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U rban F olk
I January/February

FREE for you and me

Full of Fond Farewells Beat the Devil

Urban Folk: issue five
Fond Farewells... A new year is coming, and this is a sad issue of goodbyes before we start fresh in ‘06. We didn’t
plan it that way. First Amy Hills announced her legendary open mic was ending, than Creaky Boards called it quits, Ivan
Sandomire moved to California and broke up Echolalia, our friend Emily Wasp moved back to England, and too many of
our favorite clubs and venues shut down in the last few months. What were we to do? What we always do here at Urban
Folk, make a magazine about it! In every ending there is a new begining as they say, and welcome Andrew Hoepfner,
fresh from the loss of his Creaky Boards, as our new feature writer. In other news, we’re now fully available online! is up and functional for downloading the current issue, and back issues will soon follow. Click on the
articles in the contents page or the bookmarks bar to go right to the article. Clicking on any web address or advertisement
in the pdf will take you straight to the website. Enjoy! -Dave Cuomo, Editor
Urban Folk has moved! send all mail to 306 Jefferson St. 1R Brooklyn, NY 11237
In This Issue:
On the Cover - beat the devil! (photo and layout by Jamie Ferri)
Letters to the Editor – they’re back
Beat the Devil – andrew hoepfner explores their madness
Call & Response Poetry - stephen belowski vs. jon berger
Brenda Kahn – jon berger takes a listen and discovers antifolk
Open Up at DTUT– amy hills reminsces about the end of an era
Back to Britain – emily wasp has left us, but leaves some kind words in parting
Subway Stories – jon berger and frank hoier take up the mantle
Folk You! – dave cuomo, in his new column, goes looking for his roots
Exegesis Department – with john sfara
Anti-Press – jon berger maps the lineage of antifolk fanzines Be an Urban Folk friend!
The Head of Eric Clapton - alec wonderful gets homicidal
Get in the Minivan – brook pridemore comes face to face with the human spirit
Creaky Boards – jd benjamin looks back and finds a lot to miss
Amurá - paul alexander finds the unique language that is amurá
Sound Decisions - dan costello gives the view from behind the board (mixing board that is)
Paul’s Perspective – paul alexander gets nostalgic around the year end
Crossword Contest - deborah t confounds
Winner’s Feature - dave o’neal! intrerviewed by deborah t
CD Reviews – echolalia, jessie murphy, mike ferarro, royal pine, and more...
Contact us at
Urban Folk needs you! Urban Folk is based on the idea that we Back/inside cover - $85 (7.5” x 10”)
are an independent community capable of supporting ourselves and
Full page - $75 (6.8” x 9.5”)
each other without corporate help. Not only that, we are a community of
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that happen. We need your help to survive and make printing costs. We
have always kept our ad rates cheap enough that artists and struggling bars can still afford them. Buying an ad gets you
exposure while at the same time shows you as a supportive member of the community. Thank you for helping us to survive
this long, and with your help we will become consistently self sufficient at our current circulation, and then expand from
there until every subway seat, every campus lecture hall, every bathroom stall in every bar, is proudly spreading the word.
This is your scene and your magazine, and we need your support to keep it going. -DC
Letters to the editor send letters to
Dear Urban Folk, than there are advertisements. But, we do recommend it. Not
because buying an ad has any direct bearing on getting your
Jon Berger, in his article about open mics, heavily review in Urban Folk, or the leanings of your review, but
promoted DTUT and the C-Note as places to go. Now, one because we need to make a certain amount to put the fanzine
club has given up its open mic, and the others have closed out on the streets. If no one buys ads, there is no magazine to
down. My question is this: Is Jon Berger the kiss of death? review cd’s. Will you like the review that’s written? That’s
a crapshoot. You may not like what we have to say - unless
Irked in Illinois you have a lot more money than we think is in your pocket.
We at Urban Folk can be bought, but not by anything that
Dear I in I, you’ve got. Still, anything you can do to get your name out
there, a compliment about the zine, or maybe a hand job,
Is Jon Berger the Kiss of Death? The ladies seem to think would be much appreciated.
so (only kidding, Jon. Sort of). It’s interesting that you
mention the clubs and events that have gone under, but make Hey, UF!
no mention whatsoever of all the scads of successful open
mics that are still going strong. Jon Berger talked about four Will there be any obligatory references to Erin Regan and
open mics, and only half of them have failed in the months Debe Dalton in this issue?
since he wrote it. Why are you such a pessimist? It does
seem like a lot of clubs are shutting their doors this year. Errant in the Eighties
Luna Lounge and Fez closed earlier, but November saw the
disappearance of Satelite Bar, Apocalypse Lounge, the C- Dear E in E,
Note, and soon to follow, Satalla and Kavehaz. We at Urban
Folk can’t say if the blame for all those failed businesses There are now.
lie with our own Mr. Berger, but this
magazine seems to be doing all right,
isn’t it? Maybe it’s only venues that
he has the power to destroy.
Or maybe your theory’s crap.

To the Editor,

Do I need to buy an ad to get my

CD reviewed in Urban Folk?

Povertous in Peoria

Dear P in P,

What kind of fly-by-night

operation do you think we have
going on here? Do you really believe
that at Urban Folk we would be so
shiftless, so scheming, so inured
to art that we would take bribes to
review your work? Because that’s
what you’re saying really amounts
to. We at Urban Folk are insulted by
the suggestion that your ad dollars
will buy reviews. Of course, it’s
somewhat true. No, you don’t have to
buy an ad to have your CD reviewed.
There are more reviews in each issue
Beat the Devil
praise for an ungodly voice
by Andrew Hoepfner
Listening to Shilpa Ray wail over the solemn drone of
her harmonium is like either floating on up to heaven or
being slowly lowered into Hades. The singer believes in
neither afterlife, yet her band, Beat the Devil, lifts prayers
and chants curses that send shivers down the spine. Put up
your jazz hands, Jane.
Beat the Devil is a live thing. Drummer Justin Brancato
taps away in back, lanky and weird with a slight twitch.
Drunken, brooding baselines played by Mishka Shubaly
loom like an elephant as it staggers down the street to the
bar. All is centered around the harmonium, a bellowed
instrument that sounds of the ocean, sitting tabletop,
center stage, like the magician’s black hat. Front woman
Shilpa Ray wields the wooden box with a spider-like
grace, pumping out chords of sorrow that fill the room
with a dark, eerie beauty. But perhaps the real magic is
in her voice. Ray’s ability to project uninhibited emotion
using her deep alto moan gives the band a haunting grip.
From a melancholic howl to a powerful snarl, she brings
to life the St. Augustine’s of old and the 40 oz. dry heaves
of right now. “Living day to day, you don’t really get so
intimate with the people around you,” Ray reflects. “So
it’s kinda fun to talk about the things that maybe people
don’t like talking about.” The show gains momentum,
and suddenly the beat explodes across the toms, the bass
crunches with distortion, and Ray bursts out a soulful
growl. Possessed by some invisible presence in the room,
she winds in and out of spasms and convulsions. Beat the
Devil is a shovel, casting away all the dirt and repression
to reveal those lovely, awful things festering away in your
For Shilpa Ray, music began with her harmonium and where Ray bears an impressive, natural mastery over the
voice, but on very different terms. As a child, she was raised ghostly instrument. Of the sounds of her youth, Ray identifies
learning North Indian classical music. The harmonium both benefits and limits. “It’s a beautiful form of music,
is originally an Irish instrument, and was internalized by it’s like [Western] classical music,” she concedes, “but it’s
India as a result of the British colonization. Eventually, very stifling and very rigid.” It wasn’t until three years ago
the musical tradition wound its way over to Ray’s first- that Ray, now 25, rediscovered music as something she
generation American childhood in Jersey, where she learned could make her own, combining newfound melodies with
to play according to theme and variation. Her years of formal a long-held love for poetry. Consequently, she and drummer
training are evident in Beat the Devil’s live performances,

Call & Response

by Stephen Belowsky

history of the ring

See a Dempsey’s
The Contender

Manasa Mauler
See a romance
Sound the bell
You’re Out!

Ding! Ding!

a Jabbing!
Jack Jack

belowsky calls, berger responds

Jab Jab
a hitting
a spirit

Brancato still consider themselves musical babies. “She in?” Once Ray moved to New York City, she was excited to
was always hiding in her bedroom playing,” remembers find many more women participating in music and art. “This
Brancato, who does double duty as bandmate and roommate. is the birthplace of punk, and punk’s like, female music,”
“She thought we couldn’t hear her, but we could.” Traces of she says of the city. “You can be someone of two different
Ray’s Indian influence now dart quietly beneath the surface. genders with pink polka dots all over your skin and you can
Beat the Devil sometimes sound like meditation, a mantra play!” With a female lead, Beat the Devil is conscious of the
swelling up and down, and there’s a floating ease of the line between artist and the eye candy. “Now it’s become a
vocal melody that softly echoes the singer’s upbringing. commodity. You can draw a crowd ‘cause there’s a chick in
Still, the harmonium comes off sounding more like a cabaret front,” Ray criticizes. “It depends on who you see up there,”
organ grind, a nasty cloud of sneering Americana. Ray’s agrees Brancato. “Sometimes, you’re like, oh, the token
voice brings to mind Billie Holiday with a werewolf bite, or chick.” “And then sometimes, it’s somebody who has actual
a gospel soloist spotlighting at an exorcism. skill,” finishes Ray.
“My father said we’re both going straight to hell on three Playing the Monday night AntiHootenany at the Sidewalk
separate occasions,” admits Brancato. There’s something Café became a bit of a ritual for Ray. “This girl is crazy!”
sinful about Beat the Devil, be sure. Their lyrics have blood exclaims Brancato. “She walks like two hours over the
on the tooth. Within their stories dwells a disturbing cast of Williamsburg Bridge with her harmonium.” “I carry it with
large breasted men, large breasted women, a deranged Kathie a hand truck, like a little coffin,” she jokes. Ray points to
Lee Gifford, an apocalyptic Chicken Little. In the band’s the East Village hub of the AntiFolk scene as one source
slow, soft moments, there is the mood of a funeral, of casting of legitimate variety and actual skill. “One of the awesome
out your fallen lover into the jet black ocean. When they get things about the Sidewalk is there’s no demographic,” she
loud, there’s the air of a midnight, backwoods spiritual revival praises. “You have people in their 50s and 60s playing, and
tent, ready to begin sacrificing rats and rabbits. The audience you can tell that they’re so much better at what they do.”
is left to wonder, have we come to church on our hands and Debe Dalton, an older banjo player and regular at the venue,
knees, or have we come to burn it down? Interestingly, Ray is one of her favorites. “It’s something you can’t really peg.
grew up under the Hindu faith, where guilty wrongs and It’s not technique, it’s not motion, it just clicks or it doesn’t
vengeful punishment are not central. “There’s no hell in the click,” she describes. “There’s nothing agitated or weird
Hindu religion, or heaven,” she explains. “For me, religion about it, no tension, she just plays.”
was more of an escape. I’d be like, ‘Alright. I can just sit in Shilpa Ray still feels she’s chasing that ultimate ease,
my room and be quiet and meditate and calm myself down.’ where playing music becomes like breathing. Half the time
I had pictures of all the little deities, and one had the head she’s nervous on stage, feeling green and new, learning how
of an elephant, a couple monkeys here and there, and they to make it work. But to those observing, the woman with the
were cool to me.” Appropriately, Beat the Devil’s demo art flooring wail and that magic music box is a lot further than
features an irreverent ape head superimposed on a classical she thinks.
painting of white bearded white men.
Too many males made Philadelphia a frustrating place for
Shilpa Ray. Night after night, she found a bunch of guys
onstage, their girlfriends silently watching in the audience.
“You look at this and you think, wow, ok, where do I fit
bobbing n’ weaving!
Contender Dream!

human destruction

the sweet canvas

A fighting hobo
taking it to him

Sound the bell

from the soul

on the retreat

Vegas traffic
Ding! Ding!
Send a blow

Here comes

lying still!

History of


the ring





Brenda Kahn
a very personal trip
by Jonathan Berger
I have much to thank Alex Doty for. He pretty much strummed, she charmed me right away.
changed my life. Kahn’s material was strong. The song that struck most
He was the one who said we should go to the All Strung powerfully was “Mint Juleps and Needles,” featuring the
Out show, where three acoustic performers toured small line, “You’re cracked, you’ve gone mad; it’s hopelessly sad,
venues across the land. Alex wanted to see... I think it was but I like you better than most of the men I’ve had…” Very
Peter Himmelman, who was the headliner, but I’m not sure. sensual and self-destructive, assertive and sweet. Her delivery
I know I was interested in was sometimes cutesy,
seeing Brenda Kahn. sometimes growlingly
She was the cover sexual, and consistently
story in that week’s endearing. I loved the
Valley Advocate, the songs and I loved her. I
Village Voice of the Five- heard something in her
College area. The article music that I didn’t know I
mentioned Brenda Kahn was looking for. I bought
and AntiFolk like they the album days later at a
were household words, used record store.
but the musical style Epiphany in Brooklyn,
meant nothing to me. I the album she was
really don’t remember promoting, was nowhere
much from the article. near as moving as that live
What I do remember performance. Alone on
was that Brenda Kahn stage, Kahn was hard and
was young, she was cute, acoustic all at once; the flip
she was on the cover of side of one of my faves,
the local paper, and she Billy Bragg. The album
was playing at Amherst was a mixed bag, with
College. curious arrangements and
Kahn was the first on- interesting interpretations
stage. As soon as she got of material that sounded
up to the mic, she asked if best alone and acoustic.
Chaz, some guy she’d met playing pool earlier, was there. Still, I realized that this was a woman I wanted to know
Something in that struck me immediately. This was a woman more about.
who, according to the article, had played with Dylan and It was harder to research artists back then. The web was
the Kinks. It was so personal, a strangely intimate moment. not yet the all-powerful reference tool it would become, so
She was beautiful, in that beat-punk kind of way. Wearing I had to find snippets of information in books. Brenda Kahn
jeans and flannel (it was ‘93; the wardrobe was expected), wasn’t listed in the Trouser Press Record Guide, my pre-
with her long black ringlets of hair shuddering whenever she digital search engine, but lots of her compatriots were. Lach,
disintegrating eye socket
somewhere in his gut

Families dreaming!
Contender dream

See a Dempsey’s
a glove digging!

Blood dripping

Lovers praying
Mothers crying

ground to walk
Roulette wheel

heavily inside!

Sound the bell

It’s dangerous
spins outside

Ding! Ding!
a contender

It’s delicate

History of

a hitting!
the ring

the ring
It’s real

a spirit

To a




the contender (cont. from pg 6)

Kirk Kelly, Roger Manning (Kahn’s early paramour) were up, and more ways to find out about your favorite artists
all described. without physically stalking them.
When I moved back to New York City, I scoured the Her next album, Outside the Beauty Salon, also on
listings to see if Brenda Kahn was playing anywhere. Shanachie, came out in ’97, and didn’t do much for me. I
I found her opening for David Byrne at CBGB – playing like the spoken word style of “Faith Salon,” but the cover
the main room as a solo acoustic act. Byrne was on the showed her sweltering in a leather wardrobe, and the album
side of the stage during her whole show, while I was up sounded too dense and dark. She was working with a band.
front, mouthing along with “I Don’t Sleep, I Drink Coffee She was playing, it seemed, at being a rocker, and not mining
Instead,” a Springsteenian tour of America. the AntiFolk vein than had made her unique. The sex-kitten
A few weeks later, I saw she was playing this club growl was often replaced with a pompous shouted delivery.
called the Fort at the Sidewalk Café. On the walls of that I found it to be a disappointment.
newly formed musical space were a series of clippings In ’98, Kahn founded her own record label and website.
about AntiFolk and the musical feast that had been called The label, Rocket 99, released Hunger, an excellent return
the AntiHoot, Lach’s Lair, and the Fort. I read more about to form (a cello and guitar ten-track elegy for tour mate
Brenda Kahn and how she’d play the AntiHoots alongside Jeff Buckley). The website,, became an
Manning, Mike Rimbaud, Paleface, Cindy Lee Berryhill and institution. Originally her personal site,
Lach. I discovered this magical hidden world of AntiFolk quickly became an online magazine featuring columns and
where this glorious Kahn had come from. I was entranced. interviews about women in music as well as the other arts.
I had to become part of the scene. Kahn hasn’t been around much in the 21st century.
Though Brenda Kahn was still gigging in support of While still the nominal head of, it appears
Epiphany, she would occasionally pop in the Fort and play there’s a new editor handling the features, and Hunger was
at open mics or shows. I got to meet her a few times, and, her last musical release. I’m told she’s a mother, living in
though she was friendly, I always remained Pennsylvania, but I don’t know
too star-struck to really get to know her. if that’s true. I just know that my
I figured maybe if I became intrinsically obsession with the music this
involved in AntiFolk, we could have woman created was intrinsic
something to talk about, and someday get in my personal development.
married or something. Without her, I would never
Kahn’s career took a turn when she was have discovered AntiFolk,
dropped from Columbia two weeks before never begun writing about such
Destination Anywhere was to come out. They artists, never have developed
didn’t want the album, but they refused to let my own poetic muse. I would
her release it, either. She had sample copies never have started publishing
of the Columbia release, all ready to go to a fanzine, or gotten work
radio stations, and I snagged one. The album doing desktop publishing. So
eventually came out on Shanachie, and was much of who I am today stems
not as good as Epiphany, but featured the directly from my infatuation
rocking “Spoon.” Around the same time, with Brenda Kahn.
she was featured on Lach’s AntiHoot album, And all of that comes from a
another Shanachie release. simple invite to a show by Alex
It was around then I heard Kahn was Doty.
engaged. She wasn’t coming around to the Thanks, man.
Sidewalk anymore, except for very sporadic
shows. By then, though, there were fansites

photo by Tony Nelson

Reflects something going on

a toast of nothing!
between the lines

reaching out to

Nevada skies
in the ghetto

into the soul

In the desert

in the glass

a reflection

where his
rich men

rich men

Fuck It!


of man
taste it
Feel it

as fire








Open Up, The End
the details behind the DTUT open mic
by Amy Hills
I have been asked by many, “Why did the open mic at DTUT end?”. I though it would be best to respond to everyone at
the same time, in print. The facts are biased, as they are my recollection. I inserted detailed endnotes in case you need more
information. I hope they aren’t too distracting. If you still have questions feel free to ask Jon Berger1. Also, if you are one
of the people that attended the open mic at DTUT, thank you so much for coming, I hope you had a good experience, and
please do keep in touch or say hello when I see you out and about.
I moved to New York on a Saturday in June 2002. Monday I needed some
I didn’t have much with me other than my guitar and strings so I took a walk and
clothes because I only intended to stay for the summer. found First Flight Music.
My sister was living on First Avenue so I had a place I was the only person in
to stay. the store, so I had the full
I had been writing songs for years, but never really attention of all three men
played them for anyone. I really wanted to see if I working3. Dan, the owner,
could do it, so that day, instead of unpacking, I walked advised me to go to the
down First Avenue and picked up a New York Press open mic that night at the
and a Village Voice to look for “Open Mics”. I had Sidewalk Café, hosted by
never been to an open mic but heard about them from a guy named Lach4. One
my sister. I found all of the listings and called the of the other guys, said to
venues to make sure that they were really happening. go to The Raven and see a
In preparation I made some demos with three poorly guy named Joie with green
recorded songs and pink sticker labels. hair.
That night, I went to a club in Tribeca called the That afternoon I took
Orange Bear. I was unimpressed with the quality of some of my old CD’s and
performance of the other artists, but being a novice sold them at the music
felt insecure in my judgment. I played two songs (that I store on 9th street so that I would have some cash. I went to
will never play again) and immediately the owner, Victor, the Sidewalk Café early to try and get a feel for the place. I
asked me to come into his office. Once inside his shady sat in the restaurant and had a veggie burger, side salad with
office, he closed the door, asked me if the songs that I played
were mine and if I had a manager. I was both flattered and carrot ginger dressing and a Stella. Clint5 was my server
terrified. It was unclear if he was being serious or just trying and I asked him all about the open mic. He pointed out
to get into my pants. To my good fortune, he just wanted to Lach, who was wearing his pink short-sleeved button-down
book me a show. Elated, I called my sister and we went out shirt that day. Lach noticed that Clint and I were talking
for celebration drinks. about him and gave me a weird look. I thought I was totally
The next night I went to the open mic hosted by Rick screwed. Instead, at sign-up I was given number 4 and Lach
Johnson at The C-Note. It had a totally different vibe, drink offered me a gig from the stage. Minutes after that, Chris
minimum and seemed like a friendlier place. After listening Barron6 asked me to be his girlfriend. I said no thank you
to Rick and several of his buddies play some non-memorable but gave him one of my pink sticker labeled demos.
tunes, I played. Rick asked for a demo so that he could give Tuesday I went to work with my best friend Jared at the
it to the booker, which I gladly gave him. I sat at the bar for Brooklyn Summer Concert Series. In the dressing room I
the rest of the night talking to this guy John Hodel2 who hung out with Christopher Cross whose music I listened
played some really good songs and made me laugh. to my whole life. He told me that it was about time there
Then floats like Adonis

housing project desire

housing project desire

And ever! ever!

toast contracts

toast rich men

internal crying

dropped back

the rich men

being carried

carried home
in the desert

in the desert
the count of

so carefully
deep inside

laughs out
And then
rich men

a mirror

a soul
out of

a ring

in the


to a




the contender (cont. from pg 6)

were some good female lyricists in the business again (like musicians I was a part of. I did some research. I also talked a
his friend Joni). After the show I watched him drive off in great deal to Jon Berger, Hogan, Lippe12 and Lach. I visited
his white stretch limo listening to my pink sticker labeled clubs all over Manhattan to try and find an atmosphere that
demo. was similar to The Raven but not in the same neighborhood.
Wednesday I went to The Raven Open Stage7. The I had clear wants and needs outlined. I wanted the club to
regular host, Joie, wasn’t there. He was on tour with the have their own equipment. I didn’t want a cover or a drink
Moldy Peaches8, whom I had never heard of. Dan was minimum. I was not going to pass a tip jar. I wanted happy
running the open mic for Joie, although then he was known hour for at least two hours of the event. I wanted it to be on
as Cockroach9. I played two songs and hung out with Paul a weekday from around 7-11pm. I didn’t want to get paid
until the event started making money. I wanted complete
(who I’d met on Monday) and his friend Hogan10. autonomy.
Thursday I went to the Charleston Bar in Williamsburg. I had played a show at DTUT and it seemed like a good
I think I got to play like five songs. There weren’t many fit. I met with the owner, Robert, and not surprisingly, he
people there, but since it was my first time in Brooklyn, I was hip to the idea of a young girl running a weekly money-
thought it was cool. making event at his venue. There had been an open mic at
Friday I made flyers for my upcoming shows, talked to the club previously, but it failed. Robert seemed to imply
Hogan about a website, and went to see a bunch of people that the host at the time was responsible, but I never met the
play at the Sidewalk. I’m pretty sure that someone like guy or attended the event… so who knows? Finally settling
Danny Kelly or Casey Holford was playing. I know I was on DTUT, the open mic began March 26th 2003. I decided to
overwhelmed by the quality of songs and humbled by the
experience. call it “Open Up” for glaringly obvious reasons13.
That week was one of the greatest weeks in my life. I The first three months were difficult but fun. I had to
could not have imagined it. My life changed, permanently. iron out how things were going to work or not, in terms of
That summer I spent most of my time at the Sidewalk. equipment set up and how many people could play how
I was broke. I sold most of my gold jewelry to put money many songs, etc. Jon Berger was always a great critic and
in Lach’s tip jar. Every Monday that I could I stayed till the supporter. I do believe that his comments, suggestions, and
end of the night. My songwriting changed dramatically as a attendance in the early months helped shape the event.
direct result of going to as many open mics and shows as I By the fall of 2003 the event was a success with at least
could. By the end of the summer, I decided to stay in New 20 people signing up to play every week. I started getting
York. It was kind of a ballsy move considering it meant not $50.00 a week from the club when I remembered to ask for
returning for my second year in graduate school at Yale, but it.
whatever. In the following two years the event became hugely
successful despite myself. I never posted anything about
In January of 2003 my friend Joie Blaney11 (then Joie the event on any open mic websites, but that didn’t keep
DBG with green hair) decided to stop running the Raven other people from doing it. I rarely mentioned the event in
Open Stage. It was, at the time, my favorite open mic. It conversation, at shows or even in letters to my own mailing
was intimate, easy going, and over by eleven. Also, like list. I bought bits and pieces of sound equipment along the
most of the girls who were there, I kind-of had a crush on way. The club bought a new mixer. The speakers were never
Joie. any good, but I never fought hard to change that.
I had been considering the idea of running my own Most of the time I really enjoyed running the event. I
open mic for a while, but until The Raven ended, there met incredible people, witnessed the transformation of
was no need. I didn’t want to compete with Lach or Joie, young and old songwriters, got to hang out with friends
I just really enjoyed going to their open mics. Having a lot and drink beer or coffee, and collaborated with some of
of stage experience as an actress in prior years, I figured I my favorite attendees. People met and got engaged at the
could probably be a compelling host too. I talked to Joie event, hundreds of new songs were birthed, the Undisputed
about running an open mic and what it was like. I wanted Heavyweights formed, Dalton Lee split up, I had the honor
to have another place to play and expand the community of of being the subject of countless songs, and heard people
and Under African stars

Where warriors roam

under African stars

under African stars

Magic in a jungle

Angelo screams!

Don’t worry man

Hunter becomes

Watch me float
Burning heat

Fighters step

I am coming
Get the Hell
One thinker

off the rope

off the rope

One fighter
the hunted
the jungle
Zaire talk

for points

Here I go
of escape
No place
a jungle

No need


to dope
to fight

a rope

“cover” my own songs (which, by decision with some of the regular
the way, is one of the greatest attendees, and felt it would be best
feelings ever). for everyone’s morale to end things
In the spring of this year I was quickly. The last several weeks
toying with the idea of leaving New of the event were extremely well
York, and part of that decision was attended and I suspect that the club
the reality that I would be leaving the did very well, although I never
open mic at DTUT. I had enormous again heard from Robert. On the
guilt associated with the thought. I the rarely used logo by Hogan Long 26th of October, 2005, Open Up
discussed with Paul Alexander the14 had its last and most successful
idea of having him take over the event. I was afraid that night. More than forty people performed and the venue had
the owner of the club would be angry and people would be standing room only throughout the evening. My friends,
all up in arms or whatever. Also, I had a really great job fellow songwriters and loyal attendees pooled their money
at a recording studio, and a record in the works. I am not and recourses to give me an engraved guitar pic pendant, a
the queen of conflict. Those fears, along with a relationship cake and a beautiful hand made card. MORE!
that didn’t work out, kept me in New York (thankfully) and (in conclusion)
at DTUT. There are several realities that we face as musicians that
(prepare for the big climax that you have been waiting choose to live in New York. It’s beyond me why someone
for) doesn’t hand them out on interesting hand written flyers
At the beginning of October, I received a phone call from upon entrance to the city:
the owner of DTUT. It was the only call in over 2 1/2 years - It is almost impossible to make a living and maintain
of running the event that I ever received from Robert. I had a moderate standard of living in New York solely as
called him on several occasions because he booked private an honest musician. If you are arrogant enough to
parties during music events or we needed new equipment think that you can, you are most definitely wrong or
or whatever. It was strange. We had a short but polite delusional or both.
conversation about his lack of revenue from the open mic and - Every single performance venue in New York (all
the Tuesday night songwriter series at the club. He decided five boroughs) needs to make money for its survival.
to cancel the Tuesday nights and see how the next couple If whatever you are doing there is not aiding in that
of Wednesdays went. Although the Wednesday before had plight expect to be replaced and/or never asked back.
a record number of people at signup (around forty) and the - The standards and rules at every performance venue
club was packed from start to finish, the club’s revenue was are different, and should be adhered to.
the lowest in over a year for a Wednesday night. - Change is inevitable and should be welcomed if you
Robert asked me to police the performers and require want to grow and improve.
that everyone spend a certain amount of money in order to - Being a musician does not entitle you to anything!
perform. I immediately refused. I argued that he had three I knew that there would come a time when Robert would
staff members to do that and that I was doing my part by want to make more money from the event. Any smart
bringing the people and running the event. I explained that business owner will conclude that an increasingly packed
I had been making weekly announcements, asking people to room of people should generate a substantial growth in
purchase something to support the club. I also explained, sales. It is rational to argue that, in a situation like this, if
that though he had never really been to any of the events, sales are not increasing, something needs to change. I had
they were hugely successful and important to the music the opportunity to run the Fort at the Sidewalk for about
community. eight months while Lach was on tour and growing his
As soon as the conversation ended, I knew that I was business and I had dealings with Pini (one of the Sidewalk
going to resign. I wrote a sincerely grateful letter and left owners) on several occasions for this same reason. That shit
it for Robert the next week. I decided to wait two weeks is just protocol. It is a costly venture to own and operate
to make a formal announcement at the open mic. I was not anything in this city, especially a music venue. I feel sure
looking forward to answering questions or discussing my that the Sidewalk still operates as a music venue because
eclipse of the sun is total

And not no slave name

under African stars

A man on a mission

becomes a winner

Muhammad Ali!
becomes himself
new dimensions

a speaker man!
bad intentions

Cassius Clay
Thrown with

rope to dope
slip a right
a dreamer
a believer

in Zaire

Oh, Yo
a poet


of the



Lach fights hard to keep it that way and because summer DTUT was no exception to the rule and I am not a
brunch generates enough income to cover the yearly loss in fighter.
the back room. Moreover, I am tired. I am a musician trying to find my
The sad truth about open mics is that the people that own way and live my own life. For two years and seven
attend them are generally broke and/or harbor some type of months (with the exception of six non-sequential weeks
misguided hatred or disrespect for the establishment where missed for holidays and emergencies) I ran a weekly event
said open mic is taking place. The harsh reality is that many that was both emotionally and physically draining.
open mic performers should be grateful that they have a place I did it out of love for live music, need for community, and
to play and anyone will actually listen to them. Musicians a whole host of other reasons that I still believe in. I can take
fail to see that performing is a give and take relationship. pride in the fact that I never ran the event for personal gain,
I give the Sidewalk $12.00 dollars on a Monday night in never passed a tip jar, never passed around a mailing list,
exchange for the opportunity to play to an attentive audience never intentionally insulted any performer or asked anyone
in a warm room with good sound, sturdy chairs and cold to leave. It was a great success. I am proud of myself. It
beer. Unfortunately, venues are closing, events are ending was time to move on.
and musicians are outraged at the establishment, when they
should be ashamed of themselves.
1 He’ll hold forth on any topic, whether he has any information or not.
John Hodel is the guy in the hat that is sitting at the Sidewalk bar most nights during happy hour. He is also an amazing songwriter and has been an
Amy Hills supporter since the beginning. Debe Dalton has been known to cover his songs from time to time. He has a CD available, you should pay him
for it.
Shera is manager now and she’s totally hot, I booked her first show at Sidewalk. The store has changed a lot since I first moved here; more organized,
more help. The people that work there now are all really great. Dan, the owner, is a big teddy bear. I probably should buy things like picks and strings in
bulk and save myself some money but I still buy everything from First Flight because they have always been good to me and I want to support the little
4 If you don’t know who Lach is then you should. He coined the term “antifolk”. He created the buzz that became the scene
and has maintained it and the “Antihoot” (New York’s largest and most successful open stage) for somewhere around 20 years. He has a record label,
management company, fully produced fancy albums, loads of comics (including his own) and a beautiful wife who adores him.
6 He’s the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. When I first moved here he was playing at the sidewalk a lot and hanging around
the scene….in fact there is a panoramic composit photo taken by lippe at one of Regina Spektor’s shows at radio perfecto from October 2002 hanging in
my kitchen and he’s in it (along with Danny Kelly, Hogan, Knotpinebox, James Levy, Michael Leviton, Aaron Wilkinson, Scott Fragala, Matt Singer and
about fifty others).
The Raven Open stage was the name of the open mic that Joie hosted at The Raven, on the corner of 12th Street and Ave. A. If you want to hear some
recordings from back in the day you should go to
8 Apparently the band that all of the current antifolk bands are inspired by and attain to be. Comprised of Kimya Dawson,
Adam Green, Toby Goodshank, Strictly Beats (Lead singer of Wooden Ghost and Drummer for Swift Ships, Dufus, and HEARTH), Jack Dischel, and
Steven Mertens. They signed a deal and toured and sold a bunch of albums and then went their separate ways. I suppose that all of the members are equally
talented in their own right, but I have my favorites.
Cockroach… ok so here’s the deal. When I moved here Dan Penta was Cockroach Bernstein and his band was the Larval Organs. His songwriting
was, and has remained, easily some of the best I have ever heard, and the fall of his band was a sad day. (Luckily for me he has a new one and I’m in it.
Hogan Long used to be a regular at the Sidewalk and the Raven…he lived across the street (sort of) from the Raven and befriended Joie and Lauren
Echo and a whole host of other people. When I met him he was doing freelance web design and hosting and had a lot of free time so we could meet for
breakfast at noon and hang in the park and drink tea and stuff. He hosts a lot of people’s sites in the antifolk world and although he now lives in the Bronx,
he is a real music lover and supporter of the scene. His site is
11 The transformation that has taken place with Joie Blaney since the day I met him has been a really cool thing to participate in.
He was born to be a rockstar. You should see a show with the band…I’m sure they are listed on his website along with his blog and photos from the green
haired years.
Lippe is a photographer and a musician….he’s the guy you see who is usually wearing a stocking cap and carrying a large camera bag and/or a small
white chair. He has taken some incredible photos so if you need any, you should e-mail Lippe (
open up= open mic + uptown…..and then there is the obvious meaning of the expression: to open oneself to feelings and emotions….outward
expression of said feelings and emotions, etc. duh.
Paul Alexander now runs his own open mic in Long Island City on Tuesdays at the Creek and the Cave. He also writes for Urban Folk and performs
regularly. I think he’s recording a new album now.
Champions well groomed
Punches perfectly thrown

talking Olympic Gold

W.B.C. W.B.A. I.B.F.

Dance to the music

Turning Invisible!
Up on your toes!
from Louisville
Work the road
Atlantic City
and Everlast

Black boots

Red gloves
for all time

Heavy bag
Piss blood

Like a kid

Jab! Jab!
Skip rope

So great
Hit me!
Hit me!




Goin’ Back to Greenwich by Emily Wasp
My heart is heavy.
By the time you read this I’ll be gone. It was
never really meant to last as long as it has. I guess
this city got its big, beautiful claws into me - well
and truly - and now, six months after my arrival, it
is finally letting me go. Before I return to England
I’d like to share a little of my experience as a New
Yorker with you urban folks.
It was back in spring of this year that a good
friend and I hatched a plan to come out here for
a month and play as many open mics as possible
- and maybe even a show or two. We knew it would
be tough… this was New York, after all, and we
were pretty clueless! We arrived in the heat wave
of late May, all wide-eyed and wonder-filled, but
things didn’t exactly go according to plan and after
a few weeks I found myself flying solo, while my
friend was flying home.
I was sad and scared, but determined to keep
going to the open mics and do my thing. I soon began to “What is this ‘antifolk’ scene anyway?” I wondered that
recognize familiar faces at different places… hadn’t I first night. I’d never heard of it before. “And what’s wrong
seen that lady with the banjo at DTUT last week? And the with being a pro-folker?!”
mandolin player… wasn’t he at Vivaldi’s? And there’s the I soon learned that these were pointless questions and that
girl with that great song about the bells I heard at Pete’s really the most useful one to ask was, “Do I belong here?”
Candy store on Sunday… And I know I’ve heard that I’d like to think I do.
loud, bald poet before (it would be hard not to). You get I realized there was something pretty special going on,
the picture. It didn’t take long for me to get to know these something I’d never experienced before. I know a lot of you
strangers so they weren’t strangers at all. Better still, they feel the same way. It’s not just because I’m a foreigner on
were now my friends as well as fellow artists who have been your shores and on borrowed time in your city that this has
a real inspiration to me. meant so much. It is the crazy spectrum of creativity and
I know, when I look back on my days in New York, the the many personalities that shine through this spectrum that
place I will most remember is without doubt the Sidewalk makes this community so damn unique.
Café. I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve spent in that dark back On the antifolk site it says something about coming
room, listening; or outside, smoking a fag; or downstairs away from the scene feeling like your views on what is
with my guitar at 1am on a Monday night, trying to decide possible with art have either been radically changed and/or
which song I’ll play, ignoring the sinking feeling of how I’ll wonderfully confirmed. It struck me how true this was of
feel at work Tuesday morning. It’s strange to recall how my experience here amongst all you talented souls. My art
intimidated I felt at the first anti-hoot I attended. I hardly has been challenged. My art has been confirmed. And that,
knew anyone then, and there were so many people there. I perhaps, is the best bite of the Big Apple I’ll be digesting all
feared that my songs and I just wouldn’t fit in. the way home and beyond… until I come back for another
Dear Heavyweight Champ
Sensational Champion

you’re all that’s human

from Hemingway
names who forgot

Rise from the mat

into early graves

were interested
Hear the blues

Nowhere men
of a magazine

All that’s true

on the cover

movie stars
Brass high

Lost souls
living low
all time!

Hit me!

Hit me!








the contender (cont. from pg 6)

Subway Stories
passing the torch
XXVICLQ. space, infringed on my
I don’t take the train peace of mind, are asking
often, so when I do, I’m for handouts, and now,
just a mess of complaints insist that I give them
and tension, muscles approval for their actions.
collecting kinetic energy, How egotistical can artists
preparing for an eventual be? I didn’t come to their
explosion. The trains come show, I didn’t ask to be
late, they’re hot, or cold, or in the same space with
smelly; there are no seats, them, I couldn’t flee their
or, there were, so you sit gigantic drums even if
down, and then that fat- I wanted to – there’s no
assed motherfucker plops room!
down on top of you, and I will not clap for them.
if you get up too quickly, If I had my way, I’d have
she’ll look at you like them all shot. Fucking
YOU’RE the rude one. musicians...
I hate trains. -Jonathan Berger
I especially hate it when all those pieces fail to happen just
as I described, so I get lulled into a false sense of security, XXVICLQI.
cuz that’s when something really bad happens. It was around midnight on the downtown F-train platform
I was riding the 6-train home one rainy night, and a at 14th Street, on a hot summer night. It smelled. Sometimes,
couple of dredded gentlemen carry their giant drums into over the summer, the urine (?) reek was so strong that you
the middle of the car. can’t bear to stay there, let alone play.
“Good evening,” one of them yells, circling the pole, “We I was in the middle of singing “Nowhere Man” (you can’t
would like to enlighten you by playing the drums for you.” go wrong with the Beatles) when I looked to my right down
They promptly begin. It’s after midnight, which, in the the cavern and saw a most peculiar sight. About 100 feet
grand scheme of things, isn’t that late, but I’m lacking away there was a 6 foot hobo standing in plain sight with his
the sleep God thinks I should have, and all I want is some pants down, masturbating, Hunched over, he was looking
downtime on my ride home; I’m just looking for a chance straight at this young girl on the furthest of two wooden
to read my book. benches. With his pants down around his ankles, the hobo
No such luck, though. They’re drummers. It’s percussion. looked like a five year-old using a urinal.
It’s noise and pain and, fundamentally, distraction. The girl was sitting still with her head turned away, her
When they finish up their little headache-inducing hand shadowing her eyes, as if she were avoiding the violent
number, they begin to pass the hats from their over-haired part of a horror movie.
heads, and one of them shouts, “Show some love. Even if I didn’t stop strumming my instrument, but I was
you can’t give money, clap for us, show us you care.” astonished. You hear stories like this in New York, but
Jesus fucking Christ, these assholes have invaded my they’re harder to actually experience. Should I stop the guy?
Youngest Heavyweight Champ
becomes a part of history

emotional vulnerabilities
you don’t look too good

A Long Corrupt Count

My jaws like concrete

I am made of iron!”
“I refuse to go down
as we stop believing

who shouts out loud

and all its Tragedies

Sound a little dumb

dances to the music

God delivers a son

And he skips rope

There ain’t a man

who can beat me

I’m invincible!
you’re fighters

That goes 1-14

I refuse to lose
Money Takers

on the planet
Legal Stinks

hits the road

not writers!

with all its

Hits me!
And just


the contender (cont. from pg 6)

Was it my business? Was the girl into on the trains and busking. Of course,
it? Should I ask her out? In shock,
I didn’t know what to do, but soon
I’m not a musician of any sort, so
I’ve considered going about, reading Berger
found myself bellowing, “Hey! Get
the fuck outta here!”
poems, handing out flyers, and asking
for cash. Responds!
He seemed stunned as he looked There are logistical issues. LIKE CLAY
back at me, acoustic weapon in hand, Amplification is where the cops have by Jonathan Berger
but soon enough, he slowly pulled his you dead to rights, and I don’t even
pants up halfway and staggered away have a mini-PA system anyway, so I’d The fix was in
like a frightened bear. I added – a little be left to my own devices, roaming from the beginning.
late – “or I’ll call the fucking cops,” the platforms, spitting out words and The king was made
but he’d already made his escape. flashing my flyers. What would stop before he was named.
There were only two girls in the people from thinking I’m a crazy
hallway at this midnight hour. I stood, person. Most of my material suggests They wanted a different man
mouth agape, for a second, thinking that anyway. And, the flyers really, are a better man
what to do next. There was nothing the tool that grant me some legitimacy, who could be molded,
for it but to start another song. I suggesting I have a show, or a website, twisted to their desires.
just couldn’t bring myself to finish or some books to sell. But if I have one They wanted no dark warrior,
“Nowhere Man,” so I launched right hand out giving flyers, one hand on my no John Henrys,
into “It’s All Over Now Baby Blue.” reading material, and one hand out for no killers,
When the train finally came the girl donations… well, there’s a problem I no vandals.
sitting at the bench closest to me put haven’t overcome.
a dollar in my case, looked up at me, Maybe I should hit the subway cars They wanted a joker
and said “Thank you.” instead, but I hate those guys. They’re a buffoon.
The object of the bum’s affection disturbing my God-given right to ride They wanted a toy
didn’t look at me at all. She must the train in peace. And my act is more to be wound up
have been embarrassed, or afraid, or intrusive than most that I can imagine. and destroyed
ashamed that she had to be saved by If I don’t force people to pay attention, with a blink of an eye
an itinerant troubadour. Maybe she I’ve got nothing. Anyway, the cars are
didn’t have any money for my case. too loud for me to get my point across, They wanted someone young
But she boarded her train, and never unless I’m totally shouting, and that and malleable.
even got the chance to say “Thank DOES make me a crazy person. They wanted no enemies,
you.” I like the idea of trying to open up none too ruthless.
I still play that stop, and I still play new audiences for myself, love the They wanted no rebels,
“Nowhere Man,” though sometimes, concept of being the center of attention no revolutionaries.
I do get a funny feeling during the more often than I do at open mics and They wanted a slave
harmonica solo. shows, but I just can’t see a way yet to
-Frank Hoier crack the subway code. They sought control.
Maybe I should try interpretive They sought something dance… they could mold
-Jonathan Berger like clay.
XXVICLQII. They sought nothing like Cassius
Because I’ve got so much time on but more like Pompey
my hands, I sometimes think of going - explosive only on command.

Things did not go as planned.

W.B.C. W.B.A. I.B.F.
Everlast for all time!
born on the right day

the planets lined up

gave perfect timing

history of the ring

See a Dempsey’s
and Ding! Ding!
And born with

Sound the bell

that Hit You!



