Lucid Culture


Concert Review: Carol Lipnik and Spookarama at the Delancey, NYC 4/2/09

Yet another good reason why the weekly Small Beast Thursday shows at the Delancey are the musical event of the week: a chance to see both Paul Wallfisch of Botanica and Dred Scott play back-to-back. It’s hard to imagine a more fascinating piano doublebill (in this case particularly apt, since the Small Beast in question here is the club’s 88-key spinet that somehow survives week to week). Since Wallfisch hosts the salon/concert series and also serves as the opening act, he gets a lot of ink here. Suffice it to say that he was in typically provocative, darkly incisive mode. He’s taken to covering a new song by another major artist also playing on the same night every time out. This time, in tribute to Marianne Faithfull (playing for megabucks in the West Village), he did It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue in addition to plenty of his own stuff including the fiery, politically charged How which this time around became an audience-participation number. Wallfisch does not acknowledge any fourth wall: attend this show and you are always in danger of becoming part of it, an especially enticing prospect for those who enjoy living dangerously.


Next on the bill was Carol Lipnik, the extraordinary and unique noir chanteuse who hasn’t played out in awhile. We covered her exquisitely beautiful but sonically disastrous show at the Spiegeltent downtown last fall. As it turned out, a member of last night’s audience was also in the vicinity that October night and had equally bitter memories of watching another performer, in her case John Kelly, being drowned out by the woomp-woomp-woomp blasting from the adjacent tent where the women onstage were undulating and taking off their clothes. But nothing like that happened last night (as far as anyone could see – if anybody was disrobing, they’d found a private place). Her voice awash in eerie reverb, Lipnik seemingly went into a trance, turning the loud, chatty crowd at the bar silent and riveted.


Backed by just her longtime keyboardist Scott (who also leads a spectacularly good jazz trio), she delivered a mix of both darkly familiar and new material, by turns phantasmagorical, carnivalesque, gleefully macabre and irresistibly compelling. With her red hair swaying behind her and the hint of a devious grin, Lipnik does not exactly look the part of someone who delights in mining the darkness, but that’s her home turf. She started out low, ominous and strong, at the bottom of her range with Scott playing a hypnotic, minimalist melody on a little synth organ he’d brought along. On the Tom Waits-ish Freak House Blues, she lept several octaves, seemingly to the top of her formidable four-octave range in a split-second as Scott played macabre major-on-minor behind her. When she sang “Take my life, please, take my will” as The Last Dance with You rose to a crescendo, it was impossible to look away. A couple of times – particularly on the darkest song of the night, the brand-new, literally morbid Cuckoo Bird – the two bedeviled the audience by stopping cold, mid-phrase. They also took the Michael Hurley cult classic Werewolf (also covered brilliantly by Sarah Mucho) and redid it as a swinging singalong before closing with a hypnotic, soulful retelling of the Rumi poem Don’t Go. Lipnik’s next show is at the Rockwood on Tues Apr 28 with Scott at 11, followed by Scott and his trio at midnight. 


Not to overstate the issue, but this is typical of what happens on Thursday nights at the Delancey. Next week’s show features another chanteuse, Larkin Grimm, whom Wallfisch insists is the next great voice to come along. Come out and find out for yourself. Or miss it at your peril.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, small beast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Duo Firenze at Trinity Church, NYC 4/2/09

Not an Italian group: in fact, there’s another Duo Firenze, a piano/guitar unit and they’re from Virginia. This duo, violinists Brooke Quiggins and Elizabeth Young of the Larchmont Music Academy made their stage debut together in Italy, therefore, probably, the name. If you think that playing in an orchestra might be difficult, imagine playing a duo show. Your timing, interplay and phrasing have to be flawless. But these two moved as close to the audience as the space would allow, then locked in and delivered a performance that had the crowd roaring. Not bad for just two unamplified violins.


They warmed up with Haydn’s speedy, comfortably consonant Duetto VI in D Major, then offered a stark contrast with the pensive atmospherics of It Don’t All Come Easy by contemporary composer Kyle Saulnier. The high point of the show was Romantic composer Moritz Moszkowski’s Suite in G Minor, Op. 71, a beautiful four-section partita that deserves to be better-known than it is. Duo Firenze brought up an unannounced guest pianist to join them in the two warmly bright allegro sections, the strikingly dark, practically morbid lento assai and then reverting to the vividly Chopinesque color of the opening movements. Pablo de Sarasate’s Navarra, Op. 33, a fiery Spanish dance was a clinic in split-second synchronization;  the two then concluded the show with Limerock by contemporary composer Mark O’Connor, plaintive and somewhat astringent but still a showcase for sizzling yet seemingly effortless runs down the scale. The crowd wanted more but didn’t get it: time was up. Since Trinity archives all their concerts, you can see the whole performance streaming here for free.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Songs of the Day 4/3-5/09

This weekend the nucleus of the Lucid Culture crew are going to Beefstock, the upstate New York 3-day music festival. We’ll be back by Monday. Because we won’t have either internet or phones – wow, the old days! – here are another three which comprise a small section of our Alltime Top 666 Songs list, as we count them down all the way to #1.


481. The Go Go’s – Here You Are

Jane Wiedlin at the absolute top of her game as a songwriter, this time with a gorgeously haunting, atmospheric, Beatlesque ballad:


So if you lose control

And burn a bridge too far

No matter where you go, here you are


From the band’s triumphant 2001 comeback cd God Bless the Go Go’s. The link above is a download. 


480. The Coffin Daggers – Besame Mucho Twist

Some claim that the original is the most widely recorded song of alltime. The Ventures’ surf version was good but nothing like this. By a long shot, the New York surf punks’ savagely macabre cover, a staple of their live set circa 1999-2004, is the best, bringing out every menacing chromatic in the old 1940s Mexican bolero hit. Never officially released, but there are bootlegs kicking around.  


479. The Fixx – Driven Out

Songs like this just make you shake your head and wonder, if the band could write something this great, why didn’t they do it again? But they never did. In this fiery, apocalyptic backbeat anthem from their now-forgotten 1988 lp Calm Animals, they finally let the guitars roar free, with a bitter, angry lyric: “Castaways have silent lives with a strength to rival you all.” There’s also a nice acoustic version by the wonderfully named Lenape Fire Turtle.

April 3, 2009 Posted by | lists, Lists - Best of 2008 etc., Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment