55 Bethune Street
New York, NY 10014
Paul Collins attended Juilliard Music School as a composition major involved in modern and avant-garde music. Rock icon and cult favorite Paul Collins got his start with Peter Case and Jack Lee in 1974. Their band The Nerves toured with The Ramones and Mink DeVille. His next group, The Beat, a high energy rock group in the style of The Ramones, Blondie and The Dictators, released two albums on CBS and under the guidance of manager Bill Graham toured extensively playing with top acts like The Jam, Pere Ubu, The Police, Eddie Money, The Plimsouls, and Huey Lewis. A new version of the band surfaced more recently and resulted in an album of new material entitled Flying High. Considered to be their best to date, Flying High is a solid record, done half acoustic and half electric. The album gets back to the classic sound of The Beat, while combining the raw energy of Collins’ solo works. With his latest release, King of Power Pop, Paul set up The Beat Army an online Facebook community of people connected by their love of power pop and melodic guitar driven rock n roll. Now some 3000 members strong, Paul books shows all over the United States, Canada and Europe. “This is a model for the new DIY,” says Paul. “I am touring all over the world with new bands that feature the sound I helped to invent.”
WHAT WESTBETH MEANS TO ME
On a fine spring day just before the summer started I was walking up 8th Avenue when I came upon the lovely Mae Gamble. She was sitting on that wooden bench in front of the Mappamondo restaurant. I stopped to greet her and she gave me that big beautiful smile that anyone who knows her must know. I asked her if she had eaten in the restaurant and she said no she was just talking a rest on the bench. We started chit chatting about nothing in particular when I told her how happy I was to be living in Westbeth and how it had literally changed my life. She lit up again with that smile of hers and she told me how nice it was to hear that and why didn’t I write down how I felt and send it to her, she said it would be nice to let people know something like that. So here goes…
I moved into Westbeth in June of 2008 after being on the wait list for 12 years. At the time I had been living in Madrid, Spain for about 8 years and I was ready to come back to my native city and country. I had dreamt about the fabulous duplex apartment I would receive with more space than I had ever had in my entire life since I had left home at the ripe old age of 17, the mountains of space I would have for a rent I could afford. As the elevator took me up to the 7th floor for the first time in the company of one of the heads of the Phelps Company on a grey and rainy day, still weary from the 8 hour flight I had taken from Madrid just to take possession of my dream apartment, I was in state of delirium. Finally after 12 years the moment was about to happen when I would walk into the apartment of my dreams.
I didn’t let the hospital like appearance of the long hallways dampen the mood, I could get used to that. As David turned the key and opened the door I held my breath, this is it, I told myself, this is the big moment I had waited so long for….my 2 bedroom palace at Westbeth….what the hell is this? There must be some mistake, where are the other rooms? Where is the second floor, not that anyone had told me it would be a duplex but I had heard all the fantastic stories about how enormous the apartments here were. I looked out the 24 feet of window into the grey pouring rain and didn’t know what to think…
Now I have been here almost 4 years, I love my apartment, it might be a tad small for me and my son but it is gorgeous, the light is divine, its quiet, I can see the Empire State building and the Hudson River. I call it the Woody Allen Pad. It took a while to seep in but finally it got through my thick skull that this was the deal of a lifetime! I arrived at Westbeth a bit late in life, I was 50 something years old, a rock n roll musician trying to stay in what is universally known as young man’s game or young woman (must be politically correct!) My career had come to a complete standstill while I was living in Madrid and it was next to impossible to get any kind of meaning full work. I had been off the scene for quite a while here in the states and I had no idea as to how I would take advantage of this amazing deal I had here in Westbeth except for to tell myself this was my retirement.
In the beginning it was hard, I started to drink, I would sit in my beautiful apartment and down bottle after bottle of reasonably good cheap red wine, days would go by without me ever leaving my apartment; I would just sit at the window and watch the world go by. Then slowly it began to happen, I got tired of doing nothing and the creative juices began to stir, all the free time started me thinking again. I decided that the fight was not yet over for me and my artistic skills were still in good shape. I wrote and recorded a new album, some say one of my best yet. I decided to hit the road again and in a short amount of time began to tour all over these United States. I started a page on Facebook to promote myself and the genre of music that I play with a vengeance…and it worked.
Now my career was back in full swing, I began working with new and upcoming bands from all over the country, which suffused me with youthful energy, I was back in the game and right in the thick of it, the Master of his craft, teaching all these young-uns how it’s done. Not only did I tour doing concerts but I began to promote shows myself, I put on a 2 day festival right here in Asbury Park, New Jersey with 18 of the new young bands I had met while I was out touring the country and I have another one in the works to be staged in Chattanooga of all places. Finally I thought, I was really taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity I had been given….the experiment works I thought to myself….give an artist a place to live where they are free to think about their work and not how they can pay their rent and something will happen…
A good friend of mine said to me when I moved into Westbeth… “It’s not like winning the lottery, it is winning the lottery!” I am performing more now than I have in the last 15 years, I have written a book of short stories and a book on being a single parent, my son lives with me and is finishing up his last year of high school, I am able to fulfill my artistic desires and goals and be a good father at the same time…all because I had the very good fortune to be able to come and live here at Westbeth.
July 26, 2011