Long Island Americana artist Roger Street Friedman offers up the first in a series of monthly video premieres for PopMatters readers in the form of “Puffs of Smoke”. Friedman and a band consisting of Jim Toscano (drums), Frank Ferrera (guitar/background vocals), Matt Schneider (bass/background vocals), and Steve Uh (keyboard) hit New York’s iconic City Winery to dish out the soulful, funk-filled performance as part of its Cellar Sessions.
The song is one that Friedman recently tracked for his upcoming album, Shoot the Moon, out on Playroom on 13 January. Now 54 years-old, the singer-songwriter’s achievements in recording the record and picking up notoriety along the way reminds us that it’s never to late to find success in doing what you love. Shoot the Moon is a product of an experienced artist and world-worn human being picking himself up and returning to the stage following his parents’ passing and his daughter’s birth. It’s every bit as poignant and as musically consummate as you might expect.
Friedman says of the song: “Well, I was at a wedding in Atlanta, Georgia with my wife. It was a weekend thing and pre-children. I remember we were moving from bar to bar in this nice hotel, and I got pretty hammered. It was pretty smoky too… When I woke up the next afternoon, I was in a really comfortable bed with a really uncomfortable hangover! It was one of those ‘I’m never drinking again’ moments. I just started writing notes, like ‘feather bed, satin sheets, hammer beating in my head.’ I had a really bad headache and I wrote the line ‘woke up in your feather bed, with a hammer beating in my head.’
“Needless to say, I wasn’t functioning at a very high level. The song kind of just poured out, no pun intended, and became about a hapless guy who needs to get a plan for his life together before it’s too late, but really is just thinking about it and not really getting it together! ‘Oh, thinking on a plan, where I do everything I can do, to do the best I can.'”
And on the performance: “The shoot happened in the cellar at City Winery on Varick Street in Manhattan. It was late September and was really pretty easy. It was a two-man crew with an Israeli guy named Ehud – super pro, quick setup, and very chill vibe. It was nice and cool down in the wine cellar, where they actually make the wine, I guess. That day, there was an issue with one of the valves and red wine was leaking onto the floor, so it smelled like wine for the shoot, which is a little ironic given the subject matter of the song!”