Tag Archives: An Beal Bocht

Collaboration

Good day to you all! So, I’ve always prided myself on a certain level of independence in many facets of existence. However, recently, I’ve come out of my shell a little bit to look around and what I’ve found is (simply) progress. Writing and performing my songs solo for 14 years I think I’ve improved a bit but the progress feels glacial. When James Beaudreau and I finished recording, “At The Start/At Long Last”, we had to pull a band together to support the songs and the album release (Tuesday, November 18th @ Cakeshop 152 Ludlow Street NYC). Ben Kraus (bass) friend and co-worker, listened to my songs and liked them enough to learn them. We played duo gigs at No Malice Palace, The Way Station, Piano’s (upstairs), An Beal Bocht and a couple of office Christmas parties. The first Christmas party involved me giving up my shoelaces for a banjo strap for Ben and my tie to secure a mic to a stand (necessity being the mother of invention and all). Ben also plays with a jazz trio, Hive, check them here, http://www.lukeschwartz.com/blognews/hive-live-at-botanica-red-hook-brooklyn-tonight. James and I have been friends for 17 years or so but have only worked on music together for the album of my songs. You all should check out….lately it feels like pulling teeth to get anyone to listen to anything new. As though people only trust commercially backed music….this is a great mistake. If you are reading this, I implore you, listen to this track, Pacifico by James Beaudreau, one of my absolute favorites of his and tell me it’s not a beautiful, full composition, I dare ya!!http://vimeo.com/musicstore/track/33427/pacifico-by-james-beaudreau If you think that’s something, you should hear his rock playing. Anyways we needed a drummer and James contacted his friend from Highschool, Rich Drouin, to pitch in. Playing with a drummer has been mind-blowing for me. As a solo player I play with rhythm and at certain tempos but backbeats, various flourishes and other intense, deep incantations I’m still trying to comprehend. Rich’s main band is Iridesense check them out here!! http://www.iridesense.com/
In the few months The Philip Lynch Band has been together we’ve improved very quickly. It has been alarming to me especially as my own songwriting’s improvement has taken so long.

So I went running a couple of weekends ago and running, for me, is a meditative thing….i.e. I’m physically doing something but my brain is running through lyric ideas, things to do etc etc when a woman zipped by me and I thought, hm I wonder if I can keep pace? I did and caught up before she turned off and asked her pace. It took an outer influence to shake me out of my routine.

I’ve been to Italy on two separate occasions now and I love the country, the language, the art, the food and wine and have started taking an Italian class. To hear others trying to learn the language, sometimes encountering the same struggles I encounter, sometimes pronouncing words or phases beautifully or mispronouncing altogether made me realize an important fact, it takes failure to succeed (sounds like a dumb aphorism or commercial eh?). How would I know what I’m trying to learn without falling flat on my face? This is why the best clowns have beauty and grace…they represent feeling foolish for the betterment of us all. It takes courage to fall.

Til next time have great listens!! xo -p

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Paul Tabachneck Interview

I ran into Paul at the An Beal Bocht open mic this past Tuesday. I had heard him play originals and a Big Star cover once (this Tuesday it was a Wilco song). We chatted a bit and his description of how he writes songs intrigued me hence our interview today, enjoy!

Mornin’ Paul here are some questions (thanks again for doing this)

1.When did you start writing your own songs?
I was 17 years old, and had learned three songs: Seal’s “Crazy,” “Leaving on A Jet Plane,” and “More Than Words.” At that point, I figured I had enough chords that I could start stringing them together in different ways. One night, I was feeling depressed like teenagers get, and I wrote, basically, a suicide note in the form of a song. After I wrote it, though, I felt better, and took the cue that maybe that was a better thing to do with my time than the Self-Pity Wallow (a dance I’d perfected by then.) I wrote 50 awful songs in my senior year, and like 2 OK ones.

2.Do you have a favorite band? If it’s too tough to whittle down give me your top 3 (currently)
Elvis Costello is my alpha and omega, but I listen to him less these days than I did in my angry twenties. I’d say the top three songwriters that duke it out for my attention are Patty Griffin, Freedy Johnston, and Nina Persson (The Cardigans, A Camp). I also love and obsess over Jellyfish, a band that put out two albums in the ’90s. Amazing band, amazing songs.

