Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Now Streaming: The New CD from Redd Kross, an Indie Tribute to Fleetwood Mac, & More

Once again there's a small selection of new albums streaming online this week, but there are a couple of big ones for fans of rock and pop: "Researching the Blues," the first album in 15 years by L.A. band Redd Kross, and "Just Tell Me That You Want Me," a tribute album to Fleetwood Mac by some of the biggest names in indie music, such as The New Pornographers, Lykke Li, MGMT, St. Vincent, and The Kills.

Redd Kross - Researching the Blues
Redd Kross is back and rocking with "Researching the Blues."

That's a stellar line-up, and it's certainly not the list of usual suspects you'd expect to find on a tribute album by a multi-platinum-selling pop band. But then it goes to show the influence that The Mac has had on popular music for more than three decades now (and that's just going back to their Buckingham/Nicks formation).

With the new Redd Kross album and tour, the band's Steven McDonald becomes the second member of his family to return to the road after a decade and a half. His wife Anna Waronker and her band That Dog played their first East Coast shows in 15 years earlier this year, and hinted that some new tunes might be forthcoming from the band.

I missed Redd Kross when they played the inaugural CBGB Festival a couple of months back, but I'm hoping they'll come this way again. "Researching the Blues" sounds great based on the few songs I've heard, and I can't wait to dig into the whole thing. The album hits the stores August 7th.

And for something completely different streaming this week: NPR and KCRW have the new record by 22-year-old London pop singer Lianne La Havas, and KCRW has the latest by Brazilian trio Bonde Do Role, which KCRW DJ Travis Holcombe says deftly blends "traditional Brazilian music, surf rock, synth pop and punk rock."

NPR First Listen:
"Researching the Blues" by Redd Kross
"Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac" by various artists
"Is Your Love Big Enough?" by Lianne La Havas

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"PLAY.ROCK.MUSIC" by Toadies
"Farewell Catalonia by Russ Rankin
"Afar" by Ice Choir
"Coast to Coast" by River City Tanlines
"Wild Quiet" by Junk Culture

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Drink. Sing. Live. Love." by Versus the World
"Pool Party" by Ponderosa
"O' Be Joyful" by Shovels and Rope

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Tropicalbacanal" by Bonde Do Role

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Danny Boyle's Olympic Opening Ceremonies Magical Musical Mystery Tour

As devoted music fans, readers of this blog who watched Friday's opening ceremonies of the London Olympics no doubt took particular interest in the musical selections used. Film director Danny Boyle has made good use of rock music in his works, so it was no surprise that his opening ceremonies  noted Great Britain nation's role in that genre.

London Olympic Stadium Interior - April 2012 2
London's Olympic Stadium, site of Friday's opening ceremonies, in April 2012. Photo: jeffowenphotos (051_ V gold  Uploaded by Kafuffle) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

There were dozens of rock and pop songs used in the portion of the ceremonies that centered around a pair of young lovers featured in a popular TV show, and one site sought to list them all, along with the other music used in the London 2012 opening ceremonies. Many of these brief sound clips were used with film and TV excerpts, and it was noted that Boyle used clips from his own films.

Boyle is the director of movies including "28 Days Later," "Sunshine," "Trainspotting," and the Oscar winner for best film, "Slumdog Millionaire."

You can see the list, called "The Danny Boyle 86 Song Olympic Playlist," here. The selections range from British classical composers Handel and Elgar to the Kings, Beatles, The Who, and the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, Muse, the Sex Pistols, Led Zeppelin, Queen, and New Order, according to the list. And, as fitting for the London Olympics, the theme from the film "Chariots of Fire."

Thankfully, there didn't seem to be any Spice Girls tunes, although David Beckham, whose wife was in the pop group many moons ago, was prominently featured.

(As I found out Sunday, there is indeed an album containing 37 of the songs used in the London opening ceremonies; you can see the track listing and buy the album download on Amazon.com. The album is called "Isles Of Wonder: Music For The Opening Ceremony Of The London 2012 Olympic Games," and I heard of it because the official London 2012 website noted that it was currently the best-selling album in England and other parts of Europe, and had reached number five on the U.S. charts. Note: many of the pop hits heard during the ceremonies are not included on the disc; there are a number of tracks by the electronic band Underworld.)

Performing live at the ceremonies were the Arctic Monkeys (doing the Beatles' "Come Together") and Sir Paul McCartney, who closed out the proceedings with "The End" and "Hey Jude."

