Monthly Archives: May 2009

UPDATE: Paste magazine campaign takes off

The reward to donors to the Save Paste magazine campaign now totals 91 rare and unreleased tracks by many of the artists that the cash-strapped indie music-and-culture magazine covers — in just the second day of the official fund-raising campaign.

Min Online (free registration required), a publishing industry newsletter, reports:

“It’s been going great all day,” says publisher Nick Purdy. “We have had nearly 1,000 people donating. We have been amazed.” Word got out about the magazine’s plight in advance of the planned donation drive and donations started coming in before Paste could send its plea to the subscriber list. Purdy says that months ago readers had already assured him they would be willing to come to the book’s aid if things ever got bleak. “They are aware of the realities of the business we are in. They emailed us and said if things every got bad at Paste, come to us first. We took them seriously. A lot of magazines couldn’t do this. It was time to see if the brand we built has that kind of value to people.”

Donors are also eligible for random drawings for prizes that so far include signed R.E.M. and Band of Horses posters, an ocean-view cabin on next year’s Cayamo cruise, and even a pair passes to October’s sold-out Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Donate here to help keep this important editorial voice afloat in these tough economic times.

Underground movies with skyline views


Advance tickets for tonight’s opening screening in the Rooftop Films series are sold out. But you still have a chance to have a great night out — with a band, a movie and an open-bar afterparty  — for just $9. They’re selling tickets at the door, giving the poor planners among us a second chance. A better deal for a great night out is hard to find.

This is What We Mean by Short Films is the title of the season’s kickoff presentation being held on the roof of New Design High, 350 Grand Street @ Essex, on the Lower East Side. Remaining tickets go onsale at 7 p.m. Doors open at 8 p.m., with a set by the band Cymbals Eat Guitars at 8:30, the bill of short dramas, comedies, animations and documentaries from 9-11, and an afterparty at Fontana’s, 105 Eldridge Street, until 1 a.m.

The party moves to back and forth between the Open Road Rooftop (as tonight’s venue has been dubbed) and the roof of Brooklyn Technical High School, 29 Fort Greene Place, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, every weekend through Sept. 20. Check out the schedule so far, including descriptions of the offerings, here. And buy tickets to upcoming shows here.

Help Paste magazine survive

paste_block_logo_magazine_color_poster-p228812652481052447az3ws_210Paste magazine, like so many specialty publications, is struggling to survive. The music-and-culture magazine is suffering from decreased advertising revenue, so it’s reaching out directly to readers (and prospective readers) to help support the magazine with cold, hard cash donations.

In return for your contribution, you’ll get access to a growing vault of rare and unreleased digital downloads (more than 70 so far) from artists that Paste often writes about — including The Decemberists, Neko Case, Bob Mould, Over the Rhine, Cowboy Junkies, Indigo Girls, Jayhawks, Brandi Carlile, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Patterson Hood, Avett Brothers, Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3, and Josh Ritter.

The Decemberists are featured in the current issue of Paste.

The Decemberists are featured in the current issue of Paste.

Lots of these artists are taking this very seriously. Paste is one of the few publications around that tries to spotlight new, emerging and lesser-known artists, as well as good music (and film, books and other media) of all sorts.

For instance, Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine, one of my favorites, has this to say about Paste:

Paste magazine has been a much-needed gift to all who care about the future of American songwriting and creativity. While many other music magazines became increasingly celebrity-obsessed, Paste reminded all of us that the conversation could be redirected in imaginative ways: Who are the artists and writers, known or unknown, old or young, mainstream or indy, who can still delight and surprise, who deserve to be discovered or rediscovered? If we lost Paste’s voice in the overall conversation, we would lose more than we can imagine, or afford.”

For the average reader, Paste gives a good tastemaker. Like most print-based media focusing on the fast-moving world of popular music, Paste is constantly struggling to stay ahead of the curve. And it sometimes seems a bit dated to the best-informed, most voracious consumers of music and popular culture. However, a host of solid features and ever-improving web site continue to make it must reading. The loss of Paste‘s voice would make our cultural life poorer by far.

