Category Archives: Folk

The Washington Squares reunite after 22 years to perform at Sidewalk Café benefit for Antifolk icon Lach: ‘We love Lach & want to help’ (Videos)

15203208_10154980829280628_2642272229135014937_n

The Washington Squares: Tom Goodkind, Lauren Agnelli, and Bruce Jay Paskow, who died in 1994.

Lach, the mononymic artist at the center of the New York City Antifolk scene in the East Village for many years, is unable to tour and in financial straits because he’s caring for his family full time while his wife undergoes treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

img_4306-1While Lach long ago moved to Scotland, he’s still well remembered at the Sidewalk Café,  at 94 Avenue A (212-473-7373), , where his club, The Fort, held weekly Antihoot open mic sessions.

Those sessions helped inspire and launch a host of folk-based artists, including Rockland County’s own Jamie Block (who, like Lach, chose to perform in his early days under a single name: Block), Regina Spektor, Hamell on Trial, the Moldy Peaches, Nellie McKay, Jeffrey Lewis, Diane Cluck, and Michelle Shocked, and Block.

Some of those artists are coming together Thursday night, Feb. 9, in a benefit show to raise money for Lach and his family in Edinburgh.

Lach’s misfortune has presented an opportunity for a reunion of one of the most beloved neo-folk acts of the late 20th century: The Washington Squares, a Greenwich Village  vocal trio that adopted the look of the Beat generation and sang timeless songs of protest and hope with panache and sincerity in the 1980s and 1990s.

Admission is FREE, but there will be plenty of opportunity to kick some cash into the basket for Lach and his family.

The benefit show is Night 3 of the four-night Winter Antifolk Fest 2017, which runs from Tuesday through Friday.

While, Michelle Shocked, who’s slated to perform at 9:30, is arguably the biggest name on the bill, the Squares reunion is the biggest news to come out in advance of the event.

The neo-Beatnik folk revival Washington Squares started in 1883, about the same time as Antifolk was beginning to coalesce. The Squares played countless concerts in clubs and at festivals until calling it quits on July 28, 1994, after a gig at the legendary Bottom Line in Greenwich Village. The band simply couldn’t keep going after co-founder Bruce Jay Paskow died earlier that year.

The Washington Squares Facebook page has been active lately, apparently in anticipation of a new album of vintage tracks released before Christmas.

But there haven’t been shows — at least not as The Washington Squares, though Agnelli and Goodkind did a one-off in TriBeCa in 2015 under the name We 2 Squares — in nearly 23 years. As the About section of the band’s Facebook page says: “They stopped performing completely.”

Lauren Agnelli and Tom Goodkind, the other founders behind the group that recorded  songs like “New Generation,” “Greenback Dollar,” “Fourth Day of July,” and “D Train,” have finally decided to soldier on without Paskow. While the classic image of The Squares is as a trio with guitars and black-and-white Beatnik outfits, famed Television drummer Billy Ficca (now a member of Heroes of Toolik) also was part of the band.

I messaged Agnelli for some insight, and here’s what she writes:

“We’re playing just Tom, me & Billy Ficca. Our 3rd vocalist will be in CA playing at the Grammys. We love Lach & want to help; show solidarity w/others who are in revolt over the revolting state of the State; have a new compilation out & want to start playing out again”

Click through to the jump for Thursday night’s full schedule and videos of Lach. Continue reading

Advertisements

Kelly Flint bringing ‘lots of new songs’ to Rye on Thursday

backcover_booklet+copy.jpeg

Kelly Flint, who once was the voice of the New York City-based postmodern lounge group Dave’s True Story, is performing her own music in a show in Rye  on Thursday.

She’ll be one of a trio of singer-songwriters taking performing as on a Rye Arts Center Live! Coffeehouse bill at Le Pain Quotidien.

2439965Paul Sforza and George Kilby Jr. will also perform.

Flint, a Scarsdale resident, will be joined on the upright bass by fomer DTS bandmate Jeff Eyrich, who promises Flint will be performing “lots of new songs.”

Flint started performing her own folk-inflected songs in earnest after DTS broke up in 2007, though she was writing songs long before she started singing bandmate Dave Cantor‘s jazzy songs in DTS beginning in the mid 1990s.

Catch up with  what Kelly’s been doing lately by reading the interview she did with me 14 months ago for The Journal News/lohud.com.

