Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friends, Music, Taco Joints

“Are you in love?” Julia asks me.

Light of heart and free of spirit, this question was quintessential Julia, who always wants people to be loved. Julia Easterlin is an incredibly talented musician and dear friend who reappeared in my life on Wednesday courtesy of Facebook and the Lower East Side (again, normally I don’t use names, but I want you to know hers and listen to her music!). I hadn’t seen her in a little over five years and we were both intent on catching up on each others’ lives.

At 9:30 that morning, I checked Facebook and was delighted to see Miss Easterlin had invited me to a performance that night in my fair Manhattan. I instantly made plans to see her. “HOLY MOLY I AM SOOOOOO EXCITEEEEEEEEEEED. OMGOMGYAAAAAAA” she said.

That’s what I love about New York—everyone comes to visit. Somehow, even if it’s been years, you sit, you have a drink, you talk, and the years fall away.

Julia and I sat at a little brown table in Googie’s, a small music venue awash in blue light where she was playing a show that evening. Googie’s sits quietly atop the famed Living Room bar and concert venue on 154 Ludlow Street, and waitresses will climb 32 stairs to bring you a beverage. There are six of these little brown tables in Googie’s, with the occasional couch, bench, or futon close by. On the small stage, there is a glossy baby grand piano that must be yellow in real life because looks sea green in the blue light. Dark curtains dotted with white Christmas lights hang in the back over the windows. It is a sweet, intimate little venue.

Julia spilled about her life, her music, her travels, and I was so excited to hear all of it. I was also excited to hear her sing again. When we were 15, Julia gave me her demo, a soulful collection of songs she sang accompanied by a guitar. And if she was that good when we were 15, I thought she would be even more fantastic now. I wasn’t wrong.

Julia got on stage and sang even more beautifully than I remembered in a soul-y, folk-y, jazz-y voice as rich as dark hot chocolate. This time, though, instead of accompanying herself on guitar, she accompanied herself with…herself. Julia used a looper pedal, which allows a musician to instantly record and replay parts of a song, to record her own hand claps, snaps, and vocal beats. She then replayed them and sang over them. Then she recorded that part of the song, replayed it and harmonized with herself. In the best way possible, my brain went “Whaaaaat is happening??? This bitch is fierce.” It was literally like watching (and listening to) magic happen. Listen for yourself at

Julia was in Googie’s and in New York that night courtesy of Monkey Rock, a weekly singer-songwriter show produced by musician and Berklee grad Tommy Bohlen. Monkey Rock began in Boston as a “community comprised of artists and friends from all over the world who support each other by promoting and performing as a group.” Now, though, there’s a Monkey Rock show in New York, every Wednesday from 9-11:30pm. Talented musicians, like Julia and fellow musician Nathan Reich (, make beautiful sounds with guitars, pianos, looper pedals and much more, so if you’re in the mood for a (free!) relaxed evening and you like good music, check out the Monkey Rock show

After a fantastic show, we were feeling snacky so we drifted a block over to a brightly colored hole-in-the-wall taco joint called Snack Dragon. Open til 4am most nights, Snack Dragon offers inexpensive Mexican-style yummies like chorizo tacos and nachos. It is also home to the delicious Slayed Dragon, which is made with shredded marinated pork and not actual dragon. We sat outside at a lovely little blue picnic table underneath a ginkgo tree wrapped in red Christmas lights and ate our inexpensive, delicious treats. Julia and I poked at our plates until every last black bean was gone and the tortillas holding them were merely a memory. Though tasty sober, I imagine it is also amazing, amazing drunk food.

I decided all Wednesdays should be filled with good friends, good music and taco joints. But then I wondered...why just Wednesdays?

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