My deer-in-the-headlights look right here signifies just how much has happened in the last month. I spent a great Friday evening at the CMJ Music Marathon; experienced some of the effects of super-storm Sandy; and also volunteered at a musical event that gathered musicians and members of society around worthwhile efforts.
Brazilian guitarist, a violinist and burlesque dancer
Lately, Avi Wisnia has been giving listeners something new at his most recent shows, including the one I went to at the R Bar on Bowery on October 19th, the one for the CMJ music marathon. If you are ever at one of his shows, and he asks you in the audience to pick a number between two and eight, raise your hand and shout out a number. One of these numbers represent a track from his upcoming album.
When Avi and his crew, Toru on guitar, Adam Kabak on bass, and Chris Heinz on drums, are not performing new songs, they are playing tracks off his 2010 debut. “Sink” is one of my personal favorites, and that Friday evening, Avi invited violinist Bjorn DelaCruz to jam. Another guest performer to join the group was Brazilian guitarist, Denis Reis, who played on “Nao E Coisa” and an additional song that listeners won’t find on his 2010 debut. The final guest that made this CMJ showcase Avi’s most memorable was the burlesque dancer Puss-N-Boots, who performed a striptease to a much slower and sexier remake of Amy Winehouse’s hit “Rehab.”
Yes, this Avi Wisnia showcase was definitely one to remember. Upon the conclusion of the hour-long showcase, I headed to the L train to Spike Hill Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Apollo Run at the Baeble Music Launch Pad
Saying “hello” to the founder and come of the Baeble Music crew was just one of the reasons I wanted to come to this CMJ showcase. Another reason is my positive experience with Baeble Music’s Launch Pad last year – one that introduced me to a line-up of great up-and-coming indie musicians. This year, Baeble has done it again.
Apollo Run, a Brooklyn-based trio captured my imagination that night. Songs like “Chasing Rabbits” from their record, Here Be Dragons, Volume II includes dramatic crescendos and decrescendos just seconds apart from each other, an effect that creates and unpredictable and exciting swelling of volume. In many of their songs, the band members all sing; and together, they create an amazing choral effect that helps listeners transcend to what one might imagine as a place between heaven and earth. Modulations from minor keys to major keys, beautiful opening keyboard melodies that sound like they would come from an art song written in the early 20th century; and virtuosic electric bass lines that emerge into the foreground are among the additional musical elements would captivate lovers of indie rock.
Naturally, my night ended with briefly meeting the bass player, Jeff Kerestes and the drummer, Graham Fisk and purchasing three of their records.
Super-Storm Hurricane Sandy
It is safe to say that nobody expected Hurricane Sandy to affect New York City to this degree. Although the water has now receded from Staten Island, the Rockaways, lower Manhattan, and parts of New Jersey, many households are still without electricity, heat, telephone and internet.
Based on personal experience, 7 days without heat, electricity, internet, and telephone is a long and unpleasant endurance. Unfortunately so many of NYC’s urbanites and suburbanites have not seen improvements in conditions for weeks, and need help with getting gas, staying warm, and getting clean water. This piece of information caught the attention of Brooklyn musician and owner of the Tinderbox Music organization, Alyson Greenfield, who decided that donating proceeds from the November 11th, Tinderbox Music Festival would go to New York Cares Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts.
Feminine Music Festival Supports a Good Cause
The Tinderbox Music Festival occupied three stages at NYC’s Webster Hall on November 11th. The event that honored female musicians from all genres – from hip-hop, to punk, to folk – was exactly what New York City’s music scene needed. At just $30, anybody could see over 35 musical acts on three stages.
On the main stage, the highly-acclaimed sister act, CocoRosie would perform at 11pm. Until then, listeners were graced with critically acclaimed musical groups. Two groups on the main stage that grabbed my attention were the Japanese, Brooklyn-based punk rock band Hard Nips and the independent hip-hop musician, Faybeo’n Mickens, who is better recognized by her stage name, LiKWUiD.
Hard Nips reminds listeners of the reason why punk-rock is loved in the U.S. and beyond. Catchy and rhythmic riffs, the ones that sometimes threaten to drown out the audibility of the singer’s voice, can physically infect listeners. The song that I recorded below is one that made me sway my hips and turn my head to the singer, Yoko.
Afterward, I listened to the sophisticated rhymes of hip-hop performing artist and freestyler, LiKWUiD. According to her Facebook profile, LiKWUiD released three independent music projects. The songs she performed on the main Webster Hall stage that afternoon came from her 2010 project, Gummy Bears & Champagne.
LiKWUiD approaches hip-hop as a form of expression that can talk about the “facts of life” and empower women to respect themselves and others. In addition, she brings to her music influences of soul and funk. I recommend this artist to anyone who is looking for clean independent hip-hop music.
I sadly couldn’t stay to see CocoRosie, but I was happy to see Alyson perform her famous glockenspiel-rendition of “Gangster’s Paradise” and a few songs you will not find on her website, including “Spirit Soul” which you can watch right here:
Tinderbox Music Festival brought together female musicians in a space where they could showcase their works to audience members of all ages. As the night continued, more attendees came to experience the music and to see the main act. While the great turn-out benefited the musicians and the creator of the festival; the greatest accomplishment is perhaps the fact that the Tinderbox team, through music, could bring people together for a good cause.