IF YOU GO

What: Kelly Flint. Paul Sforza, and George Kilby Jr. in performance

Where: Rye Arts Center Live! Coffeehouse at Le Pain Quotidien, 30 Purchase Street, Rye, New York

When:  7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 (Doors at 6 p.m.)

Tickets: $10 in advance (GO HERE to buy online), $12 at the door.

 

 

Donovan’s ‘Mellow Yellow’ sound comes to Peeksill on Suday

636094430789078240-banjo-2

Whether you were around in the Sixties, or even if you were born years later, you have head the psychedelic folk-rock stylings of Donovan, whose greatest hits include “Sunshine Superman,” “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” and “Mellow Yellow.”

On Sunday, Sept. 18, the 70-year-old Scotland-born singer-songwriter brings his 50th anniversary tour to the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill.

In an interview for The Journal News/lohud.com tied to his first-ever Westchester County gig, Donovan tells me he’s still going strong doing creative work he loves – and has no intention of stopping.

“I love making music and I do it every day… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop doing that. In that way, my motivations haven’t changed at all. I’m an observer and my music is a commentary on life. I love that job.”

FOR TICKET INFORMATION AND TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW, GO HERE

 

 

How Ron Wasserman’s visit with Fred Hellerman, the last living member of The Weavers folk quartet, resulted in a world premiere

Ron Wasserman, front left, with the New York Jazzharmonic. (Mihyun Kang)

Ron Wasserman, front left, with the New York Jazzharmonic. (Mihyun Kang)

Fred Hellerman, the sole surviving member of the famous 1950s folk quartet the Weavers until his death on Sept. 1 at the age of 89, wanted to be more than just a folkie, his son, Caleb Hellerman told The Washington Post.

The quartet – which Hellerman founded with Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, and Lee Hays — was immensely popular for its vocal harmonies and faux naïve guitar-and-banjo versions of songs like Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene,” other now-standard folk songs including “On Top of Old Smoky” and “The Hammer Song.”

Hellerman, the son of a poor immigrant couple, taught himself to play the guitar while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II and never studied music.

As a result, he longed to be taken seriously as a musician, and was always self-conscious about his lack of musical education, his son said. “He wanted to be seen as a serious musician and composer,” he said.

On June 28, just two months before Hellerman died, the New York Jazzharmonic gave him just the boost he wanted by giving one of Hellerman composition’s, “Fourths of July,” its world premiere at the Washington Square Music Festival.

It was almost by chance that Ron Wasserman of New City, the Jazzharmonic’s artistic director, found out about the piece a year ago and began the process of bringing it to the world.

“When I started talking about this with him, it was really kind of thrilling, because I felt like I’d made a discovery,” Wasserman explains.

Hellerman was old friends with Wasserman’s mother, retired singer Joan Wile.

“She sang with him in another group he had after the Weavers, called the Neighbors. The Weavers were blacklisted for a while, so he formed the Neighbors, and my mother was in that group.”

Hellerman and Wile had fallen out of touch, but reconnected in the last several years, says Wasserman, who soon learned that Hellerman possessed some demo recordings he had produced for Wile.

Hellerman wasn’t able to email digital copies of the recordings, so Wasserman paid the elderly musician a visit.

“I went over to his house and got the recordings, which are actually really good, some of the best recordings I’ve heard of my mother singing back in the day.”

Hellerman was intent on getting Wasserman’s attention for something else.

“He was like, ‘I’ve got to play you this piece I wrote,'” Wasserman says. “He had a MIDI computer realization of the piece. He says, ‘I wrote this 30 years ago and nobody’s played it…

“It was a good piece, it was a patriotic kind of piece that the Boston Pops would play, sort of like a theme and variations on ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy.’ So I was like, yeah, I’m gonna do the piece,” Wasserman says.

Wasserman learned that the germ of Hellerman’s idea came from his son, Caleb, who was then an infant.

“When his son was a baby in the crib, he used to scream. In the morning he would wake up like an alarm clock screaming out ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy,'” explains Wasserman. Hellerman learned to turn the noisy distraction into something productive by composing countermelodies in his head. “Eventually, a number of years later, the piece had stuck with him, and that’s how he wrote it. So he dedicated it to his son.”

Because it was written for conventional string orchestra, Wasserman had to recorchestrate it for his 17-piece jazz band.

Over the months between Wasserman’s initial discussions with Hellerman and the June concert date, Hellerman’s health deteriorated. He was too frail to attend the premiere at New York University’s Frederick Loewe Theatre.

