Lucid Culture


Concert Review: The Brooklyn What at the Brooklyn Lyceum 8/22/08

Very possibly the best show of the year so far. The Brooklyn What look and sound like something you would have seen at CBGB around 1977, not a carefully coiffed, safetypinned-and-mohawked self-parody decked out in matching mallstore Ramones shirts, but just an average-looking bunch of guys playing blazingly energetic, loud, often hilarious rock with purist punk energy, intelligence and a spot-on, often vicious sense of humor. Frontman Jamie Frey is a big guy who looks like he doesn’t deprive himself of pizza or beer (although at this show he was fueled strictly by adrenaline, drinking only water). By the time the band had started their second song, his shirt had come off, “NEXT TOP MODEL” stenciled down his hefty torso. The band – who seem to be something of a revolving cast of characters – started out with three guitarists and ended up with two. Running their instruments straight through their amps as the PA was being used for just the vocals, they played smartly, tersely and tunefully although with enough looseness to provide plenty of menace.


They hit the ground running with a blazingly catchy, upbeat number, then a couple of songs later did what has become their signature song, I Don’t Wanna Go to Williamsburg. If there is anyone alive 20 years from now, this song will be a classic, the little clique it ridicules a metaphor for a much bigger problem. The funniest thing about this song is that it’s already dated, namechecking both Northsix and Galapagos, the first of which is defunct and the second of which moved to Dumbo earlier this year. The band played it faster than the version on their myspace, giving it a vintage Black Flag feel: “I don’t wanna go to Galapagos! I don’t wanna hear the fucking Hold Steady!” On the chorus, it’s unclear whether Frey is being sarcastic or if he’s speaking for himself: “I just wanna play with the cool kids,” he hollered. If this is to be taken at face value, he’s definitely achieved his dream. This is the anthem we’ve been waiting for. As the Boomtown Rats said, watch out for the normal people: there’s more of us than there’s of you. If only everybody knew that.


They did two covers. Carol by Chuck Berry was transformed from happy Dick Clark rock to something casually but absolutely evil, like what the Dead Boys might have done with it. The version of the Kinks’ I’m Not Like Everybody Else was every bit as good as it could have been, in fact with the guitars roaring at full blast the classic nonconformist anthem might have been even better than the original. Among the other songs: a vaguely oi-punk number evoking the UK Subs, the band hollering their refrain after Frey reached the end of a verse; a slow, pounding riff-rocker; and a hilarious, backbeat-driven anti-trendoid diatribe possibly called Moving to Philly. Frey thrashed around, throwing himself to the floor, then on one number got up and took a sprint around the back of the stage – in his socks – before reemerging a couple of seconds later, picking up where he left off. The band closed with We Are the Only Ones, a defiant call to unity for all the cool kids who’d come out to see them, an almost predictably diverse mix of old and young (Frey’s grandmother among them), male and female, gay and straight, dancing around deliriously albeit without any violence. Like the Sex Pistols or the Clash, the Brooklyn What could spearhead a brand-new scene that has nothing to do with fashion, celebrity or inherited wealth. They couldn’t have timed it better. Watch this space for info about their next show and their upcoming cd The Brooklyn What for Borough President.

August 26, 2008 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Concert Review: The Knitters at Damrosch Park, NYC 8/24/08

The Music Maker Blues Revue opened with a set of rustic acoustic stuff, sounding as if they’d be a lot more fun in a club setting where the old guys could be heard: they didn’t get much amplification. Shockingly, by the time the Knitters took the stage, there were still plenty of empty seats in the spacious park out back of Lincoln Center. Is this just a function of August, has the subway become too expensive or have all the old punks gone off to wherever old punks go? Especially since Patti Smith was headlining the bill? Whatever the case, the X country spinoff were as fun as could possibly have been expected, especially considering that everybody in the band has to be close to fifty by now. Ex-Blaster Dave Alvin did what he does best, supplying sensationally fast, often scorching lead guitar, proving as adept at blues as country while John Doe – playing acoustic guitar in this band – and Exene Cervenka turned in their usual usual imaginative, frequently eerie harmonies. Johnny Ray Bartel fought a bad connection or a busted amp that had his upright bass pretty much inaudible for much of the show, and drummer DJ Bonebrake pounded enthusiastically and minimally away on his snare and not much else.


That the Knitters would ever tour in the first place was a fortuitous stroke of fate for X fans, especially this late in the band’s career. The Knitters album was largely responsible for jumpstarting the alt-country movement: they had the Pete’s Candy Store sound ten years before Pete’s Candy Store existed. The original punk rockers gone country (if only for a single album) started out with a punchy version of the old Porter Wagoner hit Something to Brag About (which Jerry Teel and the Big City Stompers do even better), eventually following with their signature song Poor Little Critter in the Road, then some rearranged versions of X classics.


John Doe and Exene exchanged some new banter at the beginning of The New World: “Do you have a dollar?” Doe asked.


Exene took only an extra split-second to respond, but it felt like an eternity. “No,” she said coldly.


“Pretty please?” asked Doe. The rearrangement could have used the booming bass chords that Doe played on the original, but the lyrics have stood the test of time well, especially when the chorus came around. “It was better before, before they voted for whatshisname.” Alvin caustically wound up his solo with a verse of the Battle Hymn of the Republic.


The rearranged version of the closest thing they ever had to a top 40 hit, Burning House of Love really missed the fiery Billy opening salvo on the record and didn’t go anywhere. But then they reinvented the savagely satirical Skin Deep Town as their own Margaritaville. They wound up the set with a rousing version of Wrecking Ball and closed with a long, haphazard, pointless cover of Born to be Wild.


This was the closing night of this year’s Lincoln Center Out of Doors festival, whose theme remains the roots of American music. Meaning plenty of good talent, albeit with some jarring segues. Inventive jazz bassist Charlie Haden played next, leading several family members and friends in their concert debut playing tasteful if predictable versions of oldtime bluegrass and country standards: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, Wildwood Flower, etc. This was all very pretty until one of his Haden’s kids came up to sing a lite FM Christian pop song he’d written, at which point a substantial portion of the crowd walked out.

August 25, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | Leave a comment

In Memoriam: Johnny “Dizzy” Moore

Trumpeter Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, a founding member of legendary Jamaican ska pioneers the Skatalites and the most-recorded soloist in the history of ska, died on August 16 at age 69 after a battle with cancer.


As a child growing up in Jamaica, Moore deliberately engaged in petty crime so as to gain admission to Alpha School, a reform school well-known for its rigorous music program. There he studied classical music while pursuing his first love, jazz, mostly on his own. After school, he joined a popular dance orchestra but was kicked out of the group for growing dreadlocks. Embracing his Rastafarian beliefs, he moved to a Rasta community outside his native Kingston where his schoolmate Tommy McCook recruited him as a session musician. In 1964, along with Don Drummond, Jerry Haynes, Lloyd Knibb, Lloyd Brevett and five others, he formed the Skatalites.  


From 1964 to 1967, the Skatalites recorded hundreds of tracks under their own name as well as backing the most popular Jamaican artists of the era. Moore’s often frenetic, virtuosic yet smartly terse trumpet work – which earned him the nickname “Dizzy” – was a defining part of the sound that would eventually morph into reggae. Some of the dozens of iconic songs associated with Moore include Rockfort Rock, Swing Easy and Man in the Street.


After the Skatalites broke up, Moore was highly sought after for recording and live dates, playing with the Jamaican All Stars, Bunny Wailer and countless others. He also rejoined the Skatalites when they regrouped in 1983 and played with them through 1999. To this day, Moore’s solos and work as an ensemble player continue to cast a wide influence on modern-day horn players in ska and reggae. 

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

CD Review: Willie Nile – Live from the Streets of New York

Willie Nile is no dummy. Of his nine albums, three of them were recorded live in concert, and the reason why is obvious. His studio recordings may be consistently good and frequently excellent, but as a charismatic, intense live performer, Nile is absolutely unsurpassed. This latest one (also available as a DVD) may or may not be the best of his three live cds, but whatever the case, it’s a blast of state-of-the-art rock songcraft put across with raw guitar power.


Nile is an indelibly New York figure. His surreal street scenes evoke a time before luxury condos and Starbucks on every corner, when much of this city was off-limits after dark unless you were looking for drugs or trouble. Recorded at the Mercury Lounge, this show is typical in that Nile and his band are at the absolute top of their game: with the roar of the three guitars onstage, even even the secondary songs are transformed. Longtime John Mellencamp lead player Andy York is his usual sensational self here; Jimmy Vivino also contributes tastefully, even subtly: he’s grown by leaps and bounds since he started playing with Nile. One of the pioneers of 80s janglerock, Nile himself plays with considerable originality, and the three of them together blend into a volcanic guitar orchestra backed by a pummeling yet melodic rhythm section of Brad Albetta (noteworthy producer of Serena Jost and player with Mary Lee’s Corvette,  among others) on bass and Rich Pagano of the Fab Faux on drums.


The version of Game of Fools on Nile’s most recent studio cd Streets of NYC is an organ-driven pop hit that sounds a lot like the Wallflowers; this version has tsunami-like power. The amped-up Irish ballad The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square holds back just enough for Nile’s defiant, surrealist lyric to cut through. Likewise, Back Home, with its thicket of lyrics is stripped down to just Nile (playing piano here), rhythm section and York on harmonica, rich with terse apprehension. Nile’s signature song Vagabond Moon (the number one song of the year in Finland, 1981) sounds as fresh and triumphant as the day he wrote it, bounding along on Albetta’s booming bassline.  When York jumps in after Vivino’s gentle mandolin intro, the excoriating Best Friends Money Can Buy explodes in a ball of fire and keeps blazing, everyone gleefully singing along. Hard Times in America, the title track to an obscure ep released in the 90s, is reinvented as eerie, electrified delta blues noir: “I wrote this song about, I dunno, a dozen years ago. It’s more true now than when I wrote it,” Nile snarls.


Predictably, the album’s centerpiece – also from Streets of NYC – is Cell Phones Ringing in the Pockets of the Dead, the long, incendiary anthem about the Madrid train bombings.  The cover of Police on My Back (on the cd but not the DVD) is a dead ringer for the Clash except with better vocals. The show wraps up on a surprisingly pensive note with Nile playing piano on the Jungleland-esque ballad Streets of New York. It’s tempting to say that if you get one Willie Nile live album, get this one, although the Live in Central Park cd is a feast of guitar jangle and clang (even if the song selection isn’t as good), and Live at the Turning Point is arguably the ballsiest acoustic rock album ever made. The studio stuff – especially Streets of NYC and its predecessor, Beautiful Wreck of the World – is also very much worth seeking out. It may only be August, but this cd is definitely top ten for this year. 

August 24, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

Zikrayat at Gantry Plaza State Park, Long Island City, NY 8/19/08

Possibly the most incongruously situated show of the year, a Middle Eastern quartet playing often beautifully slinky bellydance music in the shadow of hastily constructed, third world style highrises (whose units sell for millions apiece), looking as if a healthy shove would be enough to send each of them tumbling into the river. Down below in the park, with violin, vocals, ney flute, percussion and an excellent multi-instrumentalist alternating between oud and accordion, Zikrayat had the crowd seated along the amphitheatre-like steps clapping along, rugrats included. They started their hourlong set with three Egyptian film songs before bringing the first of their two bellydancers up in front: to the womens’ immense credit, both managed to stay upright in their high heels while shimmying across the park’s flagstones, no small achievement. Meanwhile, the band ran through a rare 1930s Oum Kaltsoum song, on which the violinist tried in vain to get the crowd to improvise, Arab-style (they couldn’t get their voices around either the scale or his low baritone). They also played a rousing 70s Lebanese pop hit on the familiar theme of being broke but still trying to score with a woman, as well as an original featuring a long, impressive taqsim (improvisation) from the accordionist. They closed with the bellydancers prancing around to some rustically-flavored classical material, the violinist switching to an eerie Egyptian spike fiddle. Despite a refreshingly strong wind gusting in from the river, sometimes roaring into the microphones, the sound guy did an admirable job. This is the kind of show that tests the mettle of a band: if they can pull off something like this under less than ideal circumstances – and Zikrayat did – they ought to sound spectacularly good in a club later in the evening without a bunch of kids running around, squealing and drowning out the music.


