Saturday, July 30, 2011

Free Live Music: Girl-Group Singers Live in NYC; Newport Folk Online

Ronnie Spector, Lesley Gore, and other classic 1960s female singer take center stage at a free show Saturday.

Looking for some live music to listen to today? If you like the classic '60s girl singers and groups as much as I do (the Ronettes, Shirelles, Crystals, etc.), you're in luck because Lincoln Center Out of Doors (LCOOD) is presenting a free show tonight featuring Ronnie Spector, Lesley Gore, and many others.

Called "The Ponderosa Stomp: She's Got the Power," the show includes Spector, Gore, Lala Brooks (formerly of The Crystals), and singers from The Chantels, The Exciters ("Tell Him"), Peggy Santiglia Davison and Jiggs Sirico (of The Angels®), and more.

(See a Wall Street Journal article featuring comments from Lesley Gore and singer-songwriter Toni Wine.)

The show is free and runs from 5 to 10 p.m. tonight at the Damrosch Park Bandshell in Lincoln Center. Here's the schedule:

* GIRL GROUPS REVUE - 5:00 p.m.
* TRIBUTE TO ELLIE GREENWICH (composer of “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby,” and many more hits) - 8:40

If you don't feel like venturing out of the house, check out NPR Music's live webcasts from the Newport Folk Festival. Live sets will be available online from 12 Noon to 7:30 p.m. Eastern today and tomorrow, July 30th and 31st. Video will be shown for some sets; others are audio only. The schedule for the live Newport Folk Festival webcasts:

remainder of Saturday, July 30th:
4:30 p.m.: Delta Spirit
4:45: Gillian Welch
5:50: Pokey LaFarge
6:00: The Decemberists

Sunday, July 31st:
12:00 p.m.: David Wax Museum
12:30: Tegan And Sara
12:45: Carolina Chocolate Drops
1:45: Mavis Stapes
2:00: Wanda Jackson
3:00: The Secret Sisters
3:25: Amos Lee
4:30: Mountain Man
4:45: Elvis Costello
5:50: Chris Thile and Michael Daves
6:00: Emmylou Harris

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Free Concerts: Aretha Franklin Next Week; Taj Mahal Tonight; Eugene Mirman/They Might Be Giants Tomorrow

Aretha Franklin is confirmed for a free show in Coney Island next Thursday.

The Seaside concert series today announced its "mystery guest" for its show next Thursday, August 4th: Aretha Franklin. Some people had speculated that the performer might be Peter Frampton, but the Queen of Soul has been confirmed and is featured on the Seaside website (above).

Franklin had been scheduled to play the Coney Island free concert series last summer, but had to cancel it and a number of other shows due to illness. For a while there were rumors that Aretha had some kind of fatal disease, but happily those were just speculation and the soul pioneer is back on the road.

Other news in free summer concerts in New York City in the next couple of days:

* the inaugural Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival starts tonight at the World Financial Center with the legendary Taj Mahal and his trio, singer-songwriter Amy LaVere, and the new band featuring Mike Farris, who was the frontman of Double Trouble and the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies. 6 to 9:30 p.m., WFC Plaza, outside the Winter Garden, near West & Vesey Sts. (see maps of WFC area)

Friday night the festival continues with James Blood Ulmer and the Memphis Blood Blues (featuring Vernon Reid of Living Color); The Growers, and The Beauties. 6 to 9:30 p.m., WFC Plaza.

The Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival concludes Saturday with Steven Bernstein's Millennial Territory Orchestra and Henry Butler featuring Dean Bowman and Sandra St. Victor; Hazmat Modine, Ryan Shaw; Danny Kalb; and Citigrass

* Actor and comedian Eugene Mirman will be doing a free show Friday at the Williamsburg Waterfront with special guests, including They Might Be Giants, who will be playing a full-length concert. The show, called Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends, featuring Todd Barry, Patton Oswalt, and Kristen Schaal. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; no ticket needed, but admission is first come, first served. Williamsburg Waterfront, East River State Park, 110 Kent St. (map of Williamsburg Waterfront with link to get directions)

They Might Be Giants says that the show will span their entire career, including their new album, "Join Us." And the band notes that the show is a homecoming of sorts, since the Williamsburg waterfront is where they filmed their very first video 25 years ago.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Free Concerts: Wanda Jackson, Billy Bragg, David Wax Museum Play Tonight

Wanda Jackson performs "Shakin' All Over" on Letterman with special guest Jack White.

