The NuBlu Orchestra Comes to East River Park Bandshell in Tribute to Butch Morris

NuBlu Orchestra conducted by the late Butch Morris | Image by Joao M. Nogueira via Flickr

NuBlu Orchestra conducted by the late Butch Morris | Image by Joao M. Nogueira via Flickr

Tomorrow night’s SummerStage performance features longstanding local favorite, NuBlu Orchestra. The group was born out of the core group of musicians associated with the Lower East Side club on Avenue C of the same name. Known for their “collective improvisation,” an eccentric mix of jazz and electronic beats,  The evening, titled “We Play For You, Butch Morris,” is seemingly a tribute to the late and great Butch Morris, who invented Conduction®, a vocabulary of symbols and gestures used to modify or construct a real-time musical composition.  Morris was the orchestra’s original conductor-composer.

The NuBlu Orchestra will play at the East River Park bandshell, along with DarkMatterHalo featuring Wadada Leo Smith and Black February (2012), Vipal Monga’s first feature-length documentary, which chronicles the unprecedented series of concerts performed in February 2005 by Morris, will serve as the backdrop.

For more info on tomorrow night’s festivities, click here.

August 10 | Free Admission | 7pm to 9pm |East River Park Bandshell

Capturing CBGB’s Glory Days With Photographer David Godlis

(Left) Patti Smith, Bowery 1976 by Godlis and (Right) Godlis, Bowery 2016 by Melissa Guerrero

(Left) Patti Smith, Bowery 1976 by Godlis and (Right) Godlis, Bowery 2016 by Melissa Guerrero

In 1976, a young photographer came upon a black haired woman outside a club on the Bowery. In mid-conversation, he stopped and asked for a photograph. With barely a second to spare and the street lamp his only source of light, David Godlis produced a grainy black and white image of a young Patti Smith, her hand on her cheek in a deadpan expression. She would become one of his many muses at the legendary CBGBs music club.

Godlis, originally from New York, moved to Boston to study photography. He wanted to be a street photographer, and later came back to the city to document the street scene and begin his post-grad job search. In the process, he stumbled upon an ad on the Village Voice about a club downtown featuring oddly named bands like Blondie, Television, and the Ramones. On his first visit, he saw a Velvet Underground album on the wall and decided that this was the place to be. A few weeks later, he began photographing the club, just as it was, without the aid of a flash, for three straight years. Some forty years later, the images have been immortalized in his new self-published book, History Made at Night.

Godlis documented the punk rock club — from the bartenders to the bathroom, to teenage musicians hanging out along the Bowery — as he saw it. I recently spoke with the photographer to discuss his kickstarter-funded book, his adventures on the street and how he stumbled upon the holy grail of music venues in the punk rock scene.

Why did you decide to be the man behind the lens?

I was always looking for something to do artistically. I tried to be a writer, I was okay at it but the people I knew who were doing it were better than me. When I got my first camera in 1970, a Pentac Spotmatic, and started taking pictures of my friends, I became fascinated with photography… You take to something and you say, “Okay, this is my thing.” People pick up a guitar and say that’s their thing. For me, the camera was my guitar.

Blondie by Godlis

Blondie by Godlis

What was it like living in the punk rock scene at that time? 

CBGBs was the one [club] I felt really comfortable in from the minute I walked in…I immediately recognized that they and everybody in the club that night were my kind of people. And punk rock wasn’t defined yet. There wasn’t a definition for people who listen to the The Velvet Underground, MC5, or people who liked Iggy Pop.  They were over there trying to make something out of nothing because nobody was listening, nobody cared about it that much.

I can only imagine what it was like to be there when they were starting…

I remember telling myself, if you run into one of these scenes, keep your eyes open. I didn’t go looking for the scene, I don’t think, but I recognized it the minute I walked into CBGBs. You knew something was happening, you could just feel it. I was a photographer that photographed things on the street during the day but I thought maybe I should be photographing this, like it was street photography, except doing it at night… But they were two worlds that don’t mix that often. I was the guy that was equally comfortable in both worlds.

