Thursday, November 3, 2011

11/02/11 Micah & Jean-Paul Vest's Last Charge of the Light Horse

In the last concert of the 2011 season, Micah and Jean-Paul Vest’s Last Charge of the Light Horse played at the Deepwells’ Mansion for Acoustic Long Island. The night started off with an over the top comedic spoof on the new I-phone apps, revealing a side of the host Dave Dircks that proved he’s ready for prime time standup.

Micah, a young performer, with a wonderful rich voice and an affable style performed the first set with charm and poise. His songs very quickly, while covering the themes of romance, lost love and regret, all seemed to blend into one another indistinguishably. There were none of the highs and the lows that you would expect from a musician who truly does have a voice, a rarity in the folk world. Yet instead of using the full range of what is undoubtedly there, he often sang at the top of his register as if to authenticate emotion, rather than take us on a musical emotional roller coaster ride. His rendition of Killing me Softly probably gave the first clear indication of what he could do with a song even though who can top Roberta Flack. His final song, coauthored with his college roommate was more textured which made me wonder if collaborating might lift him out of a musical rut where he can chart new territory and reach a wider more deserving audience.

Jean-Paul Vest’s Last Charge of the Light Horse brought to Acoustic Long Island one of the best shows in a long time. I don’t know why I thought of Lou Reed sings Tim Buckley or if the comparison is apt, but it stuck with me. Jean-Paul Vest is one of the more intelligent song writers out there. He has the poet’s true gift of turning the mundane, the ordinary, the daily ups and downs of life that we all face and transforming them into heartfelt songs. An ATM machine, the automobile, New Years Eve, all instantly become poetic images and iconography that resonate for the listener in a manner that only a gifted artist’s brush can accomplish. Jean-Paul Vest has a rich palette from which to draw which is contrasted, almost ironically, by his monochromatic singing style. I wondered at times if his bassist, who joined in occasionally could have added more detailed harmonic richness. Regardless, the band was top notch, totally in sync with each other and with Jean-Paul Vest looking like a cross between Buddy Holly and James Dean. The music was driving and exhilarating. Instantly, the audience was transported into a better place through lyrics that were consistently rich and haunting, self-reflective and honest. Each song honored the daily human struggle that wears us down in our pedestrian lives, but which are desperately in need of recognition and edification. Songs like Get Away Car and The Second Time Around and The New Year all deserve second and third listens because there is something to be learned not only about the artist, but about yourself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

10/05/11 Jack's Waterfall & Flearoy

Jack’s Waterfall headed up by singer/songwriter Jack Licitra came to Deepwells to share his energy, excitement and sense of humor. The music became non-stop theatre with his motley crew of musicians: a tuba player, Jon Preddice on cello, a young female high school senior and a percussionist who played not only drums, but pvc tubing. If Jack Licitra’s goal was to make the audience part of his band then he aptly accomplished that. If Jack Licitra believes that paying homage to his muse adds a transcendent mystical dimension to the creative process, then, in the final analysis, the lyrics seemed rather bland and unimaginative as each song very quickly blended seamlessly into each other until they disappeared from memory. If, indeed, as John announced, music is a healing art form, then he, like an evangelical preacher who makes bold promises and wild claims that he is filled by the spirit, then the audience can only leave energized, but still broken.

Flearoy, which I assume is a tongue-in-cheek take off on Leroy, came onto the stage at Deepwells like an unassuming collection of street musicians dressed in plaid who just happened to be passing through St. James on their way to somewhere else—and that somewhere else just might be fame and fortune. It’s hard to know where to begin. Jon Seale on vocals, at first seemed too much for one person to bear the weight of, but like other soul and blues singers, Bill Withers, Wilson Pickett, and John Fogerty, Jon Seale, in perfect pitch, quickly became the heart and soul of the band. Zack Rosen on bass had to be the most inventive stand up bass that I’ve heard in a long time. What he did on standup bass almost served as lead guitar and percussionist as he riffed off Dan Knobler (looking like a young Bob Dylan) on lead guitar who never stopped playing that American steel guitar which has the risk of sounding tinny, but which always soared in his hands without overshadowing the rest of the band. Flearoy sang a mix of their own songs and few covers ended the night with a rousing rendition of The Band’s Ophelia. Matt Porter, who I sensed has a good voice in his own right but who adopted the harmonium rather than his instrument the electronic keyboard, was never given his chance to shine, should be brought back into the band. Flearoy deserves a second, third and fourth listen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 07, 2011 Kate and Nate; Avi Wisnia

Kate and Nate from Ithaca New York, who performed at Deepwells last night, are hard to classify. Were they vaudeville, old timey music, early folk? Whatever their roots, they brought something completely unique and entertaining. Nate’s body never stopped. His guitar playing was equally energetic. Kate sat stoically behind her cello which she played with sensitivity and grace. Their songs were complex, inventive, and defied pigeonholing into any one genre. I heard some overtones of Incredible String Band in Nate’s voice as he and Kate overlay rhythms and harmonies that were remarkably in sync with each other and gave a richness and depth to their performance. Their opening number with the refrain There you were, Here you are immediately show-cased their strength and weakness as artist. The song, original in every way that was so promising and captivating initially, which went longer than Dylan’s Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, becoming numbing and begged for an ending. However, once they escaped that unfortunate opening number, they performed songs that were sometimes playful, like ttyl now baby, a song capturing the hypnotic shorthand of texting that led to the breakup of a marriage, and Anna’s Afternoon, a beautiful song about the family dog, now gone. When our day is done captured everyone’s dream of heaven or hell, depending on how you view an eternity in your bathing suit with everyone you love. The Dancing Screen intelligently contrasted the bucolic with the mass corporate culture. Nate graced us with a brief juggling performance, balancing his harmonica holder and banjo on his forehead. All in all, they are a very talented duo. But their songs are demanding and challenging and need many listenings to appreciate.

