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Urban Folk

Issue 4 November/

The Bowmans
Free for you and me
Urban Folk: issue four
More pages! New staff writers! Great things are happening! We’re expanding our scope with Dan covering Brooklyn
and Darren covering a different side of acoustic music all along the East Coast. We’re all thrilled to have the Bowmans
fronting this issue, and you’ll find Claire has some inspiring things to say about breaking into the business end of music.
I got a lot of positive feedback and emails from people after issue three, which gave me a warm communtiy feeling.
Thanks guys. Send us mail, we like it! Hate mail too, we like it all. Thanks to all the sponsors who came through and
made this expanded issue happen. Check out their stuff as a way of saying thanks. Oh yeah, email us to be included in
upcoming Urban Folk podcasts through Alloy Radio. Good times! -Dave Cuomo, Editor

Contact us for advertising or anything at

In This Issue:
On the Cover - the bowmans! (
Hurricane Katrina Benefit – jon berger tells the story of two victims, and how new york tried to help
Pay to Play Scams – dave cuomo looks into showcases at the bitter end and cb’s lounge
The Paula – jon berger welcomes a brazilian rocker to new york
Brattleboro Fest – darren deicide spends a night with gutter punk folkies in vermont
Exegesis Department – with sarah bowman
DIY Artist Management – q & a with claire bowman
Brian Wurschum – paul alexander profiles the man behind the voyces
Busted in Brooklyn - dan costello goes to jail for his music
Subway Stories – dave cuomo tells a story about the r.n.c. protests and his first new york performance
Antifolk Fest - debe dalton reports from the fort
Alec Wonderful – alec dispenses rare advice on acheiving fame Be an Urban Folk friend!
Get in the Minivan - brook pridemore on tour in arizona
Poetry Page and a Book Review - chris maher and rebecca hirsch
The Grateful Dead... - fiction by ed lynch
Paul’s Perspective – paul alexander gets writer’s block
Crossword puzzle - a contest with a prize by deborah t.
CD Reviews – curtis eller, the wowz, creaky boards, gretchen witt, and more...
How you can help... Support your scene while promoting what Back/inside cover - $85 (6.8” x 9.5”)
you do! A lot of artists came to me this issue and said they wanted to buy Full page - $75 (6.8” x 9.5”)
an ad just to support what we’re doing and do their part to help keep it Half page - $45 (6.8” x 4.7”)
going. Thanks guys! We’re not there yet though. Covering priting costs
is still something we are struggling to do. You can help, while getting
Third page - $30
exposure for yourself. The goal of this magazine has always been to bring (square: 4.8” x 4.8”; tall 2.2” x 9.5”)
in more of an outside audience to what we’re doing, and show people Quarter page - $25 (3.4” x 4.8”)
who wouldn’t otherwise know, that there is honest, passionate, and inteligent music thriving in New York City. In order to
do this better we need to raise circulation, which means we need your help! None of us have a lot of extra money to throw
around, but supporting each other now will benefit all the musicians, clubs, and labels (not to mention the culture at large!)
in the long run. A lot of you are not on any label at all, and are putting out your cd’s yourself, or getting your music out
through your website. We designed our advertising with this in mind, so that an artist could afford a $25 ad to promote their
cd, shows, or even just their website, and the clubs or labels could afford the larger ones. Help us spread the word on every
subway seat, every campus lecture hall, and every bathroom stall in every bar. This is your scene and your magazine, and
we need your support to keep it going. -DC
Jon Berger on...
benefit for victims of hurricane katrina
by Jon Berger
After Mother Nature had her little tiff with the Gulf Coast, left behind – though clearly nothing like the tragedy that
it took a few days to hear from Patsy and Grey. befell New Orleans.
Patsy Grace and Grey Revell met at the open mics, fell in It wasn’t until Tuesday, August 30 that we in New York
love there, and announced their engagement at the AntiHoot got word that Patsy, Grey and Julian had driven 18 hours
at the Sidewalk Cafe. Their son’s birth was attended by a straight to North Carolina, where family offered them
host of singer/songwriters entertaining Patsy and her womb, refuge.
inviting Julian to come out into the world. Patsy and Grey “We thought we could wait out the storm,” Patsy explains,
presented a warm place for salons, a good space for parties, “We’d have to. We didn’t have money for gas. And we
and extra beds for weary travelers. Patsy and Grey Revell, thought maybe we’d be all right – different weather reports
for their years in New York, provided a much-needed sense said different things.”
of community. Their departure from New York to L.A. and Their neighborhood ended up with three feet of water, but
then later from LA to New Orleans, was a tragedy for those they weren’t there to see it.
“We got saved, though, and finally, a friend just
gave us twenty dollars to get out, so we packed some
clothes, got in the car, and drove.”
Patsy and Grey took turns behind the wheel until
finally landing in Charlotte, where Patsy’s brother
“We haven’t been able to go back. They’re not
letting people back in our neighborhood yet. Soon, I
hope. We have to get our stuff.”
Like so many coastal refugees, the Revells have to
decide where they’ll reside. They had migrated to the
musical oasis of N’Orleans, and don’t really want to
live elsewhere in the south, but they don’t have the
resources to leave.
“Julian’s four and a half, and he’s had five homes.
He’s in school here, and Grey’s got a job, so we’ll
stay here, for now.”
Back in New York, the AntiFolk community, like
so many others, wanted to do something, wanted to
“I remember back around 9/11 when I was here
in NYC and the rest of the world’s attentions and
sympathies were focused on us,” Kathy Zimmer
wrote, “People halfway across the country who had
never been to New York were genuinely concerned
about this city’s well-being.”
Zimmer was not one of the thirty acts hastily
collected by Danny Kelly, Dina Levy and Jenn
Lindsay, organizers of the September 10 all-day benefit
at Scenic. Dozens of AntiFolk acts donated their time
and CDs from 12-6pm, performing two songs apiece.
For these hours and hours of entertainment, there was
a suggested cover charge of ten dollars – though many
offered much much more. L.E.I. Apparel offered to
match whatever funds were collected that day.
kimya dawson at scenic Included among the performers were such local
luminaries as Linda Draper, Lach, Lippe, and Dave
O’Neal, as well as out-of-towners Danny Kelly (from are struggling to start anew in Charlotte. “The people have
Seattle), Amanda Lynn Perkins (from Mississippi), and been really nice here,” Patsy explains, “Our cupboard is
Coming Soon (from France). Also playing were international stocked like it has never been since we’ve been married!
superstars Schwervon and both Adam Green and Kimya It’s frustrating,” she adds, “that my new neighbors have
Dawson from the Moldy Peaches. In fact, one of the show’s been incredibly helpful and generous, and I did eventually
last performances was a brief reunion of those two principals get something from Red Cross, but it’s the people that have
from the Moldy Peaches, together again for the first time in been helping most, not the organizations.”
multiple months. Patsy explains that she has friends who’ve relied on
The afternoon presented the sense of community that institutional support and are still waiting. Not everyone
AntiFolk is known for, the kind of thing that Patsy and Grey from New Orleans has had their own Scenic benefit
were once infamous for engendering. It had the same feeling “There are people who need to get back to get whatever’s
of camaraderie as the annual Tompkins Square Park shows left, and they can’t go home, but they can’t afford to start
that usually herald in the Summer AntiFolk Festival. This over, because they have nothing. It’s tough.”
year, there had been no such outdoor event, but the Scenic Dominick Musella was on hand to record the Scenic
benefit satisfied similar sensibilities. Though a beneficiary Benefit, which will be presented at the Whiskey Ward on
of the event had not been named at the concert, everyone Essex Street (south of Rivington) on November 1, 2005.
seemed to leave, fulfilled and happy. The benefit at Scenic Selections from his six-hour DVD as well as other benefits
was great, earning over $2,000, and collecting several he’s filmed, will be presented. Entrance charges will go to
hundred CDs. Just days before her European tour and a Families Helping Families, a charity benefiting victims of
cross-country move, Kimya Dawson helped implement a Hurricane Katrina.
system to entertain the youth of New Orleans by collecting
CDs for the newly homeless. “Let’s make sure these kids
don’t have to go through tough times without good music!
It might help them a little to put on some headphones and
escape.” The CDs were sent to a network of volunteers who Whiskey Ward (121 Essex Street, 212-477-2998)
were able to distribute them to the displaced.
After much discussion, some of the proceeds of the
Scenic event have been earmarked for the Revells, who
Pay to Play
larry oakes tries to do it right
By Dave Cuomo
Erin Regan was surfing the internet when she came across Larry Oakes came to New York after years in a Vegas
the Bitter End website and followed a link for information show group who made their way traveling around the world
on booking at the club. She had only been living in the city performing at resorts. Here in the city he landed a gig
for three months. Having found the booking information, playing guitar on tour with Foreigner. Similar gigs followed
she sent in a demo and hoped for the best. She was thrilled with Bad Company, Lou Gramm’s solo project, and The
to eventually receive an email from Larry Oakes saying that Derrek Trucks Band. At 42 he married a singer/songwriter
he loved her demo and couldn’t wait to hear her play. He and settled down.
booked her two spots, one for the Bitter End, and one for “I hated the way she got treated at auditions,” he tells
the lounge run by CBGB’s. Not only this, but her show was me. “They were ‘pay to play scams.’ You had to guarantee
going to be broadcast over the internet so that her friends and twenty people at $10 a head, and then you had a $12 drink
family could watch it across the country. Within
a couple of weeks she was sent ten tickets in the
mail, which she happily gave out to her friends
to encourage them to come to the show. The
day of the first show at CB’s arrived and she got
dressed up and headed down to the club with
her aunt. She was nervous but excited, hoping
that her friends would come and knowing that
her family was watching on their computers,
including her Dad in prison who was a huge
CBGB’s fan and had gathered his cell mates
to watch the webcast. They got to the club and
Erin walked proudly up to the girl at the door
and told her she was there to play.
“Can I have your $50, please,” the girl asked
“What do you mean?” Erin answered
surprised. minimum on top of that. I started the Singer/Songwriter
“The money from the tickets. You got your tickets in the Sessions because I wanted to do it the right way and give
mail to sell, right? It’s $5 a ticket.” new artists a better way to work their way up.”
“Yeah, but I wasn’t able to sell them. I thought people just
paid at the door.” Although artists can get booked from sending in a demo,
“You have to guarantee us ten people.” live auditions are held for the Singer/Songwriter Sessions
“I don’t have any money.” Erin was distraught at the about once a month. Larry explains the way the show works
realization that all her family was watching and she wouldn’t before the audition starts. If an artist passes the audition,
be able to play. they are given a 15 min. slot at either The Bitter End or CB’s
“I’m sorry, you have to pay for the tickets if you want to Lounge below the 315 Gallery. The showcase is held every
play.” Erin didn’t know what to do. She felt tricked, and was other Sunday at The Bitter End, and every other Tuesday at
close to crying. They all stood there in awkward silence for CB’s from 7 to midnight. There is a $5 cover charge for the
a few minutes. show and you must guarantee the club at least a ten person
“Get me my checkbook,” her aunt finally said. Erin played draw. They send you ten tickets which you are supposed to
that night to a full room of loud people drinking at the bar. sell, so that when you show up to the club you have $50 to
Larry sent her a nice email the next day telling her that he give before you can play. Anything after the first ten people
really enjoyed her set and that she could book another slot you get to keep, so that if 15 people show up to see you, you
at either of the clubs whenever she wanted. She responded can walk away with $25. People are asked at the door which
by canceling her show at The Bitter End. She’s pretty sure artists they came to see in order to keep track, although
the check bounced. their $5 gets them in to see the whole show, not just one
“Don’t get me wrong,” she tells me now, “Larry’s a nice act. However, if you can’t bring in ten people, or if you give
guy, but he’s running a scam.” your tickets away, you are still responsible for the $50. After
* * * playing the show once you get a VIP card that gets you into
see the show for free whenever you like. * * *
East Village singer/songwriter Joff Wilson who also played
Emily Watts would be considered a success story, bringing the showcase described the thought process, “If I don’t sell
enough people in to cover the $50 and even walking out enough tickets, does that mean I’m not good enough? Wait
of her show with a little extra money in her pocket. She a second, I passed the audition, of course I’m good enough.
heard about it from a poster outside The Bitter End and met Maybe I just passed the audition to sell tickets...” He has few
Larry. Being new to the city and looking to play a show she regrets about playing it though. “I just like to play anywhere
decided to try out. She didn’t yet understand that she would I can,” he says. “Maybe I’ll play it again, although if I have
be responsible for selling the tickets herself. She learned this to sell again I might be discouraged.” He is from upstate
at the audition, and was a little put off by the idea, but badly New York where he says the culture is different. “People
wanting to play on stage she decided to go along with it. pay a cover to see a whole show, not just one act. Then the
Also, she says it was a bit of an ego boost having passed artists all split the door money together. It’s good because
the audition, exciting her enough to want to take part. At people who go to see the headlining acts watch the openers
first she tried to give away the tickets because she felt bad and get turned on to new music. It’s good for the musicians
asking her friends for money, but most of them insisted too, because they can get exposure and build a following by
on paying. She handed over the money at the show, some opening for bigger acts. It’s a win-win situation.” I asked
from her friends and some of her own, and played a good him why he thinks people in the city are less likely to stick
set. Right before she went on stage Larry asked her if she around for more than the one act they came to see. “There’s
wanted a recording of her set for an extra $10. More people so much to do in the city, I think there’s a lot of competition.
showed up to see her than had bought tickets, and in the end Really the audiences are only ripping themselves off though.
she covered the required ten plus some, allowing her to walk With the Singer/Songwriter Sessions I think Larry’s heart is
