Me at Public Assembly after my show. Photo credit: Niko Lamas

So a few weeks ago my friend Joe Gatti of the band JoGaBot invited me to play a show with him at Public Assembly on 12.26.09. I was excited to be invited, but I don’t think I thought the show would be as important to me as it ended up being. This show was a really important moment for me.

1. I put a bunch of time before the show into cleaning and flat ironing my wig, which meant that instead of it looking like the cheap, everyday costume store plastic hair that it is, it looked stylized and slick, and really completed my outfit nicely (that rug really tied the room together, man!). I really felt great about how I looked at this show, and it paid off because it got a lot of people taking pictures and video of my show, which I don’t think they’d do if I didn’t look unusual and interesting and capture their attention. Attracting attention of a nice photographer at the venue, by the way, is what got me the gorgeous photo you see above. And I love that photo!!!!!!

2. It was a full on solo show in a venue with beautiful sound, and I got a great quality video of the whole show, courtesy of my wonderful friend Elijah. This allowed me to really see that my show really sounds excellent with tracks on a great sound system and live vocals, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to performing with tracks. What I bring to the table as an artist is the ability to write and record songs in my home studio and sing them live, not play them live, and my show needs to consist of me doing what I do best to best showcase the music and my performing abilities. I think performing with tracks does that, and now I have fantastic video evidence of that to show to any promoter/booker who thinks a show performed with tracks wouldn’t work or be enjoyable or sound awesome, because it is awesome and enjoyable. Finally, I have good video of what I can do live as a solo act! I am SO relieved and excited about that and I think it will be a great help as I go about trying to book a lot of shows this year.

3. I had a great time with this show and was very happy with how it turned out, and there were a lot of random people in the room who heard and watched the show and signed up for my email list afterwards. As I went around the room collecting email addresses, a lot of people kept saying to me “I really hope you do well with this, because you really deserve to. You had such great energy up there and your voice is amazing!” and things like that, which was awesome. People seemed surprised that I was able to put on a high-energy show in a low-attendance room, but my feeling was, a) you have to do your best at every single show because you never know who’s watching, even if it’s only one person (and I proved this with this show, since if I hadn’t given a great show, I wouldn’t have won over any of those new fans) and b) I knew I needed a great video of me doing a great performance, and dammit, I was going to get it come hell or no audience! (And I did!)

Workin' it!
Workin' it!
Singin' with LS
Singin' with LS

Above: shots from the 9/9 ITPalooza show at The Tank, NYC

So September has been and will continue to be a very busy month for me, with a total of 6 shows!!! If I’m not mistaken, I think that’s an all-time high, and it’s a lot to deal with, because of course every show is a very important opportunity to do my best and make new fans and book new shows. Here’s the rundown for this month:

9/7 Guest spot in the Legs Malone Show at Public Assembly (www.myspace.com/thelegsmaloneshow). This show was a lot of fun. I did two songs, met some great people, and booked another guest spot at another burlesque show for later in the month! Score! Pictures coming soon I hope…

9/9 Half hour set with LS Huang of Hepnova (who did my “Can’t Stop” remix) as part of the ITPalooza, a showcase of bands containing members of the ITP Grad program at NYU. This was so great and so much fun. The Tank is the perfect music venue in my opinion. It’s small and intimate, has standing room and seating, a great stage, full lighting and sound equipment, etc. My outfit was great and I learned an important makeup tip: painting white around your eyes looks weird, not pretty, and makes your eyes look smaller. You simply have to line your eyes in a dark color to make them stand out more. Note taken! But the cool thing was that my outfit and makeup were eye catching enough that people walking down the street kept noticing and talking to me, asking if I was part of a dance troupe, and what show I was going to, etc etc. The audience at this gig was small (I really gotta start insisting on only playing Fridays and Saturdays asap–it worked for Lady Gaga! :), and I had a whole stage to play with, so I really let loose with this show, singing my balls off and rolling around the stage and being over the top with the dance moves. It was all caught on tape so hopefully I can post some clips soon. Met some great contacts at this show, too. Hopefully that means some new collabos coming up soon!

9/15 One hour show at 12:30 outdoors at 345 Park Avenue, then rehearsing all afternoon with my ex-accompanist the fabulous Socrates Cruz of Moniker for our set of Mexican songs at my friend’s Mexican Independence Day Party at Stay at 7pm. This is going to hurt, but it will be fun and it will be worth it. Ojala que pueda recordar todas las palabras!

9/19 Guest spot at Sugar Shack Burlesque at Jalopy, 315 Columbia Street, Brooklyn, 9pm. (www.sugarshackburlesque.com)

9/24 My MEANY Fest show, 8:30pm, Crash Mansion, 199 Bowery. Followed by an all-night bike ride through the five boroughs! Is there any end to the insanity??

So the first show on 1.30.09 at Public Assembly was awesome and went better than I ever could have expected. I guess putting on rock shows is the same as putting up theater shows: everything MUST fall apart a couple days before so that it WILL come together magically on stage. Literally on Thursday I could not sing and I was definitely worried about how well some of the songs would go, but after three days of vocal rest, I warmed up in the bathroom at Public Assembly a few minutes before we went on and my voice was back. Not perfect, but back enough to sing well.

Our openers, Emily Stern and The Spanish Channel (that’s two separate bands), were awesome and had great shows. We got an awesome crowd in there and by the time we went on stage it was a pretty packed house. I counted about 35-40 people that were just my friends alone, so that was amazing. My friends are the absolute best!!!