The series here this year has been uncommonly good: both Peruvian jazz chanteuse Corina Bartra and Chinese pipa pioneer Min Xiao-Fen’s Blue Pipa Trio have played here. How unlikely could that be? As it turns out, shows at the park are booked by the Queens Council for the Arts, the same folks who brought us this year’s wonderful Latino Cultural Festival at the Queens Theatre in the Park, among other events. If next year is anything like this one, this will be a first-class afterwork concert destination.



August 19, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | 1 Comment

CD Review: Burning Spear – Jah Is Real

Roots reggae long ago took a backseat to dancehall, and relatively few of the musicians who still play it are Jamaican. In fact, it’s something of a miracle that Winston Rodney AKA Burning Spear is still alive at 63, long after so many of his contemporaries – Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, Jacob Miller and others – died under tragic, often violent circumstances. It might also be something of a miracle that Burning Spear remains not only lucid (after all that ganja), but arguably still as vital and important as he was thirty years ago.


Throughout the decade of the 1970s, Burning Spear was one of the most popular artists in Jamaica, second only to Big Youth. While most reggae hits from whatever era you choose are party songs, Burning Spear’s work was always serious, defiant and historically aware. Like Peter Tosh, his signature songs mix frequently scathing social commentary with Rastafarian mysticism. Burning Spear’s musical style, however, is strikingly different from many of the best-known reggae acts of his era, characterized by long, hypnotic, even trancelike anthems that in a live setting can go on for ten or even twenty minutes while the band breaks them down into spacey, echoey dub. While he’s been writing, arranging and producing for himself for decades, this is his debut on his own record label, Burning Music. It’s also his best studio album in a long, long time.


Unlike much of today’s reggae, this album has rich, 1970s production values, layering clinking guitar, bubbling organ, bright horns and backup singers over a fat, bass-heavy groove. Grandfather, a cautionary tale, traces the history of slavery around the world and warns that “slavery coming back again.” On the catchy No Compromise, Burning Spear announces that “My music eye opener music…hail to the one who never look back in the race.” With its Afrobeat guitar feel, One Africa is a fervent, Marcus Garvey-style call for unity. People in High Places calls for accountability from politicians; Run for Your Life snidely chronicles Burning Spear’s entanglements with the record industry, and how it’s imploded in recent years: “Distribution is so desperate…without the artist there is no company…Upcoming artists should take a stand, get some understanding before you sign.”


Clocking in at over eight minutes long, Step It is one of the amusingly interminable list songs that Burning Spear writes every so often. This one chronicles his travels around the world, namechecking just about every city he’s ever played, obviously tailor-made to be a live showstopper with a long instrumental break that threatens to turn into dub but never does. Stick to the Plan is a call to musicians to stay independent and original: “Remember reggae music never used to play on the radio…trying to roadblock us because we so original.” There’s a happy account of an outdoor reggae festival and another happy tale, this one about a reggae cruise, along with more bitterness returns on Wickedness, another tirade against the music industry: “Since 1969 they’ve been robbing, they’ve been holding onto what is mine,” Burning Spear laments. It has the ring of authenticity: innumerable musicians from the 1970s, not just reggae performers, have successfully sued for royalties they were never paid. The cd’s high point is You Were Wrong, a caustic, minor-key anthem with the same feel of Burning Spear classics like Door Peep or Cry Blood. Any way you look at it, this ranks with the best of his studio albums, including the classic Marcus Garvey, or Hail H.I.M, recorded with the Wailers. Longtime fans will find this a delightful throwback; otherwise, this is as good an introduction as any to one of the world’s greatest reggae artists. Burning Spear plays Irving Plaza on August 31 around 10 PM, advance tix highly recommended at the box office.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Cop and Bad Cop Dust It Up

Good Cop: As you’ve probably figured out, we’ve been experiencing technical difficulties, sorry about that, we’ll make it up to you.

Bad Cop: You don’t have to make it up to anybody. This is the blogosphere, after all, there are no rules, no obligations.

Good Cop: But we promised these good people a new front page post every day, something that at the very least should be entertaining and possibly informative as well.

Bad Cop: Look, everybody has computer problems. That’s why they have IT departments, because computers are programmed to screw up, if they didn’t all the IT people would be out of a job. I don’t think anybody’s counting if we miss a few days between posts.

Good Cop: But we don’t want to give people the indication that we’ve lost interest and given up just like practically every other music blog out there.

Bad Cop: I don’t think anybody’s paying attention. You just want to be famous.

Good Cop: We will be famous! Why do you think I’m spending so much of my free time here?

Bad Cop: I dunno, because you’re a masochist.

Good Cop: We’re gonna be bigger than pitchfork!

Bad Cop: In your dreams. We were born too late. All the popular stuff now is trendoids and trust fund scum.

Good Cop: Not true! Look at Sharon Jones! The whole gypsy music thing, Gogol Bordello. There’s a huge audience for the kind of stuff we cover!

Bad Cop: I’d like to know where.

Good Cop: You’re just cynical. You’ve been spending too way much time in Williamsburg.

Bad Cop: Don’t I know it.

Good Cop: Can we have our editorial meeting now?

Bad Cop: Editorial meeting? This is the blogosphere, why should we?

Good Cop: Because we agreed when we started working on this thing, we should do stuff that’s interesting to people besides us, we planned the whole month in advance.

Bad Cop: Subject to change.

Good Cop: I know, subject to change, but so far this month doesn’t look anything like the way we planned it.

Bad Cop: The way you planned it.

Good Cop: Hey, you didn’t object when we agreed that this was what we were going to do.

Bad Cop: I have a role to play. I’m the wild card in the deck, remember?

Good Cop: Now you’re breaking the fourth wall. Stop it.

Bad Cop [reaches into his backpack. Pulls out a flask, unscrews the top and takes a long drink]: AAAAAAH [offers it to Good Cop]. Here. Good for what ails ya.

Good Cop: Put that away. You can’t drink when you’re on duty.

Bad Cop: You got me to stop smoking pot so I could remember what happens at all these shows, but there’s no way you’re going to get me to stop drinking [takes another slug].

Good Cop [cynically]: I guess that’s a start. Can we start with the meeting now? I think Bachata Roja Legends was a really good choice. And the Points West Festival thing was smart even though you intruded on my turf.

Bad Cop: Your turf? Excuse me?

Good Cop: I’m supposed to do the calendar and you’re supposed to go out to the shows, remember?

Bad Cop: So what. I did it. You didn’t. And if you did you probably would have recommended it.

Good Cop: No way! Tickets were $800 or something like that.

Bad Cop: That’s the VIP ticket, it gets you in to hang out with all the trash with the really big trust funds.

Good Cop: All right, just next time tell me you’re going to do something like that, ok?

Bad Cop: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. That one got a lot of hits.

Good Cop: OK. But what happened to the Wu Man show, did you go?

Bad Cop: Bad sound. Can’t blame an artist for that. There were other problems but I don’t want to get into that.

Good Cop: How about El Ritmo Southside afterward?

Bad Cop: Bad experience. Doesn’t reflect on the band though. I revised your listing in the calendar.

Good Cop: OK. The Sloe Guns and Toneballs, ok, that’s done. And the Jenny Scheinman, that’s a good find. Just so you know, we’re running 60/40 male/female with the reviews so we need to beef up our coverage of women artists.

Bad Cop: So that means all sisters for the next year.

Good Cop: No, nothing so obvious, but you know what I mean. Now Elaine Juzwick, that was a good one, how did you discover that?

Bad Cop: On the way to the Brooklyn What show. I needed a drink and they had wine. The art just happened to be good.

Good Cop: What happened to the Brooklyn What?

Bad Cop: Running behind. Not the band’s fault. I had stuff to do, couldn’t stick around til after midnight in the middle of Brooklyn.

Good Cop: And you snuck another organ concert in there too I see.

Bad Cop: I thought you wanted women artists. This was a whole series of women performers, I think we covered three of them and I would have done a fourth if it hadn’t been so awful.

Good Cop: But can we please not make this organ music central? It’s a tiny, tiny subculture, I don’t want to get pigeonholed. Plus most people think it’s creepy.

Bad Cop: It is creepy! Plus it says this [raises middle finger] to anybody who’s too much of a wuss to handle it.

Good Cop: C’mon, let’s not alienate the whole world, huh? Can’t you get over this high school rebellion thing? You’re older than I am.

Bad Cop: Don’t I know it.

Good Cop: OK, I see the Sex Pistols thing bombed. I said this once before, I think we should stay out of the archive unless we have something that’s really going to generate traffic. And I think we shouldn’t go back more than 10 years, it dates us.

Bad Cop: But that’s where all the good stuff is.

Good Cop: Actually, I’ve looked through and there’s a lot of great stuff from 7, 8 years ago. That Sonic Youth show that you put up a couple of months ago, I was in second grade then. And it didn’t get us hits either.

Bad Cop: It’s more than just getting hits, remember, this whole thing becomes an archive after awhile.

Good Cop: Dude, this is the blogosphere, blogs come and go in a nanosecond, it’s all happening in real time. I say if it isn’t a big name we shouldn’t do it. The Village People thing stiffed too.

Bad Cop: But it’s funny.

Good Cop: It is funny. But nobody knows anything about the Village People. Growing up, I knew the songs, YMCA, Macho Man but I didn’t know anything more about them, the outfits, you know.

Bad Cop: Now you do.

Good Cop: That isn’t going to make us famous.

Bad Cop: You wanna be famous, shoot me.

Good Cop: That would be a role reversal.

Bad Cop: Look who’s breaking the fourth wall now.

Good Cop: Can we get back to the blog? How about the Daniel Bernstein show?

Bad Cop: I had a family obligation.

Good Cop: You don’t have a family.

Bad Cop: OK, a social obligation.

Good Cop: Drinking, I suppose.

Bad Cop: Traveling. Obligations, like I said.

Good Cop: You can’t keep blowing off assignments or deadlines like that, it throws everything off and you end up having to work twice as hard. Or I have to bail you out and that’s not really my problem.

Bad Cop: Not to worry. Somehow I get it done.

Good Cop: Sort of.

Bad Cop: Hey, shit comes up and we have to deal with it. Thank you Isaac Hayes for expiring.

Good Cop: Ewww, that was tasteless. I hope you’re joking.

Bad Cop: Hey, it’s what they pay me the big bucks for. Start paying me the big bucks and I might clean up my act.

Good Cop: That’s down the road. Right now we have to suck it up. I see you finally got to write up 9th Wave, you’ve wanted to do that for awhile. And Eli Paperboy Reed, that was a great choice. [pause] And I see you’ve got Edward Rogers and System Noise done, that’s important, good work.

Bad Cop: See, I’m not so bad. What have you done lately, big boss?

Good Cop: I did the live music calendar and the Custard Wally review.

Bad Cop: Whoooeee, two posts in a month.

Good Cop: Actually three if you count the first calendar. That takes twice as much work as what you do anyway.

Bad Cop: It wouldn’t if you could figure out how to get the site and the computer to talk to each other, that’s what you yunguns are for, isn’t it?

Good Cop: Actually you’ll be proud to know I have and I can show you.

Bad Cop: I’m all ears.

Good Cop: OK, later. What concerns me now is that we have a big stretch coming up and not much planned, if the second half of this month is anything like the first, we’re going to have to scramble for posts to get us hits.

Bad Cop: Relax. It’ll all work out [drains his flask]

Good Cop: And I think we should lay off the jazz.

Bad Cop [mystified]: Huh?

Good Cop: They have their own world. It’s vastly different from ours. Different language, too: ostinatos and obbligatos, what it all means I have no idea.

Bad Cop: Which is why we need to bring jazz back to the people! In the 1930s the top 40 was all jazz, people forget that. It’s dance music. Jazz got its start in whorehouses which is all right with me!

