Archive for March, 2010

One of the most beautiful things about New York City it’s ability to provide us with beautiful music, of an genre, at any given time of the day or night. On this nasty rainy Tuesday night nothing could have kept me from a lovely intimate jazzy evening with Will Bernard, Todd Sickafoose and Ches Smith at The Stone.

The Stone door

The Stone door

I had never been to The Stone before and my girlfriend and I had a hell of a time finding it as we walked by it’s door 4 times before realizing that was the venue. No sign, both walls flanking the door looked like those metal security walls that the store fronts draw down when they close up for the night.  We thought it was a closed store and kept walkin’ on by. The whole time I am geekin’ out hoping it wasn’t one of those places that won’t let you in once the gig has started.  Finally, we figured it out.  The only hint was a little sticker on the obscure front door that read “The Stone.”

As I entered The Stone, I was immediately taken aback. No windows, no bar, no merch counter…barely any light, was there even a bathroom?  About 10 rows of chairs, maybe 50 in all, lined the floor in front of the playing area. I loved it. Musical intimacy at its best. Especially because only 20 of the seats were filled!!!!

The three wonderful musicians, Will Bernard on Guitar, Ches Smith on Drums and Todd Sickafoose on Bass, come up the stairs a little after 10pm and the first thing Will says: “Everyone’s gone to the bathroom, right?”  Good stuff.  Clearly, there would be no set break.

California invaded NYC that night at The Stone.  All three musicians are transplants from various parts of California. Personally, I was born in Sacramento, California and wish I could remember more about the beautiful state. Good to know if I was still living out there, I would be surrounded by amazing musicians!!  Well, with the exception of these three!!!

Directions to My House CD Cover

Directions to My House CD Cover

Many of the songs played last night were off an album that Ches and Will collaborated on a few years back called Directions to My House!

So, they go right into Agro Business. I notice that all the musicians were reading sheet music. With this style of  experimental jazz, it blows my mind how their actions can be translated into notes on a page.  I would LOVE to see what the drummers sheets look like. I kept going back to the drum composition. Couldn’t pull my eyes away from Ches’s playing.  Will begins to manipulate his trippy guitar sounds with the machines at his feet.  But we couldn’t hear the bass.

Turning to my pal,”Do you hear the bass?” “Not at all,” she says.

As I turn around to face the players, Todd bends down to turn up his amp. Now we are back business!

Wide Awake was next with it’s soft, slow start.  The drum brushes came out.  And soon the trippy picks of the guitar made way for the heavy parts that followed. As Wills face scrunched into his guitar rift, Ches proceeded to strike every surface of his drum kit.  Again, how does that translate into sheet music? Silence.  And then it’s Todd’s turn to bring it back up.  Todd’s fingers are moving a mile a minute and Will’s guitar softens as the song comes to a close.

Ches Smith @ Terminal 5 (03.28.09)

Ches Smith @ Terminal 5 (03.28.09)

It’s about this time that something in my memory triggers in relations to Ches Smith.  He looks sooooo familiar.  Turning to my friend, “I feel like I saw him with Les Claypool or something….” Today, while researching Todd, it all came together when I realized he was in the Secret Machines 3 and I had seen them open for Les Claypool at Terminal 5 last year.  I love when that kinda stuff hits home. And after last night, I will never forget his face, or hands, again.

I adore when the boundaries of time are broken in music; the spaces that can be manipulated with notes. The thing that separates each artist is when and where they place those notes.  Crab Apple Red is one of those songs that I love for it’s count/time/beat, pick your poison.   Todd started off with the deep bass and the rest flow in.  Will shined shortly after as he picked away at his guitar. After hearing the studio albums for a while, watching him play these songs live makes it so much more outstanding! It humbles you because they may make it look easy, but IT IS NOT!! As Will and Todd make eye contact with a smile, they put the song to sleep.

WE GOT A NEW SONG TONIGHT!!!!  In my notes I spelled it Mootwos, HAHA, but it is spelled Motooz.  Will bends over to prepare his machines to produce just the right sound they have felt this song was born to release.  I remember thinking…”foreboding”… when the song started. Low, mysterious…..Ches gave us a nice drum solo, Will manipulated sounds with his machines, turned over his guitar on his lap and then the SLIDE came out! Always a welcome sound.

