Indie Feed

Music at Home

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Ok, being stuck at home sucks, but at least we have modern technology to get us through the day. And no, I don't mean bingeing Tiger King. There is a ton of great, free music streaming online, too much to list here. NPR Music has a great running tally here, which I use as my basic go-to guide. Below are some highlights (all times EDT).

Opera: Just yesterday, I watched John Adams conduct his own Nixon at China at the Met Opera, one of the Met's daily free live streams. Today's opera, Bizet's Pearl Fishers, will be available until tomorrow night. (Pro tip: as long as you start watching before 6:30pm, you can pause it and resume at some later point.) Among other opera companies, the Vienna State Opera is currently streaming Mozart's Marriage of Figaro. Meanwhile, the Met Museum is sharing their recent performance of Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thompson's The Mother of Us All at 7pm.

Classical: The Berlin Philharmonic continues to make its entire archive of high quality digital streams available for free. Closer to home, the NY Phil is offering select videos of past concerts here

Jazz: Fred Hersch has been doing a daily stream on Facebook every day at 1pm. At 7pm, Chick Corea is playing as part of the Live from Our Living Rooms festival, followed by Fabian Almazan and Linda Oh. At 8pm, Lizz Wright appears courtesy of SF Jazz (this one costs $5 for a 1-moth membership.) And, Christian McBride hosts a listening party at Jazz House Kids with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cecile McLorin and Melissa Walker.

Lots of streaming shows from the rock, roots and experimental worlds listed here and elsewhere. 

 


The Music Stops

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"How do you keep the music playing?
How do you make it last?
How do you keep the song from fading
Too fast?"

- Alan and Marilyn Bergman, "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"

Monday nights are usually quiet in New York: Broadway is shut, museums and galleries are closed, jazz clubs are either dark or have a house band playing. But, this Monday is different: there is no music, no art, no activity to be seen anywhere. Life as we know it has shut down for an unknowable period of time, thanks to this horrible, contagious, deadly coronavirus that has spread unchecked throughout the city, and around the world. Everything is on Pause.

Art and culture certainly come second to health and welfare, but looking at the impact COVID-19 is having just on music in New York City shows just how extraordinary and unprecedented a moment this is. As of today, both the Met and the Phil have canceled the remainder of their seasons, and the loss of income from ticket sales (estimated in the tens of millions of dollars) is compounded by the impact the concurrent stock market crash has had on their endowments. Carnegie and BAM and the Met Museum will try to reopen in May, but I wouldn't bank on it. All that planning, all those sets, all those bookings made years in advance - gone.  

Of course, these are major institutions with the resources to continue providing their employees with full benefits, if not at least partial pay. They should survive (I think.) But, what about all of the independent musicians: the new music peeps, the jazz players, the indie rockers, the bluegrass and old time fiddlers? Most of them get paid by the gig, and have little, if any safety net.

What about the clubs? Blue Note and the Vanguard aren't going anywhere, but what about Smalls or Smoke? I'm sure Bowery will be fine, but what about the standalone places, like LPR or Elsewhere, not to mention the dozens and dozens of bars that showcase live music on a nightly basis? I assume the better-capitalized new music venues like National Sawdust and Roulette are ok, while others can probably just go into hibernation and come out fine on the other side of this. 

Hopefully, this thing will blow over before long (though probably not as soon as some irresponsible leaders would like) and we'll all be back to gigging with a beer or two. In the meantime, go stream some opera, symphonies, or random bedroom gigs. And remember what live music brings to your life, now that we don't have it. DSC06308Stay safe, and remember to wash your hands.


Winter Jazzfest Brooklyn Half-Marathon

 

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Keyon Harrold

 by Dan Lehner

It’s hard to believe, 16 years in and with improvised music culture consistently moving out of Manhattan, that this was Winter Jazzfest’s first foray into Brooklyn, but the Williamsburg/Bushwick terrain felt instantly home and welcoming for a shorter, less expansive, but no less engaging “half-marathon” of performances. The Bushwick venues required a train ride, but the Williamsburg venues were refreshingly close to each other and spacious, making the process accessible and relaxed. 

Though he might be a thoroughly cliche examples of a jazz musician, there aren’t actually a lot of trumpet players who genuinely seem to channel the spirit of Miles Davis, but Keyon Harrold is a notable exception. Harrold’s set at Rough Trade bore some of the hallmarks of the Prince of Darkness - sly and pointed upward climbs, heated and ringing single notes, a sort of devotional energy and rock n’ roll bravado - but with a wide and twisty harmonic palette and 21st century technological attitudes. Harrold even cribbed a little bit of Davis’s wry pop-melodicism, peppering originals with quotes from old classics like “My Favorite Things” and newer classics like OutKast’s “Spottieottiedopalicious”. Not to be boxed in the past though, Harrold ended his set with a blistering rendition of Childish Gambino’s 2018 song “This is America”, translating the unmelodicized trap chorus into a punchy, searing statement.

Continue reading "Winter Jazzfest Brooklyn Half-Marathon " »


Mid-afternoon Caroline Polachek Solo Set at Rough Trade

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Veritable indie pop darling Caroline Polachek delivered a warm and inviting set at Rough Trade on Sunday, replete with pre-arranged and off-the-cuff piano arrangements from her latest release, Pang.

The show–which was free and open to the public in conjunction with a record signing event—was packed to the brim, so much so that half way through the show Ms. Polachek invited folks to sit up on the stage in order to make more room for the people hovering by the entrance of the venue. This gesture was emblematic of the generosity and casual candor of the artist, who commiserated with the crowd on everything from being hungover, to the power of a cappella group singing. This concern for her audience would be less remarkable from someone newer to the music scene, not from an artist with songwriting credits for superstars like Beyoncé and Travis Scott, not to mention Billboard 200 hits of her own.

The mid-afternoon show featured tracks like “So Hot You’re Hurting my Feelings,” “Door,” and audience requests like “Hit me Where It Hurts,” demonstrating flexibility from her set list written on a coffee filter. The improvised arrangement for “Hit me Where It hurts” turned out beautifully, once someone from the audience was able to answer what key the song was in, and despite her self-deprecating caveats. Highlighting her power as both a songstress and musician, her solo performance delivered everything one could want from an indie-pop act, both substantive and inclusive.

In her almost two decades on the scene, Polachek has been a founding member of the band Chairlift, and has two prior solo albums: the self-produced Arcadia, (produced under the moniker "Ramona Lisa"), and Drawing the Target Around the Arrow (under her initials CEP). Pang will be Polachek's first studio album under her full name, yet it holds to the same vulnerable themes of unlucky love and missed connections that have established her as a synth-pop stable with staying power.