Showing posts with label "Live Reviews 07". Show all posts
Showing posts with label "Live Reviews 07". Show all posts


CMJ Rants and observations

Many criteria for judging performances at CMJ are not authentic if you are a music listener. The controversy about the application process is equally troubling.

1. To be fair to the bands, the sound checks are almost non-existent, and the amount of time to play is very short. There is little time to get into the groove.

2. Seeing a band with an audience of fifteen or less is not the greatest way to judge their ability, musicians often feed off the energy of an audience and play off that dynamic.

3. Some groups are road veterans and are always relaxed and no big deal, another show of many.

4. Some are locals, so just hopping in a cab and meeting bandmates with their instruments is not too stressful. While others travel to perform at these events, hoping to catapult them into a new category of exposure.

5. Then there are different performers, like bands with local fans. Seeing them in this setting is great but an unfair advantage in judgment.

6. Solo and acoustic performers need an exclusive venue for listening.

7. Finally, some bands have been hyped beyond their current capabilities and are bound to disappoint.

I have read much of the coverage of the anticipated main events and lesser-known acts, only to realize that writers are fast to judge and tear down what they have spent so much time hyping. For instance, an act like Dan Deacon has received a slew of press and many new opportunities. I’m sure he is aware of some of the problems created by his insistence on performing on the venue's floor rather than the stage. It is difficult to change midstream, especially when riding on the success that has been a long effort. Changing what has been working is difficult and takes time and thought. He also has a philosophical bent being both a performance artist and composer.

The band Cut off Your Hands traveled from New Zealand and booked many shows to gain exposure and distribute their recordings in the states. They went for it and took a risk; they certainly got their name out there.

I truly understand the reasoning behind un C. Em. J. Music Fest, 07 alternative events catering to the under-21 crowd with good music taste, who are basically shut out from attending many of the shows offered by CMJ. The curated Blogger shows present another alternative. Many of the Bloggers staged events to give exposure to bands they have seen and enjoyed so that others from across the country have the same opportunity.

I wish I lived in closer proximity to Manhattan. Within the year, that will all change but for now, driving for over an hour and parking present obstacles.
I made my outing to two venues The Gothamist House and The Indaba Loft. Both are low-key free events.

Gothamist House
People might find it strange, but I love the band o’death and I love Peasant. It was nice to see Peasant perform before a small attentive crowd and just hear his beautiful voice without any distractions. He followed o’death and most of the crowd walked out before his set. I think that is too bad. It is difficult for acoustic solo performers without a band because people expect instant gratification and theatrics over substance. His voice and song arrangements are beautiful, sincere, and tender and might seem foreign to an older, cynical listener.

To see o’death while s
itting on a couch sipping sparkling water with a twist of lime presented a predicament. I didn’t sit for long. I loved seeing them play in such an intimate and cozy setting. Instantly their style of Appalachian punk with elements of diverse composition altered the surroundings. They played two new songs that sounded wonderful. It was a nice treat to see a tuba player in the mix adding additional flavor to their original and invigorating sound.

Cut Off Your Hands played very loud power pop punk, with emotive vocals that sounded like a mixture of the Cure and Cursive. Seeing them just felt out of place in a small venue during the day. It was as if they were performing for a stadium. Watching the lead singer posturing and
going through MTV video antics made me chuckle. I still enjoyed their lively 4 song set.

Indaba Loft

Indaba was very friendly and relaxing, it really felt like a party. The crowd was getting too comfortable talking, so when Natalie Prass finally arrived for her set after being delayed in traffic, the audience couldn’t stop. That was unfortunate because I liked what I heard, even with a backing band, it was an acoustic sound, so the outside noise couldn’t be drowned out. She has an interesting vocal range and reminds me of Fiest and alt. country great Patty Griffin. Her song arrangements were also quite nice.
I Look forward to hearing more.

