Monthly Archives: July 2013

Stew stirs things up with fantastic new songs at Barbès

The hat was more crumpled at Barbès on July 25, but Stew's energy was at a peak. (Photo © 2012, Steven P.  Marsh)

The hat was more crumpled than this at Barbès on July 25 and Stew’s energy level seemed higher than usual. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

By the time his latest gig in his musical living room (aka Park Slope, Brooklyn, boîte Barbès) rolled around Thursday night, July 25, singer-songwriter and Tony Award winner Stew had dumped his original staged plan to play versions of his songs from Passing Strange and other numbers from his extensive repertoire.

Instead, he launched into a tight song cycle “inspired by recent events.” In other words, songs about George Zimmerman and the Trayvon Martin case. If yoy don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to get out from under that rock where you’ve been living and catch up on the news!

If you’re a Passing Strange fan who passed on the show for one reason or another and are thinking now that this make you feel OK about missing, hold that thought. I’m here to tell you differently. Continue reading

A foretaste of New Jersey rock without Maxwell’s: Speed the Plough, East of Venus play Mexicali Live

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We know what it’s going to be like without Maxwell’s. We learned it pretty clearly at Mexcali Live in Teaneck, N.J., on Thursday, July 18.

Speed the Plough, a very Maxwell’s-identified band, ripped through an excellent headlining set after warmups by Lianne Smith and East of Venus.

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough.  (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nobody in the audience crowded the edge of the stage, which is tradition at Maxwell’s. Not there’s anything wrong with that. It just seemed a little alien. But you had the distinct feeling that if you tried to stand in front of the stage, you’d be shouted away by the audience or escorted away by management. So it seemed better to keep a bit of distance.

Only one person in the crowd stood near the front of a rather cavernous room filled with tables, chairs and stools — and he was far, far from his usual front-and-center spot.

Never mind that the sound at Mexicali is crisp and the raised stage provides sight lines that are, to say the least, more audience-friendly than Maxwell’s. Continue reading

Asphalt Orchestra plays the Pixies: Surfer Rosa — FREE this Sunday

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Asphalt Orchestra performing on the Lincoln Center Plaza. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Avant-garde marching band will open for a Kronos Quartet ‘Kronos at 4o’ show

Asphalt Orchestra hits Lincoln Center Out of Doors this Sunday, July 28 with a brand-new project: a cover of the fan-favorite Pixies album Surfer Rosa.

The avant-garde marching band, a cocreation of LCOOD and Bang on a Can, is well known for its inventive reinvention of pop songs mixed with compositions written specifically for the costumed clan.

Asphalt Orchestra co-leader Ken Thomson describes the evening this way:

We are covering the classic Pixies record Surfer Rosa.
45 minutes of new music, Asphalt-style, choreographed and on stage.
All arranged by us in super-cool arrangements that use the original as a canvas for truly new versions of these tunes.

The free show starts at 6 p.m. with a set of Asphalt classics (Bjork, Zappa, Bregovic) on the plaza.

At 6:30, the music moves to the Damrosch Park Bandshell where Jacob Garchik’s “atheist gospel trombone project” The Heavens will be performed.

Asphalt plays next and then the evening’s headliner, Kronos Quartet, takes over.
Every second of music is free, with no ticket required and nobody hassling you for a  “donation” at the gate. Lincoln Center Out of Doors is one of those rare New York City institutions that truly is free — even free of guilt.

RIP Faye Hunter, bass player with Let’s Active

Faye Hunter via Fidelitorium Recordings' Facebook page

Faye Hunter via Fidelitorium Recordings’ Facebook page.

Faye Hunter, a North Carolina-based musician best known for her work as the bass player 1980’s jangle-pop band Let’s Active with Mitch Easter and Sara Romweber, died Saturday.

The 59-year-old died of apparent suicide, according to a blog post by David Menconi on the website of The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.