away with some extra cash. in the right place, but he’s also a smart guy. He knows what
“I felt bad, like I had taken money from my friends. It felt he’s doing. He’s making a capitalist venture out of booking
pretty dirty really,” she tells me. “Honestly I think the whole bands.”
thing just makes people feel bad about themselves. You’re
new here and you want to play a show, but how are you When I walked up to the Bitter End to interview Larry he
supposed to get ten people to pay $5 for a fifteen minute set? turned to the door man and by way of introducing me said,
If you can’t do it you feel like you must be a bad musician “Hey, this is the guy who wrote the piece about how clubs
or something, and if you can do it it’s probably because you should be promoting the artists and try to develop a built in
bothered your friends to come, and now you just have to feel audience. Man, I would love to see that! That’s exactly what
bad for taking their money.” She says she doesn’t entirely we need around here.” Later I followed up on this and asked
regret the experience because it was a chance to play on him what he thinks is making it so hard for artists to break
stage and because it was nice for her friends and family to through these days. “The whole industry changed. Live
get to see her play online, but she would not do it again, if music itself is struggling. It’s part of this pre-manufactured
nothing else because she doesn’t want to support the show. corporate mentality. It started with the labels. They stopped
The idea that someone might be a bad musician because giving artists the opportunity and time to grow and instead
they couldn’t get ten people to pay $5 for a fifteen minute went for quick profits. It shows in the fabricated music
show is absurd, but it is a feeling that becomes common they’re putting out. Now, if you can’t sell albums right away
among musicians in New York. The culture here has become you get axed. That same attitude is filtering down to the club
such that an artist needs to be just as skilled at marketing and level. If you can’t bring in people right away you get axed.”
public relations as they are at making music, if not more so. Larry sees his showcase as a way around this problem. He
Most of what a club wants to know in order to book you isn’t says it is a chance for artists to play at really great clubs
what you sound like, it’s how many people you can draw. with a minimal necessary draw. The show is “really good for
Musicians are supposed to be shy, neurotic, reclusive, and people who are serious about their careers and take the time to
self-depreciating; as artists it goes with the job description. promote themselves, passing around their email list, selling
Throw these same artists into an arena where they are or giving away CD’s.” He states that numerous acts have
supposed to know how to consistently bring out 50 people come through that went from a draw of about 8 to 10 people
on their own if they want to play shows at all, and a lot of to 30 or 40 by playing the Singer/Songwriter Sessions. He
them are going to get a lot more self depreciating. Especially says he can only remember two artists who had complaints
in a city like New York where there are more musicians than about having to sell the tickets, and they were people who
fans to go around most of the time. It becomes a sort of were “just looking for freebies. That’s not what this show is
popularity contest. Even on a bill with a number of acts, for. It’s for people who can recognize the opportunity and
each individual artist is responsible for filling the club on want to be serious and really promote themselves. They’re
their own because more than likely the crowd will only stay the ones who are going to make it.”
for the one act they came to see. And, all this needs to be
done with only minimal help from the club with promotion. In the spirit of fairness I went out of my way to try and
What’re we to do? interview artists who had made good use of the showcase. I
knew that Steph (who didn’t want her last name used) had time, and you only play for other musicians. Here you pick
played it a few times, and had even been given a half hour your time slot so you can promote it and have people come
slot her third time playing. For this one she had to guarantee to see you, instead of waiting around until one o clock in the
twenty people, making her responsible for $100. She says if morning to play one song for nobody. Plus, since everyone
she were to do the show again she would make sure to space is bringing ten people you get to play for a whole new crowd
them out, because it became awkward asking her friends and get some really good exposure.”
to pony up the $5 to see her all the time. Other than the
opportunity to say she compare venue such as The Bitter I went to go see the show itself a couple weeks ago, and I
End and CB’s Lounge, she says the most valuable part about found the sign on the wall by the sound booth a little telling.
playing the show was that she now understands that New It said “recordings: CD’s - $35, VHS - $25, tape - $5.” There
York is a pay to play city. “It’s just the way it works around was some smaller writing too which I struggled and squinted
here. Even if they aren’t as direct about it, it’s generally the to read. Next to each price it said “you provide blank CD-
way shows in this city work at our level. I’m looking forward R, you provide blank VHS, and you provide blank tape.” I
to the day when I can play for free. That’s when I’ll know laughed a little that after bringing in $50 to play, than adding
I’ve moved up.” She says that she did expand her email list, on $35 for the recording, a total of $85 for fifteen minutes
and that it is good to be able to say she played at The Bitter of fame, that the club couldn’t spring the extra quarter for
End, but when asked she said that the show was worthwhile a CD-R.
only for the opportunity to see if she liked playing at CB’s or It’s would be easy to write off what Larry, The Bitter
The Bitter End better (she feels she fits in better at the Bitter End, and CBGB’s are doing as cheap and greedy. This is not
End). “Also I was able to recommend some friends who did my intention. What they are doing is simply a more glaring
it, I guess that was a good thing.” I felt like she was holding example of what artists in the city go through at the ground
back, so I asked her what her opinion would be if I wasn’t level. Larry’s show does do things that a free open mic can’t,
going to be printing what she said. “Well, I don’t play the and the feelings that selling tickets to one’s friends brings up
showcase anymore,” she finally said, “I don’t like whoring is similar, although certainly a little stronger, to the feelings
out my friends to make a living for someone else.” that bugging your friends to come see you at Arlene’s
“The show is only sketchy if you don’t know any Grocery, where there’s a $7 cover (but you are not required
better,” says Cassandra Kubinski. She played the show last to cover any difference out of pocket), or even to a free show
December and now books regular gigs at The Bitter End, where you need to bring in 30 – 50 people if you ever want
not through the Singer/Songwriter Sessions. “For someone to get booked again. It’s supposed to be about playing music
who understands how it works, it can be beneficial.” She and entertaining people, not asking your friends to come
also adds that she scoured the website thoroughly and found see you as a favor to make you look good. Unfortunately
no mention of the fact that you’ll be responsible for selling though, this is the reality if you want to get shows. It gets
the tickets and paying the difference. She recommends it to even trickier when scene politics come into play, where if an
artists in addition to open mics as a good way to gain a few artist tries too hard they risk being seen as engaging in too
fans and maybe find a backup guitarist if you need, but says much shameless self promotion. Again, what’re we to do?
that’s about the limit of what you’ll get out of it. “I can’t Larry’s final advice was to “Keep doing it. It only takes that
imagine any one in the music business who knows what one right person to see you and give you your break.”
they’re doing coming down. Talent doesn’t matter there. I I like to think there’s a better way than waiting around
think it’s inappropriate for someone like Larry, who’s been until some executive finally comes along and does things
in the business and knows what he’s doing, to ask people for you. Steph tells me that she has found more success as
for money for this, especially considering the mediocrity of of late booking and promoting shows at studios spaces she
the acts.” rents out and sharing the bills with her friends. Pulling from
a similar draw and playing with people who are connected
“I like to try and give everyone a chance,” says Larry. by their music, people are more likely to come out and see a
This is why he usually accepts about 80% of people from whole show when they are familiar with more of the artists
their auditions and demos. “You do have to bring in 10 and the styles of the other acts go well together. By renting
people at $5 each, that’s just business. You’re going to have the venue herself she is not responsible to club owners anal
to do that if you want to play a good venue like CB’s or about draw. I think it makes a lot of sense that if we don’t
The Bitter End.” I asked him how it was different from the like the way clubs treat their musicians we should find other
audtitions his wife used to play. “Those were outrageously ways to hold shows or find better clubs. There are always
expensive. 20 people at $10 a head, plus the drink minimum, some out there that do things differently. New musicians
that’s just undoable for new artists. More than that though is coming here are bound to get sucked into clubs more than
the attitude. She got treated terribly at those things. I was an ready to take their money, but an artist who really wants to
artist, so I know what it’s like. I treat people the way I would work hard for a career as a musician will look a little harder
want to be treated as an artist, and give them the chance to and find better ways.
play at really great clubs. It’s different than an open mic,
too. At an open mic you only get a few songs at any random Singer/Songwriter sessions:
The Paula
welcome to the big time
by Jon Berger
So I arrive at the C-Note just on time, put out
the list for people to sign up, and this scruffy guy
comes up to me. He puts his name down, then
he starts talking. His language is a little slow, but
that’s about what I expect from an east village
musician, and I bide my time talking to him.
He says his name is Marcelo, and he’s come
up from Brazil to make his way in the New York
music scene.
I tell him that I spent some time in Brazil,
but I can’t figure out where he’s from. If it’s not
Rio or São Paulo, I’m at a loss. I draw the worst
many people, so Marcelo gets up on stage pretty quickly,
imaginable map of the coast to pinpoint his neighborhood
sitting down with his guitar.
in South America’s largest country, but it comes to nothing.
And he makes me stand up. And he makes me dance. This
The name Minas Gerais sounds familiar, but not enough. I
cat is good!
end up pretending to recognize his state.
Marcelo’s obviously got guitar chops, and there’s a driving
Marcelo’s English accent is really good, but his
intensity in his playing, adding in some of those foreign
vocabulary’s limited, so there are often long stalls as he
dance rhythms that made World Music so big a couple years
struggles to find the right word, and his sentence structure
back. The first song is hooky, fun and strong.
was meek, at best. Of course, when I was in Brazil, I spent a
“What does ‘solameechi’ mean?” I ask upon completion.
month helplessly pointing at things, hoping the nation would
“So lamente?” he replies, “It means… ‘only once’.”
give up their silly Portuguese and suddenly speak wonderful
“Don’t get fooled again?” I suggest. Cool.
East Coast English (no such luck). Marcello’s use of my
The music is great, and there’s something liberating about
language is infinitely better than my use of his. We figure
these nonsense syllables coming out of his mouth. He could
each other out.
be saying anything; I can’t tell. His lyrics are a beautiful
Marcelo de Paula, who performs and records as the Paula,
blank slate. I’m worried that it might turn out all of his songs
has been doing the solo thing since the last century, after
are about monkey decapitation…
his 1990s Monsters of Rock arena-touring group, Virna Lisi,
Marcelo goes up a couple more times, tells me about his
fell apart. He was bass player and songwriter, and he shows
website, and hands me a demo.
me his press kit, which is in Portuguese, so I nod and say,
“My band… they couldn’t get visas. My family will be
coming soon.”
Maybe it’s the language barrier, but Marcelo doesn’t seem
Marcelo’s taken the plunge. He’s placing all bets on
like he’s bragging. I’ve met other people coming to New
making it in New York. Without the language. Without
York from outside the country, and there’s often evidence
that they were big, but subscribed to Liza’s lyrics, “If I can
“Good luck,” I tell him.
make it there…” so here they are. Whatever. Marcelo seems
Two weeks later, he’s got a starting show on a Sunday
like he had a successful career as artist and producer way
at the Sidewalk Café. It’s a crappy slot, but he has maybe
down south that he gave up to try out life in the Big City.
twenty people there for him. They’re quiet, attentive. Maybe
I try to ask him why he didn’t move to his local big cities,
he’s got some family in New York. Maybe he met them at
Rio and São Paulo, both substantially larger than NYC, and
open mics, like me. Marcelo’s already got something going
with a slightly easier commute to his home. He shrugs and
on, though, and he’s been in town for barely a month.
“Great show,” I say, and he bows in appreciation.
And he waits for his turn at the C-Note. It’s one of those
“I want to start writing in English,” he says, “Want to
days with a lousy turnout, so we chat for a while before
make this all better.
hitting the stage. He wants to do something different; not
“In Brazil,” he continues, “They want to go back. To
the same old same old with Virna Lisi, or a straight samba
Virna Lisi, to the old rock style. Me, I want more. I want to
style, or whatever other styles they have down in Brazil. He
go forward.”
wants to mix up influences, he explains, so New York is the
place to be.
“We’ll see,” I say, and the open mic begins. There aren’t
Gutter Rock
a night at brattleboro fest
by Darren “Deicide” Kramer
Hello tri-state people! I come with tales of Brattleboro, Brattleboro Fest”. The descriptions were vague. “A minor
VT. Indeed…Brattleboro. Have you ever heard of it? conspiracy with plans to claim the streets of Brattleboro,
If you said “no”, join the club that I was in only about 6 Vermont for two days of rock music, games, wingnut
months ago. That was until I met Johnny Hobo and the subversion, and ‘drunk and disorderly’ citations,” the
Freight Trains at a gig in some random, emptied out theatre website said.
in Brooklyn. They had all the elements of an excellent After a flat tire on the GWB, I finally made it to Brattleboro,
roots-rock outfit: a washtub bass, beat up acoustic guitar, a and barely anybody was hanging out in Harmony Parking
trumpet, a harmonica, and some snarly, from-the-gut vocals. Lot! Only handful of rag-tag kids smoking cigarettes next
I loved it. And, they were from Brattleboro, VT. Over time, to cardboard boxes sat around. I didn’t bother to ask what
I’d come to know Brattleboro well. the cardboard box was about. I guess I was a little afraid
Brattleboro is a small-town right in the southeast corner to ask. “What’s goin on?” I thought. Turns out just about

