Saturday, December 18, 2010
A very sad day for fans of the avant-garde. Rest in peace, Mr. Van Vliet.
Captain Beefheart on Late Night with David Letterman:
Trout Mask Replica Promo Video:
The Captain and his Magic Band Live in Detroit 1971:
"Mirror Man" Live at Pinkpop 1974:
"Ice Cream for Crow":
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Just remember the man today and make sure to play your favorite John Lennon song for him. He continues to be missed and lord knows we need his words now in these crazy times more than ever. And much love to Yoko, Julian, Sean and the rest of the Lennon family. -Ed.
Howard Cosell announces the death of John Lennon on Monday Night Football:
ABC News' original broadcast covering the death of John Lennon from December 8, 1980:
"Don't Let Me Down", Beatles Rooftop Concert, Apple Records London:
"Instant Karma" live at the One to One concert, New York City:
"(Just Like) Starting Over" Video:
Macca and Ringo speak on John's passing on Larry King Live:
Friday, November 19, 2010
Check out this killer solo performance from Sir Richard Bishop at this music cafe called Zebulon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
False Flag, the debut album from his new band Rangda alongside Six Organs of Admittance mastermind Ben Chasny and ocassional Sunburned Hand of the Man drummer Chris Corsano, is definitely one of the best albums of 2010, something of which any fan of the electric guitar should take note.
Also available is the newly released Funeral Miriachi, the final LP of recorded material from Bishop's primary band, the Sun City Girls, just before the untimely death of drummer Charles Gocher in February of 2007 following a long battle with cancer. Its a fitting capper to a career that spans nearly 30 years and over 70 different releases.
Get both of these albums at your local record store.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
In these dark days of NYC hip-hop, where retail meccas like Records Wanted, Fat Beats and Beat Street are all but memories and the city hasn't delivered a breakout rapper worth his or her guest spot on a Green Lantern mixtape, its great news to hear of the reunion of the urban underground's greatest radio duo, DJ Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito, hosting a surprise reunion show on their longtime home on Columbia University's WKCR 89.9 FM during their old 1 AM to 5 AM graveyard shift late tomorrow night/early Friday morning. For the majority of the 1990s some of the greatest moments in rap history went down, from legendary freestyles from some of the biggest names in the game from Notorious BIG to Nas to Eminem to the rise of the city's storied underground movement where the likes of Company Flow, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Organized Konfusion, Non Phixion, Cage, The Juggaknots and so many more got their first big break.
In anticipation for this landmark event, the duo have provided as a free download the immortal session that went down between Jay-Z and Big L on February 23, 1995, and can be copped here.
You will be able to stream the entire show live on the WKCR web site tomorrow night and, hopefully, someone will have the right mind to rip that isht onto mp3 so those of us who have an early bedtime can enjoy it as well.
Here's hoping this one-off reunion show inspires Strech and Bob to get back into it full-time and help kickstart NYC hip-hop back into fighting form.
For more information, visit Nah Right.
Bobbito reminiscing on the Stretch & Bobbito Show:
Nas' 1993 Freestyle:
Cage and Necro 1992 Freestyle:
Eminem Cage Diss:
Organized Konfusion with Lord Finesse freestyle:
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Read this letter in the Village Voice, which states this one trendy bar in Williamsburg, Savalas, is taking a "sabbatical" from hip-hop being played in its confines. Seriously, what the hell is going on around here, people?
It's no wonder hip-hop is dying such a slow rotting death in NYC.
For shame, Savalas. Never drank at your establishment before, and I'm sure as hell not doing so now if I can't hear Biggie at your damn joint.
And the saddest part of all, the great DJ Ayres, one of this city's best DJs had a night there until this stupid moratorium.
Dumb hipsters. Why don't you all move back to the Midwest?
Thanks to Whiney G for the tip. -Ed.
...but at least I can live with the knowledge I got to see them five times over the course of the 1990s: Roseland in '94 with the classic lineup of Guided By Voices, The Academy in '95 and then again at Lollapalooza that summer, Roseland again in 1997 and the Irving Plaza in '99.
And, thanks to my man Dan at NYC Taper, I can at least listen to this amazing show on the Brooklyn Waterfront thanks to a beautiful audience capture from Taper contributor AcidJack. But it doesn't come close to being there.
Here's hoping they come back around...