I came to Indaba to see Beat Radio, I like Brian Sendrowitz's songwriting and have seen him solo acoustic once before. I’ve been meaning to see the band for a while. I’m happy I did. The sound is very powerful and rich live. There are no rough edges. The music is not slick, it is real, and the musicianship and collaborative spirit of the group are a pleasure to witness. The smart and memorable lyrics are melded into a sonic mix of finger-picking, electronic echoes with an upbeat pulse. My notes read....................
Powerhouse Phil
Jimenez on keys and Guitar. They’ve got chops!

In both venue
s, I found the CMJ networking annoying, like reading while someone is performing a few feet away or talking really loud and not stopping even when there is a quiet moment on set. I think most of the networking can be done between acts. Maybe my networking is more limited, but I accomplished a lot and received an awesome EP from Jukebox The Ghost. I will see them soon!

I ended the evening at the Pink Pony. They have the best reasonably priced home
cooking, a great atmosphere, and a jukebox. I drove home listening to Peasant’s Three songs promotional recording looped all the way. Ahhhh …….Work the next day. Wake up at 6:00.


Drink Up Buttercup @ The Cake Shop

After seeing Drink Up Buttercup's set at the Cake Shop I am convinced of their broad appeal, talent and ability for getting people to take notice. This band needs no warm up time and being openers, they didn't have any.

Without a moment to
waste they started with the song "Mr. Pie Eyes” that was delivered with gusto, playing garbage cans, big shakers and their vocals in full throttle. Especially enthralling is their ability to slow things down and instantly pick up the velocity. They are FUN to watch.

They combine theatrics. experimental instrumentation and rough percussion with added Beatle like harmonies. Yes, their harmonies and vocals are always on pitch and that good. They sound like Animal Collective goes pop.

It is great to see
a young band with so much promise and enthusiasm, who are eager and ready to make somebody's day. They made mine.
Flicker Set


Langhorne Slim - Phenomenal at Club Europa

Live Review - August 31, 2007
Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles headlined at Club Europa, playing what is referred to as a "proper" set on Friday night. They warmed the crowd at the packed venue then they stole their hearts. The love was palatable, and the lively commotion delirious. Tearing it up with high-energy hillbilly, rock, and folk flare, and playing songs like, "Honey Pie,” “And It's True", “In The Midnight", and “Hello Sunshine”. In between the lively stomping numbers Langhorne played solo acoustic ballads, revealing his tender heart.

The threesome of guitar and vocals (Langhorne), stand-up bass (Paul Defiglio), and drums (Malachi DeLorenzo) became a foursome with Sam Kassirer on a Rhodes piano. Kassirer rounded out the sound, and stylistically he was right on queue. What sets Langhorne Slim apart from other groups is their great musicianship and affable camaraderie. They are a brotherhood of soul, grit, hard work, and passion. They bring that ethic to every show.

Complimenting the raucous music is Slim’s phenomenal showmanship that stirred the crowd to enthusiastically stomp, shake, and smile. The last three songs were a bonus and part of an impromptu encore, that he started with a request to turn on the disco lights, which hung like artifacts from another era. The mood was established, and as the song progressed, members of the audience joined him on stage. Ending the set with the crowd pleaser “I love to Dance,” he said he should retire. The ravenous crowd was pleased he didn’t.

Langhorne Slims’ shows are always great, but headlining makes a difference. It is not too often that I see that kind of enthusiasm for music or have a night out that is so memorable.

Langhorne Slim Myspace


Dirty Projectors /Lucky Dragons /Night of Inspired Appropriations

Whitney Museum "Summer of Love Series" July 21, 2007

[To approp
riate something involves taking possession of it. In the visual arts, the term appropriation often refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of new work.

The Dirty Projectors new release Rise Above due out in September is a conceptual tribute and not a cover release. The Rise Above tour presents interpreted compositions stimulated by memory of the band Black Flag’s influential 1981 album Damaged. Dave Longstreth's composed Rise Above by accessing his subconscious using a technique called automatic writing that was embraced by the Surrealists. They used it to expand their creative possibilities.

