Monthly Archives: April 2012

Scenes from a fund-raiser: Benefit for Lucinda’s Kids, Night 1

The first night of the two-night Benefit for Lucinda’s Kids was a great night of almost 7 hours of entertainment on Sunday, April 29 at The Bowery Electric, with a great crowd and a fantastic lineup of artists, including Marah, Jesse Malin, Jimmy Gnecco, Willie Nile (who almost missed the show because of a delayed flight from Chicago), Jim Boggia, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Michelle Casillas (Ursa Minor), Mystie and more. As of Sunday night, there were still tickets left for the second night of the benefit to raise money for the trust fund that will benefit the two teenagers left behind when their mom, super music fan Lucinda Gallagher, committed suicide last December.

Here’s the Monday lineup.

Monday, April 30, doors at 7 p.m.
Tommy Stinson (The Replacements)
HR (Bad Brains)
Alan Vega (Suicide)
James Maddock
Aaron Lee Tasjan

Tickets are $20 and available here.

And here’s what you missed on Sunday.

Jesse Malin

Many, many more photos after the jump.
Continue reading

About these ads

Where Marah is headed now

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Marah: Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith perform an acoustic number mid-crowd at the Benefit for Lucinda's Kids at The Bowery Electric in Manhattan's East Village on Sunday, April 29. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith talk about Mountain Minstrelsy, living (almost) off the grid and whether Serge Bielanko will rejoin Marah

How many lives has the rock band Marah had?

It’s hard to say, but it’s one of those bands that has survived surviving changing lineups, internal strife, and wildly fluctuating stylistic directions, all the while being encouraged and praised by celebrities.

Marah with flugelhorn at The Bowery Electric on April 29. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Started in Philadelphia, Marah quickly became notable for the stage antics of its core duo, brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko from Philadelphia suburb Conshohocken. They had a loose but seemingly perfectly choreographed stage presence together. Their sound, early on, featured rootsy, Americana-flavored rock and roll with a particular treat for anyone who has an affinity for Philadelphia: jangling banjos played in the style of Philadelphia Mummers Parade string bands.

A band version of Marah at Bowery Electric in 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

This is a band that novelist Stephen King in 2005 dubbed probably the best rock band in America that nobody knows.” They’ve also been the darlings of writers Nick Hornby (who did a tour with the band) and Sarah Vowell.

It’s a band that became pals with Bruce Springsteen and got him to sing and play on one of their albums. And Steve Earle liked them enough to add them to the roster of his now defunct record label.

It’s also a band whose list of former members on Wikipedia at this writing tops out at 20 — a lot for the 19-year-old a band, which generally has performed as a quartet or quintet.

In working there, they’ve discovered something magical, something that has returned the band to its roots in a way, and turned it in a new direction in another way.

Dave and Christine are working with a handful of local musicians in their Pennsylvania hideaway on a project they call Mountain Minstrelsy. (Check it out on Facebook, too.) They’re holed up in an old church that they’re using as a recording studio.

Basically, one of their musical pals in Pennsylvania showed them a book of collected lyrics, “Mountain Minstrelsy (as sung in the Backwoods Settlements, Hunting Cabins and Lumber Camps in the “Black Forest” of Pennsylvania, 1840 – 1923)” by Henry W. Shoemaker. It struck a chord, literally and figuratively, with Dave and Christine, so they set out to build an album around their new music for the found lyrics. They’ve been recording the new-old songs with some of their friends and neighbors for an album they hope to release late this year.

After the jump, read the full interview, plus a video of Dave, Christine and friends in a Mountain Minstrelsy rehearsal.

Continue reading

Daniel Breaker and special guests played Joe’s Pub

Daniel Breaker and his crew at Joe's Pub. (Photos 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Broadway star spices up his elegant cabaret set with help from fab up-and-comer Jo Lampert and Broadway vet Morgan James

The inimitable Daniel Breaker at Joe's Pub.

We’re hoping Daniel Breaker is going to be a regular on the Joe’s Pub stage. His performance there Sunday night, April 22 — his second cabaret show there — showcase the winning singer/actor even better than the first. He seemed more comfortable in his role as a front man, and less like an actor putting on a show.

Jo Lampert kills it at Joe's Pub, with drummer Christian Cassan in the background.

With the help of a dozen or so musical compatriots — including drummer Christian Cassan and music director/guitarist Jon Spurney from his time in the hit musical “Passing Strange” — Breaker put on a great show.

