Tag Archives: Music

Kate Licata.

When I think of her, I think of the summer walks I would take from her apartment to the bus station. Hot streets and a warm wind. Elmwood Avenue or Main Street. Sometimes I tangentially drift off into the song “Sunday Morning Coming Down”…

On the Sunday morning sidewalk wishing Lord that I was stoned
Cause there’s something in a Sunday makes a body feel alone
There ain’t nothing short dying half as lonesome as the sound
Of the sleepin’ city sidewalk, Sunday morning coming down

My trips to Buffalo always follow a certain routine. I make appointments with the people with whom I have remained in contact. I talk to Mike Rizzo about staying at his place (he has a nice big house in Sloan, and generously  accommodates me). I look at all the things I need to bring with me and forget most of them. I fill out my schedule as best I can, leaving as little down time as possible, still left with too much when all is said and done.

And then I do a Google search for Kate Licata.

And I never find her.

Until this year. 

Kate and I met during a dinner theater production of Grease. We were instant friends. Outcasts who recognized each other as kindred drifting spirits. I was a musician trying to ingratiate myself with the cast, and she was an actress who felt more at home with the band. In short order, she was letting me stay at her apartment, even though she had a boyfriend. He would come in and out, looking askance at this unfamiliar presence on her couch. I was no threat. I never was a threat. I knew somehow instinctively that if we ever crossed that line that our good times would end, I guess. There was something about her. She made me do things I never did. She and I tried to buy pot from a dude in front of Reuben’s on Pearl Street after a show. He sold us tobacco.

She had this 2-album set of The Zombies’ Greatest Hits. And a little Casio keyboard. And we would take turns changing the lyrics to the songs we knew. “What’s your name, who’s your whorehouse?’ and on and on. We even wrote a song together. “I believe that there are flies, infiltrating all the dead dog’s eyes, and I never saw the spew until I drank the beast with you…” and we would go on and on deep into the morning just having fun.

I liked her right away. God, I loved her. She was wisp-thin, with short red hair. She was wild, and didn’t care what she said or to whom she said it. She was one of those people whose poverty made them free. She drank. She waited tables in the daytime hours to pay her rent. She lived about a half-mile from Reuben’s. So when Grease was over on a Saturday night, I would stay at her place.

Sleepy Sunday mornings. Drinking and laughing and scraping around for money. She came over to my house ONCE, and I think we played Frisbee.  I liked being in the city. The whole point was to escape my house, my surroundings. She let me.

We’d go to open-mike night at a local club and start singing our stupid songs—One lady was singing a song called “Tell Him What You Want”…

“If you want to be happy, tell Him what you want…”

Moreover, she’s have people come up on stage and sing along to this gospel favorite.  Kate and I, of course, were more than willing…

“If you want potato chips, tell him what you want…”

…this effectively ended the evening. We walked to Kate’s laughing hysterically.

She had me over to her family’s house in Lockport a few times. It was surprising to see that this girl, terminally scraping by, should come from such a wealthy home. Maybe my first clue to something deeper. Her father and I sat and watched Notre Dame vs. Michigan. He provided a satirical, barbed play by play not of the athletes or the action on the field, but of the socioeconomic and religious disparity between the two cultures. I thought he was hilarious and brilliant. They all were. Kate and I would sit at the piano and thumb through old music books and sing together. I loved that.  “Summer Me, Winter Me…”

I had, on the odd occasion or a visit from my mother, money. So I’d take her to dinner. We, on one occasion, went to some Indian Restaurant on Main St. and she told me I’d like Frangelico and I should order some.  She taught me the word “aperitif”. What she did not teach me was how fucking expensive that shit is in an Indian Restaurant.

And today I can hear her raspy, deep voice. Those thin, pale arms flailing as she described her philosophy to me. She was an excellent cook and made me dinners that I still recall as being spectacular in their taste and intricacy. We were exploring the idea of living together, even finding a place on Chenango St. with a Wilson Farms across the street. I demurred.

Toward the end of our salad days together, I took her to a wedding, but she was visibly and audibly and olfactorily smashed before she even got in the car. Even so, she got me to dance at the wedding. Did I mention she could make me dance? The song was “I Love You” by People, and just as I was getting over the shock that a wedding band included this in their set list (their FIRST set!) Kate’s swinging fist caught me good in the right eye. I hated weddings and I hated dancing and at that moment I hated her too, even though it was an accident.