3.Do you have an album of your own? Music available online? Where?
I have released a total of 11 things, about three of which are currently available online. You can get Glutton’s Dozen (1999), Boy Meets Girl (2008), and Here Goes Nothing (2011) at all the digital music stops, as well as at paultab.bandcamp.com. I have a youtube channel at youtube.com/strumcrystrum, where I have a variety of stuff, from live stuff to lyric videos to a fan-programmed cover series I do called The Song Monkey. I’m also working on a new album, Two People Made This Mess, that I hope to release in the summer.

4.You have a great voice, were you in choir as a kid?
Thank you! I wasn’t. I took voice lessons for a few years in Pittsburgh after a girlfriend bought me a month’s worth of lessons, to see if I wanted to try it out. My coach’s name is Beth Claussen — she’s amazing! I was really worried about going to a vocal coach at first, that she’d make me sound like an opera singer, but what a good one will do is help train out all of the quirks and affectations that you’ve acquired from your influences (I used to be really into Barenaked Ladies, so I sounded like Cat Stevens trying to sing Elvis Costello songs as Steven Page, like, all the time), and then to find your own voice by finding your limits and gradually stretching them. She was a huge help.

5.Have you studied music in school?
I’m self-taught, for the most part, but I went to a performing arts high school (CAPA, in Pitttsburgh) with a music department that was tolerant and welcoming of my use of their facilities. I was a theatre major, but every study hall or free period I could get, they would let me use their studios to just hammer away at stuff, and to practice recording with their four-track. The head of the department signed me up for my first talent show, and lent me hundreds of dollars’ worth in equipment to take home over spring break and record an album (it was AWFUL, but it was fun to make).

6.Would you describe your process of writing a song?
I’ve gone through phases, but these days it’s very much a wait-and-see process. Songs occur to me most often when I’m taking walks — sometimes they’ll source themselves from melodies I’ve hummed while strumming at home, but usually when they come it’s without a guitar line in mind. This way, I can free myself a little from the 1-4-5 thing and play around with the way the melodies dance. I’d say when the first hit of inspiration comes, I get a verse and maybe a chorus. Then I sit on it.

If the next day, or a few days later, it comes back, I start to think a little harder about second verses. Once that’s broken, I’m pretty much ready, but I like bridges and I try for them, so:

I take a shower, and I sing the verses and choruses through in the shower. Whatever self-consciousness I have about singing them on the street falls away and generally whatever pops out of my mouth next, whether it has a lyric attached to it or not, is the melody I want to go to for the bridge. Then, more walking and waiting.

You really never know when the dots are going to connect. The line in Astoria, “I’m a boy and life is messy, I was bound to make a few mistakes,” came to me while I was getting a root canal. You just have to keep your mind open, all the time, and let your brain do its thing.

In any case, after all that is done, I take it home and learn it on the guitar. The guitar is such a freeing instrument in so many ways, and facilitates so many writers, but at some point, you have to learn how to override the settings that you program in from using certain progressions, because otherwise, those progressions will keep your melodies in the same box, or your melodies won’t sound right over the chords your comfortable with. Bringing the songs fully written to the guitar, though, forces you to do a little extra work to find the chords that serve your melody. The songs get stronger for that.

The end result is that I’m less prolific but way more consistent, and stronger than I used to be.

7.Do you buy music at a record store? Online? CDs? Vinyl?
I buy vinyl at a record store. I’ve been diving into the seventies lately, because I’ve been watching all of these documentaries that have hipped me to what was going on back then musically, and it’s been a great journey, one that I traverse through Spotify, that generally culminates in vinyl purchases once I find the albums I can obsess over. I recently bought a copy of Curtis Mayfield’s Roots with the Curtom label on it, which sits with pride alongside a Sussex release of Bill Withers’ Just As I Am that I got for five bucks at Silvana. I’ve been looking for a copy of Merry Clayton’s “Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow,” a stunner of an album that I suspect saw more space in the landfills than on shelves, but I play it on Spotify, like, constantly.