johnny hobo

of Vermont. The town rests just west of the Vermont- everyone was skinny dipping down by the river. There were
New Hampshire border. In fact, I discovered that when I a few people talking about fabled tales of the night before
was there, you literally can walk to New Hampshire from as if it had happened years ago. Apparently someone had
Brattleboro. Underneath this quaint little Vermontian town driven a car without license plates, risking life and personal
exterior also resides what has been called the “gutter rock” liberty, just to get down to Brattleboro Fest. Once there,
scene. Droves of tweaked out, anarcho-punk kids that hang some kids started doing skateboarding tricks off the car.
out in a big, local parking lot called Harmony Parking Lot Fireworks were blasting off and skateboards were flying to
and throw completely acoustic shows in random public the point that the police rolled into the parking lot. After a
places. Most of them call these shows “gutter rock shows”. little conversation, the cops told them to keep it down, and
This summer I went down to play “Another Summer in that there wasn’t any trouble. That was when I definitively
knew that I wasn’t in the NYC area! stigma, I watched “ultimate makeout” ensue. It was only a
The show that night was to be at Common Ground, a minute or two into watching the game did I realize that there
local coffeeshop and activist center in Brattleboro. I’m not weren’t many rules to this game. I see. That’s clever. To
sure what happened, but the venue could no longer host the shroud drunken debauchery in a “game”.
event, so it was moved to someone’s garage. The pilled out, drunken madness was intense. I almost
In a rickety old garage, with rickety old wooden boards felt like I was secondhand rolling from watching it all.
for a floor, and a rickety old lamp with a single bulb to light But I know I wasn’t. Especially when I tried to have a
the place, the show took place. Brattleboro kids are quite the conversation with a Brattleboro-ite only to realize that they
motley bunch. Imagine hobo style clothes, patchwork pants, are completely rolled out of their mind and have no idea
and unkept hair on everyone. Many an ass-of the-pants what I’m talking about. Imagine trying to get together a
had fallen out from these kids’ pants, and it was obviously game of Texas Hold ‘em with money on the table only to
apparent they had the sewing skills to remedy that. realize that 1/3 of the table has no idea how to play the
Pat The Bunny of Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains game and just wanted to touch the cards because it felt good
kicked things off with an excellent sing-along solo set with during their ecstasy roll. It was at this moment that I felt I
just him and his guitar. It was infectious. You couldn’t had gotten a monstrous dose of Brattleboro tweakiness. It
help but scream out the words if you knew them, and that’s felt like my cue to run back to what suddenly seemed like a
exactly what the crowd did. With every last ounce of carbon sober and sane NYC-area.
dioxide in their blood, people exhaled through raspy vocal But how? There were droves of people on “naked patrol”
chords every word, and with every muscle in their legs, they outside that I’d have to wade through. “One more beer
stomped that wooden floor. “You feeling that bounce?” I and quaint goodbyes is all I need,” I thought to myself. I
asked the girl next to me. “No,” she said as she swigged strolled outside. Indeed, naked patrol was everywhere. A
down her can of PBR. I watched on with fake assurance. squad of about 7-10 young boys, completely naked and…
Pat was followed by a set from Lemon Juice Effect; quirky, well…patrolling. Suddenly, one of them hits the crowd.
pop-rock songs about…well, rocking out. This was the first “Man down!” I scream. Naked patrol is right on the case!
moment that people really started to get down. This was In a moment of extreme fright, the kid’s pasty white ass
especially good for me. The crowd was nice and warmed starts rolling towards this sheer cliff near the side of the
up. Their muscles were stretched and their legs filled with house. “Whoa!” I screamed out. No need to fear though,
blood for the boogie. I kicked it off on a spoken word piece as someone from the naked patrol grabs him and helps him
and ended on a cover of “Great Balls of Fire”, so the gamut toss his lunch over the side of the cliff. I guess there is a
was pretty wide. People boogied with a furious frenzy. good use for the naked patrol. As for what the “naked” part
Mark Leonard then delivered his unique brand of folk-punk. of the equation has anything to do with this, your guess is
I was very impressed with his quick guitar strumming skills as good as mine. I saw my window of opportunity. “Bye
and passionate lyrics. The crowd was fixated on his lyrical everyone!” I screamed. Those cognizant enough to respond
content and stared with a wonderous intent. I definitely felt said “See ya!”
he was bringing something different to the folk-punk genre There you have it. Truly a night in Brattleboro that
at that moment. The final act of the night was Cars Can Be defines “gutter rock” in many ways. I guess the website can
Blue. They describe themselves on their website as “simple, finish this article when it explains the activities of the next
fun, catchy songs that combine bubblegum pop with an day. “The festival is over. Get the fuck out of our town!
off-beat, sometimes even naughty sense of humor.” That We’ll miss you but must warn you to escape before ‘Another
pretty much hits the nail on the head. In some respects, they Winter in Brattleboro’ hits.” It’s 4 hours to Brattleboro from
reminded me of Weezer and The White Stripes in a head NYC, and while that’s certainly no small drive, it may just
on collision. Of course this is all with heaping helpings of be worth it to see what happens when folk comes crashing
pop. But nothing over-distorted here. It was just Becky into the nihilism, snot, and grime that is punk rock.
on an acoustic guitar and Nate on a snare with a couple of
cymbals. They achieved an amazingly full sound with just Darren “Deicide” Kramer
these two instruments and their singing. I am impressed yet
again. And it was definitely a nice way to cap the evening
as everyone bopped with the jumpy beats.
But how mistaken I was to think this was the end of the Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains
night. On it was to a house party for further mayhem. Allow
me to explain something here. In Brattleboro, you don’t just
pop a pill. You grind that shit up and find a different orafice Mark Leonard
to put it down! Needless to say, the PBR and illicit drugs ran
like the River Jordan at this party only to encourage “ultimate
makeout” game and “naked patrol”. Maybe it’s my age, but Cars Can Be Blue
I felt like I would have been engaging in perversion had I
joined the games. But with an equal amount of perverse
Exegesis Department
justify the music
with Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman,
Why the hell did you write this song?
The Kitchen Song

We’re spending too much time For fear of what can be read
in the kitchen. on our faces.
On my face.
You always said
you would die this way. And after all this time
we’re estranged somehow
I caught hold of your hand Living in fear
today. Of strings and games
I thought you were gonna cry; Holding a flame causes pain
you were terrified. it’s insane
to try to live
We’re spending too much time this way
in our heads these days. but I saw
I always thought poker your face
wear a strong sturdy brace the look on your face
I could hide this way. on your face
and you’ll be
There’s no room OK.
On your face.
for love
in this city. You didn’t notice me
peeking over your wall today We’re spending too much time
Seek safety in arms. in the kitchen.
Embracing but armed I covered my tracks
put it all back in place You always said
To the teeth.

The Kitchen Song was actually written in the living room... and another song, the Williamsburg Bridge, was written in
the kitchen of an apartment in the East Village that sadly, is no longer my home.
So many things in my life have changed since I wrote that song... but now — a year later; the sentiment in the story
hasn’t changed... at all. When am I going to become a “grown -up” who can venture out into the world of possible intimacy
without fear? When will I stop dwelling on the probability that people who are at times very close will inevitably experience
a period of distrust and strive to ruin what they have built in order to regain a sense of freedom?
Speaking of dwelling, what was that Onion article, “Man Calls off Search for Self after 38 Years.” …And there’s the
picture of him on the couch, laying in self-absorption appearing as if he has experienced nothing during this quest but living
in his head. I hope I don’t bring people to THAT place when they hear me tell the story of this time of love in New York,
but there is a strong element of introspection in it.
The song is delivered from the perspective of a very vulnerable, very skeptical and confused but passionate and loving
person (who, me?) who would rather seek to understand why things are as they are than accept them and live according to
rules and advice. I can’t help it, I’m from the Midwest. It’s not natural for me to have short-lived relationships, watching
people come and go without explanation and without exploration. More than anyone I know, I carry around the common
fears of attachment and abandonment... but I’d rather go through shit again and again and again than avoid it to become a
rock solid heartless rock... star.
The structure of the song is pretty standard, with the exception of the brief pseudo polyphonic segment which is how
my father’s Gregorian chanting or my old days with the Baltimore Symphony chorus still creep into my anti-classical folk
Claire Bowman
on DIY artist management
interview by Dave Cuomo
Along with singing with Sarah in The Bowmans and singing back up in Lowry, Claire Bowman has been serving as
manager for both groups since last spring. We did this interview on an East Williamsburgh roof top during a recent Lowry
photo shoot, and over email.
DC: How did you end up becoming Lowry’s manager? stuff and naturally assumed the management position. He
did eventually ask me formally, of course.
CB: First off, I’m a huge fan of his music and his album.
It was that Saturday in March when it snowed and snowed DC: What experience did you have before you booked
and it was so beautiful. Alex and I went to Hanger Bar, and the Couchtown tour?
sat near the big snow flurry view windows. We decided, with
his album due to come out in a couple months, he needed to CB: Nothing directly related to music promotion and
plan a tour. I asked, “well, how would you go about planning management, but a lot of work world stuff. Eric lent me his
something like that?” He told me what he hoped for, I made book on managing artists, and in the Intro section it said the
best background for an artist’s manager to have is
A) tour management experience (which I didn’t have
before Couchtown) and B) a degree in Psychology.
Well, I have a BA in philosophy and psychology,
and an MA in Counseling psychology. There’s
a LOT of psychology in promotion. I’m always
aware of how something that strikes me – an image
(or musician’s logo) stays in my mind and leads to
vague or crystallized recognition of the band, and the
emotional association with the band I get from their
image. That’s called “branding,” I guess. I’m such
a nerd.
Other than that, I have done a lot of project
development. I helped form legislation (the
Cockfighting bill – ha ha) for the U.S. Senate (Tom
Harkin), I developed a 180 page web site that became
the catalyst for restructuring the way our departments
worked together in HR for John Hopkins University.
That was a monster because, in trying to translate
our operations into a web index, I discovered
many holes in our systems and things we weren’t
Alex and Claire at Hanger Bar capitalizing on. So, I had to help resolve the
real-life operational problems in order to move
suggestions on how I could help make it possible. We got forward with the web site. That’s a lot like planning tour.
so worked up talking about it, we closed our tab, ran back to I also bought a house once, including applying for and
the apartment, pulled out a road atlas and started charting. I receiving grant funding toward our down payment. I love
remember the Johnson brothers were home, and Eric. They projects.
chimed in with places we should go and call so-and-so and
it started going from there. DC: How did you go about booking the tour without
You asked how I became his manager, not how I came to having national connections and contacts?
book his tour. Well, basically, once I started getting bookings,
I discovered I needed to send mailers and promotional CB: I was interning at OddMob records at the time. So,
materials places and put the shows in the local listings. I also I used to get a start. But it’s REALLY
needed to get discs out to folks ahead of time for them to limited. I connected with a lot of real and virtual friends
even consider booking us. And we started talking about how on MySpace who often knew real friends with connections
we were going to make money, which led to discussions in target areas. I used Google a lot to find venues. I won’t
about merch, so I sort of assumed responsibility for a lot of divulge everything about how I select venues, but there’s
promoting shows, checking listings, and keeping everyone
that psych background at work again. But mostly, I just spent
weeks of 15 hour days where I wouldn’t get up from the in the loop as to sound check time, departure time, driving
time, you know, details. I’m like a touring camp counselor.
computer to take a dump or eat until it became a crisis while
See? Counseling. Tying my crazy background all together.
working on this stuff. I’m sorry if that’s gross. I have a habit
of neglecting myself when I’m on a project. As ADD as I am, On our tour, I was the one who needed counseling the
when I get on a project I can be excessively focused. most, actually. It’s a STRESSFUL job. And I had JUST
finished my MA the DAY BEFORE tour started. Point is,
DC: Would you say at the time when you started booking despite the challenges, I LOVE tour managing. You said
the tour, with the difficulties of doing something like that I was weird or something because I love booking and
from scratch, that it was more of an ego boost or an ego managing tours. But hey. I guess it’s my thing until I move
blow? on to the next thing

CB: When I first started? I felt COMPLETELY DC: Do you feel like you’re now a professional (whatever
overwhelmed and incompetent. I cried a lot. I got stuck a that means), or do you still feel like an oddball outsider?
lot. I got a lot of rude responses from venue booking people
like, come on lady, this is a business and you’re a nobody CB: Back and forth. A professional should probably have
with no draw in this town. But then I had the super highs real connections. But now I’ve got this amazing experience
of getting bookings in awesome venues like The Mill in of having managed that national tour, and I made a ton of
Iowa City, which is the best place to see live music in that connections along the way. It’s like going from novice to
town. I think The Elbo Room in Chicago is a cool club, professional in one month. You know that scene in Team
and Subterranean. It was so cool to see everybody on the America where they have the montage? Like that.
marquis at Subterranean, even though it was a sparse show
– but something good came out of that, which I won’t go DC: What’s the one thing someone should know before
into right here. Where else was good…The Milestone in attempting to book their first tour?
Charlotte, Radio, Radio! in Indianapolis, Red Star Bar in
Baton Rouge, Davey’s Uptown in Kansas City, D-Note in CB: ONE thing? Start MONTHS in advance!! I’m not
Arvada, CO, Walnut Room in Denver, Rubber Gloves in kidding. MONTHS. I’m freaking out right now because
Denton, TX. They were virtual victories. Some of the places I’m just getting started booking our January tour. Can I
were not what they were cracked up to be when we got there, give TWO pieces of advice? It’s important to KNOW your
or they were super venues with NO built-in crowd. But goals. Oh – and ANOTHER thing - here’s something that’s
getting the bookings was a high. really true: It never hurts to ASK, no matter how impossible
you think something might be. Go ahead and ask the White
DC: What do your duties as manager entail now? Stripes if you can be their next opening act on tour. Why
CB: I’m not really sure. Real managers have connections, I can’t imagine asking somebody something like that ever
and they theoretically get label people to your shows and ruined anyone’s career.
they get bookings at hot clubs with awesome lineups or And it’s good to know ahead of time that the first tour is
something. And if you’re not sure why label interest is highly unlikely to profit.
important, it’s because they put money up front for things
like tour. It’s a huge upfront investment to launch your own DC: Is this something that anyone can do? What kind of
tour. person does it take?
Actually, I’m not really sure what real managers do, but
what I consider my management responsibilities are booking, CB: That’s a tough question. Well it takes someone
which I don’t take a separate cut for because that’s somehow with a lot of self-discipline, who can multitask and stay on
illegal, promotion, merch, mailing list, website, myspace, and task at home. You have to be able to see where problems
EPK updates, budgeting, advising on entering festivals and lie and identify solutions, give things a chance and go to
the like, distribution when I get to it. Responding to people plan B when too many resources are being sucked into a
who ask for Mp3s, ASCAP or other membership, copywrite failing scheme, learn from mistakes, plan ahead, anticipate
stuff, getting promo discs to the right folks, which included the worst (I’m a pessimist, so that was up my alley), track
radio for a while but Holy Shit that’s time consuming! And everything, manage personalities, be assertive and flexible
really tough. -- which is more than I can be all the time --and come up
Managing tour is a WHOLE nuther story. It’s a 24- with systems to best track everything in a comprehensible
7 job with all kinds of things that could come up. Mostly way. Gotta be good at letting everyone know what the plans
budgeting, paying musicians, distributing per diems, contacts, are, too.
venue liaison, scheduling, sleeping arrangements, food, ugh
– the worst part – assigning designated drivers, taking care of
the broken down vehicle, assigning roadie responsibilities,
Brian Wurschum
the voice of the voyces
by Paul Alexander
In case you haven’t heard of them, The Voyces, named is perhaps surprising to note that despite being a multi-
for the Moody Blues song “The Voice,” are a New York instrumentalist at a young age, Brian didn’t start singing in
City band long known for their tight harmonies and well- public until he was eighteen. Even then it wasn’t by choice,
crafted songs. Brian Wurschum doesn’t consider himself but was because his band couldn’t find a singer. Today, Brian
The Voyces without band-mates Laurel Hoffman and Frank plays mainly guitar, though he maintains a love for the bass
Carino, but even a cursory inspection of album credits for and the drums, and suggests that he can “fake it on the piano
these East Village darlings reveals that not only does Brian some” as well—all worthy talents to maintain, considering
play guitar and sing lead vocals in the band, but he is usually the fact that he typically writes and records songs entirely
the band’s sole songwriter. In addition to playing within on his own before playing live with other musicians. There
the confines of a well-known band, Brian Wurschum has are exceptions to Brian’s music monopoly, such as his
achieved much as a solo performer since learning a few occasional collaboration with Laurel Hoffman, but for the
chords on his dad’s 1969 Hofner. most part, he has always been a solo artist.
Brian has traveled the country many times over. He
has opened for international acts. He was on the Late Show
with David Letterman in 1999 after Letterman’s producer
saw Laurel and Brian singing in Washington Square park,
and he has even had songs on several since failed television
shows, such as Nick Freno: Licenced Teacher, which
aired from 1996-1998, and most notably in 2003, Brian
and The Voyces had their song “Relate To Me” included
on the soundtrack of singer/songwriter Jack Johnson’s
short surf film, Thicker Than Water. Brian has released
two self-produced solo albums, The Ups and Downs from
2001, which to no one’s surprise features the vocal talents
of one Laurel Hoffman, and Brian’s 2003 effort, Anorexic
Demographic. Additionally, Brian has recorded several the voyces at rest
other albums with various ensembles, such as 1994’s now
out of print Mr. Night, recorded in his native California, According to Brian “There are a handful of artists
featuring one of Brian’s rare songwriting collaborations on that slay me often, so I love them the most and would consider
the song “Awake, Alone, Alive,” which he co-wrote with them my main influence—artist such as Pink Floyd, Peter
Laurel Hoffman, to The Voyces’ album The Angels of Fun, Gabriel, Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Randy Newman, and The
which Brian composed in its entirety and then co-produced Eagles.” Brian realizes that to many, his influences are, “for
at New York City’s Soundbox Studio in 2002. Meanwhile, the most part, extremely unhip,” and he wishes that he felt
Brian reports that several of The Voyces’ songs are also due stronger about newer artists, but says, “Most new large acts
to be included in a new National Lampoon movie called strike me as frauds—The lyrics. The melodies. The clothes.”
Adam and Eve. Even still, Brian is the first to admit, “Any song which kills
Raised in the sleepy SoCal locale of Newbury Park, me, influences me in some capacity, and thousands of songs
California, about 30 miles north of Los Angeles’ sprawling have killed me.” Suggesting that most recently he was slain
metropolis, Brian Wurschum was not ever encouraged to by the song “Wall Of Death” by the British singer/songwriter
enter the world of entertainment, and yet through the many Richard Thompson, while adding that local artists such
records his mother always had in rotation, Brian found as the elusive singer/songwriter Don Freda, Antifolk icon
musical motivation on hand even from his days in the crib. Barry Bliss, and Linda Draper are also constant sources of
Beginning on the drums and bass, Brian learned guitar last. inspiration. In addition, Brian also owns up to harboring
By the time he was twelve, he had begun forming bands a weakness for the Nigerian/British songwriter Sade,
with his friends, bands with such era-appropriate names made famous in the 1980s by her song “Smooth Operator.”
as “Rough Justice” and “Talisman”—bands whose names He has a fondness for another British group, The Darkness,
remind us all of a different time in music. Brian recalls, “It while even admitting, “50 Cent makes me happy…I can’t
was really intoxicating stuff. Our outfits were waterproof.” help it.”
For a singer/songwriter with such a captivating voice, it Talented people like Laurel Hoffman are drawn to Brian’s
thoughtful songwriting and delicate execution, yet he seems
genuinely awed by having the continued opportunity to work
with other talented New York City artists such as Laurel or
Linda Draper, and many remember Brian’s work with such
artists quite fondly. As poet, performance artist and general
pest Jon Berger recently reminisced, “The vocal interplay
between Brian and Laurel was always amazing, I wonder
why she’s not around anymore.” For all the success and
near misses with fame Brian Wurschum has enjoyed over
the past ten years or so with his band, he remains just as
happy playing as a solo artist for audiences of all shapes
and sizes—though he always prefers an attentive crowd to
a large one.
Brian has had some great shows at some of the City’s
greatest rooms, from The Sidewalk Café to The Bitter End
and The Knitting Factory, but he says, “There really aren’t
any special places. There are special nights. You know?”
Brian is also very gracious about the eclectic fan base he
has amassed over the years, counting himself lucky for all
the fan mail he receives from everyone from teenagers to
the elderly.
Admittedly, he draws a larger audience when he plays
with his band than when he plays solo, but no matter the
musical manifestation, Brian Wurschum is an inspiring and
amusing presence live, as fellow singer/songwriter Brian
Speaker says, “Brian writes the most beautiful lyrics, and he
is so sharp—in-between songs he had us all laughing.”
Brian Wurchum used to tour quite a bit and it’s
something he misses, but lucky
for those of us here in New York
City, his days on the road are for
the most part over. These days,
Brian passes much of his time
alongside the brilliant Amy Hills,
within the walls of Engine Room
Audio where he works both as an
engineer and a studio musician of
sorts, making cameos on many
artists’ albums such as David
LK Murphy’s Home to You
EP. Brian works in the studio a
few days a week “for the rush.”
Beyond his day-to-day Engine
Room experience, his only real
aspirations at the moment are to
remain comfortable in his own
skin and to continue to work on
improving his craft and himself,
as he endeavors to improve his
narrative focus, and ultimately
end up “someplace increasingly
less self-centered.” Nevertheless,
with or without The Voyces, Brian
Wurchum is a voice worth hearing.
I Was a Rock n Roll Vandal!
a true story
by Dan Costello
FACT #1: I was arrested in Williamsburg for hanging
flyers, as part of a crackdown on vandalism initiated by
Mayor Bloomberg.

