Tag Archives: Ed Seifert

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.

 

 

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The best time for Speed the Plough is ‘Now’

Now slice.jpg

Mark your calendar now: Speed the Plough is ready to party.

The North Jersey chamber rockers have been playing the songs from their splendid new album, aptly titled “Now,” for awhile. But now they’re ready to make it official with a record release party.

STP will jam the tiny stage of The HiFi Bar (formerly Brownie’s) in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday night, Feb. 25, to celebrate its release.

nowcover “Now” is Speed the Plough’s eighth album, and is notable for its fresh-but-familiar sound and the fact that it’s the first release by the newly revived Coyote Records.

Coyote was responsible for some of the early releases by Yo La Tengo, The Feelies, Beat Rodeo, Chris Stamey,and other leading lights of the Hoboken indie rock scene that centered on Maxwell’s. It was co-founded by Steve Fallon, who also ran Maxwell’s before giving it all up and moving to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, where he opened a collectibles shop called Gidget’s Gadgets.

It’s fitting in so many ways that “Now” is Coyote’s first release in years. Speed the Plough  started playing in 1984, during the golden age of the Hoboken scene, and has persevered — with an evolving membership always anchored by stalwarts Toni and John Baumgartner — through so many changes.

“Now” is a perfect example of Speed the Plough’s ability to ability to adapt.

The album preserves the feel of the band’s earlier work without  sounding dated. This disc embraces the talents of the new members — vocalist/guitaristsEd Seifert and Michael Baumgartner, bassist Cindi Merklee, and drummer John Demeski.

Seven of the album’s 12 tracks are John Baumgartner compositions featuring vocals by him or Toni, along with Toni’s traditional wind instruments. They’re every bit as good as anything they’ve done before. The haunting “Midnight in the World” — with its refrain of “Calling you ’cause I don’t know what to do” — is a particular earworm.

Their son, Michael, comes on strong with three contributions: “Garden,” a rocker that is probably the first of the gravel-voiced songwriter’s that I ever heard live, “Hey, Blue,” a gentle love song, and a brief (1:47), driving, Hüsker Dü-ish rocker, “Ed’s Song.”  that closes the disc.

Seifert contributes “Be With You,” a delightful, loping folk-rocker with spare, repeated lyrics.

Merklee steps forward in a way that I’ve been waiting to hear, offering a beautiful, plaintive homage to novelist Carson McCullers wiht “Miss Amelia.”

IF YOU GO

What: Speed the Plough record release party

When: 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 25

Where: The HiFi Bar, 169 Avenue A, Manhattan

Tickets: Free, donations accepted, with all proceeds going to the artists. Shows in this small venue tend to fill up, but if you arrive early, you’ll likely have no problem getting in. Making a donation in advance online guarantees entry.

 

Speed the Plough takes over Union Hall next Friday

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

Speed the Plough at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. (© 2014, Steven P. Marsh/willyoumissme.com)

It’s been almost a year since I’ve seen Speed the Plough play live. It’s not that the band hasn’t been playing — while STP doesn’t mount major tours, there have been several gigs in the area since that appearance in May at The Fifth Estate in Brooklyn. Scheduling just hasn’t worked out for me.

So I’m looking forward to seeing them at Brooklyn’s Union Hall on Friday, March 20 — and making sure the scheduling works out this time.

The New Jersey chamber pop family band will be joined by two other notable outfits: the indie super group Heroes of Toolik and Jersey-rooted Deena & the Laughing Boys.

STP and its rhythmic, classically informed pop has been part of my musical life for a long time. I can’t explain that much better than in did in a blurb I was honored to have included in the band’s 2014 retrospective album “The Plough & the Stars”:

In this crazy, uncertain world, there are precious few constants. Speed the Plough is one of them. I feel like I’ve known this band forever, even if I didn’t really discover it until 1996 … It may never displace death or taxes as one of life’s certainties, but the world is a better place with Speed the Plough giving those two a run for the money.

The lineup has changed considerably over the years, but Toni and John Baumgartner have been there all along. And there’s usually been a Demeski (first Feelies drummer Stan Demeski, whose wife Janet is John Baumgartner’s sister, and now their son John) and, for a time, another member of the Feelies, Brenda Sauter, and her husband, Rich Barnes.

Heroes of Toolik is a band that hasn’t been on my radar before, and I can’t imagine why, given its heritage. But it’s there now, for keeps, and should be on your radar, too. It has quite a heritage, drawing its notable members from a bunch of important indie bands: Arad Evans, on guitar and voice, has performed with avant garde icons Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca; Peter Zummo, on trombone, with the Lounge Lizards; Ernie Brooks, on bass, was in the Modern Lovers; drummer Billy Ficca fropm Television and the Washington Squares; and fiddler Jennifer Coates from Jenny Get Around. The band’s sound has a lot in common with STP, as this clip demonstrates.

Deena Shoshkes is somebody I’ve been planning to write about for awhile. She may be best known as a founder of Eighties indie band the Cucumbers, which was a mainstay of the Hoboken scene centered on Maxwell’s. Her second solo album, “Rock River,” was released just last yea. It’s a delightful collection of 12 tunes  that continues the joyful, almost childlike sound that the Cucumbers created. For a sample of her latest album, tap or click here.

Doors open at 8 p.m., with the show starting at 8:30, on Friday, March 20, at Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn. Admission is $10, with tickets available online by tapping or clicking here. Call 718-638-4400 or email info@unionhallny.com for more information.

