Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Concert Review: Nation Beat on Roosevelt Island, NYC 7/18/09

Nation Beat play what could be characterized as Brazilian country music, which might sound completely incongruous until you realize that from the 1950s through the 70s, musicians everywhere throughout northern Latin America and the Caribbean were influenced by American country sounds beamed from powerful Florida stations. This particular crew includes a Brazilian frontwoman and a bunch of Brooklynites in command of just about every style of fun party music from south of the Mason-Dixon line: the beat of nations. Willie Nelson is ostensibly a big fan, which makes sense since the country legend is actually a very diverse, jazzy player with a reggae album to his credit awhile back. The keening whine of the pedal steel enhances the country flavor; the trombone, drums and percussion play up the latin vibe. Saturday afternoon at Roosevelt Island, the band got a mostly neighborhood crowd of families, kids and wheelchair riders swaying in their seats.

The best of the straight-up country songs was an evocatively swaying number possibly titled Midnight Moon. A country waltz took Amazing Grace into salsa and sped it up. A Brazilian carnival tune began as reggae and then sped up to lickety-split, bracingly minor-key ska lit up by a blistering phaser guitar solo from the steel player, who’d been tossing off neat horn voicings from his strings for the previous half-hour. Toward the end of the set, they did a rousing cajun dance tune. The only time the cross-pollination got completely ridiculous was on a happy, bouncy treatment of Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry – not even the bracing Balkan violin solo that came out of nowhere and disappeared just as fast could save that one from “you have got to be kidding” territory. Still, this was a whole lot of fun. Nation Beat’s next gig, believe it or not, is at the Blue Note at 11 PM on 7/31.

A word about the surroundings: every Saturday at around four PM this summer there’s a free show here just around the corner from the Roosevelt Island F train stop – you can’t miss it. Situated between a couple of precariously cheap, hastily thrown up condo projects, there’s a sizeable lawn for sitting, a few benches and a delicious breeze off the water. So far it doesn’t look like anybody other than the locals know it exists. The incomparably fun Chicha Libre are here on 8/22.

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July 21, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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