I’m writing this from Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve made sad farewells to the many friends I made in Long Island City and wider New York and hope to see them again soon. However, there is unfinished business and this edition of my blog will chronical some of my more recent experiences in the weeks before I left.
LIC Bar (www.licbar.com) is where it all started for me in LIC and it’s where I’ll finish off. My last visit was to a fund-raising event where musicians performed in aid of the medical costs for a young person called Julia, a close friend of LIC bar’s favorite barmaid, Steph. Some of the musicians I knew (Xavier Cardriche and Corey Lewis), some were new to me and my long term friend and music impresario Gus Rodriguez performed a few songs with local sax player Anthony Cekay.
New to me was a young woman who calls herself Dana Danger Athens (http://www.reverbnation.com/danaathens#), fronting her three piece band Damage Control. I’ve been overwhelmed by a few new artists recently and she certainly comes close to the top of my list of musicians I’d like to hear again. Dana is one of those musicians who can come onto the stage and give all her energy to the first notes of her first song. She has a strong soulful voice that rocks, is accurate and stops you in your tracks; forcing you to listen to an artist who deserves a lot of attention on the music scene. Background enquiries show that Dana is, in fact a dancer; that makes sense as she has a gift for performance, though dancing was not what she was doing at LIC Bar – she was Rocking! Obvious comparisons with Amy Winehouse are welcome but comparisons only serve as a guide to style, energy and image. Performers who do not try to emulate, or be a “tribute band” deserve to be known for who THEY are, and Dana and this band definitely need to be more well known.
This Saturday afternoon of charitable music making was a superb example of LIC Bar at its best, a warm sunny day (only a little rain), people sitting outside, listening to great music, chatting and raising money for a good cause. I’d invited poeple over to say farewell and I was pleased to see Christian Coleman, Broc Hempel and Sam Trapchak – a Jazz trio who I came to know well from their performances at the Domaine Wine Bar just down the road. I have consistently been impressed by their music making, often joined by sax player Greg Ward III. Domaine has been a major challenge for me as a photographer, the light is very dim and the musicians (especially sax players) move very fast.
Back to LIC bar- for one of my last visits I caught one of the outdoor sessions promoted by Planet QNS, a local music promotion setup involving Gus Rodriguez and Neil Nunziato. This one was themed “Hootenanny”, and featured music that paid homage to the folk and country traditions of North America. That meant we had music originally performed by artists like Joni Mitchell, The Band, The Byrds, Neil Young etc – all artists from my youth, and remembered by a large number of the customers in the courtyard. I was pleased to catch some of the talented artists I have known over the past two and a half years: Shelly Bhushan, Julie Kathryn, Jeneen Terrana, Neeley Bridges and her partner Andy Jobe (Walking for Pennies), Neil Nunziato, as always so supportive on drums, Pauline Pisano, PJ O’Connor, Arthur Lewis, John Christopher Alan, Annalyse McCoy and Ryan Dunn (2/3 Goat), Neil Cavanaugh and the ubiquitous Gus Rodriguez. There were a couple of artists who were new to me, Lauren Elder and Matthew Kiss
Check out photos here
I was hugely impressed by Matthew Kiss (http://www.matthewkiss.com) at the Hootenanny show and more so by a full set that he performed at LIC bar a week later. He is a young man with great confidence and ability who sings a wide range of music. From just a 45 minute set it’s clear that Matthew has a great voice and who shows real attention to detail for both his own performance (voice, guitar and harmonica) and that of his band. Like a lot of musicians of his generation Matthew’s music shows influences that span the years from the early 1960s through to the present day. I look forward to hearing more of him.
Well that just about wraps it up for “Sometime in Long Island City”, over its 18 months of publication it has had over 10,000 views from well over 80 countries – check out the archived editions and my podcasts of interviews with local musicians. Search “Sometime In Long Island City” on itunes, ( or stream/download from podbean www.earthsounz.podbean.com)
Watch out for my companion blog “www. earthsounz.wordpress.com” which is currently devoted to world music, and for any publications that emerge from Glasgow.
POSTSCRIPT: By the way on my second evening here I came across Mike Heron, part of the Incredible String Band and Shelagh McDonald, a re-emerging folk singer from the late 1960s. A chance conversation led to steps down into a crypt and an evening of great folk music from these two, plus (playing with Mike Heron) the Trembling Bells.