“Are you having fun? I am having fun! It’s been a while since I got to play this stuff,” says Will.

Parental Guidance fullfill’s it’s name.  If there was a silent movie and the parents were yelling at the child, this would be the soundtrack.  It’s as if at first they are stomping their feet/bass strings and shaking their fist/drum sticks.  And then they calm down and talk rationally….relax. Ches’s cymbal manipulation was fun. My friend would later say, “I have never seen someone do that before!” Personally, I was wondering how using your fingers on the drums translates on to sheet music.  But, there is a story behind this song, I can feel it.

With Hall of Science, the brushes come back out on the drums, Will destroys his guitar into a manipulation of sound that would confuse most people. He slaps the guitar, smacks it. This is a whole different kind of rage. This is not music for the faint of mind, forget heart. It makes you focus. It makes you think.  There are parts that make it feel like a little getup and go jam and then there is chaos among the instruments.Will starts shaking the curtains, Ches scratches the floor with his feet, Todd rips the music in half……”HEY! That’s my music!” Will proclaims.  Laughter abounds.  “Guess we can’t play the head out.” But they do and I loved it!

Up until this point, I had wanted to remain seated. This isn’t the type of music you dance too, or rather,  I dance to. To each their own! But whenever I hear Not Necessarily Stoned, I immediately want to put on a  saucy red dress and move. And move slow. Each artist’s talent shined on this song. Will on guitar, Todd on bass and Ches on drums. It was a perfect song to end the evening.

After thanking Will, my fellow blogger friend and I leave the venue chatting away about the interesting performance we were just privileged to see. It’s always fun introducing friends into new musical environments. Another Happy Tuesday for this Tiny Rager 🙂 Thanks you guys!

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Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

Perpetual Groove and Turbine played at the Bowery Ballroom on March 26, 2010.  Turbine was slated to play the Sullivan Hall after party with DJ Nutritious but got tapped to open for the band at Bowery. Unfortunately, we didn’t make the show in time to see the opening band but our coats were checked and we were in the venue minutes before Perpetual Groove went on.

Brock Butler @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

Brock Butler @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

Brock Butler, lead guitar and vocals, has been a favorite of mine for a few years but nothing hit home the way it did when I was privileged enough to enjoy a very intimate show on the Pool Deck of Jam Cruise 8 at 6am as we pulled into the Cayman Islands.  He was accompanied by a passenger, Elli Labar, on violin.  I can’t describe this moment on the ship, as it was beyond emotional and beyond words at that point in time.  But I can show it to you. Enjoy!!

Perhaps I should talk about the show???  Oh, ok, FINE!!!  First, let me just state how much I like the band’s name. Perpetual Groove. How fun is that?!   Apparently there are some haters when it comes to the name of the band but personally it just MAKES me want to dance! It says flat out: we are hear to rage your face!!

John Hruby @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

John Hruby @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

PGroove came out raging as they always do beginning with No Decorations, off their latest CD Heal. It only took to the end of this song for me to have to leave the front of the stage due to all the tweaking under age kids that I wanted to kick in the teeth. Don’t get me started…..

As much as I love Brock, the keyboardist, John Hruby,  had my attention most of the night.  I am unsure how to describe the way he plays.  It is not so much how he plays the instruments but how he moves and smiles and interacts with the crowd AS he plays the instruments.  For me, my major point in seeing a live show is being able to actually SEE the artists that I love play their respective instruments.  That is huge for me. I like to  feel their pain when they sing, watch their fingers when they strum their guitar, watch their feet as they tap to the beat.  John was engaging, loud and vibrant in his actions.  He gets lost in his playing the same way we close our eyes when a song over takes us. I don’t even think he could help it. And if he can, he sure fooled me.

Set I: No Decorations> The March of Gibbles Army> Speed Queen, A Day the Way, At the Screen, The Golden Path

PGroove is as well known for their ability to cover songs as they are for their own material. With a musical encyclopedia for a brain, Brock Butler can pretty much play anything you ask him to on the spot from rap to rock to reggae. When PGroove headed into Aha’s Take on Me, I immediately turned to my girlfriend and started jumping up and down as John started in on the lyrics.  I pictured the video and imagined the entire venue was in black and white and we were all running like mad men down the cartoon hallways.  Yall remember that video?  At that moment, EVERYONE, regardless if they knew any other song that night, knew that song and we all sang along.  Take on Me elevated the energy in the Bowery to its highest point of the night!!! (Enjoy 90% of the song in the following video hahaha!!!)

