Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Singer-Songwriter Jamie Block’s independent film gets East Coast premiere in Brooklyn next week

Haverstraw-based singer-songwriter Jamie Block overlooking the Hudson River at Flywheel Park in Piermont. N.Y., on Sept. 7, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Haverstraw-based singer-songwriter Jamie Block overlooking the Hudson River at Flywheel Park in Piermont. N.Y., on Sept. 7, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

When I met Jamie Block for the first time, back in 2013, the onetime anti-folk singer-songwriter he was on the comeback trail. The longtime Rockland County resident had gotten through a difficult time in his life. By his own account, he had hit bottom and found his way up again before releasing the impressive “Whitecaps on the Hudson,” his first album in seven years.

His effort to promote that album led to a relationship with Brooklyn filmmaker Onur Turkel, which at first apparently was intended to produce some music videos. But things blossomed and what resulted is a full-length comedy, “Abby Singer/Songwriter,”  starring Block, daughters Johanna and Sophie, and the filmmaker. And you’ll be able to see it here in the New York City area for the first time next week.

I’ve seen clips, which are quite funny, but haven’t seen the finished product yet. So here’s a description of it from a film festive website:

A comedy with real heart, Abby Singer, Songwriter tells the tale of a filmmaker and a musician who meet and start working together in a union that at times seems the most ill-fated creative partnership in history. Luckily for us, it’s also one of the funniest, as terrible music video ideas come to life, recurring jokes land perfectly and don’t hold back on political correctness and the film builds layer upon layer of character driven conundrums to form its perfect NYC-set universe. Featuring real-life musician Jamie Block and real-life director Onur Tukel playing fictionalized versions of themselves, the film is a throwback to great independent films as a unique story and structure pay off in spades. As Jamie tries to survive Onur and make a real connection with his daughters he must also face the prospect that the two things are becoming increasingly, hilariously intertwined.

Continue reading

Speed the Plough takes over Union Hall next Friday

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Speed the Plough play live. It’s not that the band hasn’t been playing — while STP doesn’t mount major tours, there have been several gigs in the area since that appearance in May at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. Scheduling just hasn’t worked out for me.

So I’m looking forward to seeing them at Brooklyn’s Union Hall on Friday, March 20 — and making sure the scheduling works out this time.

The New Jersey chamber pop family band will be joined by two other notable outfits: the indie super group Heroes of Toolik and Jersey-rooted Deena & the Laughing Boys.

STP and its rhythmic, classically informed pop has been part of my musical life for a long time. I can’t explain that much better than in did in a blurb I was honored to have included in the band’s 2014 retrospective album “The Plough & the Stars”:

In this crazy, uncertain world, there are precious few constants. Speed the Plough is one of them. I feel like I’ve known this band forever, even if I didn’t really discover it until 1996 … It may never displace death or taxes as one of life’s certainties, but the world is a better place with Speed the Plough giving those two a run for the money.

The lineup has changed considerably over the years, but Toni and John Baumgartner have been there all along. And there’s usually been a Demeski (first Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, whose wife Janet is John Baumgartner’s sister, and now their son John) and, for a time, another member of the Feelies, Brenda Sauter, and her husband, Rich Barnes.

Heroes of Toolik is a band that hasn’t been on my radar before, and I can’t imagine why, given its heritage. But it’s there now, for keeps, and should be on your radar, too. It has quite a heritage, drawing its notable members from a bunch of important indie bands: Arad Evans, on guitar and voice, has performed with avant garde icons Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca; Peter Zummo, on trombone, with the Lounge Lizards; Ernie Brooks, on bass, was in the Modern Lovers; drummer Billy Ficca fropm Television and the Washington Squares; and fiddler Jennifer Coates from Jenny Get Around. The band’s sound has a lot in common with STP, as this clip demonstrates.

Deena Shoshkes is somebody I’ve been planning to write about for awhile. She may be best known as a founder of Eighties indie band the Cucumbers, which was a mainstay of the Hoboken scene centered on Maxwell’s. Her second solo album, “Rock River,” was released just last yea. It’s a delightful collection of 12 tunes  that continues the joyful, almost childlike sound that the Cucumbers created. For a sample of her latest album, tap or click here.

Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30, on Friday, March 20, at Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn. Admission is $10, with tickets available online by tapping or clicking here. Call 718-638-4400 or email info@unionhallny.com for more information.

Mother Falcon will fly into your heart, head and ears

Mother Falcon onstage at Brooklyn's Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P, Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Mother Falcon onstage at Brooklyn’s Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Violinist Todd Reynolds to be guest on the orchestral pop band’s ‘Symphonic Sundays With Mother Falcon’ program at Joe’s Pub this Sunday

I’ll admit that I’m a little late to the party where Mother Falcon is concerned.

But I knew I’d fall in the love the minute I started checking out the orchestral pop band’s music on the recommendation of a friend — somebody who’s more often asking me for bands to check out.

Mother Falcon (Nick Gregg on mandolin) onstage at Brooklyn's Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P, Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Mother Falcon (Nick Gregg on mandolin) onstage at Brooklyn’s Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It didn’t take long for the upbeat, passionate sound to reel me right in.

But I learned at Littlefield in North Slope, Brooklyn, last night that their recordings pale in comparison to their live performances. There were 12 members of Mother Falcon (the band, always big, varies in number as I understand it) on Littlefield’s generous stage. Every one of the players obviously put heart and soul into the set. Continue reading

Cynthia Hopkins samples the candy and finds it bittersweet

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

How long has Pete’s Candy Store been a concert venue on the Northside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn?

I’ve been meaning to get thee since the day it opened, but something always got in the way — my schedule,  other priorities, whatever.

So what (or should I say who) did it take to finally get me there?

Cynthia Hopkins, that’s who. Continue reading

Sharon Van Etten asks: Are We There?

Sharon Van Etten (Photo by Dusdin Condren)

Sharon Van Etten (Photo by Dusdin Condren)

On her new album, “Are We There,” Sharon Van Etten asks a question — though her designer left off the question mark — whose answer depends very much on who you’re asking.

I’ve been having a debate with someone about Sharon that demonstrates that there’s no clear answer to the question.

My debate partner thinks Sharon, whose first album, 2009’s Because I Was in Love,  was a fairly stripped-down, singer-songwriter affair, has exhibited an increasing tendency to lean too heavily on studio tricks and production techniques, burying her voice, obscuring her lyrics, and seriously undercutting the impact of her songs. And her first impression of the new album is that it continues in that vein.

I had similar reservations at first, but now, after listening to Are We There a dozen times, I think that Sharon may have f0und her sweet spot.

Continue reading

Tim Fite’s been hacked

Time Fite (Photo © 2009 Steven P. Marsh)

Time Fite (Photo © 2009 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

 

Tim Fite's Phoney Store at the Beam Center in Brooklyn. (Photo © 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Tim Fite’s Phoney Store at the Beam Center in Brooklyn. (Photo © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Tim Fite‘s a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter and social commentator who’s proved his humor and fluency in a number of styles, from pop, to country, to rap.

He got onto my radar back in 2008 or so when he started performing in the persona of a well-groomed, seersucker-suit-wearing, bumpkin-ish country singer. His shows in the late ’00s usually featured backup videos layered with multiple versions of himself on various harmony vocals and instruments, sometimes including a backpacker guitar.

Tim Fite with two Phoneys, the product of his latest project. (Kickstarter)

Tim Fite with two Phoneys, the product of his latest project. (Kickstarter)

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