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September 18th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

Elliott BROOD Made Feet Stomp on the Lower East Side

Elliott BROOD, l-r--Mark Sasso, Casey Laforet, Steve PitkinThe Ontario trio Elliott BROOD played a great set of new songs for a 7pm set at Rockwood Music Hall on Manhattan’s lower east side last night. The early hour meant light was still pouring in the windows off Allen Street as they hit their first downbeat, but the vibe quickly turned funky for the crowd of about twenty-five, for as I wrote about this band after I first heard their live show in 2012:

“The trio’s gritty sound feels as if it’s been imported from the early days of sound recording. More raw than roots, it’s a sonic stew of acoustic guitar, banjo, reverb-ed Fender Stratocaster, harmonica, and thumping drums.”

Rockwood has excellent acoustics, whether the room is crammed or not. Last night, the mix was great and all instruments could be heard well. They played six new songs from their forthcoming album, “Work & Love” (Paperbag Records), and a couple older ones. They announced it was the first time they were playing the new songs for a live audience. Dressed all in white, Casey Laforet (electric and acoustic guitars, and an array of foot pedals he played in sock-clad feet); Mark Sasso (acoustic guitar, harmonica, banjo); and Steve Pitkin (drums and a keyboard set up next to his kit) charmed all with light banter and interesting song reveals. Casey, a still-new parent, introduced one new song, “Each Other’s Kids,” by explaining they wrote it after realizing how much people in their world universally rely on one another to take care of their young children.

I had met them in 2012, so it was good to re-visit afterward, and introduce all three to my wife Kyle Gallup, and our friend, Mike Fitzgerald. I caught up on all the news with Casey, and learned he and his wife are about to have their second child. Steve appreciated I remembered his last name correctly, something I can relate to, since people tend to spell my first name with two lls, though it only has one. I told Mark he had been in good voice, though he said he actually felt like he might be getting a cold. I gave them the card for my blog Honourary Canadian, which I began after I met them the first time. They began packing up for a show tonight at the Black Cat in D.C., then they’re moving on to Bristol, Tennessee—said to be “the birthplace of country music in the USA”—where they’ll be playing the Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival.

Last night’s only flaw was that the new album isn’t out yet–after hearing the new songs for the 1st time, I’m keen to hear them again. But it will be available Oct 21, and though it would’ve been nice to get a copy right from the hands of band member, I’ll also be glad to purchase it from the great Canadian indie music website, zunior.com, a seller I highly recommend.Elliott BROOD's Work & Love, Paperbag Records

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September 12th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

Elephant Stone, Making Mind-bending Music at Mercury Lounge

Rishi sitarI had a great time at the Elephant Stone show at Mercury Lounge Tuesday night. It was the third time I’ve heard the Montreal band (I earlier wrote about them here), and they were in great form, with frontman Rishi Dhir and his crew really getting down on several psychedelic and funk jams. As cool as Rishi’s sitar playing is, he’s also a really great bassist, and plays it like a solo instrument. Meantime, bandmate Gabriel Lambert is a wizard on 12-string electric guitar. The result is the band’s signature blend of soaring psychedelia, bright pop harmonies, thumping funk, and chiming guitar. If you’d like rock n’ roll that sounds like the Byrds crossed with Indian influences check them out. Frontman Dhir (shown at right) has playfully dubbed their sound ‘Hindi rock.’ I hear echoes of the Byrds and the Beatles, though more psychedelic-ized than either of those giant groups. I got a copy of their new album The Three Poisons after the show. Also in the house was Mike Renaud, aka “Parkside,” of Hidden Pony Records, which handles several of my favorite acts (like Rah Rah, Jeremy Fisher, Said the Whale, and Imaginary Cities) and Tyler Bancroft of the aforementioned Said the Whale, who was in NYC for a few days, then leaving to meet his bandmates for a StW show in Calgary. Parkside, Tyler, myself, and some new friends, Jillian Bordeaux and Michael, a colleague of hers from Caroline—a company that works with many indie music labels—went out for beers afterward.

Elephant Stone’s current US tour continues tonight in Philadelphia, and tomorrow in Asbury Park, NJ, Sept 12 and 13. Details here.

Here are more pictures from the fun night.

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September 8th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

Elephant Stone, Mercury Lounge, Sept 9, 7:30 PM

The Three Poisons, Elephant StoneI’m eager to hear the great sitar-inflected psychedelic band from Montreal, Elephant Stone Tuesday nite at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. They’ll be playing songs from their new album “The Three Poisons.” I’ve heard them play before and really enjoyed their blend of psychedelic sounds and bright pop harmonies. Come hear them if you think you’d like rock music that sounds like the Byrds crossed with an Indian influence. For his part, frontman Rishi Dhir (shown here on sitar) has playfully dubbed their sound ‘Hindi rock.’ Below are the details on their tour of the US Northeast.
Rishi Dhir, Elephant Stone, Bell House Brooklyn, April 2013
MON 09/08 Burlington, VT | The Monkey House
TUE 09/09 NYC, NY | Mercury Lounge
WED 09/10 Washington, DC | Black Cat
THU 09/11 Brooklyn, NY | Rock Shop
FRI 09/12 Philadelphia, PA | Milk Boy
SAT 09/13 Asbury Park, NJ |The Saint

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July 18th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

My NXNE Storify: “Great Music & Great Times in Toronto for NXNE 2014″


Storify screenshot

In completing my coverage of NXNE, the Toronto music festival I attended June 17-24 as accredited press, I’ve used Storify, the platform that lets bloggers incorporate social media posts in with their own writing. Once a piece is published on Storify, you can grab a handy embed code and paste it in at your websites, where it populates precisely as you assembled it. The piece is titled “Great Music & Great Times in Toronto for NXNE 2014,” “a collection of illustrated social sharing culled from my timelines 6/17-6/24, w/commentary; links to bands & venues; plus content I’m borrowing with acknowledgement of & appreciation for other music fans who shared about NXNE, creating a visual diary of the festival.” Please click here to read it on Storify, or here on Honourary Canadian. I hope you enjoy reading the piece which includes travel and tourism info about Toronto, offering some notes on restaurants, bookstores, shopping, and architecture, along with my music coverage.
 