Cut Your Hair
Date With IKEA
Rattled By The Rush
Elevate Me Later
Fight This Generation
Father To A Sister of Thought
In The Mouth A Desert
No More Absolutes (Fin)
Spit on a Stranger
Starlings in the Slipstream
Short fan clip of Pavement performing "We Dance" 9/19/10 at the Brooklyn Waterfront:
Friday, September 17, 2010
Colin Greenwood Reveals News of a New Radiohead Album Whilst Putting the Internet, Music Industry on Blast
Go to Index on Censorship to read this beautifully written essay by Radiohead bassist Colin Greenwood on their decision to release In Rainbows online while revealing the fact that the band has essentially a whole album's worth of new material in the can and is not sure how to go about releasing it.
Or, you can just read it below. Thank you.
Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood explains why the band released their last album direct to their fans
It’s been nearly three years since we announced our “pay what you think it’s worth” scheme for the launch of our last record In Rainbows. I remember the excitement of it all, not least because the release date was my wife’s birthday, 10 October. The idea came from a friend of our manager, who proposed an “honesty box”, placing the onus on people to ask themselves how much they valued our music. Last summer, as we finished some more recordings, we started to think and talk about how to release them. So it seemed a good moment to take stock of the technological and cultural changes that have happened in the meantime.
In August 2007, we had finished our first record after the end of our deal with EMI. Previously, we would have given it to our record company at least three months up front, and then gone through the protracted round of meetings to decide on videos and singles — experiences we’d had for the previous six records. This time there was no EMI, and no one to decide anything but ourselves. We owned it outright, and could do whatever we wanted with it. This coincided with the growth of the internet as a medium to discover and share music, something we had used to reach fans while we made In Rainbows. This desire to use the technology was driven by distrust and frustration with trying to broadcast our music via traditional media, such as radio and television. Music on television is scarce, and hard to do well. Radio has such regulated playlists that disc jockeys are lucky to have one free play per show. Why go exclusively through such straitened formats when you could broadcast directly to people who are interested in you, in that moment?
The other attraction for us was the conjuring up of an event, a way of marking our releases and performances as special, unique times. The internet makes it easier for everything to be live, and that’s what we do. While we were in our studio, making the last few records, we would schedule last-minute “web casts”, and, at short notice, make small, spontaneous and impromptu programmes where we would play our favourite records, talk to fans, play new and old songs live, and even cover versions of songs from bands that had inspired us. It was stitched together on old Sony cams and video editors from eBay. It did feel like a Ruritanian broadcast, but it was thrilling to be sharing a live moment with our fans that wasn’t mediated by anyone except the internet service provider, and a live show that could be created ten minutes from home. I’d like to think the equivalent of this in broadcasting history would be the mom and pop radio stations that set up in America between the wars, when the excitement of a new medium was explored through the immediate community. In the same way, we saw the internet as a chance to treat the global constituency of Radiohead fans as our community. Also, it helped break up the studio tension, and made us feel less cloistered and isolated while we finished recording.
Against all this positive experience of using net technology, we’d had a bad experience on the previous record, when someone had taken some of the songs from a computer and put them online, well ahead of the official release. Everyone became very careful about carrying songs around, in the car, on CDs, music players and computers. It made you realise how easy it is to store and transmit music once it’s digitised, and that the fundamental thing about music is its destiny to be broadcast or shared. Part of the process of making a record involves listening to new songs or ideas in lots of different places: the car, the kitchen, with friends late at night. Having feelings of mild anxiety about music escaping onto the web wasn’t conducive to that, and there were a few panics. Fortunately, we managed to keep everything unreleased until the online download of In Rainbows.
The success of keeping the music off the net until release proved very powerful. A pre-digital album launch would involve some shows perhaps, record shop queues if you were lucky, and plans by the record company to mark the release as an event. In the digital world, with the ease of music escaping online, that sense of an event is diminished.
With In Rainbows, we were able to be the first people to digitally release our record, directly to people’s personal computers, at 7.30am GMT on 10 October 2007. I was having breakfast, and watched as the file appeared in my email, and the album streamed onto my desktop. I spent the next day and night monitoring people’s reactions online, both to the music and the means of delivery. Journalists in America had stayed up overnight to write the first review as they received the music – again, in the pre-digital age they would have had advance copies up to three weeks before. On the torrent site bulletin boards, people were arguing over whether they should be downloading and paying for the record from our site, rather than the free torrents. Various online pundits and pamphleteers were pronouncing the end of the record business, or of Radiohead, or of both.
