Blog | Music/Arts: Long Island Sound & Beyond
Indulge in a Free Sound Buffet with Johnnie Lee Jordan on Huntington’s Chapin Rainbow Stage
I love you like the pink in a rose
From your halo to the rings on your toes
Baby, let me take you out dancing tonight
—From “Cherry Bop” by Johnnie Lee Jordan
Pop Punk, Rock, Jazz/Pop Fusion: Whatever you’re hungry for, it’s on Sound Buffet’s menu. And it’s gratis. Presented by SPARKBOOM (an affiliate of Huntington Arts Council), Sound Buffet gives young, creative LI-bred musicians some exposure. The four acts performing on July 20 from 6:30-10pm on the Chapin Rainbow Stage–rocker Johnnie Lee Jordan & The Boys, violinist David Wong and the pop-punk bands This Is All Now and BlameShift—have developed their own followings and deserve to play on the big stage in Heckscher Park.
I last checked in with Johnnie Lee Jordan in Pulse’s December issue when he discussed his upcoming record Run, his appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and his Back to Blue Gap ad. In the meantime, while the Patchogue native finds the funds to release his full-length, Jordan has been both inspired and motivated. He recorded a 4-song EP called Sol/Hum (which signifies an exasperated feeling akin to ‘holy shit’). “I say it to myself a few times when I know I’m about to react poorly,” noted Jordan, who is influenced by the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the films of David Lynch.
While the music on Run has an indie folk rock feel,Sol/Hum has a more mellow sound overall, allowing Jordan to expand his vocal range. He channels Prince on parts of “Cherry Bop” and raps on “The Surprise Party,” which was inspired, in part, by a church organ. “I make all types of music,” said Jordan. “It just seems rock and roll is the easiest way to peoples’ ears. But hip hop owns a lot of real estate in my subconscious mind. It’s hard to see that in the music I make with guitars and my band. I recorded ‘The Surprise Party’ when I was alone in my apartment. A church on the corner was throwing out one of those big organs with the drum beats built in. I put it on my skateboard and lugged it back to my place. When I’m around those kinds of instruments the hip hop comes through more.”
Follow up that rock appetizer with the jazz/pop fusion sounds of violinist and educator David Wong. The Huntington Station native first picked up the violin at age four. You may have seen him perform last year in the backing band for the finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” “I only played backing but it was fun to perform at a packed Radio City Music Hall,” noted Wong. “I also enjoyed auditioning for The Producers last year. It was a cool experience.” Influenced by artists like bluegrass fiddler Casey Driessen, string trio Time for Three and Muse, Wong plays an assortment of pop tunes, classics and covers, including Pharrell’s “Happy.” He’s working on some originals and hopes to release an album in the near future. Wong, who also plays solo shows, will be accompanied by guitar, bass, drums and cello on July 20.
Support the art of music and head to the free concert on the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park early Sunday evening to catch Johnnie Lee Jordan & The Boys, followed by Wong, This Is All Now and Blameshift. Feel free to bring blankets, chairs and food.
Seinfeld and SJP Drive an LTD to Long Island
I grew up in the suburbs.
Didn’t like it, always wanted to live in the city.
Now, I wanna live in the suburbs…
I just want my kids to live my life over.
Now that’s narcissism.
On the latest episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s online talk show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Seinfeld takes a drive down memory lane. He picks up good friend Sarah Jessica Parker in her newly acquired 1976 Ford Country Squire Wagon LTD and the two relive their formative years. We learn that Parker, an Ohio native and one of eight children, spent a lot of time riding in the back of an LTD amusing herself with Mad Libs, an Etch A Sketch and some watercolors. Seinfeld grew up in Nassau County (Massapequa) and that’s where they went for coffee. While Seinfeld was happy driving on the streets where he grew up, he recalled that a car was like “angel wings” when living in the burbs. A young Seinfeld obsessed over whether to be a motorcycle guy or a sports car guy. Watching anti-hero Michael Parks on 70s television show Then Came Bronson was a real inspiration for the motorcycle and car aficionado. On his Harley, Parks represented freedom to the family man in the LTD wagon.
When they arrive at East Meadow’s classic Colony Diner, Seinfeld orders his usual coffee but Parker gets a chocolate egg cream. After they finish eating large plates of food, Seinfeld orders more coffee. Parker: “And you can drink coffee all day?” Seinfeld: “All day.” Parker: “It would give me horrible anxiety.” Seinfeld: “I like the anxiety.” One wonders how much caffeine, or anything, it would take to make Seinfeld anxious.
They pick up some pastries at Francesco’s Bakery in Hicksville and Parker takes the wheel for awhile. The show ends with the two of them happily eating the pastries in the back of the LTD whilst playing Cat’s Cradle with string in a nod to Parker’s childhood.
Check out the Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee website for future shows.
Catch The National Live and Rock Doc Mistaken for Strangers at Cinema Arts Centre
You’re not that much like me
You should know me better than that
We have different enemies
You should know me better than that
—From “I Should Live in Salt” by The National
The National is a band of brothers. The Brooklyn-based indie rock quintet is comprised of two pairs of brothers: Aaron (guitar, bass, piano) and guitarist Bryce Dessner and Scott (bass, guitar) and drummer Bryan Devendorf. And the rock documentary Mistaken for Strangers brings frontman Matt Berninger’s younger brother, Tom, into the mix. Growing up in Ohio, Matt Berninger was always the rock star of the family and Tom, ten years his junior, couldn’t compete. In 2010, Matt asked Tom, novice horror movie maker/metal head, to be a roadie on The National’s High Violet tour—unaware Tom would be filming most of the experience. Mistaken for Strangers is the cinema-verite-style result of two hundred hours of footage of the world tour. One of the best band documentaries Michael Moore has ever seen, the film goes beyond music to explore family dynamics and unfulfilled creative ambition, using both humor and brutal honesty. At one point Matt tells his slacker brother to “lean towards the things that make you like yourself, and forget everything else.”
You can view the critically acclaimed rock doc at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington on June 30th. It will be followed by a Q&A with director Tom Berninger and an After Party with the band Cloud Caverns at 9:30 p.m. sponsored by SPARKBOOM.
What: Rock documentary Mistaken for Strangers: A Year on Tour with my Brother’s Band and a Q&A with the director live via Skype
Where: Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington
When: Monday, June 30th at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $10 members/$15 public
After Party: Radio-free J-Ro from WUSB spinning tunes and acoustic/experimental band Cloud Caverns at 9:30 p.m.
Catch The National live at Celebrate Brooklyn! @Prospect Park Bandshell— Tuesday, June 17th, Wednesday, June18th and Thursday, June 19th.
For more info: americanmary.com and www.cinemaartscentre.org/event/mistaken-for-strangers/.
Bubblegum Vanity unveiled at Patchogue Arts Council
I like the idea of making something completely useless. Bubblegum Vanity is just that. A vanity with mirrors and lights with no chair, just a set of stairs leading no where. Selfies with attendees will extend the work into a social sphere.
—artist Michelle Carollo
Last month Long Island Sound & Beyond posted a preview of the Projections exhibit featuring local artist and arts coordinator Michelle Carollo’s surreal Bubblegum Vanity installation. “My process investigates using three-dimensional elements on two-dimensional painted surfaces—sculptural paintings,” says Carollo. “I’m completely immersed in what I make and how my body reacts within the space while I am making it.”
While some of her earlier works like Waste Tube, Black-Out-Bits and In a Split recall the Whos’ colorful flu-flubers, tar-tinkers and hoo-hoovers, Carollo’s latest installation, Bubblegum Vanity, includes elements of furniture design and dumpster diving treasures.
And here it is:
In Michelle’s own words: “It’s a spin off from older work—playing with previous concepts of transforming a room into a three-dimensional abstract painting. In this piece, I have shifted my focus towards the idea of making non-functional furniture. I like the idea of making something completely useless. ‘Bubblegum Vanity’ is just that. A vanity with mirrors and lights with no chair, just a set of stairs leading no where, with a red carpet cascading downward. The alluring carpet entices the spectator to come closer and exchange with the piece.
Approximate size is 144” x 120”
Materials: Wood, Plexi-glass, mirrors, vinyl, tape, paint, crates, light bulbs.
Surface: Flat, gloss finish.
Theme: The act of making a place to facilitate vanity. Selfies with attendees will further extend the work into a social sphere.
Experience the piece live at the Patchogue Arts Council through June 21st as part of a show entitled Projections: New Installations by Michelle Carollo and Jason Paradis.
