March Music Treats at LIC Bar

March treats at LIC Bar:

LIC Bar, on Vernon and 46th Avenue, is the foremost LIC music venue; a place of character, good cheer and great musical talent. You can hear live music 5 nights out of 7, and DJ music on friday nights from 10pm – 2am.Whether you like country, jazz, rock or sounds indescribable, you are sure to find entertainment that will bring you back week after week, day after day….even if you travel over from Manhattan!!!

Apart from the excellent range of music, LIC Bar is also establishing a credible record for performances featuring actors, the spoken word and classical music, for both  adults and children (by the fireside in the carriage house, across from the bar).

March offers a mix of all these attractions so “Why go to Manhattan?” when so much is in LIC! I’m off to the southern hemisphere for a while so will miss most of March in NYC  so here’s the highlights of what will be a great month as Spring leaps into gear.


Wednesday night is residents’ night. March 2013 is Jefferson Thomas month. JT is a supremely talented rocker who can turn his talents from straight country, through folk/rock to gutsy/rocky/blues that will shake your pants off. His sets will be at 10:00pm every Wednesday thru March. Be prepared to stay late, JT sucks up the energy of the crowd and performs until his seeds have run dry. Check out

Jefferson Thomas

Jefferson Thomas

Mondays is often a jazz night (although not always) and free food is served at 9:00pm. I’m pleased to see that some one of my favorites, Tammy Scheffer, is also resident in March. She has a versatile, accurate voice that rides high around the skills of her band; jazz with with real vocal flair with intricate arrangements that span traditional Hebrew melodies and classic jazz standards. (

Tammy Scheffer

Tammy Scheffer


Monday jazz also sees Sam Trapchak, ( LIC-based bass-playing jazz composer on the rise to stardom (March 11, 8:00), another LIC resident, sax-man Anthony Cekay, whose late night improv sessions are becoming quite the cool place to be in LIC (March 8, 9:00). Another jazz favorite, Emily Wolf, plays on March 25th (8:00). She is a classy jazz singer and writer who pulls together a fine group of musicians. (;

LIC residents Sam Trapchak and Anthony Cekay

LIC residents Sam Trapchak and Anthony Cekay

Emily Wolf

Emily Wolf


I should say here that I am only mentioning people I have heard before. The joy of LIC Bar is hearing people who are new to me, like Zoe Sundra, who I heard on March 3rd and so many others who delight with their talent.

Zoe Sundra at LIC Bar March 3rd

Zoe Sundra at LIC Bar March 3rd

The Talent Spotters

Musical organizing is mostly curated by Gus Rodriguez, with the Sunday events hosted and organized by Niall Connolly of Big City Folk. Both are musicians in their own right with a great eye for local and international talent. Niall is an intelligent, astute and sometimes acerbic songwriter who is one of those singers who can make my spine tingle. He has a new single, Samurai, that is making great waves on both sides of the Atlantic and which will feature on an album, “Sound” to be released in April (CD release party is at Rockwood Music Hall 2 on April 13th), catch this before it catches  you by surprise and you  wish you had heard it before your friends. Tickets from

Gus Rodriguez and Niall Connolly

Gus Rodriguez and Niall Connolly

Punk hero

March 13th sees a 9pm solo acoustic show by Andy Shernoff of the legendary punk band The Dictators. This is typical of LIC Bar; just when you think it’s safe not to go, a star will choose to play and blow all your laziness out of the window and drive you back to this fundament of music making, just up from the 7, across from the G and down from the E. (sounds bit like guitar chords!) check out:

Late night Bones

If you haven’t caught Brandon Wilde and Len Monachello you have to get down on Friday March 15th 10pm-midnight to hear cover duo “Magic Bones” in a set that will entertain, enthrall and amaze.

