Entries tagged with: Nico Muhly
photos by Richard Termine, words by Andrew Frisicano
At Friday's performance, Nico Muhly warned early on that Tell the Way--a loosely tied together collection of 11 songs--would be a "casual sort of thing." He was right, for the most part; its compositions skirted around the unifying theme of travel in a range of styles: Sam Amidon's traditional folk songs; Bishi's eclectic, musical-theater-inspired chansons; the ever-busy Bryce Dessner's slow-building "Tour Eiffel," with dramatic vocal swoops that mimicked its subject; and Nico's unifying arrangements and short compositions. The voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus brought the works together in a brief 65-minute program, which moved quickly and offered small treats along the way (the three-night run at St. Ann's Warehouse finishes tonight, and a few tickets are still on sale).
More than any thematic thread, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus gave the evening consistency, as did ACME, who performed as a string quartet with a trombonist and a percussionist attached. The two groups had fun with the material, especially Muhly's pieces, which he composed with inspiration from historical texts (The Book of Common Prayer, and the travel writings of Sir John Mandeville) and commissioned texts (like the humorous, bite-sized "A Korean Girl," by writer Mary HK Choi, which inspired giggles at the appropriate moments).
Each composer brought what was basically their signature dish, with the wild card being Bishi, a British singer who I knew nothing about before the show, other than that she played the sitar. The sitar was the least of her contributions, the foremost of which was sheer stage presence. Her compositions--and her entrances, first in a coat of white fur (fake we hope) with hair done up like a Cinnabon, then in a black-and-white corset and skin-tight pants--added some danger and surprise to the program.
Bishi's singing was similarly attention-grabbing: a cabaret-style coo that blended with and added depth to the chorus (where someone like Sam Amidon sounded distinct and other). The theatricality of a musical pulsed through the songs, with Bishi as the preening lead. "Look the Other Way," her second number, progressed with a martial beat before delivering a string of awesomely WTF moments: a synthesized disco beat, then a man in white-tie formal-wear adding Vincent Price-esque narration, and finally a heavy metal breakdown with crushing drums and Bryce Dessner shredding away. Of course, it was also delivered with a wink. "That's probably the most metal guitar Bryce has played since high school," said Nico, of the best part of the evening.
A few more pictures from the show are below...
photos by Bao Nguyen
Tell The Way is a newly commissioned collaborative work created for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (Dianne Berkun, Artistic Director) by the ubiquitous Nico Muhly. Loosely based on medieval and colonial English travel narratives, the work draws from American folk sources, prayers for the Royal Navy, early colonial diaries, Mandeville, Herodotus and Marco Polo. Nico Muhly's music is propulsive travel-music, but at the heart of Tell The Way are three meditative collaborations between Muhly and Bishi, Muhly and Bryce Dessner and Muhly and Sam Amidon. An ensemble of strings, percussion, piano, and flute augment the voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Bryce's guitar, Sam's banjo and fiddle, and Bishi's sitar.Tell The Way premieres at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn this weekend. You have three chances to see it: February 10th, and 11th and 12th. Tickets are not only still on sale, but you can get a discount if you use the coupon code "NICO" at checkout.
Bao stopped by their rehearsal the other day, at Brooklyn Youth Chorus's headquarters on Pacific Street in Brooklyn, and more of his pictures, with some video previews of the show are below...
photos by Amanda Hatfield
Beth Orton, Glen Hansard & Dawn Landes @ LPR
When Glen Hansard sets foot on the stages of a sold-out City Winery TONIGHT, it'll be his third visit to an NYC stage in a month. As advertised, The Frames frontman/Swell Season sensitive-man recently hopped on stage with Beth Orton, Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, Dawn Landes, and as hinted, St. Vincent at the Doveman "Burgundy Stain Session" at Le Poisson Rouge in January (where these pics come from)...
"Thank you so much for coming," Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) began. "This is the first of these concerts that I'll be doing, and I thought it would be nice to start with just me and Sam because me and Sam have been playing music together since we were five."Hansard's other recent NYC appearance happened this past Sunday at Justin Bond's Joe's Pub show (it was a surprise). Justin Bond returns to Joe's on 2/13 and 2/20 (perhaps with special guests again), and Justin is one of the announced guests at the next Doveman show at Le Poisson Rouge which happens on February 8th. Beth Orton returns that night too, and The Poison Tree rounds out the currently-announced lineup of Thomas Bartlett collaborators that will be there. Tickets are still available for that show and for the one happening on March 16th (lineup TBA).
The two kicked off the show with a simple, lovely, and faintly religious little song, "All is Well." Ringing out with repeatedly, the titular refrain seemed like a perfect starting point for the evening...
...After Sam had played through a few of his songs, he casually announced, "We're in a gospel mood," which was apparently Annie Clark's (St. Vincent) cue to make her way to the stage to fulfill her role as a "great gospel guitarist." Crouching down on stage in the shadow, Clark joined Amidon for one more song before the spotlight officially shifted to her. As she stood up, the stage lights shone through her messy main of curly hair, creating a halo that complimented her Amidon-annointed title....
