Monday, January 17, 2005

the rock star: HATT REGENCY

This is about the rock star, Hyatt Regency

…which is what he was calling himself last Friday night outside the KidRobot store in Soho. A toy designer friend of ours in there, signing autographs. Hyatt and I are catching a breather from the lively crush inside.

There aren't many people who are who they say they are. And, this cat is entirely himself. "Hyatt" isn't his real name, of course. It's just that he's in several New York bands; and, in each one he uses a different name. Tonight he's Hyatt Regency, the rock star.

His band had a top twenty CD hit a few years ago, when he was calling himself something else. He was living then with the area’s feminine, iconic beauty: a talented woman, known for her business acumen, as well as her artistic skill and radiant physical allure. Hyatt has always rocked. Whatever he called himself.

Being fundamentally a Detroit cat, he drives a big, old Ford float. I comment on it and he says, “You gotta have those big eights up there, man.” Then, delicately parks it in an impossible space on Jay Street in Dumbo.

It's an uncommonly warm January evening and he’s standing here with me on Spring Street, his lithe, little body slumped against the wall; jacket drooped over those fragile, little shoulders, pants tumbling down around scruffy old-fashioned tennis shoes. His famous, Samson-sexy hair curling down over his frayed cowboy shirt, obscuring only one of his beautiful brown eyes. His voice, a strained and practiced singer’s, is rich and tonally sensuous to listen to.

He tells me his family's good: his old man is happy dealing cards in Vegas. That he’s producing a few bands here in the city; and, that his sensational girlfriend hasn’t left him yet. He says, "She's a girl who doesn't laugh at my sorrows, man”.

We’re discussing the rock star photographs in the store window behind us, Janis and Jimmy up there in their famousness; and, a feature photograph of Jim Morrison inside the front window of a cheap hotel called, “Morrisons”. I tell him he could easily be up there in the Keith Richards picture hanging next to Morrison's.

He laughs and says, “Hey, those guys rock, man.”

Hyatt doesn’t talk much, but when he does he can be wicked funny. Later that night when a crowd of us are at an Asian café called Snackys in Williamsburg, he tells us about a gay porn photographer chap, we all know, offering to pay him for a photo shoot. Hyatt confesses, “What a disappointment, I had to turn him down. I’d have done it for a couple of glasses of champagne and a good dinner, you know? He was so stupid! "

Then, flashing his rock star grin, shakes his hair out, laughs and turns down to chop stick a little vegetable roll in his mouth.

Later, in the same charming cafe, he turns to lovely Willow, a friend’s musician-girlfriend sitting with us, and makes private and intimate love to her simply describing the delicacies and intimacies of adjusting control knobs on a mixer! She smiles demurely and uncrosses her legs. He’s a real sexy man, our rock star, Hyatt Regency.

Tomorrow he and his band are flying off to record some of their music in Nashville.

The Security Guards at the airport won’t suspect him of anything but being a Rock Star. Some ask for his autograph, some just ask who he is. He might even deign to respond, “I’m Hyatt Regency, the Rock Star.”

He’d be right, too.

AND, NOW: a word (many) from the Rock Star himself:

jetting into the frames of nashville i feel the sensation of being
teleported into a dimension of a new asthetic of the mind and
geography..the people i see and experience are obsessed with
hospitality.. though driven beyond the call of duty to please the
masses with flawless delivery. ala carte music...i am driven to
hillbilly central (literally) the building where the outlaws and willie
nelson harnesssed their creativity in the early seventies.. i walk in
with my black unlabeled cases of production gear and my long sleeves
full of tricks...i am now in nashville..i feel it indoors..the drive
there or even the stop at the coffee shop off music row did not make it
apparent..i am in the maze of rooms, slanted window walls, brown
partitions, mustard moldings, properly abused hardwood floors, swingin
doors, microphones galore on stands, skylights, smells of wood and
whiskey and best of all, the new york city energy i have on my wear on
my sleeve which bounces nashville folks into an excitable "ready?
whatcha need? let's do it " mode.. well, let me walk around these
rooms and get some cashews, coffee, water, bananas and grapes on my
producer desk, my laptop station, cell phone turned off, and my artists
list and times on my itinerary.. let me relax..oh good, i am sinking
in...i bring up the tracks one by one on the recording console, the
first track in progress gives a raw, unsettling vulnerable, yet honest
sound..i do not look behind me to seek my assistants or artists
approval, i am not concerned, though i feel everything like i have eyes
behind my head..they are all trying to find a way to ask questions,
suss me out. i just want to relax my mind and breathe now..and
listen..and feel..unfold into the steps without pushing for the tasks
at hand..i stand up slowly from the herman miller chair and look my
artist and steer her with my eyes onto the balcony...i feel her
questions and concerns build.....i tell her i am happy to be here with
her and not to worry about our short time frame..i tell her that
something will happen here because "we" will just let it...the day
consisted of my artists nashville friends, and top end studio "cats"
dropping in..every friend i greeted with a mild grin...i played the
material for them, they asked what i wanted out of it..i said ..what
can you play? and what do you hear.."i have my notes, but i would like to put it out there for you to explore first.." the walls of the studio opened up into the galaxy..all disarmed now...( musicians become servants to make money and mold their talents to service music in a very contrived
format and it is their job to do what they are told from the beginning
of a session till the end)..not in my studio...
each artist came alive with ideas and i felt their spirits release into
the music to give themselves beyond their duties..our schedules
overlapped overtime..everyone mingled over their schedules times and
collaboration took place..i kept trusting them..they wanted my approval
every time they finished a track..i would just smile and fire them up
more with adjectives.."aww, i did'nt know you was a 78 year old black
man inside!!" i would say to tom bukovac after he played some loose
slide, as he put his schooled calculated guitar aside..i speak in
slangs so often that the musicians play to my characters..my armenian
accent to get nice djembe rhythms, british to get uptight uptright
psychedelic guitar..jive to get it loose and rounded..sterile white man
to get it on top of the beat..stoner to make it confuse the
listener..laughter surrrounded the studio and goosebumps and right kind of tears.. non stop....the only kinda life i like to feel.....when i can get away with it..the airport terminal i have an upbeat and intense meeting with my attorney coordinating the next weeks events..on the airplane seat 1C back to nyc..lot's of caffiene flowing to reassemble my mode and break my stride as the city awaits and my career needs strict assemblance on a business level..perhaps i should just be know it will all happen if i just let it......