Posts Tagged ‘Ashley’

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.

hubba hubba

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.


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.”


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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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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Once upon a time I owned two Rufus Wainwright CDs. For some reason I thought that I enjoyed his music. I was sorely mistaken. After listening to 7+ tracks in a row of his self titled album, “Rufus Wainwright,” I realized if I wanted to hear to a nasally voice I would tune into a rerun of “Family Matters,” not listen to a collection of 13 serious songs. (This is just my opinion. Please don’t stone me.)

In any case, I’d like to share with you a couple quotes from his recent interview with SPIN magazine. You can make the comparisons between Wainwright and Narcissus yourself. Enjoy.

Spin: Are you sick of cult success?

Rufus Wainwright: I wouldn’t say that I’m sick of it. I go to the opera three times a week, I hang around in my bathrobe reading Susan Sontag, and I get foot massages from my German boyfriend – I’m going to be fine. That being said, I want to be part of culture. I’m scared of what young people are being force-fed. I’m sick of trash culture.

(Me: That response just made me [theoretically] vomit up my lunch. And really, three operas a week? Not since the Renaissance has anyone attended 2+ operas in a seven day period.)

Spin: Anything specifically?

Rufus Wainwright: I’m really sick of Beyonce. All of her songs are formulaic and produced in a way that’s utterly mesmerizing in the basest way. There’s no enlightenment. Like most pop these days, it’s more of a scientific experiment than an artistic experience. But hey, it’s your life, you know?

(Me: Despite the fact that Rufus Wainwright considers himself to be a reincarnate of Christ, I’ve never found Wainwright’s music to be particularly enlightening. Therefore, I don’t think he should be criticizing the work of Ms. Beyonce Knowles. Beyonce who gave us greats like “Baby Boy” and “Crazy in Love.” And let us not forget the time she warned us about not being ready for her jelly in “Bootylicious.” Which I appreciate. She cares about us, the fans. That shows character. Wainwright on the other hand probably hates most of the people who listen to his music. I will share with you an example that backs up this theory: I once heard a story involving Wainwright, Vassar College, and an “uber hipster” crowd. In this tale, after playing his show, Wainwright chose to pay attention only to those in tight jeans, greased hair, and baby tees, aka, the “ubers,” and ignored the rest of his fans. This is not surprising. I’m sure he and his newfound friends probably had discussions about feminism and Susan Sontag, and then immediately after stared at their reflections for three consecutive hours.

Now, I’m not saying my musical talents surpass those of Wainwright’s, though, I was first clarinet in junior high. But I do think Wainwright is one of the most ridiculous human beings in the music industry. If you ask me, I think he should spend less time thinking he is a god among men, and more time on writing some life-altering music. And in the end, are songs “produced in a way that’s utterly mesmerizing in the basest way” that bad? I’m sure if you look in Wainwright’s CD selection, you will find at least a few (bad) pop albums. But he will most likely tell you he only likes those artists in an ironic sense. They always do.)

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