Good Cop: Unless you speak the lingo you’ll come across as an amateur.

Bad Cop [gets up and walks to the door] I’d rather be an inspired amateur than a pretentious professional.

Good Cop: Hey, we’re not finished yet! Where you going?

Bad Cop [holds up the empty flask, upside down] Three guesses. [On his cellphone] Hello, Discount Liquors? How late are you open? 

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CD Review: The Paul Carlon Octet – Roots Propaganda

Like many of his A-list peers in the new wave of New York jazz, Paul Carlon writes vivid songs without words. The title of this brand-new cd is deliberately forceful: the sax player/bandleader wants to bring jazz back to its origins as dance music, popular music. The dozen tracks on this album are tastefully traditional yet ambitiously melodic, blending an impressive mix of American, Latin  and Afro-Cuban jazz influences, from delta blues to rhumba, along with plenty of peak-era Ellington as well. This is an album you walk away from humming its tunes to yourself, an achievement that too few jazz artists these days are shooting for. Trombonists Ryan Keberle and Mike Fahie get most of the solos, along with trumpeter Dave Smith; the reliably imaginative William “Beaver” Bausch (who also plays with panstylistic keyboard goddess Greta Gertler) is on drums. When singer Christelle Durandy contributes, Carlon uses her voice as an instrument: she appears and then leaves in the same way that the reeds or horns are featured and then take a backseat. Excellently incisive pianist John Stenger has a devious habit of going straight into salsa for a few seconds whenever he has a chance.


The cd opens with the long, seven-minute Backstory, building over a catchy 4-note descending progression, vocals in for a couple of verses and then down to just vox and some percussionistic revelry from Bausch, then back to a long, slowly crescendoing trumpet solo. Track two, Canto de Xango is a balmy blues building around Carlon’s sax, slowly gaining momentum as the horns and the piano come in and play off and around each other. The octet’s version of Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out sounds an awful lot like Ray Charles’ Let’s Go Get Stoned – hmmm, what could that mean – and features a big, Gil Evans style arrangement.


Mambo Pakanoa is straight up mambo and, true to its source, quickly becomes hypnotic. New Life opens with ominous piano, tense and suspenseful, the sax and bass pensively embellishing the underlying theme. It’s a particularly strong, memorable composition, something that wouldn’t be out of place in the Pamela Fleming catalog with its troubled, salsa-inflected melody. The Limiter, arguably the best cut on the album, could be a soundtrack piece from a Bunuel film, opening with train-whistle horns, the piano determinedly building to a dance.


The brief, emphatic title track is the most overtly Ellingtonian cut on the cd (even though a reggae beat cuts in and out), Carlon’s sax blazing a path between the horns and the piano much like the late Harry Carney would do. Then Carlon coolly picks up his flute and retraces his steps after the first chorus. The band’s version of Hard Time Killing Floor Blues is surprisingly minimalist, considering how how many people are on the arrangement, with insistent horns setting the melody off over gingerly sidestepping bass for a verse before they build it up, circle around and pick up the pace a little every time. The cd also has a handful of straight-up Afro-Cuban numbers as well.


Don’t let the remarkable accessibility of the melodies scare you away: this cd is way too hot for Lite FM. It’ll take you back to an age when this kind of stuff was what all the cool latin kids, and a whole lot of the cool anglo kids were spinning on their turntables on Saturday night. The Paul Carlon Octet play the cd release show on Thurs Aug 28 at 7 PM at Cachaca, 35 W 8th St. in the Village.

August 15, 2008 Posted by | Music, Reviews | Leave a comment

New York City Live Music Calendar Plus Other Events: Mid-August/September 2008

Hey – this isn’t the most updated concert calendar! This is.  If you don’t recognize the place where a show is happening, click our Venues page. And by the way, if you see a listing here like this: Sniveling Williamsburg Wimps/Coney Island Death Squad, that means that the Sniveling Williamsburg Wimps are opening for Coney Island Death Squad, not the other way around.


First the weekly stuff, then the daily calendar.


Sundays from half past noon to 3:30 PM, bluegrass cats Freshly Baked (f.k.a. Graveyard Shift), featuring excellent, incisive fiddle player Diane Stockwell play Nolita House (upstairs over Botanica at 47 E Houston).


Every Sunday, Michael Arenella & the Dreamland Dance Band play sly yet boisterous oldtimey hot jazz during a brunch set at Bar Tabac on Smith St. in Brooklyn Heights from about half past noon to 4 PM.


Sundays Sean Kershaw & the Terrible Two (that’s the New Jack Ramblers minus a couple fingers & toes) play the upstairs roof deck at Rocky Sullivan’s, 34 Van Dyke St at Dwight St in Red Hook, 1-4 PM. Free ferry from Manhattan (pier 11,Wall St.) and free shuttle buses from the F&G trains at Smith-9th St, the F,M,R at 4th Ave, and the 2,3,4,5,M,N,R at Borough Hall.


The 2008-09 series of organ concerts at St. Thomas Church kicks off on September 14 and continues most every Sunday (certain holidays excepted) at 5:15 sharp, featuring a whole slew of world-renowned performers. Concerts continue through May 17 of next year.


Every Sunday the Ear-Regulars, led by trumpeter Jon Kellso and (usually) guitarist Matt Munisteri play NYC’s only weekly hot jazz session starting around 8 PM at the Ear Inn on Spring St.  Hard to believe, in the city that springboarded the careers of thousands of jazz legends, but true. This is by far the best value in town for marquee-caliber jazz: for the price of a drink and a tip for the band, you can see world-famous players (and brilliant obscure ones) you’d usually have to drop $100 for at some big-ticket room. The material is mostly old-time stuff from the 30s and 40s, but the players (especially Kellso and Munisteri, who have a chemistry that goes back several years) push it into some deliciously unexpected places.


Sundays at 8:30 PM Sasha Dobson plays Pete’s Candy Store. Jazz chanteuse on the serious Brazilian tip: musically, she’s where Snorah Jones should hope to be in five years.


Sundays in August at 9 PM, sensational gypsy jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel – who’s been incorporating a lot of other influences, particularly Middle Eastern, into his sound – plays Barbes.


Every Sunday, hip-hop MC Big Zoo hosts the long-running End of the Weak rap showcase at the Pyramid, 9 PM, admission $5 before 10, $7 afterward. This is one of the best places to discover some of the hottest under-the-radar hip-hop talent, both short cameos as well as longer sets from both newcomers and established vets


Also Mondays in Sept. (they’re taking August off to tour) the Barbes house band, Chicha Libre plays there starting around 9:45. They’ve singlehandedly resurrected an amazing subgenre, chicha, which was popular in the Peruvian Amazon in the late 60s and early 70s. With electric accordion, cuatro, surf guitar and a boisterous rhythm section, their mix of obscure classics and originals is one of the funnest, most danceable things you’ll witness this year. Perhaps not so strangely, they sound a lot like Finnish surf rockers Laika and the Cosmonauts in their most imaginative moments.


Mondays in August (and pretty much every month, when he’s not on tour), Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Black Betty in Williamsburg, two sets starting around 10:30 PM. The Rev. is one of the great keyboardists around, equally thrilling on organ or electric piano, an expert at Billy Preston style funk, honkytonk, gospel and blues. He writes very funny, very politically astute, frequently salacious original gospel songs and is one of the great live performers of our time. Moist Paula from Moisturizer is the lead soloist on baritone sax.


Tuesdays El Ritmo Southside plays Rose Bar in Williamsburg, 11 PM. Instrumental covers of classic, Fania-era salsa, mambo, cha-cha, rhumba etc.: Palmieri, Puente, Barretto, et al. featuring superb vibraphonist Tommy Mattioli and a rotating rhythm section.


Also every Tues in Sept., the boisterous and very popular brass-heavy gypsy jazz band Slavic Soul Party plays Barbes at 9. Get here as soon as you can as the opening act is usually popular as well.


Every Wednesday, Will Scott and drummer Wylie Wirth play mesmerizing, hypnotic, completely authentic Mississippi hill country blues along with Scott’s own melodic, tuneful blues originals at 68 Jay St. Bar in Dumbo, starting around 8:30 PM. Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside and Asie Payton are sadly gone but Scott continues their tradition of music that is as danceable as it is trance-inducing, and does his influences justice.


Also every Wednesday, the Nat Lucas Organ Trio plays jazz at Lenox Lounge uptown, sets from 8 PM to midnight.


Also Wednesdays in September, the Doc Marshalls – equally good at rousing Texas honkytonk and Louisiana Cajun – are at Hill Country,  9 PM.

Fridays in September baritone Brooklyn country crooner Sean Kershaw – who’s been off on a really good Western swing tangent lately – plays Hill Country, 5 PM for happy hour.


The first major JMW Turner exhibit in the US in many moons is up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through 9/21. Now might be a good time to check it out – get there early in the day if you can.


Fri Aug 15 Willie Nile plays a super-rare acoustic set – no idea how long – at J&R Music World downtown on Park Row, half past noon. The legendary New York rock anthem writer is one of the great live performers of our time, making a trip downtown on your lunch hour well worth the trip. He’ll be signing copies of his new cd and DVD Live from the Streets of New York. Click here for samples: volcanically good stuff. 


Also Fri Aug 15, 8 PM Marta Topferova plays her completely unique, haunting blend of Balkan and latin music at Barbes with accordion, guitar and a rhythm section. Pretty amazing, completely original stuff.


Also Fri Aug 15 at 55 Bar, 10 PM it’s Reverend Vince Anderson & The Whispering Thunder Blues Band. A rare Manhattan show by the amazing keyboardist/showman, as adept at Howlin Wolf as he is at funk and gospel. This band features his longtime lead instrumentalist Paula Henderson from Moisturizer on baritone sax as well as a kick-ass rhythm section of Andrew Hall and Brian Woodruff.


Also Fri Aug 15 a great tripleheader at Spikehill starting at 9 with wickedly funny outlaw country throwbacks Maynard & the Musties, fresh from the studio after recording with Ryan Adams, then tuneful, tongue-in-cheek janglerockers (you should hear their deadpan Go Go’s cover) the Somebodies followed by the Disclaimers at 11 PM. The headliners are one of NYC’s top half-dozen best live bands, blending hypnotic soul songs into their fiery, organ-and-keyboard-driven garage rock mix. Everybody in the band sings; frontwomen Naa Koshie Mills and Kate Thomason make an especially charismatic twosome with their voices and stage presence. The Disclaimers are also here on Aug 29 at 11.


Also Fri Aug 15 tastefully twangy surf instrumental traditionalists Mr. Action & the Boss Guitars are back at Lakeside, 11 PM.


Also Fri Aug 15, midnight, sensationally good, hypnotic dub reggae crew Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad play a concert cruise aboard the good ship Half Moon, adv tix $20 and very highly recommended at the box office, 630 9th Avenue Suite 602 Between 44th and 45th streets, Monday-Friday 12 noon-6pm, 212-571-3304. The boat leaves from Skyport Marina, E 23rd St & the FDR a half hour later, but you’ll want to get there early to get a good seat.


Sat Aug 16 fiery, horn-driven, often hauntingly minor-key third-wave ska revivalists Tri-State Conspiracy plays an early afternoon show at the Blackwater Inn in the Rockaways, 112-08 Rockaway Beach Blvd,  3 PM. Take the A train to Beach 116th St., the bar is 4 blocks from the subway at 112th St.


Also Sat Aug 16, 7 PM smartly literate, funny, accordion-driven somewhat oldtimey Brooklynites Pinataland play the Old Stone House at JJ Byrne Park in Park Slope, Brooklyn 5th Avenue between 3rd and 4th Streets. They’re also at the Rockwood on Sun Aug 17, also early, at 7.


Also Sat Aug 16 self-described antique songwriter Mamie Minch – equally good at original, haunting delta blues, rustic oldtimey country and pop styles from a hundred years ago plays 68 Jay St. Bar at 9 with the excellent Andy Cotton on bass. Sort of like a one-woman version of the Moonlighters. 