While playing Mr. Transistor, we got our second cover as they broke into R.L. Burnside’s It’s Bad You Know and returned to finish off Mr. Transistor.

Set II: Mr. Transistor> It’s Bad You Know> Mr Transistor, Cairo, Take on Me, Robot Waltz, Up Again

After PGroove walked off the stage, we all knew not to move and eventually they slowly joined the stage again for the encore. We were handed an intense version of Life, from the album the album All This Everything, which flowed into Stealy Man.  Walking out of the venue after the show, I said goodnight to fellow jam cruisers, friends and the like. I took one more glance toward the stage and Frobee Brobee stared at me from the bass amp.  The smile on his face mirrored my own. It was a good show!  Thank you PGroove!  Hope to see you all again soon!

Download: Perpetual Groove Live at Bowery Ballroom, NY (03.26.10)

Frobee Brobee raging on the Bass Amp (03.26.10)

Frobee Brobee raging on the Bass Amp (03.26.10) Talk about a Tiny Rager!!

Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom (03.26.10)

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Last Thursday, March 25, 2010, there were a few great musical options to choose from and I was having an internal struggle. MoonAlice and Some Cat From Japan were playing at The Brooklyn Bowl for $5, while Tower of Power was playing at B.B. Kings for $30.

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

If I had planned better, I could have attended the 7:30pm show of Tower of Power and ran to The Brooklyn Bowl to catch Some Cat From Japan at 10:30pm. While on the phone with a friend debating on my plan of action, I was feed a little anecdote.  He explained how when it comes to these seasoned bands, it’s best to attend the later show so that they can use the earlier show as a warm-up.  When it was all put into perspective, I knew what decision I would make!  TOWER OF POWER, and for many reasons…

1. I had never seen them before!!

2. I was on the guest list so $30 back in my pocket

3. I wanted to stay closer to home and this was in Manhattan vs. Brooklyn

4. I had never seen them before!!


Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado

Being that this was an event scheduled on the NYC Funk Live’s Meetup group site, I knew I would be with some music heads to enjoy the show with.  I arrived first and joined the LOOOONG line outside which stretched all the way to the end of the block.

Sometime between February’s Fat Tuesday Show with George Porter Jr. and tonight’s Tower of Power show, a thought-provoking mural had been erected along 92 feet of Times Square Mural by Sofia Maldonado the sidewalk down West 42nd Street commanding the attention of all who walked by with its loud and vibrant portrayal of “Strong Women.”

The mural was envisioned and designed by Sofia Maldonado, a Puerto Rican/Cuban artist.  She was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance to create a work of art and that she did. Go check it out:

While studying the mural and getting completely lost in its intricacies and the statement that is was screaming at me, members of NYC Funk Live group started arriving and our section of the line began to bubble out as our group grew while waiting.

After 25 minutes of waiting in 3 stages of the line, we were finally in.   There were tables lining every inch of available dance space. By the time were we ushered in, there were only a few available tables left, all with horrible sight lines of the stage. Not that it mattered as none of us wanted to eat, nor did we want to have to pay a minimum of $20 a person for drinks. And , of course, we certainly didn’t want to SIT at a funk concert…PERIOD!!!

Tower of Power took the stage within minutes and we were immediately confronted with more confusion. Obviously we had to stand but where?  Where could we put our jackets/scarves/bags since there is no coat check?   Where do we dance if there is no dance floor?  B.B. Kings strikes again…but let’s get to the good stuff!!!!!

