Category Archives: Review

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

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

Jonathan Demme proves his love for The Feelies

Jonathan Demme introduces The Feelies at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., after a screening of "Something Wild" on Jun 1, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Jonathan Demme introduces The Feelies at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., after a screening of “Something Wild” on Jun 1, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The promo line on the front page of The Journal News on Thursday  said it: “Jonathan Demme Loves The Feelies.”

On Sunday night at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., Demme proved it.

“I guess I don’t get to the venues as much as I used to, because maybe I hit the sack a little earlier than I used to,” Demme told me when I interviewed him for lohud.com/The Journal News. “But definitely… I’d go anywhere to see The Feelies. I’d stay up late to see The Feelies.”

The Feelies onstage at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

The Feelies onstage at the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville, N.Y., on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

At the Burns Film Center, Demme had his dreams fulfilled without having to stay up too terribly late. The movie ran from about 7 p.m. to just before 9. It took Continue reading

Julia Wolfe’s ‘Anthracite Fields’ takes coal mining personally

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It’s hard to believe that the Bang on a Can All -Stars haven’t performed on a New York Philharmonic bill before.

But Friday night’s New York premiere of a work by Bang on a Can cofounder Julia Wolfe was the stellar New Music sextet’s debut.

And what a way to start!

Continue reading

Tammy Faye Starlite’s ‘Broken English’ speaks volumes

Tammy Faye Starlite channels Marianne Faithfull at Joe's Pub. (Photo © 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Tammy Faye Starlite channels Marianne Faithfull at Joe’s Pub on May 13, 2014. (Photo © 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Who is Tammy Faye Starlite, really?

I’m  sure I don’t know — aside from the fact that she’s also known as Tammy Lang.

While I’ve seen her out and about and out of character in public, I’ve never really interacted her when she’s not playing a role.

She’s a talented singer — and a very good judge of musical talent, based on the people she gets to play in her various bands, especially drummers, who’ve included Pete Thomas, Ron Metz, and Dennis Diken  — who seems to have chosen a very challenging career path. Continue reading

The Feelies rock The Bell House; Next up: New England

The Feelies at The Bell House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, on April 25, 2014. (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Feelies at The Bell House, Gowanus, Brooklyn, on April 25, 2014. (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Feelies may have lost their home base when Maxwell’s went out in style with a Hoboken block party last year. But they haven’t lost their soul, as they proved Friday night.

They took the stage of The Bell House in Brooklyn on Friday night and played two red-hot sets.

The Bell House is thee  closest thing to a home club the Passaic County, N.J., quintet has these days. Former Maxwell’s co-owner and booker, Todd Abramson has been booking bands at the first-class Gowanus music venue for some time now.

Guitarist Bill Million and bassist Brenda Sauter.

Guitarist Bill Million and bassist Brenda Sauter.

(Click through to the jump for more photos and info about The Feelies’ upcoming shows.) Continue reading

Poland will never be the same after Ubu Sings Ubu

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A dangerous man: Tony Torn as Pere Ubu at Joe’s Pub on March 25, 2014. (Photos © 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

About midway through the show on March 25, the flabby, shirtless man on stage at Joe’s Pub — his face still bearing the image of the Polish eagle albeit runny with sweat — stepped out of character as Pere Ubu, the king of Poland.

It’s at this point in the show that I’d be introducing my special guest, said actor Tony Torn But I can’t, he added.

So he invited the audience to join him in a chant:

“Stew has flu. Stew has flu. Stew has flu….”

After chanting that a few times, any disappointment I might have been feeling about the absence of Stew, Tony Award-winning creator of “Passing Strange” and leader of the rock band The Negro Problem, vanished as Torn returned to character and carried on with the set.

Sure, it would have been nice to see Stew sit in with this talented band of actors and musicians. But he deserved to stay home and nurse his illness. And Torn and company managed to provide an extraordinarily entertaining evening without their announced special guest.

I had wondered how Stew fit into this mad plan of creating a band to cover Pere Ubu songs in character from from the Alfred Jarry’s 1896 French play “Ubu Roi.”

Torn, happily, answered the question from stage.

This show, “Ubu Sings Ubu,” wouldn’t have materialized at all if, some years ago, Stew hadn’t let Torn sing what he called “one of his crazy punk rock songs.”

He didn’t explain exactly when or how that occurred, so I can only guess it was in a workshop of some sort. Continue reading

Ecstatic Music Festival brings together 5 musicians in a unique collaboration

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It’s hard to believe that the 2014 edition of the Ecstatic Music Festival is nearly over. I suppose it’s because I haven’t been able to get to most of the shows in the festival, which kicked off Jan. 31 and ends this Saturday, March 29.

Two shows remain this year: Wednesday’s bill featuring So Percussion and Buke & Gase, and Saturday’s program with Man Forever and William Basinski. Both shows start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are a reasonable $25, but if you attend both shows, you can get in for $20 apiece. Click here to buy tickets online, or visit the Merkin Concert Hall box office at 129 West 67th Street in Manhattan.

Continue reading

Marah takes a trip into the past to find something fresh and new

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An album full of mysteries, discoveries and pure joy

Awhile back, my friends in Marah asked me to do an item on their new single advancing the release of their Marah Presents Mountain Minstrelsy of Pennsylvania album.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? is a labor of love, but sometimes the love of paying the bills takes so much time that there’s not much time for the labor of love. David Bielanko’s request for an item came at one of those times. The idea kept getting moved, of necessity, to the end of the list. Eventually, as happens with many to-do lists — at least mine — it fell off altogether.

So when the album was finally released on Feb. 25, I realized I had to get my hands on a copy and find a few minutes to make up for letting that opportunity slip away.

So I placed my order and waited.

Continue reading