The Irish Have Landed!

The McGowan Trilogy
Directed by Kira Simring
The Cell 338 West 23rd Street, NYC 
September 11 - October 5, 2014

Séamus Scanlon's The McGowan Trilogy: A Serial in Three Acts embodies the best things about New York City's annual 1st Irish theater festival. The play’s run at The Cell, which bills itself as a twenty-first century salon incubating new works of art, offers a chance to witness the work of a rising talent in Irish drama in an intimate venue. McGowan's assemblage of three one-act plays creates a satisfying arc centered on the title character, Victor M. McGowan, an I.R.A. soldier and killer played by Paul Nugent, who originated the role in 2012. In the published version of the play, Nugent describes his character as maybe having "a genuine soul under all that devilish sneering bravado," and he succeeds in bringing those emotional nuances out over the course of the evening. Read more »

Darius Jones Switches Genres

A jazz-identified musician who, for this release at least, is working in the classical realm, Jones is an excellent alto saxophonist, but also a consistently interesting composer, so this move to fully notated music for an a cappella quartet of female singers is hardly too big a hurdle for him to clear. The degree to which I loved this on first hearing, however, surprised me; this isn't just interesting, it's downright masterful.

This is the fourth volume in Jones's Man'ish Boy series, which I have never really understood the finer points of. That this one's sung doesn't help, because the 'words' are in an invented language of short syllables; the press release says it's a song cycle for a sacred alien birthing ritual. Read more »

ANNIVERSARIES: Bud Powell Born 90 Years Ago

No jazz pianist in the last 45 years has been uninfluenced by Bud Powell, because his work in the early days of bebop with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie established the prototype for the style's pianists, at least in a group setting: quicksilver, horn-like figures from the right hand, jabbing harmonies from the left that add off-kilter accents to the rhythm. (When playing solo, and sometimes on ballads in trio, Powell deployed a fuller, more lush style derived from Art Tatum, with some of his friend and mentor Thelonious Monk's style mixed in.) He left surprisingly few official documents of his collaboration with Parker and Gillespie, with most coming after the style's foundation because of two recording bans. By then he had already become a leader in his own right and had begun recording a legacy of not just great pianism but also his unique compositional style. Read more »

Little Q+A: Margaret Roleke + Bradley Rubenstein

Margaret Roleke's life has been spent in New York or the surrounding tri-state area except for three years living in London and two studying in Ohio. Her many trips to Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America have informed her practice. Roleke's art has been exhibited widely in the tri-state area, and also in several international shows. In the last year her work was seen at Scope Miami, Cutlog in New York, Fountain Art Fair in New York, and in several group exhibits in Connecticut, Harlem, and Brooklyn. Read more »

They Got the Steely Dan T-Shirts: The Debate Continues

As I mentioned in its introduction, my Steely Dan appreciation last week stemmed from an email exchange with several other people. And my article was not the last word by a long shot. One of the participants, Tony Alterman, is responding with his own album-by-album review, and his brother, CultureCatch's own Ian Alterman, is pitching in with his own observations. Here, with punctuation corrected and tangents omitted, is the origin of the debate and its continuation. Read more »

Song of the Day: Forster Anderson - "Red"

"Red," the new roots-rock single from Australian singer-songwriter Forster Anderson debut EP Banter is available for pre-sale on download from iTunes. The song explores the mind and psyche of a pyromaniac's modus operandi and the senseless destruction that ensues. Moreover, the tragic bush fires that ripped through the Australian State of Victoria in February 2009 and killed 173 people occurred while Forster was backpacking through Colorado, USA. This is his homage to that horrible event.

Two Shots Fired: Deadpan Hilarity in Argentina

It's that time of year again when crowds descend upon Lincoln Center to experience world cinema worthy of the ultimate accolades, the most hyped Oscar-worthy Hollywood offerings of the year, experimental programs that expose the versatility of the medium, and shorts that announce a whole spate of new, young directors who will no doubt blow our minds in the future -- or at least supply us with a few major catharses. Read more »

A Highly Personal Retrospective Appreciation and Ranking of Steely Dan's '70s Albums

So the other day a bunch of us were emailing back and forth about something and a tangent appeared in which we were ranking our favorite Steely Dan albums in order -- sticking to their '70s albums, their prime period. Read more »

Cartoon by Ken Krimstein

From the pen & brain of Ken Krimstein! Check out his latest book, Kvetch as Kvetch Can, too.

Little Q+A: Gina Magid and Bradley Rubenstein

Gina Magid is a Brooklyn-based painter who creates psychologically and visually layered imagery in paint, charcoal, satin, and other materials. She was the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2003 and a McDowell Colony Fellowship in 2004. Magid has had solo exhibitions at Feature Inc., New York; Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles; and Artists Space, New York. Her work has been included in group shows at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, New York; DiverseWorks, Houston, Texas; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; Exit Art, New York; and Greater New York 2005 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York. Her work is currently at Ana Cristea Gallery, 521 West 26th Street, New York. Read more »

LP One-Take - "Night Like This"

Singer-songwriter LP performs a riveting solo acoustic version of her hit "Night Like This" recorded in NYC at the studio formerly known as The Hit Factory. One-Takes are live performances by artists you know, should know, or will know soon enough. Thanks to Warner Brothers and LP for the rights of usage.

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Nick Cave - 20,000 Days on Earth

"I wake, I write, I eat, I write, I watch TV..." so says rock icon Nick Cave in his opening narration voiceover. And in doing so lays out the template of this exceptional documentary. Of course, if you know the artist Cave, you will know that his life isn't quite that simple. And while the film plays like a day in the life of Nick, from the opening scene of him waking up in bed next to his wife Susie to final crescendo of an evening performance of an absolutely riveting live version of "Higgs Boson Blues" from his last album, it is everything in between that really explores and exposes the artist as a work in progress. Read more »

Surprises from U2

The biggest story of the week is Songs of Innocence, the U2 album available for free from iTunes. It's not, however, considered a big story for the right reasons.  Read more »

Little Q + A: Millree Hughes + Bradley Rubenstein

Millree Hughes, born in North Wales in 1960, has been making art on the computer since 1998. In the 2000s, he showed with Michael Steinberg Fine Arts. Hughes is currently working with Museum Editions ( in New York City and Polyglot Gallery in Dallas, Texas.  Read more »

9/11 Tribute - David Poe - "September"

Singer-songwriter David Poe's poignant acoustic guitar and vocal cover of "September" by Earth, Wind & Fire, with all the proceeds to benefit the 9/11 group Tuesday's Children, is profoundly disturbing and powerful at the same time. For those of us New Yorkers who lived through this heinous moment in world history, it is a tragic event that we will carry to our graves. But the event also sparked a level of human compassion and cooperation that shone a beacon of light and hope that the entire world could see. I've often contemplated how we can continue to keep that flame of optimism burning in a world that seems teetering on the brink of madness. Perhaps Max Pickwoad's video is the perfect reminder to bring us back to that moment of clarity when everything around us was literally collapsing but somehow hope still sprang eternal.

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