Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds Give Madison Square Park a Free Show to Remember


One of the primary reasons I've stuck around New York for so long is the seemingly endless amount of free concerts.  While some artists are content with providing a little background music for picnickers, some go that extra mile to satisfy their longtime fans as well.  Last night in Madison Square Park, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds proved they have no interest in only being paired with hummus, grapes, and prosciutto; they exist to make you shake your ass.

I took a spot on the ground near the soundboard, surrounded by couples on blankets.  Arleigh "Sister Sparrow" Kincheloe, dressed entirely in white, bounced out onto the stage to the intro of "The Long Way."  I realized quickly that I was too far away.  The mix was only coming out of the speakers framing the stage, so the h
orns sounded thin.  I relocated to the standing section to the right of the stage, discovering that part of the reason for this was the absence of trombonist Ryan Snow.  I overcame my longing for trombone as soon as the Dirty Birds plunged into their second tune, a cover of "The Way You Make Me Feel" that sounded like the love child of MJ and Dr. Funkenstein.  Josh Myers was absolutely murdering it on the bass, and they even spiced it up with a pinch of "Kashmir."  Following a powerful "Freight Train," Arleigh encouraged the audience to come forward.  "I feel like you're afraid to get a little closer to the Dirty Birds.  They don't smell too bad," she confessed.  That's all it took for the crowd to sweep in like pigeons spotting breadcrumbs, nodding their heads to each "uh-huh" in "Don't Be Jealous."   "This is a song I wrote for my best friend.  It's kind of about troublemakers in your life," announced Arleigh before the groovy new summer track, "Prison Cells."  "Disappear," another fresh tune, came next, allowing for some raspy riffing by Kincheloe at its end.  Sister Sparrow-staple "Make It Rain" spotlighted an extended saxophone solo from Brian Graham, with Arleigh shaking a tambourine and giving a look to the crowd that she was also genuinely impressed by his sax skills.  The last Sister Sparrow show I'd been to was their Zeppelin IV cover concert, and a whole lotta Led must've rubbed off on new number "Catch Me If You Can," with Arleigh giving off serious '70s rocker vibes over the chunky blues of the Birds.  Myers let another fantastic bass bomb drop to kick off the final ditty, "Boogie Man."

Less than a minute after their departure, Arleigh ran back onto the stage and let out a guttural scream into the microphone.  Sister Sparrow then turned her tail to the crowd for a photo op.  "You ready, boys?" she said after the Kodak moment, gathering her flock for the encore.  The band tore into their "Bulls on Parade/Rock & Roll" mashup to finish it out, with Jackson Kincheloe serving up a positively wicked harmonica solo.

Requests for a podcast interview have been made, so look out for that later this year.  SSDB will return to NYC for a two-night stand at Bowery Ballroom the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.  Arleigh's advice?  "Come on out. Work off that turkey."

SISTER SPARROW & THE DIRTY BIRDS - 08.06.14 - MADISON SQUARE PARK (1 hour, 17 minutes)

SET -
The Long Way / Sugar > The Way You Make Me Feel > Kashmir (tease) > The Way You Make Me Feel / We Need a Love / Freight Train / Don't Be Jealous / Prison Cells / Disappear / Borderline / Make It Rain / My House / Horn Section Solo > Crawdaddies / Catch Me If You Can / Boogie Man


ENCORE -
Bulls on Parade/Rock & Roll

Friday, August 1, 2014

José González & yMusic Lincoln Center Setlist

Review to come.

JOSÉ GONZÁLEZ & YMUSIC - 07.31.14 - DAMROSCH PARK BANDSHELL (59 minutes)

SET -
Stay in the Shade / Deadweight on Velveteen / Hints / Hand on Your Heart / Teardop / Crosses / The Nest / Promises to Keep* / Fold / Instrumental* / Lovestain / Abram / Killing for Love / This is How We Walk on the Moon / Telling Indigo from Grey*

ENCORE -
Heartbeats

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Give the People What They Want at Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival

Review to come.

LAKE STREET DIVE - 07.16.14 - LOWDOWN HUDSON BLUES FESTIVAL (1 hour, 2 minutes)

Stop Your Crying / What About Me / Clear a Space / Look at What Mistake / Bad Self Portraits / I Don't Care About You* / Use Me Up / Hello? Goodbye! / Bobby Tanqueray / Just Ask / Rabid Animal / Seventeen / I Want You Back / You Go Down Smooth

SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS - 07.16.14 - LOWDOWN HUDSON BLUES FESTIVAL (1 hour, 26 minutes)

Intro > Hot Shot / Gonna Make Time / In the Night* / Stranger to My Happiness / You'll Be Lonely / Calamity / Long Time, Wrong Time / I Heard It Through the Grapevine / If You Call / Now I See / Making Up & Breaking Up (and Making Up & Breaking Up Over Again) / He Said I Can / People Don't Get What They Deserve > There Was a Time > Slow Down, Love / Get Up & Get Out / Retreat! / Outro

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Phish Save the Best for Last at Randall's Island

Review soon.

PHISH - 07.11.14 - RANDALL'S ISLAND

SET ONE -
The Moma Dance / Kill Devil Falls / Ya Mar / Bathtub Gin / 555 > Rift > Sample in a Jar > The Wedge / Waiting All Night / Stash > Theme from the Munsters (tease) > Stash

SET TWO -
Steam > Down with Disease > Golden Age > Limb by Limb > Fuego > David Bowie / Cavern

ENCORE -
Character Zero

PHISH - 07.12.14 - RANDALL'S ISLAND

SET ONE -
AC/DC Bag > 46 Days / Yarmouth Road / Devotion to a Dream / Free / My Sweet One > Back on the Train / Halfway to the Moon > Sparkle / A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing / The Line / Run Like an Antelope

SET TWO -
Punch You in the Eye > Carini / Ghost > Wingsuit / Rock & Roll > Harry Hood > St. Thomas (tease) > Harry Hood

ENCORE -
Tube / Joy / First Tube

PHISH - 07.13.14 - RANDALL'S ISLAND

SET ONE -
Sand / Winterqueen / Reba / Birds of a Feather / Water in the Sky / Possum > Runaway Jim / Bouncing Around the Room / Maze / Split Open & Melt

SET TWO -
Chalk Dust Torture > Light > St. Thomas (tease) > Light > Tweezer / Wading in the Velvet Sea / Sing Monica / Slave to the Traffic Light

ENCORE -
Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer Reprise

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Next Round - Episode 24: Speak

For this week's show, I sat down with Nick Hurt and Joey Delahoussaye, who play guitar and bass in the synthpop quartet, Speak.  The band recently released their three-years-in-the-making second record, Pedals, taking control of the writing/mixing/mastering duties and more.  Hailing from Austin, the guys admitted there's a bit of an expectation to be good live, but as anyone who saw them perform at Rough Trade or Firefly Festival can attest, they are quite capable of the task.  As a tie-in to the new album, the band collaborated with Tristan Michael on a computer game for their song "Be Reasonable, Diane," so I had my video game expert roommate review it.

Subscribe on iTunes if you're awesome, download directly, or stream below:


Visit Speak's website for a free download of "Peaks."
Play the video game.
Follow them on Twitter.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chris Mills Does Not Disappoint at Big City Folk Festival


It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.  I'd just done an open mic at the Creek & the Cave, so I moseyed on over to LIC Bar to catch Chris Mills' spot at the Big City Folk Festival.  After squeezing my way through the bar packed with World Cup fans, I slipped out the back door to find a patio full of people singing along to songs by Niall Connolly.  The festival's founder was onstage, tucked away in a garage of sorts, with wooden chairs stacked in the rear by a fireplace, charred with use.  Connolly finished with "Jesus is Coming," and there was a brief lull while Mills set up.  "When I was asked to perform on this festival by its creator, Niall Connolly, directly after a 25-minute set of his greatest hits, with everyone singing along, all I could think was collateral damage," mused Mills.  And while the audience had thinned following Niall's set, Chris made the best of the situation by just having fun playing his tunes.  After the uptempo "Atom Smashers," Mills slowed things down with "Rubicon," a song he'd actually written for one of Connolly's songwriter workshop nights. (Learn the story in my podcast interview with Chris.)  "Dry Eye" had to compete with some World Cup revelry coming through an opened window, but thankfully it was closed in time for "Helpless Bells."  It was my first time hearing the song live, and guitarist Clint Newman's subtle backup vocals were on the money.  Though Mills claimed he'd used all his banter at a gig earlier in the week, he managed to get a few good quips in.  Likening his set to the meat in a "sandwich of disappointment," he explained that after Niall's barn-burner performance, he was to be followed by a full-band spot by the Sky Captains of Industry.  "This is a song I wrote when I was living in my parents' basement at the age of 29... some forty years ago," Chris joked before "Chris Mills is Living the Dream."  He closed with "Castaways," his face turning red during the powerful refrain.  To think, my stomach has been hurting for the last two days, and yet I had no problem digesting a disappointment sandwich.  The Big City Folk Festival concludes tomorrow at LIC Bar.  "It's like the World Cup of Folk Music... except more honest," offered Chris.

CHRIS MILLS - 06.28.14 - LIC BAR (37 minutes)

SET - 
Atom Smashers / Rubicon / Blooms / Suicide Note / Dry Eye / Helpless Bells / Alexandria / Chris Mills is Living the Dream / Castaways

The Next Round - Episode 23: Miniature Tigers

Miniature Tigers began when Charlie Brand and Rick Schaier met over MySpace in 2006.  They've since added Algernon Quashie and Brandon Lee to their ranks, and all four guys had beers with me at 68 Jay St Bar in Dumbo to talk about their latest release, Cruel Runnings.  In addition to the new album, we discussed how social networking has changed in such a way that they likely wouldn't have met if they were forming a band today.  The Tigers also reflected on VHS tapes, McDonald's burgers, and the finale of Lost.

Subscribe on iTunes like a cool kid, download directly, or stream below:

Miniature Tigers kick off their summer tour at Westway in NYC on 7/10, so get your tickets now.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Amos Lee & Lake Street Dive Celebrate Brooklyn Setlists

Review to come.

LAKE STREET DIVE - 06.20.14 - PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 10 minutes)

SET -
Stop Your Crying / What About Me / Clear a Space / Look at What Mistake / Bad Self Portraits / Love Doctor / Henriette / Use Me Up / Neighbor Song / Spectacular Failure / Bobby Tanqueray / Just Ask / Rabid Animal / Seventeen / Hello? Goodbye! / You Go Down Smooth

AMOS LEE - 06.20.14 - PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 27 minutes)

SET -
Windows Are Rolled Down / Jesus / Stranger / Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight / Bottom of the Barrel / Tricksters, Hucksters, & Scamps / Flower / Seen It All Before / Simple Things / Arms of a Woman / Cup of Sorrow / Fat Bottomed Girls > Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) / Won't Let Me Go > Freestyle > Shower of Love > If I Ever Fall in Love > Won't Let Me Go (feat. Mutlu) / Sweet Pea / Street Corner Preacher > Game of Thrones

ENCORE - 
End of the Road (feat. Mutlu & Lake Street Dive)