Tower of Power is a horn-heavy jazzy, funky explosion of sound.  One of the first funk/pop groups to incorporate multiple ethnicities, Tower of Power blasted out of the 60’s and remains a founder of funk today, empowering and inspiring younger musicians. Below is the only video I took of the night! Too busy dancing…

The wonderful group of musicians that blessed the stage that night as Tower of Power were:

  • Larry Braggs – Lead Vocalist
  • David Garibaldi – Drums
  • Tom E. Politzer – Lead Tenor sax
  • Emilio Castillo – Tenor Sax
  • Roger Smith – Keyboards
  • Adolfo Acosta – Trumpet
  • Stephen “Doc” Kupka – Baritone Sax
  • Jerry Cortex – Guitar, back up vocals
  • Mic Gillette – Trumpet, Trombone, Flugelhorn
  • Francis Rocco Prestia – Bass
Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Al Chez w/ TOP (03.25.10)

Special Guests that night included Al Chesnovitz, or Al Chez, former TOP member and Letterman Show band member, and Lenny Pickett, Former TOP Lead Tenor and Musical Director for Saturday Night Live.

Set ListWhat is Hip?, This Time It’s Real, You Got To Funkifize, You Ought to be Having Fun, So Very Hard to Go, There’s Only So Much Oil in the Ground, Get Yo’ Feet Back on the Ground, Hip Street, and Give Me the Proof, and Walking up Hip Street!  ~~~~ (I am sure there are a few I didn’t catch but they only played from 10pm-1130 so there wasn’t room for many songs.)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Larry Braggs of TOP (03.25.10)

Lead singer, Larry Braggs, is utterly amazing. AMAZING!!!!  I can absolutely see why all the women were swooning while he sang the slower ballads and why they drooled when he blasted out louder, funkier songs like This Time It’s Real.  During Startime, the James Brown tribute melody from the “Great American Soulbook,” I literally had tingles down my spine when he sang.

I have only recently been focusing on the singing/vocals when I attend shows. Normally, I take apart the entire song and pick and choose which instruments to focus on at any given time and then phase them all back together in my head to hear the song.   The vocals fall by the way side because they are just poetry to me and I can just read them later.  But with Larry, I was always drawn away from the instruments and back to the vocals. It wasn’t the lyrics, it was just his voice.  This has only really ever happened with a few male singers as I am drawn to female voices. Very strange.

Doc & @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Doc & Emilio Castillo @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

It was during the more well-known songs, What is Hip and This Time It’s Real, that the folks sitting at the tables were able to find their dancing legs and rise.  However, it only took a few notes out of the horn section during the first song to get those of us with the NYC Funk Live group dancing.  Meredith N., our group’s founder, found us a tiny sliver of dancing space to the left of the stage in front of an abandoned reserved table.  It was a horrible space to view the band but we HAD to boogie…so, priorities!!  And move we did….it became infectious.  Meredith proceeded to dance up and down the aisles of BORING seated patrons which got a few laughs and eventually a large group of people were on their feet or silly business men were trying to dance with us haha.

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Roger Smith @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

I LOVE the Baritone Sax, so naturally, Stephen “Doc” Kupka was a favorite. That instrument pinged thorough my head with every note. Apparently, it was Doc’s birthday that night as well.   Happy Birthday Doc!

I have to say, though, that the keys player, Roger Smith, killed it during his solos.  During Hip Street, the horn section left the stage leaving Roger to solo on the B-3 and David Garibaldi to back him on drums.  I knew I wanted a picture of Roger and I was immediately pulled in his direction when the solo began.  Unfortunately, I was focusing too much on his solo to take a decent shot.   Eventually, the horns joined back in, the song was complete and I could care less about the picture as Tower of Power had just laid one on us with that song and was about to hand us another rager with Give Me the Proof.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Bass player, Jerry Cortez, joined the group last year but only started touring with them in January so this was a treat.  His background vocals blended well with Larry’s but I was more interested in hearing him play that bass.

The band went on at 10pm, finished their set at 11:21 and came out for one more song. We were out of there by 11:50pm after we helped Meredith N. hand out her NYC Funk Live notices.  Walking to the subway with my funky friends, we all agreed that despite the lack of dance floor, we were all very pleased with the high octane funk that we were just delivered.

Tower of Power @  B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings (03.25.10)

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So, instead of going back and writing about all my musical adventures that I have on my computer but have yet to release to the public, I am just going to list them by month and if you are interested, you can follow the links to my reviews on other websites or ask me for info and pictures later if you like.