Avi Wisnia, who has played at the Kennedy Center and the Highline Ballroom, brought a Brazilian bossa nova style to Deepwells. Avi stood center stage with an upright keyboard accompanied by a percussionist and guitarist who never upstaged him and always remained tastefully in the background. He had a pleasant voice and a nice demeanor, unafraid to talk to the audience about the inspiration of his songs or to admit that as a gay male, he has suffered loss and disappointment and confusion about love. This on the night of the Republican presidential debates was particularly poignant, considering that they would have blamed the recent east coast earthquake and Hurricane Irene on Ari. His songs, in many respects, were derivative. They always sounded like some other song, from another artist. But Ari wasn’t shy about admitting that and even highlighted in Something New, a clever mix of favorite lines from other artists, in which the audience was asked to participate on such lines as “smooth operator” from Sade’s song of the same name. I wish I could stop writing songs about you poignantly underscored the loss of an important relationship in Ari’s life. New Year focused on the near suicide of two friends, and their ability to rise above their despair and discover a new reason for living, a tragic reality that the general public is only recently coming to understand that gays have painfully had to face alone. Rabbit Hole was probably Ari’s best song. An equally derivative and very stylized song that captured the enjoyable trap called love. This time the audience was given the chance to playfully join the band, each given a kazoo, to accompany Ari’s lively vocal sound effects. Ari is certainly one who is destined to be a club favorite.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

08/12/11 The Grand Slambovians

The Grand Slambovians came to Hechscher Park. They are compared to Pink Floyd, but maybe on bad-acid. They’re called hillbilly, but I didn’t hear that. Their costuming, at best is hillbilly bohemian. Joziah Longo, lead singer, heart and soul of the band, while well intentioned in his songwriting skills, was uninspirational as a singer. Their lead guitarist Sharkey McEwen was fiery and inventive, playing some wild earsplitting slide guitar, but never with any memorable riffs. Tony Zuzulo their drummer was equally frenetic almost in the style of The Who’s Keith Moon. Tink Lloyd, who lingered in the background and played accordion and cello, was barely a presence on stage. If nothing else, the band is honest and homespun. They bring intensity and a refreshing self-effacement to the stage even as they attempt to win you over with their energy and the outrageousness. The best comparison for me was to the Ramones, but without the nihilism. Sadly, when it was over, I couldn’t remember a single song, or a single riff that I might want to revisit. For an audience who wants to scream and yell and have an excuse to let their hair down while being bathed in unrelenting noise that never quite crystallizes into a song, this is the group for you. For me, they’re not going to make it to my I-pod.

Monday, August 8, 2011

08/05/11 Little Toby Walker

Little Toby Walker performed in the parking lot of the Hauppauge Library. He didn’t miss a beat. From the moment Toby Walker stepped on stage his fiery fingers began working that guitar—an old Gibson, an American steel, and a twelve string to be exact—as he took us up and down the Delta through the South along highway 66 and up into Chicago, playing Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and more, while also educating us like John Lomax once did, and mesmerizing us with his personal inventiveness (it’s never just Muddy Waters, but Muddy played Toby style) and entertaining us with his personal stories that invariably lean playfully toward double entendre. Little Toby Walker is a Long Island treasure, now living in New Jersey. What makes Toby so interesting and electrifying as a performer is that he’s the whole deal: all ten fingers are moving, the thumb acting as the bass, the index, middle and ring fingers as rhythm and lead, while his left hand is using every fret to perfection, playing the blues or slide guitar, so that if you closed your eyes you’d think there was a full band in session and not the one and only Toby Walker.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

08/03/11 Emi Meyer & Adam Levy

Emi Meyer, a singer-songwriter came to Deepwells to perform her jazz compositions for Acoustic Long Island. Emi, a tall willowy understated performer was simply radiant onstage seated behind a Yamaha digital piano. Her voice was mellifluous. Her phrasing captured all the essential elements of jazz performers that have preceded her. Her piano playing was very much in the jazz tradition. Each of her songs are intelligently designed and well crafted. Yet it was one particular song that she co-wrote regarding the mean streets of New York that really connected with her audience. It’s difficult for a performer to do both interesting things on the piano and with her voice at the same time, either one or the other must be subordinated, but I had a sense that if she were to let go of the piano, walk up to the mike and really belt one out that she would reach that wow level that lingers in the background of every one of her songs. The fact that she is multilingual and sings as beautifully in both Japanese and English positions her to be a true crossover artist in a multicultural world. She has a great future ahead of her.

Adam Levy comes from a storied background of having written for and performed with Nora Jones. His minimalist guitar playing was thankfully augmented by his accompanist, an inspired slide guitarist. His songs are highly introspective and personal. His tender song, Promised Land, an ode to his grandma Jenny, a closeted singer-performer piano player, got the greatest applause. No Dancing, a song about a New York bar that had been recently closed down due to complaints from a testy unreasonable neighbor who detested bars and dancing captured the comic-tragic nature of any business trying to prosper in New York. His song The Heart Collector, that seemed to channel Tom Waits, captured the dark undercurrent of all the broken hearted that people that litter the landscape. A native Californian, he gave voice to the natural beauty of that state that has always represented the last frontier in America in A Promise to California. Given the long list of accomplished performers that Adam Levy has worked with over the years, he is more songwriter than singer-song writer. But that’s fine. Anyone who can make a living in the music business can count himself among the lucky elite.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

07/31/11 The Refugees

The Refugees, a female trio, composed of Cindy Bullens, Deborah Holland, and Wendy Waldman, performed in Hechscher Park on Sunday on the Chapin Rainbow Stage. The three, who brag about having reached middle age, each have a pedigree that any young performer would die for, including working, writing and recording for such luminaries as Vanessa Williams, Elton John, Animal Logic and the Dixie Chicks. Together, with nothing to prove and nothing to lose, they bring to the stage a relaxed professional energy, wonderful harmonies and beautiful songs that showcase their talents collectively and individually. However, their relaxed exchanges on stage come as a two edged sword: the audience loves to know about the performers, but the one minute rule should apply. Anything beyond that becomes fingernails on a blackboard and detracts from their performance. While each song was professionally orchestrated and their harmonies perfectly in sync, almost hand in glove, I wished that they pushed the limits on harmony as the Roche sisters do so inventively or the Dixie Chicks do when they layer sound, because all the gifts and the talent are there to take their songs to the next level. This is a fun trio to see. Talent abounds. Energy is infectious. The music keeps on coming without a single false note.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 16, 2011 Harry Chapin Memorial Concert

On a beautiful summer’s eve, the Chapin family came to pay tribute to Harry Chapin on the thirtieth anniversary of his tragic death. The overflow crowd exceeded anyone’s expectations. There was a sense of the wonderful in the air. If tears were shed, they were shed privately. Instead, the Chapin family—Tom, Steve, Abigail, Lily, Jessica, and Harry’s daughter Jen—all performed lovingly both Harry’s songs and their own, each capturing the spirit of Harry that lives on through Long Island Cares an organization that he founded, on a stage in Huntington’s Hechscher Park, named after him, the Chapin Rainbow Stage, to an audience who grew up on every song. The whole night made you wonder how much goodness can be compressed into one family who continue to give so much to the larger community. At a time when the nation as a whole seems so polarized and hostile toward the plight of the poor, demands cynically that the poor pay their fair share, and hands out generous tax breaks to the richest one percent who give so little, you grow more fond of Harry who donated a third of the proceeds from his concerts to social causes. It is no wonder that he posthumously received the Congressional Gold Medal for humanitarian work. If there were more like Harry in the world, and fewer like David and Charles Koch, how much better off would the country be? Songs like Taxi and Cat’s in the Cradle, W*O*L*D and Circle brought Harry back to life if only for an evening.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 10, 2011 Acoustic Long Island’s Annual Outdoor Summer Concert

On a beautiful summer night with the stars visible in the sky and the Deepwells Mansion acting as stage and backdrop, Acoustic Long Island held it’s sixth annual free outdoor concert featuring Reed Waddle, Nini and Ben, Miles to Dayton, and Ari Hest. Dave Dircks, the heart and soul of Acoustic Long Island, characterized these musicians as the best of the 2010-2011 concert series. It is only the hard work of volunteers like Scott Posner and Billy Alexander, the two backbones of Acoustic Long Island, who make this outdoor event possible.  Reed Waddle, who, opened up the night, is great in a small space, but seemed overwhelmed and swallowed up on the stage. At first, I blamed it on the outdoor venue, which can be tough on musicians since you can’t control the acoustics and the sound system to deliver, but I was wrong. Nini and Ben came out with more drive and power with Nini’s voice soaring. While they never achieved those wow moments, what the crowd heard was a very talented band with an excellent vocalist in Nini and a strong song-writer-guitarist in Ben. They were followed by Miles to Dayton who exploded onto the stage. No sooner did they hit the first note than the crowd was riveted, proving that any criticism I had of the sound system and the outdoor venue was false. Miles to Dayton demonstrated the power of having two accomplished vocalists Jonathan and Krista Preddice with their impeccable harmonies and with having two backup singers, Leanne Preddice on violin and Dave March on bass. The blending of Jonathan’s guitar and Leanne’s violin, and the ensemble’s non-stop energy held the crowd in their hands for every song in their set. Ari Hest closed out the evening. At first, I feared that having Ari follow Miles to Dayton was a mistake, but Ari’s melodious voice with his tremendous range moving from deep bass to falsetto was commanding, his ability to connect with the audience through simple story telling compelling, and the warm sensitive nature of his songs such as Cranberry Lake, Bird Never Flies, and I’ve Got You served as the perfect coda to a wonderful evening.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July 1, 2011 Steel Pulse

Prospect Park hosted Steel Pulse for their Celebrate Brooklyn summer concert series and what a concert it was. The band played with energy and excitement for two hours of non-stop music that was sublime, political, spiritual and inspired. At a time in our nation’s history when we are hearing from schlock politicians preaching the oppression of the white race and  religious extremists falsely predicting the Second Coming of Jesus, Steel Pulse radiates a joyous political quasi religious fervor that makes you want to believe in the goodness of mankind even when faced with real, instead of imagined, oppression.  From the opening note, a festival size crowd of every color and hue was up on its feet dancing, waving, and lifting colorful handkerchief engraved images of Bob Marley into the air, as David Hinds pranced and danced across the stage singing all the crowd favorites Ravers, Roller Skates, Chant a Psalm, Worth His Weight in Gold, Earth Crisis, Blues Dance Rave, Bodyguard.  With Steel Pulse you always get the full reggai rastafari experience: the wailing guitars of David Hinds and Basil Gabbidon, the driving bass of Amlak Tafari, and the soaring keyboard of Selwyn “Bumbo” Brown and Sidney 'Predator' Mills. David Hinds never lets you forget that it’s not all about the music, but about the fate of the world’s suffering oppressed people. The concert ended with Hold On 4 Haiti, a song about the forgotten earthquake victims in Haiti where over 200,000 people were killed and where cholera is killing tens of thousands more.  The proceeds are going to the Solar Electric Light Fund. Bob Marley would be proud.

Monday, June 20, 2011

June 18-19, 2011 The Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival

The annual Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival Festival at Croton on the Hudson was held this past weekend. It is that unusual eclectic mix of activism, music, food and vendors that has come to characterize it. The demographics of the attendees speaks volumes about the reach and scope of the Clearwater Festival: families with children in tow, young people, old people, people with disabilities, veterans, and activists. The festival has something for everyone--story tellers, children’s music, folk music, rock music, dance music—all going on at four separate stages around Croton Park with the backdrop of the Hudson River and the Hudson River Sloop the Clearwater's noble symbol of the organizers' ongoing effort to remove toxic PCPs dumped by GE into the river. There is variety of food spanning the global palate and vendors selling wares of every nation, activists’ booths educating the concert goers to everything from local issues like the Hudson River clean up, the aging Indian Point nuclear reactor, the proposed fracking for natural gas in New York that threatens our water supply, to world issues like the four wars our nation is currently engaged in as the economy sinks toward a new recession or worse. Of course, it is the wide variety of music that draws people forcing the concert goers to make choices they’d rather not make with so much going on during the same time slot. On Sunday, when I was there, the listeners were torn between John Sebastian, James McMurtry or Joe D’Urso; Jorma Kaukonen, Tao Seeger or Buskin and Batteau; Suzanne Vega, David Amram or Jeffrey  Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. How do you choose?  Like a fool I ran around trying to get a taste of everyone. I was disappointed by John Sebastian whose voice has seen better days, lifted up by James McMurtry with his driving sound, mesmerized by Jorma Kaukonen fiery fingers, vaguely interested in Suzanne Vega who has become the standard bearer for Carson McCullers, wished I had spent more time with the Creole Cowboys, and ended the night with Drive-By Truckers who have captured the unique voicing and intonation of Richard Manuel as they eloquently sang about the hardscrabble life that typifies the heartland of America. All in all, the Clearwater Festival was a great success thanks to Pete Seeger who proves that the total of a life can be greater than the sum of its parts.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

