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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

[ATTENDED: March 29, 2022] Sparks

Sparks is, without question, a weird band.  I got into them back in 1997 when they released an album of re-recorded versions of their best songs and called it Plagiarism.  Since then they have released eight albums.  Before  that the had release sixteen albums dating all the way back to 1971.  And yet despite the occasional hit, they remained largely unknown in the States.  They are from the States even though many people assume they are from Europe.  Sparks are Russel Mael (vocals) and Ron Mael (everything else).

And they remained at a certain level of obscurity until 2021 when a documentary called The Sparks Brothers was released (and did very well) and when they created a musical movie called Annette which won the Cannes Soundtrack award.

The time seemed ripe to do a (limited) tour of the States.  Sparks last played toured American back in 2013, they played at Le Poisson Rouge in 2017, but that was just two shows in New York and two in California–not much of a tour.  Normally I hate going into New York and will only do it for special occasions. (more…)

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[DIDN’T ATTEND: March 25, 2022] Cavetown / Tessa Violet / Addison Grace

Cavetown has a song called “Lemon Boy” which my daughter introduced me to.  She listened to it a lot, so when Cavetown announced a tour I grabbed a ticket for us in Philly.

Then a few weeks later Grandson announced a show in Philly for the same night.  I knew that my son really wanted to see Grandson.  So I checked and saw that Cavetown was also playing the in New York the night before.  So I grabbed us tickets for that show.

Later I found out that my daughter was going to a party that night.  So we opted not to go.  I was able to sell the tickets for both nights.  I’m curious what the show was like, but I’m sure he’ll be back.

Tessa Violet Williams, previously known as Meekakitty, is an American singer-songwriter, video blogger, actress, music video director, and former model.  She seems to write minimalist, simple catchy pop songs.  A perfect companion to Cavetown I think.

Addison Grace has a similar vibe and, in an interview it says they were inspired by Cavetown.  So that makes sense.

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[POSTPONED: December 29, 30, 31 2021 and January 1, 2022] Phish [moved to April 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2022]

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So I got totally shut out for the New Year’s Eve lottery.  The four of us would not go to see Phish.  I knew that no one else in the family wanted to see them on the other nights, so I snagged a ticket for January 29 and 30 for myself.

Although after an exhausting run of shows at the end of November, I was rather burnt out and had every intention of selling these tickets.  I felt like it would be good to stay home for a couple weeks.

I wasn’t going to try to make any money off of them (I’m a strictly cash or trade kind of guy). but I never got around to setting up the trade.

As it got closer I did consider that I might be willing to go to maybe one of the shows.  But as Omicron got worse, I decided that nope, I’m skipping it.

So it was good that they rescheduled, because I still get to go.  Although the shows are the week of S’s birthday, and that’s a pretty busy week,  So we’ll see.

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[POSTPONED: December 29, 30, 31 2021 and January 1, 2022] Phish [moved to April 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2022]

indexThis year, since shows were back, I hoped that Phish would do another New Year’s run.  And this year, my plan was simple: get four tickets for New Year’s Eve so my family could live out a bucket list of mine.

S. thought it would be fun. My kids don’t care about Phish at all and were indifferent to the idea.  But I told them that regardless of their opinion of Phish, it would be a lot of fun, because Phish always does a great New Year’s Eve show.  Plus, how fun would it be to be in New York City after midnight on New Year’s Day?

Well, I tried and I got totally shut out for the New Year’s Eve lottery.  I got totally shut out on Ticketmaster a few days later as well.  And that was fine, but I did still want to see them on this run.

So I snagged a ticket for January 29 and 30. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 8 & 9, 2021] Stars / Shamir [was Lloyd Cole]

Back in the early 2000s Stars was one of my favorite bands.  They write clever, thoughtful pop with gorgeous harmonies from Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan.

Stars doesn’t come around all that often and I really wanted to see this tour.  When I heard that Lloyd Cole was opening, my mind was blown.  I didn’t Lloyd Cole was till making music–that’s pretty cool.

