Monthly Archives: October 2010

Buke and Gass: watch the new video for ‘Page Break’ (plus tour dates)

Buke and Gass (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

You sure can’t accuse Brooklyn duo Buke and Gass (Arone Dyer plays the buke, a seriously modified baritone ukelele, and Aron Sanchez on gass, as in guitar-bass) of being ordinary. The just-released video for “Page Break,” a song from the band’s fantastic new album Riposte (on the Brassland label), is as choppy and head-spinningly wonderful as the music.

This band is loud and sweetly folkie all at once, and this video really brings things together nicely.

Here’s what Arone says about the video: “Intentions are best left at the base of one’s backbone, unless heeding to impulses actually gets one somewhere, in which case, trouble might arise and one must be prepared with ones pants belted tightly.”

Check it out for yourself:

And since this video is most definitely a road video, it makes sense to announce the band’s newly announced tour dates, too, which bring them back to NYC in early December:

Thu. Nov. 4 — Princeton University Art Museum
Thu. Dec. 2 — Boston, MA @ TT the Bears w/ Talk Normal
Fri. Dec. 3 — Montreal, PQ @ Casa Del Popolo w/ Talk Normal
Sat. Dec. 4 — Toronto, ON @ Sneaky Dee’s w/ Talk Normal
Mon.  Dec. 6 — Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle w/ Talk Normal
Tue. Dec. 7 — Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop w/ Talk Normal
Thu. Dec. 9 — Washington, DC @ Rock and Roll Hotel w/ Talk Normal
Fri. Dec. 10 — Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie w/ Talk Normal
Sat. Dec. 11 — New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ Talk Normal

The Extra Lens (John Darnielle & Franklin Bruno) and John Vanderslice at the Mercury Lounge

John Darnielle makes a point at The Mercury Lounge on Oct. 21, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Dan Mangan played, too

Once again, we missed Dan Mangan. The up-and-coming Canadian singer-songwriter opened the John Vanderslice-The Extra Lens early show at The Mercury Lounge on Thursday night, Oct. 21. But we arrived too late to hear him. This is the second or third show we’ve attended recently where Mangan finished his set before we arrived.

The Extra Lens

Luckily, though, we still got to talk to Dan Mangan. Well, the other Dan Mangan, who’s not a singer-songwriter at all (at least as far as we know), but a writer for the New York Post.

But there was little time to waste, as John Vanderslice had already taken the stage. Vanderslice did an all-too-short set of song from all parts of his fictional storytelling repertoire, charming the audience but failing to pass any baked goods or announce a dance party location. (When he headlines, Vanderslice typically has some form of home baked goods to distribute to the crowd and follows his set with a DJ dance party.)

The highlight of the evening was The Extra Lens (former The Extra Glenns), a band that sounds an awful lot like The Mountain Goats — mostly because the Goats’ frontman, John Darnielle, is half of the ensemble. The extremely talented and unassuming Franklin Bruno of Nothing Painted Blue is the other half. (Bruno is a visiting professor of philosophy at Bard College.)

Darnielle fixes the mic for Professor Bruno.

The Extra Lens rocked out with occasional help from Matt Houser, a drummer formerly with Palomar.

The only real downside to this is is the fact that it was part of the CMJ Music Marathon, so all the sets were way too short and the room to crowded — making it tough to get close enough for good photography without being a total jerk. Surprisingly, the audience was less chatty and more respectful than you sometimes find at CMJ shows and other showcases. That was a blessing.

John Vanderslice at The Mercury Lounge.

Joanna Newsom is Lisa Simpson — in her dreams!

Joanna Newsom

Freak folk harpist Joanna Newsom may have a voice perfectly suited for The Simpsons. (Okay, I’ll admit we found her sound annoying at first, but we’ve really grown to love her work!)

NOT Joanna Newsom: Lisa Simpson.

I’m sorry to report that she’s definitely not slated make an appearance on the long-running Fox Network show — despite persistent internet rumors.

Of course, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t mind if it did happen!

“Regrettably, the awesome rumor of my upcoming cameo on The Simpsons is unfounded,” Joanna announced through her publicist. “I remain, however, steadfast as always in my commitment to the character of Lisa, whom I have of course had the privilege of voicing for the last twenty-one years, in my dreams. Thanks for the memories, gang!”

Although Joanna isn’t making her way to The Simpsons, she definitely knows how to get to Carnegie Hall! She’s appearing in the main room, Stern Auditorium, of the storied New York City concert venue just before Thanksgiving, Tuesday, Nov. 23. Click here for information and tickets.

