Volume 3, Issue 6 Publisher- Howard B. Leibowitz
Editor- David K. Moseder
Contributing Editor - Elizabeth Siegal
Contributor - Jacob Tupper
Events Editor - Jamie Brooks
All music…. All Brooklyn !!
Are You Listening?
Brooklyn Is a Winter Wonderland!
The temperatures have plummeted, the carolers are practicing their tunes, and the scarves on every Brooklyn hipster actually serve a purpose. While the cry of “not another vortex!” can be heard across every New Yorker’s lips, there’s no denying that it’s officially the most wonderful time of the year. Even if the honking cars and perpetual puddles of cold, grimy snow make for a winter not-so-wonderland, the music of Brooklyn continues to ring merrily along the way throughout the winter season.
Playing host to a multitude of various versatile artists is the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which will exhibit the classical grace and style of Philip Glass through his piano etudes, as well as the contemporary nuances of Kensington resident Sufjan Stevens, in a unique orchestration that accompanies a portrait of the 2013 Pendleton Round-up in Oregon. For the insatiable ear, BAM provides an exciting calendar of free music, ranging from Grammy-award winner Shannon Sanders to the African- and reggae-inspired R&B of Wayna in early December, as well as the offbeat comedic songs of Rockapella co-founder Sean Altman and a holiday dance party featuring Afro-Caribbean group Charanga Soleil to finish the month.
While BAM’s list of fresh, stimulating music is endless, be sure to check out the offerings from Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn Night Bazaar, and the Music Hall of Williamsburg, which will feature the sounds of Brooklyn native rockers The Hold Steady to ring in the New Year on the 30th and 31st. And, if that preemptive list of New Year’s resolutions happens to include embracing your inner gypsy, the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, which is celebrating 29 years of live Balkan, Roma music and more, is just around the corner on January 16th and 17th at Grand Prospect Hall.
Unfortunately, as the year comes to a close, we must bid adieu to a few staple venues for Brooklyn music. Announcing their close in November and the end of the year, respectively, are Death by Audio and Glasslands, a piercing blow to anyone who appreciates the truly organic sounds of the borough. In addition, the closing of the Two Moon Café in Park Slope put an end to the monthly “2nd Fridays” folk fest. But as we remember the memories shared, discovering some of the most successful bands at these venues, we look forward to an imminent rediscovery as the historic Kings Theatre prepares to return in 2015. Originally designed by Rapp & Rapp in 1929, this venue quickly became the heart and soul for the performing arts in the Flatbush community. With more than 3,000 seats, the renovated theatre will become the largest performance venue in Brooklyn. Retaining its French Renaissance inspired design, the theatre hopes to serve as a definitive destination for widely popular artists, as well as local groups and communities.
So bundle up, throw one back, and warm your hearts this season with both the timeless and fresh sounds Brooklyn has to offer.
REVIEW: Gosh Pith and Fascinator at Baby’s All Right
I knew the bands I was going to see were all sort of “experimental.” I knew that. But I still wasn’t quite prepared for what I walked into when I arrived at Baby’s All Right in Williamsburg on a quiet Sunday evening in October.
The lights were flashing, a drum machine was kicking beats, an electronic sitar was channeling sounds and a voice was singing through a distorted microphone, all together producing an electro-psychedelic fusion. Beyond the music, the presence of the band Fascinator was bewitching.
Johnny Mackay, the front man of the group, stood with a laptop and drum pad to his right, peddles at his feet, and was switching between a sitar and a 12-string guitar between songs. Like the rest of the band, he was wearing a patterned gown of sorts that extended to his toes. They all were fitted with billed hats that had cartoonish eyeballs on the top of the cap and a veil extending from the tip of the bill to their necks, hiding each one of their faces, as if they were a spooky gang of psychedelic ducks from both the future and the past. What’s more, Johnny was the only one actually playing an instrument—the drummer sat at the drums and hammered away, but never actually made contact. Likewise, the second guitarist wielded an air guitar and strummed along on the side of the stage, sitting on an amp.
