‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ actor J.B. Smoove explains his improvised journey to comedy success ahead of Peekskill gig

Comedian and actor J.B. Smoove was known as Jerry Brooks while growing up in Mount Vernon, New York.Actor J.B. Smoove grew up funny. He’s the first to tell you that his whole family — particularly mom Elizabeth Whitehead — is “hilarious.” So he had a head start on the road to a career as a comedian.

But it took more than luck to hit a peak in his career at age 42, when the Mount Vernon, New York, -raised Smoove was tapped to play Leon, the permanent houseguest, on Larry David’s cringeworthy HBO comedy series “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

He talks about his relentless climb up the ladder and reveals the key to his success in my conversation with him for The Journal News/lohud.com in advance of his appearance at the Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in Peekskill, New York, this Friday evening, April 6.

His standup act it unpredictable and changes on a dime to suit his mood and the vibe of the evening’s audiences.

“I would say this: If you love Leon, you’re gonna love J.B. Smoove,” he says.

Read the interview and get all the details for seeing him live in Peekskill on lohud.com by GOING HERE.

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In confronting fear of her past, Elk City’s Renée LoBue has written some of her most personal and revealing songs ever [Video]

Elk City performs at Rent Party in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo © 2018, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Elk City performs at Rent Party in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo © 2018, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

When Elk City’s Renée LoBue and I started talking back in November 2016 about the songs she had written for the band’s first new album since 2010’s “House of Tongues,” I never imagined the conversation would continue for more than a year before that album materialized.

But it did take that long. And the new collection, “Everybody’s Insecure,” released March 16 on Hoboken’s Bar/None Records, was well worth the wait.

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Renée LoBue of Elk City performs at Rent Party in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo © 2018, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Renée LoBue of Elk City performs at Rent Party in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Feb. 23, 2018. (Photo © 2018, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

With LoBue’s cooperation and permission, and the help of her longtime collaborator Ray Ketchem, I was able to distill our dialogue over those many months into an article that reveals the difficult personal journey she took to confront and address her past in song.

Read the full interview by CLICKING HERE, on northjersey.com.

‘The Lucky Ones’: An emotional roller-coaster by the husband-wife team behind ‘Hundred Days’

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could tell such a gut-wrenching, personal story to audiences night after night without going over the edge, but Abigail Bengson — who performs with husband Shaun in The Bengsons — is doing just that in “The Lucky Ones,” now playing at the historic Connelly Theater in Manhattan’s East Village.

The piece is charming and entertaining, but gripping and emotionally exhausting at the same time. It’s much more emotional, at least to me, than their previous musical, “Hundred Days.”

I regretted waiting so late in the game — not until Black Friday last year at New York Theater Workshop — to see the Bengsons’ first musical, which centered on their quirky love-and-marriage story. By then it was in what seemed like it umpteenth incarnation. I had passed up opportunities to see earlier versions at Joe’s Pub, The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Series, and probably other venues.

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Abigail and Shaun Bengson in January 2017

I have no idea why. But because when I finally did see it, I found “Hundred Days” to be so enjoyable and endearing experience that I wasn’t about to wait too long to see The Bengsons’ next project.

I was thrilled to see that “The Lucky Ones” was getting its world premiere in New York this month, and got the ticket-buying out of the way early. Continue reading

Don’t miss TRØN & DVD: Free listening party in Nyack tonight, show in Manhattan Monday

TRONcolordad copy.jpgDon’t miss out on one of the best musical events of the year: the release of Nyack hip hop duo TRØN & DVD‘s first full length album.

“Afraid of the Dark,” the tough-but-funny pair’s debut, dropped Friday, Oct. 20, on Kiam Records.

Brothers Norvin and Darian Van Dunk, who perform as TRØN & DVD, sat down with me recently for an extended interview for The Journal News/lohud, which appeared on Page One of Wednesday’s newspaper and is also available online. GO HERE to read the interview. (They also got some love from Nyack News & Views a few weeks back.)

The Kiam Records Shop, the label’s home base at 95 Main St/. in Nyack, is hosting a free listening-and-CD-signing party at 7 p.m. Friday. Label chief Jennifer O’Connor promises drinks and snacks.

