Category Archives: Concerts

Classical pianist Vladimir Feltsman: Still looking for the sweet spot

Pianist Vladimir Feltsman

Pianist Vladimir Feltsman

Pianist Vladimir Feltsman arrived in the United States a quarter century ago after spending eight years as essentially a nonperson in the Soviet Union, his homeland. After finally being permitted to emigrate to the West, the former refusenik has tried hard to stop talking about those dark days.

After years of playing many concerts every year, he’s settled into a schedule of a smaller number of carefully selected appearances, always performing superbly, but always on the hunt for the sweet spot. As he tells me in a conversation for lohud.com/The Journal News: “On some good days — it’s not always happening — but when it’s happening, it feels great. There’s like an exchange of energy, which is very much real and tangible, between public and artist. So when that happens it feels really good.”

I spoke with Feltsman in advance of his concert Wednesday evening at Bedford Chamber Concerts (St. Matthews Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall, 382 Cantitoe St., Bedford, NY; 914-522-5150).

Please tap or click here to check out the conversation.

About these ads

Poland will never be the same after Ubu Sings Ubu

Ubu6

A dangerous man: Tony Torn as Pere Ubu at Joe’s Pub on March 25, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

About midway through the show on March 25, the flabby, shirtless man on stage at Joe’s Pub — his face still bearing the image of the Polish eagle albeit runny with sweat — stepped out of character as Pere Ubu, the king of Poland.

It’s at this point in the show that I’d be introducing my special guest, said actor Tony Torn But I can’t, he added.

So he invited the audience to join him in a chant:

“Stew has flu. Stew has flu. Stew has flu….”

After chanting that a few times, any disappointment I might have been feeling about the absence of Stew, Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange” and leader of the rock band The Negro Problem, vanished as Torn returned to character and carried on with the set.

Sure, it would have been nice to see Stew sit in with this talented band of actors and musicians. But he deserved to stay home and nurse his illness. And Torn and company managed to provide an extraordinarily entertaining evening without their announced special guest.

I had wondered how Stew fit into this mad plan of creating a band to cover Pere Ubu songs in character from from the Alfred Jarry’s 1896 French play “Ubu Roi.”

Torn, happily, answered the question from stage.

This show, “Ubu Sings Ubu,” wouldn’t have materialized at all if, some years ago, Stew hadn’t let Torn sing what he called “one of his crazy punk rock songs.”

He didn’t explain exactly when or how that occurred, so I can only guess it was in a workshop of some sort. Continue reading

Intentional nostalgia: Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough played The Bell House

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 7, 2014 (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott. (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Back in February — it seems such a very long time ago — I stopped by at The Bell House in Brooklyn to catch a double bill featuring two of my favorite bands.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brookly, NY, on Feb. 7, 2014.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Ed Seifert, Toni Paruta Baumgartner, Mike Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee.

Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough both factored heavily in my experience at the late, lamented Maxwell’s in Hoboken, so it was a real joy to see them together at the Bell House, which was becoming Maxwell’s musical successor even before the lights went out in Hoboken. (And it’s no surprise, given that former Maxwell’s booker and co-owner Todd Abramson has been booking bands at the great Gowanus club for quite awhile now.)

The show was awesome, as expected. And the crowd — packed with more than a few familiar faces from Maxwell’s — was enthusiastic.

So step into my time machine and get a look at some shots from the show. If you were there, the pics will spark some good memories. If you didn’t make it, I apologize if my images make you envious.

Either way, enjoy them.

Continue reading

Ecstatic Music Festival brings together 5 musicians in a unique collaboration

Ecstatic_Music_Festival_2

It’s hard to believe that the 2014 edition of the Ecstatic Music Festival is nearly over. I suppose it’s because I haven’t been able to get to most of the shows in the festival, which kicked off Jan. 31 and ends this Saturday, March 29.

Two shows remain this year: Wednesday’s bill featuring So Percussion and Buke & Gase, and Saturday’s program with Man Forever and William Basinski. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are a reasonable $25, but if you attend both shows, you can get in for $20 apiece. Click here to buy tickets online, or visit the Merkin Concert Hall box office at 129 West 67th Street in Manhattan.

Continue reading

Black 47′s long goodbye comes to Yonkers

20140313-174339.jpg

What form of entertainment could be more appropriate in St. Patrick’s weekend than a Black 47 concert?

And the great thing is , if you love in the Lower Hudson Valley, you don’t even have to trek into New York City to see them (unless you simply must do it on Monday, St. Patrick’s Day proper, when they appear at B.B. King’s).

The lauded Irish-American rock band, which is calling it quits in November, is playing Sunday afternoon at Empire City Casino in Yonkers.

For mor info, check out my interview with Larry Kirwan, the lead singer and cofounder. It’s online now at LoHud.com and is scheduled to appear in Friday’s editions of The Journal News.

20140313-165521.jpg

Neutral Milk Hotel feels right at home in Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre

The hoi polloi weren't allowed to take photos of Neutral Milk Hotel during the performance, at the artist's request. So this image of the stage, set up for the band, is all I got. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

The hoi polloi weren’t allowed to take photos of Neutral Milk Hotel during the performance, at the artist’s request. So this image of the stage, set up for the band, is all I got. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s time for a confession: I never saw Jeff Mangum or his legendary band, Neutral Milk Hotel, perform back in the day.

Sure, I heard the songs then, and I’ve listened to the recordings obsessively in recent years.

But seeing Jeff’s gradual return to the spotlight at the NYC benefit for Chris Knox at 2010, and at various shows he’s done since then, I feel like I’ve gotten to know him. Continue reading

Mountain Man’s Amelia Randall Meath explores a different sound in Sylvan Esso

Amelia Randall Meath and Nicholas Sanborn are Sylvan Esso.

Amelia Randall Meath and Nicholas Sanborn are Sylvan Esso.

Duo launches a short tour next week

You probably know about Mountain Man, the seemingly guileless female trio that I found particularly enchanting  at the 2010 edition of Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival. Continue reading

Jen Chapin brings her warm, wonderful sound to Piermont’s Turning Point

Jen Chapin

Jen Chapin

You might think that Jen Chapin simply had no choice but to become a musician.

More than most American families, hers was full of musicians.

While her dad, the late Harry Chapin, may today be the best known of the lot, he was just one of many. Harry and his brothers, Tom and Steve, performed as the Chapin Brothers long before Harry found his breakout fame as a singer and writer of songs like the enduring “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Tom Chapin remains a regular performer and the Steve Chapin Band still plays from time to time as well. (Tom’s daughters Abigail and Lily perform as The Chapin Sisters.) And her grandfather, Jim Chapin, was a big-band drummer. Continue reading

Jherek Bischoff remains composed in the face of his heroes

Curtain call for "Jherek Bischoff Composed" at St. Ann's Warehouse on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Curtain call for “Jherek Bischoff Composed” at St. Ann’s Warehouse on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Surrounded by some of the greatest singers and performers at work today, DIY musician Jherek Bischoff managed to remain composed Wednesday night at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood.

Good thing, too, since his two-night stand at the black box arts center is titled “Jherek Bischoff Composed,” which also is the title of Bischoff’s 2012 album whose works anchor the show. Before you read further, let me tell you now that you really should attend this show. Continue reading

Yo La Tengo played The Bell House, a little late for Hanukkah

Yo La Tengo started with a quiet set in front of some tree props. (Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Yo La Tengo started with a quiet set in front of some tree props. (Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

In apparent confirmation of the notion that its annual, eight-night Hanukkah concerts died along with Maxwell’s, the Hoboken music club, Yo La Tengo skipped performing during the Festival of Lights this year. But the Hoboken-based band did manage to pull together a four-night, end-of-year run at The Bell House in Brooklyn over the weekend.

(Photos © 2013, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Never forget your roots.

Sunday night’s show was all YLT, all the time. It didn’t have the special attraction of guest artists and comedians opening for and playing with YLT’s Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew. But it was a splendid way to wrap up the year anyway.

On Sunday, YLT opened with a set of quiet versions of songs, largely from this year’s album, “Fade.” For the second set, they cut loose, rocking out on a huge set of songs.

(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Joe Puleo on Farfisa.

Oh, and I’m slightly wrong about the “no guest artists” thing. The band’s longtime tour manager and man-about-town Joe Puleo joined them on Farfisa for one number. I guess that counts.

(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

A huge tech and front-of-house sound area kept things running smoothly and quickly.

Enjoy more photos after the jump.

Continue reading