He sang original and classic cabaret numbers, and even dipped into rock with Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” charming the crowd all evening.

Breaker’s special guest vocalists once again gave him a run for his money. In Breaker’s last show at Joe’s, guest Condola Rashad  threatened to steal the spotlight altogether with her amazing power and charming stage persona.

Breaker clearly didn’t feel threatened. He chose equally intense guests for this show. Jo Lampert, who not long ago was a production assistant at Joe’s Pub and who was involved in the Public Theater’s incarnation of “Passing Strange,” blew the doors off with her rendition of Beyonce‘s “Halo,” and also filled in superbly on backing vocals.

Morgan James, currently in the cast of "Godspell" on Broadway, at Joe's Pub.

Morgan James, who’s in the ensemble with “Godspell” on Broadway, also did a great job.

Kelvin Dinkins Jr. and William Jackson Harper (a must-see in our book after his amazing work “The Total Bent” at the Public Theater) helped out on backing vocals.

Marah’s Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith returning to New York for benefit show

Marah: Christine Smith and Dave Bielanko

In recent years, the wild, Philadelphia-born rock band Marah has stripped down. Essentially, it’s now just Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith at the core, performing as a duo at time and recruiting bandmates for bigger shows.

After a stint in Brooklyn, they’ve have moved into an old farmhouse in the wilds of central Pennsylvania, with a phone line for incoming calls only. They’ve been working on a couple of records, about which more in our next post.

But for now, let’s focus on this week. Marah is coming out of wilderness to do a few shows, one of which is this Sunday, April 29, at The Bowery Electric at 327 Bowery in Manhattan.

They’re performing on the first night of two-evening benefit concert for a friend who took her own life last year and left two teenage children behind.

Marah to play at Benefit for Lucinda’s Kids

It looks like this benefit will be a real blast, with a lot of other amazing artists.

It’s all to raise money for the children of Lucinda Gallagher, a 37-year-old super music fan from Hoboken who took her life in December.

In an exclusive Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? interview (which we’ll share fully in our next post), Christine spoke about Marah’s connection with Gallagher:

Continue reading

New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts. We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further.

Continue reading

New World Stages responds to talk that The Scottsboro Boys will make a New York comeback there

New World Stages marquee, 340 West 50th Street, Manhattan. (Photo courtesy New World Stages)

‘No conversations’ about staging the Kander and Ebb musical, says NWS managing director

When we reported the news that one of the producers of The Scottsboro Boys publicly proclaimed the show was returning soon to an NYC stage, Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? offered it with a grain of salt.

It’s a good thing, because the the people at New World Stages, the house specifically named by the producer, are denying shooting down the idea — at least for now.

Michael Coco, NWS managing director, got back to us with this response:

Currently, all five theaters at NWS are filled with successful productions all with open ended contracts.  We do not anticipate any changes in our programming in the near future.

We followed up with Coco on this to clarify further. Continue reading

The Public Theater announces its promising new season

How can any theater lineup featuring the talents of David Byrne, Fatboy Slim, Colman Domingo, Michael John LaChiusa, Edna Ferber and more go wrong?

New York’s Public Theater has just announced its schedule for the 2012-2013 theater season.

We’re particularly excited to see the world premiere of  David Byrne and Fatboy Slim’s musical Here Lies Love on the bill and are looking forward to the New York premiere of the musical Giant, based on Edna (Show Boat) Ferber’s novel with lyrics and music by Michael John LaChiusa.

But then there’s Colman Domingo‘s play Wild With Happy getting its world premiere, too!

See for yourself, after the jump.

Continue reading

UPDATED: Provocative musical ‘The Scottsboro Boys’ returning soon to the New York stage?

The cast of The Scottsboro Boys.

BREAKING NEWS: New World Stages reacts. Click HERE.

UPDATED: An earlier version of this post conflated the Broadway show where this news was overheard with the source’s current Broadway credits. This update clarifies the source’s credits and reflects that Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has now reached out to New World Stages and the producer for comment.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has heard an interesting bit of theater gossip. We’re not generally given to reporting gossip, but the source of this one seems impeccable.

At intermission during the matinee performance of Leap of Faith on Broadway Saturday, April 7, a man greeted some friends near the bar. We couldn’t help but hear him reveal to his friend that he’s a Broadway producer. We didn’t immediately recognize him, but he mentioned that he’s producing Clybourne Park, a straight play now on Broadway, as well as a current Broadway musical comedy.

