Monthly Archives: July 2013

Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters in Prospect Park

This past weekend was amazing! On Saturday I went to see/hear Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters in Prospect Park (as the title suggests heh). The opening band was Phosphorescent and musician/producer/friend James and I were marveling at how uninspired their performance was…are you too cool to be into what you’re doing? You are opening for Robert Plant for christsakes!! You know…from Led Zeppelin! Are you kidding me?? Maybe the guy was sick or injured but he really just seemed unmoved and the band was not really interacting, each in their own fantastic bubble. Play means interact people! For those of us who would just about kill to be on such an amazing bill Phosphorescent’s non-performance really felt like a slap in the face. So once that was over….and don’t get me wrong the last tune they played was more together than the others and cooked a little more. But once that was over and the show began it was awesome!
In addition to Robert Plant, The Sensational Space Shifters’ lineup includes Justin Adams, Guitar (Tinariwen, Sinead O’Connor), John Baggot, Keyboards, Loops, Synthesizers (Massive Attack), Billy Fuller, Bass (Beak>, Massive Attack, Portishead), Liam “Skin” Tyson, Guitar (of The La’s offshoot Cast), Juldeh Camara (African violin), and Dave Smith, Drums.
Liam “Skin” Tyson came out and began the show with a beautiful almost flamenco intro to “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”. I thought it was Robert Plant playing at first (they look a little alike) but then he came out and started singing. Robert Plant is the quintessential frontman, he was charming, engaged, in great voice, in fact he had (maybe) better control than when he was younger! He couldn’t hit some of those high screaming notes from his days of yore but that was fine. Dancing and kicking the mic-stand around in true rock-god form and yet he was able to make fun of himself, and his age. He had a whole series of hand gestures accompanying most of the songs. Towards the end of the concert he encouraged the audience using the American Sign Language sign for applause. Justin Adams was amazing, he was clearly psyched to be sharing the stage with Plant, full of jumpy dancing energy. Adams reminded me of Joe Strummer a little bit, that much energy and he made big gestures indicating changes in the music. One of my favorite moments was when Justin Adams and Liam “Skin” Tyson played Going to California (see below). And Plant played back and forth with his band, improvised vocal jabs which were repeated back to him in guitar lines….either to keep it interesting or to keep everybody on their toes….but I really think it was in the interest of play! Juldeh Camara was not on stage the entire time and sort of a guest but his African violin made perfect sense with roots-rock and blues of Led Zeppelin. Really just a great show!!

The Setlist:
Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
(Joan Baez cover)
In the Mood
Tin Pan Valley
(Charley Patton cover)
Black Dog
(Led Zeppelin song)
Another Tribe
Going to California
(Led Zeppelin song)
The Enchanter
(with “I’m Free Now” outro)
Four Sticks
(Led Zeppelin song)
(Led Zeppelin song)
Funny in My Mind (Fixin’ to Die)
What Is and What Should Never Be
(Led Zeppelin song)
Whole Lotta Love (with Who Do You Love medley
(Led Zeppelin song) (“Hoochie Coochie Man” introduction)
Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
(Traditional cover)
Rock and Roll
(Led Zeppelin song)

Have a great week humans! Support live music! Farewell to Maxwells!


Deprogramming Hour! (tee vee)

Last Friday I was taped performing some of my songs (popsong, esmerelda, unwind, and ghosts) and talking about various venues I’ve played for a cable access show “Deprogramming Hour”. The show is conceived and run by Katharine, a sometime bartender/artist at The Backfence and puppeteer in Central Park. I attend the open mic there on Sundays hosted by Jon V. Worthley, sign-up at 7PM. Everyone should visit this historic joint before they close shop on September 30th.

Katharine, first off thanks so much for having me on the show, “Deprogramming Hour”, I had a blast!

