I Shudder to Think …

August 30, 2014

I was walking along 15th Street when something caught my eye — a spot of bright blue that seemed out of place on the sidewalk in front of a toy store.

I stepped closer to investigate. A blue bowl and a basket that were labelled with small paper tags.

However, the words I read gave me pause. I know that orange juice is made from oranges, and apple juice contains nothing but apples.  But what is the stuff in that blue bowl, and how was it made?

I shudder to think.

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A spot of blue on the sidewalk

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A closer investigation

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What is in that bowl?

Kidding Around


ETHEL at The Winter Garden

June 24, 2014

“Don’t Call It a string quartet. It’s a Band.”

— Steve Smith, The New York Times

If the words ‘string quartet’ conjure up an image of stuffy, somber classical music, then you haven’t met ETHEL.

ETHEL is a string quartet that incorporates elements of jazz, blues, folk, post-rock and
new-classical music in their performances, including improvisation, choreography, lighting, and video. While based in the traditions of classical music, ETHEL performs its original work as well as pieces by prominent contemporary composers, many of them written especially for the group.

ETHEL’s unconventional approach to the string quartet reflects the musical backgrounds of its members: in addition to leading orchestras, they have played and recorded with rockers Sheryl Crow, Roger Daltrey, Tom Verlaine, Thomas Dolby, Joe Jackson, David Byrne, Jill Sobule and Todd Rundgren.

Tonight the River to River Festival featured ETHEL and guest guitarist Kaki King in a performance of “…And Other Stories” in the Winter Garden Atrium at Brookfield Place.

The program included an interpretation of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6 as well as works from ETHEL’s repertoire, original compositions by Kaki King and a rearrangement of Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov’s Logbook.

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Ethel
Kaki King
ETHEL performs “…And Other Stories” with Kaki King at the River to River Festival
Facebook: ETHEL


Bang On a Can Marathon

June 22, 2014

Founded in 1987, Bang on a Can is an organization dedicated to bringing new music to new audiences. Based in New York, Bang on a Can performs, presents, and records diverse musical works worldwide.

They are best known for their annual Marathon Concerts, usually performed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. During a Marathan, an eclectic mix of pieces are performed one after the other. Some audience members stay for the entire Marathon, while others feel free to wander in and out during a program that can last anywhere from 12 – 27 hours.

This year’s Marathon, held once again at the Winter Garden, lasted nearly 13 hours and included the following artists and compositions:

  • Great Noise Ensemble
    Armando Bayolo: Caprichos
    Carlos Carrillo: De la brevedad de la vida
  • Adrianna Mateo, violin
    Molly Joyce: Lean Back and Release
  • Great Noise Ensemble
    Marc Mellits: Machine V from 5 Machines
  • Bearthoven
    Brooks Frederickson: Undertoad
  • Anonymous 4
    David Lang: love fail (selections)
  • Dawn of Midi
    Amino Belyamani and Aakaash Israni: Excerpt from Dysnomia
  • Roomful of Teeth
    Judd Greenstein: AEIOU
    Caroline Shaw: Allemande and Sarabande from Partita for 8 Voices
  • Contemporaneous
    Andrew Norman: Try
  • Meredith Monk & Theo Bleckmann
    Meredith Monk: Facing North
  • Jherek Bischoff & Contemporaneous
    Jherek Bischoff: Works TBA
  • Meredith Monk, Theo Bleckmann, & friends
    Meredith Monk: Panda Chant II from The Games
  • Jace Clayton, electronics; David Friend, Emily Manzo, piano; Arooj Aftab, voice
    Julius Eastman and Jace Clayton: Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars
    JG Thirlwell: Anabiosis
    Paula Matthusen: ontology of an echo
    Julia Wolfe: Big Beautiful Dark & Scary
  • So Percussion
    Bryce Dessner: Music for Wood and Strings
  • Bang on a Can All-Stars & friends
    Louis Andriessen: Hoketus
  • Mantra Percussion
    Michael Gordon: Timber

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Bang On a Can
Band On a Can Marathon
NY Times: Eight Hours of Free Music at Sunday’s Bang on a Can Marathon


Make Music New York

June 21, 2014

Now in its eighth year, Make Music New York is a city-wide musical celebration held annually on June 21st, the summer solstice.

The Make Music New York Festival (also known as the Summer Solstice Music Festival) was inspired by France’s “Fête de la Musique,” a national musical holiday launched on June 21, 1982. The success of that first Fête soon inspired other nations to host their own summer solstice music festivals.