...The evening proceded with a potpouri of performances. Hardly a song or two would pass before the configuration on stage would change. Beth Orton, Glen Hansard, and Dawn Landes would each have their turn. "One thing I realized is that I hate talking on stage so much that things are really going to need an emcee," Bartlett joked...." [Rachel Kowal]
The Poison Tree, as I wrote back in August 2009, "is Brooklyn, NY singer songwriter Steve Salett [of the King of France] and a rotating cast of collaborators borrowed from acts including The National, Rufus Wainwright, Antony and the Johnsons, and David Byrne." The Poison Tree's debut album will be released this March 15th on Embarque...
In recording its debut album, The Poison Tree leader Steve Salett, drew on a community of extraordinarily talented musicians that formed around Salett's Saltlands Studio and Saltmines rehearsal spaces in Brooklyn. "I approached it as, 'if you build it, they will come.' After that, a space and community coalesced organically around the rehearsal rooms," says Steve. "For The Poison Tree, we were able to pull musicians who regularly use the Saltmines. If we needed violin, trumpet, whatever, we just walked down the hall."Lots of names repeating themselves in this post. You can also catch The Poison Tree at Pete's Candy Store on February 11th.
The supporting cast is extraordinary: Thomas Bartlett, better known as Doveman and briefly a member of King of France, provides much of the atmospheric Wurlitzer, piano, and organ parts. Of The Poison Tree, he says, "Steve is one of my favorite songwriters. Each song is a simple, perfect gesture, but with an elusive, enigmatic quality that will never lose its fascination for me."
Singer Dawn Landes, who will open for Justin Townes Earle on the road next month and also sang on Josh Ritter's latest album, also sang on 'The Poison Tree' record and did some engineering work. Others include bassist Jeff Hill (Rufus Wainwright), drummer Konrad Meissner (Graham Parker), and trumpeter C.J. Camerieri (Rufus Wainwright). Gary Mauer of Hem co-produced the album with Salett.
Lastly, besides writing all of the songs and playing guitar and vocals, the multi-talented Salett also co-produced and plays dulcimer, Rhodes, and whistle.
Don't forget that Sam Amidon has a show coming up at Glasslands on 2/16 (tickets), and even before that will join Nico Muhly, Bishi, Bryce Dessner, and ACME at St.Ann's Warehouse as part of Nico Muhly's Tell The Way. Tickets are available for all three shows, Feb 10th-12th.
More pictures from the 1/14 Doveman are below...
Buke & Gass and Victoire @ Merkin Concert Hall - 1/17/11 (by David Andrako)
For the dozens of artists who participated in the opening marathon concert of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall on Monday, the event was less a defining breakthrough moment than the establishment -- temporary or not -- of an uptown beachhead for a flourishing alliance normally encountered in downtown and Brooklyn spaces like Le Poisson Rouge, Galapagos Art Space, Issue Project Room and Joe's Pub."The Chiara String Quartet and the Music of Nico Muhly & Valgeir Sigurdsson" happened last night (1/19), and the Ecstatic Music Festival continues tonight with a now-sold out Dan Deacon & So Percussion show. Some videos from previous shows below..
The notion of a mission seemed too heavy for the feel of this sprawling showcase, which was meant to run for seven hours and consumed nearly eight. If there was a core statement, it could have been -- to twist slightly the title of a song by Sarah Kirkland Snider, a gifted composer to be featured in a later festival event -- "This is what we're like." [NY Times]
As previously announced, the 2011 Ecstatic Music Festival, presented by New York City's Merkin Concert Hall in association with New Amsterdam Records, is a showcase of imaginative collaborations between more than 150 genre-pushing composers, songwriters and performers who represent a new generation of artists combining diverse influences and techniques to explore the intersection of classical and pop music. All concerts will include premieres. The festival opens with a free seven-hour marathon on January 17, 2011, and continues with 13 additional concerts until March 28, 2011. All concerts will take place at Merkin Concert Hall.The Ecstatic Music Festival 2011 is almost here. Subscriptions and single show tickets are on sale. The full updated schedule (tUnE-yArDs, So Percussion, Dan Deacon, Craig Wedren, ACME, Nadia Sirota, Buke & Gass, Doveman, Owen Pallett, Bang On A Can All-Stars, and more included), and a trailer, below...
words by Rachel Kowal
On Friday and Saturday night, singer Sam Amidon has hosted a series of sold-out shows at The Kitchen, an arts space in Manhattan that boasts an impressive Board of Directors that includes the likes of Philip Glass, Nico Muhly and Bryce Dessner to name a few.
With its austere, DIY theatre vibe, the setting was a bit unconventional, but then again, so was the performance. Much more than simply an evening of folk songs, ballads, and hymns, Amidon projected random video clips and odd, hand-drawn cartoons onto the large screen lining the back wall.
There were two clusters of instruments and laptops on stage - one for Amidon and the other for one of his regular collaborators, Shahzad Ismaily. Due to Amidon's mesmerizing presence, it's easy to overlook Ismaily on percussion, but only because his contribution is effortlessly subtle and effective.
Amidon began his multimedia show with a series of video clips, including one of himself in a rowboat, narrating the tragic tale of "a young child of indiscriminate gender, wearing a green raincoat who ran away from home at the age of 10." With such a vivid and candid performer like Amidon, it's often hard to tell if it's all an act or if he's a bit crazy, but that's part of the appeal.
As was quickly evidenced by both his home videos and his live performance, Amidon can hardly contain his odd stories and asides. With Amidon, it's about the journey - however winding or disjointed it may be. And with a fair amount of sing-a-longs thrown in to keep the audience engaged, it's hard not to feel that we're all weary travelers on the same odyssey.