1. What inspired you to want to create your own t.v. show?
First there was Wayne’s World. I thought oh that’s cool. Then I went to a memorial service for one of the Marvel Comics editors. There were pictures from his childhood dressed up as super heros, pages from comics he helped produce, and a few people there were walking around dressed as characters he created. Then there was this presentation which included his cable access show that he made with friends. It stuck with me that he and his friends showed up every week for years to do this show even if they weren’t prepared or tired. I thought that sounds like a great time. After 9-11 my best friend got cable because her tv signal was knocked out. She started watching Manhattan Neighborhood Network and there were ads encouraging people to come in and make a show for free. She asked me if I wanted to do it with her. As if I needed more convincing she added that my hero Micheal Moore said he wanted to start a militia of people making their own media to combat mainstream misinformation. I said yes.

2. How long have you been doing this?
The first tv show I made was in high school. We did a piece for the Archdiocese tv station on homelessness. My part in the show was to interview this Pastor who ran a soup kitchen and housed the homeless. My first show for MNN years later was in June 2003.

3. What are some of your favorite television shows? (past and present)
The Muppet Show, TV Nation, Awful Truth, True Blood, Game of Thrones, everything by Bill Moyers, Frontline, American Masters, Daily Show, Colbert Report

4. You also do a puppet show in Central Park, when and where do you perform and how did you land that gig?
I puppeteer at the historic Swedish Cottage, 79th and West Drive (near the Delacorte Theatre) . A friend told me about the auditions and I tried out.

5. Do you have a favorite muppet?
Gonzo is my favorite because he is the weirdo. I loved Muppets in Space because the plot revolved around him.

6. Do you have a favorite film director? If so, who? If not, why not?
I don’t really follow directors much. I guess it would have to be Micheal Moore.

7. Do you have a favorite band? If so, who? If not, why not?
I have four favorite bands: Bauhaus (including Tones on Tails, Peter Murphy solo, Love and Rockets), U2 (Achtung Baby and before), Joy Division, and The Beatles. I love Bauhaus because they are dark, experimental, artsy, and different from everything else. I love early U2 because Bono’s voice is beautiful and the lyrics are passionate. I can’t explain my attraction to Joy Division. They were just perfect and their music moves me. The Beatles were my first love and their music makes me feel happy.

8. I love the title of the show, it has many layers to me, what does it mean to you?
It comes from the process of undoing brainwashing. So much of tv is dishonest, we try to be honest. The show was meant to be more political than it’s turned out to be. I wanted to cover topics that weren’t getting enough attention, but affected us all together such as war and pollution. However it seems that people don’t want to hear about it, so you have to hide the message in art.

9. What do you hope will happen with Deprogramming Hour in the next 5 years?
I hope it gets an underground following. It would also be great if it somehow led to paid work.

10. Do you have a favorite author? Painter? Do you prefer the beach or mountains?
author: George Orwell; painter: Arthur Rackham, I prefer the beach because I haven’t been to the mountains much.

It was great having you on the show. Thanks for the interview too.
Thanks again Katharine!!

So check out Deprogramming Hour every other Friday at 12:30AM on MNN4, channels 36/67/85 depending on your provider and in Brooklyn every 2nd and 4th Wednesday at 6PM on channels 34/67/82/42
I’ll let you all know when my segment airs. Have great listens this week, support live music and free independent media outlets!!

Rock-Doc-Recap! A Band Called Death and Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me

On March 26th 2011 I went to see a Big Star tribute show for their album Third/Sister Lovers with Jody Stephens (the bands original drummer), Mike Mills, Chris Stamey, Matthew Sweet, Michael Stipe, Tift Merrit, and other performers. It was a great show, little did I know then that it would be part of a movie, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. I really loved the film but it was very sad. I was left with a stunned kind of numb feeling…not from the story, maybe from the notion that there are probably bands/performers out there now making amazing music that will go unappreciated until long after its time. Don’t get me wrong these songs are timeless and essential listening i.e. not limited to an era. Big Star were from Memphis which was well represented in the film as Elvis Graceland territory without overshadowing their story. The two main creative forces initially were Alex Chilton and Chris Bell both guitar/vocalists. Chris Bell left the band after the first album. Chilton went on after 2 more Big Star albums to pursue punk rock. Chris Bell was clearly ambitious and driven and painfully disappointed when through a series of mishaps and missteps (I’m not going to give anything away, you should see the film) they were never embraced outside of rock critic and musician circles. It makes me wonder about committing to the ephemeral. Bell became born-again Christian, the film hinted, as a means to cope with alcohol and drug abuse and homosexual tendencies. I wonder how much of it had to do with committing to a creation which didn’t pay off as he anticipated. While he was in England he recorded the great album ‘I Am The Cosmos’. Every time I hear the first line of the title-track I think of a Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) type character. Bell was killed in a car crash at the age of 27.

