Month: October 2012
My opera neighbor is performing tonight!
If you follow me on Twitter you know that I have a neighbor who sings, and trains others, in opera. (And also other styles, such as Broadway show tunes.) Her name is Carmen Elisa Cancél.
It’s the coolest thing because it’s like living in a musical. One time, she was training a guy on West Side Story (one of my favorite musicals) and I spent a couple of weeks constantly humming along while he rehearsed “Tonight.”
Anyway, I ran into her in the elevator today and she’s performing this very weekend and it’s for a good cause! Here are the details:
WHO: Hailed as a singer possessing a “crystalline timbre and intense acting ability,” Puerto Rican soprano, Carmen Elisa Cancél is quickly establishing herself as an artist in the lyric soprano repertoire.
WHAT: In recital to benefit for the Singers Forum Youth Scholarship. She’ll perform classics and contemporary favorites.
WHEN: Friday, Oct. 26, at 8 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 27, at 3 p.m.
WHERE: The Dorothy Jones Theater / Singers Forum / 49 W. 24th St. 4th Floor
Suggested donation is $20. Remember all proceeds go towards the scholarship fund.
CMJ Roundup: Yellow Red Sparks, Making Movies & more
What isn’t there to like about a week of live music events in New York City?
Just as some people look forward to Fashion Week in the Big Apple, I look forward to the CMJ Music Marathon. The four-day event brings 1390+ bands to 90+ stages throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. You’ll go to see one band and catch about five others, whom you may end up liking, in the process. And sometimes there is free booze involved. You can’t go wrong!
Here’s a mini-round up of the bands I saw (all photos by me except for Making Movies):
L.A.’s Yellow Red Sparks at Legion in Williamsburg: As OC Weekly puts it, Yellow Red Sparks Make “Emotional Vomiting” Sound Like a Good Thing. And how. The lyrics, written by lead singer Joshua Hanson, are emotional, sweet and tailor-made for every Grey’s Anatomy episode that ever was. Check these out, from “Monsters and Misdemeanors:”
there’s a chance we could meet
under the likeness of summer
and there’s a chance we could fall
under the highlight of winter
there’s a parked car that won’t let me over
and there’s one thing i’ll regret,
but you’d be the last
This trio is super approachable and I was able to chat them up about their first time in New York City. Goldy, the band’s drummer, and Sarah Lynn, who plays stand up bass and the banjo, had a blast and it showed. Recently signed to ORG music label, you can check out their EP, “Four Steps in Corsets,” here.
Kansas City’s Making Movies at Desmonds: Bilingual indie rock? Yes, please. It’s as if this music was made for me– a kid born in the States to Colombian parents who instilled in me a love for amazing Afro-Latino music!
Founded by brothers Enrique and Diego Chi, Making Movies fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms with indie sensibilities and bilingual songs. Currently, legendary artist and producer Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, is producing their sophomore album. In the meantime, check out “Hangover Blues” off their EP (with its cool album art) Aguardiente here. Buy the EP on iTunes. Read my interview with lead singer and owner of awesome dreadlocks, Enrique Chi, at Sounds and Colours here. And check out this short video of them covering Aguanile, one of my favorite Hector Lavoe songs of all time, here.
New York City’s Pillow Theory at Bowery Electric: Kelsey Warren from Pillow Theory and I go way back, when my brother, Richie, stumbled upon one of their shows in the late 90s. These guys have been rocking for quite a while and it only gets better. I’ve had friends compare them to Living Colour (whom they opened for at Central Park’s Summer Stage) and even Bush– both bands from the 1990s. True, yet Pillow Theory finds a way to keep their sound relevant. Seriously, they get better, they rock harder every time I see them. And Kelsey sounds like Seal. (Hear his solo album here.)
Kelsey tells me their critically acclaimed EP, MELTDOWN, will be re-released November 5th via Europe’s FILTER label “with some extra spices on it.” In the meantime, check out 2007’s Outpatience here. You can watch their latest music video for Blipsters & Buppies (yep, you guessed it–black hipsters and black yuppies) here.
Also at Bowery Electric:
From Brooklyn — The Disappointment: It’s quite the opposite. You’ll be pleased with this foursome that play rock-n-roll tinged with blues and soul. Reminded me of Black Crowes with a New York edge. Listen to their EP, Damn Righteous, here.
From New York City — Man on Earth: The folks at CMJ once described Man on Earth as “Glistening, wide-open arena rock with spirited choruses and a charged romanticism.” Yet I also hear something new wave in them (listen to “Sometimes.” You’ll see what I mean.) Add to that an energetic stage show and therein lies your reason for checking these guys out. (Bonus points for the lead singer who sang right into my camera!) Check out album, Things They’d Never Believe, here.
From Brooklyn — The Last Royals: If your lead singer’s style reminds me of INXS’ Michael Hutchence at all, I’m going to listen, and chances are, I’m going to like it. This Brooklyn duo, who make “beat-laden indie pop,” had the lower level of Bowery Electric intently watching as writer/singer/producer Eric James dropped down to the floor once or three times. According to their Wikipedia page, James and drummer Mason Ingram first met in 2010 while recording a record to benefit Restore NYC, a charity focused on ending sex trafficking and restoring the well-being and independence of foreign-national survivors. For that reason alone, you should give their stuff a listen here!