Although there was, as always, plenty of griping about the opening ceremonies, I enjoyed it and especially liked the focus on rock and other popular music. Considering that such pageants always have to serve many purposes, putting together one that's halfway enjoyable seems to be an accomplishment in itself, and this one combined great tunes with humorous touches (the James Bond/Queen Elizabeth routine; Mr. Bean's appearance), a number of live musical performances (Arctic Monkeys, McCartney, Mike Oldfield), and a dazzling fireworks show to cap it all off.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This Weekend: Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, Girl Talk, & Many More at Catalpa NYC Festival

The inaugural Catalpa NYC festival takes place this weekend.
There's a new festival in town, and it takes place this weekend: the Catalpa NYC Music Festival, featuring The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg, TV on the Radio, Matisyahu, Umphrey's McGee, Matt & Kim, and many more. The event takes place on Randall's Island, site of many other multi-day music events. And as you'll see from the lineup, Catalpa NYC blends rock, hip-hop, reggae, blues, and electronic music into one festival.

There are four stages, including a reggae stage that offers live music throughout the day. See the Catalpa NYC event info page for FAQs, full lineup, directions, venue map, and much more. Here's the lineup for the three main stages of Catalpa NYC:

Saturday, July 28th:
The Black Keys - 9:30 to 11 p.m.
Felix Da Housecat - 9:30 to 11
Umphrey's McGee - 8:30 to 9:30
TV on the Radio - 7:45 to 8:45
JDH+Dave P - 7:30 to 8:30
Umphrey's McGee - 6:45 to 7:45
Hercules and Love Affair - 6 to 7
Paul Favretti - 6 to 6:45
The Sheepdogs - 5 to 6
DJ Paul C - 4:15 to 5
Zola Jesus - 4 to 5
The Demos - 3:30 to 4:15
The Aviation Orange - 3 to 3:30
My Pet Dragon - 2:15 to 3
Q1043 winner - 1:30 to 2:15
The Rebel Light - 1 to 1:30

Sunday, July 29th:
Snoop Dogg (performing "Doggystyle") - 9:45 to 11 p.m.
Hellfire Machina - 9:45 to 11
A$AP Rocky - 8:45 to 9:45
Polish Ambassador - 7:45 to 8:45
Girl Talk - 7:45 to 9
AraabMusik - 6:45 to 7:45
Matt & Kim - 6 to 7
Hook N'Sling - 6 to 7
Matisyahu - 5:15 to 6:15
Cold War Kids - 4:30 to 5:30
Alex English - 4:15 to 5:15
Dirty Heads - 3:45 to 4:45
Paul Raffaele - 3 to 4
City and Colour - 3 to 4
The Big Pink - 2:15 to 3
Aunt Martha - 2 to 2:30
The Airplane Boys - 1:30 to 2
Bury Me a Lion - 1 to 1:30

Tickets are $100 for each day, or $180 for both. There are additional fees for ferry and parking options, but you can also take an MTA bus there (the X80 special event bus, $5.50 roundtrip, or less if you transfer from subway or bus with a pay-per-ride MetroCard). You can also walk or ride your bike across the bridge to Randall's Island.

I'll be going at least one of the days, thanks to the folks at the Village Voice (I won a Twitter contest about the Voice-sponsored 4 Knots festival). There are no heat waves, hail storms, or tornadoes forecast for this weekend, so the weather should be good to go. (Might be a little rain, but that's nothing compared to the stuff we've had to deal with so far this summer in the NYC area.)

If you're going to Catalpa NYC, enjoy and leave your comments below on how you liked it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Alberta Cross, Lawrence Arabia, & More

It's slim pickings in the album-streaming department this week, with fewer titles than usual on offer. But there are still some interesting releases out there. One example: the three-disc set "Out Of Many: 50 Years Of Reggae Music" (streaming on NPR Music), is a compilation that commemorates the half-century since Jamaica gained its independence with one hit song from each year, beginning in 1962.

The collection is from VP Records and features only artists who recorded for that label (so you'll find names such as Yellowman and Shabba Ranks, but not Bob Marley), but that may make it interesting for exposing listeners to figures who aren't the most famous ones in the genre.

Video for "The Processional" by Woodpecker!

Also streaming on NPR is a new album by a band called TheNewNo2 (pronounced "the new number two"). That name may be as unfamiliar to you as it was to me, but you'll recognize one of its members: Dhani Harrison, the son of late Beatle George Harrison. Note: don't expect music that's a chip off the old block; from what I've heard of thenewno2, it sounds nothing like the Beatles or any of the elder Harrison's solo work.

On the Americana/folkie end of the spectrum, there are new albums by Alberta Cross (which, despite its name, is not Canadian), The Illegitimate Sons, and Woodpecker!, which I first heard on NPR Music but whose album is streaming on Spinner.

