11/19/14 2:05pm
The Violin Femmes: Suzanne Davenport (l to r) with Elaine Yau, Anya Szykitka and Donna Gail Horton.  Via FB.

The Violin Femmes: Suzanne Davenport (l to r) with Elaine Yau, Anya Szykitka and Donna Gail Horton. Via FB.

The Violin Femmes (get it??) are one of those street musician acts you see hitting the strings in subway tunnels, wearing funny clothes, in both the heat of summer and the dead of winter. But they’re not your average amateur buskers — they’re all serious adult music students led by an established professional. They just happen to prioritize the joy of playing and performing over making dough.

The group of four-ish, 40-plus women were brought together by pro violin player Suzanne Davenport, who moved to NYC from Germany in 2002. Why, in a city rife with musicians struggling to make ends meet by stacking up whatever meager door fees they can wrest from obscure venues, would her group be happy to take time out of their working lives to give away the priceless gift of music for a song? We asked her for some insight into the life of the playing-for-free musician: (more…)

10/31/14 10:09am

Franky doesn’t give a shit if you know what a bodega is.

Taylor Swift was elected mayor of Times Square last week and we don’t remember voting for her but whatever. Despite the rage aneurysm Dave gave himself, I can’t spend much time worrying about what a lady who released her album through a Target exclusive has to say about New York, because talking too much about these things only makes them stronger, like some sort of blonde X-Man whose mutation is the power to summon a smothering tidal wave of thinkpieces.

Anyway, we asked you last week what your real NYC anthem was, and you came through big time, with a greatest hits collection of jams so good, we put them into a Spotify playlist to share with you. It runs the Gotham gamut, from Sinatra and Gershwin to Jay Z and the Beasties, from LCD Soundsystem and the Ramones to Black Star and the Julie Ruin. Pump it through your headphones the next time you’re stuck behind tourists with Target bags on the Manhattan sidewalk and need to remember that the city is big enough to have a song for every person. (more…)

10/22/14 1:10pm
Photo by Tim Donnelly

Salute your city. Photo by Tim Donnelly

The New York media varsity internet outrage squad was in full effect this week declaring the new Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York” as alternately the gentrification anthem no one asked for and the wispy blonde straw that finally made loving New York “basic.” But for us, arguing that a song by a 20-something white pop lady ruins a city of 8 million diverse people seems about as useful as declaring that Disney’s Frozen has slandered the Norwegian blue collar labor market beyond repair. It’s an empty, pretty thing by a lady who makes empty, pretty songs.

So this is not going to be your New York City anthem, unless maybe you’re a 22-year-old college grad whose visions of moving to the city are all frozen yogurt shops and Chop’t salad lines. But it brings up a good point: we all do have a New York City or Brooklyn anthem of some kind. Whether you grew up here or moved here to do the dream-chasing thing, everyone’s got a song they cue up on the iPod for that tracking shot while your plane is pulling back in over the city skyline after a particularly torturous family or business visit in some Other State, the song’s refrains drilling into your head the question with no good answer: “why did you ever leave in the first place?” So what’s your anthem? (more…)

11/17/13 12:22pm
The Yellow Dogs at Shea Stadium in 2011. Via FB.

The Yellow Dogs at Shea Stadium in 2011. Via FB.

Bands in Brooklyn take playing secret underground venues with DIY equipment as a badge of honor. The Yellow Dogs had no choice when they were in Iran, where they could only play their banned music in a hidden former trash room turned studio under Tehran, with styrofoam insulation and a World War II era gas can for a mike stand. You might not have been lucky enough to know about the band, a Williamsburg warehouse dance pop outfit, before Monday’s horrific shooting massacre, but you can help pay tribute and raise money for families of the deceased on Monday at Brooklyn Bowl, which is hosting a memorial featuring Nada Surf, Dirty Fences, The Men and many more. (more…)

08/21/13 10:36am
I ran. I ran to catch the G.

That’s just mirrors and tin foil, kids.

