Live from Fez
During these early years in my career, no one offstage was more instrumental in helping and supporting me than Ellen Cavolina Porter. She booked Fez, the best room in New York City. It was on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones, and to get in, you had to find the stairs at the back of a Mediterranean restaurant and bar. Once you descended, you were in an incredible new universe with cabaret tables and low ceilings and the 6 train rattling nearby and the most artist-friendly staff ever assembled. Ellen booked amazing acts in that space, and she let me open for a lot of them. Rhett Miller, Gary Jules, Ed Harcourt, Grant Lee Phillips, Hem, Amy Correia, Ben Lee. The list goes on and on. Ellen claims she liked me upon first listening to The Confluence. I think it took a lot of badgering on my part. But I like her story more. Ellen became a great friend. She put me on that stage in front of new audiences, introduced me to so many great performers and songwriters, booked me in other rooms, and more than anything, just respected the music I was writing. I don’t think I could have continued without Ellen.
Sadly, we learned that Fez would close in February of 2005. We booked one of the final nights at the venue. I think we did an early and a late show. I wanted to preserve the feeling I had playing there, and I wanted to give something back to Ellen for all she had done. So we recorded and filmed the shows and ultimately made Live from Fez. It’s a mix of the songs on The Confluence, After the Wrecking Ships and Strange Light, which I would release next. It includes a little three-song DVD.
It’s the only real live record I’ve released, and it includes some of my stage ramblings that around that time were becoming a big part of my live show. I love this record, mostly because I love Ellen and Fez and the musicians I played with at that time. I’m not really performing with any of them anymore, though we’re all still close. And, as mentioned, Fez is no longer. So this really is a piece of lost time for me, a time I am very grateful existed.