Carolina Chocolate Drops: New music at the Bowery Ballroom

Rihannon Giddens of CCD and Adam Matta, the Human Beatbox, join forces on a tune so new it doesn’t yet have a title

The Carolina Chocolate Drops knocked the crowd dead at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Friday night, Oct. 12. We have plenty of great visuals to come, but we’ll whet your appetite with this video of a great new tune from CCD’s Rhiannon Giddens and the Human Beatbox, Adam Matta.

Rhiannon explained the her husband is Irish, and she learned some Irish vocal techniques while visiting his family. She put them to great use.


Sharon Van Etten: It may be twisted love, but it’s definitely love


Sharon Van Etten and her band at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, on Oct. 8, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)


We liked Sharon Van Etten from the very first time we heard her, just her with her guitar, strumming her introspective songs. Her style and sound reminded us from the first of anti-folkie Diane Cluck (who has a date at Zebulon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13). And sure enough, on her MySpace page Sharon lists Diane as one of her influences.


Sharon Van Etten's harmonium powers the wall-of-sound that is "Love More," the signature song from her new album, Epic.


And now, with her new band and a second album under her belt, Sharon seems to really be coming into her own.

Her songs veer between powerful, emotionally draining near-howls to intimate prayers. Love is a regular theme.

Despite some initial technical problems, Sharon exuded charm and talent on Friday night, Oct. 8, at The Rock Shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, one of the newest music venues in the area. (And home of what seems to me to be the first rock club I’ve encountered to chard $7 for a 10-ounce draft beer!)

Sharon spent much time on the material from her new album, Epic (BaDaBing Records). But she wasn’t afraid to hit the audience with something so new that it’s still untitled. Go here to listen to the new song. And she spent the end of her set alone onstage, with the band watching from the wings, as she recapped her earlier solo material.

She left the sold-out crowd thrilled and wanting more. And it made us, to borrow a phrase, love more.

If you can, go to The Mercury Lounge tonight (Saturday, Oct. 9) for more of Sharon. She’s continuing her CD-release celebration there at 10:30 on a bill with Kyp Malone of Rain Machine and TV on the Radio fame. The Mercury Lounge is at217 East Houston St New York, NY. Click here for a  map. $12.


Sharon Van Etten.


Happy Birthday, John Lennon

It’s hard to believe that today is John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

We’ve come a long way since his tragic assassination 30 years ago, but we still have a long way to go.

Please enjoy Yoko Ono‘s touching video tribute to her husband.

Let’s all give peace a chance!

Kronos Quartet’s rare NYC club appearance at (Le) Poisson Rouge


David Harrington of Kronos Quartet at New York nightclub (Le) Poisson Rouge on Oct. 8, 2010. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)


Groundbreaking ensemble sells out two nights at Greenwich Village nightspot

Kronos Quartet can and does regularly fill huge auditoriums for its programs. But for its latest appearance in New York City, the ensemble picked Greenwich Village’s (Le) Poisson Rouge, arguably the most welcoming venue for New Music New York City.


Kronos Quartet's cellist, Jeffrey Zeigler.


Kronos’ two-night program included a slew of premieres and put the spotlight on many New York-based composers and collaborators, including the super-talented young composer Missy Mazzoli (founder of the hot electroacoustic chamber ensemble Victoire), Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon, guitarist Bryce Dessner of the bands Clogs and The National (formed in Cincinnatti but now based in Brooklyn) and the Young Peoples Chorus of New York City.

The 37-year-old, San Francisco-based qua
rtet  — David Harrington and John Sherba on violins, Hank Dutt on viola and Jeffrey Zeigler on cello — played a spirited set to a packed house on Friday evening, Oct. 8. The second installment is tonight, Saturday, Oct. 9, when Kronos offers a completely different program.



At the Friday show, Kronos kicked off with Dessner’s Aheym (Homeward), which he wrote for Kronos. Mazzoli’s lovely, lyrical Harp and Altar, also composed for Kronos, followed.

The first world premiere of the evening was Aleksandra Vrebalov‘s spell no. 4, for a changing world.

But the most stunning performance moments of the evening came next, when Kronos introduced the Young Peoples Chorus, founded and conducted by Francisco Nuñez. The youngsters entered from the darkened sides of the room shrieking and howling the vocal parts of Terry Riley‘s Another Secret eQuation, which he wrote for Kronos and had its world premiere at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in March.


