What would the title of your autobiography be? “ A Man and His Dog: The Matthew Avedon Story”
What can’t you travel without? My guitar. I spend a lot of time in airports and hotel rooms and my guitar helps keep me sane from boredom and jet lag. Also, I have musician friends around the world who I love to meet up and play with when I’m in their neck of the woods.
What’s your favorite travel destination? That changes all the time. Recently I’ve been working in Barcelona and having a fantastic time. It’s a city I spent quite a bit of time in during my early 20’s so it’s been fun to get back and see it through older if not necessarily wiser eyes. If I’m traveling just for fun, it’s got to be the beach. I might be a city kid, but I grew up surfing in Long Island and Rockaway.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday afternoon in NYC? Take my dog on a nice long walk, and after that I’m usually playing a show with either my trio or one the great bands in town that I play with. If I’m not working, I like to just cruise around the city listening to music. Aimlessly wandering through the streets is one of the particular joys of living in NYC that a visitor might not expect to be so entertaining.
If you could choose one person to show you “their New York City,”who would it be? My little brother Michael. He’s a fantastic photographer – he’ll shoot a portrait of Baryshnikov in the morning, Chuck Close in the afternoon and hang with Mick Jagger in the evening (I have the photo evidence)! If I could be a fly on the wall in a day in the life of Michael Avedon I could die a happy, and exhausted, man.
What has inspired you recently? Just being part of the music scene in NYC is a constant inspiration. The level of musicianship in NYC is unrivaled, the best players come here from around the world and let me know how much work I have left to do!
What are your favorite NYC restaurants? For consistently tasty spots, it’s got to be Chinatown, and it’s got to be Dim Sum. I’ll spill an old New York secret: the sketchiest, hole-in-the-wall, noisy, back alley spots in Chinatown beat out the fancier restaurants every time. Start on Elizabeth Street and explore.
What’s your go-to spot in NYC for drinks? The much loved and equally maligned Max Fish has been a downtown staple forever and for good reason. Nobody really remembers anybody’s name there, even if we’ve known each other for decades, and we still keep the community vibe strong.
What are some of your favorite NYC brunch spots? Saturday Brunch at Tribeca Grand has quickly turned into my favorite brunch spot, and regular gig. The vibe is great, the omelets are on point and the pastries are legit! It also has the added benefit of having a very attractive crowd.
What are some of your must-do recommendations for NYC visitors? If you want to see some live music, check out small bars that have jam sessions. In Brooklyn, Moto for traditional jazz and blues (I play there on Tuesdays!), the Acheron for Metal, Skinny Dennis for Country, and in Manhattan, Soho Grand for some of the most beautiful DJs I’ve seen in NYC. And a Chances With Wolves DJ set at Soho Grand is seriously a party worth going to!
What music are you listening to these days, and who are some of your favorite musicians? I listen to a ton of jazz, and I’m from NYC, so of course it’s always a good day for Wu-Tang. The newest Pharaoh Monch is one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve heard in a long time, and Sturgil Simpson’s new album is really the only country that means anything. Don’t forget Devo, Behemoth, High on Fire, Django Reinhardt, Black Uruhu, Steel Pulse, Kyuss, Hank Garland, and Organized Konfusion!
What album would you consider your personal soundtrack to NYC? Dead Kennedys “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables.” I listened to that album so much when I was a kid skating around the city that it’s permanently ingrained in my mind.
When you think of NYC, what immediately comes to mind? I suffer from the same affliction all city kids have: I love this place, I hate this place, I love this place. Four generations of New Yorkers have bred me to operate in NYC, and I find myself ill equipped to live anywhere else. Like everyone, I get overwhelmed from time to time and need to hit the beach or somewhere quiet, which lasts maybe two days until I’m itching to get back to the city. I might feel stuck here, but I honestly can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.