Fuck It!
a hitting



the great Belowsky


a spirit






Folk You!
getting back to my roots
by Dave Cuomo
XVII. Club 156 (capacity 157)
“Who wants to help me with my
photography homework?” I yelled
into the microphone. The packed
room of sweaty kids responded
with cheers, “fuck you’s,” middle
fingers, and obligatory devil horns.
I was 15, soaked with sweat, and
starting to get cocky. I took the
picture, put the camera safely off to
the side, and called out “1, 2, 3, 4!”
My band launched into our hit “Eat
a Fetus for Jesus,” while the crowd
pushed and stumbled in a mosh pit
in front of the stage and kids put
their fists into the air to scream
along with the chorus.
I look at that picture a lot these
days and remember how easy it
used to be to get a hundred or more
kids into a room at the 156 or the
Longmont Elks Lodge for a show.
In a town like ours there wasn’t a lot old men drinking after work and younger East Village
of competition for things to do, and our young satanic punk yuppies out shooting pool. We were at our best here in a
band was right there to fill the void. Now, every time I look small, relaxed atmosphere. People sat around on the couches
out on a seated cafe crowd and croon something thoughtful, and stools listening and singing along. When someone broke
hoping their blank stares means they’re listening, I feel a a fresh rack of pool balls during a quiet song they received
little twinge of nostalgia for the past glory days. dirty looks from the rest of the bar.
Darren Deicide played right before us. Darren is
IIXX. Satelite Bar someone who would’ve made perfect sense at the 156. He
“ ‘The president’s an asshole, God’s an asshole, and plays raucous punk rock blues with a loud raspy voice and
you’re an asshole too?’ I like that,” Tim said to me in his lyrics advocating revolution and the apocalypse. I’d always
thick Jersey accent, cracking open a complimentary PBR. pictured him as perfect for a late night dive bar show like
Having a bar owner quote you back the lyrics of your new this. As well as he may go over at acoustic punk shows or
song was a good compliment. I liked the Satelite. It had blues juke houses, he’d never had much luck in the city. I
become my little corner of New York. I liked to think of it understood. Singer/songwriter shows around here aren’t
as the Club 156 of the New York City folk world. Sure the always the most energetic. I put him on at the Satelite show
shows were a little mellower, but it was down to earth and thinking I’d prove to him that this town can get down too.
slightly seedy in the fun way. There wasn’t the pretention If it was going to happen at any bar, it was going to be this
you found at other clubs. They didn’t want to be wowed at one. He opened with a spoken word piece involving a small
how different or weird your music was, they just wanted to amount of audience participation. The crowd obliged, but
hear good songs. It was a dive bar with cheap beer, battered slightly begrudgingly as if to say, “I hope this guy doesn’t
couches, and a big mural of a swirling galaxy painted on the expect me to get up or anything.” When handclaps were
wall. When the sign for the front of the bar came back with called for during a song, only a couple could be heard.
the word “Satelite” accidentally spelled wrong, Tim decided Watching him pour out the energy, sweating and shouting
to go with it and spelled it that way from then on. and keeping the beat, while a crowd of about twenty sat
The first show of our Thursday night November residency away from him lounging quietly over their beers, was kind
at Satelite went really well for us. It was the usual crowd of of a sad feeling. Maybe this wasn’t quite the old punk club I
friends, musicians, and random barflies, creating a strange liked to imagine it to be. What is it about New York that our
space where songwriters and hipsters shared the floor with definition of a good show means sitting down and listening
quietly, politely applauding in between songs? Why wasn’t The Sharks and Guns set was rowdier. The place was so
someone pouring a pitcher of beer over my head? Where packed the only people who could hear what was going on in
were the kids up front, if not moshing, at least falling over the songs were those who knew them by heart. This included
each other dancing and stomping around? Why wasn’t the entire front half of the room who sang along with their
anyone doing anything? I too sat back on a stool too far from fists in the air in a mob around him. It was unamplified
the stage to be part of the energy. Darren did what he could, acoustic but it looked like a hardcore show. I realized that
and when he stood up on his chair to jump off the stage I Darren hadn’t just been making excuses when he asked me
thought he might be mocking us. to play first. There was no way I could have handled this
crowd, or the equally rowdy one he had played for. These
IXX. New Haven, CT people wanted to move, dance, and hear something they
The next night, Darren brought me up to New Haven to could scream along to. I did too. I was awkward though. It
meet Riot Folk, a highly political punk folk collective. Tom was like staring everything you want out of life in the face,
Frampton, the representative Riot Folkie playing that evening, the spitting image of my old photograph, but not knowing
was less prone to lectures and political essay songwriting how to reach out and grab it. I stood on the side as an
than he was to bad jokes and rocking out. He was a goofball. admiring spectator. Sure it looked familiar, but was that still
A lawyer’s son, Rhodes Scholar finalist, anarchist goofball. me? I’m a folksinger now, am I still allowed to do that? I felt
Tonight he was playing with his new project Sharks & Guns. like I was 13 again, watching my first mosh pit and being
They were so new I don’t think they’d ever rehearsed. I saw too scared to jump in, but definitely intrigued. I remember
them practicing beforehand, with Tom showing the songs to at 13 I eventually did jump in. In New Haven I didn’t. I was
his trumpet player and a young looking girl with a mohawk mad at myself for being too self conscious, but I felt out of
playing drums on a kit made out of turned over buckets. place. As punk as the music was, the kids were younger and
We were in the basement of Tom’s building, affectionately the audience had a bit of a drunk college party vibe (a Yale
named the Deez Nuts Speakeasy. It was large and empty one at that), which was never my thing, and shy as I already
with hollow sounding wood floors, and one bare light bulb was I couldn’t feel comfortable enough to cut loose. I felt
fighting a losing battle to light the room. like a tired old man.
“I think that you should probably play first,” Darren told Before each song, Tom would show the band the chords
me. and they would practice it for a second. The audience didn’t
“Sure.” mind, and took the time to yell at the band and drink more
“Only because I think you’re going to be the quietest act beer. They finished up with a loud sing along cover of a
and it’d be best to go in order of loudness. Chumbawumba cover of an old Italian folk song converted
“Sure,” I said again. I knew I was the newcomer here, into a political anthem.
so in all fairness I should have to play first. I thought it “What do you think of New York, now?” Genevieve,
was kind of silly that Darren felt like he had to make up Darren’s girlfriend, asked me afterwards. I laughed. It was a
an excuse though. There were about 15 or 20 kids when show unlike any acoustic show I’d seen in New York.
I started and they sat cross-legged on the floor or around “I think we should try to do something like this in New
the walls listening attentively. I knew what I was playing York,” Darren added. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to
was a little folkier than they were used to, but I took the bring you up here.”
opportunity to play some of the more punk songs that had “It’s true, we can be a little stuffy down there,” I admitted.
been sitting in semi retirement. They sat there nodding their “We should book this kind of stuff in the city. We could do
heads in time, listening well, and smiling. A few more kids it at Satelite if we got the right crowd in there. It’s exactly
filtered in and I finished up. The response was good as I what those kids need.”
passed out free demos. “Yeah, if the crowd could get into it. You know Cuomo,
I went out to smoke a cigarette after my set and by the time that’s part of our job is to get the energy going.,” Darren told
I came back, the room had changed. The whole basement me. “If we’re both playing a show, and you start dancing
had filled up and I squeezed through a thick crowd of loud up front during my set, they’re going to join in. You can
beer drinking Yale students to the front where Darren was get everyone having a better time.” I felt the chide from the
playing full throttle. He was snarling and singing, stomping night before. Even though I’d known that someone needed
his foot with enough energy to burst through his wooden to be the first one to get up and dance, I couldn’t do it. I
chair. Everyone was now standing up, dancing, clapping their didn’t know how to be that guy anymore. I wanted to be
hands, and getting down, screaming applause in between that guy as much as I wanted to dance and scream along at
the songs. The only real difference between his performance shows, I just didn’t remember how. For the first time in a
at Satelite and this one was the enthusiasm of the crowd long while I was beginning to remember that music is about
reflected on his face. It made all the difference in the world. more than sitting around and listening, being told something
When he jumped off of his chair this time, it was still a little with a melody. I looked forward to the next night, and the
tongue in cheek but you could tell he meant it. The crowd chance to try again.
cheered him on. It looked familiar, and I realized I was closer
to the shows of my past than I had been in years.
XXI. Satelite Bar (for the last time)
Tim called me that same night around four in the
morning. I angrily turned the ringer off and went
back to sleep. By noon the next day I hadn’t yet
XX. Norwich, CT checked the message when he called again. Later I
In Norwich I danced. I don’t know got curious and checked them both. In the first one he asked
how I figured it out, but I did. I think I me to play a couple of shows the next month. The second
just felt too comfortable and welcomed one said the bar had been shut down.
not to. It felt like a homecoming. For what
seemed like hours I stomped the floor and hopped around XXII. Williamsburg
with slightly hippy looking crusty punks teenagers to people Within a couple weeks of each other Satelite, Apocalypse
13 years my senior in the crowded living room. Bread and Lounge, Luna Lounge, and the C- Note all shut down.
Roses never seemed to tire as they played Irish drinking DTUT stopped doing their open mic because, among other
songs with anarchist lyrics and Pogues covers for singing reasons, it wasn’t bringing in enough money. Manhattan is
along to. I went hoarse joining in. I saw Genevieve twirling already too expensive to live in, and soon we won’t even
around in a big skirt holding a baby, and I got the warmest be able to play there anymore. I went to an open mic in
feeling I’ve had in a long time. Jennie had come up to meet Brooklyn two nights after playing in Connecticut. It was a
us and we danced together in public for the first time. hip bar with bright red walls and tiki lamps. It looked like I
“In Norwich they’re all about the politics,” Darren had imagined a poet bar would look in a resort town in Hawaii.
told me on the drive up. “You can put that shit right up front I sat quietly on a couch with everyone else and clapped
in your set and they’ll love it.” I’m not told this very often. politely in between songs. Common for New York, this bar
More often I hear that I need to put the personal songs first, had its obligatory resident idiot who got up and sang half
to connect with people before preaching to them. I always of a song about traffic lights while banging tunelessly on
hate being told that. Sometimes you just want to say what a couple of strings. I honestly thought he was retarded or
you came to say. autistic at first and that it was really cool he could play at
Darren was right. We showed up just in time for a Vegan an open mic being mentally handicapped. Of course I later
potluck and a seminar on zines. Mark Leonard, who was realized he wasn’t and found the whole thing a lot less cute.
putting the show on at his house, said that he made his For awhile I got bitter sitting there, missing the energy and
zine cut and paste on a photocopier because anything else honest passion I had been a part of the last couple days.
wouldn’t be consistent with the DIY nature of the content. Now with it becoming harder for the East Village to sustain
In New York now people usually find the idea of putting out venues for us, Williamsburg and all its irony laden hipster
your own magazine impressive. I found it refreshing coming bars were looking like they might soon become the new
back to punk where it was just assumed that everyone should home for acoustic music in the city. There was no way I
already be doing one. could bring an acoustic punk show to a place like this.
I put the political songs first in my set, and switched things Mike Ferraro, whose music I’ve always respected, got
around to include some older punk covers. Pandering? It felt up to play. Bespectacled with unkempt hair and a slightly
more like reconnecting. When I got to the softer folk songs awkward sport coat, he plays honest grungy songs with
at the end, it had done the job. Sometimes you see a look good hooks. The song he played that night had a catchy la,
in a new audience’s eye, and you know they’re listening la, la chorus that I couldn’t help but very quietly sing along
to everything you’re saying. I get a little shiver when for a with. Ben Krieger sitting next to me heard me and joined
moment I don’t even feel like I’m singing anymore so much in, both of us now singing a little louder. The next chorus I
as I’m just saying what’s in my heart to a room full of people heard a few people behind us join in too. Mike looked happy
who get it. on stage when he heard us and thanked us after the song for
Darren rocked, and Mark Leonard did too with lightning singing along. Later, as more of my friends showed up I
fast personal political songs that sounded tough and from the started to lighten up. I realized this was my home, and you
gut. I figured out the lyrics to the chorus to his Cocksparrer shouldn’t hate you’re home, but instead try to make it better.
cover pretty easily- “Take ‘em all’ take ‘em all. Put ‘em up This isn’t a punk scene, and hell, I’m not a punk anymore
against the wall and shoot ‘em!” and both me and Jennie either. It is a scene with a lot of great music and a lot of
were up front screaming along. It was all the fun and energy hipster foibles, a lot of places to play, and hopefully a lot
of 156, only with something older and deeper. I was back, more to come. Whatever neighborhood we infest next, we
but mature enough now to do it saying things that I actually will have a scene and community only as good as we make
wanted to say and have it be understood and matter. it.
“Satelite,” me and Darren agreed. We had to bring a show
like this to Satelite. Tim was a punk fan and would love us more stories at:
for bringing acoustic punk to his bar. Plus, I love my scene
but I felt there was a lot they could take from this.
Exegesis Department justify the music
with John Sfara
John Sfara,
Why the hell did you write this song?
And you’d make us a living by doing a little striping
Oh Faith do you recall
And me I guess I could sell some pot on the side
How we used to sit by the window
But we wouldn’t get greedy
Looking down at the court yard though the barbed wire
we’d just sell enough to get high.
At all the little kids as they took their thorazine walks
Remember the day when we tried our great escape
And we’d talk at length about
I made the fence but you fell flat on your face
How we might both break free
I was half way to the road
Were we’d go what we’d do and who would we see
When I stopped and let em grab my coat
We had it all planed out so very carefully
And I spent the next week strapped down safe to my bed
Why we’d live with your cousin
The nightmares and drugs running wild through my head
She was already well established
And when I came to you were gone
Had all the right connections and we’d never get bored
they wouldn’t tell me where
As we ran through the streets
Now all I have left is your name and a prayer.
the city lights keeping us warm

When I was thirteen years old I was committed against Once over the gate it was a ¼ mile to the road where her
my will to White Oaks mental hospital. I can’t honestly cousin would be waiting for us in a car. Once you hit the
recall all the events that lead me there; though I knew at road the hospital orderlies were not allowed to touch you,
the time I wasn’t really crazy… a few select state officials all they could do then is call the cops.
disagreed. The purpose of the hospital was to sedate your The day finally came for our jailbreak, and as they led us
natural genetic disabilities and allow you to function in out of the ward we stayed close to the middle of the group.
society. If you weren’t nuts to begain with, then there was a The orderlies walked along with us at the head and back of
problem; so it was general practice to first drive you insane the line, the tedium of their jobs making them especially lazy
so you could be fixed afterwards. After about a month of this looking that day. We glanced at each other, smiled and gave
treatment I was ready to leave. a slight nod. Like a fucking gazelle I was over that fence;
I met Faith one afternoon as I was watching the seven running so hard I felt my heart squeezing out from between
years olds in the court yard below us take their “thorazine my ribs, the blood boiling in my temples. I knew I had made
walks” (Thorazine is a powerful psychotropic drug that it, there was no way they would catch me now, I could see
basically turns you into a zombie. For fifteen minutes each the car. I couldn’t believe I was free. As I looked back to
day they would drag anyone who was on it, outside to get share my joy with Faith, she was on the ground screaming
some fresh air and exercise before they took them back to profane, raging, the orderlies dragging her back towards the
the ward to veg out again.) The first thing she asks me is gate. She hadn’t even made it five feet from the fence. I was
if I would like to break out of here with her...Yes! We then fucked; my whole world was fucked. I fell to the ground to
proceeded to dream up an entire life for our selves on the catch my breath and waited for them to come.
outside. Her cousin’s boyfriend lived in New York City and I ended up getting to stay an extra two months for our
was apparently a big time drug dealer who could get me a little stunt, as they called it. I never saw Faith again and no
job pushing, easy. She planed on striping, which at first made one would tell me where they’d taken here. I wouldn’t know
no sense to me, she was only 14, but then I remembered it her now if she were sitting right next to me. I still wonder
was New York City. We would be lovers and nothing would what happened with her life and if she’s sane enough to
come between us, it was fate. think the same of me.
All we had to do was hop a gate the next time we were
taken out for school (what they called school consisted of
coloring and playing board games in a separate building.)
the last word on words written about AntiFolk
by Jonathan Berger
Different people have different levels of intelligence, different learning processes. Some remember and are inspired by
music, while others focus on visual stimuli, while others identify and recognize mostly through smell. I focus on text. I
first discovered AntiFolk through an article in the Valley Advocate, got myself sucked in through a bunch of clips taped to
the wall at the Sidewalk, and became a part of the scene as a contributor to AntiMatters, the zine on the scene Of course,
AntiMatters was not the first zine dedicated to AntiFolk, nor was it the last. Here’s a rundown on the different magazines
that dealt primarily with the acoustic music scene in the East Village.

Xposeur/Exposure became the soul of the zine for four years, writing, corralling
(1988-1990) contributors, and distributing in a flurry of intensity. Selling
Kristen Johnson edited the first AntiFolk fanzine, which for one dollar, Jon Berger’s zine (often featuring Jeff Lewis-
altered its spelling, depending on the issue. Johnson also illustrated covers) became synonymous with AntiFolk
managed King Missile and Roger Manning. information. Each week at the AntiHoot, Berger could be
The magazine was unattractive. Most of the issues were seen peddling his wares, promoting the magazine, hustling
generated with a dot matrix printer and laid out by hand, suckers into giving up that desired dollar. He became an
giving it a homey feel, but not as illegible as those punk
cut-and-paste jobs.
The content is fascinating for those who were not then part
of the scene. It’s an exciting document of the early days of
AntiFolk, when acts were getting signed and this community
of outcasts was flush with potential. Contributions from
and about Lach, Roger Manning and John S. Hall pepper
the paper. The most interesting aspect of the publication,
other than archeological (who the hell was Baby Monroe
anyway?), is the centerfold, the Hunk of the Month feature.
Most months, the center of the magazine would have a beef-
or cheese-cake spread, by Lizzard Souffle. Those shots were
high-quality, and featured the aforementioned Kirk Kelly
and Roger Manning (in his Joe Folk identity), as well as
Cindy Lee Berryhill and Lauren Stauber. A fairly long-
running mag, the last issue or two got really slick, changing
formats, transforming from a Kinko’s creation to a glossy 7”
paper. The end was near, though.
Eventually, tired of being out of the spotlight, Johnson
became lead singer for the Cogs – specializing in Ween
covers, then propulsive pop-punk pieces. They’re broken up
now; maybe she didn’t get enough Exposure.

JT Lewis (who initially performed as Junior Miss but is Roger Manning in unused shot for Babe of the
now Jason Lewis, sometime of Star City) and Tom Nishioka Month centerfold
wanted to create a document about the then current AntiFolk
institution – or belonged in one.
scene. It was informative, political, affordable… it lasted a
After four years and forty-odd issues, Berger became a
couple of issues.
poet, and, like Kristen Johnson before him, got involved
Editors kept coming in, editors kept dropping out. The
on the other side of the stage. No longer writing about
guys in Muckafurgason helped out, and Mr. Scarecrow
performances, he became a performer himself, ceding
came on board, all to edit, all to contribute, but the magazine
editorial control of the AntiMatters to Tony Hightower, who
didn’t really build up steam until Jonathan Berger came on
lasted four issues, before giving the magazine up.
in 1996. First contributing, then supporting Mr. Scarecrow,
and finally ousting him in a bloodless coup, Jonathan Berger
Revolutionary Whimperings Anti-Up
(1996-1998) (2003-2005)
Concurrent with AntiMatters, Jonathan Berger (along Brad Willis, a Mid-Atlantic fan of the form, started
with his super-secret alter ego, Gustav Plympton) produced his AntiFolk website in 2002. He’s
an annual magazine of almost exclusively his writing on dedicated, driving hundreds of miles for shows, crashing
AntiFolk. It was called Revolutionary Whimperings. It was a in New York during AF Festival time, and generally being
free, digest form publication that often had overflow from the involved in the community as a fan, and from a distance.
more traditional AntiMatters. A fundamentally unnecessary One of the benefits from that distance is that Willis does
side note in the annals of AntiFolk journalism. not have a New York view of the form. He is not blinded by
locale, as we living in the Greatest City on Earth often are.
Ravin’ Wood ! He gives equal care to acts from the West Coast, the UK, and
(1997) even (gasp) Philadelphia.
Out California way, original AntiFolkie (he created Willis’ zine, Anti-Up, includes a 15 song CD of music
ForTunes 13, one of the first AF compilations) Billy Nova from contributors, from subjects, and from those who just
put out one (or two issues) of a pamphlet-sized periodical want their songs heard. This helps justify the steeper price
about AntiFolk from a national level. It was the best of $7.50 – also, since he’s not
laid-out publication (Nova was also an esteemed early present on the scene, he has to
photographer on the scene), but no article seemed to last mail his copies out.
more than 200 hundreds words. More like a primitive Thing is, the last updates on
primer than an informative advisor on AntiFolk. It’s Willis’ website are from over
really good looking, though, and was the first periodical a year ago. Willis has a kid
to expand its scope beyond its New York roots. now, last heard, and is working
like a dog. The fifth issue of
AU Base Anti-Up has been expected for
(2002) some time now, but no one’s
Feeling the dark cold void left in AntiMatters’ wake, been able to track down the
Patsy Grace and Grey Revell decided to put out their own out-of-town editor. Has this
fanzine on issues of AntiFolk. Naming it after a Mike most multimedia of mags been
Rechner song, they called their zine AU Base, A digest murdered? No one knows for
form community paper, involving more people than the sure.
dictatorial Berger, Grace and Revell did what they could
to generate content and distribute their issues, but living Urban Folk
in the wilds of Far Rockaway while raising an infant kept (2005-2186)
them too distant from the community to really shepherd Founded in 2005 by the
the project. Sales were light. Unfair comparisons were Brenda Kahn and Roger brain trust of Dave Cuomo
made to AntiMatters, not the least of which the steeper Manning, early AntiFolk stars, and Jonathan Berger, this is
two dollar cover charge. There were also unfounded reading Exposure in the UK a good-looking publication
claims of censorship (when a publisher chooses not that, unlike any of the
to publish something, that’s selectivity). Intrinsically others, is free. It’s circulation
involved were Lippe and Bernard King, relative constants is multiplicatively higher than any of those Xeroxed
on the scene, but their combined efforts came to little as AU productions, and gets distributed in tens – no, dozens – of
Base folded after four issues. locations throughout the city.
It’s no wonder this amazing publication has gained fans
Anti Zine as far afield as the Bronx and Staten Island, and has lasted
(2002) so long. Will this be the final word on New York acoustic
Around the same time as AU Base, Linda Draper music? Electronic bulletin boards (
began compiling comments from the message board at olivejuicemusic/ and offer alternatives, printing them up alongside silhouette to the text before you. While they serve different purposes,
art specially designed by David Michael Friend. These it seems possible that one form could eventually supercede
publications were free, had no hard news (just the opinions the other. Time will tell on that score, but in the meantime,
presented on the message board), and were alternately Urban Folk is by far the best print source for your AntiFolk
available online. People without Internet access or the desire needs.
to slog through the Olive Juice site were most pleased by the
opportunity to read the best of their compatriots’ words. It
was never more than an experiment, though, and, within two
issues Draper shut the Anti Zine down.
Bring Me the Head of Eric Clapton
by Alec Wonderful
The day George Harrison told me to kill was to butter up Eric and
Eric Clapton we were smoking pot in his get him nice and docile.
mansion outside of London sometime around Really, I just couldn’t have
1981. Now, I know the stories all said that done the deed sober. And
George was civil -- even genial -- about Eric besides, free bud right?
stealing his wife, Pattie Boyd. Let me tell you, On the way I picked up
that was all just smoke and mirrors. With most a copy of NME and read
of his friends he was all smiles and goofiness, it on the Tube. Eerily, the
but that was so the truth didn’t get out to the cover was an illustration
media. Since the end of ‘80, the media had been of Clapton and me, both
all over him, you know? He had to be careful. alec wonderful; self portrait on clouds, wielding guitars
Really, George was a cold, cold bastard. and dressed as Greek
“Alec Wonderful,” he said to me, “I’ve deities – robes, laurel
summoned you here because you’re the greatest guitarist wreaths, sandals, and curly hair. I was pushing Eric out of
since Hendrix.” the way and about to strike him down with a lightning bolt.
I wanted to point out that I was the greatest guitarist since The headline read, “Is Clapton Still God?” and underneath,
Robert Johnson, but modesty forbade. We were lounging “Young teen Alec Wonderful steals the great one’s thunder”.
in his living room, sitting on the floor (having long since Inside there was a lengthy article comparing my major label
slipped off the couches), a humongous bong sitting between debut -- The World’s Greatest Guitarist -- to Clapton’s recent
us loaded with the kindest bud this side of the English Another Ticket, basically saying that I had fulfilled Clapton’s
Channel. potential far better than he ever could. The writer said, and I
“I think if anyone should kill him,” George continued, “it paraphrase, “It looks like Wonderful could become the great
should be you. If you kill him, you might be able to absorb musical phenomena of the new decade.”
his powers and add them to your own. That I’d like to see.” This I thought was enormously unfair. First off, he made
George had been like this ever since he’d come back from it sound like my guitar playing somehow derived from and
India. I found his semi-coherent babbling entertaining, and improved upon Clapton’s, whereas my playing was clearly
laughed as I took another hit from the bong. Then as the more original than his, created almost out of whole cloth
smoke cleared and his stare bored into me, I started to realize during the six months I spent locked in my apartment after
he might be serious. After we’d shot up two spoonfuls of producing the Ramones’ never-released, He’s Wonderful
smack and he was still talking about offing poor Eric, I knew (I’m not). Further, the article only talked about the ways I
I was in trouble. was revolutionizing the guitar, barely mentioning my song-
You have to understand, Clapton wouldn’t be the first writing virtuosity and genius in arrangement, production,
person George had gotten rid of. At a party in the ‘70s, and dance. But then, what else could one expect from the
George had explained to me the whole sordid truth: alternate universe of rock journalism?
I got out of the Tube and threw the paper away in a nearby
“They never got it right about McCartney,” he said with a dustbin. Soon, I was at the gate of Clapton’s house and after
sly grin, “It wasn’t a car crash. You see, I wanted to test out identifying myself over the intercom, I was let in. Pattie
the latest android technology in Okinawa, so…” Boyd Harrison Clapton greeted me at the door.
My mind reeled, “Hold on... you replaced Paul McCartney “Alec, what a pleasure it is to see you!” She enthused.
with a robot? Paul WAS dead?” “I know. Is Eric around?”
He nodded. “John found out. I don’t know how, exactly. “I’m afraid he’s at a recording session right now,” she
But all those clues in the albums were him trying to leak said as she ushered me in, “but he’ll be back in an hour or so.
the information,” he shook his head, absently drumming Would you like to wait for him? I’ve got some tea.”
his long, guitarist fingernails on the coffee table, “His bull- “By tea you mean...”
headedness broke up the band.” “Earl Gray.”
I nodded, trying not to nod out. Damn the English. “I think I’ll pass. Do you have any
“Eventually, he had to go.” whiskey?”
Pattie sat me down on the sofa of their opulent living room
Which is all to say, I knew better than to disagree with and fixed me my drink. She looked gorgeous as usual, in a
George once he’d made his mind up. That’s how I ended up silky white dress and as she bent over the bottles and glasses
the next day with a pistol and two ounces of bud stuffed down I thought back to early ‘77, when she and I had lain sweaty
my pants, heading over to Eric’s place. I told George the bud
and naked together in George
Harrison’s bed. I was just a kid
then, an innocent prodigy Jew-
harp and ukulele master, about to
be swept up in the rivers of super-
stardom, on my first international
tour. Pattie and I met at a party
at George’s house. They were
separated, but I didn’t know that.
I didn’t know who she was until
after we’d already snuck upstairs
and done the deed.
“Oh, Alec,” she purred
afterward, “I can’t believe I just
did that. George would kill me if
he found out.”
“George?” I started, “Holy
crap! You’re Pattie Harrison!”
“Alec, you were wonderful!”
“Wait, are you and George on
the rocks or what? I heard that
guy from Cream is after you.”
“Oh, no. We’ve been
reconciling. I love George dearly.
I would never do anything to
screw it up now...”
“Then what...” I motioned to
our nude, entangled bodies, hers
enflamed, mine spent.
“There’s just... something
about you, Alec. You are something special indeed for a enough for you! How could I be?” She buried her face in
twelve-year-old.” her hands.
She buried herself in my chest. I could see in the back of There was only one thing a guy could do in a situation
her head – if I said the word she would never leave me. And like this. Climb out the window. But I had business to take
who could blame her? But Alec Wonderful cannot be tied care of, and I couldn’t let one distraught old lover get to
down to just one woman, or even seven. Soon I had gathered me, so I actually found myself saying, “Hey, baby. There
up my clothes and was sneaking out the window. there… you’ll always be special to me...” or some crap like
“This never happened,” I said. She probably looked that. Somewhere, beyond the sound of my own voice, a door
crestfallen, but how would I know? I was already gone. opened.
And now, years later, we were looking at each other over “Oh my God,” said Pattie, sniffling, “that’s Eric!” She ran
drinks. off to the bathroom to clean herself up. I downed the rest of
“So, you’ve been well?” she asked. my whiskey and then Eric Clapton entered the room.
“Oh, yeah, the best. Literally. I guess Eric finally won you Eric started when he saw me. He was sporting a full beard
over, huh?” and an all-white suit.
“Well,” she dug the toe of one well-heeled shoe into the “Alec Wonderful?” he said, “What are you doing here?”
carpet, “you could say that.” She looked toward the window “Well, you know, man, it’s been a while and I was in
distantly, “Eric’s really wonderful to me. I suppose it was the neighborhood. Thought I’d stop by. Got any dope?” Of
inevitable. Deep down I’m really just your ordinary English course, I had a bag full of dope myself, but it was my policy
girl, wanting the usual things, like love and security. George, to always ask first.
on the other hand, is an evil psychopath, who wants death Eric smiled widely, pulling out a hand-blown glass pipe
and world domination.” She hung her head, “But I loved and sitting down on the couch next to me. “Alec, you old
that crazy bastard so much. Things were never the same rascal! Some things never change...”
after...” and then she looked up and I saw tears in her huge, We passed the bowl back and forth a bit, filling the room
beautiful eyes, “Oh, Alec! I never got over you! George, with smoke, and then we dropped some LSD. Later I got up
Eric, it doesn’t matter to me anymore -- you could say the and went to the liquor cabinet and fixed us two whiskeys.
word right now and I’d never leave you.” Just as I suspected. I put his whiskey down in front of him, and, still standing,
She let out a terrible sob, “But I know I’m just not good downed mine in one swig. Then I put down the empty glass
and pulled out the gun, leveling it at Clapton’s bushy head. other somethings. A little better. Shakespeare, for instance.
“I’m really sorry about this, Eric,” I said, “You’ve always Mozart. Jin Yong. Colonel Sanders. You know, I once made
been cool with me. But, you know, it’s either you or me, and a shrimp that was such a genius it learned how to play the
– how can I put this? I’m Alec Wonderful.” conch shell? Shrimps don’t even have lungs, really, so you
Eric looked at me with a dead stare. “Yes, you are,” he can imagine what an accomplishment that was. Anyway,
said cryptically. I pulled the trigger. you’re one of these people. A paragon of genius in your
That is, I tried to pull the trigger. Or, more field.”
accurately, I willed myself to pull the trigger while I straightened with pride. It was
no trigger-pulling actually occurred. official: I rule.
Eric got up. “Come with me,” he said, “I want to “However,” said Clapton, “you’ve
show you something.” The pistol fell from my hand come to disappoint me, Alec. Besides
and my legs moved of their own accord, following being the most egotistical being
Eric through the house, down a set of stairs and into since that fucking shrimp – I mean
the basement. All the while he was talking. all the time with the ‘oo, look at me,
“You’re an amazing musician, Alec,” he said, I’m a right swell shrimp! Toot toot
“one of the best I’ve ever seen perform, and I’ve who knew? toot!’ – Oi. You’ve also just tried to
seen some greats in my time. Given a few years you kill me. Not only is that attempted
could completely overtake the music landscape. You could deicide, it’s just not cool, man.” He shook his shaggy head
be the next Beatles.” sadly. Somewhere in the background I think I spied a group
“Bigger,” I instinctively said, though I couldn’t contain of squirrels holding paws and singing “Kum Ba Yah”.
the fear and bewilderment that made my voice quiver. “But... I didn’t know you were God! And besides,
Eric looked back at me with a raised eyebrow, “Indeed. Do George–”
you ever for a moment consider where all this talent might “George will get what’s coming to him in due time. As
have come from? Why should it be that this lone American for you, I’ve decided to let you live. There will, however,
might be born with such amazing abilities while others are be a curse.”
not? What purpose might this possibly serve?” I definitely didn’t like the sound of that, “Can’t we talk
We came to a brick wall somewhere in the expansive this over? Surely there must be something we can–”
basement of Clapton’s mansion. He raised one hand, and the “You’ve always been the master of your world, Alec.
wall vanished. Behind it was a beautiful landscape of verdant Well, now you really will be. That is, you will continue
green and rolling hills, animals frolicking through trees and making the best music around, playing your shows, you
all manner of flowering plants. Beneath a tall olive tree a will be the great musician you were always destined to be.
lamb was sleeping underneath the protective paws of a lion. Except now, as soon as you’re out of the room, people’s
My legs were under my own control again, and I whirled minds will cloud over, and Alec Wonderful will become a
around to find that the mansion was gone. All around was vague memory. When you come back in the room, they will
this beautiful countryside. remember again. Thus, you will live your life convinced of
“Where are we?” I gasped. your own greatness, and impressing everyone around you,
“Paradise,” said Eric calmly, “It’s nice here, don’t and yet you will have no real impact on the rest of the world,
you think? I thought I’d show you something so you’d and when asked about you people will question whether you
appreciate the magnitude of what I’m about to say. You see, actually exist at all. And you will only be dimly aware of it,
Alec. Some time ago, the Greater Energy, you might call it, a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that something is
decided to take human form. It laid out an entire lifespan for very wrong, that you should be much more popular than you
itself which included the range of human experience: loss actually are. And you’ll be right. That is your curse, Alec.
and gain, triumph and tragedy, love and death, the whole The Curse of the Oblivious.”
gamut. It was among the many things it created for reasons “Now wait I–”
you probably wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Anyway, that And then I sat up straight, awake in my own bed, covered
human form is me.” in sweat. It was the middle of the night.
I stood dumbfounded for a moment as a family of “What a horrible nightmare,” I thought.
kangaroos bounded by. “So,” I said, “you’re Jesus?” And of course, it was just a dream. George Harrison had
“Oh, good Heavens no,” he said, “There never was any never told me to kill anyone. That’d be ridiculous; he’s a
such person.” really nice guy! And I’m just as good as I ever was and
And then I understood, “You’re God.” people all over the world love me. Okay, so maybe I never
He shrugged, “More or less.” did become quite the next Beatles, maybe the mainstream
Clapton is God. press hasn’t been as supportive as they should. But that’s
“You see, Alec, in the course of eternity, I have created just because they’re a bunch of philistines who don’t know
many creatures. All creatures, in fact. An unthinkable any better. The real fans know. I am still the best guitarist/
number of somethings all trying to get by in the cosmos. singer-songwriter producer/hand model you’ve ever seen.
And sometimes I create something a little – larger than the Right?
Get in the Minivan
I-10 and human tenacity
by Brook Pridemore
So I’ve been trying to tell this story [On a later tour, David LK Murphy and I played at a
for a long time, but I can never seem house party on Royal Street. Our hosts made jokes that
to find the words. this was a “Ward Off the Hurricane” party – that we had
Dan Treiber and I were out traveling to drink and rock and be merry to keep the oncoming
with our friend Mike Devigne (who storm from wrecking our night. Less than a month later,
leads an excellent Brooklyn band Hurricane Katrina destroyed most of New Orleans.]
called The Don’t Stop) last year, for Suddenly, it’s March 2005. Another year, another
what we called the “This is Our Day tour. Me and Ian Thomas and Sarah Bowman are
Job Tour.” The tour was in support making the same trek from Tallahassee to New Orleans
of my then-brand new album First that me and Mikey had made a few months before. It’s
Name/Last Name, and of Mikey’s new half a year later, and many of the fast food marquees
solo project, Guitar Bomb. are still destroyed, but I-10 is fully rebuilt, with traffic
We were visiting a lot of cities moving freely across the gulf in both directions. All I
none of us had ever seen, and had just can think about is human tenacity – the power of getting
spent a few days in Florida. I’d been together.
there a lot as a kid, and it seemed like When I think about those two trips down I-10, I get
paradise. My Dad lived in Florida, the idea that maybe this country isn’t as pathetic and
there was a beach and Disney World, misguided as I thought.
and it was always warm. Returning as a touring rock star,
though, Florida seemed like less of an oasis and more like
a dirty redneck strip mall. All of the marquees for local
establishments had been destroyed by the recent Hurricane
Ivan, so there were plenty of McDonald’s and Wal-Marts On the air since 2000, Dan Herman presents a freeform mix
with hand painted signs at their entrances that read, “I of songs, from independent, underground and major indie
assure you, we’re open.” labels. Much of the show’s content is geared to be a reflec-
At one point on this trip, we rolled into a gas station in tion of what the indie scene is like both in the Americas and
Jacksonville. I was wearing a button that read, “Not an in Europe. No two shows are exactly alike!
Asshole,” to which the cashier replied, “That’s a lie.”
I said, “No it’s not. You don’t even know me.”
And she said, “Yeah, but all men are assholes,” to which
I had no response.
After a few days in Tampa with our friend Chris
Martin, we played a really cool house party in Tallahassee.
From there, we drove fast on I-10, through Alabama and
Mississippi, straight on through to New Orleans.
The damage Ivan had done in Florida was noticeably
bad, but nothing prepared me for the sight of literally half of live Webcast: Live365
I-10 demolished by violent weather. As we creeped along a Sundays 7pm-1am EST
two lane highway (traffic reduced to one harrowing lane in
each direction), I saw the extent of devastation done in the Archived shows with playlists are heard 24/7 at
form of huge, twenty and thirty foot stretches of Interstate
being lifted from the water by giant cranes. Highway and for your big bad iPod, or just to listen to the mp3., .....
workers were patching the old road back together, starting PODCASTS!
over in the face of devastation.
We got across the gulf okay, and arrived in New Orleans where you can also see Dan’s customized list
some five hours late. Mikey bought a case of beer at a of best indie acts, weekly “Gem” features, and much more!
gas station. I think I’ll always be a little befuddled by the This Autumn’s top acts include: The Feverfew * Jodelle *
prospect of buying beer and fuel at the same place. I passed Elisa Korenne * David L. K. Murphy * Schwervon! *
out from exhaustion, and didn’t get to see the Rebirth Brass * Skidmore Fountain *Amy Hills
A Creaky Boards Eulogy
the captain always goes down with his ship
by JD Benjamin
The end of a band is always for months, piles of songs,
unrehearsed. You can prepare every instrument, everything
all your life to make a debut, but laboriously scrutinized for
for the final song, you can only heartfelt accuracy. At the end
improvise. All your tunes have of summer, 2002, I was leaving
unraveled and left you dazed at the for New York and Andrew called
bottom of a hill of performances; because he needed some trumpet
there is nothing left but your on a track. “Yeah, it’s just some
sprawled, raw self, and a hope that stuff I’ve been working on,”
it was all worthwhile. Something like no big deal. By winter,
fires up fast and then quickly burns the album, titled Pierson Spec,
to the ground. Recently, such was arrived, complete, at my Queens
the fate of Creaky Boards, a band apartment. In effect, it was like
I co-founded two years ago with keyboard wunderkind realizing your good buddy Peter Parker is actually Spider-
Andrew Hoepfner. Man. I nearly moved back to Michigan to see him spin
Andrew showed up in New York for good at the dawn webs. But in a year, he was on his way to New York.
of 2004. He called me at my midtown drone job: “I’m Playing in the subway one day, his synthesizer started to
sitting under the Rockefeller Christmas tree with my malfunction, so Andrew switched on an electronic rhythm
suitcase.” “Cool. I’ll be right there.” My heart leaped. and started madly dancing around the subway platform.
Just a few months before, we got a green light from Lach at The crowd backed up, frightened. I kept strumming guitar,
the Sidewalk Cafe. My piano-pounding pal was chewing cracking up. We didn’t make much money that day. It was
through town in a voracious fit of wanderlust that had the ice-blue goddamn winter of 2004. “Cold, cold, cold…”
dragged him across half the United States. His eyes went as one deep-throated folkie dude sang at the C-Note open
starry when I led him down to the East Village to the club. mike. Andrew found a room in some dump and walked
“The red velvet curtain, the piano… this is where I always around, shivering for days looking for a cooking job but
pictured my songs,” he gushed. I grabbed my trumpet and wound up in an office, like me. It was tough going; we