Lucky Dragons AKA Luke Fishbeck is a digital music composer, who applies a distinctive homage to the category of happening and performance art, utilizing digital music and video installation. Within the realm of digital music composition he has appropriately titled his latest recording Windows. Luke Fishbeck music is created with instruments, voices and sound discoveries that are transposed and altered digitally. His self awareness has enabled him to be an open receptor to the world around him, guiding his music composition to create inference and sound visuals.

It was very appropriate to see Lucky Dragons in a museum setting. The focus of his performance is to create a dialogue with the audience that fluctuates between voyeurism and direct participation. He set up large screen on the side of the stage setting and on the floor was a laptop connected to audio extensions that lengthen outward into the space. Much like an extension cord or that of an octopus with musical tentacles. These receptors convert sound through touch and movement.

The screen displayed portrait images whose lips opened to receive and release animated color, nature patterns that formed connective metaphors and geometric sequencing like a universal code all synchronized with the music.

Luke is a very tall and striking individual. He started on the floor sitting on his knees hovering over one of the receptors passing the signals of his body movements to alter the sound frequencies. We watched him personally and physically submit to becoming an integral part of the sound. Experiencing the music through him is the ultimate form of conduction. The set continued and his body contortions became convoluted as he ran microphone wire up, around, under his torso, through his legs and then up to his mouth. Never looking up at the audience he unabashedly was consumed in his personal ecstasies. I was a willing voyeur.

Suddenly the interaction with the audience began in a strange and unsettling way. He crawled and undulated forward to various people in the crowd still in his private cocoon rocking and darting blindly forward. Then he connected and unwound the colorful wires that were vibration sensitive and brought various audience members to touch the receptors and collaborate in creating a new music dynamic. The unexpected nature of participation is what informs the music at that point.

Lucky Dragon uses contemporary technologies that are generally removed from human contact to awaken pathways that touch the spirit through sound. . If you’re daring you will stay. If your open to new ideas, you will be inspired. I was.

The Dirty Projectors
played an eight-song set and one encore featuring five songs from Rise Above and
three songs from their release New Attitude. The four member outfit are Dave Longsteth the lead guitarist vocalist and musical director, Amber Coffman vocalist / guitar, Angel Deradoorian vocals / bass and Brian Mcomber on Drums.

The dynamic sound that this group creates is mainly the result of original and daring harmonies mixed with extraordinary guitar patterns and vigorous drumming. The electric guitar flutters with atypical leads and is coordinated with one note picking of the alternate guitar. Dave Longsteth’s voice reminds me of Prince and has the range of Rufus Wainwright. Sometimes it borders on soulful pop affectations and that alone could be cheesy but mixed with the other vocals becomes original. Without the aid of chord progression
the vocals remain on target. Their astute registers and informed pitch explore melody without boundaries, creating harmonic levels that astound.

Opening with Fucked for life Dave Longsteth’s rolling soulful singing is mixed beautifully with the strong harmonies of the female members. His guitar breakouts were especially effective during New New Attitude where the wild man came out and the three part blending of harmonies wowed. In the song Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie the vocalists created a round and the effect sounded like a modern version of yodeling. Each member taking on different measurements and blending them strongly to resonate. They ended the set with Police Story and the encore Depression. Aside from the utter beauty of the sound the set was energetic and exciting. Dave Longsteth and drummer Brian Mcomber really broke sweat while the women presented a calm focus necessary for acute harmonies.

These two music groups share sensibilities and are daring and open to the possibilities of moving music composition forward. There is no greater place to see them do this then in a contemporary art institution that prides itself on being the barometer of cutting edge direction in the visual arts.

Thank you to
Brooklyn Vegan for posting the show and the Whitney for curating this line up.

Listen to Lucky Dragons'
New Alium.

Listen to the Dirty Projectors'
New New Attitude from the Day Trotter Sessions.

Dirty Projectors and Lucky Dragons Perform at the Whitney Museum


Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned / ambitious appearance at the Trash Bar

From Albany New York the Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned is an ambitious and talented outfit, that is inspired by the classic band Neutral Milk Hotel.

