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Spookygrass: Robby Hecht & Rose Cousins – “Soon I Was Sleeping”

October 31, 2014

spooky

Earlier this year, Frankenstein, Dracula and the Bride of Frankenstein joined Robby Hecht to shoot the video for “Soon I Was Sleeping,” a gorgeous track off of Hecht’s self-titled album (Amazon & Spotify). This one features Rose Cousins. Great story, great song.

Happy Halloween, folkers.

Deadly Gentleman Guitarist Stash Wyslouch Launches Kickstarter for Solo Debut

October 31, 2014
Stash Wyslouch

Stash Wyslouch

Stash Wyslousch, guitarist and vocalist for The Deadly Gentlemen and the only man in bluegrass who wears a headband, is cooking up a solo project of originals that mix his heavy-metal-loving past with his later-found love of bluegrass. Stash, who launched a Kickstarter campaign last week, will be joined by former Berklee classmates Duncan Wickel (fiddle) and Noam Wiesenberg (bass) as well as drummer Sean Trischka. The album will also include special appearances by fellow Gentleman Greg Liszt on banjo.

Rewards for the campaign include priceless mugs and shirts featuring Stash’s face, which somewhat resembles the epic 70s portrait of Jesus Laughing. Get yours here and check out a damn fine video below.

RECAP & PHOTOS: 3rd Annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash at The Bell House

October 31, 2014
The All Star Jam at the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash - Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

The All Star Jam at the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash – Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff

Fast times last weekend at The Bell House in Gowanus for another epic Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash, which included hilarious rants by Americana badass David Bromberg, phenomenal fiddling from Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and Brittany Haas, great banjo solos from Tony Trischka, a strong showing by the emerging Brooklyn bluegrass band Cricket Tell The Weather, and great short sets from Brooklyn bluegrass staples The Calamity Janes and Kristen Andreassen (with Stephanie Coleman).

Haas/Kowert/Tice returned to the Bash for the second year in a row for another mesmerizing performance. Anger was joined by Joe K. Walsh and Grant Gordy, two fellow band members from the recently formed Mr. Sun, for a jaw dropping set that included multiple songs off of the band’s forthcoming album. Bash organizer Michael Daves closed the night with a 30 minute All Star Jam Session that was pretty unforgettable.

Check out some great photos of the event shot by music photographer Jacob Blickenstaff that were graciously shared courtesy of the Bash.

CMJ Pick: Buffalo Stack Performs in Brooklyn Tonight

October 23, 2014
Buffalo Stack

Buffalo Stack

While Nashville seems to be the escape plan of most NYC-based musicians these days, Andy Stack moved upstate to Hudson after 13 years playing “every gig in town.” Tired of lugging his gear around on subways and in cabs, he and his new wife, Tania (fiddler for The Avett Brothers), were looking for a simpler life. One night after the move, the duo were hanging out at Levon Helm’s Barn where they met Lee Falco (drums), Brandon Morrison (bass) and Connor Kennedy (guitar) and formed their new band, Buffalo Stack. In August, the band released their self-titled debut, which I’ve been listening to for the last few weeks, and am blown away at the soul these guys deliver. Performing a CMJ show tonight at Strong Place in Carroll Gardens, here’s another one of my picks for the week. Check out “Maryanne,” my favorite track off the new album.

Michael Daves Launches Kickstarter Campaign to Fund Twin Albums Project

October 22, 2014
Michael Daves

Michael Daves

Last night, Brooklyn-based bluegrass singer Michael Daves dropped a bomb on Kickstarter, announcing a campaign for a family pack of solo albums:

It’s about time for me to make a solo album. I’m going for two. And here’s the kicker: both albums will have the same track listing. Same songs, in the same order.

I’m excited about this.

Daves says the first album is bluegrass record that he’ll record at Old First Reformed Church in Park Slope, the same church that receives funds from this weekend’s Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash (Q&A with Daves on that here), and will feature a damn fine backing band: Noam Pikelny, Sarah Jarosz, Brittany Haas and Mike Bub.

The second features an electric trio for a “stripped-down version of a rock album” including a rock drummer and banjo/violin “played by someone completely unfamiliar with traditional music.”

Check out video below and support the campaign here. Some great rewards for getting in this project early.

CMJ Pick: 10 String Symphony at Rockwood

October 20, 2014
10 String Symphony

10 String Symphony

10 String Symphony, the Nashville duo made up by virtuoso fiddler Christian Sedelmyer (Jerry Douglas Band) and old time fiddler Rachel Baiman, released their self-titled debut back in 2012 – an album with stunning harmonies, impressive solos and artful lyrics. The band has since continued to tour and build their following with a strong showing at IBMA earlier this month. While it’s the fiddle duets that define this duo, they recently released the vid below of a new song called “Weight of the World,” which features Baiman on banjo. Here’s that a taste of that with a side of “Prettiest Girl” and “Mad Girl’s Love Song,” my favorites off the old album. NYC can catch a free CMJ show at Rockwood on Tuesday night at 11PM just after Michael Daves’ set.