From New York City — Bear Ceuse: They describe themselves as LOUD ASS ROCK. Sometimes. But I also thought frat party, and not in a bad way! A fun way. Let’s just say this band had the girls dancing right at the front of the stage. Check out their tunes on Bandcamp here.
There are so many bands who played the CMJ Music Marathon to discover!! Visit CMJ’s website for a great roundup. Their site is a great resource for music year-round.
New mix by Smutlee: Britannia Bass
The case against mainstream
A great bit of “thinking out loud” by DJ K. Sabroso:
“Dancers upset about Chris Brown in a B-Boy feature film. EDM musicians salty about sounds going mainstream and merging with Bro culture. Comic heads up in arms about the inconsistent quality and fidelity of film/TV adaptations. Anime heads freaking out about an all white cast of Akira…
“For most of my life, “the mainstream” has not been something worth envying from a cultural perspective. Its goal is to sell the most product to the largest consumer base.
“I can see how it seems like something you love becoming popular might bring more attention to your heroes/influences, provide a higher flow of revenue to the people we feel deserve it, increase consumption, and open up more opportunities for new and talented artists, but only under the condition that we format our craft for the masses and often remove a large part of what made it so beautiful to us to begin with.
“Success and fame are dangerous commodities (that often travel alongside their friends compromise and mediocrity) and it’s well worth reviewing what they have done to previous people/cultures before wishing that they come and visit the things you care for.
“If you truly love something, it might be wise to appreciate it for what it is instead of wishing it was something else. Almost everything I treasure would be considered “fringe” or weird but maybe that makes it more meaningful when I meet those rare people who think my weird shit is cool, too. Rant over.”
To hear K. Sabroso’s latest mix, visit his Soundcloud page.
Second presidential debate at The Apollo
I got to watch the second presidential debate at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem tonight. It was my first time there.
It’s a lot smaller than it looks on television, but it’s a sight to be seen. Especially the outdoor sign. It’s so bright!
One of Fordham’s political science professors, Christina Greer, was asked to moderate a panel discussion before and after the debate. The panel included Esther Armah (WBAI-FM), Herb Boyd (The New York Amsterdam News), Michael Brendan Dougherty (The American Conservative), Mark Riley (WWRL 1600 AM), William Tucker [The American Spectator], and Armstrong Williams (SiriusXM’s The Power).
My colleague Janet will blog about the discussion, which touched on several topics, but a comment by Dougherty of The American Conservative stayed with me. When asked what will the candidates NOT talk about tonight, he predicted they’d avoid: the unemployment of black males; the war on drugs, which leads to the incarceration of an overwhelming amount of black males; the use of drones, civil liberties and guns.
Well, he was wrong on guns, since it came up in a town hall question. Too bad neither candidate came up with a real solution or promised to get real “tough” on guns since we know there are a lot of people in this country who would lose their minds if you dared threaten the 2nd Amendment or the gun industry.
But, Dougherty was dead on about all the other things he predicted they’d avoid. Yet I am not surprised.
I’ll admit it–I’m a pessimist (let’s all be thankful I’m not a politician running the country). But I just can’t see ALL or even most of America demanding that the unemployment or incarceration of black males come up at the dinner table, let alone in a national discussion.
And did you notice none of tonight’s questions directly dealt with the poor or the disabled? Many people jumped on Mitt Romney for his 47% comment. But sometimes I wonder why most of us–the middle class that is so often mentioned in campaign stump speeches and debates–go right along ignoring issues that are not personally affecting us. (And are they not affecting us in the long run?)
The ‘Arizonification’ of America continues to frame the national immigration debate.
By JEFF BIGGERS of the New York Times
With the “papers please” provision of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 immigration law now in effect, Bill Clinton roused an overflowing crowd at Arizona State University last week with a special shout out to the state’s “dreamers,” the highly organized ranks of undocumented youth seeking permanent residency either through education or the military (and sometimes both). Appearing on behalf of the former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, whose surging campaign to become the first Latino Senator in Arizona now leads in the latest polls, Clinton drew some of his biggest cheers for his support of the DREAM Act merely by calling it the “right thing to do.”
Welcome to the Arizona showdown.
Read more here.
Paul Ryan and the moral argument for rationing health care
By Charles Camosy of Fordham University:
As a vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) appears to have made our polarized politics even worse. After all, what could be more polarizing than his serious attempt to reform the third rail of politics: entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid? But Ryan actually provides an important opportunity for a real conversation about making hard choices about health care—one that our culture desperately needs to have.
Read more in the Washington Post‘s “She the People” blog here.
Video: A Tribe Called Red & Javier Estrada – ‘Indigenous Power’
How can you NOT like a song called Indigenous Power?
SHECK it out! And then read all about it on Remezcla.
Obituaries: Reubin Andres, advocate of weight gain, dies at 89
So the headline of this story could have read, “Advocate of Weight Gain dies of Heart Disease,” (because it’s true) but there is more to the story. This guy started looking into weight gain when he was asked to participate in a conference and deduced that one could live longer if they gained about six pounds per year starting at age 40. Obviously, this went against the prevailing wisdom at the time.
“For some reason the idea has grabbed us that the best weight throughout the life span is that of a 20-year-old,” Dr. Andres said in a 1985 interview with The New York Times. “But there’s just overwhelming evidence now that as you go through life, it’s in your best interests to lay down some fat.”
Read the rest of this interesting obit in the New York Times here.