For all the giddy prognostications, the most important reason for the success of In Rainbows was the quality of the music. I think this was overlooked, but without the great songs that we were proud of, the online release would have counted for nothing. I am optimistic that if you make good work you can secure the patronage of your fans.
Three years later, we have just finished another group of songs, and have begun to wonder about how to release them in a digital landscape that has changed again. It seems to have become harder to own music in the traditional way, on a physical object like a CD, and instead music appears the poor cousin of software, streamed or locked into a portable device like a phone or iPod. I buy hardly any CDs now and get my music from many different sources: Spotify, iTunes, blog playlists, podcasts, online streaming – reviewing this makes me realise that my appetite for music now is just as strong as when I was 13, and how dependent I am upon digital delivery. At the same time, I find a lot of the technology very frustrating and counter-intuitive. I spend a lot of time using music production software, but iTunes feels clunky. I wish it was as simple and elegant as Apple’s hardware. I understand that we have become our own broadcasters and distributors, but I miss the editorialisation of music, the curatorial influences of people like John Peel or a good record label. I liked being on a record label that had us on it, along with Blur, the Beastie Boys and the Beatles.
I’m unconvinced that the internet has replaced the club or the concert hall as a forum for people to share ideas and passions about music. Social networking models such as Twitter and foursquare are early efforts at this but have some way to go to emulate the ecosystem that labels such as Island drew upon, the interconnected club and studio worlds of managers, musicians, artists and record company mavericks, let alone pay for such a fertile environment. Shoreditch, in east London, has a vibrant scene right now, with independent labels such as Wichita, Bella Union and distribution companies like The Co-op, alongside the busy Strongroom studio. I spoke to a friend, Dan Grech-Marguerat, about the scene. He is a busy mixer and producer, and told me that he could just sit at home and work on the computer but would miss the social buzz and benefits of working at the Strongroom and other studios.
There are signs that the net is moving out of its adolescence, and preparing to leave its bedroom. I have noticed on the fan message sites that a lot of the content and conversations have grown up, moved away from staccato chat and trolling, to discussions about artists, taste and trends, closer to writing found in music magazines.
There is less interest in the technological side of the net, and more focus on what services the web can deliver, like any other media. People are using touch and gesture-controlled devices such as the iPad to see through those objects to get to the content they want. This transparency and immediacy is exciting for us as artists, because it brings us closer to our audience.
We have yet to decide how to release our next record, but I hope these partial impressions will help give some idea of the conversations we’ve been having. Traditional marketplaces and media are feeling stale – supermarkets account for around 70 per cent of CDs sold in the UK, the charts are dominated by TV talent-show acts – and we are trying to find ways to put out our music that feel as good as the music itself. The ability to have a say in its release, through the new technologies, is the most empowering thing of all.
This kid is funny. Check him out. He reviews the reviews written on Pitchfork, and he is dead-on about most of these clowns the God Almighty of Indie Rock Journalism hires to scribble pabulum to the unknowing masses.
Make sure you read his story about being a driver in Barack Obama's motorcade through New York City and asking the President about Pitchfork. Pretty funny stuff.
He is GOOD.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Download this killer new mixtape by IRT favorite Four Tet on the web site of the great Fact Magazine, one of the better online music publications on the Internet today.
But act fast, its only available for three weeks. Grab it here.
FACT Mix 182: Four Tet:
01 Rocketnumbernine: Matthew and Toby (Four Tet remix)
02 Pheeroan Ak Laff: "3 in 1"
03 Soul Capsule: "Seekers (Ricardo Villalobos remix)"
04 Mount Kimbie: "Blind Night Errand"
05 Grevious Angel: "Move Down Low VIP"
06 Ro 70 meets Move D: "Untitled"
07 Floating Points: "J+W beat"
08 Ramadanman: "Glut"
09 JD Robb: "Canon in Percussive Sound"
10 Index: "Starlight (break)"
11 Four Tet: "Nothing to See"
12 Falty DL: "St Marks (Cosmin TRG remix)"
13 Luke Abbott: "Holkham Drones"
14 Oni Ayhun: "OAR004A"
15 Bob Holroyd: "African drug (Four Tet remix)"
16 Lata Mangeshkar: "Too Mere Saath Rahega Munne"
Saturday, September 4, 2010
I will never forget the first time I ever went to Fat Beats in NYC, where I picked up an Arsonists mixtape and the 12-inch of De La Soul's "Keepin' the Faith". I have many memories of that store, from meeting such local greats as Percee P and Creature selling their CDs outside the store to running into Q-Tip shopping for vinyl to watching Stretch Armstrong spin a set on a random Saturday afternoon in the late 90s. Walking up that flight of steps opened up a world to me that I know many of my friends and fellow fans of hip-hop know all too well. It was a pilgrimage to head up to that store when I was at SUNY New Paltz, and a regular spot on my record shopping circuit when I lived on Long Island. The legendary shop on the Avenue of the Americas is shutting its doors today, thus closing a chapter of East Coast hip-hop history that will NEVER be replaced. RIP to a true mecca of NYC.
If you are reading this and feel inspired to share your favorite Fat Beats story with IRT, please do so in the comments. Thank you. -Ed.
Shopping at Fat Beats:
Jean Grae and Talib Kweli performing live at Fat Beats:
Homeboy Sandman performing "Angels with Dirty Faces" at Fat Beats:
Friday, August 27, 2010
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of modern blues great Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was tragically killed in a helicopter crash following a concert with Eric Clapton in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. In honor of this sad milestone, please enjoy this amazing rendition of "Life Without You", an outtake from Vaughan's appearance on MTV Unplugged and remind yourself of the joy and happiness his stellar guitar playing brought to our lives. RIP Stevie. -Ed.
Monday, August 23, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
On October 5th, Columbia Records will be releasing Metallic Spheres, a unique collaboration between Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour and British ambient superstars The Orb, who are no strangers to the music of Floyd, having done several trance remixes of their most beloved songs (see below).
"Together, they created a two-part sonic mixture in a range of styles combining David's unique guitars and The Orb's crafted sound manipulations", states the product description on Amazon.
It is rumored that renowned producer Martin "Youth" Glover of Killing Joke is also involved in the project as well.
For longtime fans of both parties, this is certainly a collaboration to very much look forward to; let's just hope that the results are more in line with Meddle and Zabriskie Point than The Division Bell.
1. Metallic Side
2. Spheres Side
The Orb's remix of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Part 1 of 2)":
The Orb's Remix of "Echoes":
The Orb's Remix of "Obscured By Clouds":
Friday, August 13, 2010
On August 6, legendary krautrock pioneer Michael Rother of the group Neu! returned to the New York City area with his new trio consisting of Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Aaron Mullan of Tall Firs known as Hallogallo 2010. For the first time in over 35 years, the group played the music of Neu! for an excited NYC crowd as part of Lincoln Center's Out the Doors Festival. Check out a stream of the concert below, and please visit my former editor Andy Gensler's No Cover blog on WNYC's Culture Web site for a great write-up of the show. Enjoy!
An incredible box set of all four Neu! albums is currently available via the Gronland imprint.
1. Hallogallo 2010 (Unreleased)
2. Neutronics 98 (A Tribute to Conny Plank)
3. Aroma Club B3
Thursday, August 12, 2010
I might not know shit from shinola when it comes to all these new fangled video games all the kids are playing on their Xbox 360s, PS3s and Wiis. However, I am a total geek when it comes to vintage arcade classics. If it was made anywhere between 1977 and 1989, I’m all over it, from Space Invaders to Pac-man to Moon Patrol to Elevator Action to Paperboy to Xybots to Outrun to Contra to Double Dragon. And apparently Brad Van, the enigmatic frontman for the sci-fi minded Madison, Wisconsin-based stoner rock group Droids Attack, is on the same page as I am. Only thing is, he has taken his obsession with all things 8-, 16- and 32-bit to the next level by opening up a full blown old school game room in his town. IRT took a moment to electronically chat with Mr. Van about how to maintain such a cool small business in the torrential storms of this troubled economy. Droids Attack’s latest album, Must Destroy, is out now on Crustacean Records. For more information, visit the band at www.droidsattack.com.
Brad: It's a big challenge. A lot of my machines are 20+ years old, and for the most part they weren't built to last that long. Spare parts can be difficult to find, and sometimes when you find them they can be very expensive. For example games like Asteroids and Tempest use vector monitors, and no one makes or services those anymore and they are pretty hard to get at a reasonable price. If you don't know how to fix the stuff yourself, it's crucial that you find some reliable and talented help. That can be a huge hurdle to overcome these days when it's cheaper to just replace broken equipment then it is to hire people to repair it.
