Sunday, June 27, 2010

Juice Box at Scapegrace, Friday, June 25, 2010

I was wandering around Wyckoff Avenue for a while Friday night trying to find the entrance to Scapegrace, the site for Olive Juice's first "Juice Box." event. I finally saw Jen and Uchenna of The Fools and followed behind them.

Major Matt discontinued the OJ All Day Fest, this year, which I thought was kind of too bad. I'd just assumed those would go on forever and that when we were all old and grey we'd be pulling together to schlep amps, set up the merch tables, write the press releases, whatever needed to be done. Of course it's easy for me to say that when I'm not the one bearing all the burden of organizing the whole thing, so I understand Matt's decision. But the event Friday was a nice alternative.

First, the Scapegrace space is amazing. I didn't have any idea at all what to expect when I entered this long hall that was in a state of half-decay. But when I paid my three bucks and turned the corner I was in this incredible large room that was flanked on both sides by gorgeous walls of pressed tin, painted a kind of milky green. The walls seemed as if they emerged straight from a hundred years ago and they showed the wear of all that time. While my fantasies of time travel will undoubtedly never be fulfilled, I always love finding situations where real elements from the past are part of the scene. Julie Delano explained later that they'd discovered the tin after removing layers of unattractive panelling. Artwork by Preston Spurlock, Toby Goodshank, and Angela Carlucci was on view throughout the room and added a lot to the feel of the room. Preston's and Toby's work was on one wall framed in old windows from the house. Angela created a set of amazing intricate cutouts that were posted on the other side of the room.

The space has a large backyard where lots of folks congregated between music sets. Beverages and merchandise were available back there along with lots of good conversation. The humidity had trailed off by that point and the weather was perfect for hanging around out doors

Inside three groups played. First up was Brian, a group of three gals playing what I thought reflected a kind of surf-music feel. The Wowz played a great set, and Schwervon was solid as usual and got the crowd moving. Although I enjoyed listening to the bands, somehow the music seemed to be more of a general part of the ambience than the main focus of the night. DJs continued after the bands played and a small group of enthusiastic dancers were still going at it when I left. Yoko Kikuchi took some photos documenting the night, which you can see be clicking here: Yoko's pictures.

Part of what made the night so enjoyable was the laid back vibe of the whole scene. There was a lot of hanging out and catching up. Although I saw a lot of the regular OJ crew, there also were a good mix of new faces too--at least new to me.

Wycoff Avenue seems to have morphed even since the last time I was there, which doesn't feel like it was too long ago. There are a handful of upscale restaurants, bars, and shops that have popped up. It's inevitable, I guess, but it would be nice to think that the neighborhood could stay accessible to folks who have been there for a while. About two years ago the Forgotten New York site documented the entire length of Wycoff Avneue and you can read about it by clicking here.

Scapegrace is conveniently located a few steps from the Jefferson Street stop on the L, but why is it that late on the weekends the L always seems to be replaced by a shuttle bus? Luckily the other night one came right away and I was able to get moving.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lach and Matt and Matt's Antifolk Memories

I'd noticed the public airing on the OJ Board of longstanding dIfferences between Major Matt and Lach and since this blog is dedicated to documenting the scene in which those disagreements took place, I was mulling over exactly how to refer to the situation here. It all feels a little gossipy, and while intrigued, I wasn't sure if it added to the understanding of the community or was just kind of salacious. In the meantime, while my mulling was taking place, enough time had passed that I wasn't sure I'd get around to mentioning it at all. If you have not already seen the exchange on the OJ Board, it is easy enough to go back and look at it, so I am not going to go into any details on the specifics.

To tell you the truth, based on my experiences elsewhere, I've always been amazed and impressed that there aren't MORE falling outs among people in our scene. The overriding attitude even today is one of support and collaboration. Not that everyone loves everyone else or that there aren't uncomfortable situations here and there (undoubtedly there are more than I know about) but somehow the attitude at Sidewalk has always been welcoming.

However, what finally gave me the rationale to write about this is that the exchange with Lach inspired Matt to start documenting his memories of the Antifolk scene on his own blog. That history is particularly welcome as the period in which Matt was intensively hanging out at Sidewalk has not been extensively documented. Those were the early days of the Antihoot at Sidewalk and a time when some of the key figures from the scene first started coming around and got to know one another. Plus, Matt writes about how Olive Juice got started, which is another bit of history worth preserving.

I'll have to figure out a way to permanently link to Matt's memories here at Sidewalk's Sidewalk, but in the meantime, you can read the three entries he's written so far at:

Level II Extravaganzarama - Friday, June 11, 2010

The Sidewalk Stage was jam packed with puppeteers, musicians, a magician, a comedian, and more for the Level II Extravaganza Friday. Although the ambitions for the performance overwhelmed the capabilities of the stage, it was an interesting step toward a variety show concept that may develop further in the future. Level II seems to be the overarching name for Ben Folstein's puppet performances and music. I was particularly impressed by his group's musicianship. They had a solid funk feel, which featured trombone, nice bass work, two strong gals on vocals and the impressive guitar work of Ben himself. The songs are from Level II's puppet musical Love is Like Mud. Magician Myron the Magnificent was the evening's M.C., performing tricks here and there between acts and also presenting two excerpts from his stage act featuring his lovely assistant Vera. Ben Croneberg performed some of his Steven Wright-influenced comedy, and although I thought he was doing ok, he was literally given the hook by the evening's impresario Ben F. A later skit depicted a guy in tights filling in for a missing stripper instructor. While the piece might have some comic possibilities, it seemed to go on for a few thrusts too long...Anyway, I may not be the most objective observer considering my affiliation with MTM, but I thought the evening was lots of fun and I hope there are more in the future.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Domino's CD Release Show

Domino's CD release show last night was a mixture of amazing and unusual moments. Domino was set to perform at 9 but when I got there, right on time for the start of her show, I was told that she had yet to arrive. Even though Domino had been heavily promoting the show the night before at the open mic, somehow she had gotten set back and didn't arrive until about 9:45.

In the meantime a very vocal representative from the group of Domino's friends who were present lobbied to let another friend from the audience have a moment to sing on stage. Nick and Ben acceded to the entreaties and Domino's friend Leticia rose and began singing songs in German, Indian, and other languages.

After Leticia concluded, Joe Crow Ryan ably filled in with a set. Joe seems to be getting more polished all the time and I thought it was one of his better shows. It contained numerous covers, and I thought that rhythmically he found a nice pulse to many of the pieces that pushed them along into a tasteful jazz feel.

Domino started her set by explaining that she was starting not with an original tune but with a little dance she does to someone else's song. Watching Domino dance to REM's Orange Crush, while using a bottle of that drink as a prop, is a reminder of the unbridled moments in childhood when we would lose ourselves and dance in front of a mirror or our siblings in some kind of flight of imagination. Her dance evoked a joyful giddiness among some of us watching.

There is no point not acknowledging that part of what captivates people about Domino is how she marches to the beat of her own....guitar playing. But what she brings to the stage has brilliance to it and outstanding creativity. Several of her songs were performed last night to homemade backing tracks which she plays from an onstage boom box. She finished up with this song Cheesecake, requested by Nick, that you have to hear to grasp fully but it is typical of Domino's unique subject matter and style of wordplay. "He wanted another piece of my Cheesecake....I sent him away with Cheesecake." I was so glad I was there for her set. I wonder where everyone else was, though. It was a small house. Anyway, I love Domino.