The idea quickly spread and today, more than 100 countries around the world sponsor associated musical events, all of them open to both amateur and professional musicians playing in every musical genre.

This year, Make Music New York includes 1,350 free performances in public and private venues throughout the five boroughs. Participation is open to all, regardless of musical experience or style, and passersby are encouraged to join in the fun.

I was able to make it to only a single concert this year, but it was a great one: the Privia Piano Bar, a traveling show on a pickup truck. The moving venue, sponsored by Casio Keyboards, made several stops around the city. While Simon Mulligan played in the back of the truck, singer Lolita Jackson took to the sidewalk and encouraged onlookers to join her in the music of one of New York’s favorite musicians, Billy Joel.

If you missed the summer solstice concert, don’t worry; the same group sponsors a second festival, Make Music Winter, on December 21st, the winter solstice.

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The official poster by Josh Gosfield

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The song list

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The MC and star, Miss Lolita Jackson

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When he began to sing the crowd went wild

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Simon Mulligan, the piano man

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A passerby decides to sing

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Another passerby joining in the fun

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He can’t resist the opportunity

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Rocking on the sidewalk

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Impromptu trio

Make Music New York
Make Music New York Concert Map
Privia Piano Bar
Fête de la Musique
Billboard: From Billy Joel Sing-Along to Rhythm on Rikers


Big Joy at the New York Public Library

June 18, 2014

Tonight, in honor of the DVD release of the documentary BIG JOY: The Adventures of James Broughton, the New York Public Library (NYPL) hosted a special celebration.

While filmmaker/poet/author/teacher James Broughton had a notable following among the avant-garde during his lifetime, today he is known to many only through the “warts and all” biopic, BIG JOY.  

The film traces his life from his painful childhood in Modesto, California, through his career as an acclaimed underground filmmaker and poet, his tumultuous marriage and fatherhood, his sudden emergence (at the age of 61) as a gay man, his death at age 85 and his legacy.

Prolifically creative, Broughton made 23 experimental films, several of which won awards a film festivals, and wrote 23 books of prose and poetry. In his final years, Broughton earned a reputation as “the bard of the modern gay rights movement” and was known by his frequently-uttered slogans, “follow your own weird” and “when in doubt, twirl.”

 

I was born in the San Joaquin town of Modesto,

on the Tuolomne River of Stanislaus County

in the state of California.

My grandfathers were bankers, and so was my father.

But my mother wanted me to become a surgeon.

However, one night when I was 3 years old

I was awakened by a glittering stranger

who told me I was a poet and always would be

and never to fear being alone or being laughed at.

— James Broughton

 

The NYPL program included a reception, where it was possible to view some of Broughton’s surprisingly-charming short films, an introduction by cabaret star Justin Vivian Bond, and a discussion with experimental film experts Jon Gartenberg, Robert Haller, and Jim Hubbard.

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The official poster

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Justin Vivian Bond

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On the screen

Big Joy: The Film
All About James Broughton
NYPL: The Adventures of James Broughton
Justin Vivian Bond
Jon Gartenberg
Robert Haller
Jim Hubbard


Father’s Day is Coming

June 14, 2014

Wondering what to do for Father’s Day?

Brooklyn’s Sip Fine Wine offers these words of wisdom.

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Sip Fine Wine
New York Magazine: Sip Fine Wine


Little House on the Brooklyn Prairie

April 9, 2014

Take a look around and guess where we are.

There’s a white-washed building topped by a stout brick chimney. Rough hewn wooden posts holding up a shingled roof. Wood framed double-hung windows with slightly sagging screens. A wide porch holding an assortment of ladder-back rocking chairs, some with seats of woven rush, others with canvas webbing.

Are we in a small, sleepy Southern town? Or are we someplace in the American Heartland, perhaps an old farmstead out on the wide prairie?

Sorry, but no and no.

Actually, this rustic-looking structure is the Avenue H subway station on the Q line, deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Built in 1906, over the years the station has been updated and renovated but, thankfully, never replaced.

Now, don’t just stand there. Grab a glass of lemonade and let’s do a little rocking before we catch the next train to Brighton Beach.

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The Epoch Times: Renovated Brooklyn Station House, Relic With Modern Feel
NYC Subway: Avenue H Station
Subway Nut: Avenue H 


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