NYC, still dragging its heels into summer, was being sweet that night. As soon as the sun dipped into the skyline, the breeze wrapped its way around the talkative guests with just enough chill as they drank and ate. And believe it or not, it wasn’t just the BBQ and whiskey making everyone feel cozy on the rooftop of Nice Shoes. A small, special set by local folk singer-songwriter Todd Lewis Kramer was right at home, and so were we.
After heaps of BBQ, cornbread, and all the fixin’s, there was nothing finer than a neat Macallan 15 to wash it down. As Macallan’s savvy ambassador highlighted during the tasting, this particular whiskey is much lighter in both color and flavor, and less woody than one might expect. Its smoothness is mainly thanks to the Spanish sherry casks it was aged in, which give off a lot of tannins in the 6 ½ years they spend just cutting it down.
To top it all off, Todd Lewis Kramer took the roof, strumming softly to set the mood. The campfire-friendly, road trip-ready sound of his brand new full-length release, Fairground, was well received by the party. For the Americana songwriter, who found his calling when he discovered the city’s tight-knit open-mic scene in 2009, it was fitting that the NYC crowd would welcome him with open arms.
“I’m proud of just making it happen with what you have,” Kramer told us, explaining that he recorded Fairground with the same close friends he’d met during that period. “I moved here in August of 2009. September of 2009, I was at an open mic in the Lower East Side that was not a good open mic. I got there at like 8pm and played my one song at like 1:15 in the morning,” he laughed. “But I hung out all night because I thought that’s what I should do.”
It was a good call, since that was the night he ended up hearing about Caffe Vivaldi in the West Village. Kramer soon became a fixture at their popular open mic nights. “I ended up going, and I probably went every Monday for four years. It was just a really popular open mic, so the room really crowded. But it had the distinction of actually having a lot of talent,” he said. “That’s something that I think about a lot. I can’t imagine not having fallen into that scene.”
You can listen to Todd Lewis Kramer’s breakthrough LP, Fairground, below.