Of course, the bulk of Amidon's show comprised songs from his last two albums, but he also played a quick succession of short folk songs. And yes, besides the more conventional aspects of the performance, he displayed everything from 'liturgical dancing' and chaotic vocal exercises to a book review (Peter Biskind's "Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood" - apparently terrible), a conversation between a piece of broccoli and a jar of maple syrup (naturally, about love and depression), and an R. Kelly cover ("Relief").
It may not have been the most coherent experience, but Sam Amidon's grab bag performances never cease to entertain and enliven.
Both Sam Amidon and Shahzad Ismaily also play in Thomas Bartlett's Doveman, so maybe they'll be there in March when Doveman goes on a very short tour with Nadia Sirota in March. That very short tour includes two shows in Minneapolis and that one taking place at Merkin Concert Hall on March 9th with Owen Pallett.
Nadia Sirota and Sam Amidon, along with The National's Bryce Dessner and Bishi, will also participate in Tell The Way at St. Ann's Warehouse on February 10th, 11th and 12th...
Tell The Way is a newly commissioned collaborative work created for the Brooklyn Youth Chorus (Dianne Berkun, Artistic Director) by the ubiquitous Nico Muhly. Loosely based on medieval and colonial English travel narratives, the work draws from American folk sources, prayers for the Royal Navy, early colonial diaries, Mandeville, Herodotus and Marco Polo. Nico Muhly's music is propulsive travel-music, but at the heart of Tell The Way are three meditative collaborations between Muhly and Bishi, Muhly and Bryce Dessner and Muhly and Sam Amidon. An ensemble of strings, percussion, piano, and flute augment the voices of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Bryce's guitar, Sam's banjo and fiddle, and Bishi's sitar.Tickets for all three shows are on sale.
All tour dates and Sam's Kitchen setlist, below...
photos by Richard Termine
DOWNLOAD: Antony - Thank You For Your Love (MP3)
"This is how it must feel to be an ovum," the singer Antony Hegarty said with a tone of gentle amusement as latecomers flooded down the aisles of Alice Tully Hall during the concert he presented there on Saturday night. It was the second time this singer, who goes by his first name, stopped to let stragglers find their seats. Earlier he had abruptly cut off a song just started -- "Ghost," from his rapturously lovely new album, "Swanlights" -- then tried to smooth over an awkward silence by whistling Satie's "Gymnopédie" No. 1...Reading that first paragraph of the Times review makes me feel a little better, since I was also late to the show, but I was so late I actually missed all of that starting and stopping happening.
...Here, performing as part of Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, Antony stood shrouded in shadow and sheathed in a flowing black gown. In place of his Johnsons, the Orchestra of St. Luke's accompanied him in songs largely drawn from "Swanlights" and its predecessor, "The Crying Light." Rob Moose, elsewhere a musically polyamorous violinist, conducted; at the piano was Thomas Bartlett, a sensitive chamber-pop singer otherwise known as Doveman. [NY Times]
I think there were at least two big issues that caused people to be late. One of them was the show's kind-of-unfortunate 7:30pm start time (7:30 sharp on a Saturday night with no opener). The other was that the 1/2/3 trains were all screwed up, and I personally spent the first 30 minutes of the show sitting underground in a train that wasn't going anywhere. At least there were people dressed up for Halloween adorning all the stations and cars. That made the situation feel slightly less tense. That said, by the time I got there, every seat in the house was full, so late or not, everyone eventually got there, and what I saw was unsuprisingly beautiful and worth finally making it there for.
Nico Muhly was responsible for many of the arrangements of the night, and behind Antony and the orchestra was the film "Mr. O's Book of the Dead", a 1973 film by Chiaki Nagano featuring the Butoh master Kazuo Ohno and his troupe. Kazuo is the one on the cover of Antony and the Johnsons' 2009 CD The Crying Light. And as the NY Times sums up nicely, it was "Projected overhead throughout the performance -- even during the awkward breaks -- it was both a potent visualization of gender ambiguity, vulnerability and pain, and a garish distraction from music's transfixing intensity and beauty."
It was Antony's only North American show this year. Hopefully he'll tour some more in support of his new album "Swanlights" which was released on October 12th via Secretly Canadian. Download "Thank You For Your Love" from that LP above, and watch Antony's performance of the same song from the October 8th episode of Letterman in the video, under the rest of the pictures from Lincoln Center, below...
photos by Tim Griffin
The Kitchen Spring Gala BenefitWednesday night's $500-a-ticket Gala event (the afterparty was cheaper) at Capitale didn't include any surprises (no on-stage collaborations or surprise guests), but it did include performances by Dirty Projectors, Doveman, Nico Muhly, and St. Vincent as advertised, and raise a lot of money for non-profit venue The Kitchen (whose upcoming events include two talent shows curated by Robert Melee).
