COVID 19 and Other News

Greetings everyone!

I hope you are doing well, staying healthy, washing your hands and keeping your distance from folks out there in the world…

It’s a wacky time. Just about everyone I know is currently not working, as most of the folks I know are in the Performing Arts, Food service, Theater or Dance world. Venues are closed, theaters are dark, schools (like the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, where I worked for 28 years) are closed. People have taken to working at home, and for a lot of us that means video conferencing – Skype, Zoom, FaceTime – and the live streaming of music and Opera, among other things.  All of my upcoming gigs are cancelled thru March, and possibly thru April as well. Personally I’ll be doing a couple of live-streamed home events over on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, where I’ll be playing some live music and taking questions from  with you; and lessons/consultations via the aforementioned Video Conferencing platforms.

We all must exercise caution here. The primary objective of “social distancing” is to reduce the load on the already overburdened Health Care system, so the people that actually need treatment can get it fairly easily. Don’t forget to check in with your older friends and relatives, as they are the most at risk, although in every crisis there’s opportunity  and this provides us with a chance to reconnect with some old friends.

As things get back to normal I shall update this page again. Don’t forget to check out the CDC Website  to sort fact from fiction…!

Meanwhile stay healthy and hang in there. We’ll get thru this!

– Neil

Looking Ahead: 2011 and Beyond

Greetings, all comers! Welcome to another installment of the NAILblog…

About 13 months ago, I had started to write my 2009 Year-End wrap up post, about all that had happened in, well, 2009. There was quite a lot that happened; and in fact, kept happening – to the extent of which I never actually finished writing it. In fact, a whole other YEAR went by, and all the time I was thinking I could still get to it…. Not. Ridiculous, actually. So as 2010 came to close, I grappled (however briefly) with the idea of a 2010 Year End Wrap Up post again, and realized my mistake: its actually much more important for me at this point in my life to look FORWARD, instead of back. So I therefore change tack and offer more of a “what I hope to Accomplish in 2011” type of post. There’s a whole pile of projects and ideas I want to try and get to this year, and posting them here might (I am hoping) help me actually GET to them. Here goes:

What I’m planning for 2011: The Adventure continues

1) The Solo Piano CD & Performances
Folks have been after me to record a solo piano CD for something like 20 years. I know I’m off to a good start this year because Ive already recorded it. Editing/mixing now. The plan is to release it late spring, combined with a series of shows.
Coincidentally, I’ve been asked by choreographer Jonathan Riedel to perform my solo piano transcription of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring for 2 shows in May. It dovetails perfectly with the release of the CD, and “The Rite of Spring” will be featured in many of these performances. I am psyched!

2) The Planets Project
Gustav Holst’s amazing orchestral work, arranged for Jazz Octet. This will be one of my Kickstarter projects this year; in fact, Ive already got backers. Inspired by Duke Ellingtons arrangements of the Nutcracker, Mary Poppins, etc. A lot of the conceptual groundwork has already been put in place over the last 18 months. This year it HAPPENS. 🙂

This is an idea that ive been kicking around for a lot of years at this point. Not necessarily new or original, but I feel very strongly about it nevertheless. ASCO stands for the Analog Synthesizer Chamber Orchestra. I imagine it as a kind of a live version of Switched on Bach, a work that had a tremendous influence on me. My goal here is to bring ASCO into existence as a viable Chamber ensemble; stay with it for a number of years and then let someone else take the reigns. The main reason I have not acted on this idea is because it includes the creation of a not for profit organization. (Not to mention the initial equipment costs!). This year I will begin the process of creating this ensemble.

4) Duets (various)
Theres a handful of wonderful musicians Ive been talking with over the last few years, about doing various types of projects. Classical, improvisation, recording, performance, remix. Lots of amazing ideas and energy. Some of these folks are:

Who loves ya, kiddo?

  • Pianist and author Stuart Isacoff
  • Drummer Greg Burrows
  • Bassist Steve Lawson
  • Multi instrumentalist Alan Wentz
  • Violinist Zach Brock
  • Bassist Trip Wamsley
  • Guitarist Rob Michaels
  • Wind player Premik Russel Tubbs
  • Drummer vibraphonist Gregg Bendian

..and quite a few more I’ve not listed at the moment. Also on this list is my lovely wifeNita Rae, a songwriter & keyboard player. We’ve done things together now & again; she’s acted as coproducer and/or engineer on almost all of my recordings. My collaboration with her is way overdue, and will take top priority when it begins to take shape.

5) NAIL reborn, or reinvented, or just renamed…
I’m not sure why NAIL never really caught on after 11 years of playing out. Didn’t get far enough away from home? Too many personnel changes? Just not the right combination of tunes and musicians? Or a promo FAIL? Ah well. Whatever the reason, I had really good response to my last Winter Solstice show which was more of a piano based quartet (still using synthesizers, tho). Ive been chewing on a lot of ideas about what to do next with NAIL, and I think Ive decided on a more flexible approach – i.e., not sticking to any particular ensemble size or instrumentation, but still featuring the piano. Im starting to get excited about this, but the idea needs to cook some more. Ill be hoping to take this version for a spin in the fall, or maybe sooner. This means that the Planets Project would also fall under the guise of NAIL. That works for me. 🙂

Who is "the Mysterious Phantom"?

Who is "the Mysterious Phantom"?

6) The Mysterious Phantom

I did this solo show at the Annual Zombie Barbecue hosted by my friend Dan at the Wherehouse restaurant in Newburgh. It was a sort of hardcore avant techno thing; I dressed in a cape, used a Theremin and was billed as The Phantom. There were suddenly a lot of requests for a Phantom CD. Sometimes you just gotta give the people what they want. Ill be doing that gig again this year, and I will have product in hand this time.

7) Choice NAIL: Live & Unreleased trax
Gee, Ive got a lot of these lying about. Enough for 2 CD’s, actually. It won’t take quite that much work to get these out; most of them just need to be mixed. Here’s a taste: “Box 555”:

Box 555 by nailmusic

8) UK House Concert & Lecture tour
If I can get this together, it will be amazing – especially to meet in person all the awesome Brits I’ve met thru Twitter.  Its all about earning enough cash to cover the cost of the trip. More on this story as it develops.

9) NAILMUSIC.COM Website Overhaul
Wrangling into shape, with a more comprehensive non-flash site, optimized mobile site, and full integration with Soundcloud, Bandcamp and all my blogs  – WordPress (this one), Posterous and my new Tumblr Synth blog. I’m gonna need some serious help with this one, and it needs to happen soon. Any web ninjas out there up for the challenge?

10) Solo Performances: Raves, Galleries, Concert Halls & House Concerts

Right alongside the acoustic piano concerts will be the electronic ones. In fact, I’m working a set of music for Piano/Laptop that has the best of both worlds. There will also be electronic only gigs, like Raves –  I did 2 last year, major fun. The idea is to get out there and PLAY.

….And the question now is: only 10?
In reality, the idea factory has been working overtime over the last few years. Ive got literally an amazing amount of idea energy. The problem has always been the actual way forward: how to proceed, and on which ideas. I still don’t have the answers, but Ill learn as I go. Like the song says: ” you cant always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find… You get what you need.”
I say: BRING IT.
As always, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading!

NEXT: The year of the Piano

Lost Document found on Craigslist

This came across my digital desk today. I immediately recognized as a “long lost document”, a set of guidelines that every musician I’ve ever worked with knows (and could recite under their breath). Profound in their simplicity, forgotten, yet remembered, unspoken, and not often enough acted upon…

I hereby present to you the Sideman’s Bill OF Rights. Authorship in this case is claimed by someone calling themselves “Mudd”. I make no claims. Enjoy.  🙂

Read more




From a recent jazz gig with Trumpeter Freddie Jacobs. This guy has been a great influence on my jazz playing. Featured here are myself (pno), Freddie (tpt), Cameron Brown (bass) and Bob Meyer (dms), another cat who has been extremely supportive and helpful to me. It’s a pleasure to work with them, and they have made me feel at home in the world of traditional Jazz as I never had before.
This was recorded at The Falcon in Marlboro NY, on April 25th 2009. Enjoy. 🙂

Upcoming Posts. Yeah, right.

Just thought I’d pop in to let you all know what I’m working on, blog-wise. There are a few ideas bouncing around my big fat head, and I try to keep a running list of things I want to share. Here’s the partial:

Tribute Band Part 2

Tribute Band part 3

CD’s I really want to make

Playing Mahavishnu:

Birth of an Idea: Working with a Vjay

There are more, but rest assured I’m planning on getting to those ASAP.

Now, how many charts do I have to write this week?

Best to all,

– Neil


So – I’ve moved this post to it’s own PAGE, in order to maintian some semblance of organization (whatever THAT is). And now we can get on with other more blog-y posts, like part 2 of the Tribute Band thing, or tech notes, or… you get the idea.

– Neil

My 1st Audio upload to WordPress: A Midnight Xmas Rendering

Well, had to figure this out at some point. If I wanted to upload an audio file, and not into my standard site player; not on myspace or facebook etc., can I do it here? Let’s find out….

….a passage of time…..

OK – it’s 4 days later. I have poked and peeked; found sensitive areas on my server site where delicate adjustments needed to be made, and Presto! I can now post reasonably sized MP3 audio clips within my blog posts. To this end, I will now post my first offering: “God Bless Ye Merry Gentleman”, recorded at midnight Christmas night. I am not religous (at least not that way) but I have always enjoyed this traditional song. Besides, several of my friends – notably Paul Mitchell and Dan Johanson – posted lovely “audio e-cards”, and inspired me to do the same.

SNAFU, it always takes me days what it seems to take minutes for others. So, 4 days late, here is my midnight rendition of “God Bless Ye Merry Gentleman”. Please enjoy. Comments ALWAYS welcome. Happy Holidaze.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

A Moment, With Rain

A moment, with rain. Cue Music: “Story From A Stranger”, by Pat Metheny. I’m home… it’s raining. My cat is curled up by my side, next to the laptop on my desk. Very different then the day that was supposed to be. But, we all know (or should) – that change is the way.

I’m gonna keep this short, because I’ve enough to do with emails, etc – and an unexpected free day.

I was supposed to get on an 8:30 am train to NYC this morning, to do a performance called “Available Space”. This show is up all this week (expect thursday) at 12:30, and next week (sat-sun-mon) at 8 pm. Choreographed by Ofelia Loret de Mola, it is a fantastic conglomeration of dance, live music, spoken word, and more. It’s a little hard to describe; check out the Danscores website for more info. We spent about a month making the music, after the original musicians had to cancel last minute.

It gets more complicated….

This is about the spider web – the “web of connections”, remarkable and otherwise, in which we are all entangled to some degree. The amount of connections that have shown up in my life recently borders on staggering. I’m still reeling a little from the last few weeks of people coming together, people from radically different points/times of my life, some of whom are connected in other surprising ways. It spirals around and around, a veritable vortex of people and events. Perhaps I should assemble a time line, to track just how convoluted and interesting this has become. I ‘ll work on that. But for now….

The “Available Space” performance is all consuming; it’s long hours, but great work; no money, but great satisfaction and “visibility”. In addition, when I got the call I was busy with another project. The opportunity arose for Nita Rae, my wonderful wife, to write the music (I was asked for punk/alternative – something Nita does quite naturally, have played in the NY scene for years prior to when we first met in 1985). She would write the music, and I would put the band together to perform it live with the dancers.

Even with the lack of pay, the opportunity was a good one, for both of us. It’s a well publicized event, covered by the NY Times, Village Voice, etc. Cool. I called our old friend and guitarist Jesse Martin, whom I used to jam with all the freakin’ time and whom I have not played with in years at this point, to play guitar. Our drummer is Emily Willis, the 21 year old daughter of Mary Stark, who also has a daughter named Sharon – one of my daughter Rebecca’s best friends.

This is where it starts to get interesting…. because Sharon (and her twin brother Michael) went to a school run by Barbara Sarbin, the wife of my long long longtime former bass player, Conrad De La Cruz (from my first and longest running band, “A. Animal”).

From here it begins to spiral out of control. Available Space is part of a festival called “Celebrate Mexico Now“. It so happens that the director of this festival is someone else I used to know – Claudia Nicolau, the wife of Carlo Nicolau, an incredible violinist and composer I used to hang out with 12 years ago – and haven’t seen in at least a decade. She showed up yesterday to see if the Neil Alexander in the program was the person she used to know.

