Live Music

LESS ARTISTS, MORE TOWNHOUSES: An Intimate Evening with Ollabelle

A Todd P show it wasn't, thankfully. Last Friday night, August 12, West Village resident Susan Spehar hosted the innovative roots ensemble Ollabelle in her historic townhouse on Hudson Street. A group of approximately 30 friends and supporters of the band sipped wine while enjoying the unamplified, intimate show gently unspooling in the home's large living room.  The lineup featured the original members of the group including a very pregnant Amy Helm (daughter of Levon), Fiona McBain and Tony Leone (folk music super couple), Byron Isaacs and Glenn Patscha. This was the second time Ollabelle had played at the house, the first time being to raise money on Kickstarter to complete the recording of their 4th album 'Neon Blue Bird'.

The concert marked the independent release of the album through Thirty Tigers, now available on iTunes and Amazon.

A warm-hearted Susan and her effervescent daughter, Jules (who manages Brooklyn band Lucius, keep your eye out, they're good!), played excellent hosts, having prepared mozzarella sandwiches, cubed watermelon and home made brownies and blondies. The home itself is notable as the former residence of Jane Jacobs, author of the landmark urban planning essay 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities', written in one of the upstairs rooms.

After the official show, Tony, Fiona, Glenn and a small group of friends lingered whittling down the remaining wine and food. The gathering shifted to the patio where Tony picked up the mandolin, playing songs with Fiona and singer songwriter Liz Tormes. This photographer gladly put down his camera to sing shaky harmonies on a couple early John Prine songs. New York moments don't get much better than this.

-- Full Slideshow Here --

words and photos ©Jacob Blickenstaff, 2011

Terry Adams' New NRBQ Rips Up the Iridium: Photos

NRBQ, or 'Terry Adams' New NRBQ', or the band formerly known as the 'Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet', depending on who you ask, played the Iridium on Sunday, June 26. There is fervent debate among  Q-Heads about the rightful naming of this incarnation of the band. For more background on the issue you can read a statement from Terry on the NRBQ website here as well as this thoughtful article on here.

As an enthusiastic Q-neophyte lacking the decades of storied NRBQ shows under my belt to compare it to, all I can say with any authority is that this was a really enjoyable, rockin' show in a neon-lit basement club in Times Square on a Sunday night. Hal Willner hung out with a friend at a table in the back balancing out the table of baffled European tourists near the stage in the otherwise lightly populated room. The current line up features Scott Ligon on guitar, Pete Donnelley on bass and Conrad Choucroun on drums - Art Baron and Greg Ward sat in on trombone and alto sax, respectively . Everyone in the band had plenty of chops and musicianship to fill the big shoes of their predecessors, the band served as gifted support to propel the unique vision of Adam's music forward after 40+ years of being at it.

The band is playing selected dates in July and August - They also released a new album 'Keep This Love Goin', available directly from the NRBQ website.

more photos here

Photos: Alicia Keys at Joe's Pub

Alicia Keys performed an intimate solo piano set for lucky fans at Joe's Pub, a venue that she had played over a decade ago prior to the success of her debut album 'Songs in A Minor'.  The show was announced earlier in the day via social media and had everyone at the venue a-flutter with anticipation.  My friends at Joe's Pub needed a photographer to cover this very special event and I was lucky and appreciative to get the invite. These are a few of my favorite images: (© Jacob Blickenstaff, 2011, usage requests please contact me.)

more images here.

Myron Walden - Momentum, Live at Smoke

Myron Walden performing with his Momentum Quintet, Smoke Jazz Club, New York, NY. feat. Darren Barrett (tp), Gerald Clayton (p), Yasushi Nakamura (b) and Kendrick Scott (d) (Jacob Blickenstaff) As part of my ongoing work with Myron Walden, I photographed his jazz quintet Momentum at Smoke Jazz Club in Manhattan. Pianist Gerald Clayton filled in on piano alongside ensemble members Darren Barrett on trumpet, Yasushi Nakamura on bass, John Davis on drums, and, of course, Myron Walden on tenor saxophone.

10.07.30 Myron Walden - Momentum - Images by Jacob Blickenstaff

Photos: 'La Raza Latina' with Larry Harlow and Ruben Blades

Photographs from the last weekend of Lincoln Center Out of Doors challenging, diverse and amazing 40th season. Salsa legend Larry Harlow conducted a 30+ piece band performing his Salsa Suite 'La Raza Latina' - which featured Ruben Blades and Adonis Puentes on vocals, a half dozen dancers from the Masacote Dance Company, Bobby Sanabria's big band augmented by an enormous string section - to an even more enormous, beyond capacity crowd.

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Myron Walden's Countryfied: Audio Slideshow and mp3

Myron Walden's group Countryfied brings the intention and heart of soul and blues music into a dynamic contemporary ensemble . Myron shares his thoughts about the music and early memories that influenced it in this multimedia slide show that we created to support the recent Countryfied album release (available on iTunes and Amazon) and upcoming release show at Sullivan Hall on August, 20th.

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Inside Midsummer Night Swing: Femi Kuti with Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA!

Field Report: Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing with Femi Kuti & Positive Force, Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA! 7/12/2010.

Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing wrapped up their 22nd season this month, bringing together the intertwined cultures of music and dance in a highly diverse series that covered swing, salsa, tango, bhangra and disco.  If you haven't been to Midsummer Night Swing before, the evening begins with a dance lesson on the dedicated dance floor, moves into a DJ set and ends with a performance by an artists associated with the style of the evening.

I created this multimedia piece combining photography and field audio to bring you inside the experience:

Building on the success of FELA! on Braodway and the heightened awareness for the music of Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti, Lincoln Center put together a wonderful show with Fela's son, Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force. Jill Vallery, dance captain and cast member if FELA! began the dance instruction, teaching 8-bar sequences of Afrobeat moves.  Amayo, frontman of New York's own Antibalas was there to assist. Sahr Ngaujah, the star of FELA! continued the lesson with his break-down of the 'underground spiritual game', showing how to shake the hips in coded patterns. As the evening started to warm up, Sahr and friends came down to the dance floor, and soon FELA! cast members and audience alike were dancing together and trading moves in the middle of a large enraptured circle.  Rich Medina was on hand to provide the music.

Femi Kuti & Positive Force took the stage with dancers, a large horn section and rhythm section for an extended set. Femi has his own unique style, it is brighter, slightly more frantic and improvisatory. But at the core he is his father's inheritor, bringing political critique and positive messages and leading the ensemble while moving between singing, keyboard, alto sax and trumpet.

Also in recent African Music News:

Fela's original drummer, Tony Allen played (le) Poisson Rouge (photos)

Baaba Maal played SummerStage (photos)

LPR Report: Tony Allen and Ahmed Janka Nabay

Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, who helped invent the genre as the powerhouse drummer for Fela Kuti, was in town last week for a few performances. He played an intimate late night set as part of Rich Medina's Jump N Funk series. His Afrobeat Orchestra composed of mostly younger players was strong and tight and they grooved their set along til past 2 AM.

Sierra Leone born Ahmed Janka Nabay performed a great warm up set of 'Bubu Music' - a style comprised of twitchy fast poly-rhythmic drums (played here on a synthetic kit, which sounded fine) with looping figures in the bass and guitar. Over, or more within, this sound scape, Nabay weaves a song-speak narrative with a response from the band.  It was a great, eye opening show, I really enjoyed it. Nabay has a 12" 45 rpm EP out on True Panther which I picked up and have been digging.

10.06.17 Tony Allen + Ahmed Janka Nabay - Images by Jacob Blickenstaff