Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jonathan Larson’s lasting impact honored in song (video)

The crowd gathers to hear Jonathan Larson's dad and sister talk about the late composer in the Grand Tier lobby at New York City Center on June 25, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The crowd gathers to hear Jonathan Larson’s dad and sister talk about the late composer in the Grand Tier lobby at New York City Center on June 25, 2014. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

New York City Center Encores! Off-Center (whose website is offline at this writing) revived “Rent” creator Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical show, “tick, tick … BOOM!” last week.

It was important enough that it lured Karen Olivo, a Broadway star (an alum of “Rent” and “In the Heights”) who has otherwise abandoned New York in favor of a life in Wisconsin, back to town.

And it really got actor and “In The Heights” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda fired up to write some reflections on Larson for The New York Times.

Leslie Odom Jr., of “Rent” and TV’s “Smash” fame, rounded out the cast.

If you missed it, that’s a terrible shame. But you can read the New York Daily News review here and check out the Times review here.

I saw the first performance, on Wednesday, and made a point to arrive early for the pre-show “Lobby Project” event in the hot-as-Hades Grand Tier lobby featuring Larson’s dad and sister talking about their late relative and promoting awareness of Marfan syndrome, the genetic disorder that contributed to his untimely death.

When “Rent” became a big hit after Larson’s death, his family and friends set up the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation to provide grants for composers, lyricists, and book writers in musical theater. The grants program is now run by the American Theatre Wing as Jonathan Larson Grants.

After Larson’s relatives spoke about him, the subject of the grants program came up, and it was announced that 107 people had received money from it so far  — and that many of those people were in the packed lobby.

That’s when people pulled out sheet music or opened it on their mobile devices and broke into a serenade, performing Larson’s iconic “Rent” tune “Season of Love.”

It was a grand moment.

I managed to catch much of it on video. Check it out:

 

 

 

 

Last-Minute Music Tip: Check out today’s Rockland-Bergen Music Festival

Joe Durso

Joe Durso

Rockland County-born rocker Joe D’Urso is celebrating his 50th birthday this month by taking over the German Masonic Park in his hometown of Tappan, N.Y., all day Sunday and throwing a music festival featuring his musician friends.

The result is the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, with gates opening at 11 a.m. , with music starting at 11:30 a.m. and running nonstop through 7:15 p.m.

It’s the first festival of its kind in the Rockland County area in my memory. It should be a blast. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day at this point, an hour before the music starts.

The festival brings together in my backyard a bunch of artists that I’d happily go to New York City to see play separately: Willie Nile, Marshall Crenshaw, Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Jesse Malin, John Eddie, Piermont’s Tom Chapin and many, many more.

Willie Nile

Willie Nile

But here you don’t have to travel as far, pay outrageous parking charges, or deal with all the hassles of a drive into the city. And with a family-friendly vibe and tickets priced at $50 (free for anyone 12 or younger, and for anyone born in 1964) at the gate, you can afford to bring the kids and introduce them to some of your favorite musicians without breaking the bank.

I interviewed D’Urso and Nile for a preview in The Journal News/lohud.com. Tap or click here to see what they have to say and find out more about the festival.

IF YOU GO

Where: Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, German Masonic Park, 120 Western Highway, Tappan, N.Y.

When: 11 a.m.-7:15 p.m., Sunday, June 29; rain or shine.

Tickets: $50 at the gate; 12 and under free; free for anyone born in 1964 with driver’s license proof.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Falcon will fly into your heart, head and ears

Mother Falcon onstage at Brooklyn's Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P, Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Mother Falcon onstage at Brooklyn’s Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Violinist Todd Reynolds to be guest on the orchestral pop band’s ‘Symphonic Sundays With Mother Falcon’ program at Joe’s Pub this Sunday

I’ll admit that I’m a little late to the party where Mother Falcon is concerned.

But I knew I’d fall in the love the minute I started checking out the orchestral pop band’s music on the recommendation of a friend — somebody who’s more often asking me for bands to check out.

Mother Falcon (Nick Gregg on mandolin) onstage at Brooklyn's Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P, Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Mother Falcon (Nick Gregg on mandolin) onstage at Brooklyn’s Littlefield on Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It didn’t take long for the upbeat, passionate sound to reel me right in.