Also, one girl had accidentally come to the wrong venue but decided to stay and hear us just to be nice, and she ended up loving the show, so that was great!

The show itself was excellent. The band sounded awesome and we pretty much got every song just right. People were saying they thought we’d been playing together for a long time–HA! If they only knew. And people also said they assumed some of the songs were covers because they swore they’d heard them on the radio, so, frustrating as it is that my friends didn’t know a bunch of my songs, it’s awesome that they think they’re good enough to have been covers! 🙂 It’s good to see people are finally buying different songs on the album on iTunes, because I’m proud of all of them and I want them to get heard.

Also, I was finally able to let go and really move and interact with the crowd while performing the songs. I think it makes a big difference to have a full band behind me because it makes the songs a lot more danceable and get-into-able. People also were saying my songs were really danceable, which is great because that’s the direction I want to go in, anyway.

I think my goals for this year will be to 1. Delegate my work (right now I’m doing EVERYTHING from songwriting to promotion to booking to publicity etc etc and that’s why there are experts for that) and 2. Network hardcore till I really find and use all my connections to get things to the next level. I can work as hard as I want on my own, but it really takes collaboration with others to make things happen.

The fabulous Chris Hanley, who took all my pictures (including the one on top of this blog) and helped me shoot a lot of my videos, will be editing the raw footage together from the “Come Home To You” shoot we did a few months ago in Montana. That will be really helpful. And I’m getting closer and closer to just breaking down and spending the money for an Ariel Publicity campaign, because I really just need to get the damn word out already about my stuff, and I think it’s just too hard to get all the coverage you want on your own. That might have to wait till I have more danceable stuff, though, but we’ll see. I am so jealous of those bands that just magically become indie darlings, but maybe I’m crazy and there’s a PR machine behind all of them, too. There probably is. Nothing, nothing, nothing happens in this business magically. It all takes work work work!!!

And I’ve completely lost my voice. From a cold. Right before a show. As usual. God. Dammit. So I’m on vocal rest and drinking brown smoothies made of banana, orange juice, spinach and beets (trying to maximize the natural vitamin intake), as much straight orange juice as possible, sleeping as much as possible, and apparently, blogging as much as possible. Ha. But anyway, thank god the gig is 48 hrs away and not 24, because I think 48 is doable for getting my voice back.

Anyway, in case you’re not one of the 1,333 people I’ve already reminded 100 times about the show, here’re the deets:

JC Cassis live! (with Emily Stern and The Spanish Channel opening)
JC takes the stage at 8:40pm
Public Assembly
70 North 6th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
L train to the Bedford stop
$7

Hope to see you there! The band has been kicking ass musically and we’re also really having fun together which is amazing. They’re such sweet, talented, dependable people and I feel so lucky to be working with them. Last night at rehearsal was hilarious. We had two members who were deathly ill with colds, one of whom later got a horrendous nosebleed, the practice room was too cold, then too hot, and always too loud, and yet we still couldn’t hear each other, someone fell off a heater and bruised his butt, one guitarist had carpel tunnel syndrome, I was so sick I had to do some songs lying down, and we ran through Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Weezer’s “Undone (The Sweater Song)”–my favorite song in 5th grade!– totally spontaneously and told funny stories about Rivers Cuomo going to Harvard with two of us (me and our bassist, John Ames.)

It is sooooooooooooo good to be in a band again I can’t even tell you.

Also, you will need to prepare yourselves for the hilarity that happens when we all dance while we’re playing songs. Watch Lee-Sean, our keyboardist, especially. Dude is funny. I can’t think about it when I’m singing because I start laughing uncontrollably. I will have to steal some blinders from a carriage horse and do the show with those on. Ooh, that’s a good idea for a gimmick.

Ok, whatever. Go to the show, ok?
-JC

I’ve had a couple weeks away from my dayjob this month and I can’t believe how busy things have been–and how much I have yet to do!

I’ve put together a backing band for live shows and booked our first show for January 30th at 8:40pm at Public Assembly in Brooklyn (www.publicassemblynyc.com). The goal is to have one full-band show per month to start off, as well as do as many solo open mic performances as possible to drum up a fan base, make connections, and refine my performance/guitar skills.

I’ve taped half my YouTube cover videos that I wanted to do with a solo guitar accompaniment so far, and am doing the other half tomorrow. I’ll post those on YouTube asap and hopefully start getting lots of views!

I’ve revamped my website according to some of the helpful hints on www.ArielPublicity.com, and made it much better-looking and more user-friendly, so hopefully that will help me retain fans when random people come across my stuff on the internet and want to support me. BTW, as you’ll see, there’s a notice on the site to email me if you want a free mp3 of mine, so if any of you reading this want a free mp3, email me at talktojccassis AT gmail DOT com and lemme know! Don’t get annoyed if you’ve already bought my album–you got 13 tracks for the price of 10 because of the way iTunes prices albums. 🙂 But you can always get a free mp3 from me once I’ve made some new music!

With the remaining vacation time and beyond, my next set of goals is to finish/post those cover videos, book a February gig with the band, write and record new music for the next album, learn pro tools, make merchandise for my online store, and finish perfecting my guitar playing on the additional songs I’ve been learning for open mics, then get out there and play as much as possible. I also want to join Taxi, the independent A&R company, and see if I can get any cool opportunities through that. (www.taxi.com)

Wish me luck! I’m excited!
-JC