LIC musical talent lines up for stardom

It’s been my privilege over the last two years to listen to a number of highly talented musicians playing at venues just 5 minutes from my door. Two venues, LIC bar ( and Domaine Bar a Vins ( have stood out in their offerings: with the pleasing recent addition of music at John Brown Smokehouse and at various bars and restaurants who offer some musical accompaniment to diners and drinkers.

Astoria- born graduate of the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, Jeanne Marie Boes ( has been heard in the LIC  music scene for a while. I’ve listened to her play  at LIC bar and . Many of her previous recordings have been covers, showing an accurate, stylish voice with good interpretations of other writers’  work. She has a strong soul voice and powerful presentation that makes you listen from the first notes.  Her latest single is, to my knowledge, her only available recording of a song she has written herself.

Jeanne Marie Boes at Webster Hall

“The One”  is a muscular, bluesy song, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse in style and, even more so in Jeanne’s vocal interpretation. This is so much an advance on previous recorded material that it’s as if she has suddenly discovered her voice as a writer and interpreter of her own songs; and had the (well guided) courage to present it on CD. The recording has been expertly self-produced with a full, driving sound that pushes Jeanne’s voice straight across a great mix of,  unbelievably, just three musicians: Jeanne on vocals and piano, and  husband and wife team (from the Queens duo “Ekra”):  Brendon Press (Guitar and bass) and Lee Press(Drums). (

Jeanne Marie(

This single deserves a lot of attention, it has “star” written all over it – so buy it (from bandcamp, or itunes) and tell your friends and catch Jeanne when she’s next playing:

May 24th, 2013 / Greenpoint Gallery Art & Music Series (Brooklyn, NY) 9PM

June 21st, 2013 / Queens Council on the Arts (Astoria, NY) 2PM

June 28th, 2013 / The Giving Tree Yoga Studio (Astoria, NY) 8PM

July 20th, 2013 / Kennedy Plaza “Women’s Day” Event (Long Beach, NY) 12PM

Jeanne plans recording a full length album when she can accumulate the funds, I’m looking forward to hearing this.

jeanne promo
Jeanne Marie Boes


In my last post I talked about some newly released, or soon to be released, albums from musicians associated with LIC Bar – Niall Connolly, Shelly Bhushan, Natalie Mishell and Anthony Mulcahy.

Anthony had his CD launch party at Rockwood Music Hall last week and showed himself to be a relaxed, highly skilled performer of his own music. He clearly has the warm regard of his band of Taryn Lounsbury (violin and vocal), Jenny Dunne (vocal), Barry Kornhauser (‘cello) and Anthony Crowder (drums), which was augmented by bass-player Brandon Wilde. Brandon produced the album and played on a couple, of tracks on the album “For my Sins” so was very familiar with the music. This was the first time that he had joined the band on stage and his professionalism shone through as he mixed his accurate, percussive bass against the more languid lines of the ‘cello. I’ve had a chance to listen to the whole album now, as well as attending the launch and am continuing to be impressed and urge you to buy it.


Jenny Dunne and Anthony Mulcahy

Anthony’s music is deceptive. Heard in the background it sounds like nice, folk-style music with clearly Celtic undertones. It’s when you get closer to the words and the way that Anthony sings them that you get a real sense of depth of this man’s appreciation of humankind in all its joy and pain, romance and tragedy. On the album he shares vocal credit with Jenny Dunne (the best singing I’ve heard from her), in solo and in harmonies that are best shown in his immediately memorable song “Soft Spoken“.  Bowed and plucked violin and ‘cello feature on tracks in ways that remind me of some of the music  that is coming out of the bluegrass fusion movement that mixes traditional Celtic/Appalachian with 21st century classical styles from artists like Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and the Kronos Quartet; listen particularly to the title track, “For My Sins“.

Anthony was initially reluctant to put the track “Cúilín” on the album, not because it is weak, more, I think, that it is a very personal and nostalgic evocation of his childhood experience on a beach where a river meets the sea in his home town. “Cúilín” paints pictures in which we, too, can recall our innocent childhood play, placing it next to “All Our Sins” of adulthood. This track epitomizes Anthony’s gift for language, making this an album deserving of frequent listening, and careful attention to his lyrics.

