2007-02-29: Cameras And Contacts


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In the East Village, Jane and Alyssa encounter a group of musicians and earn contacts.

Date It Happened: February 29th, 2007

Cameras and Contacts

East Village

Tenement buildings rule in the areas of the lettered avenues, and with the weather slightly more promising this afternoon more people are opening their windows or hanging around on their overhangs. Below this bustle of daily life stands Alyssa with a longer black coat pulled tight about her and a video-camera strapped to one palm. Her free hand is rooting about inside her coat pocket and it continues to do so until she snags on and pulls out a plastic container with a tape in it. The art of changing your recorder's tape is a precise and delicate one, and so people and life pass by with their own cares as she works diligently on this process.

Walking along, wearing hoodie, jeans, plain shoes, and a light winter coat, Jane has her guitar case over one shoulder and a backpack over the other. Her eyes are alert, the woman is clearly looking for something. She stops soon, her attention having been caught by a group of people with instruments outside a club. Only a minute or so passes while she studies them, and the approach is on. "Hey, guys," she begins. "Are you with a band?" One of them, carrying a bass guitar, is a taller than average female. The other two are guys, one has drumsticks and the other a portable keyboard.

Now slip open the side… take out the old one… pocket that. Alyssa maneuvers everything into position miraculously without dropping the precious instrument. Speaking of which, those holding musical ones catch the writer's attention just as she's finishing up and snapping the tray back into place on her camera. In what she feels is a stealthy sneak, she approaches, sliding the camera into standby and biting the inside of her cheek in concentration. Stealth takes lots of that.

She doesn't notice the camera operator approaching as she begins to speak with the musicians, Jane's attention is entirely on them. "Yeah, we play," the guy with the sticks answers. He's a six footer with unruly and semi - long brown hair, a face that looks like he's seen a share of hardships. The woman is a bit shorter than Jane's five feet and eight inches, her face showing youth. Probably twenty at most, she's got slightly hostile eyes. The keyboardist looks about five feet ten with short blonde hair and a few days growth of beard. "Excellent! Jane Forrest," she states as introduction. "Got a lead guitarist coming?"

Alyssa's whole stroll up to the others is caught on the fresh new tape and only after she's sure that she's at least got a swift pass by each of their faces does she lower the camera to a less conspicuous angle and duck close enough to maybe be noticed. Close enough, at least, to hear the conversation and it's only the seeming importance of the new girl's question that keeps Alyssa from opening her big mouth at the same moment. Instead, she sticks to adjusting her coat and glancing at the clock on her phone as if she's got something else to do there. They are in front of a club, after all, who knows. She has to swallow hard once, though, to stop herself from clearing her throat. Alright, alright, talk, people.

"Not anymore," the female bassist answers. "He flaked out on us, decided chasing the dragon was more important than tunes. So life sucks." Jane is looked over with skepticism, as if to her and the others she looks a bit too clean to be a serious musician. "Yeah, that sucks," Doctor Forrest answers, "but maybe soon it'll suck less." She unslings her pack and the guitar case, pulls out a small amp, extracts the guitar, and plugs in. "What're your influences, guys?" Jane asks, as the others seem to scoff a bit.

"Get a load of this," the drummer snorts, smacking the wooden drumsticks he's got against his thigh, "Gonna just show up and be our answer?" After a second his expression turns less threatening, but he doesn't move to answer her question, either. The keyboardist shifts his equipment in his grip and seems likely to repair this rude gesture.

"You should just play 'em what you rock at," comes the suggestion from Alyssa instead. Now that she can hear them, she can't help but interrupt them. The drummer gives her a look — jeez, random girls coming out of the woodwork — but she returns it just as well.

Her head turns toward the new voice, and its source is studied quietly for a moment, then a laugh escapes. "Fair enough," Jane comments. "Show up and be your answer, dude? Well, let's see." She closes her eyes for a moment, then her fingers begin to move. It's a distinctive lick, the opening riff of Barracuda, played with solid skill in the fashion of Nancy Wilson. At the appropriate spot her voice joins in. "So this ain't the end, I saw you again today…" It's mezzo-soprano in pitch for this one, rich and vibrant in the way of Ann Wilson. Her eyes scan the other three and glance at the camerawoman before moving back in the other direction while she works strings and frets.

The song doesn't seem to be one Alyssa nor the keyboardist was expecting. The latter shifts in his place again and gives the woman already in the band a nudge with his elbow. The former swings her camera around so that she's very obviously picking up Jane's impromptu performance. Catching the guitarist's eye, Alyssa searches for any kind of annoyance in it for the recording.