I buy CDs at live shows, or trade them with other performers, but usually when I buy music, it’s digitally. iTunes has horrible aspects to it in the post-Jobs era — their focus on DRM is so insane that they actually delete files from your library that they don’t recognize as their own — but the Cloud aspects I like. I like the idea that I won’t have to transfer files from computer to computer for future purchases, they’ll just, you know, be around.

I do still love vinyl, though, because as far as the physical aspect of owning something goes, that’s the greatest. You have a big ol’ picture, you’ve got these liner notes, it’s so tactile. I probably love vinyl for stupid reasons that are the same as the people who still love books that I make fun of, but if there’s one thing not to let go of in this world, it’s vinyl records. I really hope to put one out someday — maybe this next album will find a vinyl label!

8.What’s the last show you saw and where?
The last show I saw was at An Beal Bocht: it was the Steamboats, and they were awesome. One mic, four guys, sweet arrangements, just flawless execution. The last “professional” show was an anniversary present from my fiancée, and that was Kanye West at Barclays with A Tribe Called Quest opening. Supposedly, it was the last Tribe show, and that’s why it was truly important to me — those guys were the first hip-hop band that really mattered to me, and that whole Native Tongue kurass was a gift to humanity — and they didn’t disappoint. Busta Rhymes showed up for his verses on Scenario, it was transcendental; he was jumping up and down on Kanye’s stage, bouncing the whole thing like he was gonna break it. Kanye’s show was weird and beautiful and also weird. I love him and the show was a blast but, and maybe this is me being old, I like listening to him more than I cared about the big mountain and the dancers. His set-up was so loud that his lyrics were indistinguishable, and even his rant was hard to make out from the “cheap” seats. I’d really like to see him play a show like LL Cool J’s unplugged, where he gets a full band to pull off all the samples he uses live, and the mix is chill enough that he can let his words ring out. That, I would pay $150 to see again.

Showing up early to shows has grown my appreciation of NYC music greatly — staying late after a Madison Square Gardeners show at Rockwood 2, I got to see Harper Blynn for the first time. The next time I showed up to see Harper Blynn, I walked in on the tail end of Lucius’ set, and heard three songs, the first of which was “Turn It Around,” fully three years before it became the huge AAA hit it is today (they called it “Comatose” back then — “Go Home” used to be called “Dolly.” I am a nerd.) Going to see Lucius at Moscov Gallery, I was turned on to Pearl and the Beard. I think I heard Sydney Wayser for the first time because I hung around after doing my first show at Googie’s, to see who was playing in the Living Room. I buy these people’s albums when they come out, and listen to them constantly. Coming to Beal Bocht on random Sunday nights has been rewarding too, most recently with my discovery of the Steamboats. There just is no better delivery format for music than live performance, and if it’s affordable and close, I’m on it.

9.What’s your favorite NYC venue to see a show? To play?
Rockwood Stage 3 is fantastic — they’ve got a quiet, quaint little set-up going down there. If you go into Rockwood 1 and see that the tables are gone, well, they’re down in Stage 3 now. I also love going to the Scratcher, an Irish bar in the village that has a weekly session. They use one of those Bose sticks for an amplifier, and it sounds great in that room, which is one of those charming lower-level brownstone joints that you have to go down a few stairs to go into. On the playing side, I’ve been getting a lot of great support from the team at Silvana and Shrine in Harlem, and their sound and stage system is unparalleled in NYC. They love good music, and I’ve never seen a mediocre act there before or after me.

Still, right now, my favorite place to go see and play music is An Beal Bocht, and that’s all about the way they respect and support their artists. Like many places in NYC, Bocht relies on tips from their patrons to pay their musicians. Unlike these places, however, they make a point of getting everybody’s attention, like, shushing the room, and giving them a spiel about the fact that the money that goes in the basket is the only money we get. They then go around and hold the basket at each table, patiently waiting for people to either decline or get their wallets out and pony up. I did a gig the other night at another place where the waitress took the tip bucket, without ceremony, and walked straight to the back of the room and straight back to the front without stopping: it had $4 in it. I mentioned that the tip bucket was on the stage and ended up with about $40. For the next band, she did the same thing, so I picked up the bucket and walked it around, and I saw 20s fall in, so that’s the kind of money I lost because the waitress didn’t care enough. I also played a gig recently where there was no waitress, just the bartender and the soundguy, and when I asked the soundguy, who had just told me my set was the best he’d heard in a long time, and thanked me for it, if the bucket had been passed, he said, “Uh, NO. I don’t, you know, DO that. You can, though, if you want to.” Respect plays a big role in whether I go back to a club or not.