I bought a Death album, For The Whole World to See, after hearing the track, ‘Politicians In My Eyes’, somewhere on the internet, probably Aquarium Drunkard, a couple of years or so ago. I didn’t know anything about them other than that they were black punk rockers from Detroit. I don’t think it’s merely coincidence that great rock comes from poor places. Lo and behold a movie was released this year, A Band Called Death. The band was 3 brothers, David, Dannis and Bobby. They’d practice their classic rock influenced loud rock after school, driving the neighbors nuts. The band was initially called Rock Funk Fire Express. They were influenced by likes of Pete Townsend, Jimi Hendrix and Todd Rundgren. David Hackney was driven and uncompromising in his vision of naming the band Death after his father died. They reached a point where they could’ve gotten a 20K record deal if they changed the name. David did not budge, so the recordings went to the attic. This film was about many things for me. Mostly it was about family loyalty and brotherhood but also about dogged persistence and sticking firm to your vision whether you “succeed” or not. It’s so important for people who make things to defend what they make from those who might want to ‘taint the waters’ for the sake of a buck. They made 2 gospel rock albums in Vermont as The 4th Movement before David moved back to Detroit. Dannis and Bobby went on playing without David in their reggae band Lambsbread. David died of lung cancer. The master tapes were discovered by Bobby Hackney Sr.s kids, Julian, Urian, and Bobby Jr. The kids formed a band called Rough Francis and covered Death songs. Meanwhile Bobby Sr. and Dannis reformed Death to support the release (after 30 years) of For The Whole World to See.

In this regard the Death movie is victorious because the revived music goes on and not only with 2 of the original members but their kids as well. So it felt hopeful whereas the Big Star movie felt a little like an epitaph, a memorial but it is still so beautiful. A Band Called Death was amazingly clear. One central thing these films have in common is a particular person, a figure, the driving force, the uncompromising visionary Chris Bell of Big Star and David Hackney of Death. Both were religious and maybe more specifically, more importantly to their creations, spiritual.

Have good listens folks! Oh hey, pitchfork has a review of the Big Star soundtrack but if you’re curious you really should just get those albums!


Hello and good day dear readers! Thanks for tuning in. Sorry I’m a day late here. So this album (I came up with a title!!…that’s not the title, I’m keeping it under wraps for now) James Beaudreau and I have been working on is getting closer to being finished. The question throughout the ages for all kinds of exploits; building, designing, cooking, painting, recording, living etc. is how are we going to pay for this?? There are a number of web services nowadays which host artists looking for funding. They call ’em funding platforms for creative projects. Pledgemusic, kickstarter, and IndieGoGo are some examples of probably the best known. Pledgemusic has a ton of projects on their site and at first I was thinking, well these are all musicians sort of at my level but then I saw that Wayne Shorter has a page for a documentary someone is making about him! There’s Juliana Hatfield. Oh and Greg Klyma (who’s a guy I met at PostCrypt, an all acoustic open mic on Columbia’s campus).
My friend, Nicole Hale, launched an excellent (and I think successful) funding campaign on kickstarter, I kicked in.
A dearly departed neighborhood luminary artist, Will (Will Teez) Alicea, launched a campaign to help with medical expenses on Indiegogo which I chipped in. So in other words, there are many uses and levels represented here. Often the person who gives money to a particular project will get a special reward (added incentive to become involved). For instance, yesterday one of my favorite bands, Quasi, leaked a track on-line in advance of their October double-album release and offered treats for those who pre-order. I’ll be getting a hand-printed t-shirt and a ‘zine and the album, yah! Now that’s not the same as the fan-funding I’m talking about but I’m just so psyched about this release that I had to share! heh
Seriously…how bad-ass is this track?