IRT: Do you get a lot of young people coming into your arcade? Why or why not?
Brad: Yes, but I'd say it's more so older than younger folks. I think the younger folks I get through the door are the more hardcore gamers of their generation, or just general curious types who get a kick out of checking the old stuff out. I feel bad for the kids who experience these games for the first time as some crappy port on some cell phone, or on an emulator using their keyboard instead of a proper joystick. I can see how a first impression with a classic game in that fashion could introduce it as more of a novelty then as something worthwhile.
IRT: What do you think the appeal is of vintage games in the age of the X-Box and such involved games like Call of Duty and whatever else?
Brad: For me a lot of those games involve a huge investment in time to experience them in full. I play some modern games like Grand Theft Auto, and a few others every now and again, but I typically enjoy games that can be played in quick bursts and require little to no learning curve. I don't have the time to invest like I used to.
IRT: What is the hardest-to-find console in your arcade and how did you track it down?
Brad: I have a game called Death Race, which is the first arcade game to ever cause a major controversy over video game violence. It's a two player driving game where you try and run over as many people as you can in a limited amount of time. It's actually very fun. I believe they only made like 500 of them before a witch hunt segment on 60 Minutes jumped all over it. As a result people boycotted the game. I even heard some protesters went so far as to destroy a few of them. Ultimately most of them were pulled from routes and dismantled. There are very few of the complete games known to exist today. Maybe even less than 10. I found it by chance in a warehouse full of old arcade games when I was purchasing a Robotron machine. The guy offered to sweeten the deal by throwing it in for an extra $100.
IRT: What console have you yet to find that you are dying to acquire and why?
Brad: I'd like to get an original Computer Space some time from more of a collector's standpoint. It was the first arcade machine ever manufactured.
IRT: When push comes to shove, your opinion sir: Jungle King vs. Jungle Hunt?
Brad: While I do appreciate the story and controversy behind Jungle King being a Tarzan ripoff, I actually prefer the safari guy with the little hat. I just wish he still did the yell.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Can they go back to being an instrumental band now?
Here's the official statement posted on the Warp Records Web site:
"Battles and Tyondai would like to let their fans know they have chosen to follow their own musical paths.
Due to Battles' ambitions of finishing their second studio album followed by commitments to a full touring schedule in 2011, and Tyondai's own commitments as a solo artist and his desire not to tour, both Battles and Tyondai have decided to move on without each other.
It is a sad but amicable split.
Battles wishes Tyondai all the best."
For more information, visit the now-trio's site at www.bttls.com.
Battles performing "B + T" from their early days live:
Thursday, July 29, 2010
If you are a fan of the bass guitar, you have undoubtedly heard of Mick Karn, who rose to acclaim in the 70s and 80s as a key member of the English art rock group Japan as well as an incredibly innovative solo career that has earned him a strong following in the progressive rock community.
It has been brought to my attention that Mr. Karn has been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer and is in a bad way financially. In order to help facilitate the reality of his situation, a donation appeal has been set up on his Web site in order to help keep he and his family in the financial black during these trying times. If you would like to make a donation to assist in the hospice care of this modern rock legend and master of the bass guitar, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the situation, please visit www.mickkarn.net.
Japan performing "Art of Parties" from a 1982 episode of the Old Grey Whistle Test:
Japan performing "Swing" from a 1980 episode of the Old Grey Whistle Test:
Mick Karn jamming with DJ Krush:
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Another sad loss for the Neil Young family. Thoughts and prayers to Mr. Young for the unexpected passing of this understated rock legend whose stunning work on the piano, guitar, saxophone and pedal steel can be heard on such classic tracks as "Heart of Gold" and "Tonight's the Night" and previously served as part of Nashville's "A Team" in the fifties and sixties. With the exception of his solo gigs and his Crazy Horse shows, Ben has been touring with Neil since 1973, and one can only imagine how devastating this loss is for him.
Visit Rolling Stone for a full obit.
"Down By The River" from Ben Keith's final performance with Neil Young at the 2009 Bridge School Benefit Concert:
Ben performing "Too Far Gone" with Neil and Crazy Horse's Frank "Poncho" Sampedro in New York, 1989:
Friday, July 16, 2010
Totally wicked. Due Sept. 14. Track listing below.