On the other side of the spectrum, the drummer looks unmoved, but it's probably also a feat he's worked on perfecting quite a while. At a lull in the song, he scoops a hand through that long brown hair and flips it back as he steps closer to Jane, tapping the outside of her guitar with a stick, "You know Rage? Tom's solo in Know Your Enemy?" An order obviously on the taller side.

Her fingers stop, and a chuckle escapes. "German band, right? Song done in 1986, Tom being Thomas Gruning?" Jane pauses for a moment, thinking, perhaps calling up the sound of it in her mind or searching for it. "There was a tune called Know Your Enemy by Rage Against the Machine too. And they also have a guitarist named Tom."

"No German band has this one on their album, 1986 /or/ 1985. So let's start with RATM and go from there," drummer replies, "Maybe if I'm feelin' German I'll say Avenger to be real clear."

"Now I have some idea of your influences," Jane responds simply. The eyes close for a moment, and fingers resume upon the instrument. Her performance of the solo is capable, but unpolished. It's not something she knows well, but could with practice. "Mine are the legendary guitarists, among them Nancy Wilson, as you heard. I was inspired first time I heard her play, she used the guitar in ways women rarely do, and she was still feminine. Both sisters were." After the solo originally done by Tom of RATM, Jane pauses for a short time and shifts into a brief medley of Van Halen, Page, Clapton, Angus Young, and a few bars of Hammett's Metallica work from Enter Sandman.

The drummer remains quiet, watching her hands. "Clapton. Don't hear enough of that anymore," is the keyboardist stroking his light beard.

"What a great opportunity for both of you," pipes up Alyssa, slightly lowering the focus of her camera so she can look people in the face instead, "Worth writing a little something-something about. Everybody likes a good 'got first break' story… if it happens," she gives a nod to the musicians, who still have to give their rating. Since she hasn't mentioned anything else, it sounds like she's referencing a story more publicity minded.

Seizing the cue provided in the keyboardist's words, Jane's fingers move again. The tune is quickly familiar. It's Cocaine, as recorded live in 1980. "If you wanna hang out, you've got to take her out, cocaine…" While she plays, a brief contemplative expression settles onto Alyssa and her remarks, then the camera.
The keyboardist is smiling now, but he more and more obviously wants to hear a word in from the bassist beside him.

Alyssa manages to note that both drummer and Jane are eyeing her camera at one point and she waves it a little in the air, "Checking out what's going on in these parts," she explains underneath the tune played, "Seeing if I can't find a new spark. You know, I like this sound, maybe I could…" She jerks her head towards the club door they're all hovered by, "Get in… get a sampling?" In some kind of not-paying way, obviously.

She continues on, fingers not stopping until the song concludes after some seven minutes, occasionally glancing at the camerawoman from time to time as if to say she heard her and will answer when she can, but is kinda busy. Jane's eyes also settle on the bassist, as if urging her to join in on occasion. Then they go to the keyboardist, and something apparently mischievous comes into her eyes. Maybe she thought of something to try next, to increase the connection. "You want into the club, Miss?"

"Well, it'd be cool," Alyssa grins, retiring the camera to dig a business-card out of her pocket. It's someone else's— a David Brennan, author— but she turns it over and pulls a pen out from under her bun, "At least something to ask around for you by?" The nod is for Jane, but the rest of the band seems to be included after that. She's more and more acting like they are associated with each other already.

"Sure." She takes the pen and paper, writing on it Jane Forrest, and a string of digits for a cell phone number. A chuckle is emitted while she writes, and the woman remarks "Maybe I should coin myself a stage name. Like… Doc Jane." Left unsaid is the fact she actually does hold a doctorate, and Ivy League at that. After handing it back to the camerawoman and asking "Going to share your info too?" her fingers move across the strings and frets again, this time with her attention on the keyboardist. It's a playful smile she flashes as the tune develops and lyrics begin. "You know the day destroys the night, night divides the day. Tried to run, tried to hide…"

Alyssa's lips tug into a real big smile as the information is put down and, when asked, she fishes out a second business card upon which she writes 'Aly Christianson! writer and lover of great music'

While the girls share, the musicians talk amongst themselves, with the keyboardist flashing various looks over his shoulder at the playing Jane. When they seem to take too long, Alyssa coughs, "So, we goin' in or what?" There's a pause and then the drummer gives a careless shrug, "Yeah, I guess we are. But /you/ have to talk to someone inside." Alyssa's shoulders slump but she can still shrug. As she moves to help hold the door for those carrying instruments, she comments to Jane, "Doc, huh? Sounds like Doc Ock, you know?" A grin. Even if they kick her ass out on the curb after this, she's glad to have 'Jane Forrest' on her new list.

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