On Monday, TRØN & DVD will perform the album from start-to-finish at the storied Mercury Lounge in Manhattan. Tickets are a mere $10 for what is certain to be an excellent show. GO HERE to buy your tickets online.

 

Molly Erin Sarlé: Mountain Man to tour again, but not until next year [Videos]

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Mountain Man at the 2010 Solid Sound Festival, North Adams, Massachusetts. (Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

If your hopes were dashed when Mountain Man did only a one-off reunion set this summer despite strong hints from the long-dormant trio earlier this year suggesting something much more extensive might be in the works, take note!

The trio is will do a full tour, but not until 2018, Mountain Man member Molly Erin Sarlé says.

She broke the news to a fan during a conversation after her opening set for Big Thief at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Sept. 11.

Sarlé said she and her band mates had “so much fun” doing their set at the Eaux Claires festival in June, that they have agreed to do a tour next year.

Click through to the jump for videos and more. Continue reading

Stephan Jenkins reflects on free-range chicken and 20 years of Third Eye Blind

The enduring San Francisco band hits the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester on Saturday, Oct. 7.

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When you’re in a rock band that tours as much as Third Eye Blind, little things sometimes loom large.

On a mid-September afternoon, front man Stephan Jenkins is having a bite to eat while he chats with The Journal News by phone from the Elmwood Park Amphitheater in downtown Roanoke, Virginia.

“I’m enjoying a chicken Caesar here,” the California native says. “They’ve got free range organic chicken in Roanoke, Virginia. How about that?”

After kicking off Oct. 5  in Providence, Rhode Island, the tour takes the band to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, and to Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre on Oct. 7.

Looking back on the songs from Third Eye Blind’s self-titled debut album, released 20 years ago, Jenkins remains proud of the work that first brought him fame. The work has endured, he says, even if it means something different now.

“I’m not the same person I was,” he explains. “It’s funny, I can revisit that person, and know that person and have more affection and appreciation for that person than I did when I was that person.”

He describes the person who wrote and recorded that album as “somebody who was very flawed.”

“There was a real drive,” he recalls. “That person had a real rage to live and a drive that was impressive. And, so yeah, I like that person.”

He resists describing how he sees himself today.

“I don’t know, I’ll tell you in 20 years. I’m not gifted with self- knowledge.

CLICK HERE to read more of Jenkins’ insights in the full interview on lohud.com.

 

NEW VIDEO: Drink a little ‘Kool Aid’ with The Lords of Liechtenstein

The Lords of Liechtenstein perform with Austin Hughes, left, of M. Shanghai, at Jalopy in Red Hook, Brooklyn, on Dec. 6, 2014. (Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

The Lords of Liechtenstein’s Rauchwerk brothers perform with Austin Hughes, left, of M. Shanghai, at Jalopy in Red Hook, Brooklyn, on Dec. 6, 2014. (Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

You can accuse New Jersey-born, Brooklyn-based band The Lords of Liechtenstein of a lot of things, including having questionable fashion taste (I have just three words: Argyle. Sweater. Vests.) and possessing endless charm, humor, and musical talent.

But you could never call the folky band — brothers and Holmdel, New Jersey, natives Dan and Noah Rauchwerk and three band mates — subtle.

The new video for “Kool Aid,” from their latest album, “Downhill Ride to Joyland,” is a perfect example.

Their team describes it this way:

Their new unreleased music video “Kool Aid” was inspired by cult leader Jim Jones and is meant to be a satirical take on the power that charismatic figures hold over us. The video translates that theme to the present day and is critical of how such leaders cause us to accept poisonous ideologies. “Drink the kool aid.”

But let’s just say they seem to have a someone much, much more contemporary than Jim Jones in mind as the inspiration for this video. (Clue: Pay attention to the wording on the paper cups! If that doesn’t make it clear, I have just one word for you: SAD!)

Watch and enjoy here:

If you like what you see and hear and want to see the Lords live, your next opportunity in the New York City area will be Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the Schimmel Center in Manhattan, in support of Uncle Bonsai. They’ll be at The Turning Point in Piermont, New York, on Sunday, Dec. 10, performing on a 4 p.m. bill with The Levins. Check out their full schedule on Facebook.