Thursday, July 30, 2009

Monday Night Open Mic, July 27, 2009

Ben K. kicked things off with a cool, funny song about singing along...well you couldn't really sing along to it. Ok, you'll have to hear him do it for this to make sense but it was a really good song. Ariel Bitran played on it too.

Joe Crow addressed the piano and also played Over the Rainbow

Nan Turner sang a song about "how high your ceiling can go," which ended up in an impossibly high falsetto. She also did a rap while using a chair and music stand as a makeshift drum set.

It was nice to see M. Lamar back at Sidewalk. Did you see the nice item about him in The New Yorker, with a big blue drawing of him?

Alex P. covered Aaraon Invisible's song "If I was a tailor.." that was cool.

Jon Berger said that he thinks The Who is pompous and bloated. First of all, look who's talking. Secondly, yes, but they're awesome.

Kid Lucky was a beat boxer who sang/rapped and did beat box sounds at the same time. One of the songs he did was about waiting for the subway.

Ben Sadock played I Don't Live in Portland Anymore. Very catchy. The audience was singing along.

I played "I've Looked for Love" but I was really interested in trying to get more comfortable talking on stage, so I told a story about the time my parents and I ran into Daniel Bernstein in Times Square and my mom got into a long conversation with him. There was something that struck me as funny about that, although I don't know how much sense it made if you don't know my mother and Dan. I ran into a few Sidewalk folks over the last few days...Isaac Gillespie in midtown and Brian Speaker on the L. Brian was saying how he'd run into people all over the place recently too, so I guess it's in the air. For me I know it's always nice to connect with people from the comfort zone of Sidewalk in other parts of my day-to-day existence.

Susan Hwang played a song she'd written inspired by James and the Giant Peach. I think it was called "Changed by Fruit." Susan also played with Debe on Close the Door.

Lots of other folks played. JT Hathaway, Brian Speaker, Dan G. Connor, Aaron Invisible, Steven Cappazolli, Anat, Awesome Witch of Rad, Maggie Nuthall, Nick Nace (with Jordan and Isaac), Charles Mansfield and Richard Ringer to name a few.

Ravi the puppet was also on hand to tell some corny jokes and spice things up between acts.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Monday Night Open Mic, July 20, 2009

It was a really fun night Monday, filled with all kinds of inspiring and unexpected stuff.

The standout performance of the night was by The Young Dads. With the addition of a third Young Dad they sang an a cappella doo wop song about existential crisis. I can't do it justice here except to say that the vocals were incredibly tight and the song incredibly funny in the way it juxtaposed its style with its topic.

Another group that stood out in a different way was "Why Bother and the Beard of Defiance." They were a rag tag bunch of kids--the transient dreadlocked urchin types you see hanging on the sidewalk in the East Village. I wasn't expecting too much when this mass of folks ambled on stage, knocking stuff over with their belongings, especially when they said they'd just met 8 hours earlier in Tompkins Square Park. But I guess they'd been doing some practicing. I'm not going to say their performance was exactly polished, but it had a lot of good energy and they were together on what they were doing. Most of them sat on the stage...a saxophone player, a skinny guy on banjo with thin braids dyed red, a guy playing drum sticks on the floor, a gal playing washboard, and the guy who seemed like the leader of the group, who had a bandana and long blonde dreads and played guitar (he stood and sang into the mic). One of their songs was "I Don't Know Where I'm Going," kind of reflecting the nature of the gang. One of the interesting sub-cultures at Sidewalk is The Travelers, comprising the types who exist by moving from couch to couch, place to place. It's not something that I can identify with particularly but it does seem to appeal to a certain group of folks, certainly this band we saw the other night. They had a positive attitude and I was glad they played.

Ben K. kicked things off with a charming song he wrote for his daughter, Birdies and Cars.

Dorit joined me in the fish song club.

Jaymay was back. I'd seen her once at Sidewalk when I first started coming but not much since. I can't really explain what it is that I like about her so much but she gave a really good performance...a song she wrote in London and one listing stuff in her room. The songs were good but there's something about her voice and her energy. Anyway, she's someone to check out if you haven't already seen her.

Debe was mesmerizing as usual. The End of the Day, and Normal. Debe says she's leaving town soon to go work upstate. Hard to imagine her not being a fixture at Sidewalk on a Monday night. For me, she is kind of the anchor of the place and seeing her there always adds a degree of comfort.

Waylon played two really nice songs, one that was, I think, about a grandma (maybe his), and another called Ginger Rogers. Anyway they both had a little bit of a jazzy lilt to them. Waylon, it turns out, is not only a really good songwriter but an amazing drummer too. Hadn't seen him in a little while.

Isaac Gillespie introduced his new band with Ben Sadock playing bass, Morgan on vocals, Alex P on guitar, and someone I didn't know on piano--plus Isaac on vocals and guitar of course. It was a really nice sound--a good blend of folks.

Good to see Ben Sadock after a long while. I liked his song about lunch! "The perfect way to spend the perfect day is to spread some PB & J."

Jon Berger brough it on with three poems about Jesus. Nice set, Jon.

I enjoyed Morgan's performance for the second week in a row. She sang about Chicago. She has such a nice, gentle feel to what she's doing.

Richard Ringer. I have not yet had a chance to totally connect with what Richard is up to--but I liked the song he played the other night, Alley Oop, Turtle Soup.

Brian Speaker and Madison Cano collaborated on a really nice song about birthdays...sort of. It kind of had to do with feelings around birthdays and obligations about birthdays, in particular as connected to certain relationships. Madison also sang her love song to Tommy Lee.

Brian Speaker also did two songs from his Mars Chronicles opera. With Amos and Melissa.

