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I make fun, but on the inside I’m actually superdeeduper excited about this upcoming event…

Indie folk dreamboat Sufjan Stevens, composer of the incredible albums “Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State” and “Come on Feel the Illinoise,” (who says he plans to write an album about each of the 50 states, which at the unrealistic pace of an album per year is a project that should be complete by the time he’s 80) is scheduled to perform his newest opus, “The BQE” in November at Emeril Lagasse’s favorite venue, the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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Sufjan Stevens reveals the epic in the everyday in songs infusing the vernacular of Midwestern folk with a distinctly orchestral grandeur. Stevens pairs orchestrated selections of both new and old material with the 25th Next Wave Festival commission/world premiere of The BQE—a symphonic and cinematic exploration of one of New York’s least celebrated monuments: the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

“Robert Moses’ controversial 11.7-mile roadway tears through neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens with the brute force of modern urban planning, and in Stevens’ hands becomes an evocation of the intersection of intimate experience and the American Dream. Merging a virtual road trip shot on film with a live band and orchestral ensemble, The BQE discovers abstract patterns and stories in the snaking traffic, potholed pavement, billboards, badly marked exits, and beautiful city views, revealing what happens when Manifest Destiny converges with urban blight.

Heavy.

Anyway, while I pitch my tent tonight to wait in a ticket line that will eventually wrap around Fort Greene (tix go on sale September 4th), I’ll start guessing song titles.

Track 1: Neverending (A)stori(a)
Track 4: Baby on Board! (Dear Park Slope, The Gowanus Canal Needs its Diaper Changed)
Track 8: Williamsburg (Where Crazy Hipsters Are Actually Naming Their Babies “Sufjan”)

P.S. – I really want to see this 50 states project get done, but I’m afraid I won’t live to see it, so I propose Sufeepoo contract some states out to other Americana acts…I reckon he should finish the midwest himself, give Iron & Wine the deep south, Calexico the southwest, Bonnie “Prince” Billy the Northwest, Brown Bird New England…and let Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi fight over the Tri-State area.

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I had heard about Bar 4 once or twice from a musician friend of mine who said the jazz scene was good there. Park Slope is a little jazz enclave and Bar 4 is one of its many hotbeds of creative production. Needless to say, I did not check it out until about a year later. I’m not actually cool enough for such scenes.

_mg_4744.jpgBut last Friday, a quick jaunt through South Slope/Windsor Terrace brought me and my friend to Bar 4’s door. Inside, it is small and dimly lit. It’s not dingy at all, but cozy and immaculate. Dustless bottles behind the bar were placed against the mirrored wall which emitted a flawless glow. Comfy couches filled the floor space and the walls were covered in local artists’ work. The centerpiece, of course, were the paintings of great musicians that plastered the wall behind the stage.

Upon a tip I received, I asked the bartender about the martinis. She slid a booklet my way. Inside was a selection of special martinis which are, apparently, the drinks of choice in this bar. I went for the Espresso Martini ($8). A little part of me died that night, knowing that if I followed my heart and drank nothing but Espresso Martinis all day long, I would probably get fired. So I left after my martini and I thought of its warm aroma and rousing taste for several days. Then I went back and got another on Sunday. Sweet Jesus and Mary.

My second visit was somewhat tainted by the deaf trombone duo that was gracing the stage that night, but I had the incredible luck of seeing a great Park Slope musician – Zach Williams – on my first visit. He was also joined briefly by Joely Pittman who sang backup on what is now my favorite song ever, Dirty Feet. Zach actually has a show coming up tomorrow, August 8th at 8:00pm at Bar Matchless, if you’re so inclined.

1003129803_l.jpgZach also mentioned that Bar 4’s Tuesday night open mic is one of the best in the city. This was independently confirmed by Plainclothesman, who was there at 2:00 AM and said the place was still totally packed. This is, at best, rare for the South Slope.

 

 

Bar 4
444 7th Avenue at 15th Street
Park Slope, Brooklyn

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Elliott Smith would be thirty-eight years old today. According to Pitchfork, a version of Angel in the Snow is available for free download off of indie label Kill Rock Stars. I would recommend purchasing all of New Moon, his most recently released album. Or just try to listen to a little Elliott Smith today if you have time.

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The most Brooklynest band in Brooklyn is playing at Trash Bar in Williamsburg this week. Be there, or be square. And by “square,” I mean “one who does not partake in free beer from 8 – 9 p.m.”