Also Sat Aug 16 scorchingly funny punk band Custard Wally play the cd release for their surprisingly diverse new one Call Me Walt at Don Pedro’s, 9 PM.


Also Sat Aug 16, 9 PM  a free screening of the film “Song Sung Blue” on the lawn at Southpoint Park on Roosevelt Island, take the tram at 68th St. Summary: Lightning & Thunder, a homegrown Milwaukee husband and wife Neil Diamond cover band. They fall in love, rise to fame and suffer grave misfortune as they share the music of the “Jewish Elvis” – yeah right –  with the people of Milwaukee. Preceded by live Neil Diamond karaoke, no joke (which, umm, you might want to pass on). Why is Wisconsin seemingly always the setting for all every single atrocity exhibition movie?


Also Sat Aug 16, 10ish, the Mess Around play the Shillelagh Tavern, 47-22 30th Ave., Astoria, worth a ride on the N train. One of NYC’s best, most ferocious acts, this scorching garage punk band evoke Radio Birdman in their best, furiously guitar-fueled, cynical moments.


Also Sat Aug 16 Spanking Charlene play Lakeside, 11 PM. NYC’s answer to X: guy/girl vocals, dirty Americana-punk songs along with some strikingly pretty country stuff. Frontwoman Charlene McPherson has one hell of a voice


Sun Aug 17 at Damrosch Park out back of Lincoln Center, dance and music by Ologunde, Bonga and the Vodou Drums of Haiti, and the Ivoirian Kotchegna Dance Company starting around 2ish.


Also Sun Aug 17 keyboard/horn-driven groovemeisters Chin Chin open for acclaimed hip-hop artist Aesop Rock at McCarren Pool, 3ish.


Also Sun Aug 17, a rousing season finale at Central Park Summerstage, 3 PM: Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens, the Mehahan Street Band (who share members with Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, the Budos Band, and El Michels Affair) followed by the incomparable funk/soul revivalists Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings at around 5. Get there at 3 at the latest if you’re going.


Also Sun Aug 17 Michael Arenella’s Dreamland Orchestra plays the new Galapagos, 7-10 PM, $12. 16 Main St. in DUMBO. Directions from the York St. F train: walk downhill on Jay St. one block to Front St., left on Front St. four blocks to Main St., right on Main St, walk two blocks to Water St., Galapagos is on the far corner of Main and Water. Horn player Arenella and his 1920s style jazz orchestra specialize in brilliant obscurities from the early swing era and can really rip up a room when they’re in the mood.


Mon Aug 18 a Caribbean bill featuring upcoming soca star Bunji Garlin & Asylum, the ageless calypso warrior Mighty Sparrow (what is he now, about eighty?) and 90s Jamaican lovers rock star Beres Hammond (what is he now, about fifty?) at Wingate Field in Bed Stuy, free, either get there early at 7:30 PM or late at 9, otherwise you’ll be waiting in line for hours before being subjected to a Guantanamo-style security gauntlet.


Also Mon Aug 18 at the Jazz Standard, sets at 7:30 and 9:30 PM, bandoneon player/bandleader Hector Del Curto’s Eternal Tango Quintet including piano, strings and a rhythm section playing absolutely gorgeous, haunting, classic Piazzola-style compositions.


Tues Aug 19, 7 PM Middle Eastern orchestra Zikrayat plays classic Levantine dance music accompanied by bellydancers at Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens. 7 train to Vernon Blvd.-Jackson walk on 48th Avenue to the East River. The park is in front of the Citylights Building.


Also Tues Aug 19 Anthony B plays B.B. King’s, 8-ish, adv tix $20 available at the box office. The self-appointed torchbearer of Peter Tosh’s legacy is a fiery, politically charged lyricist, an intensely charismatic performer and a purveyor of an uncommonly tuneful blend of roots and dancehall reggae.


Tues Aug 19 Polka Madre, whose raison d’etre seems to be all things polka, but who mix a dark gypsyish sound with new wave-ish rock en Espanol play Zebulon at 9. They’re also at Fontana’s on 8/23 at 10, and at Hecho en Dumbo, 111 Front St. in Dumbo on 9/11 at 10 for free.


Also starting Tues Aug 19, brilliantly panstylistically noir gypsy/klezmer/neoclassical Buffalo group Casperous Vine is in town. With accordion, classical guitar and strings, they play beautifully melodic, often haunting instrumentals with titles like Requiem for Gregor Samsa. On the 19th they’re at Goodbye Blue Monday at 11; at Mehanata on Thurs Aug 21 at 8; at Vox Pop in Crown Heights at 8 on Fri Aug 22 and at Zebulon on Sat Aug 23 at 9.


Weds Aug 20, early show at 6 PM at the Rockwood it’s Patrick Glynn & the Lost Americans. Glynn, the talented ex-Rawles Balls multi-instrumentalist, has the expected sense of humor and good chops: his myspace doesn’t seem that he’s taking this new project all that seriously, which would actually be fine. Briana Winter, who knows her way around a catchy pop hit without trying to be Britney or Alanis,  follows eventually at 9. 


Also Weds Aug 20, 7 PM in Wagner Park in Battery Park City it’s La Excelencia,  a 70s style salsa orchestra playing songs from their new cd Salsa Con Conciencia.


Also Weds Aug 20, 8 PM a good doublebill at Banjo Jim’s: excellent guitarist Steve Antonakos AKA Homeboy Steve from Love Camp 7, Roots Rock Rebel, Magges and a million other bands followed by jazz violinist/composer Jenny Scheinman, who will probably be singing stuff from her excellent, just-reviewed new cd of Americana and rock songs. Next on the bill is Jerry Dugger, a bassist who once went by the name of Slapmeat Johnson. Doubtlessly his wife or girlfriend is glad he’s decided to give that up.


Also Weds Aug 20 edgy, smart, soulful acoustic songwriter Dina Regine plays a rare solo show – hell,  a rare show – at 68 Jay St. Bar in Dumbo at 9:30 PM.  Opening the night at 8 is eminently hypnotic, guitarishly excellent Misssissippi hill-style bluesman Will Scott.


Also Weds Aug 20 the Vivian Girls play Death By Audio, time TBA (the venue and the band’s myspaces say 8 PM, but this isn’t a place you’d want to be at a millisecond longer than necessary). They’re back here on 9/2, at South St. Seaport on 9/6 and then at Cake Shop on 9/19. Good tunes, good energy, a totally original sound: part surf, part dreampop, part retro 60s garage.


Also Weds Aug 20, 9 PM Black Cop White Cop play Ace of Clubs. If their myspace is any indication, they’re retro, but they’re looking back to a style most bands have never heard: early 80s indie rock, with dirty, melodic basslines, fast tempos and trebly, minor-key guitar work that leaves a long trail of sparks.


Also Weds Aug 20 Carolyn Sills & the Poor Man’s Roses sing Patsy Cline covers, uncommonly well, at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.


Thurs, Aug 21 in the sculpture garden out behind MOMA as part of the ongoing Salvador Dali tribute, sets at 5:30 and 7 PM it’s Kamikaze Ground Crew playing theatrical, somewhat balkan jazz featuring a ton of killer soloists: Kenny Wollensen on drums, Peter Apfelbaum on tenor, Doug Wieselman on reeds, Steve Bernstein on trumpet and more.


Also Thurs Aug 21, $10, excellent accordion-driven noir gypsy band Guignol plays Europa, 6ish, opening for Defiance Ohio who at their best are sort of the acoustic Anti-Flag, at their worst the acoustic NOFX.


Also Thurs Aug 21 Jennifer O’Connor plays a cd release show at Mercury Lounge, 7:30 PM. Fearlessly messy, tuneful songwriter who rocks much harder than most of her other acoustic contemporaries.


Also Thurs Aug 21 Bobby Bland plays plays B.B. King’s, 8 PM adv tix $25 available at the box office. You never know whether this guy will phone it in or bring the soul, but it’s worth a shot: B.B. King’s ex-valet is a blues legend and rightfully so, and he still has that growl that brings all the ladies out.


Also Thurs Aug 21 Rev. Timmy James plays Fontana’s, 8 PM. Remarkably authentic, laid-back acoustic delta blues guitarist. If the AA Bondy show at Bowery a couple of months ago was too expensive for you, this is a good alternative

Also Thurs Aug 21 two sensational Americana specialists:
Bob Hoffnar leads a quartet on pedal steel at Barbes at 8 PM followed by guitarist Matt Munisteri at 10.


Also Thurs Aug 21 speaking of cool pedal steel, Patti Smith lead player Lenny Kaye plays with smart rockabilly kitten Monica Passin at Banjo Jim’s at 9 followed by a set of his own wryly purist stuff at 10.


Fri Aug 22 the Brandos with the reliably interesting, always potentially dangerous Eric Ambel on guitar play an intimate show at 8 PM at el Taller Latinoamericano, 2710 Broadway (at W. 104th St.), 3rd Fl., New York, tix $20 at the door. Fiery, first-class highway rock like Steve Earle, the Hangdogs or Bodeans with virtuosic Tex-Mex and Irish instrumental flourishes.


Fri Aug 22, 8ish smooth-grooves jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove plays  City Hall Park.


Also Fri Aug 22 sprawling, exuberant, sensationally good bluegrass/oldtime country act Bogs Visionary Orchestra play Banjo Jim’s, 9 PM. As good as M Shanghai String Band. Also on the bill: brilliant guitarist Tom Clark, the club calendar doesn’t say when: midnight? BVO are also playing Think Coffee, 248 Mercer St. (between 3rd St & 4th St) on 9/5, time TBA.

Also Fri Aug 22 the reliably romantic, wickedly smart, ever-more-exciting oldtimey
Moonlighters play Barbes, 10 PM followed by Nawlins piano guy Bill Malchow (of Jack Grace’s band) at midnight.


Also Fri Aug 22 the Brooklyn What play the Brooklyn Lyceum, one assumes in the big downstairs room, 10 PM. Smartly down-to-earth, frequently hilarious, punkishly tuneful band whose signature song I Don’t Want to Go to Williamsburg has become a NYC classic.


Also Fri Aug 22 10:30 PM Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. play Rodeo Bar, possibly three sets. One of the funniest and most original bands in town, period-perfect, 1953-style with their matching suits, oldtime stage patter, harmonies and often remarkably subtly amusing pre-rockabilly hillbilly songs. All-female Stockholm country/punk trio Baskery open the night at 9ish. SITnDIE are also at Otto’s on 8/28 at 8.


Also Fri Aug 22, 11 PM scorching garage/punk rockers the Mess Around – who at the top of their game are just as wildly adrenalizing as Radio Birdman – play Trash Bar. Opening at 10 are dark, female-fronted punk/metal act Vagina Panther.


Also Fri Aug 22, 11 PM Biz Markie plays Europa, tix $25, and it’s 18-plus. No idea of how long he’ll be onstage, or whether he’ll mostly spin records – but the hip-hop legend will still make you laugh and smile even if you weren’t there to hear him rap (and sing!!!) the first time around. 


Also Fri Aug 22, 1 AM (actually the wee hours of Sat Aug 23) Pennsylvania reggae-rockers Three Legged Fox play Arlene’s. Heavier on the reggae than the rock: this is cool, laid-back stuff, not lousy Sublime wannabe crap.


Sat-Sun Aug 23-24 it’s the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, starting at 3 both days. On 8/23 at Marcus Garvey Park; 8/24 at Tompkins Square Park. 8/23: pianist Robert Glasper, legendary drummer Rashied Ali, singer Vanessa Rubin and pianist Hank Jones, in order. 8/24: singer Gretchen Parlato, pianist Eric Lewis, legendary bandleader Jerry Gonzalez & Fort Apache and then headliner pianist Randy Weston.


Also Sat Aug 23 a cool outdoor show, literally and figuratively, with dark haunting siren Randi Russo playing solo at 4:30 PM on the Coney Island boardwalk in front of the Dreamland roller disco followed by the excellent, rustically noir, somewhat carnivalesque sounds of the Dead Sextons at 5:30 and then intriguingly tuneful goth/dreampop/acoustic group the Tyburn Saints an hour later.