Other folks who performed the other night included Don Cameron, Joe Crow, Kronos Effect (two shaved headed and heavily tattooed guys), Constantine, Brook, Duck, Dibs, Domino, and Charlie Crockett, a guy from South Texas.

As I said, there was a lot of good energy and interesting stuff going on. I stayed later than I'd expected, which is a good sign.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Joe Crow Ryan CD Release Party, Friday, July 17, 2009

Just a word about Joe Crow Ryan's CD release show. Joe has just put out his new album "This Machine Kills Purists," on Justin Remer's Weemayk Music label. I, unfortunately, arrived later than I wanted to because of hang-ups at work, but I was glad to see a very good turnout for Joe's show. He performed a characteristically charming set with lots of guest performances, including a standout collaboration with JJ Hayes.Elastic No No Band followed. I think all of us in the band felt it was a fun set with a good feel. Mike Baglivi's group Heroes of the Open End played the late set and rocked out. There was some sort of terrible collision involving Ben Krieger and possibly Lach. That's what rock and roll can do to you, folks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monday Night Open Mic, July 13, 2009

I was away last week at an intense jazz workshop. Still trying to reconcile a lot of the concepts and approaches of jazz with the type of songwriting I've been doing. It's a whole subject for another post or a conversation on the corner, but I've been thinking a lot about how to integrate all the different musical styles I'm interested in. The jazz workshop was in Louisville and I made a spur of the moment detour to Nashville where I saw the Grand Ole Opry, and also popped in briefly to the Bluebird Cafe which is their local songwriter haunt. They have a setup with four songwriters in the round trading off and accompanying each other. I wasn't so sure about the couple songs I heard but liked the intimate setting a lot.

Well, it was nice to be back at Sidewalk, especially since things launched with the surprise appearance of Joie Blaney, in town briefly from L. A. Joie was a longtime fixture on the scene before moving out there. Along with Joie there seemed to be a handful of other folks from earlier days hanging out. Nan Turner, Dibs, Daoud, etc. Nice to see everyone.

I really enjoyed Morgan, who it seems is a roommate of Isaac Gillespie and played a couple songs on which he played guitar accompaniment. The first also featured Aaron Invisible. Morgan said she usually writes songs about places and she started off with one about Brooklyn. She has a very low key style and the song was charming, featuring the refrain..."I want you to stay here in Brooklyn." Her second song was about Connecticut!

Others who played while I was around: Don McCloskey, Brook P, and Joe Crow Ryan, who did an effusive spiel about his album and upcoming cd release show this Friday. He also played a request, "Till the Real Thing Comes Along." Isaac G. played a new song that name checks Debe D., Crabs on Banjo was back and played their theme as well as "Someone's been drinking in Rhode Island." Ghostown Jenny was new to me. Madison Cano is back in town for a bit and played with Josh Fox. Ariel Bitran played Deep Blue Light from his Zelda series. Did he say that was the last song? Nice to see the Fools on stage again. It's been a least since I've seen them there.

Till next time.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Brooklyn Tea Party, July 4, 2009

It was a full day of performances at Brooklyn Tea Party on the Fourth of July. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you were there. The blowout marked the departure of Dan Costello, Rachel Devlin, and Michael David Campbell and the start of a new era under Brook Pridemore’s continuing stewardship with the addition of Brian Speaker.

The vibe of the event was really nice, with shows going on in the apartment on the third floor and on the roof where a sound system was set up. Lots of folks were just hanging out on the roof chatting and catching up and enjoying the nice weather. The sunset that eventually fell over the city skyline was quite dramatic. With the skyline practically like a painted backdrop and the rooftops of the buildings stretching out in all directions, I felt like I could have been in the set of a musical and almost expected a corps of dancing chimney sweeps to appear at any second. Sometime after it got dark the big fireworks show on the Hudson stated, which we could see across the other side of Manhattan.

A couple sets stood out. Old Hat. I really like these guys. They sang a song about how it had been a weird week that I really liked. Although I later found that they hadn’t written it specifically for this weird week (which was capped by the bizarre resignation from office of Sarah Palin) it still encapsulated the oddity of the last week or so which started with Michael Jackson’s death and ended with the Palin situation. Ching Chong Song did a piece that had a long instrumental section with piano, saw, and bass that was gorgeous and captivating. People were having tons of fun hopping and bopping to Schwervon and to Urban Barnyard. With everyone jumping up and down I was a little worried as to whether the floor would hold. I could feel the boards bending...but I was right in there dancing along to two of my favorite bands.

I had to leave before the very, very end, but I’m sure the rest of the night was as fun as the parts I enjoyed. A significant part of what has made Brooklyn Tea Party so much fun is the hospitality of its hosts. In particular Rachel Devlin was working very hard yesterday to serve food, spread cheer (and collect tips). She also had great Fourth of July style. I hope someone got a good picture of her in her vintage dress and apron. The other BTP hosts were keeping busy too with a wide range of duties. Thanks guys for the nice day yesterday, the many fun shows before that and the always welcoming atmosphere.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Links and Things

Lach has sort of sent into hiatus or something like that which is too bad since there is plenty of info there that is relevant even if Lach isn't active on the Antifolk front these days. So, since some of the links are still active I've posted a couple of them to the right, namely the Artists page and the News page. It's revealing to look at the list of artists who have been connected to the Antifolk scene over the years and look at what they were thinking about at the time they wrote up their little blurbs. The news section starts in June 2003 and continues to January 2009 and provides an interesting chronology of the scene during that span. It helped me try to narrow down the exact date I first played Sidewalk (which must have been the 22nd or 29th of August, 2004, for those of you interested). When I have some more time I'll try to link to the page he had with photos and some other articles and things.

I've also put a few other new links up, including photos of OJ All Day by me and by Yoko, and another Voice article with some relevant history.