Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brooklyn Garage Blitz: Feat. Quitty and the Dont's, The Stents, Muck and the Mires, and The Above!

     August 16th at Hank's Saloon was the site of a what I've chosen to describe as a "Garage Blitz", a relentless bombardment of the best Mod/Garage sounds the Northeastern United States has too offer. The night started off with Brooklyn sensations "Quitty & The Don'ts" who will be making a trip up to Montreal for Parka Pat's MODtreal Weekender from August 29th to September 1st. Before the show started the crowd was given 3-D glasses in an effort to provide what I can only assume is the proper way to experience their sound, 3 Dimensions. What followed was a vicious attack of Freak-beat balanced by soothing distorted chords that made clear why this band is quickly making a name for itself. I'm sure these guys will make us proud when they go conquer the North, hopefully more successfully than our ancestors attempt.


Next was The Stents from Baltimore,Maryland. With a passion for power chords and a sound reminiscent, to me at least, of "The Purple Hearts", The Stents exploded with great tunes and reached into the audience quite literally as members of the band dragged their wires through the crowd and mounted stools and tables like Gargoyles only to rush back to the stage shortly after! I almost tripped five times, but it was well worth it! The Stents ended their set with a cover of The Jam's "In the City" as a nice gesture to the Mods in the crowd.


Following the Stents were Boston's Muck and the Mires. With a sound self described as a mix between The Ramones and The Beatles, Muck and the Mires brought the sound of the British Invasion to Hank's with their wonderful blend of hard hitting punkers and 60's beat. They closed off with a great cover of The Ramones "Commando", and left the stage smoldering. 


And finally too close off the night, The Above. Having just released their second LP "Waterbury Street" the "Mockers" showed they sounded just as good live as they did in the studio playing selections from their 3 singles and 2 LPs. This perfect blend of Mod sensibility and the rough Garage sound of their native Brooklyn was the perfect way too close an amazing night. Everyone in the audience was left in ruin (in a good way) and the Garage Blitz of August 16th came to a very satisfying close. I was accompanied on my train ride home with an LP, 3 singles, and 2 buttons emblazoned simply with "The Above", all evidence of this one crazy night in Brooklyn.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Soul Surrender!: Charles Bradley with St.Paul and the Broken Bones at Lincoln Center

On a beautiful Sunday evening at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Concert series, two of the greatest soul bands currently on the scene collided to create one cataclysmic explosion of pure passion and Libidinous soul music that shook Manhattan right down to it's core. The two outstanding opening acts were legend Bobby Patterson, who after 40 years just released an album titled "I Got More Soul!", and the Music Maker Blues Revue which included artists Dom FlemonsBeverly "Guitar" Watkins, and Ironing Board Sam within its rank.

After a great beginning to the night, "St.Paul and the Broken Bones" took the stage, and in one fiery performance sent personally from Birmingham, Alabama, obliterated it. Their set consisting of selections from their album "Half the City" and two outstanding covers of Otis Redding selections provided perhaps the most energetic live performance I've yet to see. St.Paul (Paul Janeway) immediately got the crowd on their feet and dancing to the tight sound crafted by him and the band, and left the audience with an almost religious feeling of awe that only the next act could possibly come close to topping.

And if anybody could come close, it's definitely Charles Bradley. The "Screaming Eagle" of Soul swooped down and delivered an intense and absolutely heart wrenching performance consisting of selections from his two albums, with his 2nd album "Victim of Love" being the most prevalent. Bradley captivated the audience with his deeply personal songs and stories he had to share, and during breaks in the performance shared little bits of wisdom that definitely reinforced the positive ideals held and appreciated in soul music. Perhaps the best part of what was already an amazing night was Bradley's incorporation of a Bra thrown by an attendee into his already devious stage act. It was truly a sight to see.

All 4 performances this night showed one thing, Soul is alive and well in America. St.Paul and Bradley are two of the most powerful and refined voices out there right now and will continue to provide powerhouse performances that invigorate audiences everywhere and put skeptics who believe the "golden age" of soul has long passed, to rest. Find out where these guys are playing, and go witness what I can only describe as a complete mastery of the genre.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens: Cold World/ Live Performance Review

Daptone Records out of Brooklyn, New York is the site of a soul resurgence, pumping out tunes that stand toe to toe with the best the Motor City had to offer. Artists like Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones are among their heavy hitters, but Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens have knocked one out of the park with the incredibly masterful "Cold World".

I was lucky enough to catch the record release and performance at Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday the 29th. After gracefully obliterating a few paychecks on some great records, me and my friend entered the refreshingly small (I prefer smaller venues, more personal that way) venue located in the back of the store, and was greeted by the sweet sound of early 60's soul. The atmosphere was great as the crowd piled in to witness what I can only describe as a shooting star performance, an amazing show that tragically was only 45 minutes. But compacted into that 45 minutes was undoubtedly some of the most well crafted and heartfelt soul music that my ears have ever had the pleasure to hear. I was smitten, right at the front dancing to the slow, the sweet and the upbeat pieces that the band was effortlessly tackling. My loafers were a tad small and were cutting into my feet, but it was impossible to stop dancing, and I never even thought to. When the show wrapped up I was floored, and recovering from what was undoubtedly the harshest workout of my Summer so far. Soon after, a raffle for a signed 45 that paired Naomi with the house band of the former soul label Desco, the Knights of 41st Street, that consisted of the sought after "Forty First Street Breakdown" on the A and the instrumental version "Catapult" on the B commenced, and swiftly ended with me taking home the gold! I stayed after and was able to get my copy of the LP signed by members of the performing band and the artists who performed on the record, and the Gospel Queen herself!  To say the least, it was a LONG train ride home that night, but what a satisfying needle drop that was! I could do a track by track review of this album, but it would do absolutely no justice. This is a must buy album, and any one who's got even the slightest bit of soul inside them will find something to love here. This sophomore album will hopefully be one of many, and I can't wait to see what these guys have to offer next!