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 (licbar.com) and Domaine Bar a Vins (Domainewinebar.com) 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 (http://jeanneboes.com) has been heard in the LIC  music scene for a while. I’ve listened to her play  at LIC bar and eGarage.tv . 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). (http://www.ekrasound.com/)

Jeanne Marie(http://jeanneb.bandcamp.com/track/the-one-single-studio-version)

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

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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.

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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:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/for-my-sins/id650018901

and:

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/AnthonyMulcahy

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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 (http://www.johnbrownseriousbbq.com/). 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:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/artist-portrait-natalie-mishell/id523786622?i=153661157&mt=2

and

http://earthsounz.podbean.com/mf/web/396dh/Artist_Portrait_Natalie_Mishell.mp3

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A Spirit of Musical Community

There are a many singer songwriters in LIC, folk who perform solo or with a band. It’s not unusual to find them doing a solo gig at one place and then being joined by others later in the night at a bar or club in the next district. There are some, though, who have regular collaborations with other singer songwriters and where you see a great chemistry develop between the artists. One of these collaborations is that between Michele Riganese (www.micheleriganese.com), Shelly Bhushan (www.shellybhushan.com), Jeneen Terrana (http://www.jeneenterrana.com/) and Little Embers (http://www.myspace.com/littleembers). These four women are talented artists who all live in the Queens area and who play regularly at venues like the LIC Bar, Spike Hill in Brooklyn and Rockwood Music Hall in Manhattan. They each have their own bands, but you’ll frequently see one or other of them supporting each other on vocals.

The Queens of Queens at the Living Room Dec 2011

This group have played together as the “Queens of Queens” for gigs at the Living Room in Manhattan (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWxi-r7oRKI) and Spike Hill in Brooklyn. For these appearances they built on their experience of supporting each other to perform “in the round” and perform each others’ songs, providing mainly vocal support to the writer of the song.

Jeneen Terrana and Michele Riganese

Jeneen Terrana

Little Embers

Shelly Bhushan

…………………………The Queens of Queens are coming together for the third time to present a series of five “residency” shows at the LIC Bar during May, every Wednesday at 10pm. I have had the pleasure of interviewing these women; to produce both a series of “Artists Portraits”to be available in a few weeks time, and in the production of a brief promotional item. This is a group of four individuals whose characters differ in ways that prompt lively creative cooperation. Watch out for future blogs featuring audio interviews, and perhaps even podcasts!

Good luck to Michele Riganese on her trip to the West Coast, where amongst other gigs she is playing at the Viper Room in Los Angeles on April 1oth.

Little Embers are appearing at Arlene’s Grocery on Friday April 13th and Jeneen Terrana is currently recording.

Congratulations to Shelly Bhushan in doing so well to get into the final group of 5 in the competition to represent Queens in the “Battle of the Boroughs”. You can still catch her performance in on http://vimeo.com/37955065.

Shelly and her band will be appearing at LIC Bar on Wednesday 11th April, don’t be surprised if there are other singersongwriters in support.

Another great combination of singer songwriters is Warren Malone and Niall Connolly. Both hail from the other side of the Atlantic; Warren from the North of England and Niall from Ireland. You can catch more of the Irish in Niall than the Lancashire in Warren, who has more of a North American feel to his songs. Both Warren and Niall have distinctive voices and clear guitar picking styles that lend themselves to collaboration. I caught them both, in duet, at the LIC Bar’s first venture into the open air the Sunday before last. Two out three of the acts were able to perform outdoors before the drop in temperature caused the declining audience to clutch their beer glasses for warmth and we went indoors for the final act of the day. I’ll write more about Warren on another occasion, and review his album (“The Ants ate the Bee“). Suffice it to say that he has great talent and an attention to detail in his guitar playing which makes for beautiful music.

Niall Connolly and Warren Malone in the open at the LIC Bar

Niall and Warren are part of the musician collective “Big City Folk“, who run sessions at LIC Bar on Sunday evenings in the winter months and at Ceol (http://www.ceolpub.com/) in Brooklyn – as well as appearing at various other venues around New York, including, famously, Niall playing a very early Wednesday morning spot at the Red Lion on Bleecker Street (http://www.redlionnyc.com/) at which the artist formerly (and now formally) known as Prince is rumoured to have been seen. Niall sings a range of finely crafted songs with intelligent lyrics that demand attention – whether for their sharp political comment, philosophical musings or their stories of relationships, won and lost. His voice is instantly recognisable, a real advantage in this world of copycat, almost karaoke performers, and his stage manner direct; self assured yet unassertive. He lets his songs speak for themselves.

Recently members of the Big City Folk collective released an album of  Niall’s songs as a birthday tribute; such is the respect he has earned on the local music scene. The album aNiallated” features artists like Warren, Casey Black, E.W.Harris and Don Paris Schlotman (Sky Captains of Industry), and Magic Bones (who are Brandon Wilde and Len Monachello). Bones”. Check it out (and buy) on http://niallconnolly.bandcamp.com/album/aniallated-a-big-city-folk-tribute-to-niall-connolly.

