Tag Archives: Damrosch Park

Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and friends steal the show

Sxip Shirey, Todd Reynolds and friends at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

How often do you go to a show and feel like you’ve heard such an amazing opening act that you’re ready to skip the headliner?

Not often, I’ll bet.

Todd Reynolds

But that’s exactly the way I felt at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Wednesday night, Aug. 10. It was another triumph in New York’s best free outdoor concert series, which The New York Times describes perfectly as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.”

Don’t get me wrong, Laurie Anderson was the headliner of the free show in Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park. She is — and was that night — amazing. But openers Todd Reynolds and Sxip Shirey, joined by six violinists and a tuba player, blew the house down with their collaboration. I could have gone home floating on air after their set, feeling perfectly satisfied.

Lou Reed slips heads backstage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.

Todd, the inimitable Digifiddler, kicked off his set with some of the inventive work from his new album, Outerborough. Laurie’s husband, Lou Reed, slipped through the crowd and backstage while Todd was really wailing on “Crossroads,” a Michael Lowenstern-composed “duet” with bluesman Robert Johnson.

In short order, Todd was joined by six more violinists, each of whom is pretty amazing in his or her own right (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell). The Sxip, the multi-instrumentalist clown prince of the NYC indie music scene entered along with Adam Matta (the Human Beatbox) and tuba player Don Godwin of Raya Brass Band. (Check out a rehearsal clip of Todd and Sxip cutting loose here.)

The energy that flowed among all these talented musicians as they jammed onstage was palpable. And there was lots of love flowing from stage to audience and back again.

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Ethel Fair Launches Lincoln Center Out Of Doors

Crews were making the final preparations to Damrosh Park on Tuesday night for Wednesday's premiere of the 2010 edition of Lincoln Center Out Of Doors. (Copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The fabulous Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival starts Wednesday night with a bit of Civil Rights Movement street theater at 6:30 at Barclays Capital Grove (the sponsored name for the plaza between Lincoln Center Theater and Avery Fisher Hall and moves into full-bore music mode at 7:30 in Damrosch Park with Ethel Fair: The Songwriters.

Ethel is Ralph Farris (viola), Mary Rowell (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello) and Cornelius Dufallo (violin).

Ethel is a string quartet like no other string quartet you’ve seen or heard. These four skilled players, who are quite active together and separately on the international contemporary music scene, have been working in collaborative mode over the past several years. Their latest project, which has its world premiere at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival,  features the quartet yoked with songwriters who are quite well known on their own. Pop tunesmith Adam Schlesinger (a member of pop bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy and composer of Broadway’s “Cry Baby”), assisted by Mike Viola (Candy Butchers), has created a work with Ethel. Other collaborators include folk-blues dynamo Dayna Kurtz, punk-New Wave pioneer Tom Verlaine (Television) and folky Argentine singer-songwriter Juana Molina.

Ethel always pushes boundaries with its work. This collaborative effort appears to reach for a broader, more mainstream appeal than some of the band’s more left-of-center efforts, such as its ongoing TruckStop project, which takes the band on the road to work with and celebrate indigenous cultures. But it’s certain to provide a richly entertaining evening.

No Snakes In This Grass is the title of the theater piece, written by James Magnuson and directed by Mical Whitaker, that kicks off the evening. It’s a comedy set in the Garden of Eden that deals issues of race and the Fall.

This is just the first night of a jam-packed schedule of fabulous free music and performance art that runs through Aug. 15. For the full Lincoln Center Out of Doors schedule, read the press release after the jump. Continue reading

Femi Kuti kicks off the final week of Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Femi Kuti

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been distracted this summer. There’s been a lot going on, musically speaking, around NYC and environs so far. As a result, we’ve neglected our friends at Midsummer Night Swing at Lincoln Center.

But on Monday night, the start of MNS’s final week  for 2010 — hard to believe — Femi Kuti & The Positive Force are taking over Damrosch Park. And we can’t fail you this time. Even if you think you can’t dance, you should be at this show. It’s hard not to at least feel like you can dance when Femi Kuti takes the stage. His version of Afrobeat — he’s one of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s two musical sons, the other being Seun Kuti who inherited his father’s band Egypt 80 — has an insistent beat and a joyous feel that can get anyone to dance. (Fela Kuti, you may recall, is the subject of the fantastic Broadway musical, Fela!, directed by Bill T. Jones.)

The fun starts at 6:30 p.m. with a dance lesson with Sahr Ngaujah, star Fela!, and the music starts at 7. Tickets are $17 and available at Damrosch Park, at West 62nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue, or online. And there are more shows throughout the week: Catherine Russell and Cat & The Hounds Swing Band on Wednesday, Loser’s Lounge Ladies Night on Thursday, La Exelencia on Friday and, wrapping up this year’s dance season, a kids’ dance party at 3 p.m. Saturday followed by the Harlem Renaissance Orchestra on Saturday evening.

Liquid Liquid makes time melt away

liquid 1

Liquid Liquid drummer Scott Hartley and vocalist Salvatore Principato have energy to spare at Lincoln Center Out of Doors. (Photos copyright 2009, Christine Maurus)

If you think you don’t know the band Liquid Liquid, you’re probably wrong. If you know Grandmaster Melle Mel‘s White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It), you know Liquid Liquid. The hip-hop track’s bass line was lifted straight out of the track Cavern, by the Eighties NYC-based post-punk band.

Liquid Liquid lasted bare three years — from 1980 to 1983 — but the band’s high energy and rat-a-tat percussion sound made a lasting impression on music lovers and the music. The quartet — drummer Scott Hartley, bassist Richard McGuire, vocalist Salvatore Principato and percussionist/marimba player Dennis Young — made a triumphant return to New York City last night at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, taking the stage after the conclusion of Rhys Chatham‘s A Crimson Grail for 200 Electric Guitars (Outdoor Version).

Scott and Salvatore.

Scott and Salvatore.

The membes of Liquid Liquid haven’t been playing together regularly for more than 25 years. They reunited at NYC’s Knitting Factory in 2003 and got together again last October at the Barbican Centre in London. But they sounded amazingly tight and the crowd responded enthusiastically. ‘

All four band members seemed energized and totally engaged — thrilled to be performing before an appreciative hometown crowd. The sound was crisp and the beats were just as hypnotic as the day they were created. People in the audience who saw Liquid Liquid in the Eighties were amazed that the players had barely aged and hadn’t lost a bit of their drive.

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