Intentional nostalgia: Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough played The Bell House

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY, Feb. 7, 2014 (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Mission of Burma at The Bell House, Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Roger Miller, Clint Conley and Peter Prescott. (Photos © 2014 Steven P. Marsh)

Back in February — it seems such a very long time ago — I stopped by at The Bell House in Brooklyn to catch a double bill featuring two of my favorite bands.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brookly, NY, on Feb. 7, 2014.

Speed the Plough at The Bell House in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 7, 2014: Ed Seifert, Toni Paruta Baumgartner, Mike Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee.

Mission of Burma and Speed the Plough both factored heavily in my experience at the late, lamented Maxwell’s in Hoboken, so it was a real joy to see them together at the Bell House, which was becoming Maxwell’s musical successor even before the lights went out in Hoboken. (And it’s no surprise, given that former Maxwell’s booker and co-owner Todd Abramson has been booking bands at the great Gowanus club for quite awhile now.)

The show was awesome, as expected. And the crowd — packed with more than a few familiar faces from Maxwell’s — was enthusiastic.

So step into my time machine and get a look at some shots from the show. If you were there, the pics will spark some good memories. If you didn’t make it, I apologize if my images make you envious.

Either way, enjoy them.

Continue reading

A foretaste of New Jersey rock without Maxwell’s: Speed the Plough, East of Venus play Mexicali Live

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough performs at Mexicali Live in Teaneck, N.J. on July 18, 2013. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

We know what it’s going to be like without Maxwell’s. We learned it pretty clearly at Mexcali Live in Teaneck, N.J., on Thursday, July 18.

Speed the Plough, a very Maxwell’s-identified band, ripped through an excellent headlining set after warmups by Lianne Smith and East of Venus.

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough.  (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Toni (Paruta) Baumgartner and Cindi Merklee of Speed the Plough. (Photo © 2013, Steven P. Marsh)

Nobody in the audience crowded the edge of the stage, which is tradition at Maxwell’s. Not there’s anything wrong with that. It just seemed a little alien. But you had the distinct feeling that if you tried to stand in front of the stage, you’d be shouted away by the audience or escorted away by management. So it seemed better to keep a bit of distance.

Only one person in the crowd stood near the front of a rather cavernous room filled with tables, chairs and stools — and he was far, far from his usual front-and-center spot.

Never mind that the sound at Mexicali is crisp and the raised stage provides sight lines that are, to say the least, more audience-friendly than Maxwell’s. Continue reading

Speed the Plough joins Bar/None’s July 24 farewell to Maxwell’s

Speed the Plough at Maxwell's on Oct. 20, 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Speed the Plough at Maxwell’s on Oct. 20, 2012. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

STP is part of a promised ‘cavalcade of mystery stars’ joining Headliners Freedy Johnston and Band, James Mastro’s Health & Happiness Show and Chris Stamey with Anton Fier and Gene Holder

Myrna and the Hangar Boys (Human Switchboard’s Myrna Marcarian, Jared Michael Nickerson, Dave Schramm and Ron Metz) join lineup

WFMU to broadcast live from the lounge

Even before Maxwell’s closing was announced, Speed the Plough was gearing up get active again. The band, which can trace its lineage back to The Feelies through The Trypes, became active in 2009 after a long hiatus, but has been picking up steam lately in anticipation of a new album — a compilation of some of its long-out-of-print music from the early days plus six brand-new tracks.

But now they’re preparing to say goodbye to the venerated Hoboken club with one last gig there, on Thursday, July 24, as part of a Bar/None record label lineup.

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Jersey Fresh: Speed the Plough, Wild Carnation and The Thousand Pities

Photo by Katie Demeski

Speed the Plough (Photo by Katie Demeski)

It’s a great weekend for New Jersey rock and roll. In one fell swoop, three Jersey bands, all with links to The Feelies, are performing on a joint bill in NYC tonight and New Jersey tomorrow.

Shine is due out Aug. 16

Speed the Plough is using the shows to preview the sounds of its wonderful new album, Shine, which as Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? has been telling you, is due out on Aug. 16. STP is a real family affair, fronted as it is by the husband-and-wife team of Toni and John Baumgartner and includes their son, Mike and STP co-founder Marc Francia and his sons Ian and Dan. New member Ed Seifert, another fixture on the New Jersey music scene,  is the only person in the band who, as far as we know, isn’t related to anyone else in STP.

 You can get a sample of the warm, rhythmic and familiar sounds of STP’s new work with the first single, “Something to Say,” which is streaming on the band website and on the Dromedary Records site.

STP is inextricably linked to The Feelies, in part through former member Brenda Sauter, who’s the longtime Feelies bass player and also a member of Wild Carnation, another band on this weekend’s bill.  STP grew out of the ashes of another legendary band, The Trypes, which also included Feelies members.

Wild Carnation bills itself as “the best Feelies spin-off band you never heard of,” is also on the bill, along with Montclair’s The Thousand Pities — which includes Michael Carlucci, who plays with Feelies singer Glenn Mercer.

Shows are 8 p.m. today (Friday, July 29) at at Piano’s, 158 Ludlow Street, in Manhattan’s Lower East Side ($10, tickets available here), and tomorrow (Saturday, July 30) at 8:30 pm tomorrow at Tierney’s, 138 Valley Road, Montclair, N.J. (No price announced.)