FACT #2: A week later I would travel to the
UK to participate in the Summer Antifest 2005,
a celebration of lo-fi, electronica and acoustic
punk (I guess my acoustic lo-fi folk-hop fits in
there somewhere.)

FACT #3: I was caught flyering for my UK
send-off concert, booked at my neighborhood
wine bar STAIN on Grand and Humboldt in

THE ARREST: At 11:32PM on Tuesday
July 5. Three days til my send-off show. I’ll
walk to Bedford and flyer outside North Six and
Galapagos. I put on my shoes, grab my license, my
bag of flyers and a roll of tape. The walk from my place
to Bedford Ave. takes 25 minutes. I post along the way at “No Sir.”
intersections already marked by some flyer or other (music, “What you did is a crime. It’s a misdemeanor called
moving van, etc.) There are some cops eating at Kellogg’s Criminal Mischief Vandalism. We have to take you in. If
Diner. At last I get to North 6th St. and Berry. This is a you have no record, it should only be a couple hours ‘til
popular music spot, as is evident by the number of flyers you’re out. You have to come with us.” The look of helpless
– some peeling, fading, or obviously posted recently - up shock washes over my face. One cop takes a polaroid of one
on the light poles. The paper hanging on each pole could light pole. “Can’t you just give me a ticket?”
fill several notebooks. I hang a couple quarter-page flyers “This isn’t an offense we can write up. We’ve gotta put
on each light pole (over expired flyers), and begin walking you in the back of the car, cuff ya. You have to be booked.
home. Ten steps later, a black Chevrolet Caprice angles into We’ll get you in and out as soon as possible. Anything in
a driveway right behind me, and two men get out of the car. your pockets?” I take out my house keys, my lighter (I’d
I hear them talking, I keep walking. “Hey, we want to talk only brought one cigarette for the short walk) and hand them
with you”. I shake my head nervously. “We’re police. Come my bag of flyers and the roll of tape. They cuff me and put
here.” I now notice these two are in matching Yankees me in the car.
jerseys. They have badges. I stop. “What are you doing “Are you fuckin’ kidding me?” I yell out the open door,
here?” one asks me. loud enough for the cop taking the Polaroids to hear me.The
“Oh, I’m hanging up flyers for my free show this two cops look at eachother, but no words are exchanged.
weekend.” The officer who is by the car slams the door.The sense of
“How many have you put up tonight?” helplessness a person can experience in the presence of law
“I’m not sure, maybe 20...” I still had a lot of flyers to enforcement is excruciating. The arrest is already absurd
hand people. There were maybe a hundred left in the bag. because it’s clear I’ll be released soon. What’s all the fuss
“You know it’s illegal to do that. This is public property.” about flyers? What’s the reason these guys have to bring a
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize there was a law. I was only nobody like me into the station?
posting where people had already. I’ll go take them all I’ve lived in Williamsburg for about a year. In that time,
down.” I have seen people arrested for breaking windows, for
“Well it’s a little late for that. You have any ID on you?” stealing from liquor stores, for starting a shouting match in a
“Actually, I do.” I hadn’t brought my wallet but had supermarket. I have never in my life seen a person arrested
taken my license on intuition. for hanging a flyer on a light pole.
Cop looks at my license. “Any prior arrests?” The taller cop comes back from taking pictures.He
crouches next to the back driver’s door, where I’m sitting in
the Caprice, cuffed and fuming. “Here’s the deal. All these “I can’t give em to you.”
brick buildings down here, they’re all owned by the mayor’s Miller gets a little exasperated. “Listen, kid, I’m doin my
friends. Now, a lot of international communities are moving job here.”
into this neighborhood, and there’s a lot of international “No, I can’t. I’m cuffed behind my back.”
gangs. They are marking their territory by spray-painting The cops can’t figure out which to do first - should they
graffiti on these buildings. Then the mayor’s office gets put me in the cell so they can take the cuffs off? Or should
a nasty phone call - it costs money to remove the paint - they take the cuffs off so I can take my shoelaces out so they
and so he’s decided that any destruction of property is a can put me in the cell? Eventually I’m sitting cuff free in the
misdemeanor. They’ve got us out here looking for kids with cushioned desk chair while I remove my shoelaces, then I
spray cans. But what you did qualifies as the same offense. am put into the cell.
So we can’t just turn a blind eye.”
I am shocked by his candor. “So if you don’t find real SLAM. HOUR ONE – QUESTIONS. I embellish the
graffiti artists, you find anything you can…is that it? You truth. Why not? I have six brothers, twelve cats. I tell them
can’t arrest the guy selling grams of coke outside that bar, this isn’t the first cell I’ve been offered - I was asked to be
you have to arrest me for flyering?” “We’re on the Vandalism in a terrorist cell in Detroit by a 400 pound woman named
Task Force. That’s what we are looking for.” Olestra, who works at the shoe store in my neighborhood.
The clock in the car says 12:35 and I just want to go home. She offered me socks in exchange for my soul. I declined
I have nothing to say to these cops. I am resigned to my fate due to my intense national pride. I am offered a phone call.
that this petty crime is a political focus in the neighborhood. It’s past 1AM. I decline. Just as I am asked about the phone
Let’s make this as painless as possible. We head off for the call, I realize I was never read my Miranda Rights. Miller is
Precinct. filling out paperwork, like a third grader who was told “No
One cop’s on his radio. One cop looks at my flyer. “Free dessert til you finish your math.” I really pity these cops.
food eh?”
“Yeah, you should stop by, there will be plenty of HOUR TWO – TAKE IT LYING DOWN. A wooden
leftovers.” bench has zen-like properties when it’s the only furniture
“I might just do that. Hey, just so ya know, we’re gonna available. I can stretch all the way out…this is better for my
give you the flyers back. We’ll just keep the tape and a back than my lumpy twin mattress! I start thinking about
couple of the flyers.” I just smile and look out the window. what a great song this experience will inspire. As I begin
This whole thing’s ridiculous. working the verses out, the cell opens, and I am removed to
An awkward silence after one gets off his radio. have my pictures taken. I have a quick inner battle of “Do I
“What are your names, officers?” go for the toothy Broadway shot or the Dead Zombie look?”
“This is Officer Miller, and I am Officer Hassler.” Dead Zombie wins out. It takes Hassler and Miller over 30
“I’m sorry, what?” minutes to take my fingerprints on the fancy new-fangled
“Officer Hassler.” inkless machine that keeps giving error messages on the
“Has anyone else ever asked you if that’s your real screen. My hand kept cramping up – and my pleas that they
name?” be gentle (“I’m a musician!!!”) were largely ignored. They
“Sure.” send my info to be processed. They are not sure the computer
“Pretty ironic, eh?” No reponse from Hassler. transmission went through. Back in the cell, feeling bad for
Hassler parks outside Precinct 94 on Meserole St. The all those three year olds who want to be cops. These are
local cops are standing around. Hassler and Miller’s their role models.
demeanors change. Now in front of the local cops, I realize
this isn’t their home precinct. When they open the door for HOUR THREE – THE PHONE CALL. Not mine, I
me, I hop out and begin walking. Miller rushes up and grabs declined that one. Hassler gets a call, I assume from a buddy
my shoulder. “Only walk when we tell you to.” To everyone cop. He is sitting at a desk less than ten feet from the cell.
on the street, and the cops on the stoop, I’m just another “Yeah, we couldn’t find any spray cans so we had to grab
criminal. Precinct 94 is in a small neighborhood. According ourselves a poster collar.” THERE. He said it. Hassler admits
to the website, murder is down 100% for 2005 that he needed an arrest that night. I lose my cool. I had
(from 3 in 2004 to none this year). Serious crimes are down been a good sport til this point, I love life experiences, but
in general. The cell at Precinct 94 is about 8 feet deep and 12 I’m behind bars and he’s gloating about what a waste of his
feet across. There’s a wooden bench. There’s no one in the time this is. I lose it. “SO THAT’S IT?” I scream at the top
cell. Miller tells me to remove my shoelaces. of my lungs, “I’M YOUR POSTER COLLAR? I’M YOUR
“It’s policy. We don’t want anybody doing anything MADE YOUR QUOTA FOR THE EVENING. NO SENSE
stupid in the cell.” LOOKIN FOR REAL CRIMINALS!!!” My level of fury
“You think I’m going to hurt myself with my surprises the cops – for about a second. Hassler jumps out
shoelaces?” of his seat and leaves the room. I can’t see anyone. I start
“It’s policy. No one in the cell with shoelaces.” pacing, working up a sweat, ready for a verbal joust. The
only power I have is language, my only freedom left is HOUR SIX. The ultimate finish. When the cops do
speech. a background check, they send the mugshot, prints and
arrest number to a NY State- central computer system in
HOUR FOUR - SILENCE. It’s been thirty minutes since Albany, NY. The system runs through outstanding warrants
I lashed out at Hassler. I’m alone. Right around 4:20AM, and unsolved cases to make sure the prisoner isn’t wanted
Miller comes in “How’s it goin in there?” I stoneface him. elsewhere. Apparently since mine is a pretty common last
“Well, I’m trying to get out to go to work in the morning, name, this takes several hours. As a kid in Albany NY I used
maybe get some sleep before. How’s your night going?” to roller-blade past the NYS Police Department forensics
Miller sits in the padded desk chair. labs. I am amused that the computer system where my
“Listen, Dan, this is the job. If we don’t make arrests we fate is being decided is less than a mile from my childhood
hear about it from the captain. We’re doing our jobs so we home. At 5:45AM I’m clear to be released, with a DAT
can keep them.” – a desk appointed ticket.
“Are you proud of what I have to appear in court
you are asked to do?” He at a later date. I lace my
can’t look me in the eye. shoes up, collect my keys
“When you have mouths and lighter, my remaining
to feed, you do what you flyers, and walk up to the
gotta do.”I lay into the guy. front counter with Hassler.
“Officer, no disrespect Seated behind the counter
intended, but I’m not a is the Commanding
criminal. You know it, I Officer, who has to sign
know it. You’re doing the city for my release. He’s a
of New York a disservice. tall, lanky guy and he’s
You’re only reinforcing my smoking a cigarette. He
belief that NYC cops have leans back in his swivel
misguided policies . I’m chair and slurs,
here because you know I’m “Ya know you’re
getting off easy, you get mine til I say you can go,
to sit back, and you look right?” I nod. He signs
good tomorrow for arresting my paper (which I was
someone. You’ve kept me unable to decipher and
up all night so your morning therefore I cannot identify
meeting with your Captain him.), and I ask him for a
goes a little smoother.” He cigarette. NOTE – DO
stands up straighter, his chest NOT ASK COPS FOR A
poked out a little puffier than CIGARETTE.
before. “What’s that son?”
“We didn’t send you “I’ve been in here
through Central Booking. almost six hours on a crap
We could have, and you charge, sir. I could use a
could be in a cell with other Marlboro if you have
perps. Rapists. Burglars. But one to spare.” I’ve got no
we didn’t do that. Is that money and a long walk
what you want? Now we’re home.
getting you through as “I got a whole pack
soon as possible.” Feeling the incriminating flyer of cigarettes, son,” as he
emasculated and furious, waves them in front of me.
I sit and think of ways to “And you can’t have one.”
escape. Hassler shouts to Miller “Grab those Newports off the
table. Miller hands me a busted box of Newports with three
HOUR FIVE – NOTHING HAPPENS except Miller remaining. The C.O. scowls at them in disgust. Hassler
offers me a bottle of water. An olive branch? Miller walks me to the door. “See, some people aren’t so nice. You
makes me hand him the plastic cap back through the bars. know where you’re going?”
I begin pacing the cell. I have a case of boredom-induced “I have no idea. Thanks.” I navigate my way home,
claustrophobia. I pass the time by remembering the details smoking the three cigarettes right away. I’m home in an
of the night, and by humming Johnny Cash tunes. hour to my roommate asleep on the couch. It’s almost 7AM.
“Hey, remember that short walk to Bedford?”
“Grumble, Lipsmack, Yawn?”
“Well, I got arrested for flyering. I just got out.”
Erin Regan: Live - in Prison!
Jonathan Berger asks the hard questions. Erin Regan,
Yeah, I’d better go to bed too. I have to leave for work
recent Urban Folk cover girl, also spent several days in
in an hour.
custody in April. They discuss.
appear at the Criminal Court House on Schermerhorn St. JB: So, you spent some time in prison.
in Downtown Brooklyn. Here it’s decided if my case is ER: Jail, actually. They never sent me on to the big house.
thrown out, if I receive a fine, or if I am issued an ACD - an JB: What was that like?
adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. This is the same ER It was only a few days; stale baloney sandwiches three
charge most NYC protesters were issued after being jailed times a day.
during the Republican National Convention. Six months JB: How many escape attempts did you make?
good behavior, and it’s as if the arrest never existed. My ER: Excuse me?
public defender is a woman who tells me she’s never seen a JB: How often did you try to get out? Did anyone mail you
case like this go to court, and that she’s shocked mine did. I a nail file in a cake or anything?
mention I am a musician, and reiterate what the officers told ER (laughs): Nothing like that. It was only for a couple
me about the Mayor and his policies. She tells me they were days.
very honest, and she’s surprised by that. Then she asks me if JB: A few or a couple?
I know any good harmonica players. She’s a legal counsel, ER: What?
but she’s really a fledgling Indie Filmmaker looking for a JB: Was it a few days, or a couple?
good harp player to record the background music for her ER: I guess it was three.
movie. I think, ‘What is it about Brooklyn?’ I forget to tell JB: Hm. What liberties were you defending?
her I was never Mirandized. I give her my email address. ER: I don’t think I –
The entire hearing took less than sixty seconds. They call my JB: Sorry .What First Amendment issue were you defending?
name, I step up. The judge looks at the prosecuting attorney, Was it freedom of religion? Are you agnostic? Or…
says “ACD?”. He says back, “ACD”, and the judge says buddhist?
“You’re free to go.” My time under arrest was more than ER: I wasn’t arrested for anything like that.
360 times longer than my day in court. JB: Did they send you to the Big House to silence you? Who
did you refuse to sell out? Tell me…
POSTLUDIO – There are four months left until my record ER: I was taken in for driving with a suspended license.
is as clear as the day I was born. I see police authority in a JB: Yes, but WHY was your license suspended? Was there
new light. Some cops are just assholes. Some are not. Some sex?
are conflicted themselves about the laws they enforce. This ER: What?
suggests many things to me, the least is not to worry too JB: In prison. How many prisoners did you
much about this arrest. love while on the inside? Ten? Twelve?
The UK send-off show was great, though no cops showed Who was the bitch? Were you the bitch?
up for the burgers - would we have served them? The trip Were there bitches?
to the UK was a slam-dunk. Folks over there put flyers ER: It was only three days…
wherever the hell they want. Musicians are also allowed to JB: Did you get married? Were there
drink a beer while playing guitar on the street corner. The conjugal visits? Shower room pillow
USA should take a hint - Maybe we could have a new Arts fights?
Awareness Task Force - patrols that blast indie-rock from ER: This interview is over.
their loudspeakers while serving PBR to street musicians. JB: Any prison tatts? Did
SO BE AWARE - There are police in NYC who want you kill anyone? Was Tim
YOU –to help them keep their cushy Task Force jobs! The Robbins there? Wait…
administration wrongly believes that punishing flyer hangers
will reduce spray-can graffiti. Criminal records are being
started on non-threatening musicians. Take your license
with you everywhere. “If all advertising is banned, there’ll
be a lotta bands in Lorimer Jail.”