You'll also a second chance to hear the new Passion Pit album, "Gossamer," which is streaming over at Spinner this week.

Maybe with fewer albums streaming this week, I'll actually be able to listen to all the ones I want to hear.

NPR First Listen:
"Out Of Many: 50 Years Of Reggae Music" by various artists
"Thefearofmissingout" by TheNewNo2

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Gossamer" by Passion Pit
"Songs of Patience" by Alberta Cross
"The Sparrow" by Lawrence Arabia
"Unearth" by Grasscut
"Drunk Is the New Sober / Stupid Is the New Dumb" by Dots Will Echo
"Union" by Saint Saviour
"Art of Losses" by The Blakes
"Thanks Anyway" by Woodpecker!

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"I Am a Moth" by Ryan Darton
"American Music" by The Illegitimate Sons
"Cardiology" by Sara Jackson-Holman

KCRW Album Preview: 
"Voyeur" by Saint Motel

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 St. Ann's Italian Festival in Hoboken: On Now Through July 26th

Now that the rain and heat waves have subsided in the New York metro area, it's a a great time to take in some live music and street fairs. The St. Ann's Italian Festival in Hoboken, which has been running for more than 100 years now, always draws big crowds to see the live music and eat the Italian goodies such as sausage-and-peppers heros, zeppoles, calzones, and cannoli.

The festival takes place near the church, which is at 704 Jefferson St. in Hoboken (see map). It began yesterday, but most of the festival is yet to come. Festival hours are: July 21st and 22nd: 1 to 11 p.m.; July 23rd through 25th: 6 to 11 p.m. [corrected]; July 26th: 12 Noon to 11 p.m.

Here's the live music for the the rest of the St. Ann's Feast (as the festival is also known). Bands begin at 8:15 p.m.
  • Sat., July 21st: Cristina Fontanelli & Orchestra
  • Sun., July 22nd: Harold Melvin's Blue Notes
  • Mon., July 23rd: The Nerds
  • Tues., July 24th: Brass Transit (playing the music of Chicago)
  • Wed., July 25th: Steve Lippia Sings Simply Sinatra with the Jordan Thomas Orchestra
  • Thurs., July 26th: The Bronx Wanderers (playing songs by Dion, etc.) 
Crowds at the festival can be rather large, especially on weekends, and this year should be no exception. The good weather should contribute to a big turnout. I generally go to the festival on weeknights when the crowds aren't as large and the lines aren't as long. Hey, the food tastes just as good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Concert Notes: Coachella Cruises; The Who, Dylan Go on Tour

There are a couple of tours to talk about in this edition of Concert Notes, as well as a much more unusual kind of performance: the first-ever Coachella Cruises. Odd? Yeah, but at least all the endless jokes about the Coachella Cruise will distract us here in the U.S. from all the presidential election talk.

Here's what's news on the concert scene:

It may sound like a gag, but the S.S. Coachella is for real.

* Coachella Cruise to set sail: Building on the popularity of its first two-weekend festival this year, the folks behind the Coachella festival are sponsoring two rock-fueled floating parties. The "S.S. Coachella" will sail to the Bahamas this Dec. 16th to 19th and to the Bahamas Dec. 19th to 23rd.  Tickets go on sale this Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern, 10 a.m. Pacific. Pricing starts at $500. See the Coachella Cruise FAQ for more details.

The lineup for both cruises features Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (doing a DJ set) Sleigh Bells, Simian Mobile Disco, DJ Harvery, El-P, Black Lips, Grimes, and Cloud Nothings, among others.

Above: Townshend and Daltrey held a lengthy interview to announce the "Quadrophenia" tour.

* The Who to tour playing "Quadrophenia": Love live rock! The Who are getting back on the road after four years off to play "Quadrophenia" live in its entirety. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey will play The Who's 1973 rock opera in more than 30 North American cities starting in November. Each show will conclude with some of the band's classic tunes. 

The NYC area will host five shows:  Brooklyn's Barclays Center (Nov. 14th), Madison Square Garden (Dec. 5th), Prudential Center (Dec. 6th), and Nassau Coliseum (Feb. 21st, 2013). There will be a presale July 20th; the public on-sale date is July 27th. (Link to The Who tickets.)

Related: There will be one-night-only screenings of a film on the making of the "Quadrophenia" album on July 24th. "The Who: Quadrophenia: Can You See the Real Me?" will be shown at theaters around the country, including AMC's Empire and Kips Bay in Manhattan and Edgewater and Secaucus in NJ. (See complete list of theaters here.)

