Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Lower East Side

The first thing I should mention is that a "double cappucino" at Starbucks does not mean a larger serving. It means a cappucino with a shot of espresso added in. So while I intended to crank myself up for a long evening of music, I hadn't intended to zap myself quite that much.

I had an overnight in NYC recently, after seeing an entertainment lawyer to go over the basics of the business. There is an apartment I sometimes have access to on weekends, which makes city trips a little more affordable.

I had a chance to visit with heretofore online friend, jazz pianist Kerry Politzer. Kerry is a highly accomplished jazz artist (I highly recommend her Labyrinth jazz CD for all of your parties). Her latest CD, in a singer/songwriter style, is available from eMusic, along with her earlier work.

At Rockwood Music Hall, my venue of choice, I got to see Johnny Marnell, a hot young singer, and his band. His stuff was very tight, and when he announced "The F**k Song" a cheer went up among his fans. I got to say hello to him afterwards, and made sure I said hi to Ken Rockwood, the manager. Rockwood is a very small space, and they do over 8 acts a night, every night. The room fills up, empties, and fills up again every hour. And there's no cover (though you should drop something in the bucket for the musicians).

The lawyer suggested I go over to The Living Room, a larger venue, with a lounge/bar in front and a big showroom in the back behind the curtain. I saw Larune and Susan Hurtuk, who are friends and fellow performers. Larune is the stage name of Kamara Thomas, who performed a cycle of songs called "Postcards From Bulgaria" -- which on the first listen is an exploration of suicide and death (cheery subjects) but in an Americana idiom. I bought the CD and have been enjoying repeated listenings. I'm not sure if it's a work in progress or a fully realized vision yet.

I went back to Rockwood to see David Martel from Montreal. The band was quite surreal. There was the obligatory big bass player, and drummer to the side. But Martel had an almost musical theatre mien, and kept doing odd little comic takes. His backup singer, Natasha, was introverted, and stood with her hands folded, her shoulders hunched in on herself -- though she sounded wonderful. In addition, the band featured a female cellist (!) and accordion player (!!). It was a fascinating hour.

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