Listen to the song “The Saga Of Lorimer Jail” at

more at
Subway Stories
taking a vacation
by Dave Cuomo
I took most of the last few months off of playing in the subways for a number of reasons. To make up for my lack of new
subway material to write about, here’s the story of my first public performance in New York. Enjoy...
XVI. The Folksinger folksinger. “Hi, I don’t
My third day in the city Jennie and I were walking through have my guitar with
Washington Square Park where I stumbled on my first New me, but I have a song
York street performance. A man with camouflaged pants and I’d really like to play if
desert army boots was standing in front of a crowd of about I could borrow one,” I
30 or 40 people all sitting around him in rapt attention while said with a bit of nervous
he sang Woody Guthrie style folk songs. He looked like any elation. He seemed a little
traveling bum musician I had ever known. This excited me. taken aback, and looked
I knew it was a political time, but the fact that a political at me kind of funny for a
folk singer could draw such a large crowd of passersby in moment before catching
the park gave me a lot of hope for my own street performing himself and smiling.
career. Around him several other people were playing along “Sure man, sure,” he said and handed me his guitar.
on their guitars. They looked shy and nervous. Seeing an “Go for it.” He sat down with the crowd. I wasn’t really
impromptu jam session like this reminded me of home, expecting him to give me his own guitar, but I was excited
and I regretted having left my guitar back at my uncle’s to play. I showed the others the chords quickly and then
apartment. launched into the song. At first the crowd seemed a little
I was shy and nervous too, not having played publicly confused when I started playing, which I didn’t understand.
in New York yet. I was inspired though. The day before we Back home, everyone always took turns trading off songs at
had been welcomed to the city by half a million people in an impromptu session in the park like this. It’s egalitarian
the streets protesting the Republican National Convention. that way. Pretty quickly I felt I had won them over. The
Later we had gone to see a radical documentary at a small folksinger was smiling, and the crowd was enthusiastic and
art house theatre, and now this. I knew I had come to the excited by the song. When I finished people whooped and
right town. clapped loudly. My first New York performance had gone
I wanted to take part. I saw them playing there and thought well.
“I know how to do that!” I had the perfect song too, a fast “Do another,” the folksinger called from the crowd. I
aggressive cover of “When The Ship Comes In.” Perfect for hadn’t really planned on doing a second one, and didn’t
the election and I figured the perfect song to rouse the crowd know what to follow up with. Not knowing what to play, I
in the park. Also, I couldn’t help but feel it was a little more politely declined, but he urged me on.
appropriate than the slightly cliché union and war songs that “Um ok, thanks,” I said and racked my brain for something
were being sung. up beat and inspiring. I wanted to continue the energy of
Jennie and I hung back from the crowd while I complained the last song, but didn’t have any really good straight up
that I was too scared to ask to play a song. Only the man politically inspiring songs ready to go. I choked. I started
with the desert boots had sung anything, appearing to be into the closest thing I had, a song I have since retired called
the default leader of the circle. The others strummed along “Bring Us the Rock, Bring Us the Hammer.” I had written
contentedly if a little awkwardly. it as an attempt at a socialist folk punk anthem, but really it
An older black man walked by, and the folksinger called was just me yelling for three minutes while pounding at my
out to him. “Come on over, we need some more diversity in strings. It was pretty atonal and obnoxious. I could tell the
the crowd,” he said. The man seemed a little embarrassed crowd was not into it at all. They looked disinterested and
or annoyed, but complied good naturedly enough, while the annoyed or just looked away entirely. What was I supposed
folksinger positioned him up front. “Here, I’ve got a song to do though, stop and apologize? I knew it was the worst
you’ll like,” he said, then began playing Otis Redding’s thing I could’ve played, but I was stuck with it. Jennie put
“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” After the song the man her face in her hands, as if to say “oh god, anything but
nodded uncomfortably and quickly made his escape. this song.” I sped up the tempo a bit trying to make it end
We took a seat with the crowd while I grew more and quicker. The three minute song became 2 ½ excruciating
more antsy watching them play from the sidelines. Jennie minutes of wishing I didn’t exist. I finished and received
kept egging me on, saying it was a perfect song and that tepid applause. The folksinger stood up and took back his
the crowd was sure to love it. Finally I couldn’t take it any guitar.
more and in between songs I got up and walked down to the “You sound good man, thanks,” he said. I was embarrassed
and a little pissed at myself for ruining what had started as suck and should probably quit music before I horn in on
a really good performance. I took a seat by Jennie, and he real musicians stages and make a fool of myself. Or I should
started into another song about unionizing farm workers. No at least watch out whose shoes I’m about to naively step
one in the crowd looked at me again. on around here. Some days the moral is that things have a
I was sitting next to the man the folksinger had sat next habit of mattering more to people in the city than they might
to while I was playing. He nudged me. “Do you know who elsewhere, for better and for worse, and maybe we all need
that is?” he asked me. I of course, had no idea. “That’s Dan to lighten up a little, myself and Dan Bern included. Today
Bern, he’s a famous folksinger from LA. I’m his manager. I think the moral should be that “Sitting on the Dock of The
He’s playing some park shows as part of the RNC protests. Bay” is a fantastic song that people of all races can enjoy. I
He emailed his fans to come down here and see him.” can whistle that one all day.
“Oh.” I paused for a minute to let the further embarrassment If the moral is that Otis Redding rocks, the tragedy is that
sink in. “ I wasn’t trying to horn in or anything. I thought it Dan Bern’s and Dyaln’s song are still so relevant but feel so
was just an impromptu kind of thing.” futile. Everyone was so energized and excited about making a
“Yeah, we figured you didn’t know,” he said in a ‘we’ll let difference then.
it go this time’ kind of way. People were
We sat politely through a couple more songs than slunk so empowered
quickly away. I was embarrassed and discouraged by the before the
whole thing. Jennie reassured me. election, but
“Oh, fuck him,” she laughed, “it was probably good for afterwards the
him. He’s a folksinger not a rock star right? Besides, you whole thing just
played great.” faded away with
“I kind of choked.” barely a second
thought. I guess
I’ve always figured there had to be something prophetic our work is cut
in the whole thing, being my first performance here. Some out for us. It’s a
moral it symbolizes or allegory for how I’m going to do in good time to be
New York. Seems like every time I think about it though a folksinger...
the moral changes. Some days the moral is simply that I
The Antifolk Fest
debe dalton reporting
by Debe Dalton
Well they asked me to do this. Why did they ask me instead of you?
They hoped I could string a few words together.
I look literate. It’s the glasses. And they knew I would be there.
I would attend all nine nights of the SUMMER ANTIFOLK FEST 2005.
Forty-five acts.
I missed one. Sorry, not on purpose. Faulty umbrella.
But nine nights. 7:30 to midnight. Tip jar. 2 drink minimum (hah)!
I was there. Listening. Viewing.
Proving my stamina once again for sitting and listening.
Yes I can sit and listen and view.
Review and report. A whole different matter.
I can’t seem to do that to well. I’ve missed deadline after deadline.
Sorry Dave. Just write it Jon says.
Do I have to explain Antifolk again? Please god no.
Well I had a good time. Tiring time.
My throat was hoarse for weeks from the who-hooing.
But how do I review 45 totally different performances?
Who do I love?
Barry Bliss, Danny Kelly, Amy Hills, Randi Russo, Dan Fishback, Kirk Kelly.
Of course they are the reason I started living at the Sidewalk Cafe.
Beat the Devil, Preston Spurlock, Hearth, Rebecca Smith:
the reasons why I can’t leave.
Lach, a reason all by himself.
My favorite moments: Jon Berger not breaking out in full sweat till his fourth
poem; Danny Kelly covering Stanley Brothers’ “Sarah Jane” dedicating it to
Karen; Thomas Truax howling at the moon; Steve Espinola bumbling along,
yet heavy metal-ing on his tennis racket; wandering in to listen to Amy Hills’
thoughts; Creaky Boards exiting during their “Suburban Skies Goodbye” before
the mando tip jar got passed around; the jetlagged Murphy kids; Matt Van
Winkle’s she makes it fun, fun, fun to fight; Curtis Eller effortlessly showing all
of us how it should be done.
I could go on and on. But I can’t go on and on.
See it for yourself. Hang out at the Sidewalk Cafe.
Dark room in the back.
Go to the Winter Antifolk Fest 2006.
Review it for yourself.
The Return of ALEC SAYS by Alec Wonderful
It has been said many times, “Alec Wonderful, you are so Exploit them quickly, before
wise, so willful, so wonderful, could you give me advice on they can exploit you.
the important matters of the days?”
Usually, I answer “No.” How do you gain a huge
“Please Alec Wonderful,” the people wail and cry, following?
a groundswell of aching need from a populace hungry I’m told that if you stay
for enlightenment, “Teach us, inform us, educate and true to your creative vision,
elucidate.” people will flock to you. Then
I feel for these people; I really do. And for ten thousand again, I am an international
bucks, I usually relent. phenomenon. People love
Today, though, this one time only, I have decided, as a me in 117 languages. I’ve been a golden boy longer than
special service for those less fortunate than myself, I will some pop tarts have been alive – and might have fathered a
answer certain questions and give the people the benefit of few of them. Anyway, maybe my view’s a little skewed.
my experience. It’s a little bit like my old advice column in In fact, now that I think about it, when I’m on the road,
Wonderful News, lo, those many years ago. Today, I shall I hear lots of performers working hard to be honest and
satisfy your curiosity. Today, I shall tell you all you need to true without being any good. They spend all their effort
know – or, at least, all that I wish to tell. on innovation and not enough on entertainment. For God’s
sake, I may be the most important man since Caesar, but I’m
How do I form a band? an artist. My medium requires someone to understand and
Usually, it’s a matter of calling your closest and most appreciate what I’m talking about. What I’m getting at is
personal friends, telling them to uproot their lives to follow that you should be true to yourself, but you’d also better look
you around the globe for a couple of months, then, while on for the lowest common denominator. Got that? A distinct
tour, flying back to their place to sleep with their wives. It’s vision that everybody can appreciate. Dumb it down, but
not pretty, but it is a necessary aspect of life on the road. be unique.
Here are some tips to make sure you make the most of Oh, hell. To get a huge following, rip off Alec Wonderful.
your band: It’s been working for lots of superstars for years. Give it a
When the drummer starts asking for writing credit, fire shot; I can lend you some of my crowds.
him. The bass player, too. If they think they’re contributing
something to your artistic process, they’re just getting too Have you even been in a hurricane?
big for their britches. Seeing as how they probably know Well, I have been in the eye of a media storm that few
your operation pretty well, though, it’s a good idea to keep others have had to weather, but maybe that’s not what you’re
them on the payroll. Maybe as part of the road crew – or asking. I don’t recall ever being in a hurricane, but there was
food taster. this time I inadvertently caused a cave-in in Kentucky.
It’s important, when on the road, to create redundancy in I was playing a benefit show in a mining town, for the
your staff. Your second violin player should be able to fill in workers or the uninsured or the orphans or the ore, and,
as acrobat. Your tour manager should also work security. On well, too many people showed up.
the one hand, it keeps expenses down, but just as important, Normally, there are tight controls as to the size of my
making sure everybody fulfills multiple roles lets everyone audience, for fear of this very kind of thing, but the poor
know just just how expendable they are. orphans or the elderly or whatever they were so desperately
Do not record with your bandmates. Use your home studio, wanted to see me, I just couldn’t turn them away. If only I
recording all the parts yourself. If you can’t play sousaphone, had…
and require that sound for your recording, kidnap someone. The sheer mass of my fanbase collapsed the mountain.
They don’t even need to know how to play the instrument. I wasn’t hurt, of course. Few of us were that were on the
You wouldn’t believe how strong an educational tool terror mountain-top. But the avalanche that the roaring appreciation
can be (unless you went to public school in Oakland). When caused, well, the fauna and flora of the entire environment
you’re done with the poor sucker, dump him on an interstate will never be the same. But of course, isn’t that just like
two time zones away. The mystique this will build around most of my shows?
you and your recordings will do you nothing but good. I had to sing to the poor captured miners or homeless or
The important thing is not to trust your bandmates. As the abused nuns until they all were freed from the rockslide. My
people who are on the road with you for months at a time, throat was pretty sore at the end and 13 people died, so it
they are the ones who will know you best, understand you was not a good day for Alec Wonderful. I will tell you this,
most fully and could be the friends you remember forever. though: Kentucky knows a lot about the rock.
Get in the Minivan by Brook Pridemore
Over Six Weeks in the Summer of 2005, I partook in a perimeter tour of the US, going South, then West, then North, then
East. David LK Murphy traveled with me through Los Angeles, and was then replaced by Ivan Sandomire.

