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January 2010

Grade: C

 Carnegie cAs someone who works in advertising, I've gotta say I'm not a fan of Carnegie's new branding campaign, which consists of slapping a big red C over everything they publish: programs, posters, marketing emails. Sure, it grabs your attention, but in a bad way: the font is hideous, and in every shot I've seen, it blocks both the architecture and the performers. I'm sure this uncharacteristic boldness is the marketing department's way of trying to make the hall appeal more to a 21st Century sensibility, but it also breaks one of the most basic rules of advertising: Never obscure your product shot. 

What I am a big fan of is Carnegie's upcoming parade of orchestra concerts, which is simply an embarrassment of riches over the next month (any of which you under-40 somethings can attend for only $20, once you sign up for Notables):

Too bad the big In C show already happened last year.

The Week in Pics

Some additional music happenings seen this past week:

DSC00761Violinist/composer Tom Swafford: the best thing that ever happened to Park Slope's rush hour. 1/21/10

DSC00762Nate Schweber (of the New Heathens) performing solo at Banjo Jim's: a great folk/roots bar on Ave. C, 1/22/10 DSC00766 DSC00769Lady Blanche at Banjo Jim's - cute and funny

DSC00774Ethan Lipton & His Orchestra singing wryly funny songs like "Bossy Man" and "Old People Don't Whisper" Barbes, 1/23/10 

DSC00793Logan Richardson & SHIFT playing hard bop at Fat Cat Billiards on Christopher St., 1/23/10DSC00798(This place, filled with pool and ping pong tables, caters to the NYU crowd, but the live jazz makes it feel like something out of a Beat novel.)

Voices Carry

 DSC06632This week's big diva explosion may be uptown, but for true vocal ability, last night's double bill at Bowery Ballroom was hard to beat. Toronto's Basia Bulat played a rootsy solo set, accompanying her powerful, penetrating vibrato with fierce autoharp and guitar. A real talent; here's hoping she brings her full band the next time she comes to town.

My Brightest Diamond, playing their first NYC show in over a year, took a more high-concept approach, filling the stage with white ladders and balloons; a young girl passed out balloon animals during intermission. Lead singer Shara Worden, who's been spending more and more time following pseudo-classical pursuits, was a commanding stage presence with her flamboyant attire and voice of operatic proportions. (Worden studied voice at the University of North Texas before being seduced by the rock siren.) Oh, and she played lead guitar, joined by Nathan Lithgow on bass and Brian Wolfe on drums. DSC06665

Why this show (at $15 a ticket) had tickets available at the door while that talentless harpy managed to sell out four nights at Radio City says a lot about the state of our brainless culture. In short: it's the triumph of Hype over Substance. Hope it was worth the $200+. (More pics below and on the Fan Page.)

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