Volume 3, Issue 4
Editor- David K. Moseder
Publisher- Howard B. Leibowitz
Contributing Editor - Elizabeth Siegal
Events Editor - Jamie Brooks
All music…. All Brooklyn !!
With the winter a distant memory and before the dog days of August are upon us, Brooklyn Roads thought a quick look back at the burgeoning BK music scene was in order. This past year saw an array of live music venues, hosting a variety of genres, continue to incubate the arts and culture that is Brooklyn. Places such as Spike Hill, Hill Country, The Way Station and Littlefield have raised their Brooklyn music brand to join pioneering establishments such as The Bell House, Brooklyn Bowl, Union Hall, Jalopy and Pete’s Tavern to keep live music both accessible and affordable, and provide exposure to emerging artists.
Local promoters such as Don Duggan of The Brooklyn Music Shop have presented shows featuring Bill Kirchen, Jorma Kaukonen and our borough’s own Joan Osborne, while Brooklyn Bodega President and Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival founder Wes Jackson is now on the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Historical Society. The Afro Punk Festival has become one of the biggest and most successful urban cultural events in the country and Dance Theatre Etcetera just held its 21st Red Hook Fest.
These great local music clubs and promoters are thriving, especially since Barclays Center has become a musical mecca, drawing top artists with international profiles and played host to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony this past April and the MTV Video Music Awards last August. Community-minded organizations BRIC Arts Media and BAM have raised the Brooklyn brand awareness to an international audience.
Brooklyn Roads is proud to be a part of the Brooklyn (and beyond) music scene and we are eager to expand our modest role to keep the BK music and arts scene vibrant and alive. To accomplish that, we need your help, your readership and your voices.
-Howard B. Leibowitz
A Brooklyn Sizzling Musical Summer
It’s that time of the year again for the Borough of Churches to preach the holy gospel of summer in the only manner fit: the reveling of concerts throughout Brooklyn. Grab some Smorgasburg, claim your spot in one of the many venues (early!) and get ready to awe at the dynamic sets of artists across all genres.
Celebrating its 20th year of classic Rhythm and Blues performances, BAM plays host to the BAM R&B Festival, its free daytime concert series centered in downtown Brooklyn on the lawn of MetroTech Commons. Despite a disappointing cancellation of captivating soul singer Darlene Love, the festival promises an overwhelming spectacle of legendary R&B musicians, such as “Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man” singer Bobby Rush, along with refreshing takes from talented and creative newer artists like Fredericks Brown, whose energetic, rock n’ roll infused performances make them impossible to miss. Also featuring Grammy Award winning performers Snarky Puppy and Lisa Fischer, this free festival will leave every R&B lover pining for just a lil’ more funk and taking the afternoon to let their earbuds delight.
Brooklyn won’t let the rhythm end there; after an exciting start to the summer season with Celebrate Brooklyn! Dance Parties at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Celebrate Brooklyn! returned for its 36th season at Prospect Park Bandshell with an eclectic lineup that dives into the soul of music at its core. Breaking in the new season with huge performances from one of the most irresistibly entertaining and lively women of the new R&B/pop class (not to mention the best dressed woman in a tuxedo), Janelle Monáe, as well as the soothing melodies and acoustic hypnosis of Hawaiian native Jack Johnson, Celebrate Brooklyn! touts a lineup that has something for everyone. The diversity ranges from the intricate sounds and impassioned lyrics of indie rock band The National (who were on display thrice for the festival’s benefit concert portion) to the jazz-infused hip-hop and soul styles of the Robert Glasper Experiment, which featured, among others, Brooklyn native lyrical master Talib Kweli. The festival also includes performances from Lake Street Dive, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nicole Atkins, Nickel Creek, St. Vincent, San Fermin, Neutral Milk Hotel, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Kes the Band, Luciano and even a dancing spectacle from choreographer Shen Wei, the man behind the 2008 Beijing Opening Ceremony.
Rounding out the summer concert series is the city-wide Summer Stage festival, whose Brooklyn portion tours multiple parks in the borough. In an elaborate fashion, the festival showcased a “salute to hip-hop” with DJ Bent Roc, Chubb Rock and Dana Dane. In August, Brooklyn Bridge Park hosts Shine & The Moonbeams, part of the Pier Kids Concert Series.
With the diverse set of performances across Brooklyn this summer, not even the weather can compete with the heat these artists will bring. Be sure to get out and explore these acts, new and old, and celebrate Brooklyn culture the right way- in perfect harmony.
ARTISTS ON THE HORIZON
Bridge City Hustle: Charismatic Chameleons
When the crowd in the lounge of Toshi’s Living Room and Bar settled in to their second or third drinks between set changes, a few musicians took the dimmed neon stage, looking to stand out in an already eccentric venue. Despite only being an acoustic set, the soul of Bridge City Hustle quickly flooded the room with sax riffs, bongo solos, and falsetto heavy harmonies. The supposed background music the crowd thought was in store soon became overwhelming in its tap-worthy beats and rhythmic enthralls. The infectious smile tattooed on lead singer Johnny Burgos’ face shined in the spotlight; this was a band that was hard to ignore.
Composed of four members on record (joined by a guitarist in their live set), Bridge City Hustle brings together the soulful sound and jazzy rhythms of a much earlier era with the contemporary pop of today, a combination that produces music and lyrics that linger in your mind for days on end and leaves any listener wondering why this crossbred genre is still missing from the top of the charts. The lively performance at Toshi’s made it tough to believe that it was only an acoustic display, missing both lead guitar and a full drum set. The band claims, they were really “just a complement to a classy evening [at Toshi’s].”
Putting Their Own Groove on It
Although their next gig at The Bowery Electric showcased the full spectrum of the band, with Burgos on leads and bongos, Pete O’Neill on bass, Dave Zerio on drums, Dan Cherouny on saxophone, and John Bendy on guitar, the first show is nothing to sell short. Along with the powerhouse number, “Rollercoaster,” which features a hypnotizing hook progression so catchy the band jokingly deemed it their “Adele joint,” and the easy listening (and singing along to) track, “Too Good for Me,” the band covered Drake’s “Just Hold On…We’re Going Home.” While the R&B/Hip-Hop choice seems to deviate slightly from their general repertoire, Burgos appreciates the song from a production level, recognizing that they could “put their own little groove on it,” making it undeniably their own.
This chameleonic style present throughout their music might be a testament to their roots in Brooklyn. While only Burgos originates from the lower east borough, and the band focused on expanding throughout the city, Zerio cites their musical stomping grounds as “an artistic Mecca. When you get off the J train, you see so much diversity. Even just within our own band. The people of Brooklyn really create a holistic scene with influence from everywhere.” In particular, Cherouny adds that compared to his hometown of Burlington, VT, “Brooklyn will have a scene of 30-40 musicians within five blocks…an endless number of people into endless types of music.”
‘You Really Have to Bring It’
The collaborative essence apparent throughout this artistic hub lends itself well to the dynamic of the band: charismatic on stage, no one musician overshadows another, each one bringing their A-game to the performance. Perhaps this is an ode to their heavyweight idols Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, James Brown and Curtis Mayfield, whose own success came as a result of constant collaboration. It comes as no surprise then that the band is eager to hear their contemporaries and fellow stylistic parallels D’Angelo, Jamie Lidell, and Jamiroquai cover their songs. Although the wide-eyed smiles and giddy reactions BCH displays when listing these artists seems more dream-like, the competition may not be far off, especially if they stick to the advice they give other rising Brooklyn acts: “You really have to bring it.”
As O’Neill puts it, “Because it’s New York, there’s an extra pressure to perform. The competition really drives you. You can’t be wasting your time; you always have to be on your game. It’s a hustle.” A Bridge City Hustle, indeed.
BK Roads: Gerry Goffin Tribute
Gerry Goffin: A Natural Lyricist
When you sing along with the radio to Will You Love Me Tomorrow, Pleasant Valley Sunday, Some Kind of Wonderful, Take Good Care of My Baby, Up on the Roof, The Locomotion, One Fine Day, Chains or(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, you're singing the words of Brooklyn native Gerry Goffin, who died June 19 at the age of 75. These are just a handful of the 50-plus Top 40 hits the Brooklyn Tech graduate and wife Carole King, the greatest songwriting team Brooklyn has ever produced, wrote together.
After their marriage dissolved, King launched a very successful solo career, overshadowing her ex who, plagued by depression, scuffled. While Ms. King deserves every accolade thrown her way, Goffin’s contribution as lyricist, particularly his knack for writing from a female perspective, is too often overlooked.