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Capitale 130 Bowery at Grand Street, New York City
6:00 pm COCKTAILS AND HORS D'OEUVRES
7:30 pm DINNER AND PERFORMANCES
by Dirty Projectors, Doveman, Nico Muhly, and St. Vincent
9:30 to Midnight AFTER-PARTY with open bar, desserts, and dancing with DJ Scott Campbell & Leo Fitzpatrick and a live music performance by Chief
Hosted by The Smile and The Journal
The honoree, David Byrne, rode his bike to and from the party. More pictures from the event (though none of Chief who play two more NYC shows in June), below...
by Andrew Frisicano
DOWNLOAD: Chief - Night & Day (MP3)
Dirty Projectors & David Byrne @ Bowery in Nov '09
The MoMA Party in the Garden benefit with Karen O and Nick Zinner is tonight (5/25), and the Anthology Film Archives benefit with Lou Reed, Sonic Youth and Kenneth Anger's band Technicolor Skull was the week before (5/19).
Tomorrow (Wednesday, May 26th), there's the spring benefit for the Kitchen, a nonprofit performance and music space in Chelsea, that will honor David Byrne. The event, which includes dinner, drinks, etc. at Capitale (130 Bowery), will also feature performances by Dirty Projectors, Doveman, Nico Muhly, and St. Vincent. Tickets for that would have run you $500 a piece, if they weren't already sold out. Byrne isn't listed as playing at the event, though he has performed with both Dirty Projectors and St. Vincent in the past.
While in town, Chief, who just signed to Domino Records (and who live back in California now that they've graduated from NYU) are also playing a show at Mercury Lounge on June 2nd with She Keeps Bees and Caveman. Tickets are on sale. They'll also be at Union Pool on June 5th...
"California 4-piece Chief, comprised of early 20-somethings Evan Koga, brothers Danny and Michael Fujikawa and Mike Moonves, will release their stunning debut album Modern Rituals on August 17, 2010. The newest signing to Domino Records, Chief has already garnered a fervent following in NYC and LA as well as early radio support from KEXP, BBC Radio 6 Music and Zane Lowe's influential Radio 1 show. The band will set out on a run of select U.S. tour dates that begins this Friday, May 28th, but first they are proud to offer their lead single "Night & Day" as a free download" [Domino Records]Grab "Night & Day" above. All dates below.
Dirty Projectors' other upcoming shows include a headlining gig at Terminal 5 on September 11th which Owen Pallett is now opening. All dates below.
St. Vincent has a headlining show coming up at Summerstage and she'll sing with Ben Gibbard at the June 8th Simon & Garfunkel-themed Summerstage benefit. You can also catch her playing DJ at Brooklyn Bowl tonight (5/25).
Speaking of David Byrne, he's been busy as usual. He's suing Florida governor Charlie Crist. And his Here Lies Love project came out in April. (Eerily, that record, about Philippine first lady and political figure Imelda Marcos, corresponded with the political success of Imelda and the Marcos family in a May election.)
There's a new book on Byrne & Talking Heads called Song and Circumstance: The Work of David Byrne from Talking Heads to the Present, which sports a cover photo by BV photographer Chris La Putt (taken at Byrne's Radio City show in 2009). Congrats Chris!
David Byrne's own book, Bicycle Diaries, came out last year. Videos of David's lecture on bikes, scenes from his 2009 "Songs of David Byrne and Brian Eno" tour, and all Chief & DP dates are below...
by Andrew Frisicano, photos by Stephanie Berger
NYP rehearsing Nico's "Detailed Instructions" (via)
Members of New York Philharmonic and conductor/NYP music director Alan Gilbert premiered new works by Nico Muhly, Matthias Pintscher and Sean Shepherd at Symphony Space last Friday (4/16). The show was the second edition of NYP's CONTACT! series, which comissions new music from young composers and debuted in December. Online radio station Q2 will be broadcasting the performance, which included live interviews conducted by WNYC's John Schaefer, on Thursday, April 22nd at 7 pm and Saturday, April 24th at 4pm.
With a darker hued string section led by the violas, [Nico Muhly] work Detailed Instructions takes on a sound world that stood apart from the other pieces on the program. Muhly is post-minimal in orientation. And while a couple of the composers in the audience who sat near me groused at intermission that his work is 'indebted to Philip Glass,' what they didn't seem to hear was Muhly's playful departures from mainstream minimalism.As mentioned before, Nico Muhly's arrangements can be found on the new records by Jonsi and Sam Amidon.
Instead of Glass' symmetrical use of ostinati, Muhly's repeating figures dart in and out of the 'expected phrase lengths,' creating delightful surprises and heady syncopations. In the more reposeful central section, he channeled an appealing lyricism from his recent pop-based excursions into a spacious orchestral mold. The third section gave the NYPO musicians a chance to up the bpm quotient, in a breakneck paced, dazzling finale. Make no mistake, Muhly is no mere retro-minimalist; quite the contrary, he's a compelling new voice on the scene. [File Under?]
The Symphony Space show was followed by a performance at Metropolitan Museum of Art the day after, which was the last Contact! show of the NY Phil "season" (which runs through July). The series picks up again with three new commissions next December. Pictures from Friday's show are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Signal at LPR
New music ensemble Signal will visit (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, April 11th for two performances of Philip Glass's 1981 album Glassworks (its NY live premiere) along with Glass's "Music in Similar Motion" and other works. Tickets for the early set and late set are both on sale. Clips from Glassworks are posted below.
Also coming up, Signal will be at Merkin Hall on May 27th to debut a new piece by Nico Muhly and UK composer Harrison Birtwistle's The Corridor (its US premiere). The show is part of Kaufman Center's Contemporary Contexts series and Face the Music, "Kaufman Center's critically-acclaimed teen ensemble," will open with a pre-show performance of Muhly's "Honest Music" and "How About Now." Tickets are on sale for that.
