Friday, August 31, 2018

Howard Hewett at City Winery

Raised in Akron, Ohio, Howard Hewett started singing as a child fronting his older sisters in the Hewett Singers, touring the local gospel circuit, and as a teen, he sang in a funk band called Lyfe. In 1976, Hewett moved to Los Angeles, California, where he co-founded a show group called Beverly Hills and toured throughout Europe and Asia in 1977-78. In 1978, however, he was invited to join Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel in Shalamar. From 1979 to 1985, Hewett sang lead on a streak of hit songs. When the trio split in 1985, Hewett launched a series of solo recordings, a trajectory which started with a bang but subsequently fizzled. In the mid-1990s, Hewett was back on the airwaves, singing on albums by Joe Sample, Brian Culbertson, George Duke, the Rippingtons, Teena Marie, and others. His most recent album, Howard Hewett Christmas, was released in 2008.

Howard Hewett returned to New York City after an extended absence to headline at City Winery tonight. Accompanied by a keyboardist and backing tracks, Hewett's concert pivoted on the sweetness of his tenor vocals. Operating now apart from Hollywood's music industry manipulators, Hewett's performance was all about who he is in real time. Throughout the set, Hewett's style transcended times and trends; although Shalamar started during the disco era, Hewett was always the classic balladeer, crooning romantic songs for those who beheld and believed in the mysterious power of love. Whether engaging the audience from the edge of the stage or sitting reflectively on a stool, his songs pondered and celebrated the draw and the challenges of an amorous relationship. Towards the end of his set, he began singing from the audience, singing to his fans almost eyeball to eyeball. When he concluded with a string of Shalamar hits, he sang the familiar lyric, "this is for the lover in you." Actually, his tender vocals had carried that message all evening.

Visit Howard Hewett at www.howardhewettmusic.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Plimsouls at the Bowery Electric

After leaving the Nerves, whose 1976 single "Hangin' on the Telephone" was later popularized by Blondie, vocalist/guitarist Peter Case formed the Tone Dogs, which became the Plimsouls. The Plimsouls started as a power pop trio in 1978 in Paramount, California, and shortly before recording an EP in 1980 the band added lead guitarist Eddie Munoz of the Skunks, a band from Austin, Texas. The Plimsouls achieved regional popularity first, then national popularity in 1983 when the song "A Million Miles Away" was included on Valley Girl's motion picture soundtrack. Case then left the band to pursue a solo career, effectively ending the Plimsouls until a variation of the band recorded a little-noticed album in 1996. Munoz periodically assembles a touring band to play the Plimsouls' music. The current band consists of Munoz, vocalist/guitarist Richard Dev Greene (Pale Moon Gang, Palmyra Delran), bassist Cait O’Riordan (The Pogues, Bitchface), and drummer Florent Barbier (The Road Runners, Ivan Julian). The Plimsouls' most recent album, Beach Town Confidential, recorded live in 1983, was released in 2012.

The Plimsouls returned to the Bowery Electric tonight, and did right by the brand's legacy. Deriving the set principally from the Plimsouls' first two albums, the band brought life to the 35-year-old songs. Slicker than the initial versions, the songs were now more polished guitar-led pop than the original garage rockers. Greene was an animated front person, keeping the visual element lively, and Munoz offered exuberant guitar blasts to electrify the old catalogue. The encore was different, however, with O'Riordan first singing the Pogues' "Haunted" and then the band covering Iggy Pop's "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Thirty five years later, the music of the Plimsouls is still all about rock and roll.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Dead Daisies at the Highline Ballroom

Marco Mendoza, Doug Aldrich, David Lowy, John Corabi
David Lowy played rhythm guitar in pub bands in his native Sydney, Australia, but spent most of his adult life as a successful business investor. In 2013, he co-founded the first line-up of the Dead Daisies, a collective of rotating musicians, to play classic rock-sounding original songs. Lowy has been the Dead Daisies' sole consistent and perhaps least known member, but solidly and successfully has maintained his vision of replacing departing members with seasoned rockers. The present personnel consists of Lowy, vocalist John Corabi (Mötley Crüe/The Scream), lead guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake/Dio), bassist Marco Mendoza (Thin Lizzy/Whitesnake), and drummer Deen Castronovo (Journey, Bad English). The Dead Daisies' fourth studio album, Burn It Down, was released on April 6, 2018.