we hit the Monday Antihoot with tunes “Needles on the were both emerging from autumns of deep despair, so being
Brain” and “Dawn Again.” Blue quavering electricity filled together and making music was a salve. The more Andrew
the room. In the dying applause, it was announced “you’ll was around, the less I thought of tossing myself on subway
always have a home here.” Andrew went on to England for tracks. He had a bunch of great songs, and I dug up a bunch
a spell, I went back to Queens. But not for long. of mine. As a set, they were spooky but uplifting. Felt just
Creaky Boards are Michigan boys. I grew up in the woods right. We tried to rehearse in the subways, and it always
by Lake Michigan; Andrew was raised in a suburb near turned into a performance.
Detroit. We met in a band called Hot Blast in Ann Arbor, There is no crowd as honest as a subway crowd. Greasy
a town with a rich musical history, to which our group added pizza plates were thrown at us, ex-cons, cops and bums
exactly jack squat. Frankly, the Michigan music scene is bugged us, insults flew by. Children are the cruelest; they
nearly worthless if you don’t tour constantly and work mock you. But when we were loved, the rewards were
your ass off. Jack White worked his ass off. Fred Thomas priceless. I’ll never forget our impromptu jam with a gang
works his ass off. There are few decent venues, tasteful of Bushwick rappers, the dancing circle of drunks at the
musicians are scarce and camaraderie with other bands is Bedford stop, all the smiles and photographs with cute girls,
virtually nonexistent. There are more conceited wanks over the screaming “Love Me Do” ladies in Times Square, or the
in Michigan than I ever care to sift through again. So when crowd that showered us with over $50, cigarettes, a cigar,
I met Andrew Hoepfner (pronounced HOFF-ner), I nearly candy, a CD, and a joint! Indisputably, Outkast’s “Hey Ya”
had to shield my eyes from the blazing light. You could was the hit. Anytime we wanted to see some big bills float
immediately recognize he was kindhearted, responsible, and into our salad bowl (complete with plastic fork), “Hey Ya”
gifted. did it. Two skinny white guys with a synth and acoustic
In fact, the whole time he was in Hot Blast, Andrew was guitar doing hip-hop is endlessly amusing to New Yorkers…
also working on a solo masterpiece, and forgot to mention and us.
it to us. He slept in a church basement and recorded there By July we were on the Knitting Factory main stage,
opening for the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow. Months of onto the stages like a marionette. It worked for awhile.
trolling the open-mike circuit landed us gigs all over town. Andrew and I like to discuss the fine art of abandoning a
We got a loft above a factory in Bushwick and painted it sinking ship. The key is getting out before you’re capsized.
bright colors. Andrew slathered his room in black with When your favorite band makes a rotten album, do you hope
bright stars and planets. We moved a piano into the living the next one will be better, or do you jump? Andrew refuses
room, cooked summer corn juicy and sweet, had girlfriends to watch the second season of Twin Peaks, and gave up on
in our lives, parties were erupting. Momentum was on our his favorite band Saturday Looks Good to Me. I quit Creaky
side, but something horrible seeped in. Andrew’s hands Boards at the end of summer, 2005. The chemistry was
had a burning sensation that wouldn’t stop. He decided spoiled by new members, and I could tell Andrew’s heart
that Knitting Factory would be his last show, then he’d just wasn’t there. Freespiritedness was replaced by struggle
go home to Michigan to try to recoup. The night before and labor. At Cake Shop, Phoebe Kreutz asked whether I
the gig, I got mugged in our neighborhood. It’s tough, liked playing guitar or trumpet more and I said, “Trumpet.
realizing vulnerability. Suddenly, everything felt liable to If I had it my way, I’d have a dixieland band.” Seemed
shatter. Even if Andrew came back healed, it might not be funny at the time, but the more I thought about it, the better it
the same. sounded. I’m leading a band now, The Red Hook Dixieland
Insecurity ran high in the fall of 2004. Dubya was on Ramblers. Kicks ass.
the verge of winning his re-election with terrorist alerts, the Just a couple months after I quit, Andrew broke up the
RNC had New Yorkers in a frenzy, I quit my job in anger, group. I don’t blame the guys for trying to soldier on.
Andrew was in the midst of a love-lost crisis, and somewhere Nothing can prepare you for the end. Oftentimes you can’t
in there we went on rent strike against our landlord. “Let’s even tell when it has arrived. I just hope that it’s not the end
go live on a farm, no one can dooo us any harm,” Andrew for Andrew’s music, and I have a feeling it’s not. Hopefully,
sang in a batch of brilliant new songs, recorded mostly a with time and rest, his hands will heal and bring forth a few
cappella, which he brought back from Michigan. They more of those magic songs. The city seems a little emptier
were a refuge, seemed to hold everything together. The best without them. Perhaps they’re reverberating in the walls
doctors in the country couldn’t cure his hands, they didn’t of hearts somewhere still. God bless them. Rest in peace,
even know what was causing them to hurt. Some help, those Creaky Boards. Andrew, I’ll see you around, my friend.
quacks! I wrapped the pieces of our broken dream together
with 4-track tape, hung it with string and pranced it back out
In Bloom
by Paul Alexander
Not just another singer/songwriter, Amurá Oñaa is a massive chops, Amurá has considered taking formal lessons
sculpture of both stone and wood, a painter, a poet, an author to improve his understanding of music and his instrument,
of short stories, a designer of board games, a philosopher, especially when approaching a genre such as jazz, however,
and for many, a more than welcome sight at many of the he remains nervous that “formal” training may conflict with
city’s weekly open mics. And though Amurá is always a his creativity at this point.
welcome addition to any open mic night, after seeing New Amurá claims influences as indescribably eclectic as
York City’s music scene through Burt Bacharach, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix,
several generations, he has much the Beatles, Carlos Santana, Sting, Ray
more to share than his two song Charles, Miriam Makeba, Charlie Parker,
allotted time slot typically allows and “basically any song I’ve heard where the
on any given open mic night. For lyrics and melody stir my eyes to tear while my
starters, like many songwriters, spine resonates with sparks of my chi rising.”
Amurá uses an alias of sorts, but Asserting that “sometimes it’s just a phrase,
one with quite a meaningful back or the bending of a note coming in at just the
story. The name Amurá means right moment, the percussive rhythms of a
“one flame,” and Oñaa (O-nya- tabla juxtapose to a flight of notes racing off a
ay) means “eternal,” which sitar, or the pictures streaming through a song
according to Amurá, “the spirit — memories rekindled. Even the harmonies
basically is — one flame eternal within Christmas carols or the traditional a
(the eternal flame).” cappella voicing of groups like Ladysmith
According to Amurá, he got Black Mambazo — the world of music is my
started in music with a group influence.”
of junior high school friends at The world of music in New York has changed
about the age of thirteen — just in Amurá’s time. Before there were many open
when the Beatles and the British mics, there were “auditions,” where musicians
Invasion had just taken the United in the Village did just that, they came to a club
States by storm, and as Amurá to play several songs, not just to showcase
recalls, “being four of us, we their material, but in the hopes of securing a
simply emulated what we saw. gig at that particular club, and just as he now
We started off with broomsticks frequents New York’s open mic scene, in the
for guitars and cardboard boxes 1960s, Amurá was a regular at auditions across
for drums. Our shortest friend became the drummer, the the city. Some of his favorite old haunts remain on his
left-handed one got to be the bass player — yeah, you figure current open mic schedule, while others such as Audition
out the rest. I discovered my father’s old pawnshop Stella Night at the Bitter End, the Village Gate, and the Back Fence
guitar, with action high enough to springboard off from along with jams every Sunday in Washington Square Park
and started teaching myself.” Amurá adds “My father was are mainly memories for Amurá. While only 19, Amurá was
against it, ‘if there’s no money in it, leave it alone,’ though, playing collage cafés around New York City, many at City
being rebellious and stubborn, I decided this was the perfect College of New York (CCNY), securing a presence at the
incentive to learn.” colleges which eventually earned him slots opening for such
Proudly self-taught and still, four decades later, large acts as Dave Braumburg and jazz-fusion great John
experimenting with the guitar, Amurá alleges, “Sometimes McLaughlin, former leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra.
I spend hours mixing chords or fingerings that are totally During the 1970s, he continued to work on his own music,
new to me to achieve the taste that I’m looking for. You opening shows for large acts at Folk City and other CCNY
might say that because I play blues a lot, that blues is events, but also began devoting a large amount of his time to
my style, however, it’s just what I prefer to play out in playing in Mystic Merlin’s Magic Band, who recorded three
public. It’s what I’m comfortable with at the moment. But records for Capital Records. Playing in the 5th Dimension-
as a songwriter, I write folk, country, jazz, gospel, ritual, esque band Gentle Uprising in the 1980s, Amurá found
instrumentals, show tunes, whatever knocks at the door himself frustrated by near misses in the music industry. Still,
and looks promising, I’ll experiment with.” Despite his Amurá never stopped writing or playing on his own — apart
from a brief hiatus devoted to soul searching — and even much more natural expression of my thoughts.
wrote songs for his best friend’s band, Neck Bone Jama, “Growing up in Harlem I lost a few friends to the insanity
throughout the 1990s. of trying to ride the ‘white horse,’ too much drink, you name
As a songwriter, Amurá has had two or three close it, but even in their stupor they would talk of dreams they
calls with publishing deals, but then, before anything still clung to. What made them any different from me? I
was finalized, things fell apart. Near misses aside, Amurá guess if in some way I can remind myself, I’m no better than
has had the opportunity to appear and perform on several the next guy, or maybe the beauty of life is in the struggle.”
cable television shows, has had songs, on the compilation Maybe that’s why Amurá sings the blues. Regardless, like
CD: Best Singer / Songwriters of Greenwich Village 2003 many songwriters, Amurá knows that it can be very difficult
and 2005 via Additionally, Amurá was recently to tap into deep pain, but again, like others who write such
interviewed by Macy Favor, host of the Jazz Favorites show truthful music, he is also aware that it is in this deep pain
on WBFO 88.7 FM out of Buffalo, New York. that the most honest music lies. For instance, when he first
Meanwhile, as a veteran songwriter, Amurá has learned began playing the blues, Amurá admits that he wasn’t really
how to emote, and to avoid complexity for its own sake. “If sure what he was doing, and even though he knew how to
the last verse is not a repeat of the first, then it should be the play the guitar and could sing, it wasn’t until he learned how
strongest.” Amurá does his best to write just enough and to feel the things he was singing about that his songs really
keep his songs simple, not too sparse, all while not trying to started to work. As fellow open mic regular and neighbor
be so slick that the song is overbearing — a feat he feels he from the Bronx, singer/songwriter Drew Torres recalls, “His
has only succeeded at on a few of his songs. “I’ve written style, his finger movements, his songs… ahhhhh! Amurá’s
hundreds of songs that I’ll personally never perform.” show is crazy… that dude is fucking crazy.” Now, Amurá
For an artist who has written over five hundred songs, realizes that he doesn’t need to make music on some grand
Amurá is still honing his craft, and has moved from more scale to be “great.” “Music is not about shows, it’s about
words to less, added better adjectives to ignite a more what heals you.”
poetic image, and is learning to dissect works-in-progress, As part of his quest for self discovery and invention,
trimming excess baggage. “A song doesn’t have to be pretty, Amurá is currently doing his best to tap into his creativity
but I look to make it ‘smart,’ to conform as close to the idea whenever it calls, suggesting, “You don’t know who’s
that I’m trying to convey. For this, I ask myself, can this calling, but you’ve got to pick up. It may be a bill collector,
song stand as a poem if it had to? If there was no melody, but it may be something more,” realizing that an artist can’t
no music, could it convey the feeling I’m looking for? And put inspiration on hold. Additionally, Amurá is always
as for the music, I now question if the tone, the melody, striving to shun any preoccupations with embarrassment,
can carry the words properly, or if it is stumbling around endeavoring to become “creatively nude,” for fear that if he
just to provide background? That’s why I rarely look at a becomes too concerned with the image he wishes to project to
performer on stage; I don’t want to be distracted by ‘looks or others, he may lose out on something natural about himself.
movements.’ I close my eyes and listen to the play on words In the same vein, despite his strengths as both a songwriter
with the dance of the melody and the percussive surge of the and a phenomenal guitar player, Amurá is trying to approach
instruments.” music as a “weak man,” focusing on strengthening what he
Amurá often backs up fellow songwriters — something he calls a “spiritual force,” which will help remove obstacles to
seems to greatly enjoy. Though, he does admit, “it’s always better songwriting. At the same time, he is also careful not
a challenge to sit inside another player’s style and find the to burn candles at every end and follow his urges, finding
most complimentary path to their music without getting in that if he wants to sculpt rather than write one day, it is best
the way or stepping on their vocals and lyrics, which, to to let music take a brief backseat.
me, is very important.” Amurá has supported many players Inspired by “curiosity, fear, death, life, birth, sunrise,
over the years, including sitting in with Dalton Lee, Mikel sunset, you name it, music pushes and pulls me, reminding
Campbell, Kokomo Joe, Rob Barretta, Leo, and Amy Hills. me that I have things to finish, things to complete and bring
For Amurá, the thrill lies not in “who the artist is,” but rather to fruition and conclusion — not for the world, not for my
“who the music is.” Believing that “great songwriters are family, but for me.”
great communicators, and they let those who listen to them Amurá’s most recent recording is entitled, The Best
know they are human just like the rest of us.” Part of Me, but according to him, he is “still learning, still
Five years from sixty, Amurá respects his musical gifts, looking to see how far his music can go, and still waiting
trying to return something to such an important form. “I was to give ‘birth,’” so perhaps his newest work would be more
a quiet and introverted kid, the guitar became my lifeline aptly named The Best is Yet to Come. After all, according to
and saving grace. I can’t tell you how many times it has Amurá, each and everyone of us “flowers” at different times,
pulled me from the abyss.” Even now, Amurá strives to and he would be the first to admit to anyone that despite all
channel any feedback he receives into constructive change of his success thus far, he is still working on his bloom.
rather than damaging doubt. “Writing is more fun now
then back when I ‘thought’ I was writing. Back then I was
worried about unimportant things, and now I write with a
Sound Decisions by Dan Costello
I’ve been working for three months as a sound engineer. There’s little more rewarding than seeing new acts develop
into crowd favorites, or seeing a familiar artist take new turns in their craft. But for all the good, there’s an inevitable
downside. I don’t just mean bad performers; in addition there is plenty of bad etiquette. Mentioning my grievances after
the fact usually elicits a response a la “No one ever told me that!”. This is a The Performer’s Top Eleven Worst Offenses.
Most of these happen so regularly, there is no sense attributing names or specific examples to such faux pas….
11) Leaving Right After Your Set. If you have a dinner you use a microphone, or how shitty your guitar playing
with the A&R guy from Warner (ewwwwww), you might is. If you have a decent sound person, and you still
be excused. But otherwise (and maybe even still, ewwww sound like shit, well, grab a mirror dude…..(or lady….)
Warner...), you should stay to hear other performers. As a Making home recordings can avoid this shocking sort of
performer, my general rule is that if someone sits through realization during a live show.
my show, I sit through theirs. When you come off stage, 4) Making $100 and not tipping the sound person. This
many eyes are still on you. What does it suggest if you is a business issue. You want more shows, we want more
cut and run? Tacky! money, it’s not exactly payola but it does give everyone
10) Not Showing Up For a Gig. Yes, really. Call or email what they want. No one is required to tip the sound guy.
DAYS before you decide to come (not HOURS). If you It’s just that the classier acts usually do. It doesn’t mean
think no one’s going to come, you should have to suffer you’ll get another gig, but in no way does it hurt.
the empty house too. There’s nothing worse. This is an 3) Asking the Sound Person “What’s your name again?”
automatic blemish on your permanent record. from the stage. I just got through asking the crowd
9) Showing Up Late Then Complaining You Didn’t Get how much they like you, over and over and over again.
A Full Set. If your show is at 8PM, you should be there Now, as a show of our mutual respect, perhaps you could
earlier than that. If you show up at 8:15, and someone remember that man with all the compliments in the corner
else is scheduled for do the math. as someone more than the “Sound Guy!”. The worst
8) Asking The Audience “How Does It Sound?”. In all version of this offense is “Hey Sound Guy, will you get
likelihood this is your nervous excuse for banter. But me a beer?” Sure mate, let me just turn your mic off for a
really, what are they gonna do? These are your friends sec while I wait at the bar…….
- not the Roman Senate. Your audience isn’t at the 2) Making long-winded excuses for the lack of people at
controls. Giving them a false sense of empowerment is your show. Listen, you can talk as much as you want, but
awkward for everyone. Hopefully, the club you’re at has remember as stated before, this is a business arrangement.
smart people at the wheel. Trust them. No matter how sick your roommates are, they shouldn’t
7) Waiting for your friends to show up. When the club be the only ones coming to see you. And regardless of
gives you the courtesy of starting on time, to wait ten how many people you call three hours before your gig,
minutes for your friends, or your mother, or whatever, just if you don’t do your homework you won’t pass the class.
makes everyone who got there on time wonder why they This was a high flying contender for #1 offense, but didn’t
bothered….the sound guy included. make the cut because something else just sucks a whole
6) Not knowing who else is playing the night you are lot more…
playing. The clubs where Urban Folkers play are 1) Promoting your show next week at the club next door.
community establishments. Out-Of-Town acts are OK, we’re all a family right? And many people who are
excused from this faux pas (unless you were booked seeing you now will come see you next week at that club.
by a local friend!). But c’mon, promoting yourself and And you should tell them about it. In person, at your
promoting a scene involves promoting other artists too! leisure. Clubs compete for attention. While performing
No club lives on one person’s draw. Someone else’s fans at one club, using their mics and electricity, no other club
might come see you because you supported the artist they should be mentioned. It’s just a conflict of interest, even
like. for just that moment. Advertising for the club next door
5) Complaining about Sound Quality because you don’t is like shitting where you eat. And what did your mother
like your voice. Yes, this really happens. The sound tell you about that?
person can’t control how you actually sound, or how well
Keep your head up, keep your ears tuned. And remember – there are things that just piss people off. Like tuning as soon
as you get onstage. But the Sound Guy is not really judging you on your performance. The crowd does that. What we are
looking for (and what the people in power ask us about) is what you are LIKE. How many people you bring, how you treat
us. Stars can be divas. Up and Comers can be naïve. But everyone who reads this knows the scene. And the scene is only
as successful as it sounds. So make sound decisions!!
Paul’s Perspective
new year’s revolution
by Paul Alexander
With a new year looming on the horizon, it becomes of long standing institutions such
easy to begin reflecting upon time passed, just as one as CBGB’s, the C-Note, and
might reflect upon their day long after midnight on their newer points of light, such as the
walk home from an open mic or just before the dawn after burgeoning Satelite Bar, as they
spending a sleepless night capitalizing on insomnia in the burn out before they have even had
company of an acoustic guitar. In all cases, a person may a real chance to shine; while the
be drawn to recall in blissful hindsight all of the success demise of Amy Hill’s long standing
they can celebrate, or more often, we may chose to dwell in “Open Up” open mic at the DTUT
regret upon wasted moments and squandered opportunities. is also a sore yet to completely heal.
At any rate, as my 25th year on this Earth comes to a close, I But even watching friends and fellow songwriters such as
am opting not only to assess all that I have achieved over the Danny Kelly, Ty Gray, and many others move their artistic
past 365 revolutions, but also to reevaluate those precious endeavors beyond the five boroughs gives me bittersweet
“resolutions” I entered into this calendar year with — from hope as I remain grateful that I was able to get to know all of
my commitment to beginning an open mic in my blossoming these great talents and musical meccas before they became
neighborhood of Long Island City, to my lofty goals of merely more metropolis memories.
finally creating a professional full length solo album, and Perhaps as the new year dawns, or maybe even as
yes, even to creating lengthy inane editorials for this once tomorrow’s sun rises, I may chose to see all that still lies
fledgling zine. ahead as bleak and foreboding, but for now at least, I thank
Now, as I reach the twilight of this year, I am proud that you all for an unforgettable 2005. Thanks for loyally reading
my weekly “Crowin’ at the Creek” open mic continues not and responding to my self-centered ramblings, thanks for
only to grow, but also to constantly inspire me, and more coming out to my open mic, and above all else, thanks for
importantly, to inspire those who attend as “regulars;” while inspiring me to look to 2006 with an optimistic tone. More
I am beyond proud of the success Dave Cuomo, Jon Berger, resolutions for growth and change certainly lie ahead for all
and countless other have realized in fostering not only a of us, but until then, thanks for all of the opportunities and
consistently well-rounded and insightful publication which support. I promise my album will come sooner than later
serves not only as an artistic outlet for many and a showcase so you can finally hear me rant about something else, but
for some of our city’s greatly underappreciated talent, but until then, Happy New Year from myself and all of us urban
also as a unifier in an artistic community in which I feel folks.
fortunate to find myself. And although my album, thus far
many many more months in the making than I could ever
imagine, and full of more headache than I would have
ever expected, still remains to be finished, I know in
due time it will also be a great source of pride, and I
will look back on it and all I have learned from it as
worth every minute it took to complete. At the same
time, all of the interviews I have had the pleasure
of doing, and all of the friends I have made via this
zine and the open mic scene have only helped me
confirm for myself, that although we may still be far
from the mythical urban folk scene of New York’s
storied past, we are still all lucky to be surrounded
by so many undeniably talented, inspiring, and
supportive artists. Our little scene may be no Paris
of the late-1800s or Height/Ashbury of the late-
1960s, but at least in this moment, a very optimistic
time of reflection, I am excited by the renaissance I
feel we have begun to create here in New York over
the past months.
It is undeniably sad to witness the death knell
The Urban Folk Crossword puzzle and interview by Deborah T.
Across 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