* Bob Dylan announces more tour dates: Fresh off announcing his forthcoming album, "Tempest" (due Sept. 11th), Dylan has booked dates for some additional gigs in the Fall, with Mark Knofler. The only one in the NYC area is at the Barclays Center on Nov 21st; other dates not too far from the metro region are Bethel Center for the Arts (near the Woodstock site) on Sept. 2nd and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Sept. 8th. (See all Bob Dylan tour dates here.)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Gaslight Anthem, Matisyahu, Passion Pit, Purity Ring, & More

New releases by returning favorites and hot new artists take center stage among the albums streaming online this week. New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem return with "Handwritten," the follow-up to 2010's "American Slang." NPR Music's Stephen Thompson says of the band, "You may have heard every ingredient before, but in this particular concoction, they all sound amazing." He adds that, "If there were a psychotropic drug that made users feel like James Dean, "Handwritten" would render it redundant.

Video for "Fineshrine" by Purity Ring.

What else is streaming this week? Former Stereolab singer and guitarist Laetitia Sadier is back with a new collection, her first in two years. There's also the much-anticipated debut album by Canadian electronic duo Purity Ring, who've garnered a lot of buzz based on the few singles they've released.

And a lot of people are looking forward to the latest album by another electronically oriented band, Passion Pit, which made a big splash back in 2008 with its catchy tune "Sleepyhead." (Passion Pit's synthesizer player, Ayad Al Adhamy, played at 4 Knots Saturday with his side project Team Spirit, in which he sings and plays guitar. His name isn't mentioned on the Passion Pit website for the new album, "Gossamer," so I'm not sure if he's left the band or just taking a hiatus to focus on Team Spirit).

Also streaming this week: new albums by singer-songwriter Citizen Cope, punk/electronica band Shout Out Out Out Out, '80s alt-rockers Soul Asylum, and many more. See the websites below for the  complete lineup of albums they're streaming this week.

NPR First Listen:
"Handwritten" by The Gaslight Anthem
"Gossamer" by Passion Pit
"Shrines" by Purity Ring
"Silencio" by Laetitia Sadier

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Spark Seeker" by Matisyahu
"One Lovely Day" by Citizen Cope
"Spanish Moss & Total Loss" by Shout Out Out Out Out
"Broken Brights" by Angus Stone
"Go Outside" by Hot Panda
"All of the Unknown" by The Drowning Men
"Milo Greene" by Milo Greene
"19 - Songs for and Inspired By Valencia: Chapter 19" by Jen Schande
"Collective Guilt" by Zebra Tracks
"Fight! Fight! Fight!" by The History of Panic
"Limblifter" by Limblifter

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Delayed Reaction" by Soul Asylum
"Intrinsic" by The Contortionist
"Trouble With Machines" by District 97
"Proper Cowboy" by Diego's Umbrella

Sunday, July 15, 2012

(Photos) 4 Knots Fest: Hot Bands, Hot Weather, & a Real Fire

The second 4 Knots Music Festival at the Seaport crammed in a lot of music in its eight-plus hours… along with some real-life drama. The festival showcased a number of popular young bands and up-and-coming groups, but was headlined by the reunited Archers of Loaf, who delivered a rousing set clocking in at just under an hour to conclude the festivities. (See the Village Voice's 4 Knots coverage for more details and photos that are a lot better than mine.)

team spirit at 4 knots
Team Spirit on the "Skipper" Stage.

This year's festival featured a small adjacent stage (the "Skipper" stage) near the main performance space, allowing for live music virtually nonstop during the afternoon. The only band I saw on the Skipper stage—a small, uncovered affair that was barely a foot the ground—was Team Spirit, which lived up to its pre-festival acclaim with a high-energy set. The band is a project of Ayad Al-Adhamy of Passion Pit, who sings and plays guitar.

The festival was humming right along till nearly 4 o'clock … until a three-alarm fire on Pier 17 brought things to a screeching halt. Hospitality announced during its set that it had to stop playing but would be back, and firetrucks could be seen and heard approaching the Seaport.

Hospitality plays at 4 Knots
Hospitality on stage... before The Fire.

Amber Papini of Hospitality.
Amber Papini of Hospitality. More 4 Knots photos below.

The members of Hospitality stood at the back of the stage, watching the firemen putting out a fire that damaged part of the pier and caused the evacuation of several hundred people there. Fortunately, the many fans assembled to watch the main stage show didn't have to leave.

Hospitality came back on stage eventually, but played only one or two songs before exiting, to try to keep the festival schedule reasonably on schedule. San Diego's Crocodiles took the stage 40 minutes after its scheduled time of 4:40.