June 04, 2011 War Horse

For any of you who want to have a thrilling theatre experience, then you should see War Horse, adapted by Nick Stafford based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center. The play has everything that makes for good theatre: a great cast, a wonderful set design,  a story line with a deep emotional core, a musical storyline (although this is not a musical) and of course the horses, in particular Joey, brought to life in the style of the Lion King by the Handspring Puppet Company. The first half of the play is absolutely gripping. The play pulls at your heartstrings as you watch the alcoholic father with his deep-seated inferiority complex wreak havoc on his family and ironically create a lasting bond between his son, Albert Narracott, and the colt, Joey. This relationship remains the very core of the play as we witness both boy and horse mature and grow. The second half of the play depicts the horse going off to war, The War to End All Wars. We witness the untold story of horses on both sides of the battle front, German and British on French soil, and in this case Joey, as Albert searches for him. Here, the emotional core is severed through a series of vignettes that are designed to capture the uses and abuses of the many horses that were used to ferry men into war, pull the wagons, and carry the injured, even as the war itself becomes more technologically sophisticated with the introduction of machines guns, armored tanks, tear gas and mustard gas. Joey is the sole cohesive core to the second half. While we care deeply for animals caught up in manmade wars, and particularly for Joey, we care more for human beings, who unfortunately are reduced to cutouts, as in war itself, and therefore lose our emotional connection. Still, the play is a marvel to behold, a theatre experience to know first hand, and an account of WW I that needs telling. Go see it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

June 01, 2011 Jeff LeBlanc and Mike Krum

Jeff LeBlanc and Mike Krum both headlined at Acoustic Long Island on the first concert of the summer series. Jeff LeBlanc singing style can best be compared to the talented Chris Ayers and Tim Blane. And while his songs were well crafted, they never reached the highs that characterized those two artists. Instead, LeBlanc’s songs can best be described as pretty, the kind of songs that you could snuggle up to with someone you love while sitting by the a fire and want to complete the mood. His songs never reached deep into your soul or lifted you off your seat. For the first half of his set he was accompanied on the duel keyboard by his talented philosophy professor from Sacred Heart University, a man who made you want to go back and reread Socrates, Aristotle and maybe Henri Bergson. For the second half LeBlanc went solo incorporating a music loop machine into his performance. While it was amazing to watch his pyrotechnic footwork as he looped riffs and rhythms and voiceovers, he slowly drifted off into a solipsistic world, where like an onion when you peel back the layers, the core seemed empty and lonely. These machines must be addicting to musicians, much like gazing into two mirrors toward infinity. Unfortunately they produce endlessly layered repetition which contradicts what real music is all about where musicians, not machines, play off each other. This isn’t to say that Jeff LeBlanc doesn’t have some wonderfully rendered songs. Until We Get It Right has a nice vocal reach and emotional pull. His song Believe in a Chris Ayers style is a simple lyrical ballad. He ended the night with the return of his college professor to the stage and their rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark, a sing-along that the audience loved and sang enthusiastically. The keyboardist was driving and inventive, and they played off each without the raw passion of Springsteen, but with a much needed, rousingly closing to the set. More of that please.

Mike Krum was a complete surprise. His singing style evoked Vance Gilbert with all of Vance’s soulfulness and sincerity; there were even shades of Kenny Rankin hidden deep within. There was something real about Krum’s songs that made you want to sit up and listen. On stage, he was often playful and even silly, sometimes self-deprecating and somewhat scattered. However, when he sang, he was transformed into a true artist with something to say about things that mattered: his girl friend, his friends, the breakup of a musical friendship and his generation. That generational theme he captured honestly and reverentially in his song Slacker, certainly something he is not. It would have been nice if he had brought his own guitar instead of playing an instrument that he picked up out of the Acoustic Long Island grab bag closet because the guitar was barely audible. Fortunately, he was accompanied by a wonderfully inventive electric guitarist who filled in all of the gaps, always lingering in the background, augmenting Krum’s voicing and his reach. Mike Krum ended his set with a beautifully soulful song sung in the Vance Gilbert tradition, No More, which is destined to be a classic in its own right.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 14, 2011 Suzzy and Maggie Roche; Julie Gold

Last night in Port Washington, the Landmark Theatre, with it’s new topflight sound system, headlined Suzzy and Maggie Roche along with Julie Gold as their special guest.  Julie Gold best known for her hit song From a Distance made famous first by Nanci Griffith and then Bette Midler, is a song that stands up there in the pantheon of great songs.  Her performance of this song displayed all of her talents: a crisp clear voice along with her stylish piano and, of course, those lyrics. Julie Gold at the Grammy’s said that it was a song that she had been writing her whole life and this audience loved it. It deservedly catapulted her into fame, a song that has been read into the Congressional record, played on the space station when the Americans and Russians linked up for the first time. Sadly, everything else that Julie Gold played last night paled by comparison. Her lyrics, though well-meaning and filled with love and compassion, seemed trite and uninteresting, almost like Broadway show tunes. I’m happy for Julie Gold’s one enormous hit and so is she.

The Roche sisters were nothing less than wonderful. The quirkiness that has characterized their style, their incredible harmonizing, their unique songs were alive and well in living color. What amazed me was that the audience, now in its dotage, and the Roche Sisters, not afraid to show that they too have aged, still connect through their music as if somehow from the opening note, Maggie and Suzzy were able to transcend age and tap into something greater than our lost youth, but instead a well-spring of beauty and truth that is ageless. It was remarkable how timeless their voices are without props and reverb, but two acoustic guitars, a Steinway concert grand piano and a talent for harmonizing that is unparalleled in the music world. They made us laugh, of course, they made us cry, and why not, but there were so many wow moments throughout the night as if there were six people on stage and not two. They played some of their old standards, like Hammond Song and The Train. They sang from their Zero Church album that they created at Harvard, giving a musical voices to people’s heartfelt personal prayers. They performed Jesus Shaves a blasphemously funny, but honest song about a modern day Jesus looking for work and love.  They sang songs from other artists, including Dylan’s Clothes Line Saga which they elevate to pure theatrics. They ended the night with a rousing rendition of the coasters Yakety Yak. For those unfortunate not to know the Roches, there’s still time. They are nothing less than wonderful.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

