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Former NewNewYorker of the Week: Joel Lyons

26 Apr

[The second in an occasional series on readers who’ve moved onward and upward since taking the leap into NYC life. Subtext: This can be you!]

My living situation is: Living with my significant other.

Joel Lyons, co-founder of NYC Media Buzz, in Central Park.

My first job in the city was: A content editor for a mobile/online group.
My job now is: A marketing associate with a restaurant group.

The best advice I have for newcomers is: Read NewNewYorkers and subscribe to Time Out New York.

The toughest time I’ve gone through since moving here is:
 I was brave (or stupid) and moved to New York without a job during the peak of the recession….I made sure that I was dressed and ready by 9 a.m. every morning just to guarantee that if someone called for an interview, I could run out the door and go to it. The rejections during that time period sucked, but once I got a yes (and my first job), I was very relieved!

I can’t imagine my New York life without: 
A smartphone. It makes navigating the city, and finding good places to eat, much easier.

When I was brand new to the city, I can’t believe I: Relied solely on Kmart for all my purchases.

I’m still learning about
: The outer boroughs. I live in Queens, so I’ve done a lot of exploring here, but I’m starting to learn sections of Brooklyn and would like to get to the Bronx more often, too.

My proudest achievement so far has been:
 Becoming the go-to person when folks have questions about the subway. Next goal: mastering the bus system.

I’ve been thrilled to meet:
 My significant other.

A gem I recently discovered is: Essex, a farmers’ market/grocery store with a delicious restaurant that makes killer French toast.

Something I hope to accomplish this summer is: Jam with the Central Park Dance Skaters Association.


How do musicians make it in NYC?

21 Jan

We see them everywhere: Coming out of dark bars in the wee hours, putting up flyers in the East Village, busking on subway platforms. But how do they really do it? Today we’re talking to real-life New York City musician Thomas Bryan Eaton about finally quitting his day job, the best gigs and what aspiring musicians in the city need to be doing.

((( Listen while you read: When You’re Dancing )))

What was your first memorable show in NYC? Playing at the old Galapagos Art Space. That was probably nine years ago.

Thomas Bryan Eaton plays Zebulon on 2/18.

How should someone looking to book gigs in NYC get going? Don’t get discouraged; just get out there and do it.  You’re going to play shitty gigs in shitty places for no money, but that’s half the fun. There are so many different scenes here; even a ‘smaller scene’ like the old time/bluegrass scene is incredibly diverse and has many pockets.  Go out to the jams, go to other people’s gigs, get to know who plays the kind of music you play. That’s a great way to start getting gigs, and maybe meet your new band!

Have you written any songs about New York? “When the Sun Goes Down” might be the closest.  I think it stemmed from the constant battle between my love and hate for the city — that and the feeling like you should leave something to keep things fresh.

Are you single? Who’s asking? New York City can be a very complicated place for relationships of all varieties.

Where can we see you live? Follow him on Facebook for show dates.

Did you find it harder or easier to break into the NYC music scene than you imagined? I sometimes have felt like it’s incredibly hard, and I’m in the wrong place doing the wrong thing. Other times I felt it’s the exact opposite, and things were just lining up.

Do you keep a day job? I just quit my day job! Which is great.  Though I am still teaching [music] for a large portion of my income, normally I don’t count that as a day job.

How many hours on average do you sleep a night? Average might be about five hours. I do love naps though!

Tell us about a gig you’ll never forget. It was a random Sunday last fall at a bar in my neighborhood. A good crowd came out, and it just happened to be one of those gigs where it really feels that the whole audience is right there with you. That’s one of the reasons I love music so much; it connects people.  This gig, the whole room felt electric! I don’t even think the band, or I, played exceptionally well, it’s just sometimes that je ne sais quoi is there. It’s pretty much what I live for.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from another musician? Shortly before I moved here, I was talking with my friend Seth Olinsky from Akron/Family about his move to NYC, and my impending move. He said he thought NYC is not meant for everyone, and within a year or so, people either sink or swim.  It gave me more of an idea of the pace of New York, and helped me get ready for it.

Broadway shows and you

9 Jan

Why go to the theater as a transplant New Yorker? Isn’t that for the olds?

Absolutely not. And here’s why.

I moved to New York City at 25 and made just $30,000 a year, and I still saved for theater tickets. All of a sudden I could hop on the train and be in my seat at a Broadway show in 20 minutes? I was beside myself — and I knew I’d rather spend extra money on experiences than things.

As I write this, IN THE HEIGHTS is closing — a show I was privileged not only to see twice, but also to cover as a freelance writer.

Miranda has said that, as a younger man, he didn’t realize “you could write about the present.” For those who perceive musicals as cheese with melted cheese on top, musicals like In the HeightsRent and Next to Normal are a nontraditional portal into the genre.

As a transplanted local attending a Broadway show, both your dreams and the dreams of the actors are coming true at the exact same moment. After all your months of planning for NYC, there’s an undeniable link between you and those who’ve dreamed about being on that stage since they were five*. You both know just what it’s like to chase down a dream.

Need more tips on snagging theater tips? Read this and learn how to pull some strings.

You moved all the way here to experience something different. Forego a night at the bar every couple months and spend the money to see a show. It’ll feel fantastic.

*In 2008, I bought a $20 standing room ticket to A Chorus Line, and it changed my life. Now there’s a show for new New Yorkers. I highly recommend the documentary about its revival casting, Every Little Step, on Netflix instant. (It comes and goes, but the DVD—if those are still a thing—is cheap on Amazon.)