Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston, Massachusetts

I was in Manhattan, working at my office temp job at 55th Street and Park Avenue, on September 11, 2001.  I've told the story of what my day was like many times since. 

Of course the number of those physically impacted by the events in Boston yesterday are lower than those affected on 9-11.  I suppose this is some sort of blessing, but at the same time tragic deaths and injuries are tragic deaths and injuries.  On a spiritual level, I can't distinguish.

My journey as a professional musician began in Allston, Massacusetts in October of 2004.  I had moved to New York in April of that year, and I was now a 4-hour bus ride away from my friend Dan, a drummer, singer and songwriter himself, who was working as a programmer at a software company in Boston and living in Watertown.  My sister Kelly, a singer, was living in Portland, Maine, just a two-hour drive from Boston.  So I asked them to meet me in this rehearsal space called The Music Gym in Allston, just to play some songs I had written and have some fun.

Playing at the Music Gym in
Allston, Mass., late 2004/early 2005
When we got back to Dan's apartment in Watertown after the practice/rehearsal/jam session/whatever-it-was, I had an inner knowing stronger than any I had ever experienced in my life.  I wanted to do THAT, more of THAT, as much as possible, as often as possible, until I didn't want to anymore.  It was one of the clearest and happiest moments I'd ever had.  Creating original rock music became the primary focus of my life from that day forward.

We met again, in December I think, at the same studios, but in the room across the hall from where we had been in October.  In the room we had been in before, was this other incredible band we kept hearing through the walls, whenever we stopped playing.  Before we left, I asked the guy at the desk who they were.  He said they were a local band called Plumerai.

A few months later, Kelly decided to go to Chiropractor school in Atlanta, Dan moved to NYC, and he and I made the band Victor Bravo a reality.  Dan and I caught Plumerai on one of their East Coast tours at Piano's on the Lower East Side, and we met Martin and James Newman, the brothers who had moved from North Carolina to Boston and founded the band.

Over the next several years, Victor Bravo played Boston many times, often on the bill with Plumerai on a show they set up for us.  I remember one time when we opened for them at The Middle East Upstairs to a huge crowd, where both we and they played incredible sets.  This was after the sound man told me one of the two speakers in my amp had been completely blown at some point in the past - somewhow I hadn't noticed.  We also had Plumerai come down and play with us.  I recall one amazing show at The Charleston in Brooklyn, just a rectangular, cement floor basement, with Plumerai sounding like a chorus of a thousand angry angels, the whole space almost entirely in darkness, with only a single, solitary, working light bulb providing the smallest bit of illumination.

As a kid who grew up in a small town in southern Maine, watching Channel 4 News every night with my dad, hearing about places like Roxbury, Dorchester, and Woburn, and watching the Red Sox and Patriots, it felt good and right that my connection to Boston continued with my musical endeavors.

So when I was on Twitter yesterday and started to see Tweets like "Thoughts and prayers with those in Boston today," and "So awful, can't bear to hear what's happening in Boston," my heart sank.  I didn't want to hop on GoogleNews.  I knew it was going to be bad, really bad.  And it was.

There's something about being human that for most of us, I think, makes us want to be a part of something.  Everyone's different, of course, but I think most of us like to belong.  Belong to something other people are a part of.  Something that makes us feel good about being a part of it with those people.  It can be a school, a religion, fans of one particular sports team, a charity, a band, a city, a town, a nation.  When we're a part of something, connected to it, and something good happens, we get to share in the victory, in the celebration.  And when something bad happens, we all feel the wound, the pain, the hurt.

Sometimes the wound is big enough that even people not associated with our thing feel it.  They feel bad for us.

There's something people who have lived in Boston their whole lives or for a long time are feeling today that no one else can feel.  Even people like me who went through 9-11 in some way can't...because it's something done to them, their thing, their city.  It was done on one of their big days, at one of their big events, in the midst of one of their victories and their celebrations.

But I am so grateful that Boston always has been and always will be a part of my life.  I'm a lover, a constant visitor, and a friend of Boston.  And I'm proud to be so. Today and forever.

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