Monthly Archives: April 2009

Nick Katzman’s got the country blues

Nick Katzman

Nick Katzman

Terri Thal, a friend with impeccable musical taste — and who knows the Greenwich Village folk and blues scene of the Sixties through her personal involvement with some of the giants of the era — says there’s another show tomorrow night that’s not to be missed.

The artist in question is New York City-born country bluesman Nick Katzman. And judging from what I’ve read and heard, Terri is on the money.

Decisions, decisions! I can’t be in two places at once. But if I could be, I’d be in Piermont for Jon Pousette-Dart and at Brooklyn’s Good Coffee House to hear Katzman.

I’ll get out of the way and let Terri tell you the rest:

Nick Katzman is fantastic! A few years ago, friends said I had to hear him, so I went to his annual Brooklyn performance, figuring I would mumble nice phrases about him. I didn’t have to mumble anything — the guy was wonderful!

He’s gotten even better. His music has texture and depth. He studied with Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, Mance Lipscomb and some younger musicians, and became a virtuoso guitarist and master of a lot of styles. Now, his mix of traditional blues, ragtime and his own songs takes me back to when folksingers played because they loved the music and listeners listened because we loved where the music took us.

Nick lives in Germany, where he plays concerts, festivals, clubs. Just completed a new CD. He’s in the US for a short while. When he performs, he’s joined by Thomasina Winslow, a young, also wonderful blues singer who lives in Albany and is building a large following there — for good reason.

If you miss this performance, you’ll have another chance to hear Nick when he comes back to the U.S. late in June or sometime in September for a special appearance in Rockland County.

Check out some mp3s of Nick and Thomasina here. Or watch them on video:

7 p.m. meet-the-artist, 8 p.m. peformance, Friday, May 1. At Good Coffee House, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, 53 Prospect Park West, Brooklyn;  (718) 768-2972. $15 for adults, $6 for children.

EXCLUSIVE: Jon Pousette-Dart was born to make music!

Jon Pousette-Dart (Photo by talisman.com)

Jon Pousette-Dart (Photo by talisman.com)

It’s nice to meet a rock musician like Jon Pousette-Dart who’s really in it for the long haul. He’s been playing music since he was a young boy in Suffern, N.Y.

Jon, who continued to tour and play even when the major-label spotlight shifted away from him in the early Eighties, tells Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? what keeps him going:

“I do it because him have to do it. It’s kind of who I am,” Jon. And while Jon is clearly a smart guy, who no doubt would be successful at almost anything he might tackle, he modestly suggests he has little choice of vocation because “I don’t know if there’s anything else I could do.”

Evidence from Jon's scrapbook shows he was playing music in 1962, when he was about 10 years old.

Evidence from Jon's scrapbook shows he was playing music in 1962, when he was about 10 years old.

Jon, the son of Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, began playing musici with friends when he was quite young, even forming a band  called Tony and the Tigers with Tony and Hunt Sales, sons of TV comedian (and neighbor) Soupy Sales. (The Sales boys later comprised the rhythm section on Iggy Pop‘s classic album Lust for Life, before becoming part of David Bowie‘s Tin Machine.)

“I knew even when I was a kid that this was what I was going to be doing,” says Jon, a self-taught guitarist who learned most of his chops from his older sister’s record collection. “It’s always been about being in music for the long run.”

In 1973, Jon formed the Pousette-Dart Band (PDB for short), and quickly was signed to Capitol Records. PDB brought bring Jon’s warm voice to bear on a string of countryish folk-rock tunes like “Amnesia” and a cover of the 1961 rock standard, “Stand By Me.” PDB’s sound was cheeful, bright and overall a little less polished than similar work by the Eagles, James Taylor or even Orleans, another band with New York roots. PDB was perfectly positioned as an alternative to the over-hyped sound of some of the big artists of the day.

The band broke up in 1981, but Jon has continued to perform, as a solo artist and with bands, ever since. He’s managed to stay afloat while dealing with huge changes in the music business. All while, Jon says, his approach to making music remains pretty steadfast. “It really hasn’t consciously changed, it has organically evolved. Over time, you become open and receptive to other things. But I was kind of rooted in roots, blues and rock-and-roll.” And even though he’s a Northerner (born in New York City in 1952, and a resident of its northwestern suburbs on and off for much of his life), he has a deep affinity for the South. “Almost everything I’ve drawn from, musically, is from down South. There’s a real layer of depth in the South.”

The one thing that has changed is Jon’s writing habits. “When I was starting out, I  wrote everything on my own. But then in the early Nineties, my manager brought me to Nashville and got me started collaborating. I really enjoyed that. It opened up a whole new perspective.”

Jon is still actively recording (a new album is due later this year) and playing shows. “Live performance is invaluable to a songwriter. It’s part of the process. You start to play a song out and it shifts and changes.” But finding places to play is the tough part in a market that Jon calls “oversaturated” with bands. So he’s thrilled to be bringing his sound back home to Rockland County with a gig in Piermont tomorrow and in Nyack next month.

The Jon Pousette-Dart Band plays at 9 p.m., Friday, May 1.  At  The Turning Point, 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont, N.Y.; (845) 359-1089. $25. (Also June 13 at Riverspace in Nyack, N.Y.)


You’ll be sorry if you miss…

  • Angela’s Mixtape: You have only four chances left to see this musical journey written by and starring 2007 Pulitzer Prize drama-award finalist
    Eisa Davis in <i>Passing Strange</i>.

    Eisa Davis in Passing Strange.

    Eisa Davis (who’s also an accomplished actor and singer, who made waves as the mother in Passing Strange). Davis’ music-driven autobiographical show is an affectionate look at her compliated relationship with her namesake aunt, Seventies radical Angela Davis.  (The actress’ full name is Angela Eisa Davis.) 8 p.m. daily, through Saturday, May 2. (Thursday and Friday are already sold out, so hurry!) At the Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster Street, Manhattan; (212) 868-4444 or www.smarttix.com. $20-$35.

  • The Last Goodbye: The first of three concert readings of this in-development musical marriage between William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Jeff Buckley’s music is already sold out. Tickets are rapidly disappearing for the remaining two shows. It has a talented young cast and a strong creative team. It seems like a combination that can’t be bad, and could be sublime. 9:30 p.m., May 11 (sold out), May 25, and June 1. At Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street, Manhattan; 212-967-7555 or www.joespub.com. $12.

Where does Fela! go from here?

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

Sahr Ngaujah onstage as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

The off-Broadway smash muscical focusing on the life and music of Afrobeat originator Fela is inching toward a future run. Auditions were held on Monday for the three principal roles in Fela! — Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the title character, Funmilayo, his mother, and Sandra Isidore, the love interest who changes Fela’s life.

The show, conceived, directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, will audition dancers, singers and percussionists next week.

There are still more questions than answers about the future of Fela. The contract period for this Fela! developmental project runs from June 15 to July 3, with the expectation of a move to a Broadway house or similar venue in the fall.

But for now, the show’s production team is playing things close to the vest. Asked by Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? about the future of the show, a spokesman says:

“At this date, there is nothing to report about the future Fela! If/when anything becomes official, I’ll let you know.”

One key question is there’s a chance that the fantastic Sahr Ngaujah (say it Sah EN-gow-jah) will reprise his spectacular performance in the title role. Sahr talks about playing the larger-than-life Fela in this interview:

Coming soon: Exclusive interviews and original content

Stay tuned to Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? for original content and exclusive interviews!

Coming this week: WYMMWIG chats with folk-rocker Jon Pousette-Dart, who comes to The Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y, this Friday.

Sold: Henry Varnum Poor pottery

Three beautiful pieces of craft pottery by Henry Varnum Poor were sold by Rago Arts of Lambertville, N.J., in an auction of Modern Art this weekend. Each piece sold, but at the lower end of the expected price range. Perhaps the late artist’s son, Peter Poor, underestimated the impact of the weak economy on art buying.

Based on an interview with Peter in The New York Times last week, it appeared that this was just the first phase of selling off his father’s works. I for one am hoping that results of this weekend’s sale will slow Peter’s efforts, and but enough time for to convince him that preserving the majority of the collection intact for display at Crow House, the Poor family home and studio in New City, N.Y., is the right thing to do. It’s important to preserve Henry Varnum Poor’s legacy for future generations — and where better to house it than in the place where it was made!

Here are photos of the items, with Rago Arts predicted prices and the prices at which the items sold.

075Early compote with incised pear designs glazed in yellow and green on cream ground, 1948. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Signed HP 48. 5 1/2″ x 9 1/2″
Estimate: $3,000 – 4000
Sale Price: $3,360

076Early cylindrical faience jar with incised bull, cow and other animals covered in cream and brown glaze with yellow and green highlights, 1951. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Signed HP 51. 6 1/2″ x 5 3/4″ dia.
Estimate: $2,500 – 4500
Sale Price: $3,000

077Faience plate with incised leaf design and bowl with bird, both on mottled cream, blue and deep red ground, 1970. (Provenance: From the Poor Estate, New York.) Both signed HP 70. 10 1/4″ dia. and 1 3/4″ x 8″ dia.

Estimate: $2,000 – 3000
Sale Price: $2,160

What if Julie Doiron had become an athlete?

Julie Doiron, with Fred Squire on drums, at Union Hall in Brooklyn on Apri 25, 2009. Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.

Julie Doiron, with Fred Squire on drums, at Union Hall in Brooklyn on Apri 25, 2009. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

Julie Doiron has a secret athletic past.

The singer-songwriter (and Eric’s Trip member) from New Brunswick, Canada, says she was quite active in sports while growing up. Her mom worked in the local squash club, so Julie became quite good at that game, as you might expect after playing so many sets for free.

All that squash must account for her ability to really bash the drum kit. She proved that by taking a short stint on the skins during her set last night at Union Hall in Brooklyn, while drummer Fred Squire stepped to the mic to take the lead on songs he wrote. (Fred and Julie recently worked with Mount Eerie‘s latest album, Lost Wisdom.)

But she gave squash up for another sport — swimming, Julie says.

And not just ordinary swimming.

“Um, it was synchronized swimming,” she admits, a bit sheepishly. “I even taught it for awhile.

Julie Doiron takes a turn behind the drum kit. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

Julie Doiron takes a turn behind the drum kit. (Photo by SPM, all rights reserved.)

“It’s a really hard sport. You have to do a lot of weird stuff underwater while holding your breath for a really long time. While smiling!”

Thanks, Julie! I’m glad you didn’t choose sycnro swimming as a career path.

Julie’s set, meanwhile, was great. She rocked out with a super mix of new songs from her rather gentle new album, I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day, including Tailor (which she says she wrote almost exclusively with barre chords to celebrate her victory over barre-chord fear) and the Liz Phair-ish Consolaton Prize. But she threw in older songs, too, like Seven, for the many hard-core fans in the audience.

Enjoy these shots from the show. Video may come later today.