“That’s the great irony, the irony of ironies. But his family was there, and they had a great time,” Wasserman says.

Though Hellerman couldn’t attend the premiere, Wasserman found the Washington Square Music Festival audience was very aware of its composer.

“I said to the crowd, ‘You guys remember Fred Hellerman?’ And of course, down there in the Village everybody remembered Fred Hellerman.”

Jamie Block and Caroline Doctorow: Longtime friends forge musical partnership at Union Arts Center Saturday

Caroline Doctorow and Jamie Block

Caroline Doctorow and Jamie Block

Caroline Doctorow considers herself a classic folksinger.

Jamie Block‘s a product of the Anti-Folk revolution.

You might not think they’d have a lot in common, but if you want to find out how these two artists manage to walk their separate paths without losing sight of each other, check them out in a rare Rockland County concert appearance at Sparkill’s Union Arts Center on Saturday, March 19.

What you’re likely find is that it’s a natural pairing — they’ve been friends and mutual admirers for a quarter century

The pair spent a little time with Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? the other day to talk about their friendship , Doctorow begins recounting how she met Block.

“I think I met Jamie when,” she began, only to be interrupted off by Block — as he had warned he probably would wind up doing.

IF YOU GO

What: Caroline Doctorow and Jamie Block in concert

When: 8 p.m., Saturday, March 19

Where: Union Arts Center, 2 Union Ave., Sparkill, New York

Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the door. GO HERE TO BUY ONLINE. More info at info@unionartscenter.com or 845-359-0258

Interview continues after the jump. Continue reading

TONIGHT: Check out Kelly Flint opening for Jane Siberry in Beacon

IMG_9332

If you can get to the Towne Crier Café in Beacon tonight, your in for a double-barreled blast of great music.

Jane Siberry, the headliner, has been making her idiosyncratic music for three decades. She’s a consummate performer whose songs are quirky and full of surprises.

Kelly Flint hasn’t been on the scene as long as Siberry, but she’s got quite a bit of performing under her belt, too — along with a ton of great, folky, self-penned tunes and that tremendous voice.

kelly flint - drive all nightFlint was the lead singer of the popular New York lounge noir band Dave’s True Story from 1992 to 2007, making waves in indie music circles with her vocal interpretations of Dave Cantor’s quirky, jazzy tunes with his smart, idiosyncratic lyrics.

In recent years, Flint has been writing her own songs and performing sporadically under her own name — just her and her guitar, sometimes with ex-husband and former DTS bandmate Jeff Eyrich supporting her on bass.

The Westchester County woman has been regularly headlining shows with her singer-songwriter material at the Bronxville Women’s Club. Opening for Siberry tonight will expose Flint to a new audience and could open the door to more shows.

Flint, who’s a longtime pal, spoke to me in November about her career and her life raising her son, Ben. Check out that conversation, published by The Journal News/lohud.com, here.

Be sure to get to Beacon and check out what she’s up to. If you remember her from DTS, you won’t be disappointed. If you didn’t follow her back then, be sure to arrive early to give her a listen — you’re in for a real treat.

IF YOU GO

What: Kelly Flint, opening for Jane Siberry

When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4.

Where: Towne Crier Café, 379 Main Street, Beacon, NY 12508 MAP

Tickets: $25. Go here to reserve online or call 845-855-1300.

 

‘Surface Noise’: A self-effacing title for Jennifer O’Connor’s brilliant new album

The cover of Jennifer O'Connor's album "Surface Noise" (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, "There 48," by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

The cover of Jennifer O’Connor’s album “Surface Noise” (March 4, 2016, Kiam Records) features an ambitious abstract painting, “There 48,” by Brooklyn artist Joan LeMay.

I’ve never been one to make best-of lists when it comes to music. I enjoy so much of what I hear that it’s difficult to pick favorites.

So I won’t say that Jennifer O’Connor‘s forthcoming album, “Surface Noise,” out March 4, 2016, on Kiam Records, is a sure-fire pick for my best of 2016 list, since I’m not likely to compile one.

I can say it’s the best new album I’ve heard so far in this still-young year — and I fully expect to feel that way about it when this year is winding down.

“Surface Noise” is packed with 12 songs that explore love, loss, and the challenges of life with a casual brilliance about this album that makes it the best work this talented artist has produced so far.

ORDER JENNIFER O’CONNOR’S “SURFACE NOISE” VIA KIAM RECORDS NOW — GO HERE

Continue reading