May 4, 2011 Rebecca Jordan and Casey Abrams

Last night at Deepwells Acoustic Long Island hosted Rebecca Jordan and Casey Abrams. Rebecca Jordan turned out to be a real surprise. You sensed immediately that in the rough and tumble music world, Rebecca just might make it. Her stage presence was remarkable for everything that it was not: she was never showy or theatrical. Instead she was demure, unpretentious, and gentle. Yet when she smiled at the audience or spoke about her life and her songs, the audience was attentive and embracing. Her songs showed a wide range of interests from folk to jazz to gospel. She addressed war in her song Battlefield and managed to resist the clichés of dead soldiers while drawing us into the harsh realities of loss. Her song This Town initially drew me in, but I soon tired of it from the endless repetition of the words this town which she wove through the song. It dealt with one person moving on, and those that stayed behind. When it turned out that the one that stayed behind died to a drug overdose, I cringed. If this had been a metaphorical death, I would have been happier, but if it was a real death, as I suspect, it’s time to move on. Love Deluxe was an exquisitely sensuous song. It was the song that first displayed Rebecca Jordan’s range and depth as a performer. Her final song Anchor sung in a true gospel style was rousing and moving. Overall, I found Rebecca Jordan to be an artist in search of herself and her niche in the music world. When she put down her guitar, she broke through her limitations as instrumentalist and erupted with a quiet intensity and passion that has the power to one day electrify. My sense is that folk is not her thing. Jazz, soul, and gospel is where she seemed most comfortable. Her accompanist was absolutely essential. With a minimalism that never overshadowed her he allowed her to shine. With a full band behind her, I wondered if there were even greater heights she could reach.

Casey Abrams turned out to be a big disappointment. I thought that he sounded better in rehearsal than he did in his live performance. I kept thinking Southern rock without the rock, the Allman Brothers without, the inventive licks of the Brothers, Sweet Home Alabama without the passion and driving force. His musical compositions in and of themselves were interesting. Songs like The Scarecrow and the Tin Man and It’s Rained Everyday Since They Closed Down the Zoo, showed off his talents as a song writer, reaching for themes that are complex and interesting. Yet when the set was over I realized that nothing had connected with me, nothing jumped out at me. Sadly, he suffered every musician’s nightmare when he blanked out on his final number. At first, my heart ached for him, but when he persisted in playing the song substituting “la, la, la,” for the lyrics while he improvised on his guitar, I suddenly said enough. I’d like to hear him with a driving band, and something that amps up his vocals. Overall, he never varied his songs and they became lost in one big muddle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 10, 2011 Susan Werner, Vance Gilbert & Peter Yarrow

I’ve been a fan of Peter, Paul and Mary since my teenage years when my friends and I used to travel into the city to Gerde’s Folk City and sneak into Westbury Music Fair to hear the three sing. And when Mary died it was a great loss. I was so excited when I learned that Peter Yarrow was coming to Long Island to perform at the The Patchogue Folk Festival, along with Susan Werner and Vance Gilbert.

Susan Werner was wonderful. She sang spirited numbers from her new release Kicking the Bee Hive. Her version of the Our Father deserves its place as a promo to every hypocritical religious preacher who claims to speak for God. Why is Heaven so Small points out so clearly how many people of faith are on the wrong side of God when they condemn us to certain damnation in hell for not being one of the elect. Her wonderful new song Manhattan Kansas, which she played on the piano, is about love and loss and the birth of child showed her willingness to be vulnerable and deeply personal. Her range of playing, her musicianship, her passion for social and political issues, her honesty and her willingness to wear her heart on her sleeve will keep Susan Werner on the stage for years to come.

Vance Gilbert deserves a larger audience. His verbal legerdemain and his sense of humor immediately grabs the audience. The rich timbre of his voice on songs like Unfamiliar Moon, and Lie to Me will always remain powerful and poignant. He knows how to tug at your heart strings. Yet with a simple acoustic guitar he can shift into the Jimi Hendrix song, Castles Made of Sand and make it seem as if Jimi were on the stage. His new songs such as Old Man’s Advice effortlessly blends humor and poignancy, the pain of the racial divide with the undivided love of a son giving voice to his father. Goodbye Pluto may be the haunting story of Vance Gilbert himself searching for the recognition that he deserves while he swirls around the sun and the earth that now relegates him to a non-planetary misunderstood status. No one can hold a note, or reach such majestic musical heights as Vance Gilbert. Just listen to his rendition of Rainy Night in Georgia to know what I mean. People talk about Mariah Carey as if she were the new diva with her five octave range. But Vance is the male equivalent who can do all that and better, without all of the unnecessary theatrics. He connects with his audience. He knows how to talk to us. He knows how to sing with passion and honesty. He makes anyone who loves music a believer.

Peter Yarrow started out with great promise. His new song Don’t Laugh at me resonated strongly with the audience. I thought, “How wonderful is it that this man, this legend is still creating wonderful songs and still traveling the world advocating for peace and justice.” But then the concert deteriorated into one long depressing monologue. He reminded us of and then disregarded Mary Travers' advice not talk incessantly on stage.  While it was appropriate to inform us of the plight of “bullied” and ignored
 children, he seemed to forget that this was a concert and not a lecture hall and that he was preaching to the choir. Just when the audience thought that the lecturing was over, he brought the house lights up, brought his laptop on stage and forced us to listen to his web site where artists from around the world in every language performed this song.  The experience was sheer torture. I felt bullied. By the time he sang his powerfully moving song The Great Mandala, I didn’t care anymore. Instead of being moved, I was angry. Even Puff the Magic Dragon was turned into yet another object lesson in our collective callousness toward children and in Yarrow’s endless and tireless effort to correct this tragic wrong. All I could think was “Shut up, please.” Shockingly, Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind was yet another example of Yarrow’s endless need for interruptions and intrusions. And I felt sorry for Vance and Susan who were compelled to sing along like school children who had never heard of Bob Dylan. It was a sad coda to what should have been a wonderful evening. Fortunately, I have wonderful memories of Peter, Paul and Mary at rallies during the sixties and the seventies. Fortunately, Susan Werner and Vance Gilbert were on hand in Patchogue to brighten up the evening.