UPDATE: Peter Holsapple of The Db’s reacts

Those of us who grew up with Faye also knew her as a sweet, droll and artistic friend who unintentionally served as something of a den mother and big sister to many of the younger musicians in town, myself included. … It is hard to imagine a world without Faye Hunter. We all wish we could have done more to help her, but we couldn’t.

Click here for the full text of Holsapple’s tribute.

Continue reading

Bangin’ it up at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival

To call Mark Stewart a guitarist would be a disservice. The multi-talented redhead leads participants at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

It’s a disservice to call Mark Stewart a guitarist. He leads a group at MASS MoCA in making some noise with some of his homemade tubes during the 2010 Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

18 days of fantastic summer music in the Berkshires

Today’s subject: MASS MoCA.

I’ve written a lot lately about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, especially in the last month or two because of Wilco’s splendid Solid Sound Festival, held on the museum campus in North Adams, Mass., in late June.

When Wilco announced the inaugural Solid Sound back in 2010, I pretty much knew it would be great because I had already seen MASS MoCA host many, many editions of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival — colloquially known at Banglewood.

If you’ve been a regular reader of Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone?, you already know something about the Bang on a Can program. This summer’s program is the 12th annual festival on the beautiful industrial MASS MoCA grounds.

But maybe you’re not a musician, or at least not one who wants to participate in the festival. How does this matter to you?

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Rain on the MASS MoCA campus. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

That’s easy. Festival participants do their learning in public, putting on recitals six days a week and participating in a public Marathon concert on the final day. There’s also a performance of Bang on a Can co-founder Julia Wolfe‘s Steel Hammer, a full-length piece that weaves together the many variations of the John Henry folk legend.

So there’s plenty of professional-quality entertainment  for people who are just interested in listening and looking at some modern art. (Click through to the jump for schedule and ticketing information.)

Continue reading

Americanarama Festival of Music: Bob Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket in Bridgeport, Conn.

Bob Dylan at the Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn., on July 19, 2013.(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Bob Dylan gets sassy on the harmonica. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nothing compares to your first time

When Bob Dylan hit the stage of the Webster Bank Arena on Friday night, July 19, I reached a major milestone.

It was my first time seeing the legend perform live.

Yes, you might think that given the underlying theme of this blog, I would have seen him before — probably many times.

Bob Dylan at the Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Conn., on July 19, 2013.(Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Bob Dylan spent plenty of time playing the grand piano. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Sure, I treasure his music. I have many of his albums. A friend and neighbor of mine managed him once, way back before Albert Grossman hooked up with him.

But Dylan was playing arenas by the time I learned to care about him. And I just don’t like arena shows, the distance, the impersonality, the commercialism.

But when I saw the lineup for this summer’s touring Americanarama Festival of Music, I decided it was time to make an exception so that I could finally see Dylan. I figured that even if Bob was awful, I’d be able to cross him off my bucket list and still get plenty of value out of Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Continue reading

Mission of Burma shows added in Maxwell’s final days

Mission of Burma at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Mission of Burma at The Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

UPDATE: second, Early show added; ticket links on the jump

Seminal Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma is a late addition to the schedule of shows during the final days of Maxwell’s in Hoboken.

MoB, which comprises founding members Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott, plus Bob Weston who long ago replaced original tape manipulator/sound engineer Martin Swope, has been added in two time slots — 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. — on Sunday, July 28, just days before the club’s last show on July 31.

20130719-123546.jpgWhile bands from Sonic Youth to R.E.M. have cited Mission of Burma as an influence, the band’s strongest Maxwell’s connection is with Yo La Tengo. But don’t expect to see YLT’s Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley or James McNew in the crowd or onstage for this one. YLT is playing the Fuji Rock Festival in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, that day.

With a little luck, they’ll be back to New Jersey in time to take part in Maxwell’s closing ceremonies.

Tickets for the 6 p.m. early show (doors at 5 p.m.) are $25 and available by clicking or tapping here. (http://ticketf.ly/18vaHSl)

Tickets for the 9 p.m. late show (doors at 8 p.m.), also $25, are available by clicking or tapping here. (http://ticketf.ly/12P2zYl)