Anthony Mulcahy and his band at Rockwood Music Hall

Anthony Mulcahy and his band at Rockwood Music Hall

You can buy the album on:



Some stunning Jazz at Domaine Wine Bar

It never ceases to amaze me how such a small local bar, that sits just over the entrance to the 7 subway Vernon/Jackson station, on the west side, can have such hugely talented jazz musicians in a small space. Last week I caught my old favourites the Broc Hempel, Sam Trapchak, Christian Colemen Trio there the other night, playing with sax virtuoso Greg Ward III. Here’s a few pictures.

Broc Hempel and Christian Coleman

Broc Hempel and Christian Coleman

Christian Coleman and Sam Trapchak

Christian Coleman and Sam Trapchak

Greg Ward III

Greg Ward III

Christian Coleman also contributes his exceptional jazz drumming to a Happy Hour jazz session every Wednesday (5pm-7pm) at local BBQ restaurant John Brown Smokehouse ( He joins local LIC musicians Martin Kelley (Saxophone) and Diallo House (bass) plus guests as “Affinity” for sessions which can be indoors or outside, depending on the weather, in the spacious yard.

The quality of the music is great, as is the food in this casual-style smokehouse environment where you can have stylish domestic and foreign beers, plus everything  you’d expect from an establishment that has, in a short time, become judged one of New York’s best barbeque Joints. the brisket, burnt ends and ribs are superb, as are the moist cornbread and fresh salads.

John Brown Smokehouse has space, and an audience for high quality music. Tell the owners, so that it can become another LIC music venue that will benefit the residents, the businesses and the musicians.

Martin Kelley's Affinity in the Smokehouse  yard.

Martin Kelley’s Affinity in the Smokehouse yard.

Postscript from the LIC Bar – WHO relationship

Regular readers will know that LIC bar suffered in Hurricane Sandy, with the loss of musical gear. The UK rock band “The Who” came to the rescue with the purchase of new gear and the bar repaid the debt with a tribute concert. The concert raised over $7000 for The Who’s charity Teen Cancer. Last week  the cheque was presented to Roger Daltrey by Gus Rodriguez (LIC Bar music promoter) and Rob Basch (who first contacted The Who).

Rob Basch, Gus Rodriguez and Roger Daltrey

Rob Basch, Gus Rodriguez and Roger Daltrey

Last but not least a reminder about Natalie Mishell’s CD Launch at Rockwood Music Hall 2 on Allen Street Lower East Side this Thursday, May 24th, with Julie Kathryn as support.

Natalie Mishell at a Van Morrison tribute at LIC bar

Natalie Mishell at a Van Morrison tribute at LIC bar

Listen to my interview with Natalie and hear some of her music on:



It’s Spring Fever – Fresh Albums!

It’s that time of year again, springing forth into the biosphere are albums from some extraordinarily talented people who are associated in one way or another with the Long Island City music scene. I’m talking about Niall Connolly, Shelly Bhushan, Natalie Mishell and Anthony Mulcahy. Well that’s just some of the albums that are in the can, wrapped and ready to go, then there is music in the pipeline from Casey BlackMatt Sucich (already available), Little Embers and Jeneen Terrana.

But first my hearty congratulations to Gus Rodriguez and Anthony Rizzo for writing and performing the music for a new TV series, “Maron” featuring comedian Marc Maron.

Gus Rodriguez

Gus Rodriguez

Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo

Check out the title song here::

And the trailer for the  IFC show:


Niall Connolly with Dennis Cronin and Brandon Wilde at Rockwood

Niall Connolly with Dennis Cronin and Brandon Wilde at Rockwood

Cork man, Big City Folk convenor and LIC Bar regular Niall Connolly has just returned from a European tour, playing music from his new album Sound. Check out his video for the single from the album, “Samurai”:

“Sound”  is Niall’s best album to date, it is  blessed with superb musical colaborators: Brandon Wilde (bass, piano, guitars and handclaps), Warren Malone (guitar and vocals), Dennis Cronin (trumpet, piano and Vibraphonette) and Len Montachello (drums)  plus guests Chris Foley, EW Harris and Christy McNamara, and great production from Brandon Wilde.