There is something in me which doesn’t necessarily prevent me from doing something like pledgemusic or kickstarter but I’m given pause….is it pride? I don’t want to owe anyone anything, I want to get away clean. Is it defensiveness? If I don’t make the amount I need then that reflects negatively upon the songs. Is this like begging? No, not like begging because those who chip in get an album or a credit or something back. Is it downright stubbornness? This is how I want it to be and that’s that. Maybe it’s a combination of things and not really worth examining…although most things bear closer inspection. The Medici’s (Famiglia de Medici) were great patrons of art, this would be like having a patron or, rather, a bunch of patrons. Why is it that the creative folks really don’t have a whole ton of money and are often reliant on those who do? It’s always been that way. Oh well. I recently saw a video on-line of the artist Amanda Palmer (formerly of the punk band Dresden Dolls) give a talk at a TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference about the art of asking and it started with her street performing days on through to having her fans fund her current album. She’s a known, established musician so it makes sense that she has support from fan-base which undoubtedly took years to establish.

Making art and/or music doesn’t cost much but getting it recorded and getting it out there does. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about it but I surely will get it done. James has put in so much great work and the songs themselves deserve to be heard. Stay tuned!
As always thanks for dropping by and have great listens this week!
I’m playing tonight at Shades of Green 125 East 15th Street 11PM
Tomorrow night at No Malice Palace 197 East 3rd Street (between Ave A and B) 8PM

NYC Open Stage (an interview with Danyul Kostin)

I met Danyul Kostin at an open mic he hosts on Mondays at No Fun Bar, 161 Ludlow 7:00PM signup. He also books shows (he booked me at Shades of Green 125 East 15th St July 9th 11PM)

1. What is NYC Open Stage?
NYC Open Stage is an organization that books, coordinates and hosts live music events within venues in NYC that support live independent music. This is a forum for the unheard to be heard and the unseen to be seen. If you are a band, a musician and/or a collective group of performers interested in performing in NYC please contact us! Please check our events page ( for upcoming opportunities to plug in with our network. Our Monday night Open Stage is host to music, poetry, comedy and MAGIC!! Please come out and enjoy this incredible event every Monday from 7:30PM – 12AM!! 161 Ludlow Street NY, NY 10002

2. When did you come up with the idea and why?
NYC Open Stage is something that I’ve wanted to do since 2006 when I left Subdude Records/Independent Music It’s been a dream of mine for years. NYC Open Stage was started as a way to locate and build opportunities for musicians, bands, artists, poets, comedians, and creative folk to network together and locate venues that support live independent performance art in New York City. We encourage you to share this forum with others locally and beyond…

3. Where are you from and how long have you been in New York?
I’m from North Carolina. I grew up on the beach and was passed back and forth between relatives in small farming towns and touristy beach towns. I came to NYC on January 13, 2012. The story is on the back of my CD. It’s available for $5 on the website or you can email me and i will get you a copy. The easiest way is to come to an NYC Open Stage event and just ask for one, I’ve been known to just hand them out!!

4. We spoke a little and you said you worked for a label down there, how was that job? As glamorous as it sounds?
Yeah, at times. It’s like anything else. It had it’s ups and downs. From time to time we would work on a project that would renew my faith in the music industry, but mostly it was just fighting the man and finding new ways to promote independent music in a live music format. Very similar to what we do at NYC Open Stage. The main difference being at the label we could only work with the artists that the label deemed worthy, with NYC Open Stage we have no restrictions, everyone is eligible.

5. You have a good group of performers, are these folks you know from other times in your life or have you recently met them all?
We’ve all crossed paths from time to time. Most of the artist’s that come through the doors of NoFun, I’ve only recently become acquainted with. February 26, 2013 was the first time I played out in NY so all that is happening has been since then. Just 4 months!! Before that I hadn’t played out in over 6 years!