And if you miss the hypnotic Bubblegum Vanity at PAC, Carollo will also be showing it at Freecandy Creative Space in Brooklyn, with an opening on July 19th.
Experience Grace Weber’s Refined Indie Soul at Rockwood and SoHo House
I know it’s rude to stare too long sir
But were we friends three lives ago?
I see myself in strangers in the people I don’t know
—From “Perfect Stranger” by Grace Weber
You may have unwittingly heard her voice while standing in line at Starbucks, seen her perform on Oprah, or heard her on NPR’s Mountain Stage. But when you hear her new record, The Refinery, and the first single, “Perfect Stranger,” you will remember Grace Weber. The 25-year-old Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter grew up in Wisconsin listening to powerful female voices like Etta James, Dinah Washington and Lauryn Hill. And singing in the gospel choir from ages 12-15 was fundamental in helping her find her own voice.
Weber began writing songs during her freshman year of college and her 2011 debut album, Hope & Heart , made it into the top ten on the iTunes Singer Songwriter Chart. Chosen as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Weber had the honor of performing at the Kennedy Center and meeting the President. She performed on NPR’s Mountain Stage, and recently made it onto NPR’s list of 100 new artists to watch at SXSW. The rising indie soul singer spoke about her influences, performing on Oprah, playing with Jon Batiste and her musical evolution.
Pulse: What were you listening to growing up?
Grace Weber: When I was really young, I would listen to a lot of powerful female singers including Eva Cassidy, India Arie, Etta James, Dinah Washington and Lauryn Hill. Those women were my voice teachers growing up. I’d listen to the way they sang and would try to mimic their inflections or the way they would sing a vocal run. Being a part of the gospel choir really taught me how to sing with all of my being, with all of your emotions coming through every note. I think I really found my own true voice through that experience.
P: You were one of eight chosen to perform on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009, out of 400,000 video applicants. How did that happen?
GW: I made it onto the show with my “Natural Woman” youtube audition and then sang that song on the show. I used the $25,000 that Oprah gave me to help record my first record in 2011. I sent Oprah a thank you card for giving me the money. It was a surreal experience writing that note. I really had a hard time getting past “Dear Oprah” because how do you thank Oprah Winfrey for giving you the experience of a lifetime? I always wonder if she ever got my card…
P: After that performance you were offered some record deals. Do you feel you made the right decision in passing up major labels to chart your own course?
GW: Well, back in 2009 I didn’t have any of my own original music yet, or at least I didn’t have anything that was very good. We ultimately backed away from pursuing a record deal so that I could spend time developing myself as an artist and really working on my songwriting and my point of view instead of throwing me into the studio with just my voice and some producers. I’m so grateful for that time because it allowed me to find myself.
P: How has your sound evolved from 2011’s Hope & Heart?
GW: I think my sound has evolved from 2011’s Hope & Heart in the same way I’ve evolved as a person since then. I wrote my first album when I was 20-22, so it was about what I was experiencing in my early 20’s—like being in love for the first time or missing my home back in Wisconsin. My new record, The Refinery, represents the next phase of my life, when I started knowing and trusting myself more. So the record reveals some of the darker sides of who I am, of heartbreak and loss, but also of learning how to forgive and love yourself even after you screw up. Sonically, for The Refinery, I wanted to go back to my gospel and soul roots. It was so much fun recording with the gospel choir, horn players and letting the sound be gritty.
P: How do you describe the sound on The Refinery? Who and what influenced this record?
GW: I would describe the sound as gritty and soulful pop music. Sonically, I was very influenced by artists like Ray Charles, Emmylou Harris and Gary Clark, Jr. Creatively and lyrically, I was influenced by my own life experiences, discovering more about the darker sides of myself and learning what it feels like to fall down and get back up again.
P: Who would you most like to tour with, and why?
GW: I would love to open for Jon Batiste or Adele. I started singing a little bit with Jon Batiste lately and I have learned a lot about performing live through experiencing his shows. He has so much freedom on stage and I love his ability to connect one on one with the crowd. I’d love to keep playing with him and experiencing that type of freedom and fun on stage. And Adele because… she’s Adele.
Check out Grace Weber live on the last day of her residency at The Rockwood Music Hall—Friday, May 30th at 8 p.m.
And see her at the chichi SoHo House in NYC on Monday, June 9th
Look out for her cd release party in September
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