Fresh from Detroit, Gosh Pith, made up of Josh Smith and Josh Freed, headlined the evening. Though their outfits were not as elaborate as Fascinator, they brought a medley of sounds to the stage that was far from simple. Their sound was rooted in the sort of early Animal Collective-style raw electro indie pop vibe, with songs showing a wider influence reminiscent of everything from King Krule to Girls to trip-hop.
Gosh Pith has only played a handful of shows—Baby’s All Right was their first in New York—and it still seems as if they are experimenting and discovering what they want their sound to be. With that said, they are gigging at an increasing rate, with November shows in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, and of course, Detroit. Further, the duo just released their second single, Smoke Bellow, via a debut with the music channel Noisey, bringing more hype to the band. Check them out here and stay tuned for more Brooklyn shows.
Q-104's Ken Dashow: Keeping It Real After All These Years
Growing up in a music-loving household in Sheepshead Bay helped set the stage for Ken Dashow’s future as one of New York radio’s most enduring and popular deejays. Dashow, who has been doing the weekday afternoon drive shift (2-7 p.m.) on New York’s Q104.3 for the last fifteen years says, “My folks loved music. Top 40 radio was always playing,” he tells Brooklyn Roads. He says he can’t be sure about the first song he ever listened to”but it had to be I Want to Hold Your Hand by… some band from Northern England. I forget their name,” he quips.
Dashow calls the late 1960s and early ‘70s “a golden age of commercial art. Every album by all major artists was better than the one before.” Bringing these artists into the Dashow home were some of the most fondly remembered rock radio stations. In the ‘60s, “I was a Good Guy,” he tells us, referring the nickname for WMCA’s jocks and smiley-face-sweatshirted listeners. He later “grew” into WNEW-FM and progressive rock, which sealed the deal for him. “I always knew that was what I would do for my life’s work.” While he doesn’t single out any one radio personality as a role model, collectively they inspired him.
“All of the WMCA Good Guys, and later the [deejays at] ‘NEW-FM were just real –they were themselves .That was what was most enticing to me. I loved them all, but Scott Muni was THE legend: funny, inspiring and an honor to work with”. Dashow brought that “real” to WNEW-FM in 1982 where he was a mainstay for 17 years until a change to an all-talk format spurred him to move up the dial to Q-104.3.
Helping him keep it real all these years is his having roots planted firmly in Kings County soil. “Growing up in Brooklyn (East 21st St near Ave U, to be precise) helped shape my view of life. The joy and fun of the neighborhood and friends on the block and in school – I had a sense of how special it all was.” He also looks back fondly on local eateries. “Between Brennan & Carr, Senior’s, Michael’s, Lundy’s, and The Foursome Diner… we had awesome food choices.”
He cites a neighborhood band playing at a block party as his first Brooklyn concert experience, noting that, “Later I would go to shows at Brooklyn College, L’Amour -- it was THE rock capital of Brooklyn -- and Marty Markowitz’s great shows in Coney Island.”
Dashow also tells us that he was “absolutely amazed” when Barclays Center opened on Atlantic Avenue and delighted that it hosted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this past April. “The arena is gorgeous,” he says. “The area that was considered so dangerous is now a true destination, easy to get to. Sports and music are alive and well on Flatbush Avenue!”
Of course, Brooklyn has long been “alive and well” as a source of music talent in part because, Dashow tells us, “Different areas have had high creativity at different times. I think it happens geographically because we all live so close, we heard what everyone was doing. The ‘60s gave us Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Barbara, and my fellow alumni from P.S. 206 on Gravesend Avenue– Carole King. There was also Little Anthony, who grew-up in the same projects that brought us Jay Z… and don’t forget Living Colour.”
Not surprisingly, most of these names pop up on Dashow’s top five songs from Brooklyn based artists: Sweet Caroline (Diamond), You’ve Got A Friend (King), The Way We Were (Streisand), Hurts So Bad (Little Anthony) and Cult Of Personality (Living Colour).