So Phoenix, AZ is grossly hot in the summer time. Don’t to kill before you
let anybody fool you, that dry heat is easier to deal with than get to make another
wet heat: dry heat just means that you can’t breathe, and it’s stab at making
still hot as hell. money and meeting
Strangely though, as we drove in from Albuquerque on friends.
a Saturday afternoon this past July it poured rain on us. It Dan and I were
rained all the way from Flagstaff to Phoenix, through some sitting in this big
of the windiest mountain curves I’d ever seen. Although downtown common
we’d heard horror stories, both on the news and from our area in Phoenix,
friends, we reached downtown Phoenix and it was sixty waiting for Food
degrees, pitch-black, with clouds and drizzle. The kid at the Not Bombs to
venue told us that it never rains in Phoenix, but he seemed show up. Lots of
even more creeped out by the fact it was only six pm and homeless people
the sky had darkened to full nightfall. Streetlamps, set on were sleeping/
a timer, had not recalibrated for this unexpected dusk and lounging in the park,
hadn’t started working yet, leaving everything dark and but nobody paid us
sinister. The clouds made the sky look like a giant brain, any mind. This one
pulsing with electrical synapses and rolling thunder morse guy came up and
code. said, “Hey, guys, what’s up?”
The venue was a seemingly left-leaning place called the Dan said, “Sorry dude, we’re traveling.”
Counter Culture Cafe, but it could also have easily passed The guy freaks out, makes up some shit about selling
as a Christian coffeehouse. I’ve played both, and believe sunglasses, and threatens to kick our asses. Dan tells him
me, no gig is full of less appreciative people, and worse to have a nice day. He comes back and starts screaming
for tips, than a Christian coffeehouse. I spent the whole again, so we just walk away, and go find Murph. After a
evening trading sets with Murph, getting proper stoned by truck pulled up to the park, loaded up some people, drove
the cafe staff in their “get-high shack,” and not worrying off and didn’t return, we figured Food Not Bombs wasn’t
about finding a place to stay, because we were hooked up gonna show up. We saw the same guy walking around,
with my friend from college, Nicole. yelling about stuff, but this time, he had a couple of friends
Whatever had consisted of a crowd slowly trickled out with him. We went off in search of swimming.
into the now-hotter late night. I talked to a guy who said We found swimming in a public pool. The water was
he was in a band called Where Eagles Dare. I said, “Cool. easily ninety-five degrees, but was still a welcome change
The Misfits, right?” He got all mad: “It’s got nothing to do from the dry air. Murph borrowed one of my bathing suits,
with the Misfits! That’s just the name of the band!” My then used the pocket to wash out a pair of his boxer shorts.
friend Nicole called me at about 2AM and told me not to
bother coming over, she was just going to bed. I tried to Note to self: Don’t let anybody borrow your bathing
make her understand that we had no place to stay, and no suit.
hope of finding shelter at this late hour. She still said no.
We ended up sleeping, or attempting to sleep, in the get-high Later that night, we met a bunch of really cool bands.
shack behind the club. This girl Allison, who plays bass in a group called The Orphan
Dan, {my manager,} got really mad at me the next day, Line, took us to her house, where we did some late night
for taking the couch in the get-high shack, when it was my drinking, and sleeping in an air-conditioned environment.
flaky friend that had fallen through. I spent much of the Next morning, her guitar player invited us over for a home
afternoon thinking of the best way to tell him to go fuck cooked lunch. After all that despondence, insecurity, and
himself, then gave up. Murph spent a good portion of the uncertainty, we were proven wrong about Phoenix, which
afternoon in the Hard Rock Cafe, enjoying the air conditioner leads me to my point: No town is completely full of assholes.
and watching baseball. Sometimes you just have to look hard or luck out.
This was one of those despondent days, where the gig
the night before didn’t go so well, and you didn’t make any
friends in a town of strangers, and you have a whole day
Poetry Page and a Book Review
send your book to 640 W 139th St. #24 New York, NY 10031
what was magnetic
chris maher
RiYL Books
I spit blood into the sink this morning;
Our first book to review! Awesome, keep them coming.
before brushing, my mouth untouched by
This is a short smart looking chap book from songwriter and
floss - no apparent provocation - but enough
RiYL records founder Chris Maher. Most of the poetry is
blood to cause alarm. My tongue and teeth
personal, a lot of it being about girls and heartache with light
were a dark red and after rinsing my mouth with
abstract imagery, and a loose easy rhythm. Beyond his well
a glass of tap water (sickly sweet with bloody
adjusted yearning is a dark streak too of which “Blood” is the
glucose), I stared into the bathroom mirror, examining
most blatant example. The innocent ones about missing girls
the edges of my gums for an abrasion, some source,
are always balanced out with the ones pointing to something
but found nothing.
more sinister, allowing itself to become darker as the book
moves along until the ending “Blood”. It opens with a sweet
breakup poem followed by one of quick couplets describing
At age thirteen, I watched a white pickup
a nervous uneasy city. It feels like Chris allows himself to
truck drive through a flock of ducks on a back
say more with each passing poem, weather being a common
road in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I sat in the backseat
device to describe personal storms coming, which allows
of our family car - my mother and father up front - and
him to if not step out of his own head, at least draw the
stared through the windshield as the mess of
common experience into it. Interspersed are short almost
white feathers and blood and decapitated bird
parable like poems which paint a quick picture, but often
bodies flapped and spun and fell along the asphalt.
end up saying more than the longer ones, such as “Lucky,”
The driver showed no mercy, no attempt to
seven lines in which a man is introduced who is selling
avoid the birds.
socks from a bag followed up with the lines “Do not allow
the loss/of the privilege of love/let you feel tragic.” That’s
a lot of implication for a seven line break up poem. Usually
On the eve of the invasion, Barbara and
the dark streak is under the surface, catching the reader by
Jenna danced drunk in a seedy Austin, Texas
surprise in an almost over looked line, such as the end to “A
piano bar, as I sat drinking with friends - at the
Device Comprised of Pipe Valves,” a nostalgic piece with
opposite end of the club - on my last night in town.
mixed childhood stories involving a B.B. gun and a generous
As the sisters exulted, their father was preparing
uncle, ending with the creepy line “I considered shooting
to bomb Iraq; I was halfway through my fifth
my uncle/ but that pillow was just too damn expensive.” It’s
beer, trying hard not to entertain the thought
innocent enough in the context, but feels murderous. Chris’s
of that fourth Pennsylvania plane
language style is fairly plain and straightforward, using
reaching its target.
simple imagery and wordplay with an indirect and fluid
-Chris Maher
rhythm. The simple line drawings interspersed throughout
make sense with the language style, but there is a nervous
The Evening Nothing Happened and sometimes frantic energy to some of them which adds to
Sad, sexy bartenders lean far over counters, pout and act the tension in the poetry
coarse for contrast.
Ex-lovers pretend and kids toast with fancy glasses
and eat Polish cheese and English muffins.
I had an encounter on 2nd and the Bowery that didn’t matter
(and didn’t happen).
Seduction wars with the braid man on the downtown 4 home.
Glance, look back, leg bend, head arch, I’m not looking, why are you looking?
Camaraderie with the Roxy Diner man who can’t speak English.
Rebecca to attractive, melancholy soul on the elevator up:
“Hey, want a wafer?”
“Oh, I didn’t bite it off- I just tore it.”
-Rebecca Hirsch
The Grateful Dead...
by Ed Lynch
When I first did it I could not explain me to myself. It felt One funny thing happened where I almost got caught. I
good and that is all I cared about. The ‘G’ string was the best had not killed anyone in a while and it was a boring winter
one to use as I had tried the others but they were either too day. Everyone had on coats, which interfered with my fun.
thick or too thin. The fear explored up my back in a coffee I had to restrict myself to drunks in the Bowery and bums
spill kind of way each time - but it felt good. A little kitten I’d meet. They were asleep or too drunk to struggle and I
was the first. I laugh now as I think of how frightened I was was releasing them anyway. So, one late evening I saw a
at the volume of sound it made dangling at the end of my man standing by a streetlight and I decided to go for him
guitar ’G’ string garrote. So, yes I did several other small The damndest thing!! He had on one of those neck braces
animals and a couple of big dogs because I knew for what I you wear after a fender bender. Now let me tell you I am
was rehearsing. I loved the music the guitar-basically wood tremendously strong in my arms and hands but this surprised
and wire,- could make. I sing all the songs of the 60’s and the hell out of me The guy turned around with a frightened
70’s and have a small following in Manhattan at some of the look as I drove my fist into his nose. I am sure I broke it. He
clubs. I seem to play with more gusto after killing someone. fell backwards into the street. I skedaddled right out of there
It must be the remnant rush from the act. My first human as I was sure he really did not see me and I didn’t want to
was a kid from the Bronx and I was 15 at the time. I just hurt him any more than I had already. Let’s see if I can figure
didn’t like him, the way he walked, some kind of handicap. it out. I have been doing this for about 20 years and I must
. I came up behind him on one fall day. It may have been have killed 55 to 60 people. I am sure you don’t believe me
late September. I wish I could remember. Anyway I snapped but that is your issue. When I am singing to the
the wire around his neck with speed, clarity, and strength. foolish crowds, it is like my confessional
It was a used ‘G’ string so I did not mind the blood and there. I also know that the dead are
the ‘inside of the neck’ stuff on it. I suppose his flailing grateful for the release. I have written
arms made it a bit, more difficult than I expected but I many songs with death being the
learned a lot from him, being my first human. I could main issue. I realized how ironic it was
get a sense although general of how most may react. when I killed one of my own audience
I’ve done it so many times in various parts of the City persons. I just got a glimpse of the side
and I sing and write songs about them too. I watch of his face but my wire was already
the stupid motherfuckers listening to me singing with doing its job.
fucked up grins and smiles. They don’t know that I I have to be careful. I have to
am actually telling my truth. Here is a song: have control. I have to choose more
carefully, more wisely. I don’t want to
I walked through the City one morning kill my own business!
Down a dusty side street of pain
There I met young man
Who was under some strain
I killed him on the spot
And that was the gain

Oh how grateful are the dead
Upon lovingly losing their head
What a soft space I have in my heart
I only kill people I don’t know a lot

Continuing along the alleys of town
I met a young girl who was selling herself
As I asked to see her back and her ass
I snapped off her head with style, grace and class
There she shrieked and I ran as I heard a voice
I got a bit winded but I hadn’t a choice illustration by Elise Cuomo DeFrank
Paul’s Perspective
waxing and waiting
by Paul Alexander
Waiting for a song isn’t like waiting for a train— no thirst can go forever unquenched,
sometimes it’s not just a matter of time, but more a matter of and so as is often the case, after weeks
motivated inspiration; and sometimes a songwriter can wait of fruitless toiling, it was only at the
for what feels like forever and never know when to expect last possible minute that I achieved
their ship to come in. That said, I think all songwriters, the Herculean feat of composing my
writers, artists, or “creators” of any type experience periods first complete composition in what
of drought, however, occasionally it becomes difficult seemed like an eternity. Meanwhile,
to deal with these dry spells when they last for too long. following my first success, others
Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that all songwriters hit a songs began to pour from my pen in
wall from time to time, especially considering the fact that rapid succession.
friends of mine, such as Drew Torres, seem to dream up It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention,
songs faster than they can write them down, while I, despite and so it shouldn’t surprise me that after building a
my occasional serendipitous brush with divine inspiration, subconscious barricade to my creative juices for so long, it
have somehow lost the prolific productivity of my past, and was only after my producer let me know that we had reached
have recently begun treating the “art” of songwriting more the eleventh hour that I was finally able to capitalize on my
like a discipline—working daily at advancing my craft to dormant ditties, churning out the final two songs I needed
what seemed like no avail. Nevertheless, I never let up, to round out my album in record time. Even so, despite
and I have been writing everyday—even when uninspired. the fact that I suppose all’s well that ends well, I would
I have turned to lauded songwriter self-help such as The never wish to be in such a precarious position again, and
Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia I endeavor to make the most of my new found fertility by
Cameron, and as always, I have been immersing myself in waxing, not waiting, and complete my next album’s worth
the energy of our fair city. Yet all efforts aside, the songs I of material—and then some—long before this first album is
harbor within remain ever elusive, continually taunting me even complete.
like I were Tantalus, as 2nd verses, missing choruses, and more
insightful themes dance somewhere in my consciousness, Post-Script:
but just beyond my reach. Irony of ironies—you can ask the editor—this article
Ordinarily annoying, writer’s block becomes much took me the longest time of any article to write, thanks to
more mortifying when working under a deadline, as the old yet another bout with the metaphoric monkey on my back—
adage “you can’t rush genius” becomes all too prophetic. I writer’s block.
discovered this recently, as I’ve passed the time since the
publication of the last Urban Folk bleeding many a pen and
losing many a nights sleep in search of the final songs
for an album, at times, I fear may never see the light
of day, not due to the conflicts with my producer I’ve
spent other issues chronicling, but due instead to what
I am starting to think may be my inept abilities as a
songsmith. And perhaps it is good to put pressure on
creating perfection in each piece a person creates, but
maybe such standards also prevent pure passion from
peeking through. Still, the semantics of songwriting
aside, as I have poured over chord progressions and
journals written over the past year, every time I seem
to be close to finishing a song, something always keeps
my work from feeling final, and something about it
always seemed forced.
Anyone who knows me, or even reads this magazine
regularly, is aware that I am rarely at a loss for words,
nonetheless, during my recent songwriting drought it
was lyrics which failed to flow, as at every sitting I
continued to stockpile songs without words. Even still,
Crossword Puzzle
-that’s somewhat relevant
by Deborah T.