01 Mickey Mouse and the Goodbye Man
02 Worm Tamer
03 Heathen Child
04 When My Baby Comes
05 What I Know
08 Palaces of Montezuma
09 Bellringer Blues
To watch a killer pair of trailers for the album directed by longtime Nick Cave pal and film collaborator John Hillcoat, visit the group's Web site.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
First Bob Sheppard, now Harvey Pekar. Godspeed to one of the great American comic novelists. Check out the Times obit here.
"The Harvey Pekar Name Story" by Robert Crumb
Scene from American Splendor where Harvey (played by Paul Giamatti) waxes philosophic about Revenge of the Nerds and White Castle with MTV Genuine Nerd Toby Radloff:
Harvey invades Live at Five with David Letterman during a 1987 episode of Late Night with David Letterman:
PBS Interview with Harvey Pekar:
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Recorded at Marcata Studios in good old Gardiner, NY, the long-awaited Swans reunion album, My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, will be released on September 21 via frontman Michael Gira's Young God Records. The new album consists of a line-up featuring Gira and original Swan Norman Westberg, later-period members Christoph Hahn and Phil Puleo, as well as Flux Information Sciences guru Chris Pravdica, one-time Swans member/current R.E.M./Venus 3 drummer Bill Rieflin and Shearwater percussionist Thor Harris, not to mention Grasshopper of Mercury Rev on "a swarm of mandolins". The album also features Gira's three-year-old daughter Saoirse singing on a song the charmingly titled "You Fucking People Make Me Sick". Track listing below:
01 No Words/No Thoughts
02 Reeling the Liars In
04 My Birth
05 You Fucking People Make Me Sick
06 Inside Madeline
07 Eden Prison
08 Little Mouth
For more information, visit the Young God Web site.
Old clip of the Swans covering Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart":
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Long live the Graffiti King, a true NYC hip-hop legend from Far Rockaway, Queens, whose Gothic Futurism method of artistry was truly ahead of its time. Rammellzee's amazing art and music was prominently featured in the twin towers of classic hip-hop films: Wild Style (1982) and Style Wars (1983), and his group DCC (Death Comet Crew) was an integral part of the NYC rock underground in the early 80s alongside such fellow unsung greats as Ike Yard and Sexual Harassment, back when the Village and the LES were true breeding grounds for creativity. May he rest in peace.
Live at the Rhythm Lounge 1983 with Toxic C1 and Basquiat:
"Beat Bop" Rammellzee vs. K-Rob
Friday, June 25, 2010
OMD - 1983-04-28 - Glasgow
01 - Genetic Engineering (3:36)
02 - Messages (4:42)
03 - She's Leaving (4:05)
04 - Georgia (3:49)
05 - Julia's Song (4:44)
06 - Joan Of Arc (3:25)
07 - Maid Of Orleans (3:26)
08 - Romance Of The Telescope (3:29)
09 - Souvenir (3:42)
10 - Telegraph (3:48)
11 - Radio Waves (3:37)
12 - Bunker Soldiers (2:53)
13 - Enola Gay (4:20)
14 - Silent Running (4:05)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
NEW YORK, New York: The IRT was lucky enough to have befriended Eden Brower, singer for the great New York City-based old timey outfit The East River String Band, via Facebook this spring.
She and her partner in crime, stringman John Heneghan, were gracious enough to take a moment for a brief e-chat with us about their city, their music and their long-standing comraderie with legendary comix czar Robert Crumb, who art directed both of their great albums, "Some Cold Rainy Day" (2008) and "Drunken Barrel House Blues" (2009), available now on Amazon or at your better local record shop.
Also make sure to visit their Web site at www.eastriverstringband.com. -Ed.
IRT: How did you guys first meet and get together?
John: [Eden and I] been dating for 13 years. We started the band about 5 years ago.
IRT: What draws you to old-timey music?
John: There’s a purity in almost all old-time music that you can’t find in today’s music. The music of the 1920’s & 30’s came from a time where musicians were isolated and had their own sound without being heavily influenced by what was popular. That changed with the Depression and the advent of radio.
Eden: I got into it just by hearing John play these great 78s over and over...It started sinking in how special this music was. I began to sing along with it and really realized how much I loved it!
IRT: In playing early 20th century music like you do, I'm sure you can hear many parallels to the state of America when these songs were being written and the trials of today's society...
John: It’s actually all the exact same stuff that’s going on today. Bankers had free reign and they destroyed the economy. Almost identical to what’s going on now.
IRT: When did you first get into old timey music and how were you turned onto it?