His message to emerging music artists is that Brooklyn is the place to play and to create. “Brooklyn has amazing venues for performing, from the Barclay’s Center to BAM to The Brooklyn Bowl – my fave. And if you want to really learn how to write, live in any neighborhood in Brooklyn for a few years. You’ll see the difference in writing honest stories about real people with dreams.”
Ken Dashow is one of those real people from our borough who, we’re happy to say, is living his dream , and sharing it with us, every afternoon, Monday through Friday.
Artists on the Horizon
R&B Artist Chaz Langley Discovers the Soul of Brooklyn
Losing an iPad brings to mind some choice words: unbelievable, frustrating, maybe even heartbreaking to the many with a tablet attached at the hip. “Well, hey, it’s just a thing when it really comes down to it,” Chaz Langley tells Brooklyn Roads. “As my Mom always preaches… it’s probably a blessing in disguise,” he adds with a laugh, reducing any doubt that he’s only veiling his bereft disposition with these words to live by. What’s a technology like this, a distraction for all intents and purposes, really solving for the everyday user, besides the constant e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, [add your app of choice here] updates? As the rather simple pleasures of life continue to wrap themselves in a whirlwind of new designs, Langley might be on the right track; “It’s kind of like a lesson learned, or maybe just an evaluation I should take right now.”
Hailing from Washington D.C., and relocating to Virginia Beach for the majority of his youth, this soulful R&B singer, with just the right amount of pop to get your feet moving, eventually settled in Nashville, the mecca for aspiring songwriters.
After gaining invaluable experience with acclaimed songwriters and artists while honing in on his own techniques, Chaz Langley moved New York because, he tells us, “It felt real to me; I felt I could grow here. I wanted to be somewhere that I could have the opportunity to live and learn every day in almost every culture. I always can get the grit, the grind, musicians on the street and the subway; it is a real multifaceted life here.”
When Chaz arrived in New York, however, timing became his fiercest competitor; the 2008 crisis changed the life of the aspiring artist, leaving even his own knack for catchy and creative jingles in the balance as he searched for a good platform to get his sound exposed. But Langely takes no shortcut in his feverish pursuit, redefining the ideals of the artist on the rise. Even his Brooklyn is different from the borough people may think of. He tells Brooklyn Roads that his Brooklyn is "Russian Brooklyn--Brighton Beach and Coney Island," leaving the distractions of the city far behind.
“I don’t have the immediacy of everything else, which makes it very different for me,” reflects Langley. “I am much less visible and accessible, so I’m in a totally different headspace as a musician and an artist.” But rather than a hindrance, Chaz sees his remoteness as an added inspiration and drive for himself, and for any artist in a similar position. He makes it clear that the pursuit is rewarding in it of itself: “If I am eventually on a national or world stage, what do I have to talk about if it was all given to me?” he asks defiantly. “That artist wouldn’t be as inspiring to people because they didn’t have to go through anything. You can’t get [to your dream] unless you keep going at it. That’s why everything you do has to support your dream.”
Langley has proven this to be true through his sheer melodic talent. His self-entitled EP, Chaz Langley, vacillates between falsetto, R&B, and even a small rapping breakdown on songs like Song of Sorrow, to the eerie neo-soul of Paranoia. His versatility echoes that of a young Stevie Wonder, intermixed with the fresh rhythmic sound of contemporaries like Miguel, leaving his music as arguably an unfairly hidden treasure. For Chaz, this will only propel him further, adamant that “I want my music to mean something to someone,” he tells Brooklyn Roads. “I want it to be far beyond just, ‘hey look at me.’ I am not gonna put something out there unless I passionately believe in it; my whole motto with my music is to keep a steady pace. I’d rather be in a long line of people that are working hard, than the ones that end up doing something they don’t want to do and regretting it in the end.”
He aspires to collaborate with artists like Pharrell Williams, who lived a nearly parallel life to Chaz in Virginia Beach, citing his creativity and innovation in molding music that is a hybrid of the old and new, and Kelly Clarkson, from whom Chaz has received praise through his own song pitches.
“I have been prepared on every level. I’ve got a life’s worth of work, everything I could possibly muster on my own… it’s just a matter of if you believe it or not.”