These shows were at Le Poisson Rouge which I learned last time I Went there, is a super duper pain in the ass for me to get to.  And these shows were midweek.  I just don’t know how I would have managed it.  So when they announced that they were going to play World Cafe in Philly, well that made everything all better.

It also transpired that Lloyd Cole had to cancel at the last minute.  He was replaced by Shamir, another artist I would love to see live.  But it just hasn’t happened yet.

So Stars, please don’t be gone for too long, I’d love to see you.  (Especially since your set was 24 songs!)

 

 

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2021] Kathleen Edwards

I’ve enjoyed Kathleen Edwards’ music for years.  Her album Voyageur is just stunning.

But when that album came out back in 2012, I wasn’t really going to many shows.   It wasn’t until a few years later that I got the concert bug again and put Kathleen on my “gotta see” list.

But Kathleen had other ideas.  After Voyageur, she took a break from music.  In 2014, she launched a coffee house in Stittsville, Ottawa called Quitters.  And it seemed like she might never play again (even though she said she would).  So I left her on my “maybe, someday” list.

Then in 2019, she played the WXPNFest (the same weekend that we were going to the Newport Folk Festival–I was a wee bit surprised she didn’t play Newport too).  I kind of assumed that it was a one-off return and that would be that.

But an album soon followed.  And then earlier this year it was announced that she was playing The Met Philly.  But as an opening act for Jason Isbell, who I did not want to see.  [It’s one thing going to a show for the opening act, but it’s another if you don’t actually like the headline].  So, again, I was out of luck.

But then she announced a show in New York City at Le Poission Rouge.  And even though LPR is hugely inconvenient for me and it cost extra in tolls and parking, I’m so glad I went to the LPR show rather than the other two.  If for no other reason than the other two shows were all of 9 songs while this one was 16.  And the LPR crowd were there to see her!  And they sang along, and she was pretty tickled with us all. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 25, 2021] Mick Flannery & Susan O’Neill

I had not heard of Mick Flannery or Susan O’Neill.  When I saw the listing I wasn’t even sure if they were together or separate.  Well, it was almost both.

I hardly ever go to NYC for shows because it’s so much more of a hassle than Philly.  I had to leave quite early and then had to get a parking garage.  But I arrived in time to get a drink and settle in just as Mick Flannery came out.

He sat at a keyboard and sang.  He has a pretty strong Irish accent when he sings, and he had overtones of Van Morrison.  He’s been releasing music since 2007 and is apparently a pretty big deal:

Mick Flannery is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed songwriters and singers. The award-winning, double-platinum selling artist has released six studio albums, three of which reaching No. 1 status.

Maybe since Van Morrison is sort of embracing the anti-vax lifestyle, Mick Flannery can fill in those shoes.

He sang two songs by himself and then he called Susan O’Neill up to the stage. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: September 22, 2021] Pet Shop Boys / New Order: The Unity Tour [rescheduled from September 12, 2020 moved to September 28, 2022]

As a touring band of a certain age (and financial situation), it didn’t surprise me that this tour was postponed one more year–what do they need to put themselves at risk for?  I bought these tickets on Feb 26, 2020!

However, I was pleased that this time the show isn’t the day after the My Chemical Romance show,

indexI saw the Pet Shop Boys in Morristown a few years ago.  The show was great.  The guys sounded amazing and I had a really good time–except for the crowd around me.  They were all loud and talking and tall and pushing.  I wished I’d gotten better seats as well.  So I told myself if they toured again I would see them if conditions were good.

Well, how about if they toured with New Order?  I’ve been a fan of New Order forever but I’ve never seen them live.  I’m not even sure I ever really wanted to see them live.  But putting them together with New Order was  perfect.  I didn’t realize that peter Hook had left the band.  I did see that he was doing solo shows, but I didn’t realize he had no main band anymore.  I also didn’t realized they’d put out any new music since Get Ready.  Well, I hope they were just going to play the hits.

