Tag Archives: Laurie Anderson

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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Todd Reynolds, Sxip Shirey and an ‘awesome array of violinists’ open for Laurie Anderson tonight

The Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Sxip Shirey opening for Cibo Matto at Brooklyn Bowl in July 2011. (© 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

When Laurie Anderson takes the stage at Lincoln Center Out of Doors in Damrosch Park on Wednesday night, Aug. 10, the crowd will already have gotten wound up with the sonic stylings of the Digifiddler himself, Todd Reynolds, along with multi-instrumentalist Sxip Shirey, human beatbox Adam Matta, and a clutch of New York’s best violinists (Caleb Burhans, Conrad Harris, Pauline Kim Harris, Yuki Numata, Courtney Orlando, and Ben Russell).

I don’t know exactly what’s in store with this performance and haven’t asked Todd. I know it’ll be creative and entertaining — and I want to be surprised.

Adam Matta

Oh, and by the way, Laurie Anderson’s a great live performer, too. Be sure to stick around after Todd, Sxip and company are finished.

Laurie Anderson

The show starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Guggenheim Bandshell in Damrosch Park, behind New York State Theater in Lincoln Center. There are plenty of seats, room to roam and there are food and drink vendors on site. Admission is free.

Don’t miss it. It promises to be spectacular.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors announces 2011 lineup

Get ready for another amazing summer of free music and dance in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center.

Bill Bragin, director of public programming, on Tuesday morning announced the Lincoln Center Out of Doors lineup. And it’s a doozy, featuring Billy Bragg, Mavis Staples, Lesley Gore, the Family Stone, Laurie Anderson, Tan Dun and much, much more.

Lincoln Center Out of Doors kicks off July 27 and runs through Aug. 14. It’s all free and worth checking out.

Click here for all the details.

Finding light at the end of a subway tunnel

AMY X

My first exposure to Amy X Neuburg (please no period after the X!), the San Francisco-based avant-cabaret singer-percussionist, came at NYC’s Symphony Space during the 2003 Bang on a Can Marathon. She did a riveting set of live-looped, manipulated vocals and percussion that left a strong impression on me. Unlike so many singers who emphasize such vocal manipulation, Amy demonstrated from the first note that she had a strong voice. She wasn’t using her electronics as a crutch for a weak vocal instrument, but as a way to express her art and enhance a beautiful natural instrument.

In a chat after her performance, I talked to Amy about her voice, and she explained that she had operatic vocal training, but her art led her in a different direction.

Amy has always gone her own way. In the Nineties she mined a pop vein with her Amy X Neuburg and Men ensemble, then stuck mostly with solo cabaret-style performance in subsequent years, turning out beautiful recordings like Six Little Stains in 2003 and Residue the following year.

Her wonderfully inventive mind and obvious love of all sort of musical styles makes her a delight to hear and see, but a bit of a marketing challenge. Is her act cabaret, musical theater, performance art, contemporary classical? The labels don’t really matter. She’s a massive talent whose work is always fresh and entertaining.

Amy, who rocks a vintage Lisa Loeb-ish look, is back with an ensemble on The Secret Language of Subways. This time it’s Amy X Neuburg & The Cello ChiXtet, a trio of female cellists. With its blending of her voice, electronics and the full range of the cellos — which may well be the most expressive string instruments around — TSLOS is Amy’s best work yet. The 13-song cycle works well as a story arc —  a sort of unstaged musical — but the indivdual songs are so finely crafted and tuneful that they can  stand on their own quite well.

Amy says the project grew out of her love for the “expressive voice-like quality, enormous pitch range and dramatic look of the cello — I felt I had found a sort of instrumental kindred spirit to my own voice.” Continue reading