Monthly Archives: September 2013

Haverstraw’s Jamie Block on the gift of a comeback after battling his demons


Revealing interview comes ahead of Hudson Valley premiere of his Whitecaps On The Hudson album Friday at The Turning Point

Whitecaps-On-The-Hudson-by-Jamie-Block-300x300 Singer-songwriter Jamie
, a longtime Hudson Valley resident,
will be doing his first Hudson Valley concert in ages at The
Turning Point in Piermont on Friday, Sept. 27. It’ll be the first
time he and his band have played the songs from his latest album,
Whitecaps On The Hudson, in a Hudson River venue. He sat down with
me for a candid discussion of his comeback and his music for Journal News. Read
the full interview here
Friday’s show starts at 8:30 p.m., with doors at 7:30, at The
Turning Point Cafe, 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont. Tickets
are $15 and available by clicking or tapping here.
The Turning Point wesbsite or call 845-359-1089 for more

Stew and Heidi to unveil works in progress in Brooklyn on Nov. 22 and 23

Heidi Rodewald and Stew, creators of Broadway's Passing Strange, are presenting a Brooklyn house party in November to share their works in progress.

Heidi Rodewald and Stew, creators of Broadway’s Passing Strange, are presenting a Brooklyn house party in November to share their works in progress.

Creators of Passing Strange and collaborators in The Negro Problem join the inaugural season at BRIC House

BRIC (Brooklyn Information and Culture), the organization behind the great Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series, is opening the BRIC Arts | Media House to provide a permanent stage for new and established artists to explore their work.

BRIC House, at 647 Fulton Street, next door to the BAM Harvey Theater, formally opens Oct. 3. And it already has a great lineup scheduled, including two-nights of creative mashups from Tony and OBIE Award winner Stew and longtime collaborator and OBIE Award winner Heidi Rodewald.

They’re the people behind Broadway’s Passing Strange and the core members of the band The Negro Problem.

In two performances in November, the pair will unveil a show that includes pieces of several projects they have in development, including three musicals, a video-art work, two song-cycles and poems and songs that likely will show up on their next record in some form.

More information and ticket links after the jump. Continue reading

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion wow at the Mercury Lounge

20130918-200556.jpg I was expecting a good show from Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion on Tuesday night. But what I and a criminally
small audience gotvat the Mercury Lounge was a sweet, spot on show that focused on songs
from their new Jeff Tweedy/Patrick Sansone-produced album
Wassaic Way.

While focusing on the news material — which sounds fantastic live, with the super-tight band supporting the lovely married couple — the show didn’t scrimp on older songs.

They even went a bit further afield, throwing in a cover of Neil Young’s “Unknown Legend.”

They closed by getting off the stage to do a couple of closing numbers, including the lovely “When the Lilacs Are in Bloom.”

The Melodic opened the early show with a nicely textured, Nick Drake-influenced set.

Indie-rock guitar god Tommy Keene plays The Iridium on Sept. 12

Tommy Keene

Tommy Keene

Timing really is everything. If Tommy Keene’s new album had been ready just two months sooner, he would have been touring in July.

And if Keene — one of the iconic guitarist and shockingly overlooked songwriters of ‘80s indie rock — had been touring in July, he surely would have been on the schedule to play at Maxwell’s during the Hoboken music club’s final days.

“It’s too bad my tour was a little later, or I might have tried to get on one of those last shows. We played there [Maxwell’s] quite a bit,” Keene told Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? recently by phone.

“I used to read the New York Rocker in the early ‘80s, like ‘81, and I used to read all about this place. And it seemed like this secret, special, VIP kind of place that people would go to,” he recalled.

It’s too bad, because the classic Keene-penned tune “Places That Are Gone” would have been a fitting tribute to the final days of Maxwell’s.

Continue reading

Susan Cowsill’s 39-year trip to an opening spot with Rodriguez

Susan Cowsill

Susan Cowsill

Former Cowsills member to share bill with legendary singer-songwriter at Barclays Center on Oct. 9

I’m sitting here wondering why I don’t have any photos of Susan Cowsill.

Even before starting this blog, I often took photos at shows to create lasting memorabilia. I’m not sure if I’ve even seen her since 2009, when this blog started. I know I saw her at least once on her own in New York, after catching her perform numerous times with her old band, the late, lamented Continental Drifters.

But nevermind that.

She and her lusty, raggedly-pushed-to-the-edge vocal style will be back in New York in October, when she opens a Barclays Center show for Rodriguez (aka Detroit-based 1970s singer-songwriter Sixto Díaz Rodríguez), who rediscovered the spotlight via the award-winning 2012 documentary Searching for Sugar Man. Continue reading

The Walking Dead? Maxwell’s planning to reopen in Hoboken

Preparing for the wake at Maxwell's on July 31, 11th Street next to the club was blocked off. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Preparing for the “wake” at Maxwell’s on July 31, 11th Street next to the club was blocked off. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Something feels wrong — no, make that preposterous — about the idea of saying farewell to an old friend at a raucous wake only to see that friend return to the land of the living a matter of weeks later.

But that’s just what seems to be happening at Maxwell’s, the much-loved bar-restaurant-music venue in Hoboken, N.J.

Erica Seitzman/Facebook

(Erica Seitzman/Facebook)

The place has seen limited action — as a rain venue for a concert and a one-shot studio for a Justin Timberlake concert-cum-Target-commercial.

But over the Labor Day weekend, some eagle-eyed Hobokenites spotted “Help Wanted” posters seeking staff of the restaurant-bar.