BACK IN THE DAY: Brooklyn Music Milestones
Jan. 5, 1975: The Wiz, Broadway's rock-and-soul reimagining of The Wizard of Oz, opens at the Majestic Theatre. Playing the lead role of Dorothy is Bedford-Stuyvesant's own Stephanie Mills. The show runs for four full years, with future Grammy winner Mills on board for the entire run.
Dec. 23, 1961: The Tokens' The Lion Sleeps Tonight finishes its three-week run as the top single in the U.S., after which it hangs on for another seven weeks in the Top 40. The re-formed group includes Abraham Lincoln High School alumni Hank Medress and Jay Siegel and newcomers (and fellow Brooklynites) Mitch Margo and Phil Margo. A new lineup led by Siegel remains a successful touring ensemble.
Jan. 13, 2010: Jay-Z is featured side by side with Warren Buffett on the cover of Forbes 400, the financial magazine's annual tribute to "The Richest People in America."”
Jan. 15, 1861: The original Academy of Music, then located on Montague Street, presents it first concert: a program of classical music that includes works by Mozart and Verdi.
Jan. 20, 1966: The Don Knotts comedy The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, featuring a score by Brooklyn's own Vic Mizzy, is released. Mizzy, most famous for writing the theme songs to The Addams Family and Green Acres TV series, goes on to compose the music for four more Knotts movies as well as films starring Tony Curtis and Sid Caesar.
Jan. 20-31, 1969: With Brooklyn born-and-raised keyboard player Robert Lamm doing most of the songwriting and lead vocals, Chicago Transit Authority lays down tracks for its self-titled debut album at New York's Columbia Recording Studios. The double LP will eventually yield two top-10 Lamm-penned singles, Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? and Beginnings, released under the band's shorter, more familiar name, Chicago.
Congrats to NAS on being chosen to headline Melbourne’s Sugar Mountain Festival. The Crown Heights’ born rapper recently unveiled a new track and video, The Season, at Run the Jewels’ RTJ2 release show at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinemas. Run the Jewels is a collaboration of hip-hop artists Killer Mike and El-P (Fort Greene’s Jaime Meline)…Trigger Hippy, the Joan Osborne Americana/roots rock side project that the singer told Brooklyn Roads about in 2011 (Volume 2, Issue 3), has released its self-titled debut album. Osborne co-wrote eight of the 11 tracks…The Antlers’ fifth full-length studio album, Familiars is their best-reviewed release to date. Recorded locally at the band’s Antlercorp Studios it is also their highest-charting album, peaking at 73 on the Billboard Hot 200…Lucius has released Wildewoman Deluxe Edition digitally, with a physical edition coming out by Thanksgiving. Much of the album was recorded at Sounds Like A Fire in Ditmas Park. Just prior to the release of the original Wildewoman a year ago, Rolling Stone called Lucius “the best band you may not have heard yet”…
Brooklyn-based artists dominated The Village Voice’s Best of NYC 2014 selections. These include: Best Rock Band, Low Fat Getting High; Best New Band, Iron Force; Best Metal Band, Pyrrhon; Best R&B Artist, Charles Bradley; Best Rapper, Ka; Best Bluegrass Band, Dubl Handi; Best Country Artist, Robert Ellis; Best Jazz Artist, Medeski, Martin & Wood; Best Punk Band, Ajax; and Best Songwriter , Zachary Cale…The Voice also named two Greenpoint venues, Saint Vitus Bar and the Manhattan Inn, as Best Rock Club and Best Piano Bar, respectively… Singer-songwriter, author and UN Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo was awarded the Chair Citation by the Dag Hammerskjold Fund for Journalists on October 28. A Park Slope resident by way of Benin and Paris, Kidjo wowed the crowd with her Miriam Makeba tribute show at Carnegie Hall on November 8.
Notable Quotes: “I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NYC. That city resonates within, always.” – Chicago founding member Robert Lamm, whose first musical training came as a member of the choir at Grace Episcopal Church, Brooklyn Heights.