Nico Muhly (who worked on the new albums by Jonsi and Sam Amidon, and who played himself quite a bit at Big Ears Fest) was commissioned along with composers Sean Shepherd and Matthias Pintscher to write a piece for Contact!, the NY Philharmonic's new music series that kicked off last December. All three pieces debut April 16th at Symphony Space (and played again a day later at Metropolitan Museum of Art). Tickets for Symphony Space show are on sale.
Outside of NYC, Signal travels upstate to join Eastman School of Music's Musica Nova and others in performing Steve Reich pieces in Rochester and Buffalo this May and June (works include Music for 18 Musicians and Pulitzer winning Double Sextet).
Another thing Signal has on its calendar is the 2010 Bang on a Can Marathon, set for Sunday, June 27th, noon-midnight, at World Financial Center Winter Garden. At the fest, the group will participate in Shelter, a multimedia work co-composed by BoaC founders Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe and David Lang. The initial lineup also includes the US premiere of Professor Bad Trip by Fausto Romitelli. A video of that piece is below.
Most recently, Signal joined Shara Worden and others to perform Sarah Kirkland Snider's Penelope at Galapagos on Saturday, April 3rd.
All the above-mentioned videos posted below...
Jonsi's tour kick in Vancouver 4/6 (A Hermida)
On a set that looked like the Museum of Natural History after a fire (trust me), a tight musical arc that fit the songs into one another like puzzle pieces, and gorgeous projections courtesy of London's 59 Productions, the show was less winsome rock and more serious Theatre. There were costumes, too: All but one band member wore a jacket trailing bright fabric strips that hung like rainbow tree moss.Jonsi's world tour in support of his solo debut, Go, kicked off last night (Tuesday, April 6th) in Vancouver. The pictures, video (below) and review above are first looks at the sprawling stage show set up for the tour...
But when the whole band combined like a marvelous machine, as on the twinkling "Sinking Friendships" or thrashing, thunderous closer "Grow Till Tall," the Jonsi experience reaches its height. Percussionist Samuli Kosminen manages to alternatively scare and soothe with tools both expected (good old drums) and unusual (a rock, I think).
In between, "Tornado" hinted at both orchestra and film score, "Go Do" found a sunny, breakneck pop sprint, and "Around Us" was a hypnotic, trippy epic, complete with live vocal loops.
The pinnacle, however, came in the encore. Jonsi, in full Native American headdress, emerged from the side of the stage and put his plumage on full display. Then he smiled, and it was clear: Sigur Ros is a beautiful thing, but when he goes solo, Jonsi does something amazing -- he lets his freak flag fly. "I want to be a miracle," he sang on "Boy Lilikoi." [Spin]
[Jonsi] enlisted a design company that creates sets for the Metropolitan Opera Company, the English National Opera and other bastions of high culture. The company, Fifty Nine Productions, was looking to branch out into pop music. "We were all really big Sigur Rós fans. They were literally on the list of people we wanted to work with," says director Mark Grimmer.Jonsi and band play Vancouver again tonight (4/7). Their tour goes on to include Coachella and two nights at Terminal 5 on May 8th and 9th. Tickets are still on sale for those.
For Jónsi, Fifty Nine Productions created a sort of decimated museum exhibit on stage, with heavy use of video projections--without jumbo-sized screens. "We try to integrate the images into the fabric of the shows and project them onto objects that aren't dead when there's nothing on it," Mr. Grimmer says. For instance, video is projected in museum-like exhibit cases along with on Jónsi himself. [Wall Street Journal]
If you need a Jonsi fix sooner, there's a free listening party tonight at Le Poisson Rouge (no RSVP required) for the new album, which came out today (4/7)...
"Album available to purchase on site, and happy hour drink specials for the duration of the event. The album will be played in full, with giveaways set up for Jonsi/Sigur Ros vinyl, and tickets for Jonsi's Terminal 5 shows on May 8th and 9th. Video footage from Jonsi's new music videos and related projects to be screened as well."A couple more pictures and videos from the Canada show, the set list and more are below...
by Alex Lewis
Sam Amidon @ Big Ears Fest (more by Andrew Frisicano)
Sam Amidon sung the very first note at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville on Friday. Overshadowed on the festival's bill by the likes of famed rock bands (The National, Vampire Weekend) and legendary composers (Terry Riley), many of the badge-wearing festival attendees didn't know what to expect when the tall, flannel-wearing Vermont-native's strange voice filled the Knoxville Museum of Art. But they were soon won over.
In retrospect he was perfect for the role. As a musician who has illuminated elements of Americana, past and present, through his re-imaginings of traditional Appalachian songs Amidon has become a vital member of the contemporary folk community. In the spirit of Big Ears, his music relies on collaboration. Along with Thomas Bartlett (also known as Doveman) and composer Nico Muhly he is a member of the 802 tour, whose performances are beautiful syntheses of three varied musical minds. Amidon had three scheduled performances at the festival. I caught up with him backstage at the Bijou Theater.
How did you end up at Big Ears?