As the conversation went on, the subject of the short-lived Kander and Ebb musical The Scottsboro Boys,came up. It turns out the guy also was a producer of that provocative, somewhat unsettling minstrel-style musical about an infamous racist incident involving accusations of rape by a white girl against nine black teenage boys in 1931.

“It’s coming back, soon, to New World Stages,” he said with obvious pride. Lately, New World is where Broadway shows that, for one reason or another are no longer viable in a Broadway house, take on new life. Rent was revived there, Avenue Q and Million Dollar Quartet live on there. And soon, it seems, The Scottsboro Boys will find new life there, too.

We didn’t recognize the producer who was doing all the talking. T-+here are only one or two producers whose images who are seared in our memory, including Elizabeth McCann and Steve Klein, both of whom were involved with Passing Strange. But a few minutes of research on IBDB.com and Google Images helped us figure out that the guy was, indeed, a producer of the shows in question. So we’re guessing he knows what he’s talking about.

Scottsboro got good reviews in its off-Broadway run at the Vineyard Theatre. (Full disclosure: Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is friend and huge fan of Colman Domingo, one of its stars.) It took us a bit of time to get past our feeling that it was somehow wrong to laugh at such a serious true story from the sad history of race relations in the United States. But once we set that aside and got into the spirit of the show, we really enjoyed it. But others in our audience, including a black couple we encountered nearby after the show, left feeling more uncomfortable than entertained.

The show fell flat when it moved to Broadway, running for just 29 previews and 49 regular  performances in the fall of 2010. The feelings of discomfort dogged it from the beginning of its run, and the show drew protesters who claimed it was racist. It also earned 12 Tony Award nominations and gained some rabid fans who continue to beat the drum for its return.

The Scottsboro Boys hasn’t disappeared. It got an extended run in Philadelphia earlier this year, and is set to begin performances April 29 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Calif. And it’s scheduled to play at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco starting June 21.

Continue reading

The ‘Portlandia’ effect: Wild Flag rocks Webster Hall in NYC

Wild Flag at Webster Hall in New York City on April 1, 2012. From left, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony, Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein. (Photos 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Wild Flag is an all-female supergroup whose members are drawn from three ’90s bands — Sleater-Kinney, Helium and The Minders. But thanks to her incredible stage presence (and her seeming ubiquity as a result of her cult hit cable TV show “Portlandia”)  guitarist Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), was the one who really owned the stage at Webster Hall in Manhattan on April Fool’s Day.

Carrie Brownstein, with Janet Weiss on drums.

Brownstein shares lead vocals in Wild Flad with Mary Timony (the Lolita-esque former frontwoman of Helium). But only Brownstein behaved like a rock star onstage. She pranced, jumped and stretched like a cat (not much purring, though, as her vocal delivery was aggressive) throughout the band’s tight, well-paced set. Despite being encumbered by her guitar for most of the evening, Brownstein, with her lithe figure, managed to evoke Mick Jagger with her moves.

That’s not to say that the other three were slacking. Timony, keyboard player Rebecca Cole (The Minders) and drummer Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney) each held up their end of the bargain quite well. Continue reading

Big talent cultivates big prog-rock sound in Big Farm

Don’t miss the all-star ensemble’s gig at Public Assembly

Who knows when they’ll play again

Big Farm: Jason Treuting, Steven Mackey, Mark Haanstra and Rinde Eckert.

Q. Did you hear the one about the Pulitzer Prize finalist, the Guggenheim fellow, one of the leading new music percussionists and a Dutch Jazz Competition-winning bassist got together to make some garage rock?

A. Big Farm was born.

Janus Trio

Never heard of Big Farm? Go to Public Assembly at 70 North 6th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, and you’ll never forget them. (They’re on a bill with Janus Trio, a great Brooklyn-based flute-viola-harp trio.) Admission is $10 at the door.

Time Out NY has called Big Farm “something like a Blind Faith-style supergroup,” given the accomplishments of the individuals in the band. Jason Treuting, the drummer, is perhaps the most recognizable member of the versatile percussion ensemble So Percussion. Steven Mackey, the sizzling lead guitarist, is a former Guggenheim fellow, a Grammy winner and an accomplished New Music composer. Bassist Mark Haanstra is an incredibly talented jazz player from the Netherlands. And Rinde Eckert, the vocalist, was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for his “Orpheus X” and also a Guggenheim fellowship. Continue reading