There are a surprising number of New Zealanders here in New York City. I am stumbling upon them with happy regularity. Bertel's band (who have been in pre-production for their album since we arrived in New York) are rehearsing at a studio where one of the main sound engineers - Tom - is a kiwi.
After a night out seeing yet another fabulous act I would never have dreamed of seeing
(or, admittedly, even have heard about) back in New Zealand, Tom pulled me (and by extension, Bertel) off to watch the Crusaders v. Hurricanes Super 12 rugby semi-final
It was an ungodly hour of the morning at some downtown bar in Manhattan, and the combination of several nights of loud music and alcohol was starting to take its toll on me, but as soon I spotted Dan Carter
, Caleb Ralph
and Rico Gear
in the pre-match highlights, I was wide awake again. Mmm.
It goes without saying that Canterbury won, and even the many Wellingtonians present agreed that their buzzy-bee uniformed 'Canes were no match for the Crusaders this year, and we all toasted to their success in the final. It was, as they say, all good. In fact, with plenty of New Zealanders present, the home country lingo was flowing freely, much to the amused incomprehension of the assorted Americans (and a few Brits, for some reason) who also happened to be at the bar...
"Hey bro. Gizza 'nother one. Cheers."
"It wuz wucked."
And, at the end of the night...
It was on the way home, in the wee hours of the morning, that things took a turn for the worse.
We had decided to walk the few blocks back to the hotel, when, just like out of a Hollywood film (although, just about everything we do in New York feels like it's out of a Hollywood film), a guy jumped out of an alleyway and demanded our wallets. Bertel, without even breaking stride and in one smooth movement, hit the would-be mugger with a punch right to the nose. Blood spurted. The mugger didn't fall over, but he did give out a mighty yelp, clutched his hands to his face, turned heel and ran into the alley he had come from. Bertel, Tom and I scarpered down the street, fearing he might return with some heavy weaponry or some bigger friends, to take revenge upon us. We safely got back to the hotel, and, with the adrenalin still coursing through our veins, proceeded to drink the mini-bar dry and watch Bertel's delicate and long-fingered hand slowly but surely balloon up and start to take on some intriguing shades of blue and purple.
Of course, he's broken a couple of bones in his hand, hasn't he? And with his band due to play a 'secret' gig this weekend as part of the preparations for their recording sessions, their manager is furious. The whole plan looked like it might be going down the gurgler.
But then someone sensibly suggested they just find a temporary bass player. There's at least a couple of guys in the crew who could probably pick up the parts quickly enough, being musos themselves, and they figured it would be easy enough to lay down ghost parts on the recording while Bertel's hand healed up (four to six weeks, the doctor told him). As more than one person pointed out: "It's only the bass, isn't it?"
Since I happened to be sitting in, Yoko Ono like, on this particular discussion, I jokingly volunteered for the temporary bass player's job, having learnt most of the parts with Bertel over the last few weeks, both of us playing along to the demos to find the best lines to play. And, wouldn't you know, my flippant remark was taken seriously (with some lovely advocacy from Bertel, who was full of praise for my ablities) and they're going to let me rehearse with them tomorrow to see if I can do it! Ahaha!
I haven't actually played bass in a live performing band since my high school band (the fantastically monikered Lady Macbeth's Bathroom Scales) got knocked out of Rockquest
in the regional finals in 1992.
I am all a-jitter. May my fingers not let me down.