Tag Archives: Sxip Shirey

Musical ecstasy: Ecstatic Music Festival starts tonight

John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

John Darnielle's band The Mountain Goats is one of the great acts in this year's Ecstatic Music Festival lineup. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Friends have been asking for recommendations on what shows to check out in the second annual Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall.

Sxip Shirey (© 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

The two-month festival, put together by Judd Greenstein and New Amsterdam Presents, an arm of the innovative New Amsterdam Records label, is an absolute must. It’s so chock full of great artist pairings that it’s tough to pick just one or two. Last year’s festival was strong, and the lineup this year looks even stronger. And ticket sales seem to reflect that, given that some of the shows have been sold out for awhile.

But some shows are still available, and tickets are around even for the sold-out gigs.

There’s one I’m really looking forward to is the Saturday, March 24 bill featuring The Mountain Goats, the homemade indie-rock project of John Darnielle, paired with the early music vocal quartet Anonymous Four. We’re not sure how this one will play out, but both groups are so good at what they do, and so genre-busting, that it should be remarkable.

Todd Reynolds (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

Another highlight early in the festival is the amazingly indescribable music-maker Sxip Shirey and Angélica Negrón, with special guests electro-violinist Todd Reynolds, Noveller, Jonny Rodgers& Face the Music on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

And we don’t mean to give tonight’s opening show short shrift, but we have to think tickets for this one evaporated in seconds: Jherek Bischoff and the Wordless Music Orchestra, with special guests David Byrne, Craig Wedren, Greg Saunier, Mirah, Zac Pennington, and more. But if you’re willing to try to score a ticket, we’re sure it’ll be worthwhile!

For the full schedule, click through to the jump for the festival press release, courtesy of our pal, New Amsterdam publicist Jill Strominger.

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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.