Neil Patrick Harris to host the Tony Awards — plus an interactive Tony ballot

Neil Patrick Harris (center) starred in the Tony Award-wining revival of Stephen Sondheims Assassins.

Neil Patrick Harris (center) starred in the Tony Award-wining revival of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins.

Neil Patrick Harris will host the 63rd Annual Tony Awards ceremony, which will be telecast live on CBS from NYC’s Radio City Music Hall from 8-11 p.m. on Sunday, June 7, The American Theatre Wing has announced.


Neil Patrick Harris

Although Harris may be best known to many for his TV roles (Doogie Howser, MD and How I Met Your Mother), he’s no stranger to Broadway, starring in Proof in 2002, taking a turn as the Emcee in Cabaret in 2003 and tackling the dual role of The Balladeer/Lee Harvey Oswald in the Roundabout Theater Company’s revival of Stephen Sondheim‘s Assassins.

He’s no stranger to the Tony Awards telecast either, having appeared as a performer in 2004 and a presenter in 2006 and 2007.

While you’re waiting for the real Tony Awards to be announced, you can see how your views line up with those of other theatergoers by casting your votes on The New York Times’ interactive Tony Awards ballot.

Free summer music in Stuyvesant Town

Music on the Oval in Stuyvesant Town on Manhattan’s East Side is one of NYC’s best-kept music secrets.

The series, from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesdays from June 10 to July 15. Each family-friendly show kicks off with an hourlong DJ set before the night’s headliner takes the outdoor stage on the Stuyvesant Town Oval, which is between 16th and 18th streets and Avenues A and B (entrance at First Avenue and 16th Street).

The Budos Band and Kaki King are just two of the amazing acts paying visits to the Oval stage this season.

The full schedule is after the jump. Continue reading

Signal to perform Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet

Signal at (Le) Poisson Rouge.

Signal performing Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians at NYC's (Le) Poisson Rouge.

The fast-rising Signal Ensemble will celebrate composer Steve Reich‘s Pulitzer Prize win next month with a performance of Double Sextet, the work for which he won the prestigious award. The event should be especially rewarding because Reich himself will be in attendance!

Signal, founded by conductor Brad Lubman and cellist Lauren Radnofsky, is a tight-sounding all-star band, featuring a large roster of some of the finest players around, including all the members of So Percussion along with personnel from Alarm Will Sound, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Gutbucket. Since forming last spring, Signal has quickly become a leading interpreter of contemporary composed music by the likes of Reich, Philip Glass, Luciano Berio and others.

Signal will perform Double Sextet at 6:30 p.m. on June 22. At (Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan), Manhattan. Tickets $25 in advance.

And don’t forget to catch Signal performing Glass’ Symphony No. 3 at 7 p.m. this Sunday (May 17), also at LPR. Tickets $20.

Obama shows he’s serious about the arts with NEA nomination

Rocco Landesman

Rocco Landesman

Is longtime Broadway producer Rocco Landesman the right man to lead President Obama’s National Endowment for the Arts?

It looks that way.  The Jujamcyn theater chain honcho’s nomination, first reported last night by The New York Times, seems like a no-brainer.  After all, he’s active, engaged and unafraid to speak his mind. That’s what he’s done throughout his career on Broadway. And there’s every expectation that he’ll be active and outspoken in Washington, too.

The nomination of Landesman, the producer who brought The Public Theater’s revival of Hair to Broadway this season, clearly shows that Obama is serious about focusing on the arts. The question remains, though, whether Landesman is Obama’s answer to widespread calls for creation of a Cabinet-level Arts Czar/Secretary of Culture or just the first step in that direction.

Landesman should really shake things up and put the arts and the NEA back in the spotlight where they belong. It will help reinvigorate the nation’s cultural life. But Obama really shouldn’t stop there. The nation needs an Arts Czar to ensure better arts education and support for the future of all arts, which have been neglected for far too long. Continue reading

How to make guitar history

Seth Olinsky (center), performing with his band Akron/Family at NYC's Bowery Ballroom on May 6 will be a section leader for Rhys Chatham's <i>A Crimson Grail (Outdoor Version)</i> at Damrosch Park in August.