“Sound” shows off Niall Connolly’s wit, political acumen, romance and humanity in a selection of memorable songs that make you think, sing along and sometimes to simply shout out from the rooftops. Niall is clearly a popular man around town; the audience at his shows know his songs and sing along to such favorites as “Skin and Bones” (from the album “Brother the fight is Fixed”) and the newer anthems like (on this album) “Lily of the Mohawks” which moves along like a flaming house on a backyard trailer. “Come back to the table” is aimed at those who are with us , but not with us, as they message on their  devices instead of being present, a song that is brilliantly followed (on the physical album only, not the download) by a surprise track.

I’ve listened to this album many times now and it nevers tires on me; in fact it grows and grows and still sends shivers down my spine. The songs are so good.

Sound is an album that rocks in the ways that Dylan and Lennon rock, with biting rhythms and sharply articulated lyrics. It is pop of the best kind – organic and grown-from-the-roots, not plastic genetically modified pop. Niall Connolly clearly cares about people and the country that he now calls home.

Niall Connolly at the launch of "Sound" at Rockwood Music Hall, New York

Niall Connolly at the launch of “Sound” at Rockwood Music Hall, New York

You can buy “Sound” here:


Shelly Bhushan‘s new album “Something out of Nothing” is the fruit of much serious songwriting and performance. Her collaboration with bass player Harry Cordew, Ben Hoffstein on keyboard  and husband John Celantano on drums is well known around New York and Long Island City. They are a well rehearsed band who know each other well enough to produce tight performances that support but don’t dominate Shelly’s strong soulful voice.

Shelly Bhushan launches "Something out of Nothing"

Shelly Bhushan launches “Something out of Nothing”at Rockwood Music Hall

“Something out of Nothing” contains some songs that are new and others that have been sharpened in performance over the past few years and which are now recorded for the first time. At her album launch at Rockwood Music Hall (probably the best listening venue in New York) Shelly almost apologized for the number of ballads on the album. She has no need to apologize. Although well known for her powerful soulful voice (that can really rock) the slower songs offer variation and give her the chance to show herself as a sensitive singer who can pour a different kind of soul into her work. I especially like “Intoxication”, a moody track that uses a simple guitar, bass and drum backing to support Shelly’s smokier vocal style. The same goes for “Moon”, the simple piano accompaniment giving a sense that Shelly is performing just for you in a small club, or even your living room. In songs like this Shelly reminds me of India Arie; but she is no imitator and has a distinct style of her own that shines in recording and performance. “Digging in deep” is a bluesy song that resonates with Shelly’s earliest work as a singer with a swing band, drawing from a considerable pedigree of performance across many styles.

In a shift of genre Shelly shows her country music side with “Blinded”, a memorable song that, in its simplicity, makes its points directly and without fuss. In general this sums up my feel for this album. Although it has some sophsticated production elements (sound effects) the overall impression is of an honest album that shows off performance and talent rather than complex production. Shelly’s songs are strong and stand to be simply sung with guitar, piano or band, yet I can see that they also have potential in more elaborate arrangements, with perhaps strings and horns. In that way I believe that this album will help Shelly’s progress as a musician – singer AND songwriter. It’s good to have this new album on the shelves, joining her three other solo albums: Picking Daisies, The Shelly Show  and Beautiful Me as examples of her work as a singer of great talent and musical personality.You can buy all her albums, including “Something out of Nothing” here:


Check out also my biographical “Artist Portrait” interview with Shelly on itunes:

Listen to this episode


Anthony Mulcahy at the Big City Folk Festival at LIC Bar in July 2012

Anthony Mulcahy at the Big City Folk Festival at LIC Bar in July 2012

Another member of the Big City Folk Collective is Anthony Mulcahy. Originally from the small seaside village of Bonmahon in County Waterford, Ireland, he has the launch for his 2nd CD  coming up at Rockwood Music Hall on Saturday May 18th. “For My Sins” follows the successul “Lazy Days” album with the launch show this week featuring  his regular band of Jenny Dunne – Vocals, Taryn Lounsbury – Violin and Vocals and Barry Kornhauser – Cello; with the addition of the ubiquitous Brandon Wilde – Bass and Vocals, and Shawn Crowder – Drums.

