It’s been awhile since we’ve had an installment in the I Know People category. See the tab above for an explanation of this category.
This one is about a long time friend who also happens to be a musician in an internationally famous band. Howz dat for cool? We’ll call him Nieuwguyski, and when he’s not playing assorted brass for community bands, he plays trumpet in the genre bending band Polkacide. I’ve known Nieuw since early high school, and the single striking thing about him is that he has always been “a man ahead.” Nieuw would be surprised to know this, but he is sort of my moral compass. As men, and especially as young men, there are probably many “ideals” we would like our friends to think of when they think of us. We want to be the go-to guy for advice on a flathead six versus an aluminum block V8, or Marilyn Monroe vs. Jane Russell. Certainly not moral compass. But that is how Nieuw has most affected me. When I seem to be faced with an ethical quandary, in my head I see Nieuw making the right decision, the moral decision. Whenever I proudly adopt a particular world view that I’ve thought long and hard about, I often realize that years ago Nieuw had already come to a similar conclusion. And yet oddly, I don’t feel like I’m playing catch up, rather I’m following a blaze mark. “Ahhh, okay, this is a good path to follow…”
When I was a young, anti-social teenager, all I wanted to do was piss off the establishment, grow a mohawk, and listen to punk rock. But Nieuw was more punk than any of us – he collected, and understood Jazz. He threw the most awesome Big Band house parties. He’d sit his friends down and teach us about the seriousness of early Jazz and the ironic clumsiness of late Jazz (trying to stay relevant in a funk, punk, rock-n-roll world). We’d laugh at Maynard Ferguson squealing out E above triple high C on the trumpet. We’d pore over the difference between a trumpet a cornet and a flugel horn. We’d quaff brewskis and listen to stories about
Neils Neal Hefti. Fast forward to the iPod age and I’m putting together a workout playlist to exercise to. How can you have a workout playlist and not have Gonna Fly Now (theme from Rocky)? I’m at the iTunes store and of course there’s the Bill Conti original, and oh-my-god there’s a Maynard Ferguson cover. Thanks to Nieuw I know who Maynard Ferguson is. His cover is just as cheesy as it oughta be, and 99¢ later I’m the proud owner of a squeaky, over-wrought trumpet blaaat which I like.
The thing is, Nieuw was better at modeling the ‘just be yourself’ wisdom than all the after-school specials put together.
Then there is talking. Talking one-on-one with Nieuwguyski is just the best experience. It’s like a massage – there’s no pretense, there’s no judgement, there’s no requirement to be anything other than just his friend. With him you “get into a zone” where you just relax, and converse. Fifteen minutes later, you look up at the clock to see that five hours have passed. In the end, Nieuw really is a go-to guy about cars, girls, and the universe.
So take a gander at the Polkacide video below, while below that is a song Nieuw turned me onto years ago. It just resonates as a metaphor for the uniqueness that is Nieuwguyski.
P.S. Polkacide are a great audience band, with lots of back-and-forth banter, but this is lost in the internet experience. So comment on their website that you want HQ videos with more music and less talking.