#TBT: Kilpatrick's

ahhhh Kilpatrick’s. What a tale.

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When I was in my senior year of college, I had already been “sensitive singer-songwriter-ing” for quite some time…Nothing too serious, but I would do a show once or twice a semester. Some solo gigs on campus and some shows with a trio at a pizza joint (2 acoustic guitars and percussion, what?). I was definitely into writing music and performing, but wasn’t all that jazzed up about making it a major priority in my life. Also, I was 21… “major priority” and “my life” were still two phrases that rarely entered a sentence together.

Then two things happened that I specifically remember causing a shift in my priorities.




1. The Revision Show

Revision was a funky trio that was big in the Ithaca music scene, and were sort of like big brothers to me.  They had been touring for years and were starting to play with some pretty killer acts. My roomate in college grew up with the lead guitarist’s (Nick Bullock) little brother. Nick was and is an insanely talented guitar player, and he gave me some lessons when I had reached the plateau of a self taught guitarist my sophomore year. I needed a more educated push forward, and Nick taught me a lot about scales and chords in a few months. Thanks Nick.

Anyways, Revision had a show at Castaway’s one night in the fall of my senior year, and they asked me last minute to open for them. I agreed, and was happily surprised when a bunch of friends and friend-fans came out to support me. I remember we shot a little music video for my song “Sad and Sorry Song”... Looking back the performance and song are not really my favorite, but at the time it was exciting. The show went well! Suddenly I wanted to put a LOT more effort into music, and I definitely credit the Revision boys for inspiring that. (JP of revision went on to help make my second album “Fiction in Photographs” way better, but that’s another post for another day). OK, so that’s the first piece of the puzzle. The Revision Show.



2. The Hilton Garden Inn

In college, I worked as a valet parker and bell-hop at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Ithaca. It was the best job I ever had (besides Million Dollar Quartet, another post for another day). Once I was established there, I got a few of my other idiot friends jobs as well. The tomfoolery that went on between 4 college buddies parking cars and schmoozing visiting families was gold Jerry... GOLD! 

Anyways. When I was first hired, I became really friendly with a guy named Matt who was the head chef. He was, and is to this day one of my biggest supporters. Anyways, the Hilton Garden Inn was pretty new, and was adding a new angle to their food service. Until around the time of the Revision show, the HGI had been offering room service, and a continental breakfast (which was exactly what you’re picturing). But as planned, they opened up a brand new Irish Pub on the corner with a street entrance, called Kilpatrick’s (also, exactly what you’re picturing).

So… Head chef Matt got promoted to be the boss for the entire Food and Beverage department, and he did not forget the little people. He immediately approached me with the idea of quitting my sweet bell-hop/valet job, and making the move to become the twice a week entertainment for Kilpatricks, working directly for him. The deal was this: I’d play Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10pm-1am, I’d get free dinner, free booz, and 75 bucks. This sounds like a terrible gig for me right now, but at the time. This was fucking INCREDIBLE.




Dear lord, look at that hair... Dear lord, look at those jeans... Dear Lord, look at the djembe...

My friends and I started promoting the shows with flyers on campus (top of post). I played all of the shows with just me on acoustic guitar and vocal, and my friend Matt Scholl on percussion. Tuesday’s were always mellow: only close friends would come out and I would go between chatting with them, and softly crooning on the weird stage that had a waist high iron gate (fun fact, it wasn’t a stage… it was really a raised dining section that we cleared the tables off of).

But Thursdays… well Thursday’s became a thing. In college, most kids enjoy binge drinking (WARNING: Dan Mills productions does not condone binge drinking). And each night was designated for a different spot of binge drinking. Wednesday was Dunbar’s and Dinos, Friday happy hour at Moonshadows, etc. ... Thursday night, became Kilpatrick’s.

After a month or so, It got CRAZY. Lines out the door, song requests, sing-a-longs, guest appearances. Entertaining drunk college kids for 3 hours every single week was hard work… but it was fun, and it taught me so much SO fast.

How to put a set together, how to read a crowd, when you need to throw a cover in, how to talk to a crowd, how to make a crowd feel personally connected to the show, how to learn new material FAST, how to promote a show people think they’ve already seen. Don’t get me wrong, if we were to listen back to a recording of one of these bad boys (which thank god, they don’t exist)... I would be embarrassed. But it was WITHOUT A DOUBT some of the most formative years for me as a musician. It was the complete opposite of the super attentive singer-songwriter clubs I play now. I wouldn’t say I miss it, but I can’t stress how much I value that experience. I only had two long-standing residencies in my life, and both of them turned out to be amazing learning experiences (Local 269 on the Lower East Side… another post for another day).

The people who continuously came out to my Kilpatrick’s shows had a big impact on my life. By the winter… they started requesting covers less, and my own songs more. If it wasn’t for that, I probably would have never got the confidence I needed to make my first record (Different Colored Walls, another post for another day).

Anyways… #TBT.  That flyer (which is HORRENDOUS, sorry Joey) is by far one of my favorite old files on my computer. In fact, I think I may have just got excited enough to go print it and frame it. Thank you Revision, thank you Matt, and thank you Kilpatricks!


Dan MillsComment