There are plenty of free gigs in the city this week, including several tonight:

* Wanda Jackson, the queen of rockabilly, plays the SummerStage Main Stage in Central Park tonight. Her amazing career spans many years: Elvis Presley was an old boyfriend, and her latest album was produced by Jack White of the White Stripes. Imelda May, a rising blues/rockabilly singer originally from Ireland, opens tonight's show. I'm hoping to make it to this one; it should be a lot of fun. 7 p.m. (directions to Central Park Main Stage)

* British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg opens the live music season of Lincoln Center Out of Doors tonight, combining political and social awareness with a generous helping of humor. Also on the bill are the Black Earth Boys, which includes two African musicians and a former member of Bragg's old band, the Blokes. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Damrosch Park Bandshell (see directions to Lincoln Center), but the festivities begin earlier with a "Big Busk" event. From the LCOOD website:

"Billy Bragg will lead a group rehearsal at 4:00 for anyone who brings an acoustic guitar to practice that evening’s songs. Between the rehearsal and the 5:30 show, buskers who sign up at rehearsal can perform their own material at locations throughout Lincoln Center’s plazas."

You can find out more at the Big Busk YouTube site.

* Americana group David Wax Museum plays the Mad. Sq. Music series at Madison Square Park. The band blends folk, country, bluegrass, and Mexican music and its live shows have made it a hit this year. 7 p.m. Between Fifth and Madison Aves., 23rd to 26th Sts. (directions to Madison Square Park)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from the BoDeans, Richard Buckner, The Burritos, & More

The BoDean's "Indigo Dreams" (out July 26th) is one of this week's free album previews.

There are fewer free album previews this week than usual, but you can find some interesting new releases nonetheless. Among them: the BoDeans' new album, "Indigo Dreams;" "Tripper" by the Fruit Bats; "Rabbits on the Run" by Vanessa Carlton; and "Sound as Ever," an album by a group billed as The Burritos.

If that last name makes you think of the Flying Burrito Brothers, well, it's no accident. This group features Nashville musician Chris James and his brother Fred, as well as Walter Egan (best known for his 1970s song "Magnet and Steel"), and looks to do music in the tradition of the late Gram Parsons and the FBB.

According to a posting on the blog Underground Nashville, Chris James explained that he was approached by British record label SPV and "asked if I might be able to put together a new version of The Flying Burrito Brothers for their label.” The label required that each member of the band be cleared with the label.

That's an album I'm really looking forward to listening to. In the meantime, here's a selection of the other albums available for free preview this week:

NPR First Listen:
"Our Blood" by Richard Buckner
"The Calm Blue Sea" by The Calm Blue Sea

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Tripper" by the Fruit Bats (streaming until Aug. 23)

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Sound as Ever" by The Burritos
"Indigo Dreams" by the BoDeans
"Rabbits on the Run" by Vanessa Carlton

AOL Music and Spinner also have a number of albums by groups I'm not familiar with, including the Dangerous Summer, Falling in Reverse (the new band of Ronnie Radke, formerly of Escape the Fate), the Features, the Milk Carton Kids, Little Horn, and singer Debbie Neigher (produced by John Vanderslice).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tonight: The Feelies, Real Estate, & Times New Viking Play Celebrate Brooklyn

The Feelies perform "Too Far Gone."

The Garden State takes center stage at tonight's Celebrate Brooklyn show as the longtime indie band The Feelies headlines a free gig in Prospect Park. The band, which originated in the Passaic County town of Haledon, will be preceded on the bill by Real Estate (from Ridgewood, NJ) and the lo-fi sounds of Columbus, Ohio's Times New Viking.

