Video of the Week: Melody Gardot - "Preacherman"

"The profound nature of our existence is that we are able at any moment to connect to anyone, anywhere. History is there to remind us of how far we've come, and every day our journey is to continue with that progress of becoming more wise, more compassionate and more considerate human beings. Remembering Emmett though song is way to remind people that there is no need to continue with senseless crimes. Race and racism do no go hand in hand. We are only one race: human." Melody Gardot

From Tribeca: "Aphasia" or the Dangers of Ordering Sushi from Seamless

"The filmmakers respectfully ask the media to not discuss the film's ending" is a sentence included in the press notes for Luke LoCurcio's twelve-minute short "Aphasia." Now since aphasia means the sudden inability to communicate, whether through speech, writing, or even sign language, while not losing one's intelligence, and there's only one main character in the film, unless you can't put 6 and 7.2359 together and come up with 13.2359, you will probably have already guessed the finale. If not, I have no doubt you watched Titanic and was caught off guard that a ship sinks and Leo dies. You probably also pondered why Frozen isn't set in Miami Beach. Read more »

Album of the Week: Greg Trooper

NY-based Greg Trooper is an extraordinary singer-songwriter. You probably don't know him and that's a damn shame. In 2003 he released Floating, one of the finest Americana albums ever. One of his most ambitious songs is on that album -- “Muhammad Ali (The Meaning of Christmas).” I've shared it with countless friends over the years. Folks like Steve Earle, Billy Bragg, Vince Gill, and Maura O'Connell have covered his songs. He lived in Nashville for a spell, but he's back with us. And he continues to dazzle, to too much anonymity. He has a real yeoman's approach to his craft; his stories occupy the same territory as another fellow New Jersey-born songwriter, The Boss. Yet you won't find him filling stadiums; more like clubs and small venues such as The Rock Room in Austin, where Greg's latest effort was recorded live with Jack Saunders on upright bass and Chip Dolan on keyboards and accordion. This stripped-down lineup allow all fourteen of these well-crafted tunes to penetrate your soul. Read more »

She's a Whore With A Heart of Gold

'Tis Pity She's a Whore
Written by John Ford
Directed by Jesse Berger
Red Bull Theater, The Duke, NYC
April 14-May 16, 2015

Red Bull Theater reliably mounts excellent productions, and its ’Tis Pity She's a Whore is no exception. John Ford's early 1630s revenge tragedy could be most simply summed up, as some of Red Bull promotional materials do, as Romeo and Juliet with incest. It includes an earthy nurse, a well-meaning but ultimately ineffective friar, and, of course, some extremely forbidden love. Read more »

Music and Sex #5: Marching, Stealing, Singing, Puking, Spinning

Music and Sex: Scenes from a life - A novel in progress by Roman AkLeff (first installment can be read heresecond herethird here; fourth here).

Other opportunities to interact with women included the marching band. It wasn't much of a band, but that didn't bother Walter. That meant it didn't take up much of his time. With the occasional exception, the same songs were played at every football game, so one rehearsal per week sufficed. In high  school he'd been the third or fourth best trombonist, but here there was just one other trombonist, and they were on par with each other. If Walter felt like skipping rehearsal one week, nobody cared, since the music was easy and he could sight-read it adequately.

Nor did he have to practice marching formations, because they really didn't bother with that. Their formations were a sort of rebellion, illustrations synced to the smart-ass script read by the announcer, and they merely ran around between formations instead of marching. The announcer helpfully said in advance what the formation depicted—"The band now forms a door and plays "I Hear You Knocking"—serving to remind the band members what came next while also explaining to the bemused audience what the sloppy rectangle on the field represented and what the cacophony was supposed to sound like. Read more »

From Tribeca: A 9-Minute "American Renaissance"

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"God save the Queen!" the masses cheered.

A solid narrative short, like a short story, in most cases, should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Of course, in the proper hands, this rule is meant to be broken. As for a documentary short, information should be supplied, a world revealed, and the viewers' sense of a certain topic should be transformed or heightened. Read more »

Single of the Week: Houndmouth - "Sedona"

Their first album, Hills Below the City, had moments of pure bliss ("On The Road," "Penitentiary"), but overall was just a tad under-nourished. On their sophomore effort Little Neon Limelight (Roughtrade), this handsome Indiana-based quartet (guitar, keyboards, bass, drums) deliver a stronger set of songs, tighter playing, and much better results. They still have a ragged, Americana vibe, but with songs as infectious as "Sedona" finding plenty of airplay and plenty of new Youtube fans, their popularity will continue rise. Well worth the investment of your time.

The Anti-Disney, Bill Plympton, on Cheatin’, Hitler, and Fellini

Bill Plympton is not a genius, or so he insists, although none of his thousands of fans would be shocked if a MacArthur "Genius Grant" came his way. This former contributor to Playboy, The New York Times, and MTV has been a cult cartoonist and animator now for over a quarter of century, garnering an Oscar nomination in 1987 for his short "Your Face." Read more »

The Third Man - A Haunting Noir

What is it that makes an artwork important? Relevance over time is one answer. This past summer in New York City, both the Museum of Modern Art and Film Forum ran a month-long series of Film Noir screenings. And this December of 2014, the Brooklyn Academy of Music ran a "Sunshine Noir" series of Film Noir shot in Los Angeles. Three revivals in one year speak to the continued pertinence of this genre: Film Noir is timeless. On the surface, Noir is stylized and sexy, but its hidden undercurrent illuminates something about our deeper vulnerabilities. Read more »

Moonlight After Midnight

Moonlight After Midnight
Written by Martin Dockery
Dramaturgy by Vanessa Quesnelle
April 10, 17, 24 and 30, 2015

A wooden chair, really the only prop onstage in Martin Dockery’s Moonlight After Midnight, is also the only thing in this mind-bending play that actually remains what it seems from the first. A woman (Vanessa Quesnelle) walks into the hotel room of a man (Martin Dockery). After a tense exchange that suggests that they know and love each other, the lights are turned up, and the woman claims that she has been sent by the "service" that she works for. The man denies that he made the call. She says the caller wanted her to roleplay his wife. He says not to mention his wife. He does, however, acquiesce to her demand that he pay her for her time in any case, paving the way for an encounter during which we never learn either of their names, but which qualifies as a journey of discovery nonetheless, one in which their roleplaying continually reboots. Read more »

Clean, It Just Looks Dirty

Basquiat: The Unknown Notebooks
Brooklyn Museum, NY
April 23-August 23, 2015

"Words are all we have."
 - Samuel Beckett

"I cross out words so you will see them more." 
- Jean-Michel Basquiat

There are some painters who are born great (Picasso), some who attained greatness due to circumstances of their time (David), and some whose work grows in importance posthumously (Kahlo); Jean-Michel Basquiat is a rare case of a painter who managed to fall into all three of these categories. Read more »

Song of the Week: Lord Huron - "Fool For Love"

Lord Huron have just released their sophomore effort Strange Trails and it's one of the finer albums of the year. The clean, guitar-driven track "Fool For Love" instantly pulls you in and continues to reward. Former Michigan-now-based-in-LA frontman Ben Schneider's soaring folk-rock outfit have arrived. Yes, it's more than a nod to the sideways Americana swagger of My Morning Jacket, the gentle SoCal sound of the Dawes, and the gentle swagger of Fleet Foxes but with more sepia tones and throwback attitude. And it's perfect for your upcoming Spring or Summer roadtrip. 

Kicking Against the Pricks

Peter Williams: Common & Proper Nouns: The N-Word
Novella Gallery, NYC
Through April 5, 2015

And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." - Acts 26:14 (King James Version) Read more »

Climbing T0W3RS @SXSW

I've seen so much music over the years it's often difficult for me to find much that is authentic. I have to get off the beaten track and lurk around the fringes of the music scene. Find those pockets of music where the authentic bubbles and boils. Where artists are making authentic art, for themselves, for their small stake in the world; hoping to get some response back from an audience or a scene, hoping to be noticed, hoping to share their art. Read more »

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