Sunday, December 22, 2019

Jim Jones All Star Band at Berlin Under A

British rocker Jim Jones has specialized in American roots rock and roll since his first band. He launched his Motor City-influenced garage rock with Thee Hypnotics, a band he co-founded in 1985 in High Wycombe, a town some 30 miles from London, England. The band split in 1999, after which Jones furthered that sound fronting Black Moses until he formed the Jim Jones Revue in 2007. Since 2015, Jones has been leading Jim Jones & the Righteous Mind.

Tonight at Berlin Under A, Jim Jones performed with seasoned musicians he assembled less than two weeks earlier: guitarist Gordon Lawrence of Beechwood, keyboardist Benny Harrison of Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, saxophonist Paula Henderson of the Burnt Sugar Arkestra,  harmonica player Dennis Gruenling, bassist Cynthia Ross of the B-Girls, ElectraJets, and New York Junk, and drummer Jim Sclavunos of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. Bob Bert of Lyndia Lunch's Retrovirus, Wolfmanhattan Project, and Jon Spencer & The Hitmakers sang several songs with Jones at the end of the set. The band had one rehearsal, only a few hours before show time. Nevertheless, the performance succeeded in all it was intended to be, which was a collection of musicians playing well and an audience enjoying a rock and roll party. The set consisted of vintage blues, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll songs by Slim Harpo, the Coasters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Jimmy Castor, Norman Greenbaum, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Velvet Underground, the Cramps, and the Stooges. The songs averaged about 50 years of age, yet Jones' integral commitment to keeping this roots music alive made them sound timeless. His gritty vocals gave the songs a raw and intense delivery. Jones is little known in America, but he sure knows how to punch up American music.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

John Henry's Friends at the Town Hall

Steve Earle & the Dukes, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, Josh Ritter, and the Mastersons performed at the fifth annual John Henry's Friends benefit concert at the Town Hall on December 17, 2019. The concert raised funds for the Keswell School, an educational and therapeutic program in New York City for children and young adults diagnosed with autism. Earle hosts and curates the annual concert, which is named after his youngest son, who has autism and attends the Keswell School.

Steve Earle, host
The Mastersons (Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore) sang two Americana-influenced songs from a forthcoming album. Josh Ritter performed solo on an acoustic guitar and then invited the Dukes to join him for his last two songs. Jason Isbell and his wife Amanda Shires teamed to perform songs from both of their catalogs. Steve Earle & the Dukes performed a set of country-rocking songs, including a live debut of the traditional :He Was a Friend of Mine." All the musicians returned to the stage for the finale, appropriately the Crosby, Stills & Nash song "Teach Your Children."

The Mastersons
Setlist: The Mastersons
  1. The Silver Line
  2. No Time for Love Songs

Josh Ritter
Setlist: Josh Ritter
  1. Thunderbolt's Goodnight
  2. Henrietta, Indiana
  3. All Some Kind of Dream
  4. Our Father's War
  5. The Curse
  6. Getting Ready to Get Down (with the Dukes)
  7. When Will I Be Changed (with Steve Earle & the Dukes)

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
Setlist: Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires
  1. Swimmer... (Amanda Shires cover)
  2. Parking Lot Pirouette (Amanda Shires cover)
  3. Highwomen (The Highwomen cover)
  4. Overseas
  5. If We Were Vampires (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit cover)
  6. Cover Me Up

Steve Earle
Setlist: Steve Earle & the Dukes
  1. The Devil's Right Hand (Steve Earle song)
  2. Someday (Steve Earle song)
  3. Guitar Town (Steve Earle song)
  4. My Old Friend the Blues (Steve Earle song)
  5. You're Still Standin' There (Steve Earle song)
  6. Harlan Man (Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band cover)
  7. Little Emperor (Steve Earle song)
  8. The Galway Girl (Steve Earle song)
  9. Johnny Come Lately (Steve Earle song)
  10. Copperhead Road (Steve Earle song)
  11. City of Immigrants (Steve Earle song)
  12. The Revolution Starts Now (Steve Earle song)
  13. So You Wannabe an Outlaw
  14. Lookin' for a Woman
  15. Fixin' to Die
  16. Hey Joe (The Leaves cover)
  17. He Was a Friend of Mine (traditional cover)