April 6, 2011 Ben Carroll & Tom Chapin

Ben Carroll was surprisingly soulful and lyrical. There was sincerity and passion in his songs and in his singing. I did hear Stevie Wonder in his cadence and phrasing, and not James Taylor as some suggest, but instead a touch of Aaron Neville. Ben Carroll is a soul singer which is badly needed during this time when music is often mechanical and driven by a rhythm machine. He held the audience in his hands with his engaging style and could easily have led us out of our seats and into the aisles clapping our hands as if we were all part of a Baptist revival with his final number. He is an artist deserving recognition and with a little help from his friends hopefully he will get it.

Tom Chapin, who I've seen three times, brings the kind of optimism and enthusiasm that really harkens back to the Weavers and the Kingston Trio. Everything in me wants to resist his music having grown up on the darkness of Bob Dylan and the sarcasm of Dick Farina and the political rants of Phil Oches. Yet, he draws me in and the next thing I know I'm singing along and smiling my way out of my post apocalyptic depressive funk. We need people like Tom Chapin who brings so much confidence and enthusiasm to his songs that you want to believe. You know that below the surface, he's hoping to draw us into a better world so that the world can be better, not because he's wearing rose colored glasses. He knows what's out there. But just his sheer stage presence, all 6'6" of it, is going to drag us to the promised land or die trying just so that it can become a reality.

January 6, 2011 Putnam Smith & Jennings

Last night, Putnam Smith initially dazzled with his explosive banjo style. I found the songs interesting for the first half of his set, especially because he chose such mundane topics to sing about, yet elevated the ordinary to a higher plain. But he never did much with his voice and so missed opportunities to take us further or to hit the emotional core that his banjo playing worked to make up for. His guitar and mandolin should have been left at home. The guitar playing was adequate, the mandolin even less so. But by the second half I had lost interest in the songs. They never went far enough. The banjo is a hard instrument to make interesting for sustained periods and Putnam reached his limit. He did have an engaging stage presence and a personality that will make him a darling of house concerts.

Jennings had a beautiful smile and a lovely endearing presence. Her piano playing was limited at best. Her style never varied both on the keyboard and vocally. While she has the potential to become a break out performer, each song very quickly faded into the next until they were inseparable and unmemorable which is a shame since she has the capacity to connect with her audience. Even when she was singing about her mother, the lyrics where lost in her singing style. While she expressed her gratitude to the audience for remaining so attentive, we were in fact struggling to remain focused. She’s got a great range and could make much better use of it through variety of songs. Afterwards, I listened to her CD and was so glad she left the band at home. At the concert I found her percussionist to be overpowering, on the CDs I found the band techno and distracting. I would have liked to hear her solo. But she should learn that variety is the spice of concert life when it comes to play lists. While she heralds from Nashville, she looked New Orleans Mardi Gras to me.

November 5, 2010 Nini and Ben & Air Traffic Controller

Wednesday’s show at Acoustic Long Island was non-stop entertainment. Nini and Ben had driving sound that kept the audience moving. Nini had a wonderful voice, filled with passion and intensity. The band was excellent. The peddle steel guitar, I thought might overwhelm the audience, but was tasteful. The percussionist was talented. I thought that the base player rounded things out even though she hid behind the band. Ben, the song writer, remained the shyest front man yet. Personally, after a while the songs all blended into each and I was hoping for more variety. But Nini had a mixture of Bonnie Raitt and Emmylou Harris in her voice. Of course, when I checked out the inside of the album cover I wished I were young again. When you compare their performance to their album, the group really remained true to what they set out to do in the studio. I’m not sure if it’s folk-rock or country without the twang, but Nini had a palpable stage presence and professionalism. They set up, they played, they left.

Don’t base Air Traffic Controller on their CD that pales by comparison to their live act.  Dave Munro acts as if he’s already made it. He’s got that sense of showmanship and artistry that you can’t ignore. His keyboardist is really the genius behind the music. The group much in the vein of Frank Zappa was completely scripted which works as performance, but never allows those breakout moments. The addition of the string quartet was amazing in the Electric Light Orchestra tradition. Considering that there was no base player or percussionist, they were really tightly wound. I think that the audience was blown away and amazed, but Nini, by comparison, actually got the audience to tap their feet and dance to the music. Dave’s songs were quirky, almost like some of the Beatles numbers with his version of George Martin in the keyboardist making it all happen. Don’t Tell Me What to Do was too derivative, but Bad Axe was actually my favorite song. This Road I enjoyed but on the CD I found it so so. It loses what he created for us at Deepwells in the live performance. So see Air Traffic Controller live and in living color.

October 18 Caroline Doctorow

At the Huntington Folk Music Society Caroline Doctorow performed in their Hard Rock Café.  Sadly, her performance was substandard. I had never realized how little effort she makes to connect with her audience, to sing with any passion, or to enunciate beyond a sultry whisper. The sad thing about her is that she actually has a sweet voice. With the right direction she could make better use of it. Her bass player and lead guitarist are accomplished, she has a wonderful repertoire of standards. Lately she’s been singing Mimi and Dick Farina songs, but ultimately as a performer she’s boring. To reduce Dick Farina to a monotone is quite an accomplishment. Her famous father E.L. might account for her initial claim to fame, but at this point, whatever loyal following she has, apparently enough to keep her on the circuit, can’t include me in that number.

October 17, 2010 The Strawbs

The Strawbs played at the University Café’s sold out crowd. Very quickly it was clear that the sound quality was terrible. For a group whose lyrics are the centerpiece of their performance, the audio became lost in the instrumentation. The audience was sadly disappointment. Criticism ranged from how unnecessarily loud the music was for such a small venue, to the lack of mixing from the sound man. While the band seemed happy with the mixing and the sound, the audience became frustrated and annoyed. The Strawbs had surrendered to high-tech noise.

October 7, 2010 Huck & Kat Mulvaney

Huck should change his name back to Jay. There is only one Huck and that's Huck Finn. He held his guitar as if it were a machine gun. His style was rhythmical, consistently upbeat and enjoyable. He potentially has a terrific voice, but often mumbled rather than used his full range. He was entertaining, full of sweat and grit, but seemed trapped in his style of playing.  He should be careful not to insult his audience who fortunately for him remained thick skinned and reserved even when he was not.