The Dead Daisies did not exist until decades after the classic hard rock era of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but at the Highline Ballroom tonight, the band impressively mastered that epic vintage sound. Hard rocking songs, powered by sharp vocals, clear melodies, bluesy riffs, sizzling guitar work, and big choruses, the music had a familiar and even nostalgic sound, and yet the band's high-energy performance made it very present. Along with original songs from the Dead Daisies albums, the band sprinkled cover songs over the nearly two-hour set because, as Corabi explained to the audience, the musicians are fans of classic rock as well. These songs included Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son," the Rolling Stones' "Bitch" and the Beatles' "Helter Skelter." Each band member demonstrated matured skills from years of playing hard rock music, and so the individual musicianship was dazzling and the unified ensemble playing folded flawlessly together. For the encore, the band membership temporarily expanded to include the opener, keyboardist Dizzy Reed of Guns N Roses, who had been a member of the Dead Daisies from 2013 to 2016. "Once a Daisy, always a Daisy," commented Corabi.

Visit the Dead Daisies at www.thedeaddaisies.com.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Afropunk Festival 2018 at Commodore Barry Park, Day Two


The 2018 Afropunk Festival continued its legacy of recent years in creating a weekend-long event that celebrated alternative trends in Black-centric music, the arts, fashion, political activism and culture. The main attractions were the concert performances by Kaytranada, Miguel, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Tyler the Creator, the Internet, and nearly 40 more performing artists, dance music sets by 25 disc jockeys, kiosks hosted by grassroots community activists, installations by artists, and food and merchandise sold by local entrepreneurs. The biggest draw, however, might have been the audience itself; it seemed like 60,000 people carefully planned their look for Afropunk 2018.

The Afropunk  Festival debuted in 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where non-mainstream punk and rock bands featuring musicians of color showcased their music as an alternative to the largely white punk and rock scene. To attract a wider audience, the festival shifted increasingly to include hip hop, neo-soul , blues and other genres, expanding its initial cause along with its target demographic, and moved outdoors to Commodore Barry Park. Musical performers now represent a much wider variety of tastes, yet still primarily reflect breaking African-American artists.

This year, the festival hosted the bulk of its acts on the two larger stages, with a few additional artists on three other stages. One of these side stages was mostly devoted to disc jockeys and another was a block away from the main stages and featured punk bands and a skateboard competition. One section of the park was dedicated to visual arts, another to vendors of fashion and beauty aids, and yet another to community activists.

This year's event was not without its controversies, however. Some people questioned the booking of Tyler the Creator, a rapper reported to have a history of homophobia and lyrics normalizing rape. Also, three attendees were removed from the festival because one wore a t-shirt featuring a handwritten message critical of the event.

Day Two Headlines

  • Angela Davis, a long-time political activist and one-time member of the Black Panthers Party, read social commentary prose to music during Toshi Reagon and Nona Hendryx's PowerJam set.
  • Los Angeles-based hardcore band Trash Talk performed a late afternoon set. The band's vocalist, Lee Spielman, left the stage during the first song and sang most of the set from the center of the circle pit on the basketball court. Unlike a previous Afropunk gig, this year he did not climb high up the stage rigging.
  • Janelle Monáe's set was high on the visuals. She began her set sitting on a throne like a queen with dancers appearing like servants. Throughout the evening, she signaled thematic shifts via wardrobe and hat changes, including vagina pants which she and her dancers wore during “Pynk.”
  • Outrageous fashion was everywhere at Afropunk, but no one outdid Erykah Badu, who came on stage wearing a wide-brimmed hat with long fringes, making her look like a lamp and lampshade.
  • Afropunk 2018 ended with Erykah Badu and Janelle Monáe singing together in the audience.
Duckwrth
Chanese Elife
Fuck You Pay Us
Harville
Nova Twins
Fantastic Negrito
Royal Sun
Densel Curry
Jacob Banks
Black Pantera
The Fever 333
PowerJam with Angela Davis & Nona Hendry

Pusha T
Trash Talk
Ibeyi
Tyler the Creator
Janelle Monae
Twin Shadow
Erykah Badu

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Summer StrummerJam NYC at the Bowery Ballroom


Jesse Malin and his band led a tribute to the music of the late Joe Strummer and the Clash at the Bowery Ballroom on August 25, 2018. Celebrated four days after Strummer would have turned 66, Summer StrummerJam NYC benefited the Joe Strummer Foundation. This was the second of what is becoming an annual series; Malin led a similar event last summer in Asbury Park, New Jersey, which featured guest performances by Brian Fallon, Craig Finn, Ted Leo, and other musicians.

Malin's guest artists this year included Acacia (The Advertisers), Adam Weiner (Low Cut Connie), Cait O'Riordan (The Pogues), Don DiLego, Drew Stone (Antidote), Eugene Hütz (Gogol Bordello), Felice Rosser (Faith), Frank Iero (My Chemical Romance), H.R. (Bad Brains), Jack James, David Strange & Charlotte Kemp Muhl (Uni), Jared Hart (Mercy Union), Joe Hurley (Rogue's March), Joseph Arthur, Kris Gruen, Matty Carlock, Matty Hoboken, Nufolk Rebel Alliance (Pedro Erazo of Gogol Bordello & Leo Minimum Tek of Outernational), R.B. Korbet (King Missile, Pussy Galore), Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate), Suzi Gardner (L7), Tommy Stinson (Bash & Pop/The Replacements/Guns N Roses), Binky Griptite (The Dap-Kings), and Willie Nile. Malin and his band backed most of the guest vocalists.

Setlist:
  1. Coma Girl (Joe Strummer cover, with Jesse Malin)
  2. Lover's Rock (The Clash cover, with Cait O'Riordan)
  3. Hateful (The Clash cover, with Tommy Stinson)
  4. Lost in the Supermarket (The Clash cover, with Tommy Stinson)
  5. Complete Control (The Clash cover, with Matty Hoboken)
  6. I Fought the Law (The Crickets cover, with Frank Iero and Evan Nestor)
  7. Safe European Home (The Clash cover, with Drew Stone)
  8. I'm Not Down (The Clash cover, with Liza Colby and Kia Warren)
  9. Gates of the West (The Clash cover, with Jesse Malin)
  10. The Equaliser (The Clash cover, with Felice Rosser and Susan Mitchell)
  11. Janie Jones (The Clash cover, with Kris Gruen)
  12. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais (The Clash cover, with Joe Hurley and James Mastro)
  13. Should I Stay or Should I Go (The Clash cover, with Uni)
  14. Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor and His Playboys cover, with Don DiLego)
  15. Rock the Casbah (The Clash cover, with Amanda Cross)
  16. Police and Thieves (Junior Murvin cover, with H.R.)
  17. White Riot (The Clash cover, with Matty Carlock)
  18. Johnny Appleseed (Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros cover, with Eugene Hütz)
  19. London Calling (The Clash cover, with Nu Folk Rebel Alliance)
  20. Brand New Cadillac (Vince Taylor and His Playboys cover, with Nu Folk Rebel Alliance)
  21. Stay Free (The Clash cover, with Jesse Malin)
  22. I'm So Bored with the U.S.A. (The Clash cover, with Acacia)
  23. Groovy Times (The Clash cover, with Joseph Arthur)
  24. Straight to Hell (The Clash cover, with Binky Griptite)
  25. Hitsville UK (The Clash cover, with Catherine Popper)
  26. The Guns of Brixton (The Clash cover, with Jared Hart)
  27. Tommy Gun (The Clash cover, with R.B. Korbet)
  28. Police on My Back (The Equals cover, with Willie Nile and Johnny Pisano)
  29. Train in Vain (The Clash cover, with Adam Weiner)
  30. Armagideon Time (Willie Williams cover, with Steve Wynn)
  31. Keys to Your Heart (The 101ers cover, with Suzi Gardner)
  32. Rudie Can't Fail (The Clash cover, with most of the guest performers)