Goffin did find some success in the 1970s and ‘80s with other composers, co-writing such hits as Saving All My Love for You, Tonight I Celebrate My Love and Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To). On the second of his only two solo albums, 1994’s Back Room Blood, he even teamed on two songs with none other than Bob Dylan. Ultimately Goffin and King were inducted together into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Months before his passing, he was able to add Broadway lyricist to his resume: All of the above mentioned Goffin-King classics are featured in the hit show Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
King called her former husband and partner “a dynamic force, whose words and creative influence will resonate for generations to come.” We at Brooklyn Roads would just like to add that Gerry Goffin’s words, his contributions to the American songbook, are indeed some kind of wonderful.
-David K. Moseder
BACK IN THE DAY:
Brooklyn Music Milestones
July 31, 1971: With her own single It’s Too Late having recently finished a five-week run at the top of the charts, Carole King scores a number one hit as a songwriter with James Taylor’s rendition of You’ve Got a Friend.
August 7, 1974: WABC radio program director Rick Sklar gives Sheepshead Bay native Bruce Morrow a big send off. Even though “Cousin Brucie” is moving to rival Top 40 station WNBC, the highly popular DJ is allowed to do a final show – a going away party that includes tributes and “roasts” from the likes of ABC colleague Dan Ingram, sportscaster Howard Cosell, station GM George Williams and even Morrow’s long-time nemesis, Murray the K.
August 11, 1962: Abraham Lincoln High School alumnus Neil Sedaka’s ninth top 40 single, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, is also the first of his three chart-toppers.
August 14, 1965: I Want Candy by The Strangeloves (Brooklynites Bob Feldman and Jerry Goldstein and Bronx friend Richard Gottehrer) peaks at number 11 on the Billboard singles chart.
Aug. 17, 1959: Local boys Santo and Johnny begin a 13-week run in the top 40 with Sleepwalk. With Johnny on steel guitar and Santo on six-string , the Brooklyn-born-and-raised Farina brothers created one of the most memorable instrumentals of the early rock era. The song hit number one on Sept. 21, 1959.
Aug. 18, 1998: Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, a collaboration of two top Brooklyn emcees, is released to critical acclaim. It peaks at number 13 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart and reaches 53 on the Hot 200.
Sept. 9, 1964: Local acts Little Anthony & the Imperials and Jay & the Americans play “Murray the K's Big Holiday Show” at the Fox Theater on Flatbush Avenue at Nevins Street. Among others on the bill are the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, the Miracles, Martha & the Vandellas, the Searchers, Dusty Springfield, the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes.
“These songs are especially deep for me,” says Joan Osborne about her new CD, Love and Hate She wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks, making it her most intimate album to date…It’s been a busy year so far for Fabolous: He recently released an extended version of Cuffin Season on video, is featured on the new Mariah Carey album, introduced the Brooklyn Nets during Game 6 of their playoff against the Raptors, and is working on the soon-to-be-released Loso’s Way II… No Fools, No Fun, recorded at Brooklyn’s Studio G, is the debut album from Puss n Boots--Norah Jones’ collaboration with Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper. The group celebrated the July 15th with a live performance at The Bell House in Gowanus…Nicole Atkins (featured in Brooklyn Roads Volume 3, Issue 3) cracked the top 10 of Billboard’s Folk and Heartseeker charts with her new album, Slow Phaser, which also made the top 40 among Independent and Top Rock releases. By the way, her video of Girl, You Look Amazing is a riot…Michael Moore calls Mistaken for Strangers, the new film about The National directed by frontman Matt Berringer’s brother Tom, “One of the best documentaries about a band that I’ve ever seen”… The video for Digital Witness, the breakout track from the new self-titled album by St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) has racked up more than 1.4 million hits on YouTube… Americana/roots singer-songwriter Roger Street Friedman’s debut CD, The Waiting Sky, was recorded by fellow Brooklynite Felix McTeigue at several studios around the borough, including Saltlands, Strangeweather, McTeigue’s own 802 Media Group and Friedman’s home studio… It’s been three years since The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s last album, but indie pop band hasn’t abandoned us. They’ve just released Days of Abandon, which has already spawned two singles, Simple and Sure and Eurydice.
Notable Quote: “Pete Seeger was a messenger of universal love and peace. He was my first inspiration to write and share music in my own way. God bless.” –Neil Diamond