This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

TWI-NY TENTH ANNIVERSARY TALK: MEGAN REILLY AND JAMES MASTRO

Megan Reilly will team up with Jim Mastro at twi-ny’s tenth anniversary party on May 18 at Fontana’s (photo by Godlis)

Fontana’s
105 Eldridge St. between Grand & Broome Sts.
Wednesday, May 18, free, 7:00 – 9:30
212-334-6740
www.fontanasnyc.com
www.meganreilly.com
www.guitarbar.com

Born in Memphis and based in New Jersey, alt country folk rocker Megan Reilly has spent much of her career surrounded by some of the tristate area’s finest musicians, including bassist Tony Maimone, drummer Steve Goulding, keyboardist Eric Morrison, and guitarists Tim Foljahn and Jim Mastro. Melding Loretta Lynn with Thin Lizzy on her two fine albums, Arc of Tessa and Let Your Ghost Go, Reilly creates atmospheric moods on such haunting ballads as “With You” and “Nighttime,” gets bluesy on “Tropic on Cancer,” and plays infectious pop hooks on “Girl” and “Let Your Ghost Go.” Hoboken fixture Mastro, who owns the popular Guitar Bar on First St., is the consummate sideman, producer, guitarist, and bandleader whose endless array of gigs have ranged from the Bongos and the Health & Happiness Show to Ian Hunter’s Rant Band and various collaborations and live performances with Syd Straw, Amy Speace, Richard Lloyd, Robert Plant, and many others. Reilly and Mastro have been playing together for much of this decade, and they’ll be teaming up May 18 at twi-ny’s tenth anniversary celebration at Fontana’s, which also includes live performances from Paula Carino and the Sliding Scale and Evan Shinners and readings by Andrew Giangola, Nova Ren Suma, Dean Haspiel, and Kyle Thomas Smith.

twi-ny: You each have collaborated with many different musicians who play very different styles. What’s it like working with each other?

Megan Reilly: Jim’s playing is very lyrical and deep and atmospheric. Playing with him makes me a better singer and player. He tastefully compliments everything I’m doing, which I’m really grateful for.

James Mastro: To me, Megan’s songs are all about emotional landscaping — these stark, bare songs that always have little things flowering in spots. She writes like no one else I know — starting in one direction but then taking a turn in a maze that I wouldn’t have thought of, but still ending up in the right place. Her voice and melodies directly affect the way I play, and are what I play off of; she makes my job easy.

twi-ny: Megan, at the anniversary party you will be playing songs from your next album, which will be recorded this summer. Can you share the titles of some of the new songs? How will the record compare to the sound on your earlier discs?

James Mastro, seen here playing the Hoboken Music & Art Festival with Ian Hunter and R.E.M’s Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey of the Baseball Project, will team up with Megan Reilly at twi-ny’s tenth anniversary bash (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

MR: I’m a mother now. My sister thinks my voice has become more earthy. And I’m singing a lot about floating in water or being swept under it. Part of that is from floating in a pond in Vermont several summers ago with all this sky above me, giving me such comfort at a difficult time when no words could. And part of the theme of water also comes from carrying a child. And there’s the subject of my great aunt who emigrated from Ireland and drowned herself in the East River in the mid-1950s. That one is called “The Lady of Leitrim.” It’s something I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. But despite the nature of that song, I think this is a hopeful and self-assured record. It’s got a lot of strength in the sound of it. Jim is a really confident player.

twi-ny: Everyone talks about the changing indie music scene in Brooklyn, but both of you live in New Jersey. What’s going on these days musically in the Garden State?

JM: Hoboken’s still a thriving scene full of great players, songwriters, and bands. Maxwell’s is still going strong, and there have been more and more DIY guerrilla-style concerts being put on that’s always good for shaking things up and keeping people excited about music.

MR: There are some wonderful places to play here, Outpost in the Burbs and Maxwell’s. Those venues have hosted some of my best recent shows. And the people here really seem to appreciate what we’re doing. I’m really happy here.

TWI-NY TENTH ANNIVERSARY TALK: NOVA REN SUMA

Nova Ren Suma will read from her highly anticipated YA debut, IMAGINARY GIRLS, at twi-ny’s tenth anniversary bash Wednesday night at Fontana’s

Fontana’s
105 Eldridge St. between Grand & Broome Sts.
Wednesday, May 18, free, 7:00 – 9:30
212-334-6740
www.fontanasnyc.com
www.novaren.com

A self-described “easily distracted writer,” “daydreamer,” and “big sister,” New York City-based author Nova Ren Suma is making quite a splash with her debut YA novel, Imaginary Girls (Dutton, June 14, $17.99). Suma agonized over every sentence and every word of the stunning book, resulting in a beautifully written story of the deep bond between two sisters living in upstate New York, not far from where Suma was raised. “Ruby said I’d never drown — not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool,” the slightly surreal novel begins. Suma’s first book, the 2009 middle-grade hardcover Dani Noir, was an engaging tale of a thirteen-year-old girl obsessed with film noir, Rita Hayworth, and a suspicious relationship. Suma, a charming young woman who loves talking about music, literature, food, and cats, will be appearing May 23 at the NYC Teen Author Carnival at the Mulberry Street Library, but before that she’ll be giving the first public reading from Imaginary Girls at twi-ny’s tenth anniversary celebration May 18 at Fontana’s, along with Dean Haspiel, Andrew Giangola, and Kyle Thomas Smith and live musical performances from Megan Reilly and James Mastro, Paula Carino and the Sliding Scale, and Evan Shinners. In preparation for the event, Suma chatted with twi-ny about her creative process.

twi-ny: After reading an early draft of Imaginary Girls, I told you not to let your agent or editor change a thing because I found it so beautiful. I’m now poring over an advance reader’s copy, and you have indeed made changes, which make the book even better. You were wise not to listen to me. What was the editing/revising experience like for you, especially when you had so many people lavishing you with praise?

Nova Ren Suma: Imaginary Girls is a surreal novel in which unexplainable things happen, and where reality is in question, which pretty much mirrors my entire experience getting the book published. My agent signed me on just two chapters, sent me off to write more, and then when I had a couple more chapters he quickly sold the novel unfinished to my dream publisher, which meant that I got to work with my editor very early on during the writing of the manuscript. It doesn’t sound real. My editor did say some extremely nice things about those early pages that made me blush, but she also worked me harder than I ever expected, seeing the potential in the story and finding ways to dig it out of me through quite a few revision letters, phone calls, and edit meetings. It was a thrilling, humbling experience to have the help of such a brilliant editor. Even now I suspect that she knows Ruby, one of the main characters, as well as I do. At one point I rewrote about two hundred pages in the middle of the book. At another point I cut about twenty thousand w0T(.IUO/R64w4N+-άJ24*(pS33JsRL t