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Friday, July 20
8:00 p.m.
Trash Bar
256 Grand Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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After reading the post yesterday that suggested no one could do a better cover of Hallelujah than Jeff Buckley, Jon Bon Jovi has recorded his own version. Take that, Leonard Cohen… and Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, Willie Nelson, Bono, Bob Dylan, Fiona Apple, Anthony Michael Hall (!?), k.d. lang, Gov’t Mule, Imogen Heap, Fall Out Boy, The Dresden Dolls, Regina Spektor, Sheryl Crow, and all of the other artists who have covered this song.

Raise your hand if you’ve covered the song.

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Due to my being incredibly ill and full of expectorant, I will make this rebuttal short and sweet.

1. I believe my main argument was that Rufus Wainwright loves himself too much. And I think I’m still right.

2. I was raised Catholic and never felt the want or need to “anoint the risen Messiah with [my] love juices.” So this is not an impulse we all share. And yes, you caught me, my pen name might be a reflection of my thinking I am God’s son. However, I think we all know this is because the Lord used to beat me during my 9 years at Catholic school, so my “name” is paying homage to the big G more than anything else. As he is, my father.

3. You are allowed to think Beyonce sucks. Wainwright is allowed to think Beyonce sucks. Jay-Z is allowed to think Beyonce sucks. But don’t make it seem like you’re above mainstream and modern day media. Especially if you’re a fan of Perez Hilton.

SPIN: Do you read PerezHilton.com?

Wainwright: I think Perez actually likes me, which I don’t want to change. So please be kind.

So apparently when Wainwright is talking about low standards in the media, he’s not counting the paparazzi whores who have made their fortunes off of posting candid celebrity photos that feed into the public’s obsession with current pop culture. (I personally am a fan of Perez, but I am also a fan of Beyonce and… “The Simple Life.” Wainwright didn’t outwardly express disdain for “Life” but I imagine he thinks it, “formulaic and produced in a way that’s utterly mesmerizing in the basest way.” That is my new favorite quote, fyi.)

4. “Oh What a World” is a great song. I agree. But as sugarham already pointed out, Wainwright’s rendition of “Hallelujah” is nothing but a carbon copy of Jeff Buckley’s, what I consider to be, masterpiece…even if that too was a cover. But more importantly, four or five good songs does not warrant such arrogance, I don’t think it does anyway. Unless you’re Justin Timberlake. (The man can do no wrong, in my eyes.) Or, for credibility’s sake, genius bands like Radiohead and Do Make Say Think.

5. Writing an opera or not, Wainwright is still a pretentious douche, like the man found below.

(Pretentious Douche)

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For the sake of accuracy (which, admittedly, we aren’t big fans of around here – i.e. dragon bones), I must offer a rubuttal to Johnbaptisedme’s earlier post about Rufus Wainwright.

1. The revered editor suggested that Wainwright’s attending the opera three times a week was pretentious and possibly a lie. Let it be noted that the Metropolitan Opera recently commissioned Wainwright to write an original opera. So yes, he’s really into opera. Almost like someone who writes operas would be.

2. He does not consider himself the Messiah. For proof, I direct you to the lyrics of the song “Gay Messiah”:

No, it will not be me
Rufus the Baptist I be
No, I won’t be the one
Baptized in cum

Clearly, he does not believe that he is Jesus. He just wants to annoint the risen Messiah with his love juices. I think this is an impulse we all share.

And anyway, “John Baptised Me,” is it possible that someone is calling the kettle black?

Rufus Wainwright – Not The Gay Messiah

3. Holy, sweet, merciful fuck. Beyonce actually does suck. She’s just not a good musician. Her songs catchy, it’s true. And I agree with Rufus that it has more to do with modern pop music being more of a science than an art. We’ve all heard the stories of Rivers Cuomo sitting in a windowless room deconstructing Nirvana songs until they are naught but mathematical formulas.

It’s not Beyonce’s fault that she sucks, and you can’t logically blame Rufus either. You can only blame our inordinately low standards.

4. For some good songs, I direct you to Hallelujah (a cover), Vibrate, 14th Street, Go or Go Ahead, California, and my very favorite, Oh What A World. You don’t get much better in terms of classically-influenced composition, vocal control, pre-mature middle age crises and gay wit. Bitch makes me want to take my pants off.

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