The Feelies formed in the late '70s and their quirky sound was credited with influencing R.E.M. and other bands. The Village Voice was said to have named them "The Best Underground Band in New York" before their debut album, "Crazy Rhythms," even came out. (And that album was named by Rolling Stone as one of its "Top 50 Albums of the 1980s.) The band became dormant in the early '90s after releasing several albums, but has sporadically recorded and played out since then.

In recent years The Feelies have established a tradition of playing a run of a few shows at Maxwell's in Hoboken, the club they frequently played in their heyday. (See an article of one of this year's Feelies shows by rock critic Ann Powers. She also links to a review of the reissues of their first two albums, which explains The Feelies' sound.) The New York Daily News also has an article on The Feelies and tonight's Celebrate Brooklyn show.

The Feelies now have a new album, "Here Before," on Hoboken's Bar/None Records.

If you can brave today's sweltering weather and get out to Prospect Park, this will be a great show to see.

Details: The Feelies, Real Estate, and Times New Viking at Celebrate Brooklyn
7 p.m. (doors 6 p.m.), Prospect Park bandshell, 9th Street & Prospect Park West (See directions here)
Free, but $3 donation requested.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Free Album Streaming: New CDs from They Might Be Giants, Portugal. The Man, Shonen Knife, & More

Japanese female punk band Shonen Knife pays tribute to the Ramones with their new cover album, streaming for free this week.

Better late than never, here's a sampling of this week's new albums available for free online preview. It's a diverse bunch, including the new CD from Portugal. The Man; a fun set of Ramones covers by Shonen Knife; a live album by the female singers known as Mountain Man; and the latest efforts from They Might Be Giants, 311, and the Swedish pop band Little Dragon.

I'm especially enjoying "Osaka Ramones," the Shonen Knife covers CD, and the new one from Amy LaVere, who ventures beyond traditional singer-songwriter territory on her album "Stranger Me," which was produced by Craig Silvey, who worked on Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs." (Note: Amy LaVere is playing a free gig at the World Financial Center July 28th as part of the inaugural Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival, which also features the Taj Mahal Trio and the new band featuring Mike Farris, who was the frontman of Double Trouble and the Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies.

KCRW Album Preview: 
"In the Mountain In the Cloud" by Portugal. The Man (streaming through August 9)
"Come Back to Us" by Release the Sunbird (side project of Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave) (streaming through August 17)

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Universal Pulse" by 311
"Top Contenders: The Best of Strung Out" by Strung Out
"Everything's Fine" by The Summer Set

NPR First Listen:
"Stranger Me" by Amy LaVere
"Ritual Union" by Little Dragon's Listening Party:
"Live at the Wiltern" by Mountain Man
"Join Us" by They Might Be Giants
"Lostboy" by Lostboy (Jim Kerr of Simple Minds)
"Osaka Ramones" by Shonen Knife
"WHATWAVE" by The Dead Trees
"Strong Killings" by Strong Killings
"Two-Way Mirror" by Crystal Antlers

Monday, July 18, 2011

Black Angels Play Free Show at Mercury Lounge Tonight (& Photos from 4 Knots)

The Black Keys at the 4 Knots Festival Saturday.

After playing Maxwell's on Friday night and closing the 4 Knots festival on Saturday, Austin's Black Angels continue their NYC-area gigs with a FREE concert Monday night at the Mercury Lounge.

The gig, which the band announced from the stage at 4 Knots, is sponsored by Spotify and is part of effort surrounding the online music service's recent U.S. launch. Here are the details on the free Black Angels show: admission is first come, first served, and people can start lining up outside the club starting at 11 p.m. Monday. Doors open at 11:30, and the Black Angels are scheduled to hit the stage at 12:30 a.m.

I'm guessing that you'll be able to get Spotify invites at the event.

The Black Angels put on a fine show at 4 Knots, and actually I enjoyed the bands I saw, the last three of the day (Davila 666 and Titus Andronicus, in addition to Black Angels). I have never seen any of these bands, and had never heard of Davila 666, who are from Puerto Rico.

Some more photos from 4 Knots:

The Black Angels:

Titus Andronicus:

Davila 666:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Today's Inaugural 4 Knots Festival - Lineup, Set Times, Directions, & More

The inaugural 4 Knots Festival runs from 1-8 p.m. today at South Street Seaport.

Relocated from Coney Island and with a new name, the 4 Knots Festival today seeks to bring the vibe of the Village Voice's long-running Siren Festival to a new location at South Street Seaport.

The Festival takes place at Pier 17 and runs from 1 to 8 p.m. If you can't be there, East Village Radio is said to be streaming some of the content live.

The 4 Knots Festival features one stage (though it's still called the Main Stage), as well as the "4 Knots Indoor Lounge" (at 210 Front St.), which will have DJ sets from Yeasayer, Dan Deacon, Finger on the Pulse, Punches, and Brahms. The lounge is open from 2 p.m. to midnight, and is 21 and over, while the rest of the festival is an all-ages affair.

[UPDATE: Set times for the bands and for the Indoor Lounge DJ sets are posted below, or you can find them at the Village Voice website.]

You can also check the 4 Knots website and its Twitter page for information. You can also download a 4 Knots app (for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry) from Livetapp here.

Here are the 4 Knots set times:
Set times for the 4 Knots Fest, screen grab from VV website.

Directions: See the 4 Knots directions page for all the details and a Google map, but here's the condensed version: By subway, take the 2, 3, 4, 5, J, Z or M trains to Fulton Street, or the A or C to Broadway-Nassau. Then walk east on Fulton Street toward Water Street and the East River.

You can also get there by bus and by ferry (appropriately enough for this nautical-themed event); see NY Waterway's route map for boats from New Jersey to Wall St. and Pier 11.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spotify Launches in the U.S.; Joan Jett, Patti Smith Play Free Shows Tonight

The wait is over: Spotify is available to American music lovers as of July 14.

Spotify U.S. launches: After many false starts, the Spotify music streaming service arrived stateside today, July 14th. If you want to use the free service, you'll need to enter your e-mail address to get an invite (I have no idea how long it might take to get one). Spotify also has two options for paid service, at $4.99 and $9.99 a month, that you can sign up for now, without an invite.

If you use the website Klout, you may be able to get a free Spotify account right away through their "perks" program, depending on your "klout" level. (That's how I got my Spotify account today, although my klout score is not that high.)

So far I've been able to listen to a few albums in their entirety (the new Foo Fighters and Taking Back Sunday), so haven't had time to really explore the service too much. It works and sounds good so far, and the ads weren't too intrusive, in my opinion. I'll post more of my impressions of Spotify once I kick the tires a little more.

There was one disturbing note in using Spotify: when I opened the application with my iPod plugged in and iTunes open, Spotify was encouraging me to erase the music, movies, and similar content on my iPod. Huh? Needless to say, I didn't click on that option, and ejected my iPod so there was not even a possibility that its contents could be wiped out.

So what can Spotify do, in its free and paid versions? Spotify's blog introduces the services and explains the options. And Electronista has a quick hands-on guide to the premium Spotify features, with screen shots.

Free NYC shows tonight: Tonight is a good night for free gigs in the City. Here are some of the options:

* Joan Jett and Girl in a Coma, Seaside Summer Concerts, Coney Island, 7:30 p.m.
* Patti Smith and her band, River to River Festival, Castle Clinton, 7 p.m. (free tickets available at 5 p.m. at the site; first come, first served)
* Tune-Yards with Austra, RiverRocks, Hudson River Park (Pier 54), doors: 6 p.m. (show time not listed)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Free Summer 2011 Concerts: Joan Jett Kicks Off Coney Island Series

Joan Jett kicks off Coney Island's Seaside Summer Concert Series this Thursday.

