James Jackson, Jr. was certainly Alive & Well a few Fridays ago at DROM in the East Village. For some strange, mystical reason, I am choosing to write this opening sentence as if I am not actually James Jackson, Jr. Trust, friends, it is I. Or is it me?
I’m going to address this from several thousand feet above the Earth on a flight to Los Angeles, while marveling in great disgust at the majority of America. The anger expressed, for example, by the handlebar-moustached, 32 year old, Loeb-bespectacled gentleman to my right over the malfunction that the flight’s internet service has been experiencing makes me wonder if he spent most of his time in New York City downtown trying to Occupy something. Or is it the gentleman in the seat in front of me who is, at present, in the midst of a rather public fight with middle-age (sorry about the size of your penis, sir) and has only been able to find some semblance of peace on the battle field via the small, silver button on the arm handle of his chair that allows his silver-rooted coif to rest delicately in the upper region of my lap? All of this aside, I have not had the chance to appropriately (or maybe just publicly) thank the parties involved or to discuss what actually transpired during the magical evening of Friday, October 14th.
The purpose of the concert was to discuss the ongoing debate that I take part in between the basic principles of “Love” and “Freedom”. From what I’ve heard, I guess I got my point across.
My journey toward freedom began with hearing Nina Simone for the first time somewhere around age 13, was followed by watching her (in a rare video clip) as she answered a simple question for a seemingly snide interviewer after the release of her song “I Wish I Knew How (It Would Feel To Be Free)”. “Nina,” he asked, “What does freedom mean to you?”
It wasn’t in the way she told the interviewer that there is almost no real answer to his question. She compared the idea of freedom to trying to tell someone who has never been in love how it feels to be in love. It was in the way she easily divulged that freedom has only come to her in two different ways in life. She has witnessed it in children in their “no fear” way of simple existence. She also has only felt it for herself “on stage”.
I can truly say that I felt two things that Friday night. For one of the first or few times in my life, I felt completely free. Secondly, I felt love. If you were in attendance, it was simply because we share a friend-, kin-, and love-ship. I cannot thank you enough for that.
The journey toward the concert also could not have been completed had there not initially been some choice words from the very patient, intelligent, and nurturing Eric Sosa of Monarch Presents. To you, sir, I simply say “We’re onto something!”
That band. That band which, to me, if memory serves, sounded like sex. Jared Schonig and Mike Chiavaro are absolute geniuses. I have enjoyed singing ooh’s and ahh’s with them behind Amy Lynn & The Gunshow for years, and I was absolutely honored to have them be a part of my show. Lead by the always-joyous Mr. Kenneth Green on piano. You truly are a wonderful musician, and more importantly, you are my friend.
I am not one to get star-struck ever. I’m presently on a flight with Jill Scott sitting a few rows in front of me. Get into it. Yes there is also an air marshall somewhere on this flight too, so it’s best if I stay in my seat, singing all of her songs as secretly-loudly as possible. But there are a few certain voices on this great, often green planet of ours that make me feel special things in my special places. Joe Ardizzone and Wendy Fox are two of those voices for me. To open my own mouth and attempt to sing while they are on the same stage and sangin’ with me, is a feeling I cannot put into words other than “Thank You” and “I cannot wait until we get to do it again”.
Friday, October 14th made me feel very much Alive and Well. I have been quoted as saying that it was one of the most magical nights of my life. It truly was.
You have no idea what I’m planning for February. Just you wait….. Just you wait. For now, I’m going to pee on the head of the gentleman in front of me, who’s hat just brushed my chin.