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the rules:
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crossword or the correct answers
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to, or
640 W 139th St #24
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New York, NY 10031
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1. symbol indicating
41. la ___ bonita,
Madonna hit in ’86
the prize:
5. more than none
45. one opposition to a
yea be featured here! You will be
8. remedy
12. fraud
46. aggressive question
OR antihoot trivia
interviewed by Deborah T. and
13. already gone OR
antihoot trivia 48.
category *
blister site
win a short feature in the next
category (abbr.)
14. similar
49. campus concern issue of Urban Folk
OR antihoot trivia
15. east village music category (abbr.) 9. small, fretted 34. argument based on
scene 50. i don’t give one instruments an emotional plea
16. mongrel ___...! 10. traditional deed 37. type of protest
17. environment 51. disapproving sounds 11. vocal ailment 38. over and done
that fosters rapid 52. foolish one specialists 39. yoko, et alia
growth 53. not at a great 18. dwell 40. windows to the
18. characters distance 20. adviser soul
19. recipient of an
21. not as young 42. holey place
exaggerated Down 22. bring something 43. never ___ fool kiss
display of feeling 1. kin to a close (2 you, or a kiss fool
23. good ‘hood for 2. verse component wds.) you (2 wds.)
music (abbr.) 3. grub 23. wst. side of the 44. at a great distance
26. enthusiasms 4. Belgian “french” map 46. boo hoo
27. sass fry 24. the end of an ___ 47. marketing bits
30. confidante 5. ruckus 25. loitering location
31. greasy spoons 6. trendy quarter just OR certain music * this answer has been
32. teensy bit above a good ‘hood venue censored for your
33. lukewarm for gelato 28. annoy solving convenience.
35. brassy music genre 7. chatter 29. indy radio station
36. speaks publicly 8. army store standard break
38. type of chord (abbr.)
CD reviews
send your cd to 306 Jefferson St. 1R, Brooklyn, NY 11237
by the editorial collective
listen to the samples from the artists reviewed in this issue at
A Brief View of the Hudson The sound of an acoustic with good hard drums behind is
Go North To Find Me always exciting. Character is one thing Brook is in no way
North South records lacking. Fun, melodic and quirky songs with eclectic and
I hate it when this happens. The first track opens so funny lyrics that are still emotional and honest at their core.
promising, an upbeat folk rock song chock full of energy that I especially appreciate the inspirational chorus to “Keith
makes you want to get out of your seat. It has a real sixties Richards,” “Play guitar, stop singing along.” When he puts
feel but with modern energy and creativity, fun melodies his lyric writing talent in with a fast tongue tripping singing
with acoustic guitars, a quick beat, good harmonies, and style, it’s an adventure. A good portion of the album is a
catchy riffs in the breaks. I’m enjoying it, I’m ready for slower standard folk acoustic singer/songwriter style, and I
more, but then the next two songs sink down into drawn out have to admit I would prefer to see more of the fun upbeat
meandering that completely kill the mood. The sixties feel sound that is characteristically his. He is a good enough
carries through, but more in the stoned redundant jammy kind songwriter though that there’s no danger of not enjoying the
of way. The pace drops out entirely, and the hooks disappear. songs that are here. Keep an eye out for the new one coming
Luckily they get it back after the second two tracks. The fast early next year.
energy never quite matches the beginning, although the hard
beat on “Perfect Love” comes close to raising the blood. The
acoustic and organ ballad “Down South” is a perfect sing
along moment, catchy and emotional. The double tracked Brownbird Rudy Relic
vocals with one singing high and pretty while the other Don’t Dress Rhythm
speaks in low tones is a nice artistic touch too. The acoustic You could call Brownbird retro, although I think in this
sixties rock feel mixed with some modern production and circumstance the word “traditionalist” suits much better.
the twin male/female vocals all ad up to an attractive sound This is old school blues. I really feel like I’m listening to an
that makes me curious to hear more. old 30’s blues album put out by Smithsonian Folkways. It’s in his wailing voice, his lyrics, and his simple yet emotive
guitar playing. The recording is kind of muddy and far away,
Brook Pridemore with a bit of hiss over the top adding to the effect. I have to
First Name/Last Name say it’s kind of eerie what a good replica of the old sound
Crafty Records this is. There is not a drop of irony to the imitation either
Brook is a damn (unless you count the kazoo), just old blues played well.
fine songwriter. This He’s got an impressive voice which he loves to show off,
album shows him holding the long notes a little too long frequently just to
off well, with a good make sure we really feel it. It’s a proud rich voice, and live
clean sound and it carries across a room with show stopping power. He sits
plenty of memorable back from the mic in a cocky “I don’t need that crutch”
catchy songs. He’s kind of way, which could be obnoxious if he wasn’t a good
got a hard edge on a enough singer to pull it off. He’s a good blues man, and a
folk rock sound, with great musician and singer, but music like this always begs
punk roots always the question, why would I put this on over the original
showing through real thing? Not that this is worse, but I don’t necessarily
around the edges. think it’s better. I have to wonder what would happen if he
Some of the songs got a little more creative with his talents and looked into
are obviously so, finding a voice of his own, equally powerful. Given how
with a fast fun sound, but even his slower ones hint at it with good a musician he obviously is, I’d be willing to bet it’d be
his habit of switching from a nice croon to an unexpected great things.
yell at the turn of a chord. Thankfully he resisted the urge
of a lot of artists who pull this sound off so well live on
an acoustic, and then go into the studio and lay it all down
electric, losing every ounce of character they had on stage.
Casey Shea has a chance to show off what she does best, as evidenced by
Take the Bite the awkwardness again apparent on the title track when she
Picture an acoustic Coldplay, a sort of grandiose brit pop tries to kick in a heavy electric guitar and drums that sounds
folk, and you’ve got Casey Shea. Lush songs with emotional like it was played by a middle aged producer trying to rock
melodies and a smooth voice with what sounds like a hint out. For hard rock I’m going to have to look elsewhere, but
of a British accent singing songs about girls and apathy. she does write and carry a good piano pop tune.
The strongest part is definitely the melodies, which are rich,
complex, and expansive. I like the acoustic fairly sparse
recording on this kind of music. There’s a bit going on in the Creaky Boards
production to pad out the sound too, giving the impression Where’s the Sunshine?
that the stripped down sound was a conscious choice rather This is a much more serious release then their last one.
than a matter of financial necessity. Overall the album is The Beach Boys feel is still there, only this time the songs
somewhat lacking in energy, except for the distorted rocking are tighter, and the recording sounds crisp and clean. Catchy
sitar sounding track, which was overbearing and a little fun summer songs with good oohs and ahhs and multi
annoying in its own way. The album as a whole is pretty and layered textured harmonies throughout, Creaky Boards are
lush, and the songs are of a high caliber. It is beautiful, but always right there telling you to lighten up and dance. Also
in the end it is still a slow album about apathy. they put my two favorite songs on this one that get stuck in your head for days after seeing them live, “Marvin’s
Marvelous Mechanical Museum,” and “Who’s Living in
Cassandra Kubinski our Smile Tonight?” The album is worth it for these two
hiding underneath songs alone. The secret to doing music like this well is really
I find it really weird in this city how artists who might understanding what goes into crafting a good early sixties
never associate end up thrown together in the same ring. pop melody, beyond the simple blues progressions most
Singer/Songwriters like Cassandra and many others around bands would be content with. These songs are not so simple
here come from an unadulterated pop school of music, that often with long building chord progressions and interesting
is easy for some of us east village indy folkies to pass off key switching, combined with intricate song structures that
as shallow. We here at Urban Folk are just as guilty of this have little surprises waiting around the corner, making you
as anyone, but I think it’s important to step back and judge appreciate when they finally slip back into the catchy simple
things on their own merits sometimes. This ep showcases a refrain. Maybe it’s just because I can hear it better on this
lot of things that Cassandra does well. Her compositions are recording, but it sounds like Creaky Boards have taken a
strong and complex in their melodies, which come out both real leap forward on this album, creating a perfect example
catchy and interesting. Her voice is engaging and impressive of what they’ve always been capable of. Yes, it’s still retro,
as well. She avoids the nasally showtune quality that so many but it also sounds self aware, and doesn’t take itself too
trained singers end up with, and instead has a clear strong seriously while managing to sound honest and heartfelt, a
voice not lacking in character or sweetness. Live she uses nice trick to pull off. If this band keeps going down the road
her voice to add to her confident they’re on, I have no doubt they’ll be putting
stage presence, which is stronger out a “Smile” of their own soon, and it will be
and less cutesy than other girls of nothing we were expecting.
this genre often go for. The lyrics
can be pretty hit or miss, mostly
personal/emotional themes that Curtis Eller’s American Circus
don’t look much beyond her own Taking Up Serpents Again
head and heart, ranging from the Usually, I find myself disappointed with
fairly poetic “Cradle the Moon,” the recordings of artists whose live act I’m
to the slightly embarrassingly familiar with. I so enjoy what I’m used
blunt title track about how she’s to hearing them do that any deviation is
not as innocent as she seems. something of a disappointment, a betrayal.
“Cradle the Moon” was by far I’m a fan of Curtis Eller and his banjo antics,
my favorite track, showcasing so it should be obvious what happened when
her voice and good melodic I listened to “Taking Up Serpents Again.”
sense in a simple piano and vocal arrangement that comes I loved it. Eller is a dynamic and exciting live performer.
off very intimate. It has a sweet slow building verse with His past as circus acrobat leaves his elastic on-stage, both
interesting bits of jazz composition, that breaks into a chorus physically and mentally – he can easily gauge the room and
that lilts and turns with a few undeniable hooks that come perform accordingly. None of these strengths help him on
at you one after another. I get it stuck in my head quite a bit an album, though. On an album, it’s all about the songs and
which I’ve been enjoying. She is at her best stripped down the arrangements. Luckily, Eller’s songs are superlative, and
to the piano and vocals where she sounds most natural and the arrangements are fleshed out variants of that old-time
sound that Eller’s perfected. The “Very powerful
lead instrument is Eller’s banjo, ....and neither
but also included in the carny Springsteen nor
mix is accordion, upright bass, Mellencamp
drums and tuba. On first listen it would be less than
may sound throwback, but if you thrilled to have
think that’s all there is to it, then written some of
you owe it to yourself to listen to these tunes. Ditto
it again. Curtis has as much Tom Luka Bloom or
Waits and Greg Brown to his Billy Bragg. No
music as he does anything from kidding....”
the 30’ and 40’s. Plus, the lyrics
are smart too. They explain exactly Michael Fremer
what he’s up too if you listen. He’ll
take something from history, like
Amelia Earhart, Steven Foster,
or Buster Keaton, and then use live! every
their stories to sing about things thursday at the
completely current and relevant. In
the same way he uses an old sound
for the arrangement, but the songs Lounge
themselves are completely modern songwriter
songwriting in the lyrical form showcase
and the melodies. It’s the kind of (107th & Broadway)
congruity that every artist should
be striving for. Running themes available online at:
through the release are nostalgia & at NY CD
and religion. “Hide that Scar,” with,, & the itunes music store (81st & Amsterdam)
its otherworldly back-up vocals, is
about an attempt to storm heaven’s ever seen David LK Murphy at a show or even for a few
gates via angel’s wings. “Amelia Earhart” is about wanting songs at an open mic, you know his songs will stay with
to die before getting old, while “Buster Keaton” is about an you even long after you’ve first heard them. Do yourself a
old soul wishing others hadn’t died or dissipated. There’s favor and go get a copy of this well written and equally well
lots of melancholy all through the album, “Two of Us” and executed album.
“Sugar in my Coffin,” about major and minor apocalypses,
seem more angry. But there are no bum tracks on the record.
There are sweet nostalgic songs that get right to your heart, el alto
mad songs with a dark energy, and one completely happy the center of accident one
song that kind of made me wonder what he was up to. I’ve Yay electro folk! I don’t know why, but I really enjoy
said enough, get this album and see him live. the idea of computers and programmed beats mixing with acoustic guitars and folk melodies. This has all the quirkiness
and eccentricity of IDM, combined with the cohesiveness and
David LK Murphy listenability of a singer/songwriter. It starts fun and upbeat,
Home to You if a little dark in the lyrics, such as on “Georgia Knockout”
Stripped down, passionate, lush, and memorable. Despite with the “Stick your head in the oven” chorus. Most of
the fact that David LK Murphy released Home to You over the lyrics are about as off beat as the music. Acoustic and
a year ago, the eight song EP remains a poignant picture of electric guitars mix in with computerized blips and bleeps,
a songwriter at the top of his game. There’s the beautifully electronic drums, and twin harmonizing vocals. There are
passionate “Smitten,” gracefully embellished by the cello of even some grand melodies accentuated by the slow rising
Martha Colby, to the haunting chords of the “Prowler Intro” of the arrangements and production. After about the third
followed by the power of “Prowler,” featuring the talented or fourth song some of the upbeat energy dies down a bit
Brian Wurschum on drums and bass. David’s album is an and doesn’t return until the last few songs. The production
eclectic collection of well orchestrated lyrically savvy songs. is still intricate and interesting though, and the melodies are
No one song stands out among this collection, though “Sixty catchy in a subtle way. These songs make really good use
Cycle Melodies” seems to find him at his best. Despite being of the programmed beats, hitting just left of where you’d
a great namesake for the album, the song “Home to You” is expect and keeping you on your toes. The slower ones are
by no means the best song on the disc. For anyone who has a little less tight though, and a bit more morose. There is
less harmony on them too, which I miss, replacing it with Martin Butler
a low solo voice. I’d say I prefer the upbeat ones, but can Watching The Days Fall
enjoy these as part of the album and another dimension to It’s those albums that stare death in the face that give us
their sound. It just seems kind of jerky to start and end the the rare opportunity to hear things that are difficult, inspiring,
album one way and do something completely different in cliché, or hard to listen to for whatever reason, but are things
the middle, like they were trying to cover up something that that our jaded ears could really use being open to once in
really wasn’t that bad. awhile. The liner notes explain this album as “a musical document by which those I love might some day remember
me.” Martin created this album after a long battle with life
Gretchen Witt threatening illness, and a sense of the temporary nature of
demo ep life pervades these songs. Not by singing about himself, but
This CD starts amazingly pretty. “So Called Bliss,” begins by the using this album as an opportunity to inspire. The
with a gorgeous acoustic riff before her voice comes in with songs are about life, about how it’s fucked up and how it will
a single beautiful note held just a little longer than expected. fuck you up. But after acknowledging that, there is hope and
Simple yet effective. Gretchen has a lovely voice. The song encouragement in the choruses and in the compassion for
builds from there into a bit of a good solid driving chorus, the characters in the songs. Martin is a native New Yorker
and still comes back in for more of the beautiful intro with who played in the late seventies punk scene and maybe that’s
added harmony. This had to be my favorite track. The demo why I’m biased to trust that the grit and jaded optimism he
overall showcases Gretchen as a versatile artist. The second sings about is honest and worth hearing. This has the feeling
track is an upbeat acoustic rocker, “Say So” is poppy enough of one of those albums that an artist is finally able to make
to have been written by a professional Nashville songsmith, only later in life when they find what is really important, and
there’s a good ballad, and a bluesy track to cap it all off. All realize what it is they actually want to say. There aren’t a
these are done well, and Gretchen’s voice carries them all lot of punk roots left in the music. I would say sonically it’s
with a touch of Southern bluegrass to it. I will say the two like a folky Tom Petty with more of a deep Johnny Cash or
poppy tracks began to test my limits of how far I was willing Roy Orbison voice, definitely a mature sound that is neither
to go with her. This demo shows her to be an excellent singer progressive nor especially hip. That doesn’t seem to be the
and a good songwriter of the post-Ani pop folk variety. point.