1. Now defunct East Village venue (Hyph.) 14 15 16

6. NGO that does the right(s) stuff?
10. Dubya’s favorite song by The Cure, 17 18 19

“Killing an ___”? 20 21 22
14. One who sends e-notes
15. ___ Soup, Lipton instant offering 23 24 25 26

16. Magic charm 27 28 29 30 31

17. Hipsters require one?
18. 168 of them make a wk. 32 33 34 35 36 37

19. Slightly color 38 39 40 41

20. Food order specification (2 words)
21. ___ level 42 43 44

22. One who detests 45 46 47

23. Egotist?
25. Tiny State (Abbr.) 48 49 50 51 52 53 54

26. There are 8736 hrs. in each of them 55 56 57 58 59 60

27. The first tone of the diatonic scale
29. Ziggy Stardust would be Bowie’s (2 61 62 63

words) 64 65 66
32. Recipe abbr. for quantity
34. Color film brand of Paul Simon song 67 68 69

38. Tropical drinks (With an interior

rhyme) Down
41. A cobbler is one sometimes 1. Group of players 36. Meal selection
42. Add sugar ahead of time, as iced 2. She’ll be your mirror? 37. Creative, often sexual, yearning or
tea often 3. Last letter of the Greek alphabet love
44. Influential producer that may work 4. High-voiced male 39. Example of #32 Across
pro Bono? 5. Before 40. An MIA PFC, perhaps (2 words)
45. Portrait cost (2 words) 6. Misses profoundly (3 words) 43. Like a rat
47. Not them 7. Organized an exhibition 46. Dreaded destination for one w/o ins.
48. Marshall stack, for example 8. 10 inchers at 33 1/3, technically 48. Skilled
(Abbr.) (Abbr.) 49. Un “e”asy Marilyn?
51. Opposite direction from rt. 9. Division of MGM 50. “Sideways” wine variety
52. Notifies 10. Opera highlight 53. Industrial Rock poster-boy, Reznor
55. Creating 11. Small, or scrawny 54. Eclectic, Chicago Roots band, ___
57. Cheap libation (Abbr.) 12. Ire Dada
58. On the ___, Kerouac novel 13. Ale, Lager and Pilsner, for 56. Fave art class subject?
61. Beaucoup de boredom example 59. Legion
62. Store proprietor on The Simpsons 19. Upper legs 60. Manic Panic and Punky Colors, for
63. Protagonist of “There’s a whole 21. Smoothest example
in the bucket” song, OR Antifolk 24. Quick “farewell” 62. Consumed
progeny* 25. Put back in the middle again 63. Owns
64. Poke 27. Moist 65. Counterculture mecca, in CA
65. The vertical line extending from 28. Actor, Sharif
the head of a note of music. 30. Crate-diggers scores (2 words) * Congrats to Lach and Anu
66. Japanese style of ‘toons 31. Gold, south of the border
67. Carry 33. Fasten
68. Secret Svc, et al 35. Exclamation, upon finding #31
69. Sticks around Down?
We Have a Winner!
Dave O’Neal
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave O’Neal, over some grilled sandwiches,
at Pete’s Candy Store, in Brooklyn. Dave is witty, but unassuming; the guy who will
consistently surprise you, and amuse you, provided you let him. You oughtta
let him.

DT.: Dave, your first love is the guitar. At what age did you discover it?
DO: 6th grade. It was through a cousin. When I moved to Texas, I met him.
He was playing rock n’ roll, and it was exciting to see somebody doing that,
right in the house... Made me want to do that, too.
DT: When did you realize that you wanted to write your own music? Was
there some event, or circumstance, that led you in that direction?
DO: I wrote a bunch of rock n’ roll songs in high school. [Those songs are]
long since lost, and forgotten. Really, I started to write songs, in earnest, in
2001. There was a break-up, of course. And then, I happened to hear a CD
by Shivaree, and I just really liked the writing on that album. It just inspired
me to give it a try. There was something a little off, or unexpected, about that writing, that made me think, “Oh yes, this is
how you COULD write a song.” I think the album is called I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head for Making Me Live in
a Dump Like This. I remember one line from it; “You can’t fall down the stairs two
times the same way.”
DT: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
DO: Sad songs, in major keys. I never envisioned myself singing. I was always
just a guitar player. Then, when I started writing songs with WORDS, I realized I
would need to sing them. That’s when I started hitting the open mics …to fall on
my face, as much as possible. One of the biggest surprises I’ve had in my singing/
songwriting career is having people compliment me on my voice. That’s something
I never expected.
DT: So, you haven’t been falling on your face so much?
DO: As a matter of fact, my mantra when I started performing was, EMBRACE the
DISASTERS,” because anyone who’s successful, probably has a hundred stories to
tell about a gig gone bad, or something disastrous happened to them onstage.
DT: Yeah. It’s a learning process, at any stage. After all, you can’t fall down the stairs
two times the same way, right?
DO: So true.