Jesse Malin, Felice Rosser, Susan Mitchell
Jesse Malin, Kris Gruen
Jesse Malin, Joe Hurley
Jessie Malin, Uni
Jesse Malin, Don DiLego
Jesse Malin, Randy Schrager, Amanda Cross
Jesse Malin, Randy Schrager, H.R.
Jesse Malin, Matty Carlock
Eugene Hutz
NuFolk Rebel Alliance
Jesse Malin, Acacia
Jesse Malin, Joseph Arthur
Binky Griptite
Jesse Malin, Jared Hart
Jesse Malin, R.B. Korbet
Randy Schrager, Jesse Malin, Willie Nile, Johnny Pisano
Jesse Malin, Adam Weiner
Derek Cruz, Steve Wynn

Afropunk Festival 2018 at Commodore Barry Park, Day One

The 2018 Afropunk Festival continued its legacy of recent years in creating a weekend-long event that celebrated alternative trends in Black-centric music, the arts, fashion, political activism and culture. The main attractions were the concert performances by Kaytranada, Miguel, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Tyler the Creator, the Internet, and nearly 40 more performing artists, dance music sets by 25 disc jockeys, kiosks hosted by grassroots community activists, installations by artists, and food and merchandise sold by local entrepreneurs. The biggest draw, however, might have been the audience itself; it seemed like 60,000 people carefully planned their look for Afropunk 2018.

The Afropunk  Festival debuted in 2005 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where non-mainstream punk and rock bands featuring musicians of color showcased their music as an alternative to the largely white punk and rock scene. To attract a wider audience, the festival shifted increasingly to include hip hop, neo-soul , blues and other genres, expanding its initial cause along with its target demographic, and moved outdoors to Commodore Barry Park. Musical performers now represent a much wider variety of tastes, yet still primarily reflect breaking African-American artists.

This year, the festival hosted the bulk of its acts on the two larger stages, with a few additional artists on three other stages. One of these side stages was mostly devoted to disc jockeys and another was a block away from the main stages and featured punk bands and a skateboard competition. One section of the park was dedicated to visual arts, another to vendors of fashion and beauty aids, and yet another to community activists.

This year's event was not without its controversies, however. Some people questioned the booking of Tyler the Creator, a rapper reported to have a history of homophobia and lyrics normalizing rape. Also, three attendees were removed because one wore a t-shirt featuring a handwritten message critical of the event.

Day One Headlines   
  • DJ Just Blaze brought out Busta Rhymes.
  • While many performers insisted that Afropunk was a safe space for everyone, rapper JPEGMAFIA might have alluded that no place is safe, as the New York native, now based in Baltimore, Maryland, rapped about many social ills. Ranting about the music business between raps, he raged violently against what he called "dad rock." Denzel Curry joined in the mosh pit, pepperoni pizza in hand, during "Baby I'm Bleeding."
  • Jessie Reyez's musicians came on stage at their designated set time and waited silently along with the audience for a half hour until Reyez joined them. There may have been technical difficulties, but Reyez offered no explanation except to apologize and say the delay was not her fault. This started the domino effect of all ensuing sets starting late on that stage.
  • Did H.E.R. purposely delay her set over an hour to wait for Daniel Caesar to finish his set on another stage? The audience was uninformed, but near the conclusion of her set, Caesar joined H.E.R. to sing the pair’s duet hit, "The Best Part."
  • Canadian producer-DJ Kaytranada celebrated his 26th birthday with a night-closing set behind a booth that was so high that much of the audience never had a good look at him, even on the large screen projection. His set included music from his forthcoming album, including tracks with Ty Dolla $ign and Busta Rhymes. By the end of the set, he apologized for not performing his best because he got too lit.
Blac Rabbit
The 1865
Adeline
DJ Honey Dijon
Youthman
Jessie Reyez
Lion Babe
DJ Underdog
Yuna
Smino
Ceddyjay
Sho Madjozi
Daniel Casar
H.E.R. with Daniel Caesar
The Internet
Miguel