How My Favorite New Artist Ended Up Performing in My Backyard
It's not every day you come across an artist that makes you do a double take when you first hear them; Selkii is one of those artists.
My wife and I first became enamored by her as she was performing as a featured artist on a Disney Cruise ship in April. We followed her all over the ship. If she was at the pub, that's where we were. If she was at the pool, we were at the pool. She was incredible with an amazing voice, great guitar skills and she mastered the loop machine like no-one I'd ever heard. Oddly enough, three months later we were walking along Varick Street in Utica of all places, when we saw a poster promoting an artist of the same name. Could it be her? Why would she be in Utica? It is a rather unique name; but, Utica? Sure enough, to our amazement, it was indeed the very same Selkii - that was Friday, July 27th and two days later the story would get even more surreal.
Here's how it all went down. The South African (now living in Orlando) was in Upstate New York while her husband visited family in northern New York. She was recording in nearby Oriskany at a studio owned by Rick Gerken, known as 'Pickle on Keys" who's played with Tanya Tucker, Warren Haynes, the Dickie Betts Band, among others. They were working on Selkii's looping technique as she prepared to take a break from the 'cruise world' and take a shot at pursuing her singing career in the states. Gerken set up a last minute performance on that Friday night at the speak easy, Wakely's on Varick, known for its live performances and we were there.
During a break, after I awkwardly asked her if she remembered us from the ship, we began discussing having her perform on my radio show during the week. One thing led to another and by the end of the night we had agreed to consider setting up a back yard pool party and record the performance for the show. On the ride home, my wife wasn't necessarily pleased. "You told them we would set up a pool party??? Are you crazy???" I explained, "Trust me, it will never happen. There's nothing to worry about." The next day on Saturday afternoon, I hadn't heard from anyone so I was pretty sure there wouldn't be a party; and, that's when l received a text from Rick.
Pool party sounds awesome! Let’s do it! What time would be best for you? -Rick
I want to be very clear here. I was extremely excited. This artist we really fell in love with at sea a few months before, was going to be performing at our house. Still, I was facing quite a dilemma; it's 2:56 p.m. on Saturday and I have to find a way to get a crowd of people at my house by 6 p.m. the next night, along with making sure the crowd was of respectable size. My fear was how bad it would look if she were to show up and there was nobody here. That's not to mention the need to prepare for food and drink and setting up a camera crew to record the show for YouTube and airing it all on the radio show. No problem, right?
My first thought was to put an invite up on Facebook and wait for the people to show up.
Keep your eye on this artist. She is something special
Visions of the movie, 'Project X' were dancing around in my head. Google the movie and you'll understand if you're not familiar. Instead, we quietly spread the word and ultimately ended up with about 65 people in our back yard. The weather was perfect and the crowd was trusting me that this artist was indeed, something special, and boy was she.
It was awesome! Selkii along with her newfound band mates, Gerken and bassist Nash Robb of The Old Main, were actually performing in our back yard. They had never performed together until this weekend and they were completely in sync. In fact, you would have thought they had played together for years as the trio performed several covers and Selkii's looping technique.
"Keep your eye on this artist. She is something special," Gerken said in between sets. "You just get the feeling that there's something uniquely different about her."
My wife and I everybody lucky enough to be there in our backyard that night, totally agree.
Watch the pool party performance, featuring Selkii's version of 'Layla' here: