Category Archives: Concerts

‘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.)


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.

Stew plays ‘Singing MC’ for Church of Betty, Eszter Balint, Carol Lipnik at The Living Room

Stew and Eszter Balint are on the bill at The Living Room in Brooklyn on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.

Stew and Eszter Balint are on the bill at The Living Room in Brooklyn on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. (Photos by Steven P. Marsh/

It’ll be a weird and wonderful night on Friday, Dec. 11 at The Living Room in Brooklyn.


(Chris Rael/Facebook)

Stew, the main main in the band The Negro Problem and the Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange,” will be playing a role of “Singing MC” at The Living Room.

It’ll be Stew’s second appearance in recent months at the newish Brooklyn home of the longtime Lower East Side music venue.

He’ll be hosting an evening of music featuring a spending lineup of quirky performers, including a favorite of mine: quirky singer/songwriter/actress Eszter Balint. If you don’t know her music — no shame in that because her albums have been few and far between — be sure to check out her newest collection, Airless Midnight, released earlier this year. It’s in my regular listening rotation.

Chris Rael’s Church of Betty is headlining the bill, which also features an appearance by singer Carol Lipnik.

The Living Room is at 134 Metropolitan Ave. in Brooklyn. The show’s posted start time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available by clicking here.

Read Stew’s Facebook announcement of the below:


(Stew & The Negro Problem/Facebook)

hey people!
Come see moi in the guise of “The Singing MC” on Friday Dec. 11th at The Living Room where I’ll be hosting,…

Posted by Stew & The Negro Problem on Saturday, November 7, 2015

Jackson Browne enthralls at The Capitol Theatre

Jackson Browne and his band at The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/

Jackson Browne and his band at The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, New York. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/

Jackson Browne’s music has been in my life since high school. While I’ve been to thousands of rock concerts since then, I never even considered checking out Browne in live performance.

I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because his music was so pervasive — especially during my young adulthood — that I felt sufficiently sated by what I heard every day on the radio. (Remember radio?)

That changed on Thursday night, when I got the chance to see Browne on his second night at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.

Browne, who’s less than a month shy of his 67th birthday, put on an incredible show for a wildly appreciative sold-out crowd for a full 2½ hours — with only two brief encore breaks.

He never stinted, lovingly spinning the songs at times into extended jams.

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Come Laugh in the Dark with Tommy Keene this Thursday at The Bowery Electric

Guitar god Tommy Keene performs Thursday at The Bowery Electric.

Guitar god Tommy Keene performs Thursday at The Bowery Electric.

Maybe Tommy Keene has discovered the Fountain of Youth.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. He’s aged. He’s not the skinny kid guitar-slinger he was when he exploded out of Maryland and onto the rock scene in 1982 with his debut album, Strange Alliance.

He’s earned every line on his 57-year-old face. But his voice, searing guitar playing, and songwriting still have all the energy and feel of his younger self.

Whatever he’s doing is really working for him, so he should keep on doing it.

Keene’s new album, Laugh in the Dark, which dropped Sept. 4 on Second Motion Records, ranks with the best work he’s ever done.

You can hear the new material live when he plays The Bowery Electric in New York City this Thursday.

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LAST CHANCE: Enter to WIN tickets to see Os Mutantes at LPR on Sept. 15

Os Mutantes (Facebook)

Os Mutantes (Facebook)

Don’t forget to enter by 11:59 p.m. today for a random drawing to win tickets to see the fantastic Brazilian psych-rock band Os Mutantes‘ only US appearance this year at (le) poisson rouge in Manhattan next Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Enter by email to win a pair of tickets. Go here to create the email entry automatically, or do it the old-school way by typing the subject line  “Os Mutantes tickets” into an email addressed to (Your information will NOT BE SHARED with anyone other than the ticket folks at LPR, who need it to verify the winner’s identity.) Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Sept. 9, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and notified on Sept. 10.

For more information, go here.

Amy Bezunartea: Pop hero or new villain?

Amy Bezunartea performs at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 on Sept. 1, 2015. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/

Amy Bezunartea performs at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 on Sept. 1, 2015. (© 2015, Steven P. Marsh/

If you’re a curiosity seeker who decided to check out singer-songwriter Amy Bezunartea because you heard — or heard about — the NSFW lyrics in her new single, “Oh the Things a Girl Must Do,” good for you.

But stick around, there’s more — a lot more  — to this artist than one line that incorporates slang for vagina:

Oh the things a girl must do
If you only knew
Just how much the world wants to see
Everyone’s having fun
When it’s over you can tell
They all want the pussy
But they don’t like the smell

NPR’s “All Songs Considered” praises the work while falling all over itself to call out the song’s frankness, using “graphically” in its headline. As if that weren’t enough, the NPR post also carries the warning label “LANGUAGE ADVISORY: This song contains sexually explicit language,” and uses the terms “a shocking turn” and “NSFW (not safe for work)” in the text. 

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