I started my own band in New York City called Little Rooms. That band featured Rod Bradley and Adam Levy. Rod is a one of a kind drummer. I think every song I wrote after meeting him had him in mind for the drum parts, even when I played them myself. He and I played together in the Tooba Blooze, and Adam played with me for some time. He is one of the finest bass players I have ever worked with and had a big influence on the way I write bass parts.
We played around New York and toured the East Coast primarily. We had a weekly gig at the famous Bitter End on Bleeker Street in the West Village, and got signed to a label in Denmark called Bum's Records. Many notable singers and songwriters played weekly gigs at the Bitter End, including superstars like Bob Dylan.
It was at the Bitter End that I had one of those moments in life I will never forget. When I was in the third grade my mother gave me the original Broadway recording of Jesus Christ Superstar. I was absolutely blown away with that album. My favorite singer was Carl Anderson. He played the part of Judas. I wore that album out and probably drove my mom crazy.
One night when I was playing at the Bitter End, Ken Gorka who used to book the Bitter End, came up to me and said he wanted to introduce me to a guy that had heard me and wanted to meet me. This fellow loved my show and my songs and said my singing style reminded him of his friend Ted Neeley. It was Carl Anderson, and the friend he mentioned, Ted Neeley, played the part of Jesus. I will never forget that night, Carl was the catalyst for me to be a singer.
I also played a lot of shows by myself, and at a gig in the West Village I was approached to audition for a play written by Billy Boesky called Angel From Montgomery opening at the famous La MaMa Theater in the East Village. La MaMa is one of the NYC theaters where Robert De Niro started out. They had auditioned over a hundred actors and were looking for a real singer. Although I had never acted before, I got the role.
That play was one of the strangest experiences I've ever had. La MaMA was full of NYC artists. The set was built throughout the audience, and opening night, right before my first line, I looked up to see Deborah Harry sitting 3 feet from me. The reviews were quite remarkable and that opened many doors for me.
Ellen Stewart, the woman who founded La MaMa was amazing. She helped me out a lot, and thought I should pursue a career in the theater. After the play closed, I was invited to audition for the Broadway touring production of Tommy.
Before that was supposed to happen, I met Jonathan Larson, the guy who wrote Rent, at an audition that my soon to be wife attended. They wanted to hear her sing, and she asked me to accompany her on guitar. After she sang her song, Johnathan asked to hear me sing, which seemed entirely strange to me, but I'm not shy, so I did. After my song he asked me to sing the opening song from Jesus Christ Superstar. He then asked me to come back and sing for the producers, I declined.
Although I enjoyed working at La MaMa, and with the wonderful cast of Angel from Montgomery, I came to the decision that I wasn't really interested in performing in the theater. I just wanted to play music.
I scored my first 2 indie films while I lived in NYC. The song Rain, Rain, Rain is from the 1st film I did, which was also the 1st film my ex-wife had done since college. I also recorded one of my favorite albums one winter. It is instrumental, although I sang some there were no lyrics, with just me playing multiple guitar tracks, various percussion, and Adam Levy on bass. I was experimenting arranging Ebow tracks like string arrangements, and pushing my Echoplex to its limits. One of my friend's young daughter called it expandamental. It is called Death of a Snowman and has 40 short songs.
The player below has a few samples. The other player has some of the music we recorded in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, and some stuff we recorded in the East Village. Rod Bradley is playing drums, Adam Levy is playing bass, Janice Mautner Marham is playing the violin. The rest is me.
I never released much of the stuff I wrote in NYC while I lived there. Writing songs is like breathing for me. The early solo stuff I recorded in Dayton before I left for New York was working for me. I played a lot though, and had many weekly gigs around the City, mostly solo shows.
All songs by Denny Wilson copyright 2015
The songs are free to download, but if you feel compelled to contribute, please donate to the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance so the arts may flourish in Dayton. A community cannot thrive without the arts! You can contribute any amount of money through the link below.
Here are links to all the music on this site, there are many songs on different pages
Angry Snowman pic: http://www.wallconvert.com/wallpapers/holidays/angry-snowman-16259.html
Girl pic: https://jacquelinemhadel.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/n-y-c-street-art-mama-madonna/