The Seaside Summer Concert Series had to leave its old location, but that's not stopping the music. The popular series near the boardwalk in Coney Island, which had to leave Asser Park because of complaints from the neighbors, is now taking place a few blocks down the road, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will be kicking off the series this Thursday, July 14th.

Girl in a Coma, which is on Jett's own Blackheart Records, will open the show. I don't think the neighbors in the old location would have liked the racket these ladies can crank out.

The new location for the Seaside Summer Concert Series, says its website, is at West 21st St. and Surf Avenue, next to the Brooklyn Cyclones' ballpark. Concerts take place on Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. You'll find directions to the Seaside concert location here. By subway, you can take the D, F, N, or Q trains to the last stop, Coney Island/Stillwell Ave. Turn right at the corner of Stillwell and Surf Avenues (where Nathan's is), and walk along Surf Avenue to West 21st St.

Also on the 2011 Seaside schedule:
  • July 21 - An Evening with The Monkees and special guest MC Jay Black
  • July 28 - Mary Wilson (of the Supremes) and The Spinners
  • Aug. 4 - "Mystery Night" (artist to be announced a week before the show)
  • Aug. 11 - Annual Latino Music by the Sea concert (artist to be announced; Maria Torres Dancers)
  • Aug. 18 - Cheap Trick and The Rattlers 

The old location featured a number of row of folding chairs surrounded by a lawn area where people would lay out blankets, etc. I have no idea what the new concert venue is like, but the website says it has folding chair for rent. I'm hoping it's a grassy area like the previous site, as opposed to being basically a large paved area. I'll post any additional information I find out about the location.

What good shows are people seeing this week?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Free on Saturday: Ted Leo and The Screaming Females at the Seaport

Ted Leo and the Screaming Females play the Seaport Saturday, a week before the big 4 Knots Festival.

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists play a free show tomorrow at South Street Seaport's Pier 17 that's billed as a kickoff show for next Saturday's all-day 4 Knots Festival, also at Pier 17. New Brunswick, NJ's Screaming Females are also on the bill with Ted Leo. The show starts at 6 p.m. (See the Village Voice's story on the 4 Knots kickoff show.)

You can get to Pier 17 by taking the 2, 3, 4, 5, J, Z, or M trains to Fulton Street or the A or C to Broadway-Nassau. (See map and directions.)

The 4 Knots Festival is the free shindig that's replacing the Siren Festival, which was held on Coney Island for the last 10 years. Like the Siren Festival, 4 Knots is presented by the Voice, as well as the Seaport Music Festival.

Speaking of 10 years, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists have been around for a decade (and have played many free shows in that time, including the Siren Festival), and for their appearance Saturday they'll be playing their first album,
"The Tyranny of Distance," in its entirety. The Voice looks back at some of Ted Leo's 10 years of free NYC shows, with videos. (Below is an amateur video of Leo doing "Little Daw" from the 2010 Siren show, which I attended.)

The 4 Knots Festival takes place from 1 to 8 p.m. and features The Black Angels, Titus Andronicus, Davila 666, Oberhofer, Eleanor Friedberger (of Fiery Furnaces), and Mr. Dream. While the Siren Festival featured two stages, I'm not sure if that will be the case with 4 Knots. Which may be just as well, since you won't have to choose between two acts you really want to see that are playing at the same time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Tonight: Gary U.S. Bonds FREE Show (Photos) in Weehawken to Open Series

Gary U.S. Bonds kicks off Weehawken's free summer concerts tonight.

I know this is late notice, but if you're in the Weehawken/Hoboken area tonight, you might want to check out the free concert by the legendary Gary U.S. Bonds at 7 p.m. on the Hudson River waterfront. (The band Finish This opens the show at 6 p.m.) (UPDATE: See photos from the Gary U.S. Bonds show below.)

This is the first show of the annual Hudson Riverfront Performing Arts Center series, with most shows held on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. The shows are held in Lincoln Harbor Park (directions), which is just a few blocks from the Lincoln Tunnel. (If you look east you'll see the stage, and the Hudson; look to the west and you'll see the underside of the Lincoln Tunnel helix.)