Also Sat Aug 23 veteran two-cello-and-drums trio Rasputina plays the Hiro Ballroom, 8:30 PM, $20 adv tix avail at Ticketbastard locations at Macy’s Herald Square, Disc-O-Rama at Union Square East, Macy’s Fulton St. in Brooklyn or J&R Music World on Park Row downtown, so you can pay cash and save yourself the $100 extra it would cost you to buy tix online. Frontwoman Melora Creager is one of the few rockers with the courage to question the official verdict of what really happened on 9/11, and wrote an absolutely haunting, long suite about it. And has a vast catalog of other classically-inflected, hilariously deadpan songs.


Also Sat Aug 23 another Unsteady Freddie show at Otto’s starting 8:30ish. This is one of Freddie’s best, starting with an uncommonly good country/rockabilly band, the Long Goodbyes followed by the somewhat stylistically schizophrenic Tarantinos NYC, absolutely kick-ass surf rockers the Outpatients, scorching Dick Dale soundalikes 9th Wave (who also play killer spy themes), the similarly intense, Dick Dale-influence Nebulas and then even more reverb-drenched ecstasy with the Octomen somewhere around 2


Also Sat Aug 23 southern soul legend Irma Thomas plays out back of Lincoln Center at Damrosch Park, 8:30 PM.


Also Sat Aug 23 Amy Allison plays Banjo Jim’s, 10 PM. Good choice of Saturday night act. Pantheonic, Aimee Mann-class songwriter: great voice, brilliant lyricist, and very, very funny onstage. Country was her thing for a long time; dark pop has been her latest fixation, resulting in the best songs of her career. She’s one of Elvis Costello’s favorites, which makes sense.


Also Sat Aug 23 Johnny Allen plays Terra Blues, 10 PM. A power hitter on the guitar, with a searing, tastefully crescendoing Chicago blues style, and simply one of the most soulful singers in New York.


Also Sat Aug 23 Her & Kings County play upstairs at the National Underground, 10:30 PM. Female-fronted country band with a rotating cast of characters, anything from a tight quartet to a sprawling, four-guitar stoked twangfest.


Sun Aug 24 Liza & the Wonderwheels shoot another cool video and also play a live set, early, 3 PM at Freddy’s. Be a part of youtube history! Wouldn’t you want to see your mug in the same frame with Liza? Of course you would. And these wickedly smart, funny, politically aware retro 80s new wave throwbacks always put on a good show


Sun Aug 24 an amazing doublebill with the Knitters (which is X playing country songs and country versions of their own classics) along with Patti Smith at Damrosch Park, Lincoln Ctr., the whole thing starts 5:30 PMish but get there early because it will deservedly be a mobscene.


Also Sun Aug 24 Yo La Tengo plays the final free concert of the summer at McCarren Pool, 5:30ish, which could be cool if Ira Kaplan pretends it’s 1993 again and turns his amp up all the way for a feedbackfest. Your best bet is to get there at showtime and if they aren’t letting anyone in, go into the playground just up the block: the sound is actually better there than almost anywhere inside the pool.


Also Sun Aug 24 Catspaw plays Otto’s, 7 PM. This just in from the frequently fiery, female-fronted rockabilly trio’s publicist Svetlana Monsoon: “Renowned physicist/bassist Banj Foxx has perfected his practical application of the theory of gravitational time dilation and special relativity to build a time portal to 1959 in his basement.  Having pinpointed the exact space/time coordinates of the June 7,1959 Amazing Half-Off Sale at Ralph’s Guitar Emporium in Massapequa, he has made plans to travel back in time in order to expand his collection of vintage Gibson ES-335s.  His historic journey has been temporarily postponed, however, because he has been having difficulty, in today’s depressed economic climate, in obtaining a line of credit that extends beyond the normal boundaries of space/time…Erica [Catspaw’s drummer], meanwhile, has traveled to the Middle East to bail out [frontwoman] Jasmine, who reportedly was deported to Syria after an incident that may have involved inappropriate political humor.  The joke in question has since been classified, and there is no official word on whether or not it was funny.”


Also Sun Aug 24 a good, dark acoustic doublebill at Spikehill. Razor-sharp, literate tunesmith Erin Regan opens the night at 9 followed by Mark Sinnis at 10. Solo, the Ninth House frontman mines a dark, rustic, terse Nashville gothic vein, more Johnny Cash than Joy Division. Regan is also at Sidewalk on 9/4 at 11.


Also Sun Aug 24, fiery rockers System Noise play Arlene’s, 10 PM. For a band this loud and ferocious, they sure are tuneful, and frontwoman Sarah Mucho is a force of nature with her sensational range and powerful pipes. Eerie, virtuosic guitar work and a great new album just out.


Mon Aug 25 Irish expat Vincent Cross & Good Company bring their authentically raw and rustic sounds to the Parkside, early, 7:15ish to kick off a night of bluegrass.


Tues Aug 26, 7 PM darkly moody, female-fronted janglerockers Noirceur play Gantry Plaza State Park in Queens. 7 train to Vernon Blvd.-Jackson, walk on 48th Avenue to the East River. The park is in front of the one of those shoddy, third world-style luxury condo complexes. Also on the bill: the Japanese-American Uzuhi, who alternate between bouncy, upbeat jangly guitar/keyboard pop and generic hardcore.


Also Tues Aug 26 panstylistic art-rock rock keyboard goddess Greta Gertler plays the Zipper Theatre at 8 PM – with a string section and special guests.


Also Tues Aug 26-31 the Kenny Barron Quartet with Dana Stevens on tenor plus a rhythm section of Kiyoshi Kitagawa and Francisco Mela plays the Village Vanguard, sets at 9 and 11. Popular pianist Barron plays with an intense, percussive physicality which is even more impressive considering how damn fast the guy is: if you like adrenaline and crescendos, this is your fun for the week.


Weds Aug 27, 7 PM Latin jazz bassist Ray Martinez plays with his band at Wagner Park.


Also Weds Aug 27 Fire in July plays two sets at Caffe Vivaldi, 7:30 and 9:30. Cellist/songstress Jodi Redhage and her band fuse jazz, classical and pop with the same quirky, artsy charm and intelligence as the Penguin Café Orchestra did 20 years ago.


Also Weds Aug 27 Alex Battles & the Whisky Rebellion squeeze into the Rockwood, 9 PM. The banjoist/guitarist is one of the best on the Cash/Hank tip right now and has a following that knows it; early arrival advised.


Also Weds Aug 27 the Doc Marshalls play Hill Country, 9 PM. Equally adept at stomping Cajun dances and Texas honkytonk, they reputedly put on quite a show.


Also Weds Aug 27 Reckon So plays Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM. Guitarist Danny Weiss lives and breathes in the lower registers, the most soulful part of the instrument; his wife and partner in harmonies, Mary Olive Smith has a casually enchanting voice, and the two write some fine, old-school country tunes as well. They’re back here on 9/10 as well.


Thurs Aug 28 in the sculpture garden out behind MOMA as part of the ongoing Salvador Dali tribute, sets at 5:30 and 7 PM: Enso String Quartet violinist John Marcus presents a program of quartets, trios, and duos incl. Bach, Ravel and Webern.


Also Thurs Aug 28 pianist Simone Dinnerstein, who’s created quite a buzz in classical circles, plays Bach, Beethoven and more at a cd release show at le Poisson Rouge, 6:30 PM, cheap $15 adv tix at the box office highly recommended.


Also Thurs Aug 28 the politically fearless, deliriously fun third-wave ska band the Slackers play a booze cruise aboard the Temptress, leaving 41st St. & the highway at 8, boarding at 7, adv tix $25, absolutely necessary and available at the box ofc, 630 9th Avenue Suite 602 Between 44th and 45th.


Also Thurs Aug 28 the Paul Carlon Octet plays Cachaca, 35 W 8th, 7 PM. Sax player leads Ellingtonian latin jazz band playing an impressive mix of everything from delta blues to cumbias. This is the cd release show for their new one Roots Propaganda.


Also Thurs Aug 28 at Issue Project Room, 8 PM, $10, Jozef Van Wissum who “will perform pieces from A Priori on 13 course baroque lute and pieces from Station of the Cross [by Dupre?] for Baroque Lute and manipulated field recordings made at airport lounges and train stations. A priori is minimal hypnotic trance lute palindromes. Sometimes bottleneck is applied on the lute now.” Quiet, minimalist, cerebral yet playful.


Also Thurs Aug 28 the Robert Charles Band plays Lucille’s Bar, two sets at 8 PM. Back in the late 90s this band had a real good thing going, remarkably terse and potently crescendoing, and the frontman didn’t Pearl Jam his vocals. Worth checking out to see what they’re up to now.


Also Thurs Aug 28, 8:30 PM alternately haunting and deliciously groove-driven shoegaze/dreampop rockers El Jezel play songs from their new cd The Warm Frequency at Union Hall. Word on the street is that it’s the excellent album that Portishead should have made this year but didn’t.


Also Thurs Aug 28 Queen Godis performs at the Highline Ballroom, 10ish, adv tix $22.50 at the club box office. An especially imaginative, somewhat theatrical hip-hop performer, activist and sensationally good, smart, politically aware lyricist. Opener Wayna is a hired-gun singer who’s worked with Sly & Robbie; headliners les Nubians are sort of to French pop what Erykah Badu (sp?) was to 90s American top 40.


Also Thurs Aug 28 recently reunited Austin alt-country satirists the Gourds, best known for their hilarious cover of the Snoop Dogg classic Gin & Juice play the Music Hall of Williamsburg, 10ish, adv tix $15 available at the Mercury box office.


Also Thurs Aug 28 the Mercenaries play Lakeside, 10 PM. Rock quartet who sound sometimes like Guided by Voices at their most tuneful, otherwise a cut above your average Stonesy bar band like the Izzys.


Fri Aug 29 an excellent doublebill at the Jalopy Café with Mississippi hill country-style bluesman Will Scott at 8 and Jan Bell, the British expat who’s better at hauntingly beautiful oldschool American country music than most Yanks, at 9:30. Bell is also at Riverside Park on 9/14 at 2ish for an afternoon show.


Also Fri Aug 29 blues guitarist Dave Gross plays Caffe Vivaldi, 7:30 PM. He’s tasteful, likes swing blues, has a big T-Bone Walker influence, doesn’t play everything mile-a-minute, understands dynamics and knows less is more.


Also Fri Aug 29 the Figgs play the Knitting Factory, 9ish, no discounted adv tix available. Legendary powerpop trio whose work with Graham Parker is a good indication of how many sparks they can shoot out on their own.


Also Fri Aug 29 Jerry Teel & the Big City Stompers‘ show at Don Pedro’s is CANCELLED. But they are playing Union Pool on 9/27 around 9.


Also Fri Aug 29 the Lost Crusaders bring their deliriously fun mix of gospel and garage rock to Trash, 11:15 PM sharp. Their organist is amazing, as is their debut album.


Sat Aug 30 the Motels play B.B. King’s, 8 PM, adv tix $25 available at the box office. One of the last of the “good top 40” bands, originally lumped in with the punk movement even though frontwoman Martha Davis was more of a pop siren. And she’s still got that full-throated wail. Take the L!


Also Sat Aug 30 one of NYC’s funnest party bands, badass Greek rebetika revivalists Magges play Mehanata, 10 PM. They’re also at Teneleven on Ave. C at 8:30 on 9/28.


Sun Aug 31, 8 PM at Otto’s an unlikely Unsteady Freddie show on a Sunday featuring the usual collection of superior surf bands: 8 PM, the virtuosic and improvisationally-inclined Venice Beach Muscle Club; 9 PM Hang Daddy; 10 PM brilliant, versatile, Dick Dale-inflected Connecticut rockers 9th Wave; 11 PM ageless Brooklyn purists the Sea Devils; midnight, scorching upstate trio the Octomen.