Why are all these things coming together now?

Why ask why?

At a recent dinner at Mary’s house, with Nita, myself, Conrad and Barbara, a spider began building a web on my head (we were eating outside). Mary referenced this to an animal totem, and found this quote:

Spiders are very delicate creatures that play an important role in the myths and lore of many peoples as the teacher of balance between the past and future, the physical and spiritual. To the Native Americans, Spider is Grandmother, the link to the past and future. In India it’s associated with Maya, the weaver of illusions.

With its gentle strength, Spider spins together the threads of life with intricate webs. Spider knows that the past affects the future and vise versa. It calls us to make use of our creativity and weave our dreams into our destiny.

For many Native Americans, “spider woman” stories are important creation mythologies. One of the common feature of those are wisdom symbolized with spiders’ webs (for example, she taught the human how to weave). Also generally accepted are the ideas that her “thread” connects the human world and the world of spirits or the “above world” and the “below world”. Spider Woman also weaves the “relationship” of the Web of Life and all beings.

“In the beginning, there was the dark purple light at the dawn of being. Spider Woman spun a line to form the east, west, north, and south. Breath entered man at the time of the yellow light. At the time of the red light, man proudly faced his creator. Spider Woman used the clay of the earth, red, yellow, white, and black, to create people. To each she attached a thread of her web which came from the doorway at the top of her head. This thread was the gift of creative wisdom. Three times she sent a great flood to destroy those who had forgotten the gift of her thread. Those who remembered floated to the new world and climbed to safety through the Sipapu Pole the womb of Mother Earth.”

Um, ok.

Perhaps related, or perhaps not, I am going to take a moment to commemorate the 20th anniversary of my father’s death. I get the feeling he’s had a hand in all this, or is at least enjoying it. I miss you, dad. I’d like to think you’d be proud of me.

Love ya all –

the NAIL

  • Available Space flyer front
  • Available Space flyer front
  • Wonder Wheel

    Whirlwind! Working day and night; tons of gigs, etc. Fried. Can’t stop.


    Posted an old video…. “Wonder Wheel” from 2005. Seeing as how our old friend and drummer Mike “Leroy” Bram has sorta hit the big time with Jason Mraz, I thought I’d post this clip of him playing…with us.

    Here it is:


    Also in this band are Joe Pelletier (bass), Steve Sacco (percussion); and Chris Hanson (turntables). A funk extravaganza. Just picture the giant Ferris Wheel in London. I think there used to be one in Coney Island actually called the “Wonder Wheel”.

    More posts soon…really.

    Love ya –

    – NAIL

    Spring is here…

    “Spring is here….” so the song goes. “Why is my heart not filled with gladness?” Well, in fact it is. I know it’s in there somewhere. Trying to stay on the positive sometimes seems more difficult than it feels like it should be. Truth is, with gas prices, a lack of work in the early part of this year (leading to a sort of financial “crisis” for me and my fam) and the molasses-like  progress of NAIL, it’s been rather hard to stay upbeat. A challenge, to say the least. I find the “patience” thing to be a big part of it. But – it is a MOST beautiful spring day. I will be going outside today (even though I have more than enough work to keep me in the studio for days on end) to enjoy a little self enforced downtime.

    In reality, things are still moving. I just picked up a gig for the “Art Along The Hudson” kickoff event. This 2 hour party takes place at DIA Beacon, one the most fantastic modern art museums on the east coast (and just across the river from me). It’s like performing at MOMA, a coveted gig under any circumstances. I had to do some serious wrangling of schedules tomake it happen – but I was successful. Special thannks to our good friend Kippy Boyle, who put the right word in the right ear at the right time…..!

    Also, our very good friend George Dubose, one of the great NYC Rock ‘n Roll photographers, just shot a whole new series of press pics for NAIL (and a few solo shots, too). So even though I don’t have the time or the money to really do NAIL’s press the right way, it still goes forward.

    I had to push myself into writing today; it’s been too long. I am going to stop here, however. as I have no intention of spending all day at this computer I would advise you all to take similar action: go outside. Get some fresh air. Take 5.

    You dig?

    Love ya all –


    One of George Dubose\'s new pictures.