Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Bitter End in NYC: A Piano-Friendly Venue

On Sunday March 20th, I played a gig at the Bitter End, a well-known NYC venue where longing musicians flock with hope that they will be heard. The Bitter End, located in Greenwich Villge, has been a starting venue for many famous musicians, including Billy Joel, Carly Simon, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, Nina Simone, and even my girl, Norah Jones. Needless to say, there's a lot of history there. As a matter of fact, the Bitter End really is an odd window into the history of the entertainment industry, as well as the United States. Just ask Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell how important the Bitter End was to them during the 60s, when they sang their songs of protest against the Vietnam War.

Now let me tell you why I love the Bitter End....

It has a piano. That sounds like a simple and obvious reason, but let me tell you why it's not. 

It is nearly impossible as a singer/songwriter who plays piano to find a venue that actually has a piano, let alone a decent one. If you're lucky, you'll run into a venue like Sidewalk Cafe (the main starting venue of Regina Spektor), which has an old upright piano against the wall of the stage. But who wants to play a show with their back to the audience? I know I don't.

The Bitter End has a cozy cafe atmosphere with dim lighting, cute tables, and a nice bar for all those who like to have a drink while they listen to good music. The walls are a beautiful red brick, and the acoustics are great, but my favorite part is the Yamaha grand piano on the stage. 

Let me tell you, I am usually forced to play in venues that don't have pianos, since these types of venues are usually the most common. If I only played shows at venues that had pianos, I would pretty much be limited to the same two or three spaces. Most venues in the NYC area in general are geared towards people who play guitar. Man, am I jealous of guitar-players whenever I see them strolling around with their guitars on their backs. If I could bring my piano with me everywhere, I totally would. 

The funny thing is, that is pretty much what I have to do whenever I play a show. I brace myself to lug my giant 88-key Yamaha stage piano (that's a fancy-schmancy name for my keyboard) to the venue. Usually I'll recruit a couple of friends to help me with this, and forget about feminism long enough to let one of my guy friends wheel the keyboard so that I can just hold the stand and the bench. It's way too much for one person to carry on their own. That being said, you cannot even imagine how refreshing it was for me to simply show up to my gig, and have a piano ready for me to play. This little convenient thing put me in the most positive mindset to perform. I'm glad to report that it went really well, and I had a blast the entire time. And the audience was awesome!

So thank you, Bitter End. This is why I love you. You look great, you sound great, and you're piano-friendly. 

Love always,

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