Kat Mulvaney reminded me of Rachel Griffin. If you closed your eyes, the two were one and the same, right down to her religious sensibilities and sexual adventurousness. However, her songs were sophisticated and didn't drift into bubblegum and flowery lyrics as Rachel sometimes does. She was an exceptional guitarist and her a capella number showed the full range of her voice and her courage as a performer. Unlike Huck, who sweated profusely, she remained surprisingly cool. Berklee seems to be teaching a particular musical style and voicing that becomes more apparent with each listening to yet another Berklee grad.

April 9, 2010 Stephanie Nilles & Michael Miller

Stephanie Nilles performed at Deepwells for the second time. She was mesmerizing, fascinating, energetic and entertaining. She has such eccentric qualities and such enormous talent that it is a shame if no one comes along to bridle her and hone that talent into something equally distinctive but controlled. As it stands, I missed ninety percent of her lyrics which is a sad, considering that they were clearly original, often political, and sometimes funny. To say that not one song was memorable, but instead to say that the performance was memorable means to my mind that she missed the mark and hopefully one day will hit the bull’s eye.

Michael Miller was a sad disappointment in every respect. Every song deteriorated into a series of endless repetitions that turned into water torture. His guitar playing was so basic and elementary that initially I thought he was tuning his guitar, not playing the lead intro to a song that allegedly made its way into a failed movie. No surprise there. It seemed as if he had mastered all of the Beatles cord changes without their genius or originality. If this were a Smithtown Elementary School recital, he would have stood out as a star, but at Deepwells he disappeared into a black hole. No wonder he had to give his “million cellar” CDs away.

January 7, 2010 Newland and Miller, Chris Ayer

Newland and Miller, who have graced the open mikes, returned to Deepwells to ring in the New Year. With their Seal and Croft like harmonies they sang of love and loss, a disappointment. They bring with them a kind of purity of heart and soul that pervades each song and calls on the audience to listen to their higher selves even when they’re singing about darker subjects.

Chris Ayer returned to Acoustic Long Island for the third time after traveling throughout the UK. Like a young wine that gets better each time, he brought with him a kind of energy and spirit that makes you appreciate what real talent is and why he is an Acoustic Long Island favorite. His guitar playing—a clear fluid use of jazz chords and alternative tunings; his song lyrics—complex, rich and intelligent; and his singing—cool, clear and in perfect pitch—all blend together in a masterful mix. Chris sang three songs from his first album—We are Birds, Evaporate and Confidant—each promises to become a classic when Chris finally connects with a larger audience. A Star Fish in the Front Yard and ROY G BIV both promise to be right up there in the Chris Ayer pantheon.

November 5, 2009 Jann Klose and Dan Mills

Jann Klose and Dan Mills came to Acoustic Long Island for the end of the fall concert series. Jann Klose, who now hails from the Bronx, must practice his set while the elevated train is passing overheard. The louder he screamed, the less I heard. It was only in his final number that he suddenly turned lyrical and showed some self-control reigning in a voice in need of de-amplification.

Dan Mills, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise. He had a winning smile and a winning style that immediately endeared him to the audience. His first three solo songs were his strongest and he used them to connect to the audience. His three bandmates joined him for the rest of the show with a chemistry and affection that was palpable. While they deferred to Dan Mills as songwriter, lyricist, lead guitarists and singer, their own artistry only added to his genuineness and heartfelt sincerity. There was something almost preternaturally clean and decent about all of them. They’d be fun to spend the day with and a reason to join “Mommy and Me.”

October 8, 2009 Princess Peapod and David Ray

Princess Peapod and David Ray came to Deepwells on the fourth anniversary of Acoustic Long Island. Princess Peapod, the singing husband and wife duo, Michele Frimmer and Dave Cook, performed an upbeat ethereal brand of folk music that was at times new age, always optimistic, sometimes nostalgic, but always grounded in the celebratory roots of folk music. Princess Peapod, who danced and cavorted around the stage, sang with the purity of one who is channeling the goodness of life. Prince Henpecked offered subtle harmonies as he riffed on his guitar in various finger picking styles and rhythms that added texture and fullness to their goodness and life homespun music.

David Ray captured the down and dirty, often gritty side of life in a performance that was often electrifying as he turned his guitar into a complex rhythm machine with his dynamic finger picking magic. His songs, fraught with double entendres, word plays, complex imagery and brash humor, focused on the women of the night who just like his music are both frightening and alluring. His voice, that was a blend of Tom Waits and Toby Walker, was bold and unabashed in his portrayals of the seedy side of life where nothing is clear, everything is tentative and people are living on the edge. Oh yeah. No wonder the audience cheered and jumped to their feet. The night was musical journey between heaven and hell. And the audience chose hell and “Just a little dynamite.”

September 10, 2009 Lara Herscovitch and Reed Waddle

Lara Herscovitch and Reed Waddle came to Deepwells for the kick off of Acoustic Long Island’s fall and winter series. Lara Herscovitch had a beautiful voice. She opened and ended her set with a powerful and stirring number that went through a range of emotions, the final number masterfully incorporating The Star Spangled Banner into the fabric of the song. Her songs demonstrated her strong commitment to social causes. They were at times personal, and sometimes funny, such as the Blah, Blah, Blah song—a mock love song. While the majority of her compositions did not hold up to the promise contained in her first number, she shows strong promise as an artist.

Reed Waddle was a complete surprise, who captured the wow factor. With a boyish face and an unassuming personality and with a head that rocked expressively back and forth like a metronome, he quickly proved himself to be a talented guitarist and songwriter. He played his guitar with the expressiveness usually found on a piano, incorporating a jazz style and phrasing not that different from Ari Hest, but possibly better. He used a scat style and a mellow silky voice that moved as effortlessly as his guitar playing through his songs. Even his use of the harmonica with each note being picked out with uncanny skill, and his distinctive voicing, at one point trumpet like, turned him into a one man band. It was a night to remember and another Dave Dircks great find.