Nearly every director that was interviewed for the forthcoming book Welcome to the House of Fun: Directors Recall Creating the Golden Age of Music Video says that he/she never had enough time or money to shoot their videos. Many of those turned out to be pretty disposable, but some directors turned budget challenges into creative juice and created great videos. To coincide with our anti-VMA party at Last Exit on Sunday, we partnered with Brokelyn to identify some vintage videos with tighter budgets than David Lee Roth’s spandex pants, to prove that you don’t need a $30,000 Kickstarter to make it happen. (more…)

07/09/13 8:00am
The stage at The Knitting Factory, as seen from the front bar. Via BrooklynVegan.

The stage at The Knitting Factory, as seen from the front bar. Via BrooklynVegan.

“Sold out show” is the micro-concert-economics version of a caste system. The Haves get in, thanking their lucky Favstars they were smart enough to buy tickets months ahead of time. The Have Nots crowd around the entrance, hoping someone will throw them some scraps of extra tickets, most times resigning themselves to having a sad Spotify concert for one at home. A few weeks ago, some friends and I were attending a sold-out Foxygen show at Knitting Factory, rocking along to the band’s awkward stage banter. If you’ve been there, you know the front half of the Knit always has a particularly fishbowl feel, with wide windows behind the bar showing off the stage behind.

I popped out to the front bar for a breather and was surprised to find that, while we were all cramped in the sell-out crowd in the back, the front bar not only had its window blinds open, but was broadcasting the entire concert over its loudspeaker. Which was a shock to me. Is this fair to the ticketholders who paid full price? Is it fair to the band even? (more…)

06/26/13 2:13pm
Add some music, and this is a perfect day.

Add some music, and this is a perfect day.

We’ve been bumming hard about this summer’s palpable dearth of free concerts, but it looks like there’ll be free music at at least one venue other than the House of Vans, and they’ll be helping a cause, too. Sixpoint Brewery has teamed up with concert listing site My Social List  to present a free show series in Rockaway Beach this summer, and they’re soliciting City Harvest donations to help with Hurricane Sandy relief. (more…)

You could shove your way into the park to see The Walkmen, or you can follow our advice. Your choice. Photo by Billy Pavone, via Facebook

You could shove your way into the park to see The Walkmen, or you can follow our advice. Your choice. Photo by Billy Pavone, via Facebook

Why pay to do something when you could just do it for free? That’s a real question. The Northside Music Festival is pitching its tent in Williamsburg this weekend, and even though you could drop $80 to get everything you want and more, you can also save your money and just get everything you want period. Just like you, Northside rolls out of bed and gets started at around 2pm, goes all night, and is filled with cheap beer. There’s something for everyone with no money. Here’s a roundup of everything that zero dollars can get you. It’s the best deal of your life. (more…)

05/08/13 8:13am
And Celebrate Brooklyn we will.

And Celebrate Brooklyn we will.

Bust out those Google Calenders, because the long cold winter nightmare of not seeing free outdoor shows is finally over. This year’s Celebrate Brooklyn lineup is just another annual reminder of how much better and full of free stuff summer is, which should make all the other seasons feel bad when they look in the mirror. Highlights include Theophilus London, Mavis Staples, Big Boi (as previously reported), James Lidell, the awesome They Might Be Giants and, rounding it all out… Shaggy?! Sure, why not, it’s summer! Full lineup below: (more…)

01/10/13 4:00pm
Don't worry, we won't tell. Photo vi Flickr user disloyalorderof.

Don’t worry, we won’t tell. Photo via Flickr user disloyalorderof.

You know that collection of abandoned CDs hanging out on your top shelf growing lonely from disuse? It’s okay, we all have one. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, as most of us did, not only did we witness the transition from cassettes to CDs, we also survived the great migration from CDs to MP3s. But that only raised the great question of our generation: what are we supposed to do with all these damn CDs we bought in the last 15 years? Amazon knows your plight, and they want to help you out, with free CD to MP3 conversion.