John: I got interested in old-time music when I was about 16 years old. I came across a used Charley Patton Yazoo LP in my local record store. I was completely transformed by it. It would become a lifelong obsession.
Eden: John’s obession sucked me right on in! The music is just so raw and powerful to me.
IRT: Where do you guys live on the LES and how has your neighborhood changed over the last 10 years?
John: We live in the East Village. Basically our neighborhood changed from Midnight Cowboy into Sex In The City/Friends.
Eden: The hood is unfortunately becoming like one big shopping mall of chain stores. All the quirky neighborhood shops just can’t make it anymore...very sad to see this happening.
IRT: What staple of the LES do you miss the most and why?
John: Junk stores. No more hidden treasures to be found. It’s all Ikea furniture now.
Eden: Thrift stores, junk stores, non-chain mom and pop shops.
IRT: Eden, you told me on Facebook you guys are friends with Robert Crumb. How did you come to meet him?
Eden: I met his daughter Sophie in the LES and we became friends. Then she introduced us to her parents. John and Robert immediately hit it off and we just all became very good friends.
IRT: The covers that he had done for you for the new album and your previous LP, were the art concepts collaborative between you guys and Mr. Crumb or did he just send you his own interpretations?
John: he asked us if we had any ideas for both. For “Some Cold Rainy Day”, I suggested he parody an old Paramount Records ad. He loved the idea. For “Drunken Barrel House Blues”, I suggested he draw Eden getting wasted onstage while the band looked on in disbelief. He loved that idea even more.
IRT: Do you guys get to jam out a lot with Crumb?
John: We play with Crumb all the time. He’s the best old-time mandolin player I’ve ever played with. He can get a feel of those old players that no one else I know can achieve. I guess he’s been studying this music more closely and for longer than anyone else I know.
IRT: Did you guys ever discuss with Mr. Crumb the possibility of recording an album together?
John: We are actually headed to France next week to record with Crumb for our next record due out late fall.
IRT: What is your favorite Crumb work and why?
John: I like everything he’s done on old-time musicians and recollecting the best. I also love the stuff him and Aline and sometimes Sophie do together.
Eden: I love Weirdo and the Dirty Laundry stuff. Sophie is also a great cartoonist and artist as well..I love Aline’s work, too.
IRT: How did you guys first discover Crumb as fans of his art and music?
John: The first time I heard of Crumb was when I picked up American Splendor. The one with the cover of him trading recording records with Harvey.
IRT: What is your favorite Crumb story?
Eden: I like America.
IRT: What is currently your favorite place to play in NYC and why?
John: The Jalopy Theatre in Brooklyn and Banjo Jim’s in the Lower East Side. Both places cater to acoustic music and support the old-time thing. The owners of The Jalopy Theatre are the most down to earth club owners I’ve ever met. Playing there is like playing at your friend’s house.
IRT: What new music are you guys currently digging?
John: None. Unless you count The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Dust Busters, The Martin Family, Blind Boy Paxton, Hubby Jenkins and The Dough Rollers.
Eden: I like all kinds of stuff...Aimee Mann and some punk and metal too..like old Metallica and also some old hip-hop stuff, too!
IRT: What else are you guys up to this summer besides hanging out in France with Crumb?
John: In addition to playing some gigs in southern France with Crumb, we have a big show at the Jalopy Theatre which we booked with all TOP NOTCH acts in late July. Details as follows:
Friday July 23rd 8PM COUNTRY BLUES GUITAR NIGHT at Jalopy Theatre
315 COLUMBIA STREET
BROOKLYN, NY 11231
A Night Of Country Blues Guitar Featuring:
8PM PAT CONTE
9PM ARI EISINGER
10PM EAST RIVER STRING BAND
11PM THE LITTLE BROTHERS
(FRANKIE & KIM BASILE WITH MIKE HOFFMANN)
(FRANKIE & KIM BASILE WITH MIKE
Jalopy Lecture Series on Sunday, August 1st
A NIGHT OF OLD-TIME RECORD LISTENING & DISCUSSION
315 COLUMBIA STREET
BROOKLYN, NY 11231
5P-7P - THE SECRET MUSEUM HOSTED BY PAT CONTE
7P-10P - JOHN HENEGHAN'S 78 RPM RECORDS
East River String Band covering Charley Jordan's "Keep It Clean"
East River String Band with Robert Crumb performing "Bye Bye Baby"