Category Archives: Concerts

The best time for Speed the Plough is ‘Now’

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Mark your calendar now: Speed the Plough is ready to party.

The North Jersey chamber rockers have been playing the songs from their splendid new album, aptly titled “Now,” for awhile. But now they’re ready to make it official with a record release party.

STP will jam the tiny stage of The HiFi Bar (formerly Brownie’s) in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday night, Feb. 25, to celebrate its release.

nowcover “Now” is Speed the Plough’s eighth album, and is notable for its fresh-but-familiar sound and the fact that it’s the first release by the newly revived Coyote Records.

Coyote was responsible for some of the early releases by Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Beat Rodeo, Chris Stamey,and other leading lights of the Hoboken indie rock scene that centered on Maxwell’s. It was co-founded by Steve Fallon, who also ran Maxwell’s before giving it all up and moving to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he opened a collectibles shop called Gidget’s Gadgets.

It’s fitting in so many ways that “Now” is Coyote’s first release in years. Speed the Plough  started playing in 1984, during the golden age of the Hoboken scene, and has persevered — with an evolving membership always anchored by stalwarts Toni and John Baumgartner — through so many changes.

“Now” is a perfect example of Speed the Plough’s ability to ability to adapt.

The album preserves the feel of the band’s earlier work without  sounding dated. This disc embraces the talents of the new members — vocalist/guitaristsEd Seifert and Michael Baumgartner, bassist Cindi Merklee, and drummer John Demeski.

Seven of the album’s 12 tracks are John Baumgartner compositions featuring vocals by him or Toni, along with Toni’s traditional wind instruments. They’re every bit as good as anything they’ve done before. The haunting “Midnight in the World” — with its refrain of “Calling you ’cause I don’t know what to do” — is a particular earworm.

Their son, Michael, comes on strong with three contributions: “Garden,” a rocker that is probably the first of the gravel-voiced songwriter’s that I ever heard live, “Hey, Blue,” a gentle love song, and a brief (1:47), driving, Hüsker Dü-ish rocker, “Ed’s Song.”  that closes the disc.

Seifert contributes “Be With You,” a delightful, loping folk-rocker with spare, repeated lyrics.

Merklee steps forward in a way that I’ve been waiting to hear, offering a beautiful, plaintive homage to novelist Carson McCullers wiht “Miss Amelia.”

IF YOU GO

What: Speed the Plough record release party

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25

Where: The HiFi Bar, 169 Avenue A, Manhattan

Tickets: Free, donations accepted, with all proceeds going to the artists. Shows in this small venue tend to fill up, but if you arrive early, you’ll likely have no problem getting in. Making a donation in advance online guarantees entry.

 

TONIGHT: Check out Kelly Flint opening for Jane Siberry in Beacon

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If you can get to the Towne Crier Café in Beacon tonight, your in for a double-barreled blast of great music.

Jane Siberry, the headliner, has been making her idiosyncratic music for three decades. She’s a consummate performer whose songs are quirky and full of surprises.

Kelly Flint hasn’t been on the scene as long as Siberry, but she’s got quite a bit of performing under her belt, too — along with a ton of great, folky, self-penned tunes and that tremendous voice.

kelly flint - drive all nightFlint was the lead singer of the popular New York lounge noir band Dave’s True Story from 1992 to 2007, making waves in indie music circles with her vocal interpretations of Dave Cantor’s quirky, jazzy tunes with his smart, idiosyncratic lyrics.

In recent years, Flint has been writing her own songs and performing sporadically under her own name — just her and her guitar, sometimes with ex-husband and former DTS bandmate Jeff Eyrich supporting her on bass.

The Westchester County woman has been regularly headlining shows with her singer-songwriter material at the Bronxville Women’s Club. Opening for Siberry tonight will expose Flint to a new audience and could open the door to more shows.

Flint, who’s a longtime pal, spoke to me in November about her career and her life raising her son, Ben. Check out that conversation, published by The Journal News/lohud.com, here.

Be sure to get to Beacon and check out what she’s up to. If you remember her from DTS, you won’t be disappointed. If you didn’t follow her back then, be sure to arrive early to give her a listen — you’re in for a real treat.

IF YOU GO

What: Kelly Flint, opening for Jane Siberry

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4.

Where: Towne Crier Café, 379 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508 MAP

Tickets: $25. Go here to reserve online or call 845-855-1300.

 

Wilco brings ‘Star Wars’ to Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre

 

The Capitol Theatre marquee (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Capitol Theatre marquee (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

I’ve seen Wilco more than just about any other band. I’m not sure why, it just happened. It seems I can’t get enough of them. Thankfully, every tour seems fresh, because this band is tighter and more spectacular every time it blasts out of the gate.

The "Star Wars" cat — or, rather, a reasonable facsimile — awaits the band's arrival onstage Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The “Star Wars” cat — or, rather, a reasonable facsimile — awaits the band’s arrival onstage Tuesday night at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

This tour — which returns to the Capitol Theatre for another sold out show Wednesday, before hitting the far less intimate Kings Theatre in Brooklyn for two more sold-out gigs on Friday and Saturday — rolls out the new “Star Wars” material, like “More,” “Taste the Ceiling,””Random Name Generator,” and the heartbreaking “Where Do I Begin.”

Even so, Wilco’s never a play-the-album band, so there were plenty of favorites from the back catalogue in the show, too.

Photos and setlist on the jump.

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The Smithereens do it ‘Especially for You’

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens at B.B. King Blues Club (© 2016, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Smithereens unleashed their debut album, “Especially for You,” on the world 30 years ago, and the band played it — and much more at B.B. King Blues Club in Manhattan on Saturday night.

The Times Square feels like an odd place to see the band, which formed in Carteret, New Jersey, in 1980. The band seems far more at home in the grungy basement music room of New Brunswick’s Court Tavern. But B.B. King was the place the band booked — it’s become the band’s Manhattan go-to for a number of January shows — so there I went.

The show was superb, despite the questionable venue: great performances, great sound.

Yes, singer Pat DiNizio has been through some tough times and isn’t in the best physical shape. He’s unable to play guitar because of recent Tommy John surgery as well as other procedures to correct carpal tunnel problems.

But the man can still sing. His voice, while a little less flexible than it was 30 years ago, still has that distinctive quality that instantly identifies a Smithereens song, and remains superbly expressive.

Without DiNizio’s guitar, the band brought in keyboard player Andy Burton of John Mayer’s band to fill out the  sound — keys are a surprisingly nice addition, actually. And  guitarist Jim Babjak worked harder than ever to make up for the lack of a second guitar, with a rock-solid beat established by Dennis Diken, the world’s hardest-working drummer and bassist Severo “The Thrilla” Jornacion.

See more photos and info on upcoming shows after the jump.

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Get a taste of Nyack violoist Martha Mooke’s new CD, ‘No Ordinary Window,’ with brunch this Sunday

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Pioneering composer and electro-acoustic violist Martha Mooke of Nyack at the Art Cafe in Nyack on Nov. 17, 2015. (Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)

Veteran electro-acoustic violist Martha Mooke is unleashing her new CD on the world with a brunch and concert on Sunday, Jan. 13, at Manhattan’s Cutting Room.

She’s no ordinary violist, so it’s fitting that her new disc, with its beautifully rhythmic, meditative tunes that open windows that offer a peek at the sonic world of her imagination, is titled “No Ordinary Window.”

“I slip through the cracks of defined boundaries,” she says. “I keep re-creating my way…. I try to take on challenges.”

I had a chance to spend an hour talking with Mooke about the project, her career, and her life in Nyack.

Click here to read the full interview I wrote for The Journal News/lohud.com.

And be sure to check out her live performance on Sunday.

IF YOU GO

When: Sunday, Dec. 13. Doors at 11:30 a.m., show at 1 p.m.

Where: The Cutting Room 44 E. 32nd St., Manhattan, thecuttingroomnyc.com/.

Tickets: $30, including brunch, concert, and cocktail. Available online at Ticketfly by clicking here.

 

‘You Us We All,’ well … I am very disappointed

I wanted to love “You Us We All,” the celebrity-citing, pop culture-driven modern opera in Baroque form — in its music, theatrical arc, staging, and costuming — that had its first performance Wednesday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theater. (You can judge for yourself. Performances continue through Saturday. Buy tickets here.)

After all, I think Shara Worden, a classically trained singer who performs in the pop world as My Brightest Diamond and works the New Music circuit under her given name, wrote the music and is one of the singers.

I didn’t know anything much about Andrew Ondrejcak, who wrote the text, directed, and designed the production or about B.O.X. (Baroque Orchestration X), which commissioned the piece and provides the first-rate instrumental ensemble, but had high hopes.

I’ve frequently enjoyed Worden’s work in pop and New Music. And I’ve been itching for a new work to come along that as exciting and challenging as, say, Thomas Adès’ “Powder Her Face.” But this piece isn’t up to that task.

In fact, “You Us We All” ultimately left me wondering whether I had wasted my evening.
It isn’t without merit. The music is lovely, some of the singing is delicious, the chamber orchestra is splendid, and the text is wickedly funny at times. But all those positives created more of a pastiche than a written-through show.

I chalked up my discontent at first to being tired. I found the piece very difficult to follow, and the poorly projected supertitles almost impossible to read from my upper orchestra seat. (You might think supertitles wouldn’t be crucial for an English-language production, but you’d be wrong.)

But then I saw members of the opening night audience slipping out early. It’s not unheard of at BAM, but audiences there are generally more tolerant and attuned to avant garde work than audiences at, say, the Metropolitan Opera.

I realized I wasn’t just being cranky about this when I read  Zachary Woolfe’s review in The New York Times review, which declares the piece “earnest and eventually tiresome.”

Bang on a Can cello star performs at at GARNER Arts Center Friday

(Ashley Bathgate/Facebook)

If you have an itch to hear one of the best New Music cellists around but hate the thought of traveling to Manhattan or Brooklyn to do it, Nov. 13 is your lucky day — even though it’s a Friday the 13th!

Ashley Bathgate, a member of the groundbreaking Bang on a Can All-Stars, brings her talents to the county’s own repurposed historic factory complex, the GARNER Arts Center at the Garnerville Arts &  Industrial Center. for a one-night-only performance.

Ashley Bathgate performs at GARNER Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 13.

Ashley Bathgate performs at GARNER Arts Center on Friday, Nov. 13.

If I weren’t committed to working late that evening, I’d be the first in line to get a good seat for what is sure to be an exciting performance by one of my favorite string players.

This won’t be her first time playing in an industrial space like GARNER. Bang on a Can members are quite used to such a setting. They run a summer music camp every year at MASS MoCA, the modern art museum that occupies an old factory complex in North Adams, Massachusetts. GARNER has a similar vibe.

Ashley will play amid  light and sound installations, including projections by downtown Manhattan art icon M. Henry Jones during the performance.

Check out these videos of Ashley in action. (Scroll past videos for venue and ticket information.)

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Ashley Bathgate, cellist

WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Opening at 6:30, performance at 7:30. Click here for more information.

WHERE: GARNER Arts Center, 55 W. Railroad Ave., Garnerville.

TICKETS: $15. $13 for seniors, students, military. Buy online by clicking here.