 

 

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June 5th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

Fun Night of Happy Music with Brain Cloud at the Rodeo Bar

Brain Cloud is a happy music-making outfit, maestros of western swing whose infectious repertoire harks back to the music of Bob Wills, Patsy Cline, and early country & western radio. They are fronted by Dennis Lichtman, multi-instrumentalist (clarinet, mandolin, fiddle), while also featuring fab vocalist Tamar Korn, and hot sidemen playing lap steel guitar (Raphael McGregor); hollow-body electric guitar (Skip Krevens); and a solid rhythm section with a stand-up bassist and drummer who also played a washboard vest. They have so much fun playing their tunes, and with such good humor, you can’t help but feel good, even giddy, as you listen to them play. Licthman sports a very open personality on stage, offering polite kudos to his bandmates, and clear announcements of song titles and their origins, while Korn is a veritable vocal gymnast who uses her voice in skillful and surprising ways, often mimicking the sounds of the instruments near her on stage, and miming the fiddling of her stage partner, Lichtman.

The Rodeo Bar is a long-running NYC venue for live music. On weeknights there’s no cover charge in their music room, with a reasonably priced Tex-Mex menu on offer. Kyle and I ordered dinner (tacos and pulled pork), which was served quickly, and cleared off our table before Brain Cloud’s 9:00 PM set began.

Before the show, we chatted with Dennis, whom I had first met in 2011, when Brain Cloud played the Brooklyn Folk Festival. He also plays with the jazz combo, Mona’s Hot Four, an outfit that plays weekly at Mona’s Bar on Avenue B on the lower east side. In 2012, I attended a joint launch of a documentary and a CD about the jazz scene at Mona’s, and wrote about it here on this blog. In 2013, I attended a CD release party for Brain Cloud’s album “Outside Looking In,” also the title of a signature song of theirs that Lichtman explained was composed by Izzy Zaidman (and I note from the CD below, Lichtman and Korn), musician and leader of Izzy and the Catastrophics. Like much of Brain Cloud’s repertoire, this song sounds like it could come from the 1940s, though it’s a modern evocation of that era. They appear at Rodeo Bar many Wednesdays, I recommend you go hear them some time. Here’s what their CD looks like, along with pictures I took during last night’s show.

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May 25th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; Urban Life & New York City

Ewan Turner at the Bitter End, 7PM May 25/Updated w/Photos

As I’d tweeted earlier tonight and shared here, Ewan Turner was going to be playing at the Bitter End tonight and it turned out to be a terrific night. The venerable music room—which has hosted such legendary performers as Joan Baez, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Miles Davis—was quite full, and attentive to Ewan’s songs. He did six of his own songs, and he had time for one cover, Dylan’s “Abandoned Love,” a song that he told the crowd he’d learned Dylan had performed only once live, at the Bitter End, back in 1975. Here are images from the evening, beginning with a shot of an old poster in the club window, indicating many of the people who have played the venue over the years.Bitter End lineup

IMG_2331Set list

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May 5th, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels

Indie Musical Instrument Store Flourishing 100s of Miles from a Big City


I was delighted to see this article in the New Hampshire Union-Leader, reporting on Northern Lights, in Littleton, NH, where my singer-songwriter son Ewan Turner has gotten one of his favorite guitars, a Fender acoustic. The store was founded by Dan and Moochco Salomon, two friends and classmates from Franconia College, where we all went to school in the 1970s. It’s a good-news article by John Koziol emphasizing how the couple have managed, since 1978, to make the store in to a destination for musicians and avid players. They carry keyboards, drums, and other instruments, and really specialize with a fabulous guitar selection, with instrument prices that range from $100 to $95,000, the latter for a 1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. They operate from a rustic wooden building they own that was erected in 1833, on Main Street of one of the most livable small towns in the eastern U.S., roughly equidistant from Boston, Portland, ME, Burlington, VT, and Montreal, Quebec. They carry many fine guitar brands, including Martin, Taylor and Santa Cruz, which has only sixty authorized dealers in the whole country, and benefit from what Koziol reports is, “according to the April 2014 issue of Music Trades magazine…a ‘golden age’ for acoustic guitars with the market for acoustics costing more than $1,500 up 40 percent in 2013 over 2012.” I would add it seems to me a phenomenon similar to that which is fueling the renewal of vinyl’s popularity as a format for recorded sound.

I’m very happy that this store operated by my friends Dan and Moochco is doing well, thirty-six years after they first opened their doors. It reminds me that yesterday, May 4th, was the thirty-sixth anniversary of the opening of Undercover Books, the indie bookstore chain that I operated from 1978-85 with my sibling and parents, and which still ran as an online book ordering service until my brother Joel’s death in 2009. Congrats to Dan and Moochco, I hope to see them at Northern Lights sometime soon! Meantime, I invite you to see a picture of them in this screenshot from the article, and read it all via this link. Northern Lights

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May 1st, 2014

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, TV, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Music, Bands & Radio

New B.B. King Documentary Opening May 21


Last year I saw a great documentary on the blues, “Born in Chicago,” and now it looks like this film on the life and career of B.B. King will also be terrific. At B.B.’s site is a full listing of the more than twenty-five cities in which the film will be opening later this month. In NYC it will be showing at Village East Cinemas.

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