This is a good introduction to Niall’s music as well as being a tribute to the collective musicianship that surrounds him. It shows that his songs stand tall in others’ interpretations. This is not a collection of bland re-interpretations, each musician embeds their own talent and style on the song they have chosen to present to Niall on this album.

Brandon Wilde

Brandon Wilde (http://www.brandonwildemusic.com/) and Len Monachello are freelancers on the local music scene. Brandon plays Bass in Niall’s band, has a recording studio and plays frequent late Saturday night gigs at the LIC Bar (www.licbar.com)with Len as the Magic Bones, a “cover band” that is a duo with an in depth knowledge of the  songs they perform to the late night crowd. You’ll catch Len as a drummer in Niall’s band, or as a guitarist – in Magic Bones he alternates guitar and bass with Brandon. On “aNiallated” they offer a classic cover of Niall’s song “Skin and Bones“, a anthem that has developed into a crowdpleaser and crowd involver in bars everywhere that he plays. Being superb musicians enables Brandon and Len to present a cover that is a true to the original, not just in its notes and lyrics but also in its public bar appeal to simple philosophising that “We are just skin and bones and blood, without love, without love”.

Don Paris Schlotman, E.W.Harris and Casey Black as a trio comprise most of the band “The Sky Captains of Industry” (http://www.reverbnation.com/theskycaptainsofindustry); regulars on the Big City Folk scene. They’re a skilled band who sing sometimes cutting, sometimes offbeat, and occasionally highly comedic songs. On this album they each get a chance to give individual tribute to Niall.

At the end of Sky Captains gigs Don offers a brilliant spoof of early rock songs that is reminiscent of 60s group “The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band” , known best for their “Death Cab for Cutie” on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour movie,  but see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hcZ4s9cvpw . Usually Don is the bass player, but in this final act of craziness Don hands his bass to Casey, usually the drummer and takes the stage in virtual drainpipes and a relationship with the microphone that is acrobatic, yet verges on pornographic. On “aNiallated” he offers “Summer Dress“a song which is easy to think of as a sideways look at adolescent male fantasies, especially hearing Don singing it, with memories of his teen idol antics still fresh in my mind. This is Don in a Lou Reed meets Johnny Cash mode, with the banjo and reverberating whistling adding to a sense of understated, yet mysteriously present, anarchism. It’s a kind of mix of Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Perfect Day”, with a bluegrass ketchup. But, it might be completely straight and I’ve just coloured it with my own trickster mixer.

Casey Black

Casey Black (make sure you get http://www.reverbnation.com/caseyblack) is well established locally as a powerful singer and songwriter. I have written about him previously and you will know how much I respect his professionalism. On this album he offers his interpretation of  ‘You’ve got to look in to look out for yourself’, a highly personal  song from Niall’s book of most-well-crafted songs. This is taken down to its heart by Casey, his strong deep voice giving the lyrics an intensity that squeezes every bit of meaning from the lyrics.

E.W.Harris

E.W.Harris is the third member of “Sky Captains”. In many ways he comes across as the leader on their gigs, although I hesitate to talk about bands having a leader in this collective context. He is the singer most of the time and plays  a beautiful retro guitar. If not leader he is certainly the man up front. On this album his version of “99 cent dream” is inbued with his liking for scifi effects, ironic statement and the generally offbeat (check out his album “a waste of water and time”  http://www.amazon.com/Waste-Water-Time/dp/B003XE6OTG). This song suits him, in its ironic turns and goes well with the sound effects produced by Harris for this tribute to Niall.

Warren Malone’s contribution to this album is “Inland to Mercy”, a travelling-to-love song  that is actually typically of Warren’s own style and thus suits him well. The line “Oh little bird without a footprint, a measure of the strength of your tiny wings” exemplifies the poetry in Niall’s lyrics.

Other artists on his tribute are Diana Jones, Chris Mills, Chris Michael, Colin Campbell, Justin Storer, Ryan Morgan and David Rynhart. All contribute well in their own ways, only one, Justin Storer, managing to sound a lot like Niall himself when he sings “America”. This is what used to be called a “protest song” :

“In the name of all the chapters, Torn from your history books. America, I love you,won’t you tell me the truth.”

Niall Connolly contemplates driving the Snakes out of America

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 http://egarage.tv/). 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 (http://www.reverbnation.com/megankerper) 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

Nehedar, (http://nehedar.com/) 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, (http://www.abbyahmad.net) 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  (http://www.caseyblackmusic.com/) 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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm5sex9ryfs . More of this when I next do a CD review blog.

Anthony Mulcahy ( http://www.mulmusic.com ) 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 http://tarynlounsbury.com, 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…………………..