Also Sun Aug 31, 9 PM at the Nokia Theatre an uncommonly good hip-hop bill featuring allstars from across the decades: Strong Island legends EPMD, 90s NYC hardcore  sharpshooters Smif N Wessun, Black Moon, Mahsinah, Shadia Mansour, Immortal Technique (this generation’s finest, most relevant lyricist, who alone is worth the price of admission), with Marley Marl, Evil Dee and others spinning before the show and between acts, adv tix $30 available at the box office.


Also Sun Aug 31 roots reggae legend Burning Spear plays Irving Plaza, 10ish, adv tix $35 at the box office and absolutely recommended. Long, hypnotic grooves, dub interludes and a vault full of classic songs: Marcus Garvey, Slavery Days, Columbus, Door Peep, the list goes on and on. Spear’s voice is still there, and his forthcoming studio album is his best in years.


Mon Sept 1, the annual Coney Island Rockabilly Festival, starting in the afternoon: Catspaw play 3-ish, many more on the bill.


Also Mon Sept 1 Mamie Minch plays Rodeo Bar, 10:30ish. Sounding like what the soundtrack to a 1920s Mississippi road movie would have been if they’d had sound back then, she plays a mean resonator guitar and has a killer new album out.


Tues Sept 2 Luminescent Orchestrii play Joe’s Pub, 9:30 PM, adv tix $15 and absolutely necessary: this will sell out. One of the world’s great gypsy bands, fresh off the Dresden Dolls tour, ready to evoke the ghost of every Ukrainian who ever died within a ten-block radius.


Also Tues Sept 2 the haunting, hypnotic East African Arab music revivalists Sounds of Taraab play Apt, 419 W.13th St. 10 PM. Their new album is amazing.


Weds Sept 3 the Latin Giants of Jazz (Tito Puente’s backup band) are at Wagner Park, 7 PM. Wow. This is the kind of act you usually see playing huge arenas. Early arrival very strongly advised if you can.


Also Weds Sept 3-7, sets at 7:30 and 9:30 PM,  the McBride, Payton & Whitfield Trio: Christian McBride – bass; Nicholas Payton – trumpet; Mark Whitfield – guitar play the Jazz Standard, note that tix are “$30 plus tax.” A good mix of contrasting styles: McBride provides the oomph that terse, trad purists Payton and Whitfield need to get off their asses. Everybody in the group can write, a big plus.


Also Weds Sept 3-8 the Kenny Burrell Quintet (w/Benny Green, Peter Washington, Tivon Pennicott, Clayton Cameron) plays Dizzy’s Club at Rose Hall at Lincoln Center, ticket price TBA, sets at 7:30, 9:30 PM. Jazz guitar legend whose signature style has been imitated by thousands but hardly ever replicated. Excellent band behind him this time out, too.


Also Weds Sept 3 Spindrift play Glasslands, time TBA (both band and club sites say 8 but that’s dubious). Dark southwestern gothic psychedelic garage rock: Gun Club plus Plan 9 divided by Giant Sand, raised to the power of Morricone. Awesome stuff, and a great new vinyl ep out! They’re also at Cake Shop on Thurs Sept 4, 10 PM which is a much better bet because the club has good sound.


Also Weds Sept 3 at Kenny’s Castaways, at 9 PM Bob Petrocelli, the excellent blues guitarist from the Robert Charles Band plays a set of his own stuff followed by the Shithouse Lilies, a rousingly rustic, acoustic all-female country band.


Thurs Sept 4 Rachelle Garniez, who is just as good a piano player as she is on accordion, never tells the same joke twice (and she has a million good ones) and never plays a song the same way twice either, plays Barbes, 10 PM. Two of her albums (Luckyday and Melusine Years) are on our best-of-the-decade list; the latter was our pick for best of 2007.


Also Thurs Sept 4 a killer doublebill at Joe’s Pub with Chicha Libre and Cordero playing the cd release for their new one, 9ish. The former play intoxicatingly danceable, psychedelic Peruvian-style surf music, are just as fun live as Gogol Bordello, and you probably know all about them. The latter are Ani Cordero’s first highly-regarded rock en Espanol project (she’s also in Pistolera) which just keeps getting more and more tuneful. This will sell out, adv tix $15 at the box office absolutely essential.


Fri Sept 5, NYC’s reigning champion of authentically oldtimey ragtime banjo songs, the drop-dead hilarious Al Duvall plays Hank’s, 9 PM. He’s also at the Jalopy with CW Stoneking (see below) on 9/17 and at Pete’s on 9/18 at 9.


Also Fri Sept 5  Bogs Visionary Orchestra are playing Think Coffee, 248 Mercer St. (between 3rd St & 4th St) on 9/5, 9 PM. Deliriously good, sprawling bluegrass band, as good M Shanghai String Band and with even more energy.


Also Fri Sept 5 there’s a forro party at Barbes featuring cavaquino player Pedro Ramos, accordionist Rob Curto and special guests, 10 PM.


Also Fri Sept 5 Randi Russo plays Sidewalk, midnight. Impossible to imagine a better midnight act: dark, brooding outsider anthems, brilliant lyrics, casually graceful charisma and a voice like bloodstained velvet. One of the great songwriters of our time, end of story.


Sat Sept 6 an allday free outdoor show at South St. Seaport featuring – among others – inventive surf/garage/shoegaze trio the Vivian Girls, Hammond B3 organ jazz legend Dr. Lonnie Smith, imaginative, horn-heavy Chicago hip-hop instrumental band Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, hip-hop artist 4-Ize (whose flow is totally Dirty South even though he’s from Chicago), Icelandic folkie Olof Arnalds and Devin, the funniest man in the history of rap. Trouble is, the promoters haven’t posted a schedule. And you definitely don’t want to have to stand through sets by the likes of fifth-rate Japanese Stooges ripoff Boris, tuneless Michigan trendoids Awesome Color, tuneless Brooklyn dilettantes High Places or California nonmusicians Flying Lotus, whose computerized percussion will send you sleepwalking out onto South St. UPDATE:  It appears (at least from the South St. Seaport website) that the good bands begin at around 3 with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, followed by Dr. Lonnie Smith, then Devin at 5, Vivian Girls at 6 and emcee KRS-One headlining around 8.


Also Sat Sept 6, an allday outdoor festival at Riverside Park. Bill Popp & the Tapes – who have been around since 1977, and whom you are destined to see at least once in your life kick things off at 2 PM followed by Amanda Thorpe and Ed Rogers’ gorgeously harmony-driven Britfolk/Britpop revivalists the Bedsit Poets at 3, Irish songwriter Enda Keegan (an acquired taste) at 4, legendary Clash collaborator Ellen Foley – who has never sounded better than she does right now –at 5 and the somewhat legendary, Stones/Pogues hybrid Joe Hurley and Rogue’s March (with James Mastro on guitar!) at 6:30. The show runs till 9; 1 train to 103rd and walk toward the Hudson.


Also Sat Sept 6, 8 PM Prana, a nonet of throat singers in the style of Huun Huur Tu sing at Jivamukti Yoga Center, 841 Broadway, 2nd Floor (between 13th and 14th), proceeds to Animal Mukti, a free spay and neuter clinic serving the cats and dogs of New York City. Also available: a workshop on throat singing on 9/7, details at the center.


Also Sat Sept 6 the Plunk Bros., AKA Boo Reiners (of Demolition String Band) and Bob Jones play classic country guitar stuff at Barbes, 8 PM followed by smart, politically aware, somewhat tongue-in-cheek Americana rock duo Kill Henry Sugar at 10.


Also Sat Sept 6 reliably entertaining 60’s style country throwbacks the Jack Grace Band open for semi-legendary Canadian bluegrass band Luther Wright & the Wrongs (you know, the guys who did the bluegrass version of Pink Floyd’s The Wall) play Rodeo Bar, 9 PM.


Also Sat Sept 6 Nanuchka – sort of the Israeli Siouxsie & the Banshees – are at the Mercury Lounge, 10ish.


Also Sat Sept 6 Al Lee Wyer plays Freddy’s, 11 PM. Veteran songwriter with a low-key growl, knows his way around a tune, at his best he mines the same dark bluecollar vein as Springsteen circa the River but without the clichés. See if he’ll play Bethlehem.


Also Sat Sept 6 the Coffin Daggers play Otto’s, 11 PM. Still one of the half-dozen best live bands in New York, they’ve stripped down their sound, going back to the tersely macabre, furiously loud guitar-and-organ surf punk sound they started with ten years ago, with richly rewarding results.


Sun Sept 7, 7 PM at Barbes music journalist Elisabeth Vincentelli screens vintage footage of Abba as well as numerous Abba parodies. Could be hysterically funny. Followed by gypsy jazz guitar monster Stephane Wrembel at 9 PM. Wrembel also here on 9/21.


Mon Sept 8 Delusions of Grand Street – love that name – play Trash, 9 PM. Refreshingly down-to-earth, smart female-fronted janglepop/rock band. Defiant, funny, tuneful and indelibly New York. Out-of-towners may not get them, but we do.


Beginning Weds Sept 10, C.W. Stoneking, the hilarious and strikingly authentic Australian king of oldtimey American hokum blues and minstrel music, plays the Dives of New York Tour in support of his new album Jungle Blues which is reputedly amazing. Several shows here this Sept: 9/10 at the Rockwood, 8 PM; 9/11 at Nublu, 9 PM with Smitty from Otto’s on steel guitar; 9/13 at 9 PM at Pete’s Candy Store with Brownbird Rudy Relic; 9/14 at 9 PM at Barbes with the always excellent Mamie Minch and concluding on 9/17 at 9:30 PM at the Jalopy Theater with the equally sensational, retro Al Duvall.


Also Weds Sept 10, most songwriters-in-the-round events are a waste of time: why sit through a bunch of mediocrities so you can see your favorite player do only three or four songs? This one at the Cornelia St. Café starting at 8 PM is a rare exception. Ann Klein may be best-known for her scorching lead guitar work, but she also writes wry, tuneful acoustic pop. Mary Lee Kortes, frontwoman of wickedly smart Americana band Mary Lee’s Corvette, has the distinction of being arguably the best singer AND the best songwriter in all of rock. Trina Hamlin (time to get a drink or take a bathroom break) and Natalia Zukerman – Pinchas’ kid, with her fast, jazzy fingers and slightly Dolly Parton-esque voice – are also on the bill.


Thurs 9/11 Elisa Flynn plays Sidewalk, 8 PM. Smartly tuneful, imaginatively diverse rocker with a sense of humor, somebody who just gets better and better. Click her myspace for the killer track Soul Minor Daughter.


Also Thurs 9/11 the Boss Martians play Don Pedro’s, 9ish, opening for popular, improper, retro Bostonians Muck & the Mires. Wow, what a discovery! Radio Birdman meets the Dickies: crazy sense of humor, murderous city tunes and razorwire guitar. This is the kind of band that could become your favorite in the span of about three minutes. Next time they come through town they should do a doublebill with the Mess Around.


Fri Sept 12 brilliantly melodic southwestern gothic rocker James Apollo plays Pete’s Candy Store, 8 PM. If you can’t afford Giant Sand and missed Calexico the last time they swung through town, this is your shot of tequila. Los Angeleno opening act Erich Von Kneip, who plays at 8, mines a smokier and jazzier but no less captivatingly noir vein.


Also Fri Sept 12 Chicago expat blues guitarist Irving Louis Lattin plays Lucille’s, 8 PM. Good, terse player, whether on acoustic or electric (probably the latter here): no wasted notes, no histrionic Robert Plant bs. He’s also here on 9/26 at 8.


Also Fri Sept 12 Chet Baker revivalist trumpeter/crooner Leif Arntzen and band play a very worthwhile benefit for producer Scott Harding – who was partially paralyzed in a hit-and-run accident a couple of months ago, and didn’t have the insurance to cover the hospital bill – at the Cornelia St. Café, 8 PM. Leif Arntzen, trumpet, vocals; Matt Miller, saxophones; John Dryden, piano;  Dan McCarthy, vibes; Miles Arntzen, drums; Phil Rowen, bass.


