“Life is a Cabaret.” Halloween 2011


What better place to spend Halloween than New York City? and what better place to celebrate than onstage at LPR (le poisson rouge), an icon of NYC nightlife and urban culture. Benjamin Ickies and his Ambitious Orchestra brought “Life is a Cabaret” to life with a dance troupe (Brooklyn’s “Lady Circus”), contortionist, sword-swallower and a large, celebratory audience (who looked fabulous in their costumes, btw). There was something for everyone. The music both revered and mocked the cult-classic “Cabaret.” Honestly, I had never seen the movie until Halloween eve and since then I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for Liza Minnelli- that woman’s got an insane energy about her.
Lisa D. and myself sang “Money” and, as per usual, we had a blast (see video at bottom of blog).

Lady Circus danced their you-know-whats off, choreagraphed by the talented Kathryne Van Assche. These ladies are phenomenal. They perform aerial art, ballet, modern dance, cabaret… skilled body movement. They can be found hanging from the ceiling, dancing at the “House of Yes” in Brooklyn, right off the L train at Grand St. I had the pleasure of rehearsing with them prior to the show. These ladies work hard and dance beautifully.

The evening was part of Oh! You Pretty Things, created and promoted by the legendary Michael T, Shien Lee, Twig the Wonderkid and Benjamin Ickies. Quite the host family. Featured performers included: The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Lady Rizo, Isengart, Koko Aviance, Lee Chappell & Matteo, Kae Burke, Pepper Somerset, Lisa D. & Jacquelyn Adams.

NickyDigital.com captured these moments…hundreds of pictures are available at NickyDigital.com.

The next four pictures are courtesy of Coach Mike Pics.

NickyDigital.com again…

Hundreds of pictures available at NickyDigital.com and CoachMikePics.com. If you need a photographer in NYC, here are two… if you can catch them.

WATCH VIDEO. Hit RELOAD if all you see is a giant black space.

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The Greatest Artist Who Ever Lived

Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing t...


You are “the greatest artist who ever lived.” Afterall, who isn’t trying to be the greatest artist who ever lived? … and what is an “artist,” anyways? Emerging in today’s all-access internet society means understanding that you can achieve success by promoting yourself, investing in the future and staying ahead of the game. However, trying to get a living-room produced garage band track to measure up to Beethoven‘s 5th symphony is a daunting task (although Beethoven probably created the 5th symphony from his living room, too) and coming up with a high-quality product while trying to cover your bills and rent can be tricky… but why not give it a go? Why not try to be the greatest? After all, you are the “greatest artist who ever lived“… who ever lived your life, that is.

Every piece of bad music that can be written has been written (even before electronic capabilities) and individuals are becoming famous through television, internet and social media for simply being themselves – we have saturated ourselves to the point of being impressed with the unimpressive as skill has turned into self. So why “chase” Beethoven? What makes him a hero, anyways? Some people adore his music, while other music-lovers hear it and immediately dismiss it. Most people have never consciously heard it (listen HERE to one of his greatest hits or watch an electric guitarist encourage Beethoven to roll over in his grave HERE).

Moving forward through various projects and collaborations, more and more I ask myself, “Why do I continue this journey? Why collaborate? Why forge forward alone? Why forego promising endeavors to chase less certain ideas?” I guess it depends on what you are going for, how intensely you believe in where you are going and what is pushing you forward. Most decisions are already mapped out (well, I guess that idea centers around a philosophical discussion concerning fate and pre-ordained destiny). For myself, when I am truly listening to life and following my path, the decisions are usually plain answers just staring me in the face, waiting for an obvious verdict.

I would encourage you to find your “song” without an end goal in mind. Enjoy the process because at the end of the day, week, month, year, life- the process is what makes it your own. Everyone possesses a unique expression- cooking, golfing, swimming, crunching numbers, riding horses, yoga … most of us would explode without it. For some, it’s a thought created by someone else but interpreted a specific way. For others, it means creating something completely unitelligible to the majority of the human race. For my heroes, like Beethoven- it’s a lifestyle.

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A Night of David Bowie


Q: What do a ventriloquist, a janitor, a french horn player, a go-go dancer and a personal trainer all have in common? A: One ridiculously fun night at NYC’s Edison Hotel bar singing DAVID BOWIE. This night could have gone like any other night but these freakishly-talented performers created a tribute performance like no other, a testament to Bowie’s music and NYC’s lifestyle. Australian go-go dancer, Anna Copa Cabanna, arrived in her stars and stripes leotard (naturally, singing Bowie’s “Afraid of Americans”) and she was impossible not to love. Needless to say, tourists were enthralled. I had to laugh as she bopped around in blond bobbing hair, heels and a unitard. An older-couple having dinner at the bar managed to continue staring out the window at street traffic, denying her presence but not wanting to leave.

Carla Rhodes, NYC-based rock ‘n’ roll ventriloquist, comedienne and star of “The Continuing Story Of Carla Rhodes,” busted out her Bowie dummy and the two of them worked through one of Bowie’s lesser known hits, “Rubber Band” (I joined in on this tune with my horn). Carla has an unbeatable vibe about her, killer hair and an obvious obsession with dolls.