Your pictures capture people just the way they are at that moment in time. When we see any celebrity, musician or cultural figure, we forget that they’re real people that do boring things.

That’s also why I wanted to photograph everybody. To me it felt that…there wasn’t that separation where you’re watching Blondie, or idolizing Blondie, because Blondie was sitting down at the bar in between sets, hanging out, they weren’t disappearing into a limo somewhere. My way of doing photography is to make things look the way they look, shooting with no flash.

How did you transition from outsider looking in to CBGBs house photographer?

Hilly Kristal was the one. He let me photograph whatever I wanted to photograph.  There was another club, The Bottom Line, if I went there I had to get all kinds of okays to shoot. When I went into CBGBs, Hilly let me shoot anything, anytime, no quid pro quo.  I would come in with a box of pictures and show them to everybody. I was seeing the same people every night and at the same time I was learning how to do it. I moved through the club organically until everybody pretty much knew [what I was doing].

It’s interesting that you decided to self-publish. Where did the Kickstarter idea originate from?

A collector that bought some of my pictures wanted to meet me and he suggested a Kickstarter campaign. I knew about Kickstarter; I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that a book could be done in this way. It felt a little bit scary but the it felt right to do it. It gave me a lot of freedom to [edit] the book in a way that I wanted to put it together. It really worked out.

Ramones by Godlis

Ramones by Godlis

Why did you decide to publish a book on your CBGBs photographs and not, for instance, your street photography in New York, or in Miami, or Boston?

Those are all books I want to do. Aside from the fact that this is an easier sell, these pictures mean a lot to me and I wanted to get this book out to the world first. It’s taken me, what, 40 years? It’s ridiculous. [Eventually] I’ll get on with my street books. Or a more expanded version of this book.

A favorite memory of an image that you distinctly remember the moment you took it?

It has to be the Patti Smith shot.  I knew the light was perfect because she was standing at a spot I knew well. It was like my studio out there, you know? She was having a conversation, I tapped her on the shoulder and she just put her hand up. I remember thinking…if I don’t fuck this up, this is going to be a great shot. But I didn’t know until I developed the film, and one out of two was a great shot.

Favored music venues in NYC now?

I don’t go out as much but I go to places that people play. But I’m not like a regular…the only place that I would say I’m a regular would be the Bowery Electric, because a lot of the people I know still play there. That’s the place.

Upcoming projects?

I usually shoot what I like to do or things that I think are interesting. For book projects, I want to do the street photography book. Either a book of street photographs, not exclusively in New York City, or my pictures of Miami Beach in 1974. I have a funny feeling that I might go with the Miami ‘74. Those pictures were, in a way, are as close to me as my CBGB pictures. That’s when I really knew, from that point on, I was going to be a photographer.

Image by Melissa Guerrero

Image by Melissa Guerrero

My LES: Ludwig Persik

This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.

 

What do you do?
I play music! In 2010, I was swooped up on a world tour singing and playing guitar for Jamie Lidell, promoting his 2010 album, Compass. It was an absolute dream come true. This year I finished recording my debut album in Nashville, Tenn., which was produced by the very same Mr. Lidell! Currently, I’m playing shows in NYC promoting the EP, which is available for free on my website. Our next show is Dec. 6 at Glasslands, so stay tuned. Yep!

How long have you lived on the LES?
I grew up on Avenue B, and went to the Neighborhood School for elementary school, and NEST+m for middle and high school. So, my answer: forever.

Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side for this weekend:

Laura Stevenson & the Cans

LAURA STEVENSON AND THE CANS – Fri, June 24 І 8PM at The Bowery Ballroom

Laura Stevenson, of Laura Stevenson and the Cans, comes with quite a pedigree. Her grandmother was a singer with Benny Goodman’s band, and her grandfather penned the classic “The Little Drummer Boy”. It’s undeniable, however, that Stevenson is completely “of” her generation. She crafts exquisitely melodic songs that gently float about, yet ultimately satisfy with a cracking thunder, whether by sound or by lyric. $15// 6 Delancey St.

Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side for this weekend:

Spooky Ghost

SPOOKY GHOST – Fri, June 17 | 9PM at Rockwood Music Hall
Despite its haunted house connotation, Spooky Ghost is merely the moniker under which Irish guitarist/composer Gerry Leonards produces his solo work. The nickname was bestowed upon him by fellow musician and partner Donal Coghlan because of his ethereal guitar style. That style comes from years of studying the guitar and all its dense tonal, harmonic, and resonant elements. Incredibly active in his collaborations as much as his solo work, Leonard is looking forward to upcoming projects with Duncan Sheik, Jonatha Brooke, Sophie B Hawkins, and Pamela Sue Mann. FREE// 196 Allen St.

Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side for this weekend:

Blip Blip Bleep

BLIP BLIP BLEEP – Fri, May 6 | 10:30PM at Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2)

Brooklyn’s Blip Blip Bleep have been sharing their party-perfect electro-pop with us since 2008.  Heavy on the hooks, BBB put their double synth sound on an LP called “Like Track Stars,” released last year.  Since then, their profile has definitely had a boost, and their tracks have been used on some TV shows, including Castle and NYC PrepFREE// 196 Allen St.

Good Morning!

Broome Street, near Elizabeth — Olek is at it again.

Partly cloudy and 43 today. 54 and cloudy tomorrow. Rain showers on Sunday with a high of 55. Lots going on this weekend, including “Canned Ham” at Dixon Place tonight, “First Saturdays” for Families at the New Museum tomorrow and “Deer Tick” at the Bowery Ballroom Sunday. Don’t forget to consult Ken Beasley’s Weekend Music Picks and our new Kids Page for the Weekend Kids Pick. Have a fun, relaxing weekend!

Weekend Music Picks

Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side this weekend:

Mary Bragg

MARY BRAGG – Fri., Feb 25 | 8PM at The Living Room

Mary Bragg has been likened to folks such as Patty Griffith and Mindy Smith, and the comparisons are certainly apt. She’s got the voice, and she’s got the writing chops. She’s also fallen in with great company – like Lee Alexander, who’s recorded Norah Jones and Amos Lee, and also Tom Schick, who’s worked with Rufus Wainwright and Ryan Adams.

John Zorn’s Masada Marathon at Abrons

You can catch a marathon sampling of the 316 compositions from John Zorn‘s Book of Angels – an “illuminated manuscript of jazz” – at Abrons Arts Center, tomorrow night and Thursday night, at 8:00pm. The work,  written during three months at the end of 2004, has been performed by a wide variety of ensembles over the past five years and the music has generated thirteen CDs to date, with four more scheduled for release in 2010. This marathon concert brings together ten different groups in two evenings — five bands per night. Featuring Cyro Baptista, Erik Friedlander, Mark Feldman, Ben Goldberg, Shanir Blumenkranz, Sylvie Courvoisier, and many more. $30, $35 at the door.

Blair Plays Pianos Tonight

Photo by Ben Rowland www.benrowlandphotography.com

Pianos‘ Artist in Residence, Blair, is back on the LES this evening, along with Gunfight, Total Slacker and Shark? Originally from New Orleans, Blair self-released her debut EP, Pluto, in 2007 (at the young age of 22). Now living in Brooklyn, she recently released her debut full-length “alt-pop “album, Die Young. Paste magazine describes her as a “Neil Young lovin’, New Orleans-gone-Brooklyn singer/songwriter, with a dash of hipster neon.” She certainly doesn’t sound like someone who would let a little snow get in the way of a good show. Listen. 10pm. $5.

PT Walkley Playing In the Hood Tonight

M_c942bb4a00d9ff926d62135c35a380a6

The indie musician PT Walkley has sent us word that he will be playing at The Bowery Electric (Bowery and 2nd St.) tonight at 9:45pm. You can check out his music and videos on his website, as well as his myspace page here, and find out a little more about him and his self-released album, "Mr. Macy Wakes Alone", on Billboard.

If you are a musician having a show in the neighborhood, let us know!