Arts Watch: PT Walkley Celebrates New Album Release at Joe’s Pub

PT Walkley

Local musician PT Walkley (recently featured in our My LES column) and his band will be celebrating the release of their latest album, Shoulders, with a performance at Joe’s Pub tomorrow night. Touted as a combination of power pop-rock and classic R&B, the album plays as a song cycle, based around an emotional year in which Walkley’s son was born and his best friend passed away.

Proceeds from the evening will benefit New York’s oldest preschool, Little Missionary’s Day Nursery, and the school’s plans for expansion, which include doubling its capacity and full restoration of the historic landmark building at 93 St. Marks Place to serve more of the city’s youngest learners.

Tuesday, March 25 // $14 // Doors at 6:00pm, show at 7:30pm // 425 Lafayette Street

Review: Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely Keep the Birthday Love Going

Toshi Reagon live (1)-1

Amidst all this cold winter drudgery there are still people out there thinking, singing and caring. And Toshi Reagon is one of them.  The night I saw her perform (last Wednesday) as part of her week long 30th Annual Birthday Concert series at Joes’ Pub, she had donated the proceeds of the night’s concert to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.  She didn’t stop there; the show included passionate banter about prison reform, slavery, sexism, and “tangible righteousness.”  In between, were amazing sets of music from soft, reflective ballads that touched on personal stories of love, to raucous rock’n’roll songs about empowerment, all of which showed off her impressive vocal range.

I loved hearing Reagon talk about her passion for “places that do good work.” It felt at times like we were sitting around her living room with her musician friends, just shooting the breeze and then breaking out into collective song. The intimate Joe’s Pub helps with this feeling but I think it was the overwhelming joy that Reagon brings to her performance — the ease and command of her music and lyrics. “I am happy and I’m satisfied,” a line from one of her songs pretty much sums up her persona.

I’ve been to Joe’s Pub countless times but I don’t recall ever seeing the audience get up out of their chairs to dance. “Amazon Woman Rise,” the nearly forty-year-old anthem written by Maxine Feldman, was the song that did the trick. Sung in perfect deep throated reggae style by the incomparable Judith Casselberry, there was no way we were gonna stay seated.

Reagon started out the evening with a big “Oh yeah!” and so did I, when I saw the stage fill up with her “All Women All the Time” BIGLovely band. Every girl who plays an instrument should run and see them play. Yes, I say every girl.  It is a rare occurrence to see an all female band where each member is a musical star in her own right. The musicianship was stellar. The camaraderie joyous. In addition to Casselberry, BIGLovely featured drummer Allison Miller, bassist Ganessa James, keyboardist Elenna Canlas, guitarist Alex Nolan and singers Marcelle Davies Lashley and Catherine Russell.

I know this sounds like a cliché, but run don’t walk next time Toshi Reagon is playing at Joe’s Pub. In fact, mark your calendar for her 31st Annual Birthday Concert series, which I am sure is already in the works for January 2015. You don’t want to miss it.

Arts Watch: Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely’s 30th Annual Birthday Celebration at Joe’s Pub

toshi reagon at joe's pub

Powerhouse singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon and her renowned band, BIGLovely, take over Joe’s Pub with their 30th annual birthday celebration this week. Stop in for five nights of progressive, dynamic and uplifting music. Reagon alone is a one-woman celebration. Her musical style and range is without comparison; she blends blues, gospel, country, R&B, rock, funk, you name it, with a “big hearted, hold-nothing-back” style and approach that makes her an irresistible performaer.  These annual birthday concerts have become a staple of the New York music scene. Vibe magazine describes her show as “one helluva rock’n’roller-coaster ride.”

This year’s celebrationfeatures a slew of special guests including Nona Hendryx, Lizz Wright and Toshi’s mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, civil rights activist, founder of the acappella group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, who will close out the week with the beloved Sacred Music Show. The amazing BIGLovely band members, Judith Casselberry, Adam Widoff, Robert Burke, Fred Cash, Stephanie McKay and Marcelle Davies Lashley, will join in to complete the celebration.

Toshi Reagon & BIGLovely 30th Anniversary Concerts / Joe’s Pub / 425 Lafayette Street / Wednesday January 22 – Saturday January 25, 9pm / $25

Sacred Music Show / Sunday January 26th, 7pm / $25

Arts Watch: Monologuist Mike Daisey at Joe’s Pub

Mike Daisey courtesy mikedaisey.blogspot.com

If you can make it to Joe’s Pub tonight, it will be worth the last minute trip.  Mike Daisey is bringing his latest work to the intimate space, and it is the perfect setting to watch this masterful raconteur perform his monologues.

Tonight Daisey takes us through his unforgettable five-city tour of India in Five Technical Rehearsals in India. Leave it to Daisey to turn his experience living through five disastrous technical rehearsals in five different theaters across India, plus his journeys through the slums of Calcutta, India’s high-tech call centers, and Bollywood prop shops and curry houses, and time spent dealing with the political machinery of the American consulate into a story about the “illusion and enduring power of theatrical performance.”

Ethan Lipton’s “No Place to Go” Returns to Joe’s Pub

Brooklyn singer, bandleader and playwright Ethan Lipton seems to be loved by just about everyone who sees and hears him. For years his band, Ethan Lipton and His Orchestra, (voted “Best Lounge Act of 2009” by New York Magazine) has delighted audiences in New York and beyond with its sweet melodies.

His songs are full of quirky lyrics like, “We Would Have Never Met Without The Internet,” and delve into topics that range from bicycles and Tupperware, to internet love and the afterlife.

His plays have been seen in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Edinburgh (Scotland) and Berne (Austria). No Place To Go, Lipton’s personal “musical ode to the unemployed,” was originally commissioned last spring by Joe’s Pub as part of its first ever grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and returns for a limited run through April 8th.

The premise – “The company where he’s worked for the past 10 years is moving to another planet, and playwright Ethan Lipton doesn’t want to go.” The show is touted as “Part love letter to his co-workers, part query to the universe, part protest to his company and country.”

World Record Appreciation Society Returns to Joe’s Pub

Most neckties worn at once via the World Record Appreciation Society

The World Record Appreciation Society is back at Joe’s Pub tomorrow night with some great guests out to set some pretty zany records. Joes’ Pub notes the event is “hosted by the Universal Record Database (URDB.org), a Web site The New Yorker says ‘is to the Guinness World Records as Wikipedia is to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.’ World records set at previous events have ranged from ‘Most Cocktail Umbrellas Fit In Hair In One Minute’ to ‘Tallest Drawing Of A Midget’ to ‘Most Bananas Fit In A Pair Of Pants At Once.’

World Record Appreciation Society at Joe’s Pub

Most neckties worn at once - via urdb.org

There’s an intriguing event happening “uptown” tonight at Joe’s Pub. The Universal Record Database (URDB.org) is hosting the World Record Apprecition Society in an evening of “eclectic performers setting unique world records.” The show description notes: World records set at previous events have ranged from ‘Most Cocktail Umbrellas Fit In Hair In One Minute’ to ‘Tallest Drawing Of A Midget’ to ‘Most Bananas Fit In A Pair Of Pants At Once.’ URDB are regular guests on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and host thousands of unique records on their site.