10.Do you read music reviews online and do you find them useful in any way?
Opinions are like hamburgers — you can get one anywhere, but the shit content depends on the source. What I do these days is listen to Spotify a lot, and every day I click on the “New Releases” tab and play at least one track from everything I see, to see if anything grabs me. Once I get really into something, it will result in a fear-based iTunes purchase (I’m always worried that all of the content will disappear off Spotify in the middle of the night and I’ll have to buy everything at once), or a dive through the used-vinyl troughs if it’s older stuff. I read the AV Club’s reviews sometimes, and they point me in some good directions, but mostly I like just discovering stuff that way or by going to live shows.

There you have it! Check Paul Tabachneck out online, buy his albums, and if you see him live just say “hi”!

Rocky and The Pressers!! (Interview with Eric Sullivan)

I first met Eric Sullivan of Rocky and The Pressers while he was hosting the Tuesday night open mic at An Beal Bocht, 445 West 238th (at Greystone Ave.), a year or so ago. On May 4, 2013 I went to his bands highly attended record release party at The Mercury Lounge.
Rocky and The Pressers are: Eric Sullivan (vocals/guitar), Mario Rincon (vocals/guitar), Seth Nicholson (vocals/drums), Rocky Russo (bass), Danny McDonald (vocals/guitar/saxophone), Dylan Hume (vocals/keyboards/trombone), and Adrian Colon (percussion)

Hey Eric, thanks for doing this man. I really dig the album and the performances I’ve seen so I want to help get the word out. Here are some questions:

1.Where are you from?
I grew up in Fleetwood, New York til age 10, then attended elementary school in Riverdale at Fieldston. We lived in Hastings when I reached high school. Year after high school lived in Park Slope…then back to Riverdale. So…I’m from the Bronx mostly.

2. How did you come upon this type of music? And would you simply call it reggae?
As a teenager I was listening to a lot of Sublime and their influences…back to the source. Most people don’t know how big a reggae head Brad Nowell (lead singer) was…his listening went pretty deep, obscure references permeate his lyrics, but he was also quite obviously a huge Bob Marley fan. I became a student of Marley primarily and then discovered so much more reggae…and I’m still digging. And yes, I really would call it reggae…it’s reggae.

3. What was your first instrument? (after the paintbrush heh)
Got a guitar at age 3 but didn’t learn to play until 12. At school they started us on recorder and then I learned saxophone.

4. Where did you meet your bandmates? How do you ever get everyone (6 players) together to practice?? hahahahaha
Went to The Fieldston School HS with Rocky and Danny who were both in my younger brothers grade and friends of his. Two of them always had bands in high school as I did…later on we were between projects and we all started jamming at An Beal Bocht…Mario is from the neighborhood and I used to play little league sports with him…he got invited to one of our very first rehearsals…Seth knew Rocky from mutual friends at SUNY Purchase…Dylan as well. Danny Flinn and I started the thing as sort of a duo. After a year and half we parted ways. Now we have Adrian on percussion, he used to hit the MaGoos open mic (5602 Broadway)….really talented dude. None of us work nine-to-fives so we live broke and with our parents…but we have time to rehearse.

5. Would you discuss the “Dance at The Playhouse” image and title? (I think we spoke about it a week ago or so)
It’s a poster that hangs in Mario’s family home in Maine…it was made in 1954 by a man named Tudge Whittimore as an invitation for a square dance that was held in the community “playhouse” which is the building we did our core tracking in. We thought it was alluring and it said a lot of things. Intriguing. Plus it was a welcome solution to the problem of settling on some kind of logo or branding…and an album title and cover art.

6.Who are you listening to lately (if anybody)?
Haven’t been listening very aggressively. Needed to clear my head to be able to mix. I’ve been going back to a lot of reggae on the daily…just keep finding old artists I never knew, it’s endless. Also checking out some early calypso from the 1940s…Gordon Lightfoot and Scott Walker every day.

