Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Make Music NY 2009 – A Wash?

Running around hungover on a muggy, then rainy Sunday – pure joy, NOT. For the crew here, Make Music NY 2007 was a day at the office followed by a ferociously good System Noise concert before the clouds burst, and then it was pretty much all over. By contrast, MMNY ’08 seemed to be a smashing success – at least it was from this vantage point. Yesterday was awash in cancellations and delays, to be expected when there are roughly two thousand live shows of some kind going on all over town. Smartly, several establishments about as far removed from the music business as you can imagine opened up their storefronts or spare corners. The original game plan here was to get up as early as possible and head over to Governors (“Punk”) Island to see the allday punk festival, but the more hungover and tired party here stood her ground, not in the mood to traipse through the mud with nowhere to sit for a whole afternoon. Therefore, plan B.

Last year’s agenda here was to take in as much unfamiliar and diverse stuff as possible (regulars here know that Lucid Culture has an ever-growing list of stuff to review, not just all the albums that come over the transom but also bands who don’t have anything recorded – the more we know, the more we realize we don’t know). For one reason or another, the best stuff this year was spread out over a much wider geographical area than last year – and what’s up with all the open public spaces? Are public parks and sidewalks now off-limits to MMNYers? In Manhattan most of them seemed to be, at least early in the day.

We only got to two shows. Escarioka careened through a deliriously fun, hypnotically multistylistic hour inside a coffee shop on the Lower East. The nine-piece band is already excellent, will get even better and will be huge in Latin America once word spreads – and it will. They’re just loose enough to give themselves an air of real menace. With a three-piece horn section, rhythm section, percussion, two guitarists and a charismatic frontman with a rapidfire reggaeton-inflected delivery, they switched styles and speeds effortlessly yet with an energy that defied the show’s early hour. Like the band they most closely resemble, Mexican rock legends Maldita Vecindad, most of their songs are in minor keys. One of the tunes they played this past afternoon slunk along on a vintage bolero vamp, the bassist playing in the major scale under the horns’ minor-key attack, adding a considerably ominous edge. Another burst out of the gate as pogoing ska-punk, building to a trance-inducing, percussive cauldron of sound before mutating into a salsa riff and building that up to a big roar as well. Several of the other songs had a gypsy punk feel. Watching these guys kick in and give 100%, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it was daylight and they were surrounded by people sipping juice and herbal tea instead of dancing like people usually do at Escarioka shows, reminded of the early days of Gogol Bordello. This band is going to be huge. You heard it here first. At least you heard it in English here first.

From there, it would have made good sense to see what the Woes were up to – they were supposed to play outside Spikehill in Williamsburg. The hangover started barking at this point, demanding food and water, so after a quick trip home, it was over to Passout Records in Williamsburg where rain goddess Randi Russo was scheduled to play – it virtually always rains on her gig days, including an afternoon in Milwaukee when a storm literally blew her and her band off the stage. Some aid organization should sponsor a Randi Russo tour of the Sahara. By now the rain was no longer threatening but actually on its way – but then the clouds broke, they lugged the amps outside again, where she treated the growing crowd outside the store to a brief but characteristically rich seven-song set, solo on her beautiful red Gibson SG. Even through a makeshift PA, her velvet voice projected her biting, often savage, meticulously crafted lyrics. She opened with the corruscating Venus on Saturn, a spot-on sendup of status-seeking, catty women, followed that eventually with a gorgeously melodic, somewhat noir blues alienation anthem that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Gun Club catalog. Played solo, the anthem Head High While You Lie Low took on a percussive, hypnotic feel. She wrapped up the set with a fiery, swaying version of Battle on the Periphery, one of the great workingman’s (or working woman’s) laments of alltime.

Lorraine Leckie followed, solo, her terse, garage-inflected songs stripped to the bone. Leckie doesn’t waste words or notes, has a bite and an edge: she’s gritty in a good way. After just a couple of songs, the clouds burst. Here’s hoping she didn’t get zapped and will do another show next year that isn’t so rudely interrupted.

And a plug for the store – among the treats onsale were $1, decent quality vinyl copies of a Jacques Brel greatest-hits collection and a good Robert Cray album from the 80s, reggae great Jacob Miller’s greatest hits on cassette for $2 and Brubeck Plays Cole Porter on vinyl for $10. And plenty of punk and garage too. If the idea of owning music in tangible, visible, better-than-mp3 form isn’t alien to you, this place deserves your support.

Advertisements

June 21, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Music NY 2009 – The Top Shows or At Least a Few of Them

As with last year, the arduous task of keeping track of who’s playing where has become a debacle since Time Out NY’s music section is a one-person operation – and to be fair to Time Out, some of the acts playing outdoors somewhere in the five boroughs on the 21st may not have alerted the magazine. For lack of manpower (why don’t the organizers do it themselves? Is Time Out’s sponsorship money really THAT crucial, especially considering the puny amount of resources they contribute?), approximately 90% of the acts playing Make Music NY are NOT listed on Time Out’s master calendar (although if you search venue by venue, you’ll find hundreds more). So if you’re wondering if your favorite band’s doing anything that day, you ought to check their site or their myspace. On the basis of a look through what limited information Time Out actually has as well as some random sleuthing of our own, here’s a guide to some of the day’s most enticing shows, at least as many as we could find:

 

10 AM (yawn): How do you reassure Manhattan yuppies that they’ll be safe from the terrifying phenomenon known as punk music? Exile all the punk bands to Governors Island, where the festivities are supposed to start around ten in the morning (those must be all the Minor Threat types who don’t drink or get high) and ending at 5 PM sharp. The free ferry leaves on the half-hour from the slip at 11 South St., early arrival highly advised. Note that security will be fierce, and alcohol will be confiscated. Acts include Reagan Youth, the Blame, Blanks 77, countless others. On one level, it makes sense to separate by style i.e. the skate punk stage, ska-punk stage, hardcore stage, etc, but why separate all the female-fronted bands?

 

11:30 AM: dark, Siouxsie-esque rockers Her Vanished Grace at 187 Sackett St. between Hicks and Henry, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

 

Noon: Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra Outside Symphony Space, 95th and Broadway

 

Half past noon: captivatingly atmospheric chanteuse Lulla at 33rd St and Newtown Ave., Astoria, Queens.

 

1 PM: Sami Abu Shumays of Egyptian film music revivalists Zikrayat has organized a Umm Kulthum singalong to take place in front of Rashid Sales in Brooklyn (155 Court Street, Brooklyn, corner of Pacific, 2/4 to Borough Hall or F to Bergen) starting at 1PM, open to all musicians, singers, and anyone who knows and loves the music of Umm Kulthum (the iconic Arab chanteuse and courageous activist) and can sing or play along! It will be somewhat informal, in the sense there’s no set list, no curfew. You can count on classics that everybody throughout the Middle East knows like Ghannili Shwayya, Alf Leyla, and Ana Fintizarek.

 

1 PM: ferocious, gypsy-inflected, fun rock/ska/punk en Espanol band Escarioka at Think Coffee, Bleecker and Bowery

 

2 PM: haunting, wrenchingly soulful noir rock trio the French Exit at Goodbye Blue Monday

 

2 PM: the hilarious, inspiring, carnivalesque and absolutely fearless noir songwriter/keyboardist/showman Tom Warnick & World’s Fair at Athens Square Park, 29th St and 30th Ave., Astoria, Queens

 

3 PM  a jazz showcase in tribute to the late Ghanaian percussionist Kofi Ghanaba (one of the first African-born musicians to find popularity in American jazz circles), starting with with Kwaku Martin Obeng, then at 4 PM Obo Addy and piano vet Randy Weston & African Rhythms and others at Dominick and Hudson Streets outside the Jazz Gallery.

 

Starting 3ish at Rose Bar in Williamsburg Mama Digdown’s Brass Band and then oldschool soul harmony sirens the Sweet Divines at around 5:30 or 6

 

3 PM New York’s original Balkan brass punks, Hungry March Band at the playground at Spring and Mulberry

 

3 PM Num & Nu Afrika play jazzy reggae at DRastadub Studio, 58 West 127th St, Harlem

 

3 PM sprawling oldtimey blues/country/roots juggernaut the Woes outside Spikehill

 

4 PM dark indie rock siren Randi Russo at Passout Records on Grand between Bedford and Berry in Williamsburg. If you’re planning on seeing the French Exit you should see her and vice versa.

 

4 PM the fascinating and hypnotic Electric Junkyard Gamelan in the community garden on the north side of Houston between B and C. They’re also at South St. Seaport on 6/22 and 6/29 at 3.  

 

4 PM the fiery, fun, jangly Any Day Parade – oldschool country meets paisley underground –  at Think Coffee, Bleecker at Bowery

 

5 PM Meta & the Cornerstones playing oldschool roots reggae with a Senegalese flavor at Trader Joe’s Wine Shop, 138 E 14th St, between Third Ave and Irving Pl. – be aware that heavy bus traffic including the odious M9 means the alarms that shriek as the doors open may drown out the music.

 

5 PM at the Old Stone House in Park Slope Bob Goldberg and the Accordion Forest premiering a new work by the Famous Accordion Orchestra.

 

5:30 PM the reliably surprising, edgy accordionist/chanteuse Cassis & the Sympathies outside Tavern on the Green, Central Park West and W 67th St,

 

6 PM smartly lyrical, blue-collar songwriter Al Lee Wyer at the park at First Ave and E 42nd St,

 

6 PM latin jazz flutist Carlos Jimenez and his Quartet at La Perla Garden, 78 W 105th St,

 

6:30 PM funk band the Pimps of Joytime at Washington Square Park

 

7:30 PM cabaret-pop chanteuse Jeanne Marie Boes outside Tavern on the Green Central Park West and W 67th St.

 

8:15 PM Gogol Bordello gypsy punk soundalikes Panonian Wave at 33rd St and Newtown Ave., Astoria, Queens

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment