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


February Fireside Frolics at LIC Bar

The Carriage House at LIC Bar is becoming a popular venue for theatrical and literary events. Last month it hosted “The Nature of the Muse” and this month sees events that will make full use of its cosy fireside ambiance as we continue to face the New York winter.

peter poster

Peter and the Wolf

This Sunday, February 10th, sees  the return of a popular adaptation of Russian composer Sergei Prokoviev’s well-loved music for the story of Peter and the Wolf in a show designed for both children and adults. Originally commissioned for the Children’s Theater in Moscow in 1936 the music has become a favorite across the world, including inspiring a cartoon film, “Make Mine Music”, created by Walt Disney at the same time as his more famous Fantasia; and a version by The Muppet Babies:  “Skeeter and the Wolf”.

Actor Ali Silva and puppeteer Gus Rodriguez have adapted the story and are joined by the Washington Square Wind Quintet in a performance in the Carriage House of LIC Bar. True to Prokoviev’s music the five instruments (flute, oboe, bassoon, clarinet and French horn), plus puppets, portray the characters, with melodies that are instantly memorable. The performance, which promises a lot of fun, starts at 2pm Sunday, with a suggested donation of $5.

(NOTE: The performance on Saturday 9th has been cancelled due to the anticipated blizzard.)



The Peter and the Wolf cast

The Peter and the Wolf cast (plus audience)

Valentines Day

Local singer songwriter Silbin Sandovar invites you to bring “someone special” to an evening of intimate “Fireside Love Ballads” in the Carriage House at 9pm on Valentines night. Silbin hopes to be joined by singer/songwriter friends in what promises to be a low key, relaxed evening that will leave you with an inner glow, whether you are with a new love, an old flame or a hot chick.

Silbin Sandovar

Silbin Sandovar

Ghost Stories

Sunday February 17th sees the return of local actor Ali Silva’s very popular “Fireside Ghost Stories” in the LIC Bar Carriage House. In these tales of mystery, suspense and horror Ali is joined by musicians Charlie Rauh, guitar. and Concetta Abbate, violin, to offer an eager audience the opportunity to feel the comfort of the fireplace whilst being scared out of their skin by tales of horror and suspense with a Valentines twist.

The show starts at 8:30pm, be there in good time, these are becoming very popular!

Fireside Ghost Stories

Fireside Ghost Stories

Watch out for another  Fireside Ghost Stories session on March 17th, a special Irish Edition.

The Return of the Queens

Wednesday night, January 23rd, is a special night at LIC bar, (corner of Vernon Boulevard and 46th Avenue, Local stars Jeneen Terrana and Little Embers offer new and old favorites in a night of music which starts with Astoria resident, the very talented singer/songwriter Michael Zuko ( in a return visit to this iconic LIC venue.

Jeneen Terrana ( is almost as well known as a TV cook as she is a singer, from her recent appearance in “Home Made in America”, the Food Network showcase for down-home American cooks. In this show she demonstrated her four layer chocolate cheesecake (absolutely delicious!), and describes how she used her abilities as a pastry chef to raise money for her last album. Parts of the show were filmed at LIC Bar. You can view it here:

Jeneen Terrana with Neil Nunziato (Drums), Anthony Lanni (Guitar), Gus Rodriguez (guitar and Voice), Michele Riganese (voice) and Dan Ke'enthaahal (Bass)

Jeneen Terrana recording for The Food Network at LIC Bar with Neil Nunziato (Drums), Anthony Lanni (Guitar), Gus Rodriguez (guitar and Voice), Michele Riganese (voice) and Dan Ke’enthaahal (Bass)

As a singer Jeneen has a pure, accurate voice and writes memorable and lyrical songs in a folk/country style with a tip of a hat to her Italian roots. She will be playing with a full band that includes talented guitarists Antony Lanni and Charlie Rauh, together with violinist Concetta Abbate this week in a session that starts at 9:00pm, with Michael at 8:00 and Little Embers at 10:00.

Little Embers and Anthony Rizzo at LIC Bar

Little Embers and Anthony Rizzo at LIC Bar

Little Embers ( last appeared at LIC bar in August, in her last show before the birth of a baby daughter, Lucianna in November. This week’s show, like the previous one, will be an intimate performance with her husband, Anthony Rizzo on electric guitar. She sings a mix of country/rock songs in an individual style that can sometimes evoke tears and sometimes rock the house down, especially when she plays with a full band.

Together with other local singers Shelly Bhushan ( Michele Riganese (; Jeneen and Little Embers have collaborated as the “Queens of Queens” in performances in Brooklyn and Manhattan, as well as a residency at LIC Bar last May. Don’t be surprised if there is more creative collaboration this Wednesday night.

The shows are free, with an expectation that you buy drinks and offer donations to the tip jar for each performer. If you haven’t been to LIC Bar you are in for a treat!

For more on Jeneen and Little Embers check out my podcasts on itunes:

Who cares about LIC Bar — The Who do!!

Gus Rodriguez, delighted to unpack a box from Shure electronics that contained an assortment of their best vocal, instrumental and percussion microphones.

Gus Rodriguez, delighted to unpack a box from Shure electronics that contained an assortment of their best vocal, instrumental and percussion microphones.

LIC music curator Gus Rodriguez was delighted this week to open the first consignment of sound gear to be donated to LIC Bar by British rock band “The Who” following the destruction of the bar’s equipment in the flooding from hurricane Sandy. LIC Bar’s cellar was flooded to a depth of 8 feet on the night of the highest tides, destroying bar stock, office equipment, appliances etc; and also sound and musical equipment stored there for the bar’s regular music nights. Drums, a keyboards and PA gear were lost and the bar has relied on borrowed equipment for its four-nights-a-week shows whilst trying to raise funds for replacements. Gus is looking forward to receiving a new Peavey PA system in the next consignment of gear and described how the gift came to be made:
“LIC Bar regular patron and music lover Robert Basch heard about what happened in the hurricane, was going to their concert in Brooklyn and had this idea to reach out to The Who and tell them of our plight, wondering if they might take time to put on a show here. Doggone it, he got through to them and was told that, although they couldn’t do a show they would do the next best thing and  donate replacement gear. Today’s delivery is proof of the band’s generosity. Although we still hope that Roger Daltrey or Pete Townshend might still show up we can’t bank on it; although this is New York and strange things do happen!”

As a band that started in the pubs of North London and progressed to the stages of the world The Who have shown that they still respect venues like LIC Bar, from which new music will be generated and stars will be born.

The Who outside the Railway Hotel, Wealdstone, Harrow, North London

The Who outside the Railway Hotel, Wealdstone, Harrow, North London

The Who are no strangers to lost and damaged equipment. As leader of an aggressive and exciting band in the 1960s and 70s guitarist Pete Townshend would regularly smash his guitar and amplifier; and their drummer, the late Keith Moon, placed fireworks in his kit to create explosive endings to the band’s stage shows. The band is older now, with two of the original members no longer with us; so their offer of new equipment to a little bar in Long Island City came as a welcome gesture, glowing with wonderful irony.

LIC residents Andy Stack and Tania Elizabeth at LIC Bar

LIC residents Andy Stack and Tania Elizabeth at LIC Bar

(this is an extended version of an article originally published in, please support this excellent local news blog by reading and clicking on the advertisers).