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I’m in the middle of an episode of “The Walking Dead,” which, if nothing else, has taught us that while the Walkers look like those we knew and loved, they’re not who they appear to be.

Maxwell's founder Steve Fallon, left, and booker/co-owner Todd Abramson at Maxwell's "wake." (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Maxwell’s founder Steve Fallon, left, and booker/co-owner Todd Abramson at Maxwell’s “wake.” (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

After 35 years, Maxwell’s closed on July 31 with a block party outside and a long evening of shows — punctuated by plenty of reminiscences and a few tears — inside the music room. The end came after Todd Abramson, co-owner, music booker and public face of the club, decided he’d had enough of the problems that come running such a business in the uber-gentrified Mile Square City.

Justin Timberlake's Maxwell's tweet.

Justin Timberlake’s Maxwell’s tweet.

On Aug. 8 — barely a week after the shutdown — the lights were back on and the restaurant was pressed into service to host a show by Swingadelic, originally scheduled for nearby Frank Sinatra Park. It was part of Hoboken Administrator of Cultural Affairs Geri Fallo‘s backup plan, the Cliffview Pilot reported, to avoid a rain-out.

It all made sense. First, Swingadelic’s founder is bassist Dave Post, who also happens to be a co-owner of Maxwell’s. Second, despite the extensive partying there in the club’s final days, the place apparently was left with a decent amount of quaffables to keep the bar stocked.

Then along came Timberlake, a musician who I’m guessing never set foot in Maxwell’s while it was in business.

Hundreds of fans lined up and then flooded the streets around Maxwell's in Hoboken where Justin Timberlake is filming a commercial for Target. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. -- Joe Shine/For The Jersey Journal

Hundreds of fans lined up and then flooded the streets around Maxwell’s in Hoboken where Justin Timberlake is filming a commercial for Target. Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. — Joe Shine/For The Jersey Journal

His crew took over the empty club for a one night fan concert (well, a one-SONG appearance for a Target commercial) in the still-equipped music room. Thousands crowded the streets outside the shuttered club, The Jersey Journal reported. Fans weighed in effusively on Facebook and Twitter, often with disparaging comments.

Timberlake drew some particularly amusing snarkiness on Twitter from Yo La Tengo, a band that got its start in Hoboken and is indelibly linked to the club.

YLT Tweets

And now, there’s the reopening. Yes, Maxwell’s is hiring staff to reopen the bar and restaurant, but, apparently, not the music room.

Post tells Tris McCall of The Star-Ledger that Maxwell’s will reopen as a bar and restaurant only, staying in operation until the place sells. (The business and a 10-year lease can be yours for just $625,000.) He said he wasn’t sure when he’d be reopening.”Hopefully, it won’t take too long to make a sale,” Post told McCall. “But even if I sold Maxwell’s tomorrow, it would take 90 days for the license to transfer.”

The Star-Ledger reports that Abramson — who was a constant presence in the restaurant, seating diners, delivering orders and overseeing proceedings — is not involved in the reopening.


Jihae gives her music a kick, launches Kickstarter campaign today (videos)

New project gives Fans a chance to support the sultry singer for as little as $1

Jihae, the Seoul, South Korea, -born Renaissance woman has shifted the spotlight back onto her musical career.

Jihae performs at the Mercury Lounge in 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Jihae performs at the Mercury Lounge in 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Best known to many as one of the distinctive faces of the Eileen Fisher fashion line, the mononymic Jihae (full name: Jihae Kim), has for years worked as a singer, multi-instrumentalist and operator of a small indie music label, Septem.

Her performance style is slinky, sexy and mysterious, with overtones of earthiness signaled by her penchant for leather biker jackets.

This morning she launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund completion of her 4th album, Illusion of You, and the tour to support it.

Project involves Dave Stewart, Leonard Cohen, more

Dave Stewart of Eurythmics is the executive producer, plays on several tracks and makes a guest appearance in the Kickstarter video. He says Jihae’s latest work “reminds me of something like [David] Bowie whispering secrets to the Velvet Underground.”

The album, due out in January if this campaign goes well, features a song co-written by Jihae, Stewart and the venerable Leonard Cohen. Jihae’s press kit calls that track, titled “It Just Feels,”  an “epic orgasm-themed song.”

Continue reading

Speed the Plough: Still going strong 30 years on

An interview published Feb.16, 1996, in The Record of North Jersey, in advance of a Speed the Plough show at Maxwell's.

North Jersey rockers look ahead with 6 new tracks on retrospective out Sept. 17 on Bar/None, play Hoboken Arts & Music Festival Sept. 29

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)

I have to call myself a latecomer to Speed the Plough.

Sure, I knew them in the 1990s, and in 1996 even interviewed then-members Brenda Sauter and Rich Barnes for The Record, the newspaper then based in Hackensack, N.J. But by then the band was already 13 years into its career.
for a long time.

So, mathematically at least, that makes me a relative newbie. But, like most bands in the extended family of The Feelies, Speed the Plough has gone through many changes in personnel and has continued to make new, and often quite loyal, fans, throughout its three decades.

John Baumgartner joins The Feelies on July 8, 2013, during the band's final Fourth of July shows at Maxwell's. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

John Baumgartner joins The Feelies on July 8, 2013, during the band’s final Fourth of July shows at Maxwell’s. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

But this year, two years after its last album, STP is commemorating the three-decade mark with an album.  The Plough and the Stars, available for preorder now by clicking here, may be a box set, but it’s definitely no pine box ready  for burial.

STP has always marched to the sound of its own drummer (now, and often, a Demeski!), with its somewhat pastoral sound. But it’s also never stopped moving forward, however incrementally at times. Continue reading