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 group of string instrument players who, while based in the traditions of classical music, incorporate elements of jazz, blues, folk, post-rock and neo-classical music in their performances. The musicians perform new, original work as well as pieces by prominent contemporary composers, many of them written especially for the group.

ETHEL’s unconventional approach to string music 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. The band’s shows include improvisation, choreography, lighting, and video displays.

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


Two For the Price of None

July 21, 2010

One of the joys of living in Brooklyn is the overwhelming abundance of free entertainment. Especially during the summer, you’d have to lock yourself inside to completely avoid being exposed to the thousands of concerts, performances, festivals and extravaganzas — even spontaneous bursts of singing and drumming — that are available without charge around the borough.

It is impossible for even the most dedicated music lover to attend every show that takes place during a Brooklyn summer, but sometimes luck and circumstance allow those in the borough of Kings to something akin to a mini-music festival.

Today at lunchtime, a hip-hop flavored reggae band, Vybz Evolution, was performing on a stage erected in front of Borough Hall. The blazing sunlight seemed to fuel their high energy act as they sang, danced and engaged the enthusiastic audience.

Only a block away, in the cool, deep shadows cast by nearby buildings, Ginetta’s Vendetta brought the sound of funk-influenced jazz to a tiny plaza at the corner of Adams and Willoughby Streets. Listeners were spellbound as the band’s leader, Ginetta Minichiello, sensuously swayed in the street while playing her silver plated pocket trumpet.

Two great noontime concerts, only steps from each other, and both for the same great price: free!

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The stage in front of Borough Hall

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Tasha of Vybz Express

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Soloist from Vybz Express

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The banner acknowledges Borough President Marty Markowitz

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Ginetta’s Vendetta on the street

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Ginetta and her trumpet

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Keeping the beat in the shade

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Meta Ginetta (note poster in the background)

MySpace: Vybz Evolution Band
YouTube: Vybz Evolution Band
DC Caribbean Carnival
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Ginetta’s Vendetta
MySpace: Ginetta’s Vendetta
Jazzitalia: Ginetta’s Vendetta
Jazziz: Ginetta’s Vendetta
DC Bebop: Ginetta Minichiello


The 29th CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival

October 25, 2009

It was created by College Media Journal (CMJ), the magazine that published the first record charts based on college radio airplay. Back when it started in 1980, the CMJ Music Marathon (the Film Festival was added in 1994) provided college radio staffs the opportunity to meet and hear music from new and emerging sources.

Over the years the CMJ Music Marathon and Film Festival has grown and changed, but its primary focus has remained on music that appeals to college audiences.

This year’s Festival featured thousands of musicians at dozens of venues around the city and drew an estimated 120,000 fans, artists, filmmakers, and industry pros. To my surprise, someone gave me a pass to the event. Although I expected a “college music” festival to consist of endless loud party tunes for drunken frat boys (think MTV Spring Break), I was wrong.

In fact, I saw more acts than I could count (including old favorites and new discoveries), performing in a wide variety of genres. The panels, which I anticipated as dull, dry discussions of industry statistics and forecasts, turned out to be entertaining and enlightening. Not to mention the film. Or the parties.

I did remember to take my camera to a few of the events. And if anyone wants to give me a badge to new year’s Festival … I’d be more than happy to accept.

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Badge

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The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars

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Jim Rado and Galt MacDermot

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NOW Ensemble

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JD Souther

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Kimberley Locke

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Diana DeGarmo

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Mieka Pauley

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Woody Harrelson

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Jarrod Gorbel

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Fred Mascherino

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Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

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Jets Overhead

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Emmanuel Jal

CMJ09 Music Marathon and Film Festival
Wikipedia: CMJ Music Marathon
CMJ Milestones
The Dizzy Gillespie All Stars
Emanuel and the Fear
JD Souther
Mieka Pauley
Jets Overhead
The Color Fred
Free Energy
Jarrod Gorbel of the Honorary Title
NOW Ensemble
Emmanuel Jal
Julia Wolfe
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society
David Lang
Jessica Pomerantz
Guyora Kats
The Messenger
Arlene’s Grocery
Pianos
Kimmel Hall
Living Room
Blue Note
Le Poisson Rouge
Judson Memorial Church
Clearview Chelsea
Rockwood Music Hall
Norwood Club
Gawker: Norwood: A Club For The Artistic And Talented
MTV Spring Break


New Amsterdam Village

September 9, 2009

Why is a full sized windmill turning right in the middle of Broadway?

It is part of the celebration of the Dutch arriving in New York 400 years ago, New Amsterdam Village was temporarily constructed, just below Bowling Green Park, at Broadway and Beaver Streets. The village contains booths designed to resemble traditional Dutch canal houses. Some sell traditional foods and products, including cheese, herring, stroopwafels (sweet waffle cookies), flowers and wooden shoes – and yes, even a windmill.

In an open area, intended to represent the village square, a variety of musical acts performed for passersby. The highlights were the raucous numbers from Dynamo, a colorfully costumed youth marching / dancing / percussion / kazoo group, the unexpectedly diverse and humorous repertoire of Kleintje Pils, a brass band clad in traditional striped smocks and wooden shoes and Jan David performing “Miss Sunshine,” the song he composed in honor of NY400.

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The windmill dwarfed by skyscrapers

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Dynamp reaches skyward

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Dynamp drummers

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Trying to play the kazoo while giggling

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Dynamp member dancing

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Dynamp and the bandleader

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Dynamp member performing

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Dynamp member with triangle

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Blue drumsticks and blue kazoo

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The traditional method of making wooden shoes

Kleintje Pils
Jan David: Miss Sunshine
NY400 Week: New Amsterdam Village


Arlo Sings in the Castle

July 30, 2009

One of America’s best-loved folk musicians, Brooklyn-born Arlo Guthrie is the son of legendary songwriter Woody Guthrie. Tonight he performed at Castle Clinton in Lower Manhattan, part of the tribute to the 40th anniversary to the Woodstock Festival.

Arlo’s humorous and heartfelt singing delighted the overflow crowd which he regaled with tales and tunes about the 50 or so years he has spent onstage. His stories, which punctuated the evening, touched on everything from his boyhood in Coney Island to appearing onstage at Woodstock to a brief gig acting on a television series called The Byrds of Paradise to his upcoming 40th wedding anniversary.

He played guitar, piano and harmonica and performed his own songs as well as those written by people he has known and loved: Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, and of course, his father. The highlight of the evening was the last scheduled number, when the assembled audience joined him in signing what is arguably Woody Guthrie’s best-known song, This Land is Your Land.

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Arlo performed alone onstage

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He played harmonica, guitar and piano

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The songs included old favorites and rarities

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The capacity crowd was standing-room-only

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After the sun set, the audience sang along

Arlo Guthrie: Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys
River to River Festival: Arlo Guthrie
Rising Son Records
The Official Arlo Guthrie Web site


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