Saint Patrick’s Day

There may be a new Pope, or maybe not, but the weekend on March 16/17 will be as green as you can get here in NYC. Saturday night, March 16th features another great LIC celebration of the music of Van Morrison. These tributes are a strong tradition for the musical family that surrounds the venue. Singers of the caliber of soul icons Shelly Bhushan and Arthur Lewis mix up with Xavier Cardriche, Little Embers, Julie Kathryn, Silbin Sandovar and Chrissi Poland to create their own interpretations of one of the great Irish musicians of the rock era, supported by a class house band that will feature talents like Neil Nunziato on drums and mystery guitarists and keyboarders, as well as wind artists yet to be confirmed as members of the church of Van the Man.

A crowded LIC Bar from last year's Van Morrison Tribute

A crowded LIC Bar from last year’s Van Morrison Tribute

That night you can be sure of a good feed with a free gourmet style corned beef brisket for our customers that is out of this world, courtesy of Parnell’s Restuarant, (www.parnellsnyc

Later that night, in the traditional LIC Bar midnight slot (well, from 11 ‘til 1:00) you can hear Brooks Wood and Cameron Mitchell. An upbeat acoustic duo, real crowd-pleasers.

March 17th features another in Ali Silva’s popular “Fireside Ghost Stories” evenings in the Carriage house, across the courtyard from the main bar. Not to be upstaged by Van Ali is presenting an evening that will be imbued with Celtic magic and dark green fear, with live musical improvised mystery from talanted duo Charlie Rauh and Concetta Abbate.

Fireside Ghost Stories in the Carriage House

Fireside Ghost Stories in the Carriage House

The session starts at 8:00 so be sure to arrive early to get a seat. That means you have to get in straight after The Locksmiths, a fun local Queens band led by bassist Pete O’Neil that will play a mix of Irish rock and traditional songs as well as a nice serving of their own original tunes from 5 until 7pm.

Peter and the Wolf

March sees the welcome return of Peter and The Wolf in the Carriage House on March 23rd at 2pm and 4pm. This has proved to be a popular event; a performance for families with children, featuring puppets, Ali Silva and The Washington Square Winds. The last show was so packed they were turning families away. This time they are performing two shows back to back so more folks can see it.

Guitar Porn

Sunday March 24th from 5 ‘til 8 sees the first of what might become a house standard. Silbin Sandovar presents: Guitar Porn! A big neighborhood jam featuring some favorite local guitarists including Anthony Rizzo, Danny MacKane, Anthony Lanni, Dennis Del Gaudio, Andy Stack, Mark Marshall, Jefferson Thomas and more! This will be a great afternoon of amazing and blazing guitars!

This is the time when opening up the courtyard to music becomes a real possibility, so if it’s a warm sunny day bring along your shades and sip the cocktails of pickers and thrashers.

Little Embers

March 27th, popular local singer/songwiter Little Embers returns with guitarist husband Anthony Rizzo (and maybe some special guests) for a late night mix of country and rock at 9pm.

Check this:

LIC  Bar is open 7 days a week 4  until 4am, with earlier opening at the weekend for daytime shows.

Check out the full calendar at:


Music Gluttony

This is New York, and you can hear great music any night of the week and many times in a night. Yes, I do go across (and under) the sea strait (“East River”) into Manhattan, and across the creek into Brooklyn (check out my “Now again in Manhattan” blog). Over these past couple of weeks I’ve been to quite a few. “Do you go to music every night” said one of my friends as we met for the third night running in different places. Of course I said the same to him. It’s like that here; a big place but a village feel, especially in Long Island City where you can hear live music on at least four, if not more, nights in the week. Check out: LIC Bar (Sun,Mon,Wed and Sat – see; Domaine Wine Bar (Jazz on Sun, Mon and more); Dominies Hoek (Wed.), Madera Cuban restaurant (Fri.). Occasionally you might get music at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Ave. ( at Creek and Cave on Jackson ( LIC Art Center complex (

Last night I went to a charity event in a nearby apartment building, Avalon Riverview North, organised by opera singer Kirstin Olson. This was in aid of her trip to Paraguay to join in a Habitat for Humanity project where volunteers spend time building houses for poor communities; a charity with real practical tasks that involve people on a very direct level, good for the communities and also good for fostering international understanding. ( This event was just across the road from my apartment building, and a triumph for the community spirit of local businesses including Shi (, Skinny’s Cantina and Manducatis Rustica ( provided the food and drink, as well as the many others who provided raffle prizes and silent auction vouchers.

Kirstin Olson - operatic dramatics

Three local Jazz artists were involved in this charity event; Anthony Cekay, Christian Coleman and Broc Hempel, offering some nice, finely wrought at the beginning of the evening.

Christian Coleman and Broc Hempel playing for Habitat for Humanity

Kirstin  offered a range of opera, lieder and “songs from the shows” that showed that she has a great talent. She’s a young singer, properly trained and starting to make her way in her career. Her operatic training  showed in both her ability to express a wide emotional range and also to project her voice across a talkative audience. As the evening progressed the two other singers, P J Lovejoy and Sally Swallow suffered from a lack of amplification. They had nice voices but struggled to make themselves heard over the increasing hubbub of the crowd. Sally Swallow (, in particular has a good theatrical presence, showing that she is a professional and well used to entertaining an audience with a nicely chosen range of songs from musical theatre. Piano accompaniment for the evening was very ably provided by Scott Wheatley, an expert and expressive pianist who played some challenging music with great skill, which showed especially in the complicated and ernergetic lied “Hexenlied” Op 8/8 by Mendelssohn.

Sally Swallow

I had seen Anthony Cekay and Broc Hempel earlier in the week at an LIC Bar evening which also included singer songwriter Danny Mackane and Leah Gough-Cooper’s “Human Equivalent” band.

Leah Gough-Cooper ( played in Emily Wolf’s “Project” band a few weeks previously (see and was impressed then by her alto sax playing. “Human Equivalent” allows her to show that she has a wide range of taste and has considereable writing ability. This is a jazz band that rocks in ways that reminded me of Weather Report and Frank Zappa, with driving bass lines from Bryan Percivall, bluesy tough liquid guitar playing from Andrew Baird and solid drums from Bob Edinger.

Leah Gough-Cooper

Leah herself was superb in leading this  band and providing sinuous and provocative sax lines that showed she has a huge musical talent. The contrast with her playing for Emily Wolf shows that she has the flexibility and real musicianship that will hopefully offer her lots of work opportunties in an environment where making a living is hard, even for the most talented of musicians.

Originally from South Eastern Scotland, Leah has trained in the US for the last few years and has been very active on the local scene for the past year or so.  She chooses her band well. This night’s band had a completely  different lineup (except for LGC) to the Human Equivalent that features on their first album “Future Pop“, yet the music has the same rock/jazz feel and shows that  she is a young artist who really knows how she wants her music to sound and who chooses musicians who are of like mind and capabilities.

Human Equivalent

Check out .

Anthony Cekay

Anthony Cekay is one of those local musicians who pops up on many different occasions at LIC Bar; whether offering sax backing to a tribute show, as part of the band of folk/pop singer Julie Kathryn or, as on this occassion, pairing up with local keyboard man Broc Hempel for a late night improvisation session. Anthony plays a big saxaphone. The tenor sax sits one down from the baritone sax in size and, in a small space can take up a lot of room, both in physical presence and in sound. Anthony himself is not a small guy and in the past I have felt that his habit of moving around a lot on stage has detracted from his music making. However, I was pleased to see that this late night session offered a part of Anthony that I had not seen before. He offered performance that showed considerable concentration. The almost meditative stillness of the music matched stillness in his body. This was not the Anthony who seemed to be showing off, this was the Anthony who just demonstrated skilled music making.

Broc Hempel

I have great respect for Broc Hempel. He is a hugely talented keyboard player whose playing is always interesting; whether thoughtful and introverted or sparklingly exuberant. I realise that in the past week I have heard him three times (at Domaine Wine Bar on Sunday with Sam Trapchak, Christian Coleman and the amazing Greg Ward, just back from Africa; at LIC Bar on Monday and last night at the Habitat for Humanity event. I do not tire from hearing this man’s music making. he is one of a small group of local musicians whom I credit with having turned me on to Jazz (see my previous blogs”Jazz in small spaces”  and “A Jazz Virgin in LIC”).

