On my way out, I ran into gillmoreboy (aka newfriendWes) who convinced me to stay to his friend Greg Fine . Boy, am I glad I stayed. What a beautfiul and talented man. I was in the front row (almost on stage!) and it was so warm and wonderful! During the show I texted my friend Christina to come and check it out, and she really enjoyed herself too. Wes felt like Greg didn't come with his A game last night and I definitely agree with his criticisms, but even given that, GReg is still a pretty phenomenal singer.
After the show, Christina and I popped over to Delancey to sit and chat on their lovely roof deck. I told her that previous to her arrival, Greg told an extremely brief story about how he'd been a foster child after his mother died and his undertaker father could not take care of the children. They'd been split up and sent to different foster homes where Greg had been abused. After some bad experiences he went to the home of another woman who was very kind to him. Apparently he has not seen or spoken to this woman in 20 years and just recently reconnected. SO he wrote a song about it. At first, I had the cliche stock response that "Wow! He's really brave for telling us this as prologue to a song." Upon later reflection, I realized that this was really strange and inappropriate. The casualness with which he realyed these matters did not act to draw me in. Telling that story was not about truth or art. It was glib and empty. It made me dislike the song. It made me wonder about him, and question him as an artist.
This is very interesting to me because I recently decided to go ahead and face the fact that I am a terrible judge of character. I take a few disparate facts and hold them as gospel truth about a person. It is a terrible thing and I often end up getting burned by someone I though was good, or pushing away someone I wrongly believed to be wicked. So anyway, I was really quite surprised when I received this information from Greg and did not jump to any conclusions. In fact, I felt as though he'd put a brick wall between himself and the audience by saying that. I always felt that at its best a musical performance is primarily about the dialogue between the audience and the artist. The artist giving of themself in real (not cliche'd) ways and trusting the crowd to received her or at the very least allow her that space to work through things in front of us in ways that demand more form than merely spoken word.
I'm not sure whether I want him to be a better song writer or just stop telling that story. I think I want both. I also want him to be moretrueto his craft and more trusting that people want to hear what he has to say and not rusty cliche's and easy to swallow rhythms.
Saving Grace: At the end of Greg's set he did a tremendous live performance called Loop where he played a couple of notes and programmed them into asampler and looped those samples and played with them. This process was real and raw and felt mroe true than anything he'd done previous. I am hoping that he can make the rest of his set more like this without going into a weird and unenjoyable place.
I will continue to follow his career with interest.