While exploring the vast world of the Internet,
I came across their page and kept going back. The music is derivative but has originality and a smorgasbord of instrumentation. On their profile they display their influences (Neutral Milk Hotel) without apologies.

So I took it upon myself to see them live at The Trash Bar in Brooklyn. This is a group of fine musicians. Aside from
some technical difficulties with the banjo hook up, they did a nice job presenting their material. The diversity of sound has unique possibilities because many of the members can interchange roles and instruments for different songs and even during songs.

This is a five-member band of guitar, bass, two trumpets, coronet, french horn, sax, accordion, ukulele, percussion/drums, bow/saw and banjo. The trumpet player Tim Koch sings and plays the ukulele and can pound on a drum piece changing roles without a hitch. I couldn't take my eyes off Dan Pardee. He played the saw and bow masterfully, accordion, trumpet, drums and even the typewriter. I admire his work ethic and acumen . Alex Muro the lead vocalist and guitar player was strong at the helm and affable. The brass section nicely supported his vocals harmonizing with him in between blows.

They are a very ambitious band, and given time and experience performing, their delivery will meet up with their ambition. I really enjoyed the set. My only criticism was that when they performed an obvious cover by Neutral Milk Hotel the whole band went into overdrive and was animated and exciting to watch.
Their original songs sounded fine and there were moments when they were equally enthralled, but not as charged and confident. Hopefully with more experience their original songs will thrive as well.

They are planning an east coast tour in the fall and I think they will develop their stage persona and work out some of the kinks. They are almost there and that is a good thing for a young band.

After the Show I purchased their release While Waiting for the Space Age
that has wonderful instrumentation, great song order and selection and is quite multi layered. There are some obvious "Hotel" segments on the recording but there is originality in the songwriting and arrangements. It also brings to mind the band Beirut but with more folk elements. Originality will develop with time. Inspiration and ambition are nice ingredients for the development of great music.

Myspace Site Enjoy

Picasa Web Album Link


Kickball / Clara Clara / Francois Virot / Altenative Venues

I started Obsession Collection one year ago in June. Having spent the last couple of years seeing live music and devouring recordings that blew my mind, I thought that maybe others would like to hear what I was getting so excited about.

The last week in June, a Garage Show, reaffirmed what I always believed: there is nothing better than hearing great music performed live. Sometimes it does
matter where you see it.

This particular garage show was outstanding because of the line-up selection, order and timing of the sets, and the wonderful crowd of friends and fans, getting together to enjoy music.

First was a punk girl group Vivian Girls a three-piece from NYC playing guitar, bass, and drums. They played a short, sweet four-song set. They are fairly new and enjoyable, performing catchy punk with nice drumming.

The crowd decided to sit on the
floor to fully appreciate the acoustic set by Francois Virot, an expressive lo-fi alternative folk singer-songwriter from France. His vocals were unplugged. The mic was situated under the guitar to pick up his beating, strumming, picking, and right-hand hammering (Kaki King style) up the fret.

Francois sings and records only in English. His distinctive voice patterns and range convey a variety of emotional levels. His vocals are shaky and muffled, as if he is holding something back. Suddenly he grunts, and his distant voice rises and squeaks with intense and chaotic abandon. His folksy 
eccentricities are creatively accompanied by his irregular guitar patterns. He is very original and captivating. The audience was absorbed by his intimate presentation.

I was surprised when the next band, Clara from France, came on with Francois Virot in the drummer's seat. This band has an intense sound using the keyboard (Amielie Lambert) as the melodic
digital force, chaotic /psychotic drums, and frenetic electric bass (Charles Virot), relying heavily on distortion. Clara Clara plays hypnotic jams with occasional moments of sing-along type phrasing. The sound is explosive, erupting with rhythms and very loud distortion. The crowd moved in a trance-like motion of ecstasy until the last song, leaving a sweaty, musty residue in the garage cocoon to get some oxygen.