Sam: It was through the 802 Tour. We [Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett, Nadia Sirota, and I] had done a tour about two summers ago and it was a total blast. So we are always looking to do, not necessarily another tour, but some more shows because we love playing together. While we're all pretty busy, it's usually hard to find a time. But this weekend worked out. Another factor was Bryce [Dessner], someone who we all encounter in different capacities and there are so many people here who we know and play with. For instance, Thomas plays keyboards with The National. There were just so many wonderful musicians so we were totally happy to come play.
by Andrew Frisicano
Collaborations were the order of the day on Big Ears' Saturday, March 27th schedule (day two). At 1pm, the 802 Tour - Nico Muhly, Thomas Bartlett (Doveman) and Sam Amidon with violist Nadia Sirota - performed songs written by each. The National's Dessner brothers and drummer Bryan Devendorf joined for a selection of full-band Doveman songs, and the finale was a clamoring, epic version of the folk song "The Two Sisters" arranged by Nico (part of the percussion included Nico combing Thomas's hair). Sam played his own set with help from Thomas one day earlier, and later Saturday night.
Before that, the day started with Andrew W.K.'s Q&A-heavy lecture at the Knoxville Museum of Art (he played a set of music the night before) and a Bang on a Can All-Stars set that included works by Dave Longstreth, both at noon. Dirty Projectors performed later in the day (3:45pm) at Tennessee Theatre on a bill that also included DJ/Rupture and William Basinski who went on at the same time as Liturgy (who played at the Big Ears Annex at 2pm and then again at Pilot Light at midnight).
Clogs took the stage at the Bijou Theater with guests as well. Rumors of a solo set by Sufjan Steven circulated, but he only played one of his own songs, "Barn Owl Night Killer," on piano. Clogs were also assisted by Shara Worden, Aaron Dessner and Calder Quartet. Matt Berninger was delayed en route to Knoxville, so he didn't make his duet on "Last Song," for which main Clog Padma Newsome filled in. That wasn't the actual last song - new-album closer "We Were Here" was, which featured Sufjan on vocals and banjo along with Shara Worden and guitar by Aaron Dessner. A similar show happened in Brooklyn a few days earlier.
The Saturday headliners - Vampire Weekend and Joanna Newsom - both played to sold out crowds (Vampire Weekend at the sprawling, ornate-adorned 1600 seat Tennessee Theater with opener Abe Vigoda). Joanna Newsom's set was opened by Fred Armisen aka Jens Hannemann, a master of "complicated drummer technique." Armisen also joined her set for one song to play awkward and out-of-place cowbell.
At the Tennessee, the night ended with Terry Riley's Autodreamagraphical Tales - music from Bang on a Can over Terry reading from his actual dreams (Eastern religion and weed popped up frequently) - and In C, led by BoaC's Evan Ziporyn and featuring the rest of Bang on a Can All-Stars as well as Calder Quartet, Clogs, Nico Muhly, Nadia Sirota, Gyan Riley, and Terry on voice. The open-ended song stretched to an hour, canceling out any chance to catch late night sets from Javelin and Gang Gang Dance. Gang Gang was stil going when I arrived, but the club shut down the power mid-song and flipped on the lights promptly at 3am, sending everyone home.
A recap of Friday is HERE. More pictures and videos from Saturday are below...
Canadian songwriter Patrick Watson will be playing a pair of NYC shows this May to kick off a run of US dates. He visits Thursday, May 6th at the Bell House (tickets) and Friday, May 7th at 92YTribeca (tickets). Before those shows, he plays Canada with Timber Timbre (who play NYC and tour with the Low Anthem this April).
Opening the two NYC shows will be Doveman, who joined the National at their recent shows at the Bell House. Doveman/Thomas Barlett also plays with Nico Muhly at the Kitchen on March 18th and 19th in a project called Peter Pears. Tickets are still on sale.
Patrick Watson tour dates and videos are below...
Sigur Ros have announced that they're taking an indefinite hiatus to focus on family and other projects. Members Kjartan and Georg are spending time with their newborn children, and singer Jónsi is releasing a solo album and touring. The band was previously reported to be working on a new record last year. Jónsi wrote on their site, "we started working on something a few months ago, then we scrapped everything and sold our studio and rehearsal space. now we are back in the drummer's garage, rocking out like we did when we were 14. i think it's gonna be good."
Jónsi's debut solo album, Go, comes out April 5th on XL Recordings. The song "Boy Lilikoi" is streaming on his website and its artwork is above. The album features arrangement work by Nico Muhly, percussion by Samuli Kosminen, and production by Jonsi, Alex Somers (Jonsi's boyfriend and Riceboy Sleeps partner) and Peter Katis (who has worked wth Interpol, The National & Tokyo Police Club).
Jónsi is working with London-based 59 Productions on the set, costumes and stage-show for his upcoming world tour, which will "open in North America in April 2010, and will come to Europe in late May [dates TBA still]." The company recently leaked teaser photos (possibly mock-ups of the stage), which are posted below. The full tour hasn't been announced yet, but it will come to NYC's Terminal 5 on Saturday, May 8th. Tickets go on sale Friday, February 12th at noon.
UPDATE: Full tour announced and it includes two NYC shows.
Jónsi played songs off the new record on NYC's Soundcheck on January 21st. That's streaming on the station's site. Videos from the making of the album, teaser pictures and album tracklist are below...