I didn’t really want to go to Madison Square Garden, but I’ve had good luck there lately so I picked it over any other large venue.

On June 11, I got the news that Pet Shop Boys & New Order – The Unity Tour was to be postponed until next year.  I had pretty good seats, so I’m glad I get to keep them.  I’ve waited a while to see them again, what’s one more year?

 

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SOUNDTRACK: SEVANA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #159 (January 26, 2021).

I had not heard of Sevana, although she is a member of Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation collective

“If You Only Knew” is a pretty pop song.  I enjoyed the way the music dropped out and there wa s quiet drum fill Mark Reid.

This concert was filmed at the Kingston Creative Hub back in September 2020 (the interludes you’ll hear about the pandemic are reflective of that time).

The second song “Blessed” opens with gently picked guitars from and Nicolas Groskoef and Almando ‘Mundo Don’ Douglas who also both play solos throughout Almando first, Nicolas later in the song.  It sounds like a Santana song and is an example of her

jumping delicately between traditional R&B, Caribbean gospel and soul, with touches of reggae interspersed.   On “Blessed,” an infectious ode about the miracle of life and faith, she welcomes us with open arms into her church and demonstrates the wide range of her multi-octave voice.

“Be Somebody” has some interesting sound effects and vocal samples from Jean-Andre Lawrence and washes of keys from Rhoan Johnson.

She closes out the four-song set with her most recognizable tune, “Mango,” a dancehall-influenced love song.

I would have thought this dancehall song would be more of a banger, but aside for some quietly pulsing bass from Kawain Williamson, the song is pretty mellow.

[READ: June 3, 2019] “A Dream of Glorious Return”

This is an excerpt from Rushdie’s novel Fury which I have not read.  The thesis sentence comes fairly early though.

Life is fury, he’d thought.  Fury–sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal–drives us to out finest heights and coarsest depths

It concerns professor Malik Solanka, a fifty-five year old retired historian of ideas.  He is presently living in Manhattan, although that is a recent change in his life.

He seemed to mostly want to be a solitary man–celibate by choice–ignoring those around him.  Like his neighbor, that damn Mark Skywalker who asked if the slogan “The sun never Sets on American Express International” would seem offensive to Britons.

The novel really sets the time and place quite well–current movies, the election (“unlovable presidential candidates (Gush, Bore))” and the talk of Cuban refugee Elian Gonzales.

The phone rings and it is his wife Eleanor in England.  She complains that their son is ill and he doesn’t seem to care.   But more importantly

without a scrap of credible explanation you walked out on us, you went off across the ocean and betrayed all those who need and love you most.

He thinks back to how they met and how he had fallen in love with her voice.  Fifteen years ago when he phoned a publishing friend, Eleanor had answered and he was smitten with her voice–asking her out for dinner that evening.

So how could he leave her and his child?  One night

he sat in the kitchen, in the middle of the night, with murder on the brain: actual murder, not the metaphorical kind.  He’d even brought a carving knife upstairs and stood for a terrible, dumb minute over the body of his sleeping wife.  Then he turned away, slept in the spare bedroom, and in the morning had packed his bags and caught the first flight to New York

He had left his first wife Sara earlier in a less dramatic fashion.  They married too quickly and felt trapped almost immediately.

He reflected back to his childhood in Bombay when Mr Venkat, the big-deal banker whose son Chandra was the ten year old Malik’s best friend

became a sannyasi on his sixtieth birthday, and abandoned his family forever, wearing no more than a hand-hewn loincloth, with a long wooden staff in one hand and begging bowl in the other.

He would never return.

This story could go in many directions from here.

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SOUNDTRACK: GARCIA PEOPLES-Hear Here Presents (2020).

Sometimes it takes a band you like to introduce you to something you didn’t know about.