The air being a
necessity, was a lost cause when Kickball, a band from Olympia, Washington, came on. They are an infectious trio of guitar, bass, and drums. The band has the perfect mix of lush solid indie pop, catchy sing-along punk, and dance-propelled grooves.

The lead singer and guita
rist, Jacob Wilson, has a distinct voice with a very appealing range. He vocalizes like a Cantor in a clear high pitch and sings every syllable in broken phrasing patterns like; Ev/ er/ y / things / a / mir / a / cal. He stutters to find a word and then holds it for effect. With the guitar, he creates memorable intricacies that ebb and flow between Adam Oelsner's creative bass line. Lisa Schonberg, the drummer, plays expressive energetic percussion and is a charismatic force in the band, communicating with her bandmates.

The crowd of ravenous fans loved and craved the old favorites and embraced the newer, recently released songs. Their bodies were in constant motion, sweating profusely, singing along, and displaying admiration and love for Kickball. The band was at a point of exhaustion, but the audience finagled two more songs. They obliged with enthusiasm. Kickball has energy and awesome chemistry. Seriously no one wanted this show to end.

This was a great night. There were no annoying drunk patrons, just music fans, as they should be.
"everything is a miracle nothing is a miracle everything is" buy on Kickball myspace site

Kickball / Clara Clara / Francois Virot / Garage Show

Francois Virot filmed by LaBlogoteheque

Francois Virot filmed by Big Purple Van Club

Clara Clara Live Berlin


O'DEATH re-release show at Luna Lounge

The Luna Lounge is a nice square venue with high ceilings and a wide stage. It was the perfect venue for the celebration of o’death’s album “Head Home,” re-released on Ernest Jenning Records, a NY label. Joining them for the festivities was the opener Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band from Indiana. This was the Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band’s first venture to New York, and they said they were a little apprehensive. Well, they were welcomed with open arms, cheers, laughter, and a very heartfelt and enthusiastic encore. The band performed a rip-roaring set of Mississippi Delta blues, catapulting that genre to exemplary levels.

The Reverend Peyton bought three beautiful vintage acoustics for the stage. He fingerpicks and slides simultaneously and uses unusual strumming patterns to create melody and bass drive while singing joyously. He is a guitar virtuoso. It was a joy to watch him smile as he played the guitar as close to his face and ears as possible to hear the beauty of his favorite friend.

Reverend Peyton is a big burly, bearded man with a broad voice. Joining him on the stage was his wife, Washboard Breezy Peyton. Wearing special gloves to hold her metal picks to strum. The washboard provided wonderful zing to the percussion. She is buxom, and her stage presence is refreshingly different. Let's just say her formidable chest size moves with each strum of the washboard, and her facial expressions are animated. Jayme Peyton, the Reverend’s brother, kept the forceful high tin beat with just a snare drum.

The stories in-between song selection was a hoot. Introducing the song “My Cousin’s On Cops” was a great story and a true one. The song got the attention of the Jerry Springer show, and the Big Damn Band was asked to perform it on the show. They, unfortunately, couldn't play that song on air because “Cops” was on a competing network in that time slot. But we heard it in all its glory. Taking out a new guitar, he stated, “I got to warm up the guitar,” which he did immediately. We were also treated to a song about his drunken father, “My Old Man Boogie,” the awesome “Train Song,” a gospel number, and ending, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” a cover protest song Fantastic.

O’death took the stage and the band played through an exhilarating, dynamic sixteen-song set. Leaving the audience in a state of euphoria and then exhaustion. During the set, the audience became enthralled in a ritualistic dance, their bodies limber and letting go completely to the rollicking, kick-ass, and thunderous bluegrass and velocity-driven Appalachian mountain music.

This band is not genre specific. To expand their music, they explore various distinct genres, then edit to synthesize. It has familiar qualities. There are distinct connections to folk roots from eastern European cultures and classic connections like The Band and Neil Young. The recognizable sounds, mixed with the unexpected, create a discourse between the music, past to present. They combine the guitar, bass, banjo, drum, fiddle, and French horn by Dan Sagar, along with the unique vocal styling of Gregory Jamie.

The sound was not deafening and not overbearing like punk or rock that, sometimes sacrifices the voices and instruments for effect. o'death’s sound was loud, but I could still hear the subtlety of the instruments. The drummer David Rogers-Berry is beyond animated. Driving the rhythms to levels of velocity that ebb and flow unexpectedly. The fiddle player Bob Pycior is also the driving force of sound and percussion. His playing is uniquely varied from classical sweeping vignettes to countrified fiddling, with fast and furious bowing that breaks mock speed.
The set started with “Down To Rest,” with a banjo intro by Gabe Darling. The entire audience participated in singing / OH BABY / down to rest /. During the song “O Lee O” Gregory Jamie rose from his seat to speak in tongues, making strange garbled sounds. “Only Daughter” was spectacular live. “Adelita,” featuring fiddle, was aided by the audience singing /head home / head home /. Their voices rose like a chanting chorus. Jamie Gregory’s voice is always upfront, but the unison of all the voices added depth and intensity to the live performance.

I loved the unreleased song they played toward the middle of the set. It started with slow polka timing emphasizing the bass playing of Jessie Newman and highlighting the classical rendering of the fiddle. Without warning, the band played so fast. Beyond fast. It was at that point I lost it. When the song was over, I had to hold on to the edge of the stage to regain my equilibrium. By the thirteenth song, the audience negotiated a three-song encore ending with Rise UP, a big friendly finale. The band stood clapping, chanting, and basically thanking the audience and well-wishers for coming to their CD release show.

This is the kind of band that can go beyond the song. I feel the musicianship could be taken to a level of improvisation, o'death could handle this challenge successfully. I don’t mean a jam band experience, but more of an artistic expression. They could explore live their avant-garde wanderings, almost like an outsider artist whose vision has to be realized.
Ernest Jenning Records(US)

free daytrotter sessions of o'deat


Benjamin Verdery performs at The Monkey

The Monkey is a new Manhattan showcase venue that exemplifies sound quality and presents music the way it should be heard.

On Thursday night May 17th , a world-acclaimed classical guitarist and composer
Benjamin Verdery performed an engrossing hour-long set. Benjamin donated his time to raise funds for a non-profit called “Arts in Action a Visual Art Program”, an after school art enrichment program. Adorning the space was the children’s beautiful artwork that spoke volumes for the program and its director Angela Tripi-Weiss.

Last year I saw Benjamin perform at Carnegie Hall with Andy Summers of “The Police”. They played a commissioned work by Igram Marshall composed specifically for classical and electric guitar and backed by the American Symphony Orchestra. Andy and Ben continue their collaboration and have recorded a new instrumental album, "At First You Build a Cloud," soon to be released.

Verdery is always spectacular to hear but tonight was a special treat. In this venue the sound was so exceptional that the nuance of every guitar sound, like the bending of a string, harmonics and chopsticks slides on nylon was heard with clarity and subtlety. To hear an instrument the way a performer intends it to be heard is a tremendous opportunity for the listener.

His first selection for the evening was an original arrangement of Jimmy Hendrix classics; Ezy Rider, Little Wing and Purple Haze performed in three movements. Verdery reworked each signature song starting with key identifiable lead in grooves and extending, repeating, layering and reconstructing those components. This selective dialogue was a mark of respect that honors the music of Hendrix.

The original composition “Be Kind All The Time” featured an amplified classical guitar that corresponded with a digital delay system. A digital sound expert did the programming in real time. This created a surround sound as the prior styling heard up front resonated in re verb from the back. Ben’s collaboration with himself became quite challenging, but heard with ease.

The Classic The Blue Danube by Johan Strauss was complex and familiar, and it sounded wonderful.

Benjamin Verdery has a close personal relationship with his guitar. For 40 years he has practiced four to five hours a day. At the Monkey that intimacy was shared with the audience.

