Le Poisson Rouge

Rivera Court at the DIA is a spectacular room, full of Diego Rivera’s murals, of working men, painted over an eleven month period in the early nineteen-thirties. It was an honor to play there. The ceilings are twenty feet high, or more. There’s a skylight that lets in the entire sky and lights the colorful murals. On Friday afternoon, as we set up for our sound check, I felt just to be in the company of these paintings was inspiration enough.

But it was only the beginning. This band that Anton Fier has assembled is truly great. Each member is a songwriter with his own projects. Individually, each has a unique personality and ability, and together it was really something. For my part, I was reminded of why I rarely perform now. My stage fright is bad, and all my tension finds its way into my hands. I had Aaron Lee Tasjan at my right, though, filling in and around my playing. I was wishing him a gorgeous life every minute. What a beautiful young musician. When we made Where it Goes and the Palominos records, Aaron was nine. But age goes away between musicians. There is only this wondrous thing that happens when everything is right, which is totally rare.

I am so flawed as a performer, but sometimes I remember that that’s what makes it good, the vulnerability, the realness of it. It is my gift to be on the brink of falling off the wire at all times. It’s uncomfortable as hell but I am certainly in the moment, not for a second am I on automatic. I am in that chord, that note, that exchanged glance with someone in the audience or a member of the band. I am hearing the way the background vocals (of Lianne Smith and Karen Mantler) are blending with mine and one another. I am feeling Tony Scherr’s jagged melodic guitar line, and Chris Morrisey’s solid, moving bass — what a charmer that boy is! And Anton, Anton my love and sometimes enemy. All of our history moving back and forth between us as he plays the drums like no one else. He is a force of nature. I love him so dearly. We all do. We respond to his perfectionism, his commitment to creating something that has greatness. His impossible standards must be risen to and we do. We let him take us and it is remarkable.

I hope the room is full at Le Poisson Rouge on the 29th of this month. It may be the last time we are all assembled in this way. I’m looking forward to being part of it again.

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