Category Archives: News

Music for the End of the World (VIDEO)

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However we feel about what happened Tuesday, we all could use some decompression right about now.

What’s better than music for soothing the savage breast, after all?

There’s a perfect opportunity in Nyack, New York, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov.13, when TRANSIT, a New Music collective, presents a program that includes a rare — for this 21st Century-oriented group — performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” at GraceMusic.

TRANSIT describes itself this way:

A New Music collective based in NYC, TRANSIT takes a comprehensive twenty-first century approach to new and experimental music by performing, commissioning, and recording the music of emerging composers, while also fostering strengthened relationships between living composers and the general public through TRANSIT-produced concert series and special initiatives.
TRANSIT’s members include a resident composer (Daniel Wohl) and five performers who are amongst the most vibrant young players in the NYC New Music scene. Its core ensemble consists of a mixed chamber
instrumentation: violin (Andie Springer), cello (Evelyn Farny), clarinet (Sara Budde), piano (David Friend), and percussion (Joe Bergen), and
often incorporates electronics, non-traditional instruments, and multimedia components.
TICKET INFO AND DETAILS AFTER THE JUMP

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The one NYC show you must see tonight: Marah at the Bowery Ballroom (Updated: Now with VIP ticketholder schedule)

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If you need a reason to see Marah at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on Friday night, Sept. 23, check out Rolling Stone’s story:

How Marah Made the Best Americana Album You’ve Never Heard

Marah’s 2008 performance on Late Night With Conan O’Brien should have been the ultimate coming-out party, a shot of high-profile national PR to launch an ambitious new album and U.S. tour. Instead, the January 9th appearance was a death knell for both the Philadelphia roots-rock band and their sixth studio record Angels of Destruction!, released only the day before.

Within a week of the Conan spotlight, Marah split up, with band discord to blame. All of their U.S. dates were scrapped, squandering their best chance yet at the brass ring.

GO HERE TO READ THE REST ON ROLLINGSTONE.COM

GO HERE FOR TICKETS: $25 GA/$50 VIP

If you’re going, here’s the schedule:

VIP Ticket Holder Hour: Soundcheck, NYC gig poster, meet/greet, enlightenment etc etc) is 6:30pm-7:30pm (After party for wrist-banded VIP ticket holders is immediately after the show in the Bowery Ballroom’s basement bar.)

MARAH SHOWTIME is 8:30pm! (no support bands).

Underground Horns, Blind Boy Paxton, The Foxfires, and Three Pints Shy perform tomorrow at Haverstraw RiverArts & Music Festival

HRA_AD4_2x2_8Stick around Rockland County on Saturday, Sept .17, and get yourself to the wonderful Haverstraw RiverArts & Music Festival.

It’s a one-day  celebration of the mighty Hudson River in a cool urban village that provided many of the multiple millions of bricks that transformed Manhattan and many other parts of what ‘s now New York City.

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Underground Horns

It was started in 2014 by Haverstraw RiverArts, to bring a full day of music and art set against the backdrop of the Hudson for the residents of Rockland and beyond.

From noon to 6 p.m., Emeline Park at the foot of Main Street will be transformed into a wonderland of art, live music, food, a beer garden, and craft vendors.

It’s all free.

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Blind Boy Paxton

Everything will be great, but the music will be especially hot this year, with a lineup that includes a danceable New York City horn band, a rising young country blues star, a West Nyack indie-rock band, and a Celtic combo. (Full disclosure: I helped recruit two of the bands.)

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The Foxfires

Here’s the music schedule:

Student musician & Welcome – Noon-12:30 p.m.

The Foxfires (West Nyack “Seagaze” indie rock) – 12:30-1:30

Three Pints Shy (Celtic) – 1:40-2:25

Student musicians – 2:30-3

Blind Boy Paxton (country blues) – 3-4

Announcements – 4:45-5

Underground Horns (NYC funk horns) – 5-6

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Three Pints Shy

If you go for the music, y0u should also check out the food and crafts and the professional artists who will display their work along the waterfront.

A special feature of this year’s festival is the 1885 wooden schooner Pioneer, which will offer rides throughout the day for $25 per person. GO HERE TO BUY TICKETS.