Steve Earle & the Dukes, Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, Josh Ritter, the Mastersons
Setlist: Finale
  1. Teach Your Children (Crosby, Stills & Nash cover, with Steve Earle & the Dukes, Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires, Josh Ritter, the Mastersons)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Unmaker at the Red Party at Mercury Lounge

Aaron Mitchell
Based in Richmond, Virginia, guitarist Jim Reed had written several riffs that developed into songs that were not appropriate for his heavy metal band Occultist. In 2016, he chatted about this with vocalist Aaron Mitchell , who had been singing in the black metal band Crater and the heavy atmospheric band Slowing, who also desired to sing beyond the confines of traditional punk and metal formulas. The two formed Unmaker, played regional gigs, changed their band personnel a couple of times, and released a debut album, Firmament, in 2018. The band presently consists of Mitchell, Reed, former Large Margin, Hex Machine and Brief Lives bassist Chris Compton, and former Occultist and Weird Tears drummer Brandon Whittaker.

The monthly Red Party at Mercury Lounge, a center of gravity for the local goth, darkwave and post-punk underground, proved to be the ideal event to introduce Unmaker's music to a downtown audience. Unmaker performed a hard-edged multi-textured repertoire of original songs that combined hard rock and  dark wave with distortion and atmospheric sounds. Throughout the performance, Mitchell invoked a shadowy presence, often singing in spooky-sounding minor chords, as Reed charged into shimmering guitar leads and thunderous chords, and the rhythm section supported with its own simmering contributions. During the extended instrumental portions of some of the songs, the band came close to sounding like a progressive metal band. Overall, the band captured an intense dynamic and kept it just below the boiling point. Not easily boxed into a singular genre, the band created its own sonic island. As the band matures, it will be interesting to see what it becomes.

Gates of the West at the Bowery Ballroom

The talent bookers at the Bowery Ballroom offered Jesse Malin the date of December 14, which coincidentally was the 40th anniversary of the release of the Clash's iconic album, London Calling. Malin gathered many of his New York City-area musician friends to perform the album and more. Debbie Harry of Blondie, Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello, Fred Armisen, Vernon Reid and Cory Glover of Living Colour, Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus, Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie, Robert Gordon, Joseph Arthur, Drew Stone of Antidote, Jeff Slate, Paul Bearer of Sheer Terror, Fiona Silver, Felice Rosser of Faith NYC, Jeremy Lubin of Jeremy & the Harlequins, Kris Gruen, Don DiLego, Diane Gentile of Diane & the Gentle Men, Matty Hoboken, Boots (Jordan Asher Cruz) of Beyoncé, Ralphie G of the Mob, Johnny Pisano of Johnny Pisano's Punk Rock Pizzeria, and Miles each performed one song during the two-hour concert. Malin's band (guitarist Derek Cruz, keyboardist Ron Clores, bassist Catherine Popper, drummer Randy Schrager, saxophonist Danny Ray and slide trumpet player Indofunk Satish) backed all the guest performers.

