Roots Feed

"Soundtrack '63" at the Apollo Theater

by Steven Pisano

"Soundtrack '63" at the Apollo Theater

(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

On Saturday night, the Apollo Theater presented "Soundtrack '63," a production of Soul Science Lab based in Brooklyn. Using a rich gumbo of archive film footage, photographic slide shows, and live musical performances, the show explored black history in this country from the forced transport of slaves in the 18th century, through the Civil Rights movement of the Fifties and Sixties, to today's Black Lives Matter and "I Can't Breathe" protests.

Soul Science's creative director Chen Lo believes that it is vitally important to keep black history fresh in young people's minds according to the Ashanti principle of sankofa--"Seek the past to understand the present and build for the future." For Lo and musical director Asante Amin, this means remembering important landmarks in black history, and the best way to remember them is through music. A 13-musician orchestra and a quartet of knockout singers--Keisha Gumbs, Moses Gardner, Karyn Porter, and Matthew Thomas--kept the stage electric with first-rate music throughout the night.

Continue reading ""Soundtrack '63" at the Apollo Theater" »


Lincoln Center’s American Songbook presents Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer

by Steven Pisano

Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Lincon Center's American Songbook

(All photos by Steven Pisano.)

Lincoln Center's American Songbook presents performers from different genres whose songs embody the series credo: "Outstanding voices. Essential stories. Enchanted evenings." On Thursday, the country music stars and sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer (Lynne is a middle name turned surname) performed in the Appel Room, one of the city's most dramatic venues looking out a wall of windows over Central Park and the twinkling traffic of Central Park South.

Lynne and Moorer's current tour is in support of their 2017 album together, Not Dark Yet, featuring songs by Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, the Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, and Merle Haggard, among others. Although both have recorded individually for more than 20 years, this is Lynne and Moorer's first recording together. In a way, it is a reunion because Lynne has lived most of her life in California, and Moorer has lived here in Manhattan. Moorer claimed that she was the "practical one," always halting her drinking at three beers, while Lynne claimed in response that she had never stopped drinking at three beers in her life.

Continue reading "Lincoln Center’s American Songbook presents Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer" »


Snarky Puppy and David Crosby Play Carnegie Hall

by Nick Stubblefield

Snarky_blog

It seems unconventional for the Brooklyn-based jazz collective Snarky Puppy to play at Carnegie Hall, but Snarky Puppy isn’t a conventional band. When I walked into Carnegie’s Stern Auditorium last week, an usher handed me a tie-dyed bandana embroidered with “The 60s: The Years that Changed America.” The night’s program was part of a concert series this year throughout New York that honors social justice and protest in America. With their history of frequent collaborations with artists from many musical and ethnic backgrounds, Snarky Puppy were the perfect hosts for an evening celebrating protest, peace, and unity.


Michael League, Snarky’s bandleader, chief composer, and bassist, stood front and center. The band, consisting of drums, a smorgasbord of auxiliary percussion, keyboards, guitar, and horns, managed to comfortably fill a stage mostly known for accommodating concert orchestras. The group’s musical style proudly defies classification. There were elements of bebop, Latin-American styles, and African-American gospel in the music, but Snarky’s purposeful blurring of musical boundaries is largely what defines the group’s sound. As the stylings and textures ebbed and flowed throughout their all-instrumental mini-set, there were ever-shifting variations in timbre that kept the music engaging. Multi-instrumentalist Justin Stanton alternated between a trumpet and a vintage Fender Rhodes, shredding equally skilled bebop-inspired jazz improvisations on each.

Continue reading "Snarky Puppy and David Crosby Play Carnegie Hall " »


Margo Price Record Release Show at Rough Trade

by Melissa Caruso

Margo price 4Photo: Fernando Garcia 

I don’t love Margo Price simply because she’s saving country music, or because she can mesmerize an audience with a simple sway of the shoulder or scrunch of the nose. I don’t I love her because she's rejected the industry tropes that prescribe what an artist in 2017 should sing and say, or because she possesses a presence that threatens to bust the stage beneath her. I love Margo Price for all of these reasons - but mostly, because her songs remind us what it means to be human.

On Thursday night at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade, Margo Price and her band celebrated the release of her second album All American Made, one that weaves together the tattered and frayed threads of American tapestry and has garnered praise from veritable publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times. In a house packed with black leather and suede fringe, fans of this rising country revivalist had no trouble singing along to songs the band just started performing.

All American Made features songs weighed down by the sourness of a country gone wrong, be it the antithetical views of working women or the plights faced by the down-and-out. The title track is a poignant, personal song that retraces a childhood memory of when Price’s family lost their farm in Illinois. (“And my uncle started drinking when the bank denied the loan/But now it’s liver failure/And his Mad Cow’s being cloned/It’s all American made.”) At Rough Trade, Price and husband Jeremy Ivey’s acoustic performance transfixed the crowd; not a word was spoken, and not a single person looked at their phone. We were all taken to the bottom of her heavy heart. Or at least that’s how I remember it. 

Continue reading "Margo Price Record Release Show at Rough Trade " »