On trains: Michael Garin

Hope to see you at the TRAIN SPIN this Friday at the Red Room at KGB Bar!

Every month we ask friends of BugHouse to contribute a post related to the theme.  And well, our very own Michael Garin  got his first music gig ON THE TRAIN.   Michael (part of the Michael and Mardie duo) played for us in Oct.  Check out their “delicious mayhem” here.

THE STARLIGHT LOUNGE by Michael Garin

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“WANTED: Piano players who sing. Some travel.” Turns out it was for something called The Auto Train. You put your car on the train in Lorton, Virginia and when you arrive in Sanford, Florida, presto! You have your car.

I called the number and auditioned. “Don’t tell anyone about your tryout,” warned my dad, “in case you fail.” So I told everyone because I knew not to follow in his footsteps. And in a strange case of post-pre-emptive schadenfreude, I got my first paying piano job. At The Starlight Lounge on the Auto Tran – probably named this because of the haphazardly perforated sheet metal that was affixed under the fluorescent lights.

I knew about four songs and repeated them briskly to an audience that could best be described as captive.

I was a working musician now! No connections. No friend of a parent or relative involved. Me. I got it.

A few years later, when I moved to New York to pursue an acting career, my plan was to support myself with a piano gig while I learned my craft at The Neighborhood Playhouse. I arbitrarily started on 42nd and 1st Ave and walked uptown, stopping in every bar and restaurant and asking if they needed a piano player. I still remember looking at a dry cleaner or two and almost pitching them on the advantages of a music program. And then, just as arbitrarily, I decided to cross 79th street and continue down 2nd Ave. And at 72nd and 2nd…I had a job. And no matter where I play, somewhere deep inside I still can picture a goofy, pushy kid, live from the Starlight Lounge, announcing that we were passing through Savannah, Georgia, and the boom mic swinging unexpectedly toward my face through the miracle of centrifugal force, smacking me on the forehead and leaving diamond-shaped indentations – my first reviews from the music gods.

When I do travel home to visit family, my first choice is always the train. Walking from car to car brings back the almost one-mile hike it took to get from my room to the Starlight Lounge. The train was that long. I had to carefully plan my “commute” in order to get to the gig with some time to spare. Because we all know being at the right place at the right time is everything. But so is the frank ballsy-ness of a budding artist willing to go the “mile.”

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