Composer Michael Gordon cheers the Young Peoples Chorus of New York City, with John Sherba and David Harrington of Kronos Quartet.


After a brief intermission, the Young Peoples Chorus rejoined Kronos for the world premiere of Gordon’s Exalted, an intensely emotional composition.

Click through to the jump for more words and photos about Kronos and collaborators. Continue reading

Fela! visits Brooklyn

Sahr Ngaujah inhabits the character of Fela Ankiulapo Kuti, backed up by five Queens and a super-hot big band. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Cast of Broadway Afrobeat musical thrills crowd in free concert at St. Ann’s Warehouse

Sahr Ngaujah

Sahr Ngaujah and the cast and band of the smash-hit Broadway musical Fela! didn’t let the rain dampen their spirits on Monday night, Oct. 4. And the appealing bunch didn’t even seem to be bothered that they were working on what would normally be their night off for the week, since Broadway theaters are dark on Mondays.

Fela! The Music of Fela Kuti, was a gift to Brooklyn and the city from St. Ann’s Warehouse, a cutting-edge performance organization in Dumbo. It was supposed to draw crowds to Brooklyn Bridge Park nearby, but the rains forced it inside the St. Ann’s space at 38 Water Street. The people at St. Ann’s handled the transition nicely, opening everything up quickly and accommodating a huge crowd with ease.

The show’s hot band and great Afrobeat dancers and backup singers — representing the many wives of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian creator of Afrobeat whose life story the musical tells in broad brushstrokes — locked in perfectly with  Ngaujah to deliver 90 minutes of music.

Click through to the jump for more photos.

Continue reading

M Shanghai String Band playing in Nyack

M Shanghai String Band: old-timey joy. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Acoustic country-folk collective kicks off GraceMusic’s 41st season of Great Music in a Great Space

The fantastic M Shanghai String Band brings its old-timey, joyous country folk sounds to Nyack, N.Y., to kick off the 41st season of GraceMusic on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Richard Morris steps up to the mic for a solo with M Shanghai String Band.

Visit the M Shanghai String Band MySpace page to hear samples of the band’s music.

Every member of this Brooklyn-based acoustic collective — which at times puts as many as 11 musicians onstage at once — is an accomplished musician in her or his own right. Many of them are involved in other bands, too. So when they mass their awesome talents together onstage as M Shanghai String Band, they put on a roof-raising, rollicking good show.

The band, which takes its name from the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Chinese restaurant where it began in 2002, has an old-fashioned Grand Old Opry-style performance aesthetic. Players crowd around a single mic, stepping up to take turns on leads and solos. The music, likewise, is deeply rooted in the old-fashioned American musical traditions that spawned the Opry, their repertoire includes mostly original material that deals with issues both timeless and contemporary in often humorous ways.

The band is a fan favorite at Jalopy Theatre and School of Music in Red Hook, Brooklyn, a hotbed of traditional music.

Don’t miss this show. Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is a huge fan of this band. (Full disclosure: We serve on the GraceMusic board and are friends with one of the players.) Make a day of it by visiting Nyack early in the day for brunch or lunch, and then settle in for a great session of foot-stomping music in a lovely space.

We guarantee you’ll have a good time  — including the great meet-the-artists reception afterward!

4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 17. GraceMusic, Grace Episcopal Church, 130 First Avenue, Nyack, N.Y. (845) 358-1297. Tickets at the door only: $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for students.

Patty Hughes, Austin Hughes and Matt Schickele of M Shanghai String Band.

Victoire: Finally, a full-length CD

Victoire at Joe's Pub. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Composer Missy Mazzoli and her band, Victoire, celebrated the Sept. 28 release of their first full-length CD, Cathedral City, on the wonderfully adventurous New Amsterdam label with a show at at Joe’s Pub on Saturday, Oct. 2. The band’s performance made it pretty evident that much of the quintet’s new material isn’t new at all.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s just illustrative of how long it can really take to put together an album — something that Mazzoli, an obvious perfectionist, underscored at Joe’s.

Victoire, an rock-influenced electroacoustic quintet, was founded back in 2008 as an outlet for Mazzoli’s wilder compositions. We first heard the band not long after that, but Victoire really made an impression at the Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2009, on the heels of the March release by eMusic of the band’s A Door Into The Dark E. All four songs from that EP — but different versions — are included on the eight-track Cathedral City. So fully half the CD, including the dark, slightly hallucinatory i am coming for my things, is quite familiar by now. Continue reading