Maybe a true friend would have staged an intervention of some sort. And I know it sounds silly, but when she got in the car that day, 12 noon, drunk and slurring, I felt myself letting her go. I came from alcoholic parents, an alcoholic neighborhood. It was hitting too close to home for me now.

I saw her a few times in the city after that, on return trips and whatnot. I bothered her sister a few times about her whereabouts, which I’m sure she appreciated.  I pictured her homeless, still struggling to make her jagged pieces fit into a perfectly circular but merciless society.

So I’m going back to Buffalo.  It was so long ago, but sure as eggs is eggs, I cannot eat a potato chip, drink Frangelico, hear the song “Summer Me Winter Me” or anything by the Zombies, go to an open mic night, listen to my first CD or Leonard Cohen without my mind snapping back to all those aimless evenings, all the laughter and all the freedom she shared with me.

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The numbers are in. I’m out.

I am a paying member of Jango.com. My songs are scheduled to play with artists that are more well-known and ostensibly similar in style. In my case, according to Jango, all-knowing, all-seeing, those artists that overlap the most with my stuff are Tears For Fears, Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell, Van Morrison, The Pixies, Chris Brown, and…. GG Allin? Man, you take a dump on stage once and they never forget. I suppose if I do it again it will be a tribute band-type thing.

So anyhow, I threw up two of the songs from the upcoming CD on there to see how well they would fare. I put what I felt were maybe the more accessible tunes from the other CDs up there as well. I was surprised.

If your songs are played at all, you either payed for them to do so (seedy-sounding I know) or they show up organically, which means that your tunes have been determined to be right in that station’s wheelhouse, format-wise. Trial and error stuff.

If someone really likes a song they hear, they can “fan” you, and you’re notified via email of same. Frankly I’m wondering lately if these people fanning me are real or made up in order to keep me re-upping my fee (I pay about $10 a month for about 400 plays, but organic spins are free).

People fan your music about 2% of the time.  I broke down which songs did the best and which songs tanked.

1. New song from CD, which pleases me no end. The fewest spins but the most “fans”.

2. Median Man (from “Our Deepest Apathy…”)

3. Jesus (from “Drink The Beast With Me”)

4. Calico (from “Vultures and Diamonds”)

The three songs here did WAAAYYYY better than their brethren. 5-8 were below average. And in last place was ANOTHER song from the new CD which I really thought would have done better. I’m surprised that it tanked, at least on Jango. I guess if I were a shrewd judge of taste, I’d have exported the work of this blog to Korea or Myanmar or some other.



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I think I thought I found her. I think.

My idée fixe.

I was planning on returning to the ol’ Winch this summer, and naturally, my thoughts turned to a girl who is married with two possibly adult children, who hasn’t seen me in 35 years, and truthfully, forgot who I was last time I called her at her home to point out that it was our mutual birthday. For me it was an important yearly ritual.

So one of those alumni keeper-tracker thingies online had her email address, or maybe AN email address. Maybe an old one. Maybe a very old one.

So I sent her an email linking to my blog page.  Let’s see what happens!

I have been listening to old Aerosmith lately. They were a ferocious band, and I really think their first 5 albums are as good as anything of that time in that genre. Especially “Rocks”, their 1976 album. Joe Perry is underrated, but it seems like after all the rehab and politicking, they basically gave the reins to Steven Tyler entirely for their reunion. All the hired guns co-writing their stuff,  virtually NO collaborations from Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton or Joey Kramer. But boy, those first few records really get under my skin in a good way. Melody, lyrics and that hard-charging rhythm section turn it on on every track. My favorite Aerosmith song is “Nobody’s Fault”, but every song on those records offers up something. Swagger that’s genuine. There’s nothing worse to my ears than the fake swagger of their offerings since 1980. Maybe they should go back on drugs. That Burger King commercial Tyler is in makes me sick.

If they had stopped after the first big break-up, that would have been ok with me. Kinda like my first band, Leo. Paul and I were just as polarized as Perry/Tyler, but we lived just down the street, Paul’s drums were made of plastic, and my guitar never recovered from that missing volume knob.

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