The indie-pop played by Brooklyn's The Drums mellowed things down a bit after the guitar assault of Crocodiles, but was enjoyable nonetheless. Archers of Loaf brought the crunchy guitar-rock sound back to the stage to wrap up 4 Knots. I've never seen them before, but judging by the crowd's reaction they seemed to do a good job of re-creating the sound they had during their heyday in the 1990s.

All in all, a good time at the second edition of 4 Knots. It didn't feel as hot as I thought it would, and overcast skies kept the sun from beating down on the crowd much of the time. The fire was a downer, not only because it delayed the show but caused the remaining acts to shorten their sets to close the stage down at 8 p.m. (Archers of Loaf ran maybe a couple of minutes past that with their abbreviated set).

Crocodiles at 4 Knots
Crocodiles at 4 Knots.

The Drums: 

The Drums at 4 Knots

The Drums at 4 Knots

Archers of Loaf: 

Archers of Loaf

Archers of Loaf

Archers of Loaf

Archers of Loaf

I don't think anyone had a better time at 4 Knots than this young fan:

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 4 Knots Music Festival: Schedule, FAQs, Official After Party, & More

The second annual 4 Knots Music Fest takes place Saturday, July 14th, starting at 1 p.m., and you'll find the complete schedule below. The Village Voice-sponsored free festival, which is the successor to the decade-long Siren Festival on Coney Island, will be held at Piers 16 and 17 at South Street Seaport. (See directions to 4 Knots.)

The festival is all-ages and will go on rain or shine.

4 knots poster 2012
Archers of Loaf headline the second 4 Knots festival.

A standalone guide to 4 Knots is included in this week's edition of the Voice. If you don't have it handy, you can find out more about 4 Knots at this Voice article, which includes links to articles on some of the bands such as Archers of Loaf and Crocodiles, a map of South Street Seaport, and even a Voice food critic's guide to his favorite eating spots in the area. Also, see the Voice's 4 Knots schedule page, which also includes the 4 Knots Twitter feed; descriptions of the bands; and the 4 Knots FAQ.

Although the official start time being given for the festival is 1 p.m., there will be a couple of brief sets beginning at 12:15, as shown below.

Main Stage
12:15 p.m.: The Smiling Lies
12:30 p.m.: The Fast Years
1:30 p.m.: Nick Waterhouse
2:30 p.m.: Bleached
3:30 p.m.: Hospitality
4:30 p.m.: Crocodiles
5:30 p.m.: The Drums
6:30 p.m.: Archers of Loaf

Skippers Stage
1 p.m.: Doldrums
2 p.m.: Devin
3 p.m.: Team Spirit
4 p.m.: Delicate Steve

There's also an official 4 Knots After Party at the Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club, featuring Black Lips and Kid Congo Powers with DJ Jonathan Toubin serving as host. Tickets are $15 (get tickets and more info here); doors to the party are at 7 p.m., with the show beginning after the Archers of Loaf set wraps up. Learn more about Toubin here and see an interview with him here.

The only 4 Knots act I've seen before is Crocodiles, which I saw at Maxwell's last year and enjoyed, so there will be a number of new discoveries for me. In particular, I'm looking forward to seeing Archers of Loaf, Hospitality, and The Drums, and I've heard good things about Team Spirit as well.

Saturday's temperatures should be in the mid 80s to 90 or so (much better than last weekend's temps of near 100 degrees). There's a chance of stray rain or thunderstorms, but any heavy rain isn't expected until late evening.

It should be another great free music festival in New York; check out the details and head on down to the Seaport Saturday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Coney Island's Seaside Concerts Return for 2012 (Schedule)

It took a while for the schedule to appear, but the free Seaside Concert Series in Coney Island is back for 2012. Shows will be held next to the Brooklyn Cyclones' ballpark once again, and as always the series features a blend of classic rock, soul, and disco.

Squeeze and Joan Jett are two of the acts at the Seaside Concerts.

The concerts are held on Thursday nights (with a couple of exceptions as noted below), and begin at 7:30 p.m. The concert site is at West 21st Street and Surf Avenue (see directions here). See the Seaside Concert Series website for more details, and call the concert hotline at 718-222-0600. There are seven shows in this year's schedule, which is as follows:

Thurs., July 12th: Disco Night/Last Dance: A Tribute to Donna Summer. With Gloria Gaynor, The Village People, The Trammps, and Rose Royce

Fri., July 20th: Squeeze and The Romantics [UPDATE, July 20th: Tonight's show seems to still be a go, despite the wet weather. There's been no cancellation notice on the Seaside website or on the site of Coney Island Fun.]

