It's official. We're Brendan James groupies.
Our latest BJP (Brendan James Pilgrimage) took us to New York City for Rock Talk Presents: Brendan James. Part performance, part intimate conversation, Rock Talks allowed the audience to listen in on a conversation between Brendan James and 2011 Emmy Award winning news anchor Phil Lipof; interweaving a discussion about his career throughout a performance of some of his newest songs.
So with my sister-in-law in tow, my husband and I trekked over to Feinstein's at Loews Regency and settled into our booth for the evening, a room that looked like it doubled as the set of Mad Men. After giving Phil a pep talk (he found out we came down from Boston and told us he's from Newton, Massachusetts), we enjoyed another great Brendan James performance while turning my sister-in-law into a believer. And in typical Diver fashion we made our presence known by shouting "TARHEELS!" and "GO PATS!" when the interview questions turned to sports, and by punctuating with end of songs with: "You betta SANG!" and "Dat boy good! (And my husband's best "Nigerian" translation impersonation: "Deh boy iz good!")
For those of you who don't remember Mr. James from my previous post, he's a fellow Tarheel, my favorite "white-guy-with-a-piano," the singer-songwriter my husband stumbled upon one day on iTunes and as been playing on repeat ever since. Over the last year we've seen him perform live at least 3 or 4 times. And from one show to the next, he's remained the same humble, down-to-earth, and approachable person who takes time to meet and connect with his audience.
Our favorite Brendan James story thus far is when my husband ran into him in between sets at a show and requested his cover of Jamie Foxx's Blame It. Considering we were in Londonderry, New Hampshire at the time, Brendan was a tad skeptical about how it would go over with the crowd. But I had complete confidence that white people still love hip-hop. Yes, even in New Hampshire.
But what impressed me most about this particular show wasn't so much Brendan James' music, but another theme that came up repeatedly during the interview: his marriage. He spoke often about his marriage in light of his own parents' divorce and the demands of his music career, particularly one that requires him to spend a significant amount of time on the road and way from home. As in previous interviews, Brendan mentioned that his wife does not travel with him because she has her own life and interests aside from his work as a musician (to which I'm sure I let out an "Amen!").
When asked about his thoughts on the current state of marriage in America, Brendan acknowledged the reality of increasing divorce rates and declining marriage rates while at the same time expressing hope. He's optimistic that his own generation -- having experienced the impact of divorce first-hand -- will be even more committed to stem that tide. And personally, I hope he's right.