Anthony is another regular performer at LIC bar, in the winter Sunday shows organized by Niall Connolly. Although quite the joker he is very serious about his music, with high standards in performance, writing and recording. He’s also a very generous man, recently raising funds for the Bonmahon lifeboat station, from which the lifeboat foundered in January 2012, with the loss of two crew and three seamen.

From what I have heard so far “For My Sins”  is a an album of melody and melancholy. Check out the track “Carry On”, featuring Niall Connolly.

Talking about the album Anthony says:

The ideas for the songs is kind of split in two: on the one hand I hear my New York friends telling me stories of crazy stuff that has happened in their lives and I built ideas from that, on the other hand as a way to deal with my never ending homesickness. I try to remember certain things from my childhood or from a night out during the hey day and try to bring those memories back to life.
I’m very pleased with how it turned out and I feel the same way about it as I did with my first record “Lazy Days”. It’s more to do with the personal achievement for me really, rather than looking for popular success.

I penned 9 of the 10 tracks. The only one which was co-written was “skipping stones” which was lyrically put together by Jenny Dunne and I and was drawn up from an original idea I had done with Welsh singer/songwriter Fflur Dafydd back in 2005. Niall Connolly features as a guest vocal on “Carry On” and is actually the only guest on the album. Nialls contribution to the original live music scene in New York is the backbone of a lot of these Big City Folk albums.

 Check out Anthony’s single “Lovers of the night”, performed here live on his recent tour of Ireland.

you can buy the single (and the album, when released) from:


Natalie Mishell in performance at LIC Bar

Natalie Mishell in performance at LIC Bar

Last of the new albums for this edition is the latest from Natalie Mishell; another regular singer at LIC Bar, performer across New York and wider still. Her new album “Goodnight Stranger” will be launched at Rockwood on Thursday May 24th. This is her first full length album, following her earlier EP “In My Shoes”. I’ve heard three tracks from the album and am impressed by the range of style and authenticity of Natalie’s writing and performance. Goodnight Stranger is the result of a colaboration between Natalie and producer J.P.Bowerstock (ex. Ryan Adams),  with songs that originated from what she calls a “grey period” in her life, though they are not all miserable songs – just reflections on life and change.

As Natalie Mishell & Co. she’s joined on the album by long-time drummer Neil Nunziato, newcomer (and “Walking for Pennies” member) Neeley Bridges, guitarist Neil Cavanagh, Billy Grant on keyboard  and bass player Tony Oppenheimer. The basics of the album were recorded in a 10 hour stretch, with vocals added later, except for one track, “My Peace” which survived untouched from the original studio session.

Check out “Blue Moon” from the album:

Natalie Mishell

Natalie Mishell

Also check out my full length biographical interview with Natalie in the “Artist Portrait” series which includes two tracks from the album, including “My Peace”:

Listen to this episode

goodnight strangerNatalie Mishell and Co. play at Rockwood Music Hall 2, Allen Street, just off E. Houston, at 7pm on Thursday May 23rd. Opening performer will be the very talented Julie Kathryn, in a solo set.

Julie Kathryn at Spike Hill in a Rockethub Showcase

Julie Kathryn at Spike Hill in a Rockethub Showcase

A traveller returns and all is well in LIC

Making Djembe drums in Accra, Ghana

It’s been a while, I’ve been overseas to the UK and Ghana, and been looking back over the Atlantic towards New York, reflecting on my first year as a newcomer and listening to some recordings made by artists who regularly play in LIC. Since returning I’ve checked out a new restaurant, “Skinny’s Cantina” (more of that next time), been to The Rock Shop in Brooklyn to check out Liam Finn, a Kiwi musician with a distinguished pedigree and been back to LIC Bar for a few music sessions, imcluding their regular Sunday “Big City Folk” session, organised by talented Irish Singer/songwriter Niall Connolly. I’ve also listened to Thomas Tallis’ 40 part motet “Spem in Alium” recorded one voice per track and played in the round at MOMA PS1 an amazing experience where you can sit, or wonder around amongst the virtual  singers.

Thomas Tallis in a 40 part, 40 track performance in the round at PS1

Firstly I want to talk about a new venture in LIC, created by Ryan Roger. He has taken an opportunity to create a regular “Open Mic” session at a small venue close to Court Square Subway Station. As my first entry into placing audio into a blog here’s a short interview with Roger about this: Ryan Roger interview

Ryan Roger opening the open mic

The artists were generally of really good quality. I was a bit worried that it might be a bit like bad Karaoke but local talent is deep in LIC and I was fortunate in being able to catch some people who were new to me: musicians, comedians and a poet, and others I’d heard before: Ryan himself – reading a poem; Silbin Sandovar (Gus Rodriguez); and Megan Kerper (a talented singer who I’d heard the previous night at LIC Bar).

Comedy is always a risk, especially coming on cold to an audience that has just arrived, Ben Kronberg offered a dry intelligent humour that made me laugh at times. I like being offered opportunities to be uncomfortable with my own reactions – like observing myself laughing at jokes that push boundaries – including the usual suspects, disability and religion (combined in one joke), sex and food (combined again). I found some jokes clever but not funny, and others that tried to wittingly spotlight inconsistencies in  a whole mix of things that evoked “oh yeah” from me, but no laughs. He nearly got into insulting a heckler but deftly pulled out at the last minute. Interestingly I remember his performance, which bodes well!

Ben Kronberg

I enjoyed the mix of music, comedy and poetry – maybe we could mix them up a bit, music interspersed with comedy – but maybe the two comedians (the other was Ian Jensen) came on first because they had other gigs that night.  It was  good to have the talented hip-hop style of Kenny’s Myth (get it?) as well as a mix of singer and songwriter styles from Joe Yoga, Zach Huckel-Bauer, Morry Campbell and Marbar. Local impresario Gus Rodriguez graced us with a couple of charactistically skillful songs in his performer identity of Silbin Sandovar .

Zach Huckel-Bauer and an appreciative audience

This is a nice venue, acoustically well suited to its size and uses. I see that it hosts a range of other activities, including regular improv sessions. (see For more photos of that first night check out:

I came away from the night with excitement about a venture that will hopefully grow into a regular opportunity for local artists and with a deep impression from a local poet and singer songriter Lee Goffin-Bonenfant, a real poetic talent whose poem reminded me of the Russian poet Yevtushenko’s romantic output.

Lee Goffin-Bonenfant

I also appreciated Megan Kerper’s ability to come on cold and sing her heart out with great expresssion. Megan ( also played at the LIC Bar on Wednesday, the third performer in an evening that included two other  women, Abby Ahmad and Nehedar. I enjoyed her set, a mix of covers and own material. She has a good accurate voice and plays a lovely Ibanez  guitar. I wish she would use the guitar’s tonal variety more, and mix her guitar styles around the music. Basically she strums in support of her singing and uses a soft, unassertive tone which at times could be more punchy. I liked her cover of the Rolling Stone’s Wild  Horses, bringing out the lyrical beauty of this classic track.