Thurs., July 26th: Annual Latino Music by the Sea show: Oscar de Leon, Luis Enrique, and N'Klabe [UPDATE, July 26th: I haven't yet seen word that this show is cancelled, but I'm assuming that it will be due to the severe weather forecast for the NYC area. Many other outdoor concerts, films, etc. scheduled for the night have also been cancelled.]

Thurs., Aug. 2nd: Dennis DeYoung: The Music of Styx; Lou Gramm: The Voice of Foreigner; and Bobby Kimball: Original Lead Singer of Toto

Thurs., Aug. 9th: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Sat., Aug. 11th: The Jacksons

Thurs., Aug. 16th: Gladys Knight and The Commodores

Note: Although the concerts are free, those free seats are in the back section of the seating area. Paying $5 will get you a seat in the large front section. Also, I don't remember there being any concessions within the concert grounds. So if you're hungry, get something to eat before the show (Nathan's and other food options are just down the street).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Free Concerts Galore! Buddy Guy, Neko Case, Eleanor Friedberger, Parliament/Funkadelic, & More

If you like free concerts, you're going to love this week. Coming on the heels of last Saturday's twin bill of CBGB Festival shows, there's a boatload more this week. In fact, there are so many concerts leading up to the weekend that I'll have to save Saturday's second 4 Knots Festival at South Street Seaport for a later post.

Neko Case plays the Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival July 12th. Photo: Amanda Hatfield.

Speaking of second timers, tomorrow (Wednesday, July 11th) kicks off the second annual two-day Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival at the World Financial Center. And there are great shows in the various free series around the City. Here's the schedule:

Wed., July 11th: Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival: multiple Grammy winner Buddy Guy headlines a bill that also features 13-year-old guitar prodigy Quinn Sullivan and legendary British blues guitarist John Mayall, whose bands have served as the launching pad for the likes of Eric Clapton and many others since the 1960s.  6 - 9:30 p.m., World Financial Center Plaza, 220 Vesey Street (between North End Ave. and West St.) 

Wed., July 11th: Mad. Sq. Music: In a totally different vein, you can see the quirky and fun singer-songwriter-actress Nellie McKay at Madison Square Park on July 11th. Known for her clever and often offbeat tunes like "David" and "The Dog Song," McKay also won an award for her turn in "The Threepenny Opera" (her Broadway debut). Tomorrow you can see her for free. 7 - 8:30 p.m., Madison Square Park, between Fifth and Madison Aves. & 23rd and 26th Sts.

Thurs., July 12th: Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival: Neko Case, known for her solo albums and her work as a member of The New Pornographers, headlines the festival's second night with her haunting voice and songs that range from country to blues to gospel to rock. I've been a fan of hers for years, and am hoping she'll be breaking out some new songs. Also on the bill: 63-year-old Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires and He's My Brother She's My Sister, a band that the festival says creates "a mix of folk, glam, and western swing." (Oh, and the band includes a tap dancer as well.) 6 - 9:30 p.m., World Financial Center Plaza, 220 Vesey Street (between North End Ave. and West St.)

Thurs., July 12th: RiverRocks: It'll be loops, fuzz, and snyths galore at Pier 84 as Dan Deacon takes the stage in the first of this year's RiverRocks concerts. If you've been to one of Deacon's live shows or have seen the webcasts, you'll know how he can whip crowds into a wild, gyrating frenzy. Also on the bill are John Maus and Roomrunner. 6 p.m., Pier 84, Hudson River at West 44th St.

Thurs., July 12th: River to River Festival: If funk is more to your liking, catch the longtime master at work as George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic play the River to River Festival Thursday night, July 12th. Clinton and company have been creating their own unique version of soul and funk since the 1960s, crafting hits like “Flash Light,” “Give Up the Funk,” and "Dr. Funkenstein." This sprawling collective has included an amazing number of extremely talented musicians over the years, and Thursday's lineup should be no exception. 7 p.m., Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City at the corner of River Terrace and Warren St.

Eleanor Friedberger and band play a free show July 13th.

Friday, July 13th: River to River Festival: Your Friday the 13th might be a bit luckier if you go see Eleanor Friedberger play a free show at South Street Seaport. The lead singer for The Fiery Furnaces stepped out on her own last year with her debut solo album "Last Summer," which garnered a lot of acclaim (you've probably heard the catchy "My Mistakes.") She puts on a good show fronting her own band; I got to see her open for Wild Flag on a previous tour. Also on the bill is Ex Cops. 7 p.m., Pier 17, South Street Seaport (near Fulton St.)