Seth Olinsky (center), performing with his band Akron/Family at NYC's Bowery Ballroom on May 6 will be a section leader for Rhys Chatham's A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) in Damrosch Park in August. (Photo by SPM. All rights reserved.)

If I could play the electric guitar, I know where I’d be this August: in New York City rehearsing and playing in the world premiere of Rhys Chatham‘s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version) at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park.

If you can play, you should consider applying. You’re eligible if you’re  a professional, semi-pro or competent amateur electric guitarist (there’s room for a few bass players, too) who can read music. This is your big chance to play this minimalist masterpiece with 199 other performers from around the country and make some history.

The piece — a version of the expansive original written by Chatham for indoor performance in Paris by 400 guitarists — is composed to create a glistening cloud of sound, obscuring most details of individual plucking, strumming the technique in its wake. So performers need to check their egos at the door and be prepared to be part of a six-string mind meld of sorts.

This outdoor version was slated to be premiered at Lincoln Center Out of Doors last summer, but was canceled at the last minute over the objection of most of the 200 guitarists because of rain.

If the weather cooperates this summer, the chosen guitarists will get to work under the tutelage of accomplished section leaders David Daniell (improvisational guitarist and composer), John King (guitarist and composer who’s worked with Kronos Quartet and the Bang on a Can All-Stars, among others), Seth Olinsky (Akron/Family) and Ned Sublette (The Ned Sublette Band).

As with most things in life, there’s lots of fine print. Read it all here. It’s nothing terribly onerous — you basically just have to show up for 12 hours of rehearsal over three days prior to the performance (Aug. 5-7). Oh, and you have to commit to spending Aug. 8 in a daylong soundcheck, rehearsal and the actual show. Oh, and the only pay is the satisfaction of a job well done. But that should be a pretty good payoff.

Still game? Then apply here!

The Dead Weather announces dates for tour, album


The Dead Weather (Jack White’s OTHER other band) has played only two small shows since appearing on the music scene in March.  And already the all-star band, with White behind the drum kit, Allison Mossheart of The Kills on vocals, has pulled together a 27-date kicking off in Louisville, Ky., on June 11, with an album, Horehound, slated to drop on July 14, in the midst of the tour.

The Dead Weather at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.  (Photos by SPM. All rights reserved.)

The Dead Weather at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. (Photos by SPM. All rights reserved.)

The Dead Weather absolutely rocked the house at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on April 14 (UPDATE: Exclusive photos added), the band’s their first truly public outing. Jack let Allison have the spotlight most of the evening, and she made the most of it — teasing the audience with her powerful, raw vocals and her seductive moves.

That show came barely a month after Jack unveiled the band to an invited audience of 150 at the March 11 opening of his Third Man Records HQ in Nashville.

Tour dates, presale ticket info and more photos after the jump. Continue reading

Just a few more hours to buy a piece of Laurie Anderson — or Chuck Close or …

32_03_arts_bamfacade_zYou have just a few hours left to bid on artwork at silent auction to benefit the Brooklyn Academy of Music and itsimportant music, dance, theater and film programming — the auction ends at 8 p.m.

Laurie Anderson's inkjet print.

Laurie Anderson's inkjet print, "7.1.05," 2005

Every year, BAM rounds up art from some pretty amazing people, and this year’s sale, conducted online as always, is no exception, featuring 154 pieces. They include an abstract inkjet print by Laurie Anderson, a silkscreen by Louise Bourgeois, a pigment print of Bill T. Jones by Chuck Close, a C-print by Spencer Tunick and a walnut armchair by George Nakashima. The works are on display on the BAM site and in the the lobby of the Opera House on Lafayette Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.

Bidding starts at as little as $100 or $200 for some items, with a few pieces, like the Chuck Close portrait, starting at $20,000. Many pieces, especially the more expensive ones, are still awaiting their first bid.

Spencer Tunick's "Netherlands 3 (Dream Amsterdam)," 2007

Spencer Tunick's "Netherlands 3 (Dream Amsterdam)," 2007

Even if you decide not to bid in the silent auction, the video (below), featuring scenesters Andrew Andrew, explaining how to bid is worth watching just for the entertainment value.

You have just a few hours left to get in on the action Happy bidding!