Also Fri Sept 12, 8 PM, Microscopic Septet pianist and co-founder Joel Forrester plays his imimitably witty, astonishingly diverse jazz songs at Barbes, $10 cover, followed at 10 by les Martines playing haunting, danceable musette instrumentals along with “a mixture of high energy contemporary French chanson mixed with Cuban, Yiddish, Italian, Argentinean and musette standards..


Also Fri Sept 12 fiery highway rockers the Sloe Guns play Arlene’s, 9 PM. A lush, twangy Gibson/Fender guitar attack and some anthems that get into your DNA and won’t get out.


Also Fri Sept 12, 9 PM one of the Wu-tang Clan’s frontline lyricists, GZA performs his best album, Liquid Swords all the way through at Irving Plaza, adv tix $25.


Also Fri Sept 12, if you like your surf music authentically jangly and low-key, Mr. Action & the Boss Guitars play classic and brilliantly obscure covers at Lakeside, 11 PM. If you get lucky they’ll do the formerly obscure Ventures classic Ginza Lights.


Sat-Sun Sept 13-14 Michael Arenella and the Dreamland Orchestra bring their brilliant, obscure 20s hot swing jazz to Governor’s Island, sets on 9/13 at a quarter to one, 2:30 and 4 PM (with free pie at 3:30!); 9/14 the Boilmaker Jazz Band plays sets at 11:30 AM and 12:45 PM followed by the Dreamland Orchestra at 2, 3:15 and 4:15, the free ferry leaves from the old Shaolin ferry terminal, right next to the new one at the Battery. Be aware that alcohol is strictly prohibited and that you may be searched rigorously prior to boarding the ferry (bring a thermos, that’s how we did it).


Also Sat Sept 13 the haunting, psychedelic, danceable Arab/African band Sounds of Taraab play Bush Baby, 1197 Fulton St at Bedford Ave in Bed-Stuy, 8 PM.


Also Sat Sept 13 intriguing and imaginative Mexican acid jazz band los Musicos de Jose play Joe’s Pub, 9:30 PM, adv tix $12 recommended.


Also Sat Sept 13 twangy, rustic Americana rockers the Felice Bros. and impressively terse, zeros-generation delta bluesman AA Bondy play Maxwell’s, 9:30 PM, $15.


Also Sat Sept 13, 10ish at Rodeo Bar it’s a Loretta Lynn Tribute featuring The Lonesome Prairie Dogs and the incomparable comedienne/chanteuse/troublemaker Tammy Faye Starlite – the missing link between Lenny Bruce and Jello Biafra, except that she’s way better looking.


Also Sat Sept 13 Simon & the Bar Sinisters play Lakeside, 10:15ish (early by Lakeside standards, but Simon likes to play long sets). A true original: raised on punk, addicted to surf, steeped in rockabilly, honest as the day he was born and very funny. And damn, what a guitarist


Sun Sept 14, early, 6 PM guitarist Jim Campilongo – spooky composer equally adept at western swing, surf and eerie soundtrack-style instrumentals – plays with his trio at 55 Bar.


Also Sun Sept 14, 8 PM  Paul Shapiro’s Ribs and Brisket Review plays the cd release for their new one Essen at the Cornelia St. Café. Exuberant, over-the-top Yiddish jazz featuring Cab Calloway and Slim Gaillard covers plus similar originals. Obviously this is not a dairy band, although it’s a good one: Paul Shapiro, sax, clarinet, vocal; Babi Floyd, vocals; Cilla Owens, vocals; Brian Mitchell, piano; Booker King, bass; Tony Lewis, drums.. 


Also Sun Sept 14 somewhat legendary Mexican ska rockers Maldita Vecindad play the Gramercy Theatre, 9ish, adv tix $37.50 available at the Irving Plaza box office. They’ve got one of the world’s greatest sax players and a vast back catalog of haunting, somewhat Dead Kennedys-inflected songs.  


Mon Sept 15 Ani Cordero’s relatively new, beautifully rustic, driving rock in Espanol band Pistolera opens for popular, jazzy Mexican ranchera singer Lila Downs – playing with both her band and with the Mariachi Academy of NY at the Town Hall, 8 PM, adv tix $25 at the box office.


Also Mon Sept 15 fast-fingerered Rhode Island swing jazz axemeister Duke Robillard opens for petite but potent blues vocal powerhouse Shemekia Copeland at B.B. King’s, 8 PM, adv tix $25 available at the box office.


Also Mon Sept 15 long-running Brooklyn faux-French garage rockers les Sans Culottes – featuring the sensational Francoise Hardly (AKA Moist Gina from Moisturizer) on bass, play the Mercury, 9:30, a $15 benefit for Planned Parenthood.


Also Mon Sept 15 The 80s Go South play satirical country covers of schlocky 80s hits – Tears for Fears, etc. – at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM. Has country become the new punk? Apparently so


Tues Sept 16, early, 7:30 PM the world’s only (mostly) all-female, (somewhat) lesbian klezmer group Isle of Klezbos play a free show in the community garden at 346 East Houston St, btw Avenues B & C. This wild, ecstatic crew play a dazzling and danceable mix of alternately rousing and haunting originals and classic, sometimes very obscure covers.


Also Tues Sept 16, 10ish, Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson play the Highline Ballroom, adv tix $25 at the box office. This Australian couple look like trendoids but their stock in trade is gorgeously retro 60s American country music.  One of Steve Earle’s kids opens, earnestly.


Weds Sept 17 popular, somewhat noir 90s melodic janglepop band the Dandy Warhols play Terminal 5, 10 PM, adv tix $27 available at the Mercury box office.


Thurs Sept 18 Greek oud virtuoso/composer Mavrothi Kontanis plays Mehanata, 9 PM with his astonishingly good band. Dark, haunting rebetika anthems, sly, tongue-in-cheek drinking songs and a lot of impressively diverse originals. Kontanis – who has two brilliant new albums out – is a hell of a soloist, but it’s his sax player who’s his secret weapon, equal parts Coltrane and refugee from Smyrna. 


Thurs-Fri Sept 18-19 the Hangdogs reunite to play a benefit for Iowa flood survivors at Rodeo Bar, 10ish. Five years ago, they were arguably the best band in New York, the missing link between the Bodeans and the Dead Kennedys, a scorchingly hot twangy rock outfit with a spot-on, politically-fueled sense of humor. Their most recent (one hopes not final) cd Wallace ’48 remains one of the decade’s very best.


Also Fri Sept 19 Matt Keating plays Housing Works Bookstore on Crosby just south of Houston, 8 PM. Fiery, cynical, often devastatingly literate janglerock songwriter riding the wave of his new, best-ever album, a double cd of the kind of tuneful broadsides Elvis Costello used to write before he decided to be a jazz guy.


Also Fri Sept 19 Musette Explosion featuring killer accordionist Will Holshouser and reliably excellent guitarist Matt Munisteri (who also plays banjo in this unit)plays Barbes, 8 PM. Musette is dark, gypsyish, blue-collar barroom music from France and Belgium from the 20s and 30s.


Also Fri Sept 19, Squeeze plays Radio City, 8ish, adv tix. very expensive ($39.50 at the box office). No idea how much they have left as a unit, but guitarist Glenn Tilbrook still wails and his co-writer Chris Difford can still write. One of the best of the British new wave bands, they have a massive back catalog of classics: Pulling Mussels, Another Nail in My Heart, Slightly Drunk, and, oh yeah, that wretched hit single that they didn’t write..


Also Fri Sept 19, 9 PM Ververitse, an anarchically fun, improvisationally dazzling Balkan brass band featuring members of Ansambl Mastika, Hungry March Band and Romashka play the Jalopy Café. 


Also Fri Sept 19 retro 60s garage psychedelic throwbacks the Brian Jonestown Massacre plays the Music Hall of Williamsburg, 10ish, tix $25 available at the Mercury box office.


Also Fri Sept 19 twangy, growling, somewhat Steve Earle-inflected former Backslider Chip Robinson plays Lakeside with the Roscoe Trio, 10ish – expect a long set.


Sept 20, early, 6 PM an excellent all-country bill at Southpaw featuring upbeat vintage 60s style cats Alex Battles & The Whiskey Rebellion, the alternately hilarious and haunting Jack Grace Band, the fiery, spirited Jessica Rose & The High Life, western swing/rockabilly guys Sean Kershaw & The New Jack Ramblers, the sprawling and impressively diverse M Shanghai String Band and Dock Oscar & The Ambassadors Of Love.


Also Sat Sept 20, 8 PM at Symphony Space, Rupayan plays North Indian desert music featuring percussion, Sufi songs, sarangi (bowed lute) and algoza (double flute), tix $30 available at the World Music Institute box office.


Also Sat Sept 20, 8 PM at Barbes: “Paris-based Balval ((“the wind” in Romanes,) blends East and West, Latin, and Oriental music with traditional Roma songs and puts their own musical compositions to the words of contemporary Roma poets. Featuring Awena Burgess – vocals; Rosalie Hartog – violin; Daniel Mizrahi – guitar; Benjamin Body – bass and Bachar Khalife, percussion” Followed by ex-Johnny Cash sideman Smokey Hormel’s Roundup, an excellent cast of characters playing western swing, including Charley Burnham – fiddle; Tim Luntzel – string bass; Konrad Meisner  – drums.


Also Sept 20 the gorgeously violin-and-guitar-driven Sadies (who frequently back Neko Case, and have Douce Gimlet’s old drummer) play the Highline Ballroom (looks like that place is getting all of the best acts that used to play Luna), 8 PM, adv tix $17 at the box office. Headliners Blue Rodeo were the first of the 80s alt-junkie Velvets wannabes.


Also Sat Sept 20, 8 PM the Ureuk Symphony plays Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony Op.8., the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64 and Beethoven’s Triple Concerto in C Major Op.56 at Merkin Concert Hall, tix $30.


Also Sat Sept 20 Spanking Charlene play Lakeside, 11 PM. NYC’s answer to X: guy/girl vocals, dirty Americana-punk songs along with some strikingly pretty country stuff. Frontwoman Charlene McPherson has one hell of a voice.


Sun Sept 21, an afternoon concert at Symphony Space, 4 PM Leon Botstein & the American Symphony Orchestra play Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs (he didn’t plan them to be, but these saturnine, often haunting works are among his finest), tix $25.


Also Sun Sept 21 Julie Fowlis, the “first Gaelic crossover artist” sings beguiling, tasteful traditional Scottish songs from across the centuries at Joe’s Pub, 9:30 PM, adv tix $20 and highly recommended at the box office.


Also Sun Sept 21 Miss Tess & the Bon Ton Parade play the Jalopy Café, 9 PM. Contralto chanteuse/guitarist fronting an oldtimey band playing everything from ragtime to rockabilly. Historically aware, funny and fun: she’ll take you back for a brisk ride through several decades that were better than this one.


Also Sun Sept 21 one of the original haunting Southwestern gothic units, Giant Sand play the Gramercy Theatre, 9ish, adv tix relatively cheap, $15 at the Irving Plaza box office.


Mon Sept 22 Kal (Roma for black) plays Drom, 8 PM. Fiery, haunting, politically and historically aware gypsy band from the suburbs of Belgrade. Keenly aware that they’re keeping a great tradition alive in the face of the encroachment of computerized disco and prejudice on all sorts of levels, fired by righteous anger. Could be very intense and just as fun.


Also Mon Sept 22 Toots & the Maytals play B.B. King’s, 8 PM, adv tix $26.50 at the box office. Toots Hibbert was there when ska morphed into rocksteady and then into reggae: story is that his off-the-cuff hit Do the Reggay gave the style its name. Still a vital and intense performer in his sixties, with a huge back catalog of classics (Pressure Drop, Get Up Stand Up, 54-46 Was My Number) and a good band who will vamp on them for fifteen minutes at a clip.