Saturday, July 14th: SummerStage: Latin alternative band Kinky will heat things up at SummerStage on Saturday with its mix of funk, rock, and electronica. The Mexican band will be joined on the bill by Los Auténticos Decadentes, 3Ball MTY, and DJ Raff in a show presented in association with the annual Latin Alternative Music Conference. 3 to 7 p.m., Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

There are lots of great shows this week. And as a special bonus, the temperatures aren't expected to be anywhere near 100 degrees over the next few days (and may not even touch 90). Get out there and see some free live music, folks!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Now Streaming: New Albums from Jeff the Brotherhood, Mission of Burma, Old Crow Medicine Show, & More

There's another hefty-sized helping of new albums streaming this week, including releases from the Nashville rock outfit Jeff the Brotherhood, Old Crow Medicine Show, Clare and the Reasons, and more. There's also "Unsound," the latest album in Mission of Burma's comeback after a 20-year absence (Paste gives it an 8.2 review).

Teaser video for Jeff the Brotherhood's "Sixpack."

Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell is also back with a new album, "I Can See the Future." I had heard various songs from her work in the past but didn't really get interested in her until I heard a story on her in connection with her last album, 2009's "Artificial Fire." Her latest album is produced by Joe Chiccarelli, who has previously worked with The Shins, The Strokes, and The White Stripes.

Also this week: a best-of set from The English Beat, and a new album from Louis Prima Jr., who carries on the legacy of his famous father.

And this week you'll get a second chance to preview the new releases by Dirty Projectors, Debo Band, and Rhonda Vincent.

NPR First Listen:
"Hypnotic Nights" by Jeff the Brotherhood
"Major" by Fang Island
"Yellow and Green" by Baroness

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Swing Lo Magellan" by Dirty Projectors
"Carry Me Back" by Old Crow Medicine Show
"Unsound" by Mission of Burma
"I Can See the Future" by Eleni Mandell
"KR-51" by Clare and the Reasons
"Forever So" by Husky
"Debo Band" by Debo Band
"Keep the Beat: The Very Best of the English Beat" by The English Beat
"Just Married" by Glocca Morra
"You Belong to the Minutes" by The Ugly Club  (CD release party July 13th at Maxwell's)
"Small Fame" by Bend Sinister

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Harakiri" by Serj Tankian
"Sunday Mornin' Singin' LIVE!" by Rhonda Vincent
"Return of the Wildest!" by Louis Prima Jr.
"Backbone" by June Divided

Friday, July 06, 2012

Saturday: Two Great Free CBGB Fest Shows (and Maybe Record Temps)

The two free CBGB Festival concerts on Saturday should be great, presuming you can tolerate what might be record-high temperatures in NYC. The thermometer is expected to hit between 99 and 102 degrees, depending on which forecast you read, and the SummerStage venue in Central Park has no shade whatsoever. I'd guess there won't be much shade at the other free show, in Times Square, but there are supposed to be vendors there, which might provide a bit of relief from the sun.

CBGB festival logo

Below are details on the two shows, taken from the CBGB Festival website (which often had limited info on events, such as mentioning the Times Square show without providing a link to any information on it.)

The set times for the Central Park show match what SummerStage sent out via Twitter Friday night, give or take five minutes. SummerStage says that doors for the show will open at 2 p.m., and the line to get in will form before then. It's hard to say how early you should get there to be guaranteed getting in, but I'd recommend checking SummerStage's Twitter feed on Saturday, which during regular SummerStage shows posts updates on how long the lines are to get in. (You can check the CBGB Twitter feed, but it doesn't seem to be updated as often.)

It's even harder to predict how things will play out at the Times Square concert, since it's not a regular venue but a large, blocked-off area of the streets. I can't remember any concert event of this size being held in Times Square.

Free CBGB Festival concert in Times Square
, Noon to 6 p.m.
(Stages on Broadway at 46th St. & 51st St.)
  • Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  • The Hold Steady
  • Duff McKagan's Loaded
  • Superchunk
  • Glint
  • Upper West
  • Zulu Wave

Free CBGB Festival concert in Central Park, 3 to 8 (?) p.m.
(Rumsey Playfield, center of park near 72nd St.)
  • Guided By Voices - 6 p.m.
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - 4:45 p.m.
  • The War on Drugs - 3:45 p.m.
  • Cloud Nothings - 3 p.m.
Needless to say, the heat and humidity will keep some folks away, and cause others to stay a shorter time than they had planned. If you go, make sure to use plenty of sunscreen, keep hydrated (with water, not beer or other alcohol!), and stay safe.