August 27, 2009 Ari Hest

In the last concert of the summer series, Ari Hest came to Deepwells. In the typical hyperbolic style that symbolizes the Acoustic Long Island audience, Mr. Hest received a standing ovation that, while too soon in his career to be deserved, said more about the lure of Acoustic Long Island for young artists who flock to St. James to perform and who get a glimpse of what life could be like for them one day if only. Ari Hest, a surprisingly self-assured young artist, with a sense of humor, deft skills on the guitar, a voice with a rich timbre and range that effectively carried throughout each song, is an up and coming talent ready to burst on the music scene. Unlike other artists who are vying for a lucrative record contract and widespread exposure, he has turned his back on the industry in order to find his own road to public acclaim. His use of jazz chords, his clear crisp three finger picking and his rich voice that while comfortable in the lower octaves also soared into the higher ranges, all contributed to a memorable performance. His songs were inventive, varied, at times humorous, and demonstrated his good fortune in growing up in a musical family.  He will carry that tradition and wear that mantle proudly

August 20, 2009 Christian Cuff

Christian Cuff came to Deepwells on a hot muggy night that probably violated all the health department rules regarding the heat safety index. Still, the audience remained steadfast throughout the show as the sweat streamed in torrents from Christian Cuff’s face. His music was high powered and energetic. He moved and cavorted around the narrow stage charging the mike and punctuating the air with his unique brand of music  blending jazz and folk. He wore his heart on his sleeve, each song a story about love and loss and disappointment fueled by an angry bitterness that captured a life and love driven by passion and desire. Between numbers he would slip into self-deprecating humor that connected with his audience. His band, a standup bass player and a sit down cellist added a haunting resonance to his music. The cellist who looked as if he had stepped off the set of Dr. Zhivago with his Lenin hat and wire rim glasses was a talent unto himself. He closed out the night with a haunting edgy cello piece that not only showed off his gift on the cello, but Christian Cuff’s willingness to turn the show over to him. Considering that most musicians usher their band off the stage to give the audience a solo performance designed to highlight themselves, this was a brave and generous gesture by Cuff.

August 13, 2009 Jacqueline Stem

Jacqueline Stem arrived at Deepwells as a confused lost soul. What is Acoustic Long Island? Who is Dave Dircks? Why am I here? The past and present tense were equally elusive for Ms. Stem. Initially she appeared endearing and enigmatic as she struggled to speak to the audience in a cadence that was unfamiliar and halting. Eventually her manner became tiresome and off-putting. Her songs were intelligently written and revealed a person who was very different from the lost soul she presented to her audience. Two songs in particular, one about identity and our desire to be something other than we are, and another about things that will eventually happen, reveal an embryonic talent beneath that confused public persona. Sadly, all her songs melded into one long song with each song more or less a continuation of the one that preceded it.

August 5, 2009 Edie Carey

Edie Carey performed at Acoustic Long Island. If you closed your eyes, her speaking voice was that of Lucy Kaplansky and her singing voice that of Dar Williams with its lilting tone rising and falling in a sweet cadence. However, her songs were a hundred percent her own—original, warm, and sincere. The audience felt not only her love of music and the life of a musician “in the indie underground” as she put it, but a sincerity that came through every song. Each song was a love letter to someone about something that mattered. While no particular song had that wow factor that everyone dreams of, her songs were the expression of life given over to contemplation and reflection. One of her songs dealt with 9/11 as part of the timeline continuum of life. Ironically, Lucy Kaplansky has written a song about 9/11, but Lucy’s is pedantic and overreaches while Edy Carey’s song is subtle and profound.  

July 30, 2009 Will Knox

Will Knox brought his music to Deepwells last night. There was a driving metronomic syncopation to his music, each word clearly enunciated and each pause skillfully used for dramatic effect. Dave Dircks compared them to the Moody Blues, but Fairport Convention sans Sandy Denny was more evident. The songs were rich and layered, focusing on such themes as the rich heritage of immigrants coming to America, the majesty and terror of first visiting the megalopolis, New York City, loves labor lost, and mankind’s final record imprinted in the dust on the moon. His drummer, his base player and violinist added texture to each song. The violinist, in particular, imbued each song with a melancholic soulfulness that was haunting and doleful. Sometimes, I thought, lighten up, but we do live in dark times.

July 23, 2009 Jen Kearney and the Lost Onion

Jen Kearney and the Lost Onion gave an energetic spirited performance that lifted people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles. Her songs were strongly influenced by Stevie Wonder who came through in every note and cadence, but without Wonders’ ability to reach you emotionally and spiritually. Kearney’s songs were complex, intricate and layered, yet she might as well have been singing “Blah, Blah, Blah,” to gain the same effect. Maybe she and the band could comprehend her lyrics, but not one word was intelligible to me. Her guitarist, rather than compliment her, drowned her out with his exciting and inventive licks as his hands moving effortlessly up and down the neck of his cigar box guitar. I’d go to see her again, but only if she were playing opposite Derrick Trucks who might really make her shine.

May 7, 2009. Colin McGrath & Chris Trapper

Kudos to the Dircks Brothers and Billy Alexander. You guys pulled in an energetic crowd once again. Colin McGrath started out with great promise with that Simon and Garfunkel knock off and the wonderful harmonies. But then the songs faded until St. Anthony's Return. I thought that his sideman with the James Taylor voice might be interesting once he develops a repertoire of his own songs.

Chris Trapper surprised me. His songs are multilayered, have a sense of humor (like Randy Newman/Jimmy Buffett), have a lot of energy, and an air of "truthiness" about them.  I can see why his songs might end up on the sound track of a movie or why people want to sing along.

July 9, 2009 Leslie Mendelson

Leslie Mendelson gave a wonderful at Acoustic Long Island. She remained cool, calm, and relaxed and didn’t break a sweat under the hot lights and the blistering summer heat even with that Prussian Jacket on. Her songs had heart and soul and resonated with true emotion. I thought the song Rest of London will remain apart of her pantheon of songs for a lifetime. Even her Melanie song Brand new roller skates, was a perfect fit for her, considering that I was never a Melanie fan. (Melanie was always a woman in search of a last name). Leslie’s song about Coney Island did lean heavily on Billy Joel. Leslie was a classy act, warm, endearing and soulful. Where else, but Acoustic Long Island could create this kind of venue for her?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Welcome to the "By the Bell" Blog

I've been attending concerts around Long Island for most of my adult life. Like all of you sitting in the audience, I have my opinions regarding the artists and their performances. The wonderful thing about Long Island is that we get to hear the best of the best, artists who have made it in the industry, and new upcoming artists who are struggling to gain recognition. It is these up and coming artists in search of an audience who I'll tend to focus on in these blogs. Hope you enjoy it!