But I learned at Littlefield in North Slope, Brooklyn, last night that their recordings pale in comparison to their live performances. There were 12 members of Mother Falcon (the band, always big, varies in number as I understand it) on Littlefield’s generous stage. Every one of the players obviously put heart and soul into the set. Continue reading

Check out the Bang on a Can Marathon: Hear amazing music for free

Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon introduces a performance of his composition "Exalted," featuring the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and JACK Quartet, at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon. (Photo  © 2011, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Bang on a Can founder Michael Gordon introduces a performance of his composition “Exalted,” featuring the Young People’s Chorus of New York City and JACK Quartet, at the 2011 Bang on a Can Marathon. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Roomful of Teeth, Jherek Bischoff, Anonymous 4, So Percussion, more featured on 8-hour program

Head to the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place at the World Financial Center  in lower Manhattan on Sunday afternoon for a fantastic exploration of New Music.

The 2014 edition of the annual Bang on a Can Marathon starts at 2 p.m. and runs through 10 p.m. You can come and go as you please, sampling everything from serious compositions by Bang on a Can‘s founding composers — Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang — to works by rock band The National’s Bryce Dessner, along with performances by the inimitable Meredith Monk, Jherek Bischoff, So Percussion, and female vocal quartet Anonymous 4.

Tap or click here to see the full performance schedule.

This event is really a must to experience in person — you’ll see artists mingling with audience in chance encounters throughout the show, get to see and buy CDs and merchandise at the huge merch table, and maybe even take a break to go shopping in the urban mall.

And be sure to check out Found Sound Nation, which hosts its Street Studio – a mobile recording studio where anyone can spontaneously create and record original music!

If you can’t get there, you don’t have to miss out, though. It will be webcast in HD audio and videol.

Tap or click here to WATCH LIVE.

 

Cynthia Hopkins samples the candy and finds it bittersweet

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Cynthia Hopkins in a solo performance at Pete’s Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on June 17, 2014. (Photo © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

How long has Pete’s Candy Store been a concert venue on the Northside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn?

I’ve been meaning to get thee since the day it opened, but something always got in the way — my schedule,  other priorities, whatever.

So what (or should I say who) did it take to finally get me there?

Cynthia Hopkins, that’s who. Continue reading

Peter Stampfel pushes banjos to the limit

Peter Stampfel torturing a banjo and assaulting our ears at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Peter Stampfel on banjo at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The granddaddy of freak folk is still going strong with his latest album, ‘Better Than Expected’

Peter Stampfel defines freak folk.

It’s a category that didn’t even exist when Stampfel, now 75, was starting out as a young musician, releasing his first album, “The Holy Modal Rounders,” in 1964.

The genre developed to describe the work of current musicians such as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Akron/Family, and the like. But Stampfel was there first, and has provided inspiration and collaboration all along.

The  Holy Modal Rounders cofounder is an acquired taste, for some, with his cracked vocals, inimitable fiddling and banjo playing, and genre-busting choice of material.

His is a restless mind, and his art challenges the conventionality at every turn.

Continue reading

Rosanne Cash: ‘I’ve had a lot of lives’

Rosanne Cash (Eliot Lee Hazel)

Rosanne Cash (Eliot Lee Hazel)

Rosanne Cash.

The name conjures so many images: Little girl in the black and white photo cradled in the crook of her famous daddy’s right arm, step-daughter of June Carter Cash, country star, country rebel, wife, mom, folkie singer-songwriter — you name it.

Rosanne Cash and her famous father

She’s been all those things.

“I feel like I’ve had a lot of lives,” she told me the other day inan interview  for lohud.com/The Journal News.

But she refuses to be hemmed in or defined by them, or by the perceptions people have of her or her famous family.

Cash is headlining the daylong American Roots Music Festival at Caramoor in Katonah on Saturday, June 28.

She’ll be focusing on her latest album, the 11-songs collection titled “The River & the Thread,” which demonstrates the power of her Southern, country roots filtered through her life for the past 25 years in New York City.

“The focus is on the new record,” she says.  But if you’re a longtime fan, there will be rewards for you, too, she promises. “We do the old stuff, too, though. I do my so-called hits. ”

You can read the interview by tapping or clicking here. You’ll also find it in print in today’s editions of The Journal News, so pick up a copy if you’re in the Westchester-Rockland-Putnam area.