If you're not up for being outdoors in the steambath, there are plenty of CBGB Festival events in the great indoors. (See schedule for times, links to tickets, etc.) Music events include:
  • Soft White Sixties, The Young Things, Raccoon Fighters, and The Head at the Studio at Webster Hall
  • D Generation, Romans, Brass Knuckle Evangelists, and The Bamboo Kids at the Bowery Electric (SOLD OUT to general public; first come, first served for pass holders)
  • Mongrel Bitch, The Whores, A Devil's Broadcast, Brunch of the Living Dead, Drugstore, Bannor at Hank's Saloon
Movies on Saturday include a showing of the 1980 cult classic "Times Square" at 2 p.m. and Sid and Nancy at 7 p.m.,  among many others.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Now Streaming: New CDs from Dirty Projectors, Rhonda Vincent, Stevie Jackson, & More

Happy 4th of July to all of our American readers... and that goes double for fans of a certain New York band. That's because "Swing Lo Magellan," the new album by Dirty Projectors, is streaming online this week, one of the few offerings in a pretty slim week. It's one of those infrequent album streams available from the New York Times, which combines an article about the band with the chance to hear the artist's new album. (They did this with The National's "High Violet" last year.)

"Gun Has No Trigger" from the new Dirty Projectors album. 

In this case, the Times interviews the band's frontman, David Longstreth, asking him about topics ranging from his approach to running rehearsals to the influences on his songs (which include the Bible and Lil Wayne).

Check out the stream of "Swing Lo Magellan" below, then watch their NYC concert live on July 9th on the Bowery Presents YouTube channel. You can also see Dirty Projectors live on July 10th at a benefit concert for Celebrate Brooklyn, with Wye Oak and Purity Ring (tickets still available as of July 4th).

New York Times: 
 "Swing Lo Magellan" by Dirty Projectors (with an interview with David Longstreth)

NPR First Listen:
"Still Runnin' Round In The Wilderness" by Matt Munisteri (jazz guitar)
"Debo Band" by Debo Band
"Positive Force" by Delicate Steve

Spinner.com's Listening Party:
"Freak Out!" by Teenage Bottlerocket
"Frightened" by Easter Island
"(I Can't Get No) Stevie Jackson" by Stevie Jackson
"Still Wanna Fight" by Mic Harrison & the High Score

AOL Music Listening Party: 
"Sunday Mornin' Singin' LIVE!" by Rhonda Vincent
"Bad Decisions" by SIVA Addiction
"Captors" by Wolves at the Gate

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Happy Birthday, Suzi Quatro!

July 3rd is the 62nd birthday of a true American rock & roll original, Suzi Quatro. Although many younger music fans may not know her name, the leather-clad, bass-playing singer was a vital influence on Joan Jett and the rest of The Runaways, so most female rock & rollers indirectly owe her a debt of gratitude. [NOTE: I have since found out Quatro's birthday is actually June 3rd. Apologies for the error, and thanks to Steel Town Project for pointing it out.]

Suzi Quatro, "48 Crash" (1973)

She became known in the early '70s with rockers like "Can the Can" and "48 Crash," which became hits in the U.K. (where she moved in 1971), Europe, and Asia, but not so much in the U.S. Ironically, one of her few big hits in America was "Stumblin' In," a duet with Chris Norman that showed a more mellow side of Quatro.

Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman, "Stumblin' In" (1978)

Even more ironically, Quatro is perhaps best known to many Americans as an actress: she played the recurring character "Leather Tuscadero," a singing bass player, on the sitcom "Happy Days" in the 1970s. She later did TV and movie acting in the U.K., and has performed on the stage as well.

Quatro had more success in 1980 when her song "Rock Hard" appeared on the soundtrack of "Times Square," a cult film about two teen girls (Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado) forming a punk band in New York. (Tim Curry plays a DJ in the film.) Quatro's song was in good company; the soundtrack also included great tunes by Ramones, The Cure, XTC, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, and many other punk and new wave stars. "Times Square" was directed by Allan Moyle, who later did "Pump Up the Volume."

Suzi Quatro, "Rock Hard" (1980)

Note: "Times Square" will be shown Saturday, July 7th as part of the film program of this week's CBGB Festival (at 2 p.m., Anthology Film Archives). It's definitely worth checking out for the great music, and for seeing what Times Square looked like before it became a Disney-fied tourist attraction. (See the "Times Square" trailer below.)

Trailer for "Times Square"

Suzi Quatro continues to record and tour, and for years hosted rock radio shows on the BBC (though I'm not sure if she still is).

So happy birthday, Suzi Quatro. And here's to many more years of rocking.