Eric Schmalenberger- “actor, boyfriend and janitor” at Brooklyn’s “House of Yes,” graced the crowd with his high-pitched ballads and brought a one-of-a-kind vibe. He’ll tell you first- he gets paid to be himself.

The show was part of the music series “Bespoke 2: The Music of David Bowie” at The Rum House (the Edison Hotel bar) on w 47th in midtown. Curated and lead by Benjamin Ickies, the band played three full sets of music that night- all Bowie tunes. I belted out “Diamond Dogs” and “Queen Bitch” in my military high heels, dog collar choker (literally- found it on the ground when gigging in CT), ripped up tank top and purple leopard pants. I’m learning about night-time dressing in NYC, particularly with the make-up. Next step – applying my own fake eye-lashes.

I was glad to meet Matt James (drummer for “Angelspit“) who provided rock solid beats with Grant Zubritsky playing the bass. Spencer Katzman on guitar. Ashley Monroe (“Ziggy Stardust”), Lisa Dispigno (“Time”) and John Presnell (“Space Oddity”) rocked out, per usual- I’m saving them for future blogs. Ickies was at his all-time best on rock piano (standing, of course – Tori Amos style)… which reminds me: last Sunday Ickies and his Ambitious Orchestra shot an unbelievable music video at Brookyln’s “House of Yes.” Some might say it’s a little over the top; I’d say literally- one scene involves aerial dancing and another involves a chick dancing with fire (swinging ropes around her body that were actually lit on fire), not to mention a hot team of cabaret dancers… keep an eye out for this vid (I’m top right in pic below).

It was an week of NYC style and expression. What can I say?… good to be “Young Americans.”

That being said, I paid my rent today and have like $6 left. Sigh.

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Life of a NYC Musician.


What can I say?… sometimes I love this city, sometimes I hate it. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. When the rhythm of the city coincides with my own personal highs and lows, it can feel like pure elation or absolute purgatory. This past week we landed on the former and there are two collections of musicians to thank: This Ambitious Orchestra and Gato Loco.

Benjamin Ickies undeniably brings the party with his Ambitious Orchestra (a 22-piece electric orchestra plus rock band). Most recently, the party was for Freddie Mercury’s 65th Birthday. Next Magazine wrote a review on both Ickies and the Queen tribute which was organized by Oh!You Pretty Things and featured dozens of artists celebrating lifestyle and music in epic fashion, which ended in the fabulously smashing, glammed-up charade that it should have. Boys who like girls, girls who like boys, girls who like girls, boys who like boys, robots who like toys…this night had it all and NickyDigital.com (along with Coach Mike Pics) caught it all on camera (you probably want to take a peek at those pics). Leather chaps, mustaches, spandex, electrical tape (yeah- we’ve all seen that trick), satin, vacuum cleaners… whaa? yeah. Anyways…the “people watching” alone would have proven a satisfactory night but to also perform/sing with this group was a trip. Myself and Lisa D (flutist) belted Queen’s “Bicycle Race” as a duet. (Sidenote: I taught that song to my brother when he was 5 and I’m an avid Queen fan, so I was honored to pay homage to Freddie and happy to chant the anthem at le Poisson Rouge).
WATCH OUR VIDEO of Bicycle Race:

Later in the week I played in Washington Square Park with musical phenomenon Gato Loco. If you haven’t heard of these guys – check ‘em out. Not too many people perform like this… Stefan Zeniuk (brainchild/mad genius) knows how to enthuse an entertaining group onstage and the band brings a “YOU LOOKING AT ME?!!!!” attitude without a vocalist. They can be found around NYC but these guys are in Europe every other day (not literally, but alot. See their upcoming shows). Their music has an untraceable quality to it- whether it’s the soundscape in Lower Manhattan or Istanbul, all you need to know is…DANCE! I was pleased as rum punch to be surrounded by Stefan, Clifton Hyde, TubaJoe Exley, Jesse Selengut, Ric Becker, Kevin Garcia, Ari Folman-Cohen aaaaand… Kiku Collins!! (Kiku was also subbing on the gig, fiercely fabulous- as always). Clifton Hyde (who I just discovered is on wikipedia) is the french hornist for Gato Loco and also an insane guitarist (see him perform in NYC’s Blue Man Group on the zither…yes, the zither). Playing horn next to him was completely entertaining and it’s easy to see how Gato Loco received such a solid review in All About Jazz Magazine. Fantastic energy level, outrageous collective talent and an attitude that cannot and will not be checked at the door, this band delivers. The crowd (veteran Loco fans and also some innocent bystanders) was sonically assaulted in Washington Square Park and absolutely loved the music. This fun was also more than worthwhile- the concert was a musical offering to commemorate the events of 9/11.

The night ended at DROM NYC (where I have forgotten my own horn on occasion…the sound guy there is reigning champion as overnight instrument keeper). Ric Becker (trombone) played another set with NY Ska-Jazz Ensemble (NYSJE) for their CD Release Party. Ummm….”Boy can play bone.” I’ll go ahead and say it- I met a sick rock trombonist last week. ’nuff said.

Another week survived in NYC. It was a good week.
Oh yeah- here’s a random pic of a car in my neighborhood.

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