Puss n Boots (aka Sasha Dobson, Catherine Popper, and Norah Jones (not Avril Lavigne as listed on Mercury Lounge's website) are opening for Doveman and friends at Mercury Lounge on January 12th. Tickets are still on sale. As previously mentioned, Doveman band member Sam Amidon opens that show too.
Tickets are also now on sale for the two "Doveman + Peter Pears : An Evening With Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly" shows at The Kitchen.
Norah Jones, Sam Amidon, Nico Muhly, and members of the National are among those who contributed to the new Doveman album.
Doveman, Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly are playing this year's Big Ears Fest which is curated by a member of the National.
Beth Orton and Shazad (who also plays in Doveman) both contribute to Sam's forthcoming album.
Beth Orton has some shows coming up of her own too. Video of Sam and Beth performing together in London, below...
Joanna Newsom is one of the announced acts for this year's Big Ears Fest in Knoxville, TN, March 26th-28th. Others on the initial lineup include Vampire Weekend, St. Vincent, the Calder Quartet, Andrew WK, The Ex, Gang Gang Dance, Clogs, 802 Tour (Nico Muhly / Doveman / Sam Amidon with Nadia Sirota), The xx, Javelin, DJ/Rupture (solo), DJ/Rupture and Andy Moor, My Brightest Diamond, Gyan Riley, and jj. The fest's artist in residence is composer Terry Riley and a number of his works will be performed (including 'In C'). Bryce Dessner of the National is also one of the curators. Weekend tickets are on sale now. Tickets to invididual shows will be announced later this month, along with the schedule (shows are at different venues around town).
Sam Amidon @ LPR in June (more by Fresh Bread)
Solo artist & Doveman band member Sam Amidon's new record I See The Sign will be out in March on Bedroom Community and features contributions from Beth Orton, Shahzad Ismaily, Nico Muhly, and Valgeir Sigurdsson. Its first song "How Come the Blood" is up as a free download and streaming at MySpace.
Sam has a bunch of shows coming up, two of which are in NYC for now. He plays Rockwood Music Hall tonight (1/4), and then he opens (and probably plays as part of the "friends") at the Doveman & Friends show at Mercury Lounge on January 12th.
Beth Orton has shows coming up in NYC (and LA) this month too. Sam's new album cover art, some videos and all dates below...
What makes an album great? And perhaps even more critical for this list, what makes a great album gay? To create our list of the 100 Greatest, Gayest Albums of All Time, we polled more than 100 actors, comedians, musicians, writers, critics, performance artists, label reps, and DJs, asking each to list the 10 most important albums of their lives. After receiving responses from Boy George, Rufus Wainwright, Cyndi Lauper, the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray, Perez Hilton, Nate Berkus, Jake Shears, Ed Droste, Nico Muhly, John Cameron Mitchell, Wilson Cruz, Junior Vasquez, Janis Ian, Lady Bunny and a slew of others, we tallied the results to determine our top-100 list. [Out]And the gayest album of all time goes to.... David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The entire list is at Out's site. They also ranked the The Gayest Christmas Songs, and The Gayest Videos
Pitchfork also just released their list of the Best Albums of 2009.
by Andrew Frisicano
ACME...outdoors in warmer times
Tonight (12/17) at the Tank, American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) perform music from Phil Kline and John Cage (two earlier works, String Quartet in Four Parts and Credo In Us). Kline's annual Unsilent Night event just happened in NYC on December 12th (and is still to come in other cities). His piece Exquisite Corpses, on the program for ACME, also prominently features boomboxes. He's also put together a new acoustic arrangement of his string quartet The Blue Room and Other Stories (originally written for Ethel whose version is below), which ACME will be debuting. Tickets are on sale.
Across town and also tonight (12/17), the New York Philharmonic will be launching its Contact! new music series at Symphony Space (95th and Broadway). Four composers - Arlene Sierra, Lei Liang, Marc-André Dalbavie & Arthur Kampela - will be debuting very different compositions with the group. Video and audio previews of those are below. Tickets are on sale. An encore performance (to borrow a phrase) takes place Saturday, December 19th at Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The second Contact! program - with new music from Sean Shepherd, Nico Muhly and Matthias Pintscher - comes April 16th at Symphony Space and April 17th at Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Videos and more info are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Thomas Bartlett aka Doveman
On November 1st, Doveman opened up at Mercury Lounge for The Ghost of a Sabre Toothed Tiger, a project that features Sean Lenon, his model girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl (who, as announced from the stage, had only learned to play bass a few months prior), Cibo Matto's Yuka Honda and mi-gu drummer Yuko Araki. A week prior, both bands performed at Doveman's loft CD release party for The Conformist with different lineups.
The headlining Ghost of a Sabre Toothed Tiger is a relatively new project (with no records out) that plays tightly composed psychedelic pop. They also dip into Sean Lennon's previous catalog, like for an extended Maggot Brain-esque jam on his 2006 song "Dead Meat." Drummer Araki in particular hit all the fills and accents as if the songs were familiar jazz charts. Doveman came back to guest on GOASTT's last song, "Richard Brown," a jokey tune from an unfinished musical. The whole band (minus Kemp Muhl) is touring Japan right now with Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band in support of her latest Between My Head and the Sky.
Doveman was also joined by a stellar band that included National drummer Bryan Devendorf and guest singer Martha Wainwright. Bartlett is currently on tour opening for Swell Season. He'll be playing at Joe's Pub on December 2nd as part of the Happy Ending music and reading series with Amanda Stern, Hedwig's John Cameron Mitchell and Jonathan Caouette. Tickets are on sale.