the rules:

be the first person to email or snail mail (submissions handed to us in person

will not be accepted) the completed crossword or the correct answers to, or 306 Jefferson St. 1R Brooklyn, NY 11237

the prize:

be featured here! You will be interviewed by Deborah T. and win a short

feature in the next issue of Urban Folk
CD reviews
send your cd to 306 Jefferson 1R, Brooklyn, NY 11237
by the editorial collective
Ben Krieger the recording is muddy and the fiddle is a bit out of tune,
“Stingra: Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea” but the energy carries through as do the tough vocals and
Ben Krieger has made a name for himself with solid, smart lyrics. The intelligence to the whole production is
quality folk songwriting and occasional college rock forays really what makes this band stand out from other acts that
that solidified his competence as a musician, along with the try this same thing. The themes are familiar punk subjects,
idea that he isn’t the most innovative artist around. Then he with songs like “Dump the Bosses Off Your Back,” or the
hands me his rock opera. I was intrigued. Along with the gritty street level city portrait of “Streets of Chinatown,” but
professionalism of his writing, Ben has also been the master the lyrics are well written and fun to sing along to. Take a
of low budget home recording. If I trusted any local musician song like “Bedtime for Plutocracy,” a song about Bill Gates
to pull off a rock opera it was Ben. He did not disappoint. which could have turned out pretty cheesy, but the lines are
Four tracks in the opera starts. It tells the tale of Stingra, earnest enough and well written so as to come off honest and
a bionic jellyfish created by the CIA to defend the eastern ring true. Take the chorus “ ‘I’m just a man and there’s been
seaboard. The climax comes when Stingra must confront a mistake – no one deserves all the things I’ve been given,
Atron, a photonic pangolin space monster. During the course and no one could earn all the things I have taken.’ ” Blunt
of the battle, Stingra learns a valuable lesson about who the yet effective. Songs like this remind us that it’s not always
real enemy to our oceans might be. I won’t give away the as important to say something new, as it is to say something
ending, but there is a message here as poignant as anything well. The packaging on the C.D. was interesting, with a 7”
Styx had to say. What makes Stingra really work is that for all sized sleeve that opens up to a large full color picture of
its ridiculousness, Ben followed the joke all the way through what appears to be unionizing workers backed by a dismal
and made this thing really freakin good. The songs are good night cityscape. Also included is a large full lyric book (the
catchy folk rock, the recording is great, and his arrangements tiny type was a little difficult to read, but worth the effort)
and vocal harmonies are approaching Freddy Mercury range that even included short paragraphs by the band about their
in their scope. I especially appreciated the full choral effect opinions on music, usually showing off their anarchists
of the CIA chorus. The real lesson to the album? If you want leanings. “Whatever divine combination of melodies and
to tell Pink Floyd or Styx to eat their hearts out, do it fucking chants that are being played seems almost irrelevant when
well and no one will be able to argue with you. Surrounding we have regained the essence of music as a joyous cathartic
the Stingra epic are other fun songs, some equally ridiculous, retreat from oppression.” Maybe it’s a little heavy handed,
some a little more straight, but all of them a little light but you can tell their hearts are in the right place when it
hearted. For instance, in the first song, Ben’s repertoire stops comes to why they’re playing music. I’ve seen these guys
the album for a minute to sing a list of equipment demands live at a crowded house show, and lines like theirs are great
that Ben must meet, the repertoire being tired of working to scream along to as the floor shakes when everyone’s
with shoddy equipment. A fun project, an enjoyable listen, dancing and stomping their boots to the Irish rhythms. Oh
and a creative leap for Ben; if his previous work was high yeah, I thought, this is what music is supposed to be for.
quality and slightly run of the mill, then here he’s gone all
the way to the other side of creative ridiculousness. If Ben’s
future lies somewhere in between the two extremes, we’re Charles Latham
seeing a good solid musician transform into an innovative “Pretty Mouth”
and great one on this album. This gets the Urban Folk award Charles Latham’s first disc, a homemade venture, is
for what’s possible with DIY. a good introduction to a talented writer. His style is frat- alt-folk (if that makes sense), and he’s good at it. This not
an album for the faint-of-heart. Wet dreams and hard ons
Bread & Roses make appearances. He has a wounded-but-laughing tone in
“Post Patriarchy” his songs that puts a listener at ease. The sound quality is
The world needs more bands listenable if inconsistent. It doesn’t try to be polished. It’s
that sound like The Pogues. These rough, it’s fun, and most importantly the words are clear.
guys certainly do, traditional Irish Charles is vocally adventurous; on the chorus of the opening
arrangements played hard and sloppy track “Nice (to me)” he resembles Mr. Ed on helium... This
complete with tin whistle, fiddles, and rhythms ready made is not a bad thing, it’s rather exciting and intriguing. There’s
to stomp your boots and wave a glass of beer to. There a lot of instrumentation at times, sometimes it seems like
is a little more punk to the sound and the idea here, as the kitchen sink mentality - throw more sounds on that fire!
. My favorite track is “Applications Echolalia
For Employment” - the simplest s/t
song musically, just guitar, vocals Well, Echolalia’s gone now, lost in
and accordion. Also it’s the truest the wake of leader Ivan Sandomire’s
reflection of life on the record departure for the West Coast. Tears
(“I need two jobs just to pay my have been shed, lives lost, and pain
rent”). Everything else has some suffered by a frustrated populace who
tongue-in-cheek joke in mind. This have lost the standard bearer of mope-
one’s straight up and down. And I folk (mope-folk, maybe isn’t the best
believe the only major flaw of the title. Like obvious influences Jeff
record is the final track, “The Kid’s Buckley and Radiohead, this music
An Alcoholic”. It’s a mish-mash of rocks out, has orchestral impulses that
styles and sounds, it doesn’t finish as swell and fall with sensitive beauty, and
clear as it starts. And it’s really long then aggressive force. It’s like shoe-
coming across like masterbatory gazer music but the budget’s smaller).
fun-with-a-four-track. And that’s With the loss of Sandomire and
cool, for an outtake. It would be a Echolalia, we’re left with a six-song EP
better LOST track than LAST track. as document of their time in New York.
It’s a hell of a random let-down to an It’s good stuff. A bit like Elliot Smith,
otherwise solid album. another posthumous act. “California,” the opener, is somehow prescient, as
that’s where the Sandomire’s ended up.
Courtney Dowe The melancholic mood is introduced
“The Brooklyn Basement Tapes” with the initial guitar sounds, and is
On the surface Courtney maintained even through the expansive,
Dowe’s album may seem like a explosive chorus. The song seems
series of simple, well constructed to mine a similar feel to the Phantom
illuminations. On a second listen we Planet’s song, introducing The OC each
found that these songs are steeped week (Which is a good thing. I love The
in nuance. Dowe’s voice is often OC. Summer’s hot). The third track,
reminiscent of Tracy Chapman’s. “Nonsequitor,” changes the mood up,
And while she utilizes some similar with tribal drums and a higher pitched
songwriting skills to Chapman vocal (who thought Sandomire could go
(repeating phrases and playing that high? What did some girl do to his
simple rhythmic accompaniment), poor testicles?). It’s powerful, electric,
she is not contained by this a post-grunge sound that can take us
comparison. Dowe’s vocal prowess all into the far future and back again.
is at times fiercer and more far- It’s not impossible that someday we’ll
reaching. Listen to “Stone Into experience the wonder of Hurricane
Water” for an example of this. These Ivan again, but until then, this CD will
songs are well recorded, and they serve just fine.
possess a dankness and solitude that
comes across nicely on each track.
On “Joan” she really comes into her Jessie Murphy
own with a beautiful Buckley-esque “Room Alone”
vocal solo. Then on “Song For Jessie Murphy often flirts the line
Michael” her musicianship steps up between blues and dance grooves, not
again, singing the hell out of a tough being ashamed to describe herself as
vocal line while really nailing a disco/blues. This release is light on
mathematical guitar riff. When she the blues, heavy on the disco. Can we
ends that song, and the album, with call it disco/folk? I do hear an acoustic
the line, “This is just the beginning”, guitar, and I believe it would be the first
you may think “God I sure hope so!” of the genre. Jessie is aware she doesn’t
and go back to Track 1 again.. This fit into the traditional anti-folk sound
is very listenable Lo-Fi. and is ok with it, but if she’s going to do dance pop, she’s going to do it well.
The EP opens smooth and catchy with
“There You Are’” putting an offbeat rock steady beat to a Mark Leonard
smooth poppy melody sung with a nod to Dianne Warwick “Fountain of Youth”
(yes it’s that kind of catchy). Credit Anyone who wants to know what punk-folk can sound
her and producers Jason Marcus like should listen to this album. Stripped down guy and guitar
and Oshin Baroyan that her voice recording, lightning fast three chord strumming, and full-
has never sounded better. Except throated gravelly melodic vocals. This is a guy who insists
for the smooth almost country on doing his zine cut and paste photocopied because he finds
ballad of “Last Car on the Train,” it to be more congruous with the message, and makes his
the five songs stay pretty close to albums by spray painting a CD-R with a stencil. I really
the upbeat catchy seventies sound appreciate that despite the singing style, the lyrics are still
of the first song in the arrangements understandable. Mark accomplishes that rare trick of writing
and melodies. The standout moment being the chorus heavily political songs that come from the gut, especially
to “Watch Me” where she phrases the lines “I don’t have when combined with his tough and melodic melodies ready
time for anything but love” with a perfect rhythm and clear to sing or scream along to.. “So fuck this whole scene,
sweetness on the staccato high notes. The lyrics are mostly and fuck this whole town, and fuck all the hypocrites...”
shallow dance hall fare about love and attraction, coming as he gripes on the opening track “An Open Letter to Those
no surprise with the sound. Then there’s the completely out Using the DIY Community as a Stepping Stone.” It sounds
of place bonus track “93rd St. Home School Handbook.” It’s like he’s speaking from experience. Mark’s been around
a stripped down up-tempo folk song about the foibles and long enough, and has seen the scene he hails from blow up
contradictions of the city, recorded with just the voice and and have to move on enough times, bringing a maturity of
guitar. It sounds more personable and accessible if slightly experience to the personal politics. The fact that acoustic folk
awkward at times, some of the lyrics sounding a it awkward has become a new outlet for DIY punk makes perfect sense.
and the voice lacking the effects that made each note come What’s more DIY than anyone being able to pick up a used
out so perfectly on the rest of the songs. But it is a welcome acoustic for less than $50 and sing your heart out? It sounds
down to earth moment on an album that was a bit lacking in experienced and mature coming from Mark, the product
that department. Being the magazine we are, I instinctively of years of struggling to be heard while trying not to have
liked this song best for its simple nakedness. It also helped the thing you love get taken advantage of and manipulated
me to appreciate the dance songs to know that she can time after time. Sometimes he sounds a little weary like on
lighten up, have a little fun with her songwriting and not be the title track “Fountains of Youth” singing, “Still haven’t
afraid to share. given up, but I feel close to it. It seems like most of our energy’s wasted. And the bands that were slumped now roll
in the cash, and another year comes and the state’s still not
Joshua Gabriel smashed,” but also proud and optimistic, “All I want is to
“21st Century Blues” rock ‘n roll and for the punks to make it last.” If Mark is any
This is weird one. It starts full of promise with a fast late example, they still are.
seventies style punk tune backed by a hyper electronic drum
kit. The lyrics sound like slam poetry sung with a snarky
New York accent and a slight hint of Dylan. I’m enjoying Mike Ferraro
and intrigued. Then the next song comes in with a redundant “Pigeon Club demo” &
two note guitar part, a lazy bass, and a jam band style slow “Somewhere Between First and Last”
drum beat giving the whole thing a weird hippy vibe. The Grungy Indy rock with a touch of the morose, Mike
singing sounds less cool than lazy. Put on too heavy a Ferraro is at his best when he’s upbeat and catchy, which
coating of fuzz and reverb and I’m a bit turned off. So we luckily he frequently is. These two examples show a similar
skip ahead to number three hoping for something with the sound to the songwriting with the only real difference being
freshness and energy of the first track. Instead we get a slow the production and arrangements. Pigeon Club Demo is the
heavily distorted instrumental track. Ok... One more try. The earlier release, and is a clear sounding, well mastered three
last track is a slow and heavy, slightly metal sounding song, song EP, showing Mike at his best and not so best. It opens
with the vocals doing something close to hip hop or slam with a lively acoustic rock song with a strong full band sound
poetry again in that same accent which is starting to become and a catchy fuzzy keyboard riff that hooks you in right off
a bit grating. The lyrics are cheesy doom saying politics that the bat. His voice is a little flat and lazy sounding which
I’ve heard a thousand times, repeating, “Here come the, sounds intentional and par for the course with the grungy
here come the floods!” while the metal band slogs around sound, working especially well when combined with a sweet
behind him with a distorted bass and a loud plodding beat. harmony. The second song takes the same basic idea, only
The heavily fuzzed and flangered guitar solo kicks in. I’m minus the band and the upbeat energy. When the energy is
taking it off. I tried. slowed down it begins to drag and by the end sounds like acoustic Alice in Chains, making me severely miss the
opener. The last song gets it back though, adding a soft drum
behind a ballad-like acoustic sound with a soft whirring organ been stuck in my head since it arrived in my mailbox, is
providing a nice overlay. Melodically it adds just the right all these things. It is a dark folk guitar part underneath a
amount of hope and sweetness to the downward sad sound, bittersweet fiddle harmony, with a melody that starts from
reminding me of REM for its unexpectedly optimistic lift at somber darkness, but moves seamlessly into a cute welcome
the end of what feels like are going to be sad melodies. release. The chorus, a plea from a male lover to the object
Somewhere Between First and Last finds Mike with more of his desire, sounds especially poignant sung by the sweet
of a lo-fi production and a full electric band. The songs still female voice of Robin Aigner, which is rich and full of
flirt between morose and upbeat but the band’s sound makes character, cracking in just the right places and hitting all the
all the difference. Good songs take on new life as good rock. nostalgia and sentimentality a tone is capable of. Influences
Any allusion to REM begins to sound more like Weezer for of Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, and Ani DiFranco blend
the fuzzy guitars, heavy beat, and inadvertent accent on the together to create a classic familiar sound. The balancing
lazy vocals, although with a maturity to the writing and song of the cute and sweet with the intelligent and artistic is what
structure that I could never see Weezer capable of. The cute really pulls this album off, making it as interesting and
keyboard and guitar riffs always provide a nice touch and artistically relevant as it is purely enjoyable. The songs on
a good hook intro to boot. Surprisingly for such a grungy Chanty Town span the gammit from slow, somber and sweet,
sound I actually preferred the cleaner recording, while the to quirky, upbeat and energetic, as they move from traditional
electric guitars do give a much needed punch to the songs. folk to more modern sounds and song structures in a cohesive
Mike is a really good songwriter able to perfectly capture line that sounds a little premeditated. This self-aware artistic
a lazy apathetic feeling without getting so bogged down streak holds it together keeping it from being heard simply
in it that he loses any energy or the listener’s interest. The as a pretty homage to old time music or as contemporary
new electric band is a welcome change, and hopefully a folk with some throw back leanings. The arrangements are
good recording of this material is in the works. With a little mostly roots based, layering a banjo, acoustic guitar, or
production, the new sound is going to see Mike coming into ukulele underneath a single lead of a fiddle, reverb heavy
his own as an artist with a polished signature sound and an piano or bells, while eclectic percussion round out the
album ready to delight. bottom. The songs are striking and more artistic for the crisp and clean production. Each piece of the sparse arrangements
comes across strong on their own, blending together but still
Rørmark remaining distinct. With Robin’s voice over the top often
e.p. combined with a double tracked harmony or the low subtle
Elliot Smith fans will delight in this EP from Norwegian voice of band mate Brook Martinez, we have a lush and
singer/songwriter Hogen Rørmark. With the penchant beautiful sound to bring out some good songwriting. The
for *Beatle-esque melodies, lush production, and a subtly band is an improvement on Aigner’s live solo show which,
haunting voice, he evokes the trademark style of The while not bad, never hooked me in the same way. This is a
Smith’s. That being said, the CD is gorgeous from start to perfect example how a competent songwriter can go into a
finish. I find it fascinating how a simple arrangement of a studio and reach a whole new level of artistry.
couple of guitars and a pedal steel can sound so rich and
full. This works perfectly with the songs, which are catchy
and intricate with melodies that move and build with the The Violets
arrangement. It’s the kind of catchiness that feels familiar “Riot in the City”
and comfortable at first, but then is complex enough to keep What happened to the days when a song called “Riot in
you happily coming back for more rather than wearing thin the City” was actually going to be about a riot— tearing
after being stuck in your head for a day. It is subtle, rich, up the streets, beating and getting beaten up by cops, and
pretty music, and what it lacks in raw energy it more than other forms of state smashing? Alas, in this case it refers to
makes up for in beauty. Rørmark is new to New York, and a break up song sung in a fake British accent, “please don’t
according to his website his debut full length was released go/there’ll be a riot in the city tonight /if you go/I’ll set fire
on a major label back in Norway. So far he gets two Urban to the city tonight,” with enormously poppy melodies over
Folk thumbs up. One for moving to twinkly guitar parts. This band is just that side of pop punk,
the city (welcome!) and two for going taking the pop and running exactly in the wrong direction
DIY with this self released EP. with it, so much so that the chorus to “Air to Breathe” becomes the spitting image of a Moody Blues song. The
whole thing sounds a little grand and pretentious with
Royal Pine ethereal effects heavy guitar lines floating over arena rock
“Chanty Town” drum beats. They are currently finishing up a full length and
Satan’s Whispers Records the best advice I could give this band would be to lighten up
Good folk should be sweet, and see if there isn’t a little fun in your hearts.
sentimental, haunting and timeless. “Sweet Gabrielle,” the
obvious single choice from Royal Pine’s full length that has