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Schooner Pioneer

 

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

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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

 

 

Speed the Plough putting on a not-to-be-missed show Saturday night

cdcposterIf you are within driving distance of Cranford, New Jersey, on Saturday night, Sept. 17, get yourself to the Cranford Dramatic Club theater to hear Speed the Plough, one of the best bands to come out of the extended family of The Feelies, and some other musical friends.

The North Haledon-based band is a little out of its element, and its home turf, at the Cranford playhouse that traditionally hosts theater rather than music.

“It’s a bit of a special endeavor,” says Toni Baumgartner, Speed the Plough’s flute player and one of its singers. “Like Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland, we’re putting on a show” at an old theater… This is kind of a first for them: An evening of music with no drama. We’re aiming for an intimate, café-style setting.”

While Speed the Plough’s beautiful chamber pop — featuring John Bamugartner on keyboards, Mike Baumgartner and Ed Seifert on guitars, Cindi Merklee on bass, and John Demeski on drums along with Toni Baumgartner — tops the bill, the other acts are well worth the price of admission.

The Songs of Winter Hours is a band led by Bob Perry, an original member of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, -based Winter Hours, that aims to keep alive the music of a great New Jersey alternative rock band.

Winter Hours, which included the late guitarist Michael Carlucci — the onetime owner of New York City’s Subterranean Records and CDs and also a member of indie supergroup East of Venus, another Feelies-related band whose debut album was completed shortly before Carlucci died —  had plenty of regional success from 1984 to 1991.

The Songs of Winter Hours features Perry on guitar and lead vocals, Ray Nissen on bass, James Higgins on guitar, Chris O’Hara on drums, and Paul Moschella on percussion. Joseph Marques, who was a songwriter and the band’s lead singer, died in 2003.

The first artist on the bill is Edward Rogers, a Britain-born, New  York City-based singer-songwriter. His new album “Glass Marbles” was released on Zip Records in March to rave reviews.

 

IF YOU GO

What: Speed the Plough, The Songs of Winter Hours, and Edward Rogers in concert

When: 8 p.m., (7 p.m. doors) Saturday, Sept. 17

Where: The CDC Theatre, 78 Winans Avenue, Cranford, NJ

Tickets: $15 online (GO HERE TO BUY)  or at the door. Includes a glass of wine or a beer.

 

 

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.”

Rockland County honors Bruce Springsteen’s local legacy Thursday evening

Bruce Springsteen (DoD News Features)

Bruce Springsteen (DoD News Features)

You may have forgotten — or maybe never knew — that some of Bruce Springsteen’s distinctly New Jersey-oriented tunes were actually recorded in Rockland County, that tiny part of New York State just north of the Garden State line and west of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

He recorded his albums “The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle” and “Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.” — as well as the title track of his breakthrough third studio album, “Born to Run” — at the former 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York.

The Blauvelt Auto Spa May 5, 2015. Bruce Springsteen

The Blauvelt Auto Spa May 5, 2015. Bruce Springsteen recorded “Born to Run” in the building 40 years ago, when it was the 914 Sound Studios. (Photo: Peter Carr/The Journal News)

At 6 p.m. today, there’s a ceremony at the site — now an auto spa — where a historical marker will be installed. It’s being followed by a concert by Joe Delia, a keyboardist/composer who has played with Springsteen.  Rockland-born guitarist/songwriter Joe D’Urso and other guests will also be on the bill.

The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Blauvelt Coach Diner, 587 Route 303, Blauvelt.

It’s free. But get there early, because while the dedication ceremony should have plenty of room for anybody who shows up, fewer than 200 will be able to enter the diner for the concert afterward. But don’t fret if you can’t get in. Organizers say the overflow crowd will be able to listen in on speakers set up outside.

My buddy Robert Brum from The Journal News/lohud.com has played a big role in making this historical event a reality. He’s written extensively, and lyrically, about the history. Click here to read Brum’s beautifully written and presented piece about the roots of Springsteen’s song on its 40th anniversary.

Brum also wrote about the campaign for the historical marker. Go here to read that.