Like Hear Here Presents, a non-profit studio in Wisconsin that records bands in a small setting with great audio quality.  And there are some fantastic bands (and yes, many many more that I haven’t heard of) on their page.

The band just released their session from this live show on bandcamp.

Back in January, Garcia Peoples went into the studio at Hear Here Presents for a session.

I’m not sure how long the sessions usually are, but this one runs about 35 minutes and consists of two songs.

Up first is what they are calling “Hear Here Jam.”  It’s 12 plus minutes of  a jamming instrumental.   It’s impression how tight these guys are that they can improv for 12 minutes and not only not step on each others toes, but actually make a composition that sounds interesting.

There’s a raging guitar section at around three minutes and an impressive build to a peak around 8 minutes before finishing up a few minutes later.  Having the three guitar of Tom Malach, Danny Arakaki, and Derek Spaldo allows for terrific interplay and a depth of sound.

That depth of sound is really evident on the second song, which opens with the introduction to “One Step Beyond.”  Of course, before they start that, there’s some tuning to be done, with some snippets of recognizable riffs:  Close Encounters of the Third Kind, “Hey Joe,” “Sweet Child of Mine.”

But once everyone is ready, it’s down to business.  It’s fun picking out which guitars are playing what in the complex intro to “One Step.”  It’s impressive the way the three guitars can keep the looping melody original and changing while bassist Andy Cush more or less take a lead role.

It’s also important to keep an eye (or an ear) on drummer Cesar Arakaki because he can keep a beat and keep it from being dull as well.

Then after nine and a half minutes of intro, the band shifts gears into the rocking “Feel So Great,” a terrific song with a fantastic musical bridge.  Ringing guitars and a super cool bass line propel the song before the chill chorus.

Not content to let a short, catchy song end their set, they proceed to stretch of “Feel So Good” starting around 15 minutes.  Multi-instrumentalist Pat Gubler trades his keyboard for flute as the psychedelia commences.  After some raging guitar work up until about twenty minutes, the band slows things down to ring to a close.

The only thing disappointing about this set is that when the song is over, you can hear them talking and someone says, “we can do another one,: just as the audio cuts out.  What else did they play????

[READ: September 24, 2020] We All Die Naked [an excerpt]

During the COVID Quarantine, venerable publisher Hingston & Olsen created, under the editorship of Rebecca Romney, a gorgeous box of 12 stories.  It has a die-cut opening to allow the top book’s central image to show through (each book’s center is different).  You can get a copy here. This is a collection of science fiction stories written from 1836 to 1998.  Each story imagines the future–some further into the future than others. As it says on the back of the box

Their future.  Our present.  From social reforms to climate change, video chat to the new face of fascism, Projections is a collection of 12 sci-fi stories that anticipated life in the present day.

About this story, Romney writes

[In 1896] Svante Arrhenius first calculated the increase in Earth’s surface temperature caused by increases in industrial carbon production — what we now know as the greenhouse effect. …  As far as I know, James Blish is the first science-fiction writer to imagine an apocalypse caused by climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions.  It’s a biting satire, simultaneously bleak and gregarious, that catches the characters on the brink of catastrophe through climate change.

To me, this story felt a little preachy.  But then, I’m reading it after fifty years of this kind of story already existing.  I imagine it was pretty impactful back in the era of Silent Spring (if sci-fi ever had an impact on anything).  And, indeed, it’s still pretty impactful given how many things he gets right.

The protagonist, Alexei-Aub Kehoe Salvia Sun-Moon-Lake Stewart, Sa. D., is forty and set in his ways.  He is the General President of Local 802 of the International Brotherhood of Sanitation Engineers.

Blish was eerily prescient to 2020 in one aspect of the story

Adjusting his mask–no matter how new a mask was, it seemed to let in more free radicals from the ambient air every day–he put the thought aside and prepared to enjoy his stroll and his lunch.

But some things are more grim.  The roads around Times Square, Wall Street and Rockefeller Center are all canals. (more…)

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