In 2018, Jesse Malin and radio host Jeff Raspe formed Love It to Life Inc, a non-profit organization that produces an annual StrummerJam event and donates the proceeds to charity. This has led to Gates of the West, which unite musicians annually for a celebration of the music and message of Joe Strummer and the Clash before live audiences in New York City and Los Angeles, California. This year's concerts benefited the Joe Strummer Foundation and Music & Memory. The Los Angeles concert at the Roxy Theatre on January 11 listed Duff McKagan of Guns N' Roses, Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, Wayne Kramer of the MC5, Butch Walker, and other guests.
Jesse Malin
Joseph Arthur
Drew Stone of Antidote
Jeff Slate
Corey Glover of Living Colour
Jeremy Lublin of Jeremy & the Harlequins
Fred Armisen
Patrick Stickles of Titus Andronicus
Boots of Beyonce
Don DiLego
Matty Hoboken
Paul Bearer
Diane Gentile of Diane & the Gentlemen
Fiona Silver
Corey Glover and Vernon Reid of Living Colour
Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie
Ralphie G of the Mob
Kris Gruen
Felice Rosser of Faith NYC
Robert Gordon
Eugene Hutz
Debbie Harry of Blondie
Jesse Malin & Debbie Harry of Blondie
London Calling
  1. London Calling (The Clash cover, with Joseph Arthur on vocals)
  2. Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor and His Playboys cover, with Drew Stone on vocals)
  3. Jimmy Jazz (The Clash cover, with Jeff Slate on guitar and vocals)
  4. Hateful (The Clash cover, with Jesse Malin)
  5. Rudie Can't Fail (The Clash cover)
  6. Spanish Bombs (The Clash cover, with Corey Glover on vocals)
  7. The Right Profile (The Clash cover, with Jeremy Lubin on vocals)
  8. Lost in the Supermarket (The Clash cover, with Fred Armisen on vocals)
  9. Clampdown (The Clash cover, with Patrick Stickles on vocals)
  10. The Guns of Brixton (The Clash cover, with Boots on vocals)
  11. Wrong Emboyo (The Rulers cover, with Don DiLego on vocals)
  12. Death or Glory (The Clash cover, with Jesse Malin on vocals)
  13. Koka Kola (The Clash cover, with Matty "Hoboken" Madly on vocals)
  14. The Card Cheat (The Clash cover, with Paul Bearer on vocals)
  15. Lover's Rock (The Clash cover, with Diane Gentile on vocals)
  16. Four Horsemen (The Clash cover, with Miles on vocals)
  17. I'm Not Down (The Clash cover, with Fiona Silver and Jesse Malin on vocals)
  18. Revolution Rock (The Clash cover, with Corey Glover on vocals and Vernon Reid on guitar)
  19. Train in Vain (The Clash cover, with Vernon Reid on guitar and Adam Weiner on vocals)

Other Clash/Joe Strummer songs
  1. White Riot (The Clash cover, with Ralphie G on vocals)
  2. Stay Free (The Clash cover, Jesse Malin on vocals)
  3. Bankrobber (The Clash cover, with Kris Gruen on vocals)
  4. The Equaliser (The Clash cover, with Felice Rosser on vocals)
  5. Johnny Appleseed (Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros cover, with Jesse Malin on vocals)
  6. I Fought the Law (The Crickets cover, with Robert Gordon on vocals)
  7. Armagideon Time (Willi Williams cover, with Eugene Hütz on vocals)
  8. Fairytale of New York (The Pogues cover, with Jesse Malin and Deborah Harry on vocals)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Ally Coalition presents the Sixth Annual Talent Show at the Town Hall

Dixie Chicks, Carly Rae Jepsen, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, Jason Isbell, Bleachers and Andrew Dost, formerly of fun., performed a concert benefitting local agencies that assist homeless LGBTQ youth. Chris Laker, Jacqueline Novak, Mike Birbiglia, and Roy Wood, Jr. interspersed the music acts with their comedy. The program was curated by Jack Antonoff of Bleachers and hosted by his sister, fashion designer Rachel Antonoff. The Ally Coalition's Sixth Annual Talent Show, held at the Town Hall on December 12, 2019, raised $230,000 for New Alternatives and The Door NYC.

The Ally Coalition was founded by the band fun. (Jack Antonoff, Nate Ruess and Andrew Dost) and Rachel Antonoff in 2013. Through tours, special events, online campaigns, and partnerships, The Ally Coalition provides critical support for organizations dedicated to bettering the lives of LGBTQ youth and raises awareness about the systemic inequalities facing the LGBTQ population.
Rachel Antonoff
Chris Laker
Andrew Dost
Roy Wood, Jr.
Jason Isbell
Mike Birbiglia
Eza Koenig
Jason Isbell, Ezra Koenig, Dev Hynes, Jack Antonoff

Jacqueline Novak
Jack Antonoff, Carly Rae Jepsen
Carly Rae Jepsen
Dixie Chicks

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Agnostic Front at the Bowery Electric

Vinnie Stigma and Roger Miret
Guitarist Vinnie Stigma (born Vincent Capuccio) was born and raised in New York City's Little Italy, just a few blocks from what in the early 1980s would become the central vein of the hardcore punk scene at CBGB's. He formed Agnostic Front in 1980 to fit that scene, but initially could not seem to hold onto band members until 1982, when he recruited Cuban-born vocalist Roger Miret, formerly the bassist in the Psycho. With other musicians still coming and going, Stigma and Miret anchored both the band and the local hardcore community. Rather than repeating its music, Agnostic Front was among the hardcore bands that began to embrace and merge thrash metal into its sound without ever leaving its punk roots. The band finally split in 1992, with Stigma and Miret working on separate projects. They reformed Agnostic Front in 1996. The present band consists of Miret, Stigma, guitarist Craig Silverman, bassist Mike Gallo, and drummer Pokey Mo. Agnostic Front released its 12th and most recent studio album, Get Loud!, on November 8, 2019.

Sharing a bill tonight at the Bowery Electric with Sick of It All, Agnostic Front cut like a massive razor blade. Hard and fast, the band tore into its catalog and rallied the audience with angry, defiant anthems. As Miret grunted the lyrics through smoky vocals, audience members huddled tightly to chant choruses alongside him. Meanwhile, the musicians behind Miret played a thick barrage of smoking aggression, thrusting forward powerfully and speedily with no caution or sense of nuance. While other bands from that era eventually evolved into power pop, heavy metal or even progressive music, Agnostic Front is the band that has remained most faithful to its original hardcore sound. Agnostic Front's performance proved that the band is authentically hardcore for life.

Sick of It All at the Bowery Electric

Pete Koller and Lou Koller
In 1984 in Queens, New York, vocalist Lou Koller and his brother, guitarist Pete Koller, had a name for their band even before they actually had additional musicians. As high school students, the brothers formed Sick of It All in 1986 in their parents' basement in the spirit of the hardcore punk bands they were enjoying at CBGB's Sunday matinees. Sick of It All became a major part of the New York hardcore scene, and sold half a million records worldwide. The band currently consists of the Koller brothers, plus bassist Craig Setari and drummer Armand Majidi. The line-up has remained unchanged since 1993. Sick of It All's 12th and most recent studio album is 2018's Wake the Sleeping Dragon!

In October 2019, opening two nights for Municipal Waste at the Bowery Ballroom, Lou Koller announced that Sick of It All would perform in four of New York City's five boroughs with Agnostic Front in December. This mini-tour launched at the Bowery Electric tonight. With the audience less than arm's length from the small and low stage, Sick of It all moshed alongside its fans from the first song. The band's hardcore was rooted in fast and angry rock and roll and heavy metal, summoning raw power and explosive energy to keep every song exciting. Lou Koller worked a shrill vibrato into his singing, his brother Pete jumped high repeatedly as he played lead guitar, and the rhythm section drove the propulsive beats. Even with this hard and heavy structure, the songs remained melodic yet never leaned towards pop. With no new album to promote, the 33-year-old Sick of It All concentrated on the songs it recorded in its first decade, and the fans seemed fine with this. No doubt this kind of performance will keep Sick of It All at the top of its genre.

  1. Injustice System
  2. Clobberin' Time
  3. Inner Vision
  4. Take the Night Off
  5. World Full of Hate
  6. Betray (Minor Threat cover)
  7. Rat Pack
  8. My Life
  9. Uprising Nation
  10. Straight Ahead (Straight Ahead cover)
  11. Pete's Sake
  12. That Crazy White Boy Shit
  13. Good Lookin' Out
  14. Just Look Around
  15. Machete
  16. Scratch the Surface
  17. Step Down