Megan Kerper


Nehedar, ( is the project of New York-based singer-songwriter Emilia Cataldo. Before listening to her live I checked out her music on the internet and heard nicely produced pop songs from a woman with a good clear voice. In live performance I appreciated the accuracy and expression in her voice, singing her melodic and well constructed compositions. However in Wednesday’s performance I felt that we did not see her at her best – she let herself down  with her guitar playing; not only did she seem uncertain about some of the songs but she paid little attention to her guitar  tuning. I think she was aware that the performance wasn’t going too well and didn’t project herself as well as she might. Bar performance can feel very exposing when things don’t feel right, especially when you are first on in the evening and playing to a fairly noisy space. Emilia could rehearse her guitar playing a whole lot more so that she can play with more confidence and give her excellent music the support it deserves. From the recordings she has on the internet I sense that she’s also quite different with a band and capable of singing strongly.

Abby Ahmad and Mark Marshall giving it their all

Abby Ahmad, ( playing with blues guitarist Mark Marshall gave a standout expressive  performance of blues standards  and her own compositions with Marshall providing some excellent guitar, initially playing in the background at first and coming forward more as the set progressed with some nice slide.  I like the energy of these two, they grabbed attention right from the start and connected with the audience well, an important  skill when playing in bar venues.

Matt Sucich

Last sunday’s session at LIC Bar included three singers who are familiar to me, Casey Black, Anthony Mulcahy and Matt Sucich. I have written appreciatively of Matt Sucich in a previous blog. Here he played solo, some nice songs some of which I knew and others that are newer. In my previous writing I talked about Matt’s sense of being in the music and the way he moves. For this show he remained seated and, I felt, was less potent in his performances. I’m no expert in voice production but remember being told when I used to sing in a choir that to sing seated changes the ability of the lungs to produce good breath for singing and I  wonder whether this, plus the way that sitting restricts your ability to move with the music, made Matt’s performance less satisfying this time. Having said that I still think that he’s a really talented singer songwriterand wish him every success on his current tour of the West Coast!

Casey Black

Casey Black  ( is an energetic and confident performer of his own (and, in one case, his father, Hall of Fame songwriter Charlie Black’s) material in a style that I would call classically American. Originally from Nashville, he has moved around the US, honing his songwriting and peformance skills. Now living in Brooklyn he is an established and respected part of the local music scene, as well as touring as often as he can. I enjoy Casey’s songs, they are well crafted, intelligently written and socially conscious. In his song “The Sarge” he sings about the challenges of traumatic brain injury, in a way that highlights the reality and pathos, within a context of a too-frequent consequence of military action. Accompanied by E.W.Harris (“Sky Captains of Industry”) on electric guitar and regular LIC drummer Neil Nunziato he performed a highly competent set that started off a great evening.  I’m enjoying listening to Casey’s latest album “It Shapes Me As It Goes”, which includes “The Sarge”, and also watching the poignant animation of the song . More of this when I next do a CD review blog.

Anthony Mulcahy ( ) is a talented Irish singer songwriter and occasional comedian.  Initially coming across as a bit of a joker you soon realise that he’s a talented  songwriter who pens thoughtful and intelligent lyrics and strong melodies. In performance he sings with the support of Jenny Dunne on vocals and Taryn Lounsbury ( herself a singer songwriter, but here supporting Anthony on violin), and on this occasion Barry Kornhauser on cello. I like Anthony’s style, which is easy and relatively  uncomplicated. Jenny Dunne has a great voice and both backs up and shares the vocal spotlight with Anthony. It was good to see and hear the cello in this performance – with the violin. Is this a string section in the making? I haven’t heard Taryn on anything else but the fiddle and would like to hear more of her, not just as a singer but also I’d like to hear her violin branching out a bit away from what is basically accompaniment and to take solo breaks, and offer more decoration within the songs. In fact, I could see Anthony’s band developing into something that continues to draw from its Celtic heritage yet takes more risks with instrumental arrangements.

Anthony Mulcahy with Taryn Lounsbury

Well that’s it for my first blog of 2012. This week check out Ryan Roger’s band at LIC Bar on Monday 6th and the tribute to the Stone’s “Sticky Fingers” album on Wednesday 8th Feb, featuring a raft of artists, including Mieka Pauley, Andy Stack,Chris Campion, Little Embers,Shelly Bhushan and Kiri Jewell. These tribute nights are proving very popular so be there early to get a seat!! I’ll be back soon…………………..