There’s No Place like Brooklyn

After a performance with friends at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn 

After a performance with friends at Branded Saloon in Brooklyn 

I’ve been living in Brooklyn for over 10 years. When Im out, people often ask me where Im from. The two most common responses I get are: "Iowa?!!” and “Why New York?!” 

I’ve had my ups and downs. There were moments where I wanted to say “screw it” and leave NYC. Its stressful, smelly, crowded and expensive. I did actually leave for a full year in 2009, when I took a sabbatical in Japan.

Living and working in NYC is not especially easy. People often move here with certain expectations, only to have reality bitch slap them in the face. I have to admit New York wasn’t what I expected. Working three jobs to support myself while chasing an elusive dream can be exhausting.

But today Im proud to say that I make a living playing music in NYC. I’ve worked hard to do that.

As a gay man, the culture of the place I choose to live is important. Coming from a small town in Iowa, it was not exactly fashionable to be gay. It was actually quite terrifying at times. The melting pot is one thing that attracted me to the city. I could be myself without fear of being exiled. It sounds dramatic, but anybody who grew up gay in a small town in the Midwest knows what Im talking about. There is a thriving gay community here, bigger and better than anywhere I’ve been.

As a musician, NYC is almost limitless in the opportunities available. Its more competitive than most places, but if you are willing to do the work, your efforts can pay off. As the saying goes “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”

The Paisley Fields on stage at Union Hall earlier this year. Photo by Lorraine Ciccarelli 

The Paisley Fields on stage at Union Hall earlier this year. Photo by Lorraine Ciccarelli 

Some of my favorite performances were in Brooklyn at Pete’s Candy Store, Branded Saloon and Union Hall. A couple years ago, I felt something was missing from the music scene in NYC. So I created a songwriting series for queer songwriters called Unhinged. We developed a following and after a brief hiatus, I will be bringing it back later this summer.

Every day I find inspiration. Whether its talking with a friend on the street, visiting a museum or walking through Prospect Park. Much like my elusive dreams, its hard to articulate exactly what it is about Brooklyn that I love so much. Theres something magnetic about this city. Its unexpected and exciting. Brooklyn has just about everything you could want. Its taken awhile, but I finally feel like Im home.

Next month The Paisley Fields will be playing the Queer Music Festival in Manhattan. It’s one of many LGBTQ music events that happen in this great city and an official pride show. Come see us June 25th at Rockbar with a fresh new lineup and a great group of bands and performers!