Danny Mackane ( is a singer songwriter who shares his thoughtful and intelligent songs with a self-effacing but carefully considered performance style. He reminded me, in presence, of the younger Neil Young – hair falling over his face as he moved from guitar to keyboard. Although he does not have Young’s individual voice he shares a perfectionist attitude to the sounds that he wants his guitars to make, whether in themselves as instruments (he had three on stage with him) or in the way that he uses electronics to create the sound he needs. He is a performer who demands to be heard with attention, not an easy task in a popular place like LIC Bar. He did, however, bring his own fans and will have hopefully given others, like me, a first opportunity to really listen and want to hear him again – especially in his own material.

Danny Mackane

Singer songwriters are not just solo folk artists who sit at the mic in bars, some also have band incarnations within which they express aspects  of themselves that more intimate settings do not permit. One such local artist is Little Embers, a young woman who often shares the stage as a backing singer with other singer songwriters like Michele Riganese, Shelly Bhushan and Jeneen Terrana. In fact this  group of four (currently known as the Queens of Queens) are coming to LIC Bar in May as a resident act for the five Wednesdays of the month. Embers also has own band and also shares the limelight with Danel Verdugo as the “Darlin’ Clementines“. I caught her full band version of herself at Mercury Lounge last week, when they were the support act for Wormburner. The Mercury Lounge is a popular venue on East Houston Street in that area between East Village/Bowery and Lower East Side that is a true nest of venues like the Living Room and Rockwood Music Hall.

Little Embers - burning brightly

I was pleased that they sold earplugs at the bar as the sound there was one of the worse I have heard in New York City. It was not so much the volume but the quality and frequency spectrum produced by a combination of the system and the sound engineer’s choices. This made it hard to listen to the music, and especially the lyrics. Little Embers writes songs to be both heard and appreciated lyrically. I know I might be sounding like an old grump but, in my defence, I must say that I am not averse to loud music. I have sat 6 feet away from Jimi Hendrix playing “3rd stone from the sun” in the Marquee club in London (a small venue) and only a few weeks ago listened with great pleasure to rock band Alamance ( a great band with a lot of potential) playing loud, energetic and powerful  music at the Bowery Poetry Club They have a sound system and engineer that I would place in the top 5 of the sound systems I have heard in small clubs around the world.

Alamance at the Bowery Poetry Club

Fortunately I was able to buy ear plugs at Mercury and listened carefully to the music from Little Embers; a forceful rock/melodic set that offered energetic performance from Embers, her man, guitarist Anthony Rizzo, Shelly Bhushan (vocals), Rachel Swaner (keyboard, vocals and Accordian), Tony Oppenheimer (bass) and Dave Burnette (drums).  I have their album on the rack to listen to next, and I know that they’re are due to go into the studio again in the next few months. I enjoyed this music making and look forward to hearing them again in a better acoustic environment.

Little Embers and Band at the Mercury Lounge

I’m aware that there is much music that I haven’t written about here, in fact I’m getting behind with putting band photos up on my facebook page (!/profile.php?id=100001041228357) as well. That means I will have to do a catch up sometime soon and talk about Runaway Dorothy, Sam McTavey, Niall Connolly (how have I not praised this man’s music yet in this blog?), Warren Malone, the Sky Captains of Industry, Janeen Terrana, Jefferson Thomas as well as numerous others whom I have had great pleasure in hearing over the past year or so in LIC.

Here’s a plug (is that term used in the US?) for tonight’s show at LIC bar. In honour of St. Patrick’s Day, an impressive line-up of musicians will present a Tribute to Van Morrison from 7-9pm. Also come along on Sunday 18th from 5 until 8 to hear Niall Connolly and Anthony Mulcahy in a Big City Folk special.