Tag Archives: New York City

Indie-rock guitar god Tommy Keene plays The Iridium on Sept. 12

Tommy Keene

Tommy Keene

Timing really is everything. If Tommy Keene’s new album had been ready just two months sooner, he would have been touring in July.

And if Keene — one of the iconic guitarist and shockingly overlooked songwriters of ‘80s indie rock — had been touring in July, he surely would have been on the schedule to play at Maxwell’s during the Hoboken music club’s final days.

“It’s too bad my tour was a little later, or I might have tried to get on one of those last shows. We played there [Maxwell’s] quite a bit,” Keene told Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? recently by phone.

“I used to read the New York Rocker in the early ‘80s, like ‘81, and I used to read all about this place. And it seemed like this secret, special, VIP kind of place that people would go to,” he recalled.

It’s too bad, because the classic Keene-penned tune “Places That Are Gone” would have been a fitting tribute to the final days of Maxwell’s.

Continue reading

Where Marah is headed now

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Marah: Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith perform an acoustic number mid-crowd at the Benefit for Lucinda's Kids at The Bowery Electric in Manhattan's East Village on Sunday, April 29. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Dave Bielanko and Christine Smith talk about Mountain Minstrelsy, living (almost) off the grid and whether Serge Bielanko will rejoin Marah

How many lives has the rock band Marah had?

It’s hard to say, but it’s one of those bands that has survived surviving changing lineups, internal strife, and wildly fluctuating stylistic directions, all the while being encouraged and praised by celebrities.

Marah with flugelhorn at The Bowery Electric on April 29. (Photo © 2012, Steven P. Marsh)

Started in Philadelphia, Marah quickly became notable for the stage antics of its core duo, brothers Dave and Serge Bielanko from Philadelphia suburb Conshohocken. They had a loose but seemingly perfectly choreographed stage presence together. Their sound, early on, featured rootsy, Americana-flavored rock and roll with a particular treat for anyone who has an affinity for Philadelphia: jangling banjos played in the style of Philadelphia Mummers Parade string bands.

A band version of Marah at Bowery Electric in 2010. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

This is a band that novelist Stephen King in 2005 dubbed probably the best rock band in America that nobody knows.” They’ve also been the darlings of writers Nick Hornby (who did a tour with the band) and Sarah Vowell.

It’s a band that became pals with Bruce Springsteen and got him to sing and play on one of their albums. And Steve Earle liked them enough to add them to the roster of his now defunct record label.

It’s also a band whose list of former members on Wikipedia at this writing tops out at 20 — a lot for the 19-year-old a band, which generally has performed as a quartet or quintet.

In working there, they’ve discovered something magical, something that has returned the band to its roots in a way, and turned it in a new direction in another way.

Dave and Christine are working with a handful of local musicians in their Pennsylvania hideaway on a project they call Mountain Minstrelsy. (Check it out on Facebook, too.) They’re holed up in an old church that they’re using as a recording studio.

Basically, one of their musical pals in Pennsylvania showed them a book of collected lyrics, “Mountain Minstrelsy (as sung in the Backwoods Settlements, Hunting Cabins and Lumber Camps in the “Black Forest” of Pennsylvania, 1840 – 1923)” by Henry W. Shoemaker. It struck a chord, literally and figuratively, with Dave and Christine, so they set out to build an album around their new music for the found lyrics. They’ve been recording the new-old songs with some of their friends and neighbors for an album they hope to release late this year.

After the jump, read the full interview, plus a video of Dave, Christine and friends in a Mountain Minstrelsy rehearsal.

Continue reading

Maybe we haven’t seen the last of The Last Town Chorus

It was a real shock to go through the Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? photo library and discover that there’s not a single image socked away of one of our absolute favorite bands ever: The Last Town Chorus.

And since Megan Hickey, the awesome lap-steel guitar-playing heart and soul of TLTC, stopped gigging nearly two years ago, we had the feeling we might never get a chance to correct that omission.

A new single

Now there’s hope. On Christmas Eve, Megan finally released a new recording, the single “Keep Burnin’,” on iTunes. It seems to be a song she’s been working on since 2008. And it’s the first new track she’s released in that time. Her last new release was the single “Loud and Clear,” which she put out in 2008 as an”album version,” though the album clearly that hasn’t come together yet. (TLTC’s last album, “Wire Waltz,” came out way back in March 2007!)

The new tune is worth the wait. Her voice sounds a little different, more natural and a touch less dressed up than on her previous recordings. It’s a voice that’s as beautiful and clear as a bell as possible. She’s retained her amazing ability to bring tears to our eyes in the way few singers can. We’re looking forward to more track, soon!

So, with a new song out, can performing be far behind? WYMMWIG is eager to see and hear Megan play again. And other fans are eager too.

Even her guitars have been asking questions:

Megan divorced herself from New York City in a long, slow process. You could track it pretty clearly on her blog, The Last Town Chorus’ Travelogue. She started spending more and more (nontouring) time away from New York in early 2009. She started downsizing, selling equipment and finally gave up her record collection. That was a clear sign she was done, done, done with New York, at least for now, if not forever.

But Megan clearly did get the urge for going (as Tom Rush wrote), and so she finally did.

We should have seen it coming. We won’t get into her reasons. She’s told us some of them, and we’re sure there are many more. She can explain it herself if she wants to. The reasons don’t matter. What matters is that Megan seems to be finding her muse again. And our lives will be richer as a result.

We don’t know what’s next for Megan, and we haven’t yet asked. Chances are, Megan, who’s extraordinarily talented, beautiful and an all-around good person, will let us know soon.

Andy maybe we’ll get to fill that blank in our photo library.

In the meantime, we have “Keep Burnin’ ” to keep us going. Thanks, Megan.

Roky Erickson and Okkervil River rocked Webster Hall

Okkervil River (Lauren Gurgiolo, guitar, Will Sheff, guitar-vocals, Scott Brackett, keyboards-trumpet, Cully Symington, drums, Patrick Pestorius, bass, and Justin Sherburn, keyboards-guitar) back legendary psychedelic rocker Roky Erickson on Tuesday night, May 25, at Webster Hall. (Photos copyright 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

An Unlikely Pairing

As unlikely as it may have seemed at first, the new collaboration between psychedelic rock legend Roky Erickson and Austin, Texas-based band Okkervil River, the results are stunning.

Their new album together, True Love Cast Out All Evil, was the first evidence of a truly symbiotic musical relationship. But with enough studio tricks, just about anybody can make a decent album. The true test is in live performance.

Well, they proved to a New York audience — a melding of gray-beard, old-school Roky fans and younger Okkervil River aficionados — at Webster Hall in the East Village last night (May 25, 2010) that they really know how to kick out the jams live, too. Continue reading