!”
Our wild week on the west coast started a few hours after the Academy Awards, as we loaded our gear into the Dolby Theater around 2AM. Crew members and TV personalities scurried around backstage nursing coffee and tea, trying to stay awake. American Authors were the last act for Kelly and Michael’s Live Oscar post show, on the very same stage as the infamous awards show had taken place a few hours earlier. In spite of some technical malfunctions from some zombie-eyed sound engineers (who may have also run sound for John Travolta), it was pretty amazing to perform at such an arena.
The next day was huge…Conan. The studio was at the same Warner Bros lot as Ellen (been there, done that), and we got an intern named Steve to give us a tour of the premises on a golf cart to see the sets of True Blood, Gilmore Girls, and The Dark Knight. By lunchtime it was already an unbelievable day and we hadn’t even performed yet. We chatted briefly with Conan and Andy Richter beforehand in the green room, and they were super sweet and cool. Our sound guy Joe and I also got to sit in on the rehearsal and watch them workshop different bits and sketches (including a Food TV clip of Guy Fieri eating at a greasy diner; the caption from your TV remote’s ‘more info’ button said “a troll figurine comes to life, and decides to roam the countryside eating garbage”).
Obligatory Selfie at the Oscars Post Show
The other guests were Betty White, who at 92 years young remains devastatingly witty and charming, and Drogofrom Game of Thrones, who told me he liked my jacket. The sound crew and stage setup were among the most pro we have ever played, and lo and behold, Conan came down after the song to shake our hands. It was perhaps the most surreal moment of my life. He said to us, as the credits rolled, “I appreciate you guys really performing the music. A lot of bands are too cool for school when they play and just stand there. I hate that shit.” He said shit! To us! That means were best friends!!
We had a big family dinner with managers and label folks at the Saddle Ranch afterwards, and the waitress put it on TBS come 11:50 PM so we could watch the performance. We closed the night with karaoke, mechanical bull riding, and general celebratory carousing. Next week we play Late Night with Seth Meyers, and Ricky Gervais is the guest. The band’s debut album just came out a few days ago, and is entitled ‘Oh What a Life.’ I couldn’t agree more.
As my friend Ann pointed out, my lesbian street cred is through the roof these days, having worked with Sandra Bernhard and then playing on Ellen. Tegan and/or Sara–you’re NEXT. It certainly was a relief to get out of NYC’s icy grip to get some LA sunshine. Cruised around Silverlake with the boys, hiked the Hollywood hills, and then got to hang out at Warner Bros Studios. Before the taping, Ellen watched us soundcheck from the empty audience and then came down and gave us all hugs. We had swag bags waiting for us in the dressing room with pink Ellen boxer briefs and shot glasses. She was amazingly sweet and cool.
But the coolest moment for me was that our dressing room was next to that of Mr. Bruno Mars, who was the guest for the next episode. He’s not only a huge (in grandeur, not stature) star, but he was a frequent guest at my old hotel from which I resigned less than a month ago. I’ve carried his bags many times, and he was always a generous tipper and super nice guy. But now I’m in a band in a dressing room next to his for a renowned TV show. We waited around for a few minutes to see if we could say hi, but he was getting his makeup done and we had a flight to catch, so I didn’t get that special chance to really creep him out with my hotel story; probably for the best.
The first song on my first record is about wanting, nay, yearning to quit my day job. After three years of working at fancy hotels in Manhattan, I have realized that dream, and am embarking on another. I put in my two week notice a few days ago, and I’m going on tour with four gents who are super cool, very talented, and have a single out called “Best Day of My Life” that just went gold. They’re called American Authors, and I have known them since my first year at Berklee, when they were called the Blue Pages and played the local Boston dive bars; now, they’re signed to Island Records.
Zac, James, Matt, and Dave are supreme songwriters, musicians, bandmates, and hustlers, having been the same unit for over six years. I have been a fan of their music for a long time, and am extremely flattered to get the invite to join them on the road for the next several months. The debut record comes out in March, and we have tons of shows lined up, TV performances, and will be touring with some amazing artists and festivals all over North America, Europe, and Australia. So instead of hailing taxis on 29th Street, schlepping luggage, and kissing ass for tips at a fancy hotel, my new job entails playing guitar, keyboards, and singing backup vocals. This might very well be the best day of my liiiife (sorry. I know.)
I have a going away show/party coming up on January 29th at Rockwood Music Hall with the Zac Taylor Show, and will still be writing songs and sending out updates when I’m on the road with American Authors, and of course will be in and out of NYC quite regularly, so I’m sure we’ll cross paths, in this city or another!
Yes. It’s really him. Kenny G. My MAIN man. OK, so I don’t really get down with his soft jams, but when I helped him into his SUV at the hotel I work at, I struck up a conversation, told him I went to Berklee College of Music, and he could not have been a sweeter fellow. “How did you like Berklee? How often do you get to practice? Who do you play with in the city? I’m heading to Dallas to play with a symphony, which is so much fun! I’ll be back in New York next month to do some gigs for Charmin.” Talking shop with Kenny G. Partytime. Excellent. Naturally, I couldn’t pass up this photo opp, and its subsequent transformation into a holiday card to send to family and friends (sorry if you didn’t get one, the print company only had so much card stock).