Q&A: Michael Daves on the 3rd Annual Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash

October 17, 2014
Tony Trischka, Bruce Molsky and Michael Daves

Tony Trischka, Bruce Molsky and Michael Daves

Next Sunday, October 26th, Michael Daves will again host the Brooklyn Bluegrass Bash at The Bell House in Gowanus.  In its third year, the Bash raises money for the Restoration Fund of Park Slope’s Old First Reformed Church, one of the oldest churches in all of New York and an iconic landmark in the Park Slope skyline.

Brooklynite Peter Sarsgaard is back this year emceeing the all-star lineup including David Bromberg with Mark Cosgrove; Bruce Molsky, Tony Trischka & Michael Daves; Darol Anger, Joe K. Walsh & Grant Gordy; and Haas/Kowert/Tice.

This is one of my favorite bluegrass events all year, so I caught up with Daves this week to preview this year’s Bash.

GCB: How did the idea for the Bluegrass Bash come about in the first place?

First Bash in 2012

First Bash in 2012

Michael Daves: I was out at the RockyGrass festival in Colorado several summers ago, performing and also teaching at the camp that leads up to the festival.  So many of the artists there were friends of mine who are based in New York: The Punch Brothers, Aoife O’Donovan, Kristin Andreassen, among others.  And I was wondering why we all had to come out to Colorado to hang out together and make music.  There wasn’t any sort of festival or bluegrass event in the City at that time, though there are tons of great musicians living here. So I thought it would be good to start something that would bring us together close to home.  Since organizing a for-profit festival would be financially and logistically insane, doing a benefit for the church sanctuary seemed like a more feasible way to make it happen.  So we asked everyone gather around to help save this amazing sanctuary in our neighborhood.  I attend Old First which is how I got involved in the restoration project but I knew it would be an easy enough sell to others; even for people who either don’t care about the church as a religious institution or are skeptical of religion or whatever (which is most people in Brooklyn) there’s a lot of community appeal.  The building itself is an architectural and artistic treasure and deeply connected in NYC history (the congregation was Brooklyn’s first, founded in 1654 by order of Peter Stuyvesant), plus the sanctuary was used for a lot of ecumenical outreach like hosting arts events and a homeless shelter, and hosting Congregation Beth Elohim when their own sanctuary was under repair.  So it’s pretty clear that this would be about saving a very special space that has a lot value to the community at large, not just the congregation.

GCB: How did Peter Sarsgaard get involved?

MD: Peter lives in Park Slope and is both a bluegrass music fan and a supporter of the building restoration campaign.  I met him in 2010 when he was cast to play Bill Monroe in a (now-defunct) biopic and I was brought in as his mandolin tutor.  He stayed on as a student even after the movie fell apart; his wife and kids are all very musical so he enjoys getting to play with them.

GCB: How did you arrive at this lineup? Is there a particular approach you took in curating?

Second Bash in 2013

Second Bash in 2013

MD: Well the past two years I’ve performed at the Bash with Chris Thile who doesn’t live in NYC anymore and busy with about twelve other projects, so he was unavailable. I had to go in a different direction.  So I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase my new trio with Tony Trischka and Bruce Molsky, who is an amazing and influential old-time fiddler.  Bruce mentored Brittany Haas, so I wanted to get her back to the Bash in her trio with Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers bassist) and Jordan Tice, who just put out an amazing new album.  Brittany’s other mentor is Darol Anger, who’s also done a bunch of playing with Bruce and with Tony, and Darol has this new group Mr. Sun with Grant Gordy and Joe Walsh (and Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, who wasn’t available for the Bash).  So the idea was to have the fiddle trifecta of Brittany, Bruce, and Darol on hand with their various projects and plan on a big jam at the end of the event where our minds will be blown by what they do all together. Then I had one other headlining slot to fill and thought of David Bromberg who I’ve opened some shows for.  David is a total legend who’s started performing again after a hiatus of maybe 20 years.  In the 70s he was based in NYC and collaborating with a who’s who including Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Emmylou Harris, etc etc.  So for the generation who was around for that he’s an Americana music god, but he hasn’t played in Brooklyn and a lot of younger folks aren’t aware of him.  I figure it’d be fun to present him here because he’ll be an amazing blast from the past for some and a great new discovery for others.  In general, in choosing acts for the Bash I try to get performers who either already know each other or have some sort of affinity, and make sure it’s a group of people who would totally get together for a house party outside of a gig, just for fun.  Since the Bash is a benefit concert, these performers are playing for a fraction of what they’d get paid at a major festival so I try to at least make sure it’s a great hang for all of them and compelling in terms of social and creative interaction.  We feed them well and we all have a great time back stage.  It’s sort of like old home week.

GCB: Anything new and noteworthy this year?

Old First

Old First

MD: We’re going to finish with an all-star jam in the last half-hour of the event.  In past years we’ve had all the performers up to sing “Working On A Building” but this time we’ll extend that.  Part of the reason is to give all of our amazing fiddlers a chance to interact, and also to feature some good old straight-ahead bluegrass since none of our main acts are doing exactly that like in years past.

GCB: How much money has been raised from the previous events?

MD: I don’t handle the money but I think the last two events each raