THE COOL, THE HUNGRY AND THE
N. 6th STREET SHUFFLE
gimmesound.com and The Food Bank For New York visit House's House
of Public Assembly - to learn how Williamsburg rolls those tumbling dice.
By James Buhrendorf
Video by Sy Abudu
I wanted this road trip bad, for good reasons. My recent life has shown me great songs and music...but also some wind-sucking "friends", in poor humor and worse behavior. James' Land of Bad Cartoons. Except for my gimmesound family, I've been writing a few folks outta My Movie. High time to blow low. Deli, driving, diner pie...and driving music. Riding that last train to strange familiar Brooklyn.
Cool swirl this evening. Fall breezes after driving rains and treefall windstorms...trash and leaves rattling past the Sweetwater, meatpackers, a deserted New York Transit Authority hub. And a quiet intensity in the sidewalk stroll of the Young Hip and Restless down Bedford Street. This was not artsy college Cambridge. This was sparkling grit, and growling desire to create and get seen.
The beat-up graffiti doors at PA would open at 8 on five hungry young bands, ready to feed The Food Bank For New York City
-- the Brooklyn show in the GIMMESOUND.COM GiveBack Live Music Series. And I didn't know what we'd see and hear. Steve and Sean recruited this roster, and we'd had last-minute changes. I am a pilgrim..but tonight, I was a stranger in a new neighborhood.
A town filled with guys named Boy Racer, Z and...House
. But House was a perfect name for my new friend - the GIGANTIC good-humored benevolent bouncer from Pennsylvania, transplanted to Public Assembly and the Brooklyn club music scene. He'd provided concert security, road-crewed on tours, seen the scene. If Dennis Brennan was the shaman for our Cambridge show, House was the street-righteous Buddha presiding over tonight's performances.
A word about our grateful cause. Cool has NEVER been a problem round here. But hunger is pervasive in NYC - and continues to grow. Today, there are 4 million New Yorkers
who face difficulty affording food, double the number just five years ago. And those on the front lines are seeing significant increases in people using soup kitchens and food pantries, many who have never had the need before.
The Food Bank For New York
is the city's only food bank, and the major supplier of food to New Yorkers in need. Last year they distributed over 60 million pounds of food, including 11 million pounds of fresh produce to its network of community food programs throughout the five boroughs.
Traditionally, most of those served by the Food Bank have been women and children, the working poor, the elderly, and the disabled living in impoverished minority communities. But skyrocketing unemployment plus the high costs of food, shelter, and utilities has forced more families to rely on emergency food to stretch budgets (up 24 percent since 2004). One child in five relies on emergency food to survive. In 2008, nearly half of Brooklyn residents had difficulty affording food, and were concerned about needing food assistance.
And now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming. WELCOME MY FRIENDS, TO THE SHOW THAT NEVER ENDS...
is Steven Cooper, a fearless whiteboy rapper catapulted from a tiny Wyoming town out to Sacramento and into the world. He's the only rapper I've yet heard (note: I have not sought to hear many) who can infuse beats with a genuine personal testimony, driven by sweaty gospel urgency. His flows are a call for personal transformation, and for a better world. No big fake gangsta ego here, and thank god no Vanilla Ice...Steven is an earnest soul, and a talented voice on a mission (on gimmesound.com and beyond) to free the spoken poet's music. Your ass and spirit are bound to follow. A confident inspiring fiery set, all the more remarkable for being delivered in a Brooklyn club whose hymnal is The Book of Indie Rock.
were a wildcard entry...fresh-faced kids from Long Island, who turned out to be powerful and promising young musicians. Young? Kids?? Yeah, Logan Sorrentino the drummer's only 17, for god's sake. I've owned cats older than that...and his father is younger than me, OK??? Let me say with only encouragement: The songs aboard gimmesound.com do not fully capture the drive and energy they can deliver in their live set. That's not unusual for any group. And live, this power trio (Jason Abrishami guitar/vox, Will Mazzoli/bass) can amp up and lay down a hyperactive groove. But it ain't funk. A reviewer has said The Twees "have what might best be described as a New York City sound. Their music draws heavily from artists like Lou Reed and early Talking Heads. Cool thumpy rhythms combine with strange staccato guitars and reserved spoken/sung vocals. Hard to rate...but our initial reaction is that these guys ROCK".
The Fear and Trembling
was formed in early 2005 by four friends in Nashville, TN -- with diverse shared tastes in popular and experimental music. The band relocated to Brooklyn -- where they are writing and recording demos for a new album to be released sometime in 2009. The Fear and Trembling's
set was a jagged glorious sonic cathedral, a psychedelic swirl of melodic guitars (Adam Bains, Ryan Stimpson) on the outer edge of feedback, driven by dynamic moving bass from Ryan Roberts and drumwork by Morgan "Hotdog" Loy. If this is the new Nashville, it's one soaked in early Floyd and Catherine Wheel. The opening song Octopus was my favorite, requested by Vickie Van Ness...an anthem armed with powerful mystery. Sean Broesler assured me this was epic music, and he was right. F and T built their closing song to a dizzy climax, leaving their instruments rumbling and howling alone onstage in a sweet choir of strangely harmonic and soaring feedback. When I was born in America, indeed. To my mind, the best set of the night...in a night of great sets.
Recording on Crafty Records, Ivan crafts a drifty lush blend of quavering Geoff Buckley, early Neil Young and neo-psychedelic blur. Ivan's CD Water Colours
is his first to support his Crafty Records tour. Tonight, we were taken aback by Ivan's electric set as Ivan and The Terribles
...We selected him last-minute after an imploding band bailed from the line-up, but we'd only heard his lovely but primarily-acoustic debut CD. A guy who sang and played like Nick Drake and Geoff Buckley...and we got Crazy Horse. That's okay - heavy on the Crazy Horse, Mrs. Young. Guitars overshadowed nuances of Ivan's vocal dynamics...until halfway thru the set, when (finally) someone dialed in the right levels. It was time to sit back, and let the feral power of Erica Harsch on drums, Chris Denham on bass, and Frank Rathbone and Ivan on guitars blossom to Ivan's passionate yet subtle delivery. An artist on the rise.
is the new Magic Bullet Records
band from CHRISTIE FRONT DRIVE's former leader Eric Richter...with guitarist Jim Lehnhoff, bassist Chris Peterson, and drummer Jeremy Jones. The band began casually recording tracks in Brooklyn throughout 2007/2008 simply to play music, record it, and let people hear and enjoy (initially via the band's MySpace page). Cool swirl? Yeah, but enhanced by the snarl and chime of Eric's soul-deep hot-rodded Jazzmaster and Jim's leftie Telecaster, pinned by drummer Jeremy's beat and Chris's powerful basslines. Strong songcraft, nailed by Eric's hugely-expressive and abandoned whisper to a scream vocals, and a stellar second harmony from drummer Jeremy. I apologized to Eric for a thinning late-night worknight crowd who missed their last set: "Just have a ball..." He replied, "I'll have two balls." I told him to make it three, for the trifecta. Listen to these guys: they're genuine rock heroes.
Peter programmed the GPS to lead tired and hungry travelers to a 4:30 AM road breakfast at CT's Blue Colony Diner on the way home...as my left ear buzzed with shock and awe at the silence of a waking borough, and the craft of righteous artists who work to keep music flowing and free in CLUBLAND USA. As GPS Girl foretold us: "Public Assembly. 70 N. 6th Street. Brooklyn. You have arrived at your destination."
Thanks to Steve Van Ness, Dennis Leavey, Sean Broesler, Sy Abudu the videographer, our lovely intern freed from Utica, and all gimmesound.com NYC folks -- though some deliberately taunt Red Sox Nation by wearing Yankees caps in public. Thanks also to Public Assembly, The Sweatshop, Peter's Restaurant, Five Towns College, and The Food Bank For NYC for all working together.
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