Jaaaaaamuary 2010:

2-9 – Jam Cruise

20 – Robert Randolph and Friends @ The Brooklyn Bowl (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

22 – moe. @ Roseland Ballroom, Man

26 – Charlie Hunter Residency @ Roselive, Bklyn


February 2010:

2 – Poetry Slam @ Bowery Poetry Club, NYC

5 – Tea Leaf Green & Galactic @ Terminal 5, NYC ~ (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

5 – Will Bernard’s Galactic Afterparty @ Bar 9, NYC

9 – Adam Deitch w/ Louis Cato and Yuki Hirano @ Rose Live, NYC

13 – Toubab Krewe and Lotus @ 930 Club, DC

14 – Hackensaw Boys & Umphrey’s McGee @ Rams Head live, Baltimore, MD

16 – Fat Tuesday with George Porter, Adam Deitch, Henry Butler and Leo Nocentelli @ B.B. Kings, NYC ~ (Read my review on FestivalFamily.com)

19 – Ryan Montbleau Band & Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

20 – EQUIFUNKL: Eric Lindell @ Sullivan Hall, NYC

20 – Jay Rodriguz & Adam Deitch @ The Blue Note, NYC

25 – Umphrey’s McGee & Chapter 2 @ Nokia Theatre Times Square

26 – North Mississippi Allstars @ Highline Ballroom, NYC

27 – Brother Joschephus and The Love Revolution Orchestra @ The Brooklyn Bowl


March 2010:

2 – Drummer Residency: Bobby Previte duo w/ Briggan Krauss & Coalition of the Willing Trio @ Rose Live

3 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Raul Midon @ Brooklyn Bowl ~ (Read my review on Festivalfamily.com)

4 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Ryan Zoidis & Sam Kininger & Blake Hillard @ Brooklyn Bowl ~ (Read my review on Festivalfamily.com)

5 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Sam Kininger and Tash Neal (London Souls) @ Brooklyn Bowl

5 – Bowlive: After SL – Q-Tip the Abstract (DJ Set)

6 – Bowlive: Soulive with Ivan Neville and Robert Randolph @ Brooklyn Bowl

6 – Will Bernard, Charlie Hunter and Eric Kalb @ Nublu

9 – Drummer Residency: Billy Martin @ Rose Live

9 – Bowlive: Rubber Soulive with Charlie Hunter @ Brooklyn Bowl

10 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Oteil Burbridge and Kofi Burbridge @ Brooklyn Bowl

11 – Joe Krown, Walter Wolfman Washington, Russell Batiste with special guests @ Sullivan Hall

12 – Allman Brothers Band @ The United Palace Theater

12 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ Marco Benevento & The London Souls @ Brooklyn Bowl (Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi showed up after ABB)

13 – Bowlive: Soulive w/ DJ Logic @ Brooklyn Bowl (Warren Haynes showed up after ABB)

15 – Allman Brothers Band @ The United Palace Theater

19 – Will Bernard w/ with John Ellis and Matt Pavolka @ Bar Next Door

22 – Marco Benevento & Friends (March residency) @ Bar 4

And now we come to the beginning of my blog 🙂

25 – Tower of Power @ B.B. Kings

26 – Perpetual Groove @ Bowery Ballroom

30 – Will Bernard Trio w/ Todd Sickafoose and Ches Smith @ The Stone

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Welcome Friends

After great debate and hundreds of friend requests from people I do not know who are interested in my pictures, stories and show schedule, I have decided to write about my musical adventures through this medium.

Where as I love posting my pictures on facebook, there is really no outlet to write about my musical adventures in an organized fashion where friends could enjoy the adventures with me.

In this blog you will find writings about any musical adventure I  am blessed enough to experience around the Tri-State, Washington Dc, and Boston areas.  As well, from time to time we will have submissions from other writers who were able to make special events that I was unable to make.

Recently, The Tiny Rager Blog has been asked by Highline Ballroom and Sullivan Hall to work with them in giving away free tickets to choice performances.  Keep your eyes peeled for these contests as they come along.

Disclaimer:  During the summer months, there is so much to do/see/hear that my posts will be slightly late in their postings.  This site will be much better suited for those of you who dislike going out in the winter months while the rest of us are raging through blizzards to fulfill our addictions.

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