Twelve flights up the elevator to the forty capacity room. The space has high ceilings equipped with acoustic ceiling tiles, a reasonably sized raised stage. A small loft area is set up for sound and video production. Behind the stage are large windows that frame two water towers in the foreground and the New York City skyline in the distance.

Dominick Frasco is responsible for creating The Monkey. He is also an accomplished classically trained guitarist. His mission is to create a showcase venue equipped with surround sound giving musicians an opportunity to have control of how their music is presented and heard. The musician can take charge of every aspect from the pricing, sound, promotion and visual effects.
The Monkey. What a concept
"Branches" buy new Benjamin Verdery LP
Web Album Link


PA Bands Bus Trip To The Bitter End

PA bands Bus trip to The Bitter End
Line up: France on Fire, Downtown Harvest, Drink Up Buttercup

Booking a bus for three PA bands and their fans to a NY venue is a fun and creative idea. This was a love fest transplanted to The Bitter End.

I came to the Venue to see a young band from Bucks County PA called Drink Up Buttercup. I heard them play on The Indie Café, a small college radio station on the Internet. I was tuning in to hear my favorite Peasant and was taken off guard listening to Drink Up Buttercup's raw energy and experimental sound. It translated so well in virtual space.

France on Fire from Bucks County PA was first of the three to play. The band never missed a beat and seamlessly and joylessly played one song after another. They have great harmonies and catchy choruses. The crowd enthusiastically sang along. They add percussion, keyboards maracas, lots of clapping and use the Kazoo as a serious instrument. France On Fire are fun, full of love and infectious.

Downtown Harvest came on and the venue seemed to expand with patrons. This is not the kind of music I typically listen to or go out to see, but this is a very talented group of accomplished musicians. Fusing melodic rock, jazz, funk, hip hop and dance beats successfully. With The Beatles like harmonies, and connections to the music of Sly and The Family Stone, Beck, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and The Meters they create a classic association. While these references can be found, It's the merging of all these styles that forge originality.

The drummer Christopher C, Wood is a savant. He can switch styles and beats dramatically and his vocal styling is low, raw and distinctive. The lead guitarist and vocalist Larry Thomas Moore has a higher register that is great for harmonies and vocals. Frank Ewing the saxophonist vocalist and keyboard player adds the unique funky zest that takes the band to a different level. Bobby Cahill plays the bass and switches gear as the tone changes from groove to harmony. Downtown Harvest is ready for success on a broader commercial scale. Their versatility is a tribute to their six years playing together.

The young musicians I came to see were attentively listening to The Downtown Harvest’s set. They looked a little anxious and so was I. It is hard to play, following such an accomplished group.

Drink Up Buttercup came on stage, bringing with them an assortment of strange instruments. One large metal garbage pan, stumpf fiddle, maracas, an acoustic guitar with duct tape over the hollow to create a muffled sound, tiny Casio keyboard, a tubular instrument called the melodica and distortion and delay pedal. Then there was the usual; drums, keyboard, bass.

Well in an instant the unbridled energy and fun-loving spirit of this young band came to life. James Harvey the steady vocalist and guitar player enthusiastically leads as Farzad Houshiarnejad and Ben Money play and change instruments as fast as a blink of an eye. Mike Cammarata keeps the beat up with drums and auxiliary percussion. Sing along, shaky percussion and bells, crazy beats, theatrical acrobatics with instruments in tow, shape their circus like commotion.

James Harvey’s voice is strong and authoritative but to my surprise he is an opera singer. He is classically trained and when he lets go it is a treasured delight. As his voice travels up and down the band picks up the pulse.

This is a newly formed band with James Harvey having the most experience formally of Playwright. They are just getting started and only have demos out. Playing to a supportive crowd in Doylestown PA gives them the opportunity to hone their craft with supportive fans. At some point they have to venture out to the cold hard world. I think they will get a warm welcome.

web Album link


Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles at the Rock Star Bar

Langhorne Slim and the War Eagles tear it up unplugged at the Rock Star Bar. After performing “I Love To Dance,” technical sound difficulties ensued. Langhorne Slim, Malachi Delorenzo, and Paul Defiglia made a decision to unplug the defunct PA system and go ahead with the show. And so they did…

The supportive crowd quickly took their places on the stage platform and closely packed the surrounding areas. Being close to the band, the crowd assumed the responsibilities of a supporting cast of veteran “War Eagles.”