I couldn’t make it home this season for Christmas, because me and Kenny simply had way to much work to do. But seriously, I’m back at Joe’s Pub playing with Sandra Bernhard for her new show Sandyland. 11 shows from the 26th all the way to New Year’s Eve. We finished the first couple shows last night, and we may or may not close the night with a Miley Cyrus/Journey medley. I have been writing some new songs and scoring a short film, and have a show at Rockwood Music Hall on January 29th with the full band. I’ll be on tour in Minneapolis, Toronto, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and other cities in the first quarter of 2014 with a handful of outfits. I hope your holiday season has been full of sweets and sweetness, and I’m looking forward to a fruitful 2014.
Photo by Shervin Lainez, Design by Marcus Beschloss
It has been a crazy week at CMJ in NYC. I played at a Buzzfeed showcase with Alex Winston and Haerts, and again at the Cutting Room with Isabel Rose with a 10 piece band. And as fun as all those shows were, I’m excited to play with my boys again at Rockwood Music Hall. We manage to pack a 6-piece band on that tiny stage, and it’s always a blast.
I would love to see you in person and have a pre/post show cocktail, but if you can’t make it, there’s this new app called Spacebar that let’s you stream the live feed from your iPhone or iPad, and you can click an applause button, throw me a few bucks if want, share the show with friends for a couple days afterwards, and help spread the good word.
This is what it will look like on your iPhone.
And here is the link, which will be available around 10PM on 10/28:
The following weekend I’ll be partying in the Big Apple with my mom and grandma (partying=visiting museums). I’ll be playing that Saturday night with Alex Winston at Brooklyn Bowl on 11/2, and my mom runs the NYC Marathon the following morning. And you know what that means: Shots. Shots. Shots. Shots, shots, shots.
We actually went straight to Chik-fila instead of In-N-Out. Don't judge me.
Hello kiddies. Just got back from Los Angeles. I was playing with this jazzy pop lady named Isabel Rose, whose new record was produced by Bob Rock (Michael Bublé, Metallica, & Cher to name a few). A friend from Berklee hooked me up with her, and I recruited the rest of my band to play in her outfit. Speaking of Berklee, it has indeed been a long time since I had to read jazz charts and melody lines for a gig. Probably not since…Berklee. The band in LA was top notch; the bassist Dan Lutz had just been tracking at Stevie Wonder’s studio, and the sax player Bob Reynolds has played with John Mayer since 2006. Needless to say, it was fun to geek out and swap stories with these world class musicians, who also happened to be amazingly humble and friendly.
Just before heading to LA, I played guitar for Alex Winston at a sold out show at Glasslands in Brooklyn. If you haven’t heard her new songs 101 Vultures, go ahead and fall in love with it. Later this month, I’m heading south to do three shows with Sandra Bernhard in North Carolina, followed by a couple CMJ shows with Alex and Isabel, and finally closing out October with a Zac Taylor Show at Rockwood on October 28th.
Alex Winston at Glasslands, 9/21/13, photo by Ben Mayer.
The whole music business thing has been going quite well the last few months. Aside from all my regular gigs, I recently starred in a short film and got to compose some songs for the soundtrack. It’s about a musician who has a pregnant wife, a nosy girlfriend, and a crumbling publishing deal with an A&R company and he’s on verge of blowing it on all three fronts. I’m no Ryan Gosling in this production–but it will make mom proud nonetheless.
I’m still carrying bags for the affluent at a fancy hotel, which affords me new guitar toys, rent, and student loan payments, but my overarching plan of paying all my bills doing just music-related endeavors is almost a reality. And this excites me.
This past Friday was my grandmother Nonnie’s birthday. It’s always been easy to remember, because it’s the day after Independence Day, which is also my favorite movie. Below is a video of the crowd and I singing ‘Happy Birthday’ for her at our show that night. Nonnie, if you’ve gotten this far on one of those wacky computer machines, I commend you! Happy Birthday!
Last month, we lost grandpa B, who was a stellar human being, cracking jokes until the very last day (With regards to his nurse in his last 24 hours, he remarked, “I’ve never seen such a mess of bra straps!”). Born in Flushing, NY in 1927, he grew up playing drums in Manhattan, brushing shoulders with Frank Sinatra and Gene Krupa in the tiniest of clubs, before becoming a Marine, meeting my grandmother, having my mother, and eventually meeting yours truly in 1984. He had polio in 1951, and was easily in the top 1 percentile of polio survivors…ever.
Me and B, High School Graduation.
During my eulogy at the funeral in Savannah a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had inherited many traits from him: my middle name, Pierce; my height and sideburns; and my sense of humor. His classic version of saying ‘grace’ before a meal was: “Thanks for the meat, thanks for the gin, open your kisser and shove it in.” I asked the Methodist priest if that was from the Old Testament or New, and he simply scowled at me shook his head in disapproval. Everyone else loved it. My grandfather would have been in stitches. We closed the show with “Amazing Grace” on acoustic guitar a la Tommy Emmanuel, and then three Marines in full uniform arrived at the end to perform a full flag ceremony, complete with “Taps” on the bugle. I had the funeral director play Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing” as people filed out of the room. The old man would have been proud.
