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.
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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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