Together they did a fifteen-song set of old and new material, including encores that didn’t take much prompting. In the song “Checking Out,” the audience weighed in with / I’m going home, I’m coming home / that’s where I’m going / building momentum. During “Restless,” the crowd/ band did their best. Langhorne, as a band leader, reprimanded us like a loving parent. Smiling, he said, “You got to learn the song.”

Crammed together and in it together, Mr. Slim still found space for his convoluted antics. He strutted with his guitar in the confined space, made priceless facial expressions, and sang on a drum set to maximize his voice level. Malachi subdued his usual drumming intensity and picked it up only for effect. Paul lent support on bass, playing some fine solo interludes. With little room to breathe, they never missed a beat.

Tonight sealed my belief in this band’s ability to connect with an audience. They have heart, authenticity, talent, and a love for music performance that sets them apart from other bands. Whether they are opening for the Pogues at Irving Plaza or playing acoustically at the Rockstar Bar, Langhorne Slim knows how to deliver.

This curated night of music at the Rock Star Bar rarely happens in the music scene today. The night's mix of eclectic music styles created an atmosphere that celebrates the diversity of the genre. In between acts, music tracks set a mood with songs by Hank Williams III, Musical Youth, Mongo Joy, and a few awesome recordings of the one-man band Abner Jay.

The night started colorfully with a cover band that did a fine job channeling Janis Joplin. Janis appeared in the form of a man extravagantly dressed to replicate. This was the only band not part of the original lineup but was a fun opening.

Jazz duo Tyler Miller, vocalist, guitar player, and trumpeter Dan Blanketchip played jazz standards. We were treated to tunes like “Saint James Infirmary,” "Dinah," and "Honeysuckle Rose." They exchanged duties throughout the set. The trumpet playing was pristine, while Tyler played guitar with ease and dexterity. His vocals were perfect.

The mood switched gears as the stylish Honne Wells stepped onto the platform and slowly sat with the guitar in hand. He steps, picks, slides, whistles, and sings with a voice that has never seen the light of day. He brings reverence and humor, channeling a slice of Americana with a refreshing new twist.

The time was r
ight for the upbeat original folk styling of Hop Along Queen Ansleis. Her fans gravitated towards her as she began her set with “Spinach Water,” holding a small touring guitar. She glowed and emanated joy as her powerful voice reached a range of high octaves with ease and veracity. Her set was a mix of favorites from her 2005 debut, “Freshman Year,” and new tunes soon to be recorded. She sang an outstanding cover of Hank William's “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” It rang with originality and was so beautifully arranged I almost didn’t recognize it. She is a captivating performer ready for a wider audience.

The crowd wa
s unprepared for the Charm City Drug Band but thoroughly embraced their NY debut performance. This Baltimore collective assembled its instruments on-site. Finding anything that can be banged, rubbed, or hammered at the bar. The night’s set up was a plastic bin, metal piping, wooden dowels, a metal urn, and discarded refrigerated shelving propped up against the back wall of the platform. The improvisational clatter beat and surged organically, creating a beguiling sound. The audience was perked with interest. As the players went into overdrive, so did the PA.

The PA failure led to a delightful accident that propelled Langhorne Slim's impromptu acoustic session. The melding of great musicians was no accident. They were a sampling of one person’s eclectic and passionate taste and, in my opinion, a masterful night of music.

04 /19 / 07 Rock Star Bar lineup curated by: Marlon Ziello
Related articles by Obsession Collection: Langhorne Slim

Hop Along Queen Ansleis
Honne Wells
Rock Star Bar 04 /19/ 2007
Click on picture for Album Link / pictures by Artifact.