Monthly Archives: August 2011

A feline diversion

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We interrupt our normally scheduled programming for a nonmusical announcement:

The Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? household is about to adopt four cats. Yep, four feline Americans, as a friend describes cats. In one fell swoop. They are scheduled to arrive next Saturday, Aug. 20.

Let me explain: Their person, an Upper West Side woman I’ve never met, took at tumble earlier this year and has been in a nursing home since then. Her relatives are moving her out West, and the cats can’t go with her. So they needed a home, something we discovered through the magic of facebook and friends at the the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan, where their person once worked.

So we’ll soon welcome Smudge (the eldest, a Siamese), Ari, Opal and Menace (blind in one eye, the youngest and most active and least-reserved of the bunch!) into our little house. What a beautiful thing it’ll be.

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Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and friends steal the show

Sxip Shirey, Todd Reynolds and friends at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

How often do you go to a show and feel like you’ve heard such an amazing opening act that you’re ready to skip the headliner?

Not often, I’ll bet.

Todd Reynolds

But that’s exactly the way I felt at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Wednesday night, Aug. 10. It was another triumph in New York’s best free outdoor concert series, which The New York Times describes perfectly as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.”

Don’t get me wrong, Laurie Anderson was the headliner of the free show in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. She is — and was that night — amazing. But openers Todd Reynolds and Sxip Shirey, joined by six violinists and a tuba player, blew the house down with their collaboration. I could have gone home floating on air after their set, feeling perfectly satisfied.

Lou Reed slips heads backstage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

Todd, the inimitable Digifiddler, kicked off his set with some of the inventive work from his new album, Outerborough. Laurie’s husband, Lou Reed, slipped through the crowd and backstage while Todd was really wailing on “Crossroads,” a Michael Lowenstern-composed “duet” with bluesman Robert Johnson.

In short order, Todd was joined by six more violinists, each of whom is pretty amazing in his or her own right (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell). The Sxip, the multi-instrumentalist clown prince of the NYC indie music scene entered along with Adam Matta (the Human Beatbox) and tuba player Don Godwin of Raya Brass Band. (Check out a rehearsal clip of Todd and Sxip cutting loose here.)

The energy that flowed among all these talented musicians as they jammed onstage was palpable. And there was lots of love flowing from stage to audience and back again.

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Rock out at Maxwell’s while you help young adults adapt to life after foster care

If you can’t picture yourself at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, N.J., at 3 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, it’s time to make an exception.

Tomorrow, Aug. 13, that’s exactly where you should be. If you’re there, you’ll be helping young adults who have aged out of New Jersey’s foster-care system through the Roots & Wings foundation and listening to four great bands in the process: Speed the Plough, Yung Wu (a side project of Feelies percussionist Dave Weckerman), Wild Carnation (which includes Feelies bassist Brenda Sauter) and Charlotte Sometimes.

Of course this is just one of three shows, featuring 12 bands, being staged at the legendary Hoboken club this weekend as part of CamelFest 2011 in support of Roots & Wings. It’s sponsored by Great Meadows, N.J., -based Dromedary Records.

Photo by Katie Demeski

Speed the Plough (Photo by Katie Demeski)

Tonight’s show’s, which starts at 8, features Richard Barone, Robbers on High Street, Readymade Breakup and The Mommyheads. Tomorrow night, also at 8, it’s The 65’s, The Library is on Fire, Varsity Drag and Stuyvesant.

Tickets are $10 per show. They’re available online (click here for tonight, tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow night) and at the door.

Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and an ‘awesome array of violinists’ open for Laurie Anderson tonight

The Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sxip Shirey opening for Cibo Matto at Brooklyn Bowl in July 2011. (© 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

When Laurie Anderson takes the stage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park on Wednesday night, Aug. 10, the crowd will already have gotten wound up with the sonic stylings of the Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds, along with multi-instrumentalist Sxip Shirey, human beatbox Adam Matta, and a clutch of New York’s best violinists (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell).

I don’t know exactly what’s in store with this performance and haven’t asked Todd. I know it’ll be creative and entertaining — and I want to be surprised.

Adam Matta

Oh, and by the way, Laurie Anderson’s a great live performer, too. Be sure to stick around after Todd, Sxip and company are finished.

Laurie Anderson

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Guggenheim Bandshell in Damrosch Park, behind New York State Theater in Lincoln Center. There are plenty of seats, room to roam and there are food and drink vendors on site. Admission is free.

Don’t miss it. It promises to be spectacular.

Why can’t we just love Fountains of Wayne for what it is?

Fountains of Wayne at the Bowery Ballroom. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Weird that Fountains of Wayne, a band that crafts wonderful, highly relatable pop songs gets so much qualified praise and downright hate.

Well, I’m going on record to say, unapologetically, that after 15 years together FoW still knows how to rock.

Chris Collingwood and drummer Brian Young.

Reviews of the band’s new album, their first for Yep Roc, have been mixed. I get the sense that a lot of reviewers feel guilty about unabashedly enjoying and recommending the music of a band that’s been around for 15 years and has made only five albums in that time.

Well, this is one band that knows how to put on a good show. So let’s just love them for what they are.

The band proved how well it still clicks when it played the Bowery Ballroom on Aug. 3, I figured FoW would be going heavy on new material, since the show was less than a week ahead of the release of  Sky Full of Holes. (It’s out today, and if you haven’t heard anything from it yet, you’re missing out on a wonderful collection of songs.)

To their credit, the band kicked off the set with two great old songs “Little Red Light” and “The Valley of Malls” before diving into the excellent, bittersweet new “Summer Place” and then returning to the back catalog for “Someone to Love.”

Adam Schlesinger

Frontmen Chris Collingwood, the band’s main singer, and Adam Schlesinger, the bass player (who you may know better through his work as composer of the Broadway musical Cry Baby or as a member of pop supergroup Tinted Windows), led the band on a romp through songs old and new, saving fan favorite “Radiation Vibe” with bits of other pop songs, including Paul McCartney and Wings tune “Jet,” into the mix before the final verse.

Jody Porter blows smoke.

Lead guitarist Jody Porter showed off his individuality throughout the set, sometimes to the point of looking like he was somewhere else, perhaps in another band. He also made a point to take advantage of a loophole in NYC no-smoking rules that allow performers onstage to puff away.

Brian Young on drums (he also plays with the Pixies), kept time well, but stayed in the background, literally as well as figuratively. He never showed off or grabbed for the spotlight. He just bashed the skins, and quite well.

Nicole Atkins, a Neptune, N.J., native, opened the evening with a scorching set, accompanied only by her guitarist, the very talented Irina Yalkowsky. Nicole thanked Fountains of Wayne for inviting her to be part of Jersey Night at the Bowery Ballroom (in case you don’t know, Fountains of Wayne was a long-lived lawn-ornament shop in Wayne, N.J.), even though FoW isn’t really a Jersey band.

Nicole Atkins, right, with Irina Yalkowsky.