6. Do you still buy records, CDs? Do you stream music on spotify or do the iTunes thing?
I do. I still buy records. My girlfriend and I go vinyl shopping every couple of months. It’s really important that as musicians we support each other. Spotify and iTunes are convenient but I’m not wrapped up in such a busy life that I can’t take the time to go out and buy my friends’ records and come home to sit and have a listen. That’s really the whole point, isn’t it?

7. Do you have a favorite author?
No, not really. I know a lot of people that are into books, it just hasn’t been an interest of mine for quite some time. A lot of people are into a lot of things that become an escape from what’s really going on and that doesn’t seem a healthy approach to me. I enjoy the occasional book of poetry and I do have the entire Poe collection as well as a few Bukowski, Burroughs and Hemingway novels, but to be honest I haven’t enjoyed reading in several years. It takes patience that I can’t afford these days. It’s total lack of self-discipline. There are quite a few attributes of mine that didn’t make it into my 30’s from my 20’s. Things like being a disciplined vegetarian, an avid reader, wearing size 30 pants, partying like it’s the last bootle on Earth, and so on. I guess some things just slip through the cracks of time.

8. I saw you recently went to see/hear Social Distortion, how was the show and what’s your favorite tune by them (if you had to pick one)?
Oh yeah, Social D! The greatest band of all time. The show was great, it always is. I’ve never been disappointed by them, never. We met up with Jonny 2 bags after the show and it was really nice to chat and be reminded that those guys are flesh and bone just like us. I can’t say I have a single track that would be my favorite but as far as records go, Live at the Roxy, hands down, tops the charts for me.

9. You have tattoos; do you have a favorite parlor you go to? Who’s your favorite painter?
I do have a couple of tattoo’s. The placement, arrangement and style all represent experiences in my life. My past, present and future are wrapped up in my tattoo’s. I go to Rivington Tattoo (LES). Sweety is my guy.
My favorite painter? I’ve only begun to explore the world of painting. NYC is full of museums that host some of the most intimate and honest art I’ve ever seen. A favorite would be tough to choose, but if your’e twisting my arm I’d have to say Picasso and Van Gogh. I finally got to see A Starry night on my birthday at the MoMA!! No comment…

10. So you’ve taken this task of booking shows but you consider yourself a musician first and foremost right?
Without question, I am first and foremost a musician. I took on the opportunity to book for a couple of reasons. I gain the experience of working with musicians I normally wouldn’t cross paths with, which opens countless doors of opportunity for my personal music career. Also, it’s a certain way of giving back what has been given to me. It’s a dream come true every time I perform and it’s a priceless privilege to offer that to someone else.

11. Would you share a track here with the readers?
Yeah, absolutely. I have a few songs on that sight as well as videos.
I also attached mp3’s of the songs Words of A Thief and Cancer In The Water in this email for you.

12. Do you prefer the ocean or the mountains?
Mountains just because they are strange to me. I was raised on the beach and I was always in awe of mountains. In NC the mountains are full of ghost stories, gold mines, indians, crazy preachers and bluegrass music. It’s very mystical and awe inspiring. Now that I’m getting older I think I would rather seek solace on a mountain top rather than an east coast sunrise.

13. Tell me a little bit about your upcoming tour and when we can see you next.
The upcoming tour is happening July 13 – 21. Just 8 days but it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m going to be traveling through Philly, DC, Virginia and NC. I will be playing in my hometown while I am down there as well!! I’m really excited to be going. It’s because of all the support I have received in NY that I’m able to do this. I’m still trying to raise funds for the tour, it’s all out of pocket. So please go to the website or email or come to my next show and buy a CD.
I am playing Bar 4 in Brooklyn, NY on July 5 at 8 PM. The night is shared with Greg Mendez and E.W. Harris. Two of the most talented artists I’ve had the privilege to work with. I’m also playing at Arlene’s Grocery on July 8 at 7PM with Greg Mendez and The Sky Captains of Industry. I’m really excited about both of these shows. All are welcome, free admission.

Thank you so much for this opportunity Philip!
Danyul Kostin

Thanks Danyul! And thanks dear readers for tuning in again! Have a great week! -p