My drummer Bruno plays in this hysterical comedy show called ‘Never Sleep Alone‘ starring Dr. Alex Schiller, sex therapist extraordinaire. The show happens every Friday for several weeks at a time, and almost always sells out. Dr. Alex gives all kinds of valuable and ridiculous dating/mating advice, instructs the audience to masquerade around the room to find people of sexual relevance, and throughout the show, calls on a handful of people to come onstage to help illustrate some finer points about the birds and bees.
I was one of these lucky audience members for a recent show, for a segment entitled ‘GDGH: Go Down or Go Home.’ Below is a video my friend Yasmin took with her iPhone of the valuable lesson that transpired onstage (mom: please do NOT watch this):
Yes, that’s a watermelon in this young lady’s lap. Yes, there is a banana in mine. No, we had never met each other before. I have since become friends with Roslyn Hart, the brains behind Dr. Alex Schiller and other zany characters, and she is most definitely a spectacular performer, comedienne, and overall entertainer. I played guitar in her backing band earlier this year, and the show also got a stellar review in the NY Times. Definitely check it out if you have a chance. Bring a date, or a wingman, or just come stag. Trust me, you’ll make friends fast, either at the show or the after party.
My mom’s refrigerator door got some recent additions: I made the NY Times twice this past year! Two of my main gigs, Alex Winston and Sandra Bernhard, both had some noteworthy shows and I managed to sneak in the background of the shots that made it to print. The first one was an Alex Winston show at Santos Party House during a College Music Journal showcase this past October. The discovery of this picture in the newspaper was an epic milestone in this boy’s life. I was bellhopping at the hotel, and it was a busy, frustrating Sunday. Guests were cranky and stingy. So naturally, I gave myself a well-deserved break in a vacated room to indulge in the NYT crossword puzzle. Thumbing through the Arts section, I noticed some interesting content: Hey, an article about CMJ. I played in that. Hey, a picture of Alex Winston! Hey, is that me in the background!? I didn’t make many tips that day, but it was one of the best shifts ever.
Joe's Pub 12/31/12
On New Year’s Eve, the Sandra Bernhard Experience finished off the last of fivedouble-headers at Joe’s Pub, and a favorable review appeared in the Times that same day, written by Stephen Holden:
“Gone are the days when Ms. Bernhard, prowling the stage with a flashlight, had patrons ducking in their seats to avoid being objects of her withering scrutiny. Instead of fear she elicited waves of affectionate laughter. It’s hard to be a bratty teenager when you have one of your own.”
I had work that day too, and might have mentioned to guests who had a copy of the NY Times on their person to check out the back of the front page, which featured a photo of yours truly and Ms. Bernhard kicking out the jams. It was a great way to cap off 2012. Fingers crossed for the Playgirl centerfold sometime in ’13…
Rihanna is a frequent guest at the fancy hotel where yours truly often works as a bellman. Paparazzi run rampant. So to keep her safe, it’s important that we do a good job, and that ‘job’ of course is to photobomb the shit out of her when the camera lights flash and look on the internet later to see if we made the cut. And lo and behold, yours truly won the most recent blue ribbon for pulling the dumbest face imaginable! Upon instagramming (@zactaylor_tv) this photo, I definitely cropped it to make it look like we were…together.
There was one night when we shared our one perfect moment together. I was helping her whole entourage check in around 2AM, lugging dozens upon dozens of suitcases and human-body-sized duffel bags onto the bell cart, into the elevator, and up to everyone’s rooms: backup dancers, band members, bodyguards, personal assistants, homegirls, and whoever else was mooching off of her fame. So I get to the presidential suite, where the queen typically stays. I have her seven giant bags. I knock a few times. “Guest services,” I announce. No response. I repeat this procedure a couple times, and then let myself in with my master key, assuming she has left, or is in another room. So I push the door open, start wheeling in her ginormous bags, and guess who comes out of the bathroom…in her oversized-t-shirt-nightgown….
The look on the starlet’s face was priceless. I was certainly…unexpected. “OK, you need to KNOCK, or what until I come let you IN. I’ll be nice this time,” she said to me authoritatively. ***“Well, Ri-Ri,” I suavely began. “Now that we know each other, and you’ve seen my muscular limbs chivalrously carry your luggage to this very bedroom, what do you say we take a look at what’s inside the intimacy kit in the minibar?” It was at this point she went into the choreography: “I might be baaad, but I’m perfectly gooood at it.” And then. We made sweet, sweet love.
Rewind to ***, what I really said to her was more like “Um, OK, Sorry, I thought I had knocked, sorry, here are your bags, K, Bye!” and then scurried away like a little bitch.
Know My NameNYC ASAPGo If You MustThe GetawaySpend the Night with HannahHalf AwakeCold Light of DaySleeping in the CarKnow My NameNYC ASAPGo If You MustThe GetawaySpend the Night with HannahHalf AwakeCold Light of DaySleeping in the Car