Doveman will also be returning to Mercury Lounge for an as-of-now unannounced bill on January 12th. Then he and frequent collaborator Nico Muhly will be doing two nights (of TBA) at The Kitchen on March 18th and 19th.
More pictures from Mercury Lounge and tour dates are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
GVSU New Music Ensemble...
In 2007, Michigan's Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble recorded a stellar version of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, which they performed that year at the Bang on a Can Marathon (which ran 27 hours). Members of the group traveled to NYC to join in the Kronos Quartet-led performance of Terry Riley's In C last April at Carnegie Hall. Now, GVSU New Music Ensemble has put together their own recording of the classic composition, and they've invited 16 musicians and composers to remix the piece for a 2-CD set, In C Remixed, that comes out November 17th on Innova (the digital version came out Oct. 27th).
The remixers, who include Glenn Kotche, Nico Muhly, BoaC cofounder David Lang, and DJ Spooky (whose BAM Next Wave show happens the first week in December), all have a lot to say about In C and have come up with some diverse, left-field takes on the piece. They run the gamut from the straightforward electronic-music path to glitch-pop and twisted orchestral turns.
The GVSU New Music Ensemble will be in NYC to perform the piece live at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Sunday, November 8th. Joining them will be two album contributors, Dennis DeSantis and R. Luke DuBois, who'll do a remix of the performance live (and add video). Also on the bill are Slow Boys (fellow In C remixers Michael Lowenstern on bass clarinet and Todd Reynolds on violin). Tickets are on sale.
A video preview of the album and its full tracklist with contibutors are below...
by Andrew Frisicano
Speaking of Nico Muhly, he just played a Wordless Music show at Columbia's Miller Theatre on September 9th. There he performed with '802 Tour,' a round-robin style stage show with frequent collaborators Sam Amidon and Thomas Bartlett...
Mr. Bartlett's piano-driven ballads, including some from a forthcoming CD, "The Conformist," had a shadowy, confessional intimacy that was accentuated by his tremulous, nearly whispered crooning. In sharp contrast, Mr. Amidon affected a ragged backwoods yelp for traditional shape-note songs and other folksy material.Barlett's new Doveman CD, The Conformist, which features Muhly and Sam Amidon prominently, will be out October 20th on the Brassland label. Also featured on the disc are the National's Matt Berninger, Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Bryan Devendorf, a string section, and additional guest spots by Martha Wainwright and Norah Jones.
Mr. Muhly's appealing instrumental compositions drew on Philip Glass's harmonic stasis and the rhythmic vitality of Stravinsky and Ligeti, mixed with a flair for electronic counterpoint that was all Mr. Muhly's own. Yuki Numata, a terrific violinist from the ACME group, brought out an ardent romanticism in "Honest Music," for violin and electronics....
Where genres had been gently mixed during the concert, in an encore medley they were mangled outright. Mr. Muhly waxed rhapsodic at the piano in Mariah Carey's "My All"; Mr. Bartlett offered a limpid rendition of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"; and Mr. Amidon turned R. Kelly's "Relief" into a suitably crooked hootenanny singalong. [NY Times]
Doveman will be playing fall-winter dates (not announced yet), and unless they are solo shows, those will probably come after the Sam Amidon/Nico Muhly European tour (also with Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurðsson) that runs October 24th to November 12th. The Eurotrip is less than a week after Muhly appears at the New Yorker Festival to discuss "Radical Opera" with Rufus Wainwright in a talk moderated by Alex Ross.
Martha & Rufus Wainwright recently played with their father at Highline Ballroom, and will both appear in an upcoming show at Carnegie Hall. Rufus also has another benefit show coming up in NYC soon.
The new Doveman track that National frontman Matt Berninger sings on, is streaming at Pitchfork.
Doveman album art above. Tracklist and some interesting videos, below...
by Andrew Frisicano
There were (more) strings at September 25th's inaugural show for the Archipelago music series, which happens at Galapagos one Friday a month through next May. Like the Undiscovered Islands fest in May, the shows will be featuring music that crosses boundaries between classical, indie, etc. (and like that fest, it's also being set up by the New Amsterdam label.)
The full schedule is below. It's full of treats (like a way-off show with music by Shara Worden aka My Brightest Diamond in April). The first show featured violist Nadia Sirota and percussion quartet Line C3. Coincidentally, Worden and Nadia will both be playing with the Dessner Bros.' BAM Next Wave show, The Long Count, at the end of October.
Both acts on the first night performed works by Nico Muhly (Line C3 did "Ta and Clap," written by Nico for them in 2004, and he joined Nadia for his piece "Keep in Touch," which features a vocal sample from Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons). Nadia & Nico actually discuss their collaborations in an episode of New Amsterdam's Podcast series.
Speaking of New Amsterdam, they also have a CMJ showcase coming up with Cantaloupe Records at (Le) Poisson Rouge on October 21st. Tickets are on sale. That will feature the music of David Lang and Julia Wolfe (Bang on a Can co-founders) and performances by NOW Ensemble, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and more. Clips of the Lang-scored film (Untitled) will be screened between performances (the soundtrack of which will be out October 13th).
Full details on the Archipelago series below...