Two Man
�������������������������������� Gentlemen Band
��������������������������������� ������������������������������
Mascot’s Distance you raise your glass and sing along? The liner notes narrate
s/t the story between the lyrics too, allowing you to sit down
An interesting and eclectic album combining bits of jazz, somewhere comfortable, put this on and get lost in the story.
funk, world beat, folk, and occasional electronica. Acoustic Something I seriously recommend you do. Soon.
guitars, interesting percussion, a strong low voice that’s not
afraid to flip up into a crazy falsetto once in awhile, mixed
into a full band on a good rich recording. The funky stuff Miller Farrell
I could do without, I usually find white American world 3-Song Demo
beat to be a bad idea, but once in awhile a really good song The songs are great, the production’s fine, but where’d
pops out at you on this record. It’s usually the ones where the accent come from? When Miller Farrell speaks, he
they stop trying too hard with the rhythms and concentrate sounds very much the native New Yorker, but his singing
more on the voice and melody, although they don’t do makes him out to be one of those faux New Wave Brits
too badly at smooth jazz either on the first song. Also the from out of the eighties. In fact, Miller’s demo sounds
Ween-esque strangeness that is “Hear The Laughter” is a very much like Ric Ocasek. There are worse models, and
good time. Really the best part is the real songwriter songs Miller lives up to that poppy influence. When he plays live
though, interesting stories told well with a low rich voice. and alone, though, Miller adds a more energetic element
It’s a strange hodgepodge on this album that ends up making to what’s available on this demo. Here, with full band
sense as a whole, but a good portion of the songs taken on instrumentation, the Cars connection seems stronger, which
their own can be a bit grating. Take the time to skip around works if he’s trying to get gigs on the almost-oldies circuit,
and you’re certain to find something interesting. I probably but not as fair a representation of what this fine singer/
won’t be putting this on any time soon just to hang out songwriter is about. There’s a strange production glitch on
though. That’s always the risk when a band tries to be just a the last track, “So True.” The lead guitar falls out of rhythm
little too creative with their sound. Creative is good, creative for part of the bridge. It comes back in quickly, but it’s a
and consistent is better. little disconcerting. Maybe there’s an artistic point to it that I’m missing, but I doubt it. It’s a shame, because it mars the
coda, featuring a pretty cool lyric: “Why should I be so true
Mick Flannery to you when you make me feel so black and blue?” Other
Evening Train than that momentary lapse, the band sound on this demo is
Mick went back to Ireland, and if you’re just now hearing good, but he’s probably better live.
about him for the first time, you seriously missed out. He’s
probably one of the most talented songwriters New York has
seen in a long time, and while his recordings are amazing, The Morningsides
live he would stop s/t 7”
a room cold every RiYl Records
time. Yes he sounds A 7”, yay! And on green marble vinyl, double yay! Of
a lot like Tom Waits, course my record player is broken, making me not cool
but he’s 21. Tom enough for my own standards. A member of this band
Waits sounded like described them as a chocolate coated Pavement, or The
his influences at Monkees covering Edgar Allen Poe. It’s hard to get a feel
21 too. Regardless, for a band from two songs, especially when the songs are as
Evening Train is a far apart as these two are. Summer Song is a catchy up beat
beautiful album. We rock n roll tune of the Chuck berry gone indy rock variety,
reviewed the three while “A Mole Hill Is A Mound” is more plodding and
song demo for this thoughtful with a variety of influences melding together.
last issue, so I won’t Take the bass line from “Under the Boardwalk,” with an
get overly specific equally sixties guitar, while artsy keyboard noises come in
again, but suffice randomly once in a while in the back ground and the voice
it to say this full length exceeded our expectations. It is a sounds like a lazy Seattle singer being a little bitter but well-
concept album, telling the story of two brothers both trying adjusted about it. I would say this 7” is a bit predictable as
to catch the last train out of their small town. Alcoholism, far as indy rock goes, but these are both enjoyable songs of
gambling debts, lovers’ betrayals, and the futility of trying to the genre. I’d be curious to hear a full length from these guys
turn your life around are the stuff of great tragedy. Combine and see what comes in between the two extremes, and see
this with a gruff and powerful voice, and melodies that where else they take their music. Side note-- singer and label
move effortlessly from pure hope to utter despair at the turn founder Chris Maher plays solo with a back up band called
of a note, and you have yourself a timeless piece that should the Post Modern Lovers. Cool on so many levels.
not have been written by a 21 year old. Did I mention that
the songs are amazingly catchy and practically demand that
The Paula
Ouça & Escute g

Well, I don’t know what the hell this guy is singing
about. There are lyrics up on the guy’s website, but they’re
in Portuguese, and they’re embedded in pictures, so I can’t

e i
translate them using all the tools the web affords. Damn
foreigners. Of course, it’s some of that foreign-ness that
makes this release so appealing. Abandoning his successful

t t
mid-90s Brazilian rock project Virna Lisi, Marcelo de Paula’s
opted to start anew as The Paula (a rough translation of his
last name. Does he know it sounds effeminate in English?)

c t
which is him, his band, the whole shmegeggi. “Ouca
&Escute” (in English: Hear and Listen) is his debut release,
and it sounds great. The best two cuts are “Só Lamente uma
Vez” and “Santo Ofício,” which could well be about Herman
Hesse and oral fixations, respectively. I mean, who knows?
“Só Lamente uma Vez” repeats the phrase “Só Lamente” in
h CD
its chorus, which sounds like something of a call to arms.
“Santo Ofício” also has a repeated word, “foi.” I think
it means “I’m going to,” and then lists a bunch of stuff.
e available
Rhythm is emphasized in all these tracks, and the hooks
are strong enough to make you want to sing along, even if n and
you have no idea what you’re saying. But the not knowing Sunday, October 16th, Friday, Oct. 28th
what you’re saying is a fascinating phenomenon. How 8:00 p.m. The Postcypt Cafe
often have you hummed along to some catchy tune until Rockwood Music Hall at Columbia U.
you hear the real words (“You’re telling me ’Papa Don’t FREE 9:00 p.m. cost TBA
Preach’” is really an anti-abortion screed? Say WHAT?”)? and with the band! (but not much)
With The Paula’s work, you can remain to your dying days solo acoustic
blissfully ignorant of what he’s saying. I mean, who the hell
speaks Portuguese anyway? I guess you could always ask from Brooklyn. Who do they think they’re kidding?
him … Whatever. These songs sound great. I love what he’s
singing, even if I don’t know what it is. Brian Speaker
Revolution of One
Poor Boy Johnson & The Goddamn Rattlesnake Brain Speaker has put together a captivating collection
Ressuressurection of original compositions and exciting performances on
You know, I really wanted to like this album, being the Revolution of One. The CD is chock full of great guitar work
first example of this throwback bluegrass/folk/country/ and lyrics that say something different with each listen. Add
blues played by crusty punk kids that’s been going around. to that Brian’s always effortless voice, and the welcome
I have to be honest though, this band is not the best keyboard from time to time—such as the memorable intro
example. People always need to remember that if you’re to “Goodbye Lorraine.” “The Ride” has some passionate
being grating or obnoxious, even if it’s on purpose, that’s singing and surprisingly well executed string arrangement,
still how you’re going to sound. The biggest problem with and you can lose yourself in the lush opening track
this album is Poor Boy Johnson’s voice, which pretty much “Independence (Wonderland).” Whatever you do, go get
makes it unlistenable. For comparison, picture that noise Revolution of One, because if “Poison” doesn’t get to you,
Jim Carrey made in “Dumb and Dumber” when he was something on this album will.
showing off the most annoying sound in the world. He sings
like that, nasally, whiny, and constant. It’s too bad because
without that this wouldn’t be so bad. Sure the playing is a Tim Emmerick and Coldfront County
little sloppy, but that’s all in good fun, and The Goddamn s/t
Rattlesnake (an awesome name) sings with a good tough Tim Emmerick has a fantastic voice to match some
enjoyable growl. The sound has the energy you’d expect equally solid songwriting. It reminds me a lot of old
from punk kids playing music like this. I think without the Swingin’ Utters or Lucero with a touch of Jawbreaker.
terribly obnoxious voice this could actually be pretty fun. Basically punk influenced rootsy americana rock that is
The other thing is they really play up the “country bumpkin” bound to mention Memphis in the lyrics a few times. His
thing in their music, and live they look and dress the part. voice sounds strong, gruff and strained in just the right way,
I feel like I want to remind them that we all know they’re and his lyrics are honest and emotional. I like music like
this where the melodies are distinctly American with their match a banjo with a stand up bass to produce a simplified
roots in country, but the music is solid garage rock, although old school bluegrass sound. Did I mention the kazoos hung
Tim is not afraid to strip down the sound and the tempo on a around their necks with coat hangers? The dueling solos
few of the songs, opening with a lighter piano track, giving they take on those kazoos might be a bit much. I think
it an intimate feeling too. It’ short at 6 songs, and becomes that’s the idea though, and I have to admit, it’s fun. As usual
one of those albums I can’t help but put on repeat and listen with a band like this, I find myself hoping that these guys
to a few times. Put a good sound with infectious melodies might eventually dig a little deeper and see if they can make
and I’m hooked. Definitely check this guy out if you like something larger and more meaningful lest they somehow
punk americana, country, or folk. Did I mention his voice? end up as the world’s first bluegrass college party joke
Fantastic. band. The lyrics are pretty funny and at times ridiculous while the music is pretty consistently high energy, adding
to the sense that nothing too serious is happening, but if you
Toshi Reagon want to lighten up you can have a real good time with these
Have You Heard guys. I think the fact that they included a frantic 40 second
Righteous Babe Records instrumental piano track called “Hat Fight!” pretty much
This is an amazingly sums up what’s going on.
soulful album. Toshi
combines gospel,
soul, blues, and the Wowz
rock, all done mostly Long grain Rights
acoustic. My personal RiYL Records
favorites were the This is an interesting album, with almost too much going
last two tracks where on for me to classify simply. Lets say modern Strokes-
she used a delicate ish indy rock, with a Grateful Dead feel, especially in the
high voice over a Harmonies, combined with a little bit of early Beatles, and
long slow acoustic some folky roots behind those electric guitars. The real trick
riff for an eerie sound to it is how they combine the folkiness with the rock n’ roll
reminiscent of the in a way I’ve never heard before, where they blend together
song played by the well, but each component remains distinct at all times. More
Robert Johnson character by the campfire in “O Brother like a well shaken vinaigrette than a mayonnaise. Beyond
Where Art Thou.” She’s got some power too, opening with just the cleverness of the sound though is the fact that the
a bang and a crashing acoustic guitar on the title track. Her music is really good. These are well crafted songs with strong
exuberance and love for music shine through the whole melodies and nice arrangements, on an album that is well
album in the way she mixes genres and doesn’t skip on constructed, moving fluidly from song to song and sound to
the energy. The big smiling picture on the cover tells you sound in what appears
instantly what you’re in store for. While most of the songs to be a consciously
stay close to love themes, there is a larger spiritual sense constructed journey
carried in the passionate way she sings them, and in what which was well
she implies behind what she’s saying, living up to her thought out. The
Gospel routes. I could do without some of the more modern production behind
R & B sounding songs, which are a bit over bearing and all this is clever
break the earthy soulful mood for me despite still being and smooth. Maybe
mostly acoustic. But overall this is a mature album from a it’s just because I
seasoned performer and songwriter who hasn’t lost any of wasn’t expecting to
the freshness that comes from an obvious love for the music hear Grateful Dead
she’s creating. harmonies from a band who looked like they were going to
be indy rock hipsters, but for whatever reason this album
The Two Man Gentlemen Band struck me in an unexpected way. I can’t help but listen to
s/t it repeatedly now trying to understand out what the hell
Serious Business Records they’re up to, happy enough to hear it the whole time.
For a schtik band, this is a lot of fun. Upbeat, not very
serious and full of pep, they sound like their mission is simply
to have a good time and make their audience do the same.
They wear old time looking suits, complete with brimmed
hats and names like S. Andy Bean and The Councilman, and