(Manitoba, Where You At?)
It all started with a post on The DFFD Blog about Top Ten and the Del Lords doing a “secret” gig at the Lakeside Lounge in NYC, as a warm up to their Spanish shows. Actually, no, it all started when my ex-boyfriend’s band did a co-headlining gig with RTB’s German band in Brooklyn in 2009 … but that’s a story for another day. I had already met 3 current Dictators (the aforementioned RTB, JP Patterson, and Andy Shernoff) and had only two to go. This was my chance to hopefully cross at least one more off my list!! Since I had already friended Scott on Facebook, I sent him a short note asking if the secret gig was still on, and explained that we had a mutual friend so he wouldn’t think I was a stalker. He was kind enough to write back a few hours later to confirm.
Flash forward to 7 o’clock that night, a friend and I are sitting at the bar when, in hushed tones, a gentleman to my right asked the bartender how things were going to work for the gig tonight, as the bar’s website mentioned a $20 “donation.” This sparked a conversation about how we were both huge Dictators fans and were psyched to see one of them in such an intimate venue. He had heard about the gig the same place I had, through Salvi and The DFFD Blog. A few more people trickled in, and we made our way over to the stage area in the back of the bar. My friend and I snagged primo seats, and as I was settling in, I looked over and there was Scott Kempner and his guitar, setting up. I quickly introduced myself to him, we shared an inside joke about someone’s extreme and baffling political views, and I let him mingle with his friends and family.
As I was patting myself on the back for appearing so calm and collected, I spotted a familiar looming figure. It was Andy Shernoff shaking hands with the crowd. Apparently the people at the next table from us were who he was there to meet, and the next thing I knew he was sitting next to me, and he remembered me. More back patting ensued. Andy’s friend introduced himself to me as one of his oldest friends, back from the days of New Paltz and the Teenage Wasteland fanzine, Bobby “the Brain.” He told me how they used to print the fanzine by hand on mimeograph paper. I was truly in awe of being surrounded by Dictators history.
The band started up and I recognized a Johnny Cash cover, “Folsom Prison Blues.” Scott made a comment about Coldplay before just about every song, “This is another Coldplay cover,” or “We love Coldplay so much, here’s another one.” Maybe it was the 2-for-1 drink specials, but the rest of the set was a blur. And then Scott said, “The next song we’re going to do was written by the guy sitting over there,” and pointed to Andy. I knew the Del Lords covered “Stay With Me” and this was it — finally a Dictators song performed live by at least one Dic, with another one in attendance! The song started off well, then the bass player hit a few bum notes and the song fell apart. Andy stood up and exclaimed, “It’s three chords!!! How could you mess up three chords?” A few screams of, “You play it, Andy! Show ’em how it’s done!” from the crowd followed, everyone laughed, and the band was back on track, and I was smart enough to get this performance on video (above).
The band played a few more songs, including a Neil Young cover (unless Scott was joking about that?). And then it was over. I took a photo with Scott with a big ole drunk smile on my face. Then I talked to Andy for a little bit, and a fan with a really expensive looking camera came over and said, “Do you mind if I get a candid shot of you two talking?” And Andy and I kind of shrugged, and he said, “How about a nice photo with my friend?” or something like that, and the next thing I knew his arm was around my waist and the photo was snapped. The photographer promised to email the photo to Andy who would then send it to me. Two weeks later and I still haven’t seen it, but it doesn’t matter, it was still a moment that made my heart warm and fuzzy.
My friend and I said goodbye to everyone we had met and began our drunken stumble to the subway in Union Square. Of course, being the lightweight drinker that I am, I got sick on the ride home and don’t really remember how I made it home after having to get off the train twice because I thought I was going to be sick. But none of that mattered. I had an awesome time, met some very cool people, and now feel in some small way that I’m part of the Dictators family!!!
— Rys Miller