I'm definitely heading out to this show.

The rest of the HRPAC summer concert series in Weehawken:
  • Wed., July 20, 7 p.m.: Paquito and Friends (Latin jazz great Paquito D'Rivera)
  • Wed., Aug. 10, 7 p.m.: Fusion Tango (musicians and dancers from Argentina)
  • Mon., Aug. 29, 7 p.m.: Broadway on the Hudson (performing the hits of the golden age of Broadway)
  • Sun., Sept. 18, 2 p.m.: Hudson River West Folk Festival (established and emerging singer-songwriters)
There are fewer shows this summer than I recall from past years, but considering how the economy has pummeled government budgets, it's good to see this series is still happening.

Photos from the Gary U.S. Bonds Weehawken show:

Gary U.S. Bonds with guitarist Mark Leimbach.

All in the family: Bonds with (most of) his band, including the backup singers Laurie Anderson (his daughter) and Laurie Anderson (his wife).

Bonds and Leimbach, assisted by a couple of young fans.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Free Summer 2011 Concerts: Hudson Sq. Music & Wine Fest (Tuesdays)

City Winery presents a series of free Tuesday night after-work shows.

City Winery is sponsoring its free Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival for the third year in a row, and tonight's show features those ageless wonders of blues and soul, the Holmes Brothers.

The festival, which features shows early on Tuesday nights (5:30 to 7:30), is held in the courtyard behind City Winery, which is at 155 Varick Street, between Spring and Vandam (see directions here).

Previous shows have featured Mike Doughty and Emily Wells and the New York Gypsy All Stars. Upcoming shows in the Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival:
If you live or work in the downtown area and get out of work early, this is a great way to see live music in the evening without getting home late. Even though I have a flexible schedule and staying out late isn't a problem for me, I will still sometimes skip a show after realizing that a 7:30 or 8 start time means the headliner won't come on till 9 or so. So the Hudson Square series is a nice option.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Canada Day 2011 in NYC: The Great Canadian Songbook Concert At Joe's Pub

Joe's Pub will be full of Canadian song tonight for its annual Canada Day shows.

Today is Canada Day, that nation's independence day, and in New York City that means it's the day of the annual "Great Canadian Songbook" concert at Joe's Pub. This show features a number of Canadian singers from different genres performing songs written by many of the famous Canuck songwriters of the last few decades.

There are two shows tonight, at 6:30 pm and 9:00 pm. You can find more information and buy tickets here).

Canada does indeed have a long and deep pool of excellent musicians and songwriters, and it goes well beyond Rush, the Guess Who, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. At the Great Canadian Songbook concert you might hear songs from such greats as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, and many more... including Nelly Furtado, Gino Vanelli, Lighthouse, and Bryan Adams. And yes, probably some Burton Cummings, Guess Who, or BTO tunes.

The performers for tonight's show, from the Joe's Pub website:
Tyley Ross (East Village Opera Company, The Who's "Tommy"), Greg Naughton (The Sweet Remains), singer-songwriters Jamie Leonhart, Joe Hurley, Anthony da Costa, and Kate Schutt, cabaret spitfire Shelley McPherson, Tony Salvatore (BETTY, Pleasuredog), Shannon Connolly (Lez Zeppelin), and chanteuses Lezlie Harrison, Melissa Stylianou, and Victoria Cave (Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata, Cabaret, Steely Dan), all backed by the all-star "Workin' for the Weekend House Band" led by Music Director Peter Kiesewalter (Brooklyn Roadfunk Orkestrata, East Village Opera Company).
If you're in New York and want a fun musical way to celebrate Canada Day, check out the Great Canadian Songbook concert at Joe's Pub.

(Unfortunately, the NYC City Parks' SummerStage series no longer holds a Canada Day concert; this was a tradition for a while but there hasn't been one for several years.)

And as always, I want to thank CBC Radio 3, and especially Grant Lawrence's podcast, for keeping us all up to date on the latest in Canadian indie music.