Also Mon Sept 22 Tidawt, an excellent, hypnotic yet upbeat Tuareg desert blues/rock band from Niger plays the Highline Ballroom, 9 PM. More melodically varied, driven by dynamic shifts and less outright haunting than Tinariwen or Toumast. They can undoubtedly reaffirm that there was no uranium destined for Saddam Hussein in their native land.


Also Mon Sept 22 lush, atmospheric female-fronted dreampop group This Reporter plays Lakeside of all places, 10 PM.


Also Mon Sept 22 the Silos play Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM, probably gearing up for a tour. Indie rock legends with a new bass player in place of the late, much missed Drew Glackin but missing none of their usual Americana-inflected guitar fire and snarling melodicism.


Tues Sept 23, 7 PM at Barbes it’s Bob Hoffnar’s Mood Illusion: “deconstructed lounge music, sub-standards from the pre-rock era and Bee Gees tunes.” Ron Caswell – Tuba; Andrew Borger – Drums; Samoa – vocals; Bob Hoffnar – pedal steel.


Weds Sept 24-30 it’s the Droma Gypsy Festival at Drom featuring a whole caravan of good bands, details TK.


Also Weds Sept 24 the reliably romantic, musically sensational Hawaiian/swing/blues/all things retro stars Moonlighters play at 9 at Fort Greene strip club Barrette, 601 Vanderbilt Avenue at Bergen St., 2/3 to Bergen or C to Clinton/Washington.


Thurs Sept 25 Botanica plays Europa, 8 PM, insanely cheap at $8. Menacing, urbane, noir rockers with a fiery, charismatic keyboardist/frontman and eerie reverb guitar, who offer some of the most beautifully anguished moments of transcendent, epic grandeur you will ever experience at a rock show.


Also Thurs Sept 25 at Barbes, 10 PM: Jay Vilnai’s Vampire Suit – “Combining elements from jazz, world music, classical and other musical traditions Vampire Suit creates a musical blend of that takes you from the tribal dances of Northern Africa to the marshes of the Balkans to the cotton fields of the Delta.” Wild, intense stuff. With Jay vilnai -Guitars ; Skye Steele – Violin; Gary Pickard – Reeds; Greg Heffernan – cello and Rich Stein– Percussio.


Fri Sept 26 it’s the Dumbo arts festival with country siren Jan Bell, many others on the bill, times TBA.


Also Fri Sept 26 Junior Brown plays Maxwell’s, 7:30 PM, adv tix available at Other Music. One of the great guitarists of our time, he plays his own custom-made “guit-steel” on which he proves equally astounding doing country, western swing, surf and Texas blues. Plus he’s one hell of a singer and not without a sense of humor either. He’s also at the Highline Ballroom on Sat Sept 27, 8 PM, adv tix $25, an all-ages show.


Also Fri Sept 26 Prasanna plays classical South Indian music on electric guitar plus Hendrix covers, accompanied by a percussion ensemble at Symphony Space, 8 PM, tix $28 avail at the World Music Institute box ofc.


Also Fri Sept 26 (semi) classic hip-hop album night with Black Moon performing Enta Da Stage and Smif N Wessun doing Da Shinin at the Knit, 9 PM, adv tix. $15 at the box office.

Also Fri Sept 26,  9:30 PM bassist Bruce Foxton & drummer Rick Buckler of the Jam are at the Gramercy Theatre, adv tix $29.50 at the Irving Plaza box office. Admittedly this is something akin to the Dead Kennedys without Jello, but Paul Weller hasn’t written a good song in 25 years and didn’t want to tour. And this is one of the alltime great rhythm sections, playing all the classics: That’s Entertainment, Private Hell, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight…the list goes on and on.


Sat Sept 27 there’s another free punk show at Tompkins Square Park, details TK


Also Sat Sept 27 Pierce Turner plays Joe’s Pub, early, 7 PM, adv tix pricy ($23) available at the box office. Irish singer/songwriter who’s something of the missing link between the Pogues and the Moody Blues, a tremendously good singer and high-voltage live performer.


Also Sat Sept 27, charming, slyly innuendo-driven French chanson revivalists Les Chauds Lapins at le Poisson Rouge, 7:30 PM, $25. 


Also Sat Sept 27 punk/new wave legend Wreckless Eric – who has a million great stories  – plays with the brilliantly dark and funny Amy Rigby at Southpaw, 9 PM.


Also Sat Sept 27 an excellent doublebill at Union Pool, 9ish with the totally punk, frequently very funny Headless Hookers along with brilliant country band Jerry Teel & the Big City Stompers (featuring Jerome O’Brien from the Dog Show on bass),not sure who’s playing first but they make a good, fun segue.


Sun Sept 28, an intriguing afternoon recital, 3 PM at Merkin Concert Hall with former Victor Borge collaborator Sahan Arzruni playing Armenian piano music.


Also Sun Sept 28, 7 PM at Barbes: the Tarras Band, who dedicate themselves to the repertoire of the legendary Yiddish-American clarinetist and composer Dave Tarras. Michael Winograd (cl), Ben Holmes (tpt), Jim Guttman (bs), Richie Barshay (drums), and featuring klezmer legend and long-time Tarras accompanist Pete Sokolow (piano).


Also Sun Sept 28 Ljova & the Kontraband play the cd release for their new one Mnemosyne at Joe’s Pub, 7:30 PM, adv tix $18 a must (this will sell out). Frontman/violist Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin is an astonishingly diverse, talented composer who does a ton of film work and has arranged for lots of people including Kayhan Kalhor. This is his exuberant, classically inflected, ecstatically multistylistic string band with something of a cinematic feel, simply one of the very best bands in town.


Also Sun Sept 28, 8 PM classical Persian music by the ensemble Oumoumi at Symphony Space, balcony and rear orchestra seats $30 which will sell out fast, available at the box office Tues-Sun noon-7 PM. Especially well-timed considering the threat of a Bush regime hail-mary pass (or hundred) headed straight at the people of Iran.


Mon Sept 29 Daria Grace & the Prewar Ponies play their beautifully lush, romantic, oldtime country/ragtime/pop at Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM.


Tues Sept 30 Jack Grace and his band play Rodeo Bar, 10:30 PM, with strippers. Daria, you might want to talk to your husband about this.


Upcoming in October and afterward:

10/1 Frederick Teardo plays the 1830 Appleton Organ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 3:30 PM in the musical instruments section, free w/museum adm.


10/3-4 Stereolab at Irving Plaza, adv tix $25 available at the box office


10/4, 11, 18 and 11/8, 15 and 22 John Scott plays a marathon of the complete organ works of Messiaen at St. Thomas Church, 4 PM.

10/8 the Wedding Present at Bowery Ballroom, time TBA

10/9 the Wedding Present at Southpaw, time TBA cheaper than Bowery but the sound isn’t as good.

10/11 Simon & the Bar Sinisters  Lakeside 10 PM

10/11 Rosalia at BAM, 8 PM; on 10/12 at Barbes at 7: superb Spanish-born jazz/classical/all-around adventurer guitarist/songwriter  

10/15 Vivian Girls  Bowery Ballroom 9:30ish adv tix $10 at the Mercury

10/17 the Ventures at B.B. King’s, adv tix. $36 at the box ofc

10/17 Method Man & Redman at the Nokia Theatre, adv tix $35 available at their box office open Mon-Sat noon-6 PM

10/18 legendary, artsy, psychedelic rock en Espanol band Jaguares at the Nokia Theatre, adv tix $37.50 available at their box office open Mon-Sat noon-6 PM

10/18 Kayhan Kalhor at Carnegie Hall, 8:30 PM, adv tix $36 available at the World Music Institute box office

10/18 Spanking Charlene at  Lakeside 11 PM

10/23 Metropolitan Klezmer at Jalopy Café, 8 PM

10/24 Los Straitjackets/Laika & the Cosmonauts at Maxwell’s, tix $13

10/25 Los Straitjackets/Laika & the Cosmonauts at Southpaw, 9 PM, adv tix also ridiculously cheap at $13 on sale now.

10/27 George Usher at Lakeside 10 PM

10/30 Cypress Hill at the Nokia Theatre, time TBA, adv tix $36 available at their box office Mon-Sat noon-6 PM

10/31 the Superpowers at the Blue Note, 1 AM

11/1 at the Knit, 8ish, “3 floors of ska” incl. the Toasters, Pietasters, Hub City Stompers, Deals Gone Bad, Sonice Boom Six, Kofre, Warsaw, The Void Union, Green Room Rockers, Los Landrones, Unlikely Alibi, Jonny Meyers, adv tix $17 at the box office

11/1 Giant Panda Guerrilla Dub Squad at Sullivan Hall, 11 PM

11/6 Bad Brains (original members? dunno) at Irving Plaza, 8:30 PM adv tix $26.50

11/6 John Brown’s Body at Bowery Ballroom, 10ish, $15 adv tix at the Mercury

11/9 the Turtle Island String Quartet plays Coltrane’s A Love Supreme at Merkin Concert Hall, tix $30

11/12 Susan Tedeschi at Irving Plaza, 9ish, adv tix expensive $31.50 at the box office

11/14 8:30 PM Nicole Atkins & the Sea at Bowery Ballroom, adv tix $16 at the Mercury


11/15-16 Rev. Horton Heat at the Gramercy Theatre, adv tix $26 at the Irving Plaza box office  

Black 47 dates at Connolly’s: Saturdays Nov. 15/21; Dec. 6/13 and 31st (New Year’s Eve).

11/20 Liu Fang (Chinese pipa virtuoso) at Symphony Space, 7:30 PM, adv tix $28 at the World Music Institute boxoffice

11/23 Huun Huur Tu at le Poisson Rouge

August 15, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, NYC Live Music Calendar | 1 Comment

Concert Review: Katie Elevitch at Rehab, NYC 8/13/08

OK, let’s get the joke out of the way: it didn’t appear that drugs were much if any factor in the lives of anybody in the club. It was the band onstage that was the drug. This had to be one of the two or three best shows of the year so far. The audience didn’t know how to react. A song would finish and people would just sit there stunned before breaking out into applause. It’s not often you get hit by a gale force like flame-haired siren Katie Elevitch and her killer backing band, playing mostly new material from her forthcoming album Kindling for the Fire. Finally, when she sent the band offstage while she did a song solo on acoustic, a lot of nervous chatter broke out, as if to say, where were we before my brain got hijacked? 


The obvious comparison is Persian-American rocker Haale. Both artists have a casual, charismatic intensity, a thing for hypnotic grooves and long winding crescendos and sing with an unleashed passion. Elevitch’s powerful contralto reminds of peak-era Siouxsie Sioux, although she sings on key and has vastly more range. Throughout her set, the band would lay down a vamp and she’d sail over it, wailing and belting to the point where she’d go off-mic and still be audible over the guitars. Backed by a rhythm section including Groove Collective pulsemaster Jonathan Maron on bass, effortlessly slamming out big, boomy chords when he wasn’t toying expertly with the melody, and Riley McMahon playing fiery lead guitar (and keys on one song), Elevitch was a force of nature. Soul music may be her original stepping-off point, but this show rocked, hard. “This is my soul,” she warned, “It may not be beautiful.” Ironically, there was a lot of beauty in what she played, albeit tempestuous and frequently pitch-black.


Elevitch opened with a couple of slow, slinky, sinuous numbers and then picked up the pace with a catchy, riff-driven Patti Smith-style powerpop hit. The best song of the night was the gleefully macabre title track to the forthcoming cd, a nightmarish, apocalyptic vision set to a slowly murderous, slide guitar-driven melody evocative of the darkest tracks on Siouxsie’s Join Hands. Another long, hypnotic number swung along over the repetitive phrase “hurting people, hurting people” – this is not music for the faint of heart. McMahon ended the show ostentatiously by leaving the stage and going out into the audience, his guitar cord trailing behind him, mischievously turning the volume up and down as his amp continued to feed back. Yet further proof that the many of the best bands in New York are hidden away in the small clubs, a bright future in front of them. Fans of the darkest and most fearless: PJ Harvey, Randi Russo et. al. will love this stuff.

August 14, 2008 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | 5 Comments