Editor’s Note – Hellified Vertical, a new music showcase comes to the L.E.S. tomorrow night. It will be the first of a five-part series presenting various genres of music including Soul/R&B, Hip Hop, Rock, and Latin at Leftfield Bar on Ludlow Street. Each event will be filmed for development into music based reality programming spotlighting the emerging talent on the scene today. The showcase series will culminate in a special finale installment that will take place during the CMJ Music Festival in October. Lo-Down contributor Royal Young spoke with producer and co-creator Kimberly Knox about the series:
YOUNG: What was the inspiration behind your new music showcase at Leftfield Bar?
KNOX: With our new showcase, Hellified Vertical we (Asqui MG/Ubiquita Worldwide) wanted to empower emerging artists to explore various avenues of getting there music out there. Today’s industry is anybody’s game.
After a smashing start last year, our friends at the NY Funny Songs Festival are raising money for their second annual event. Their Kickstarter campaign ends tonight so be sure to chip in – if you like funny songs, that is.
Our friends at the Bureau of General Services – Queer Division (BGSQD) are hosting the Bushwick Book Club tomorrow night for an evening of songs inspired by Mx. Justin Vivian Bond’s memoir, Tango. An impressive lineup of performers will perform their original work, debuting at the Bureau.
Strange Loop Gallery // 27 Orchard St. // 8:00 p.m.
The noisy crowd at Dixon Place’s bar instantly falls silent as Leah Wells and her band take the stage. Though Wells is usually kind and unassuming, under the spotlight, in a glittering red headpiece, she morphs into a soulful songstress. Wells has been a Lower East Side dweller since 1980, when she dropped out of Bennington, a clothing optional liberal arts college in Vermont, to hitch-hike her way back to downtown New York. Now a mother, Wells balances raising her two adolescent sons with honing her musical craft.
For this performance, Wells is joined by David McKeon on Guitar and Mandolin, Ethan Joseph on Fiddle, Mary Noecker on Bass and Sara Banleigh, who shimmers in black lace and gold bracelets. Wells met Banleigh singing Irish folk songs at the New York Public Library and the two have been a musical match ever since. Banleigh performs songs Wells wrote when she was a young twenty-something, capturing their lonely, gritty, crooning energy and making them new again.
One of our favorite “LES-ers” (read our My LES interview with him here) has snagged a residency at Pianos (158 Ludlow Street). His self-titled debut EP, released last summer, was produced by indie beat boxing/synth/soul mystro Jamie Lidell, with whom Persik toured in 2010. The album was featured as Deli’s “NYC Record of the Month” last July and is tricky to categorize, since words like “art pop, psychedelic, experimental, the Beatles and Beck” come to mind, but it will definitely make you want to dance.
Persik tells me his influences for the album were “John Lennon, Skip Spence, David Bowie, Love (Arthur Lee’s band in the ’60s), and Talking Heads,” not to mention Kurt Weill. You can catch him tonight and next Wednesday at 11pm for a mere $5, before he heads out on an international tour with Lidell.
DROM on Avenue A and 6th street has become quite the local nightlife hot spot for Global Music. With musical tastes that run the gamut—on any given night you’ll find jazz, rock, electronic, soul & funk to hip-hop or international music—DROM programs a fresh selection of live music desperately needed in our current New York nightlife scene. DROM has also become an unofficial home for many established local bands, among them the New York Gypsy All-Stars.
Keyboardist and vocalist Zilpha Starnes was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Guitarist and vocalist Dania Abu-Shaheen is from Lebanon, in the Gulf. Her fans often humorously confuse her birthplace as Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
Starnes & Shah met in Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Shah had graduated, and was in need of a roommate, when a mutual friend recommended Starnes. Starnes was a senior at the time. Shah says, “At the time, I was doing music on my own (the singer/songwriter thing). After about a year of living together, I found out that Starnes could sing. One day, I asked her to help me work out a vocal line for a tune. We sang together, and the rest is history.”
Together, they formed Starnes & Shah, reminiscent of the Indigo Girls and Wilson Phillips. Starnes admits her taste in music is more classical, while her partner Shah’s is more classic rock.
“We moved to Boston when we released ‘Pink White Blue Green,’ mostly because we wanted to get away from New York to give ourselves time to really get S&S up and running. New York City was keeping us too busy with jobs, etc. Our focus wasn’t on the band as much as we liked. While in Boston, we toured around New England and got the momentum we felt we needed to come back to New York. We also had learned some important lessons about balancing work and music. We could really make it work once we were back in New York.”
We recently spoke with Jonny Goodman, the Director and Curator of Dixon Place’s upcoming First Annual Lower East Side Music Festival, about his vision for the festival, music on the Lower East Side, and life as a musician.
TLD – We are very excited that there is a new arts festival in the Lower East Side – especially a music festival. Who conceived of the idea?
JG – Ellie Covan, the Founder of Dixon Place, wanted to put a foot forth in the music scene. Since its beginning in the late 80s, Dixon has been very supportive of the artist in dance and performance, encouraging new and experimental work and nurturing new talent. With its new space on Chrystie Street, they now also have the venue for music. Music is such an important fabric of the Lower East Side cultural community. So they wanted to support those musicians and become a home for that community.
Here are musician Ken Beasley’s top music picks on the Lower East Side for this weekend:
TEDDY GOLDSTEIN – Fri Nov. 18 | 9pm at the Living Room
Teddy Goldstein is one those songwriters whose satirical musical work dovetails effortlessly with the razor sharp observational qualities of his off-stage personality. But there is an additional layer in Goldstein, and those who journey beyond the natural witticisms and easygoing voice, will find a sincere and perceptive lyricist. FREE//154 Ludlow St.