7. Do you go to record stores to buy CDs or LPs or download or stream music?
I stream from YouTube or groove shark mostly. I don’t carry an iPod or smartphone so I have no need to download…I buy CDs occasionally.

8. Do you have a favorite reggae artist? Dub? (I think we spoke of King Tubby once) Ska?
Reggae has to be Bob Marley…he’s the biggest because he’s the best. I don’t listen to dub all that much, I’m more after the song. Not too much ska really.

9.Great Arrangements on “Dance at The Playhouse” is there a particular producer or record you took your cues from?
Thanks. Nobody in particular. I am a very big Michael Jackson fan…Quincy jones’ work is heroic. The production and arrangement of Scott walker’s 4 solo records has also made a powerful Impact on my style.

10.What do you hope this record does? Are you hoping to attract major label attention? Expand your audience? Get more gigs?
I just want it to be heard…all over the world. And I’d like it to take us all over the world….and to the venues that I’ve always wanted to play.

11. Some of these tunes have an old school, almost doo-wop feel (I guess I’m thinking of the tune ‘Hurricane’) was that an influence?
I’ve definitely been exposed to lots of doo wop …my uncle is an encyclopedia of doo wop and has turned me on to how vast a genre it is. It’s actually something I plan to study before going on to write the next record. That and more of the early calypso and other island forms.

12. So I’ve seen you guys twice at The Mercury Lounge, great sets. I was impressed with how balanced the sound was. Do you check each other? Do you go by the rule nothing louder than the drums?
We just try to keep the guitars low…bass high…vocals clear with enough verb to cover mistakes.

13. You have the bulk of the writing, singing, producing duty, does everyone pitch in for their particular parts or do you have parts in mind for them?
I direct the music pretty thoroughly…guys get annoyed some times but I always try to explain my reasoning in terms of why it’s best for the song. I have parts that I can’t do without especially drum beats…they’re so important to get right. Guitar parts are more open ended a lot of the time. I’m kind of a hard ass…to be honest.

14. Do you have a favorite author?
Good question. I can’t pretend to be extremely widely read…but the best writing I have read was by James Joyce…and also Umberto Eco…smarty pants stuff.

15. What was the name of the punk band you were in? Your played drums, right?
Eye banker…yes I played drums…we put out 5 songs and played 3 DIY shows.

16. The harmonies are really smooth and natural on this album, do you all go to a particular voice teacher?
We have worked a couple times with my old vocal coach, Ilana Davidson. She is a Riverdalian and is involved at the An Beal Bocht scene sometimes…such a great vocalist and instructor. She helped us with some vowel replacement methods…helped us with dynamics on the song “home”. In particular…we haven’t had the money to do more work with her for several months now.

17. I dig the sequencing, was it easy to have these songs sit well next to each other?
Thanks for noticing…they were tough decisions that were made only at the last minute. There are very clear reasons for the sequencing but I am forgetting them.

18. Where did you record? Did you record any of the parts simultaneously? Where did you do overdubs?
We tracked drums bass and two guitars simultaneously in the playhouse in Maine…we did primary overruns there and all the rest including vocals in the year that followed…mostly at our rehearsal space, Rocky’s basement.

19. How long did the album take to make and are you happy with it?
It took 18 months…waaaay too long. We are happy with it and proud.

20 So you’re played in Maine on Friday and An Beal Bocht on Saturday, do you have other NYC dates lined up and where/when can we purchase “Dance at The Playhouse”?
We’ll be at Joes Pub on June 7th! And will be at Mr. MaGoo’s in July and August…having a good ol’ time.

Dance at The Playhouse will be available on iTunes within the month! (I heartily recommend this album it’s a great summer listen with interesting arrangements and beautiful melodies) plus The Villalobos Brothers lent their talents on this one! http://villalobosbrothers.com/

In the meantime give a listen!! https://soundcloud.com/rocky-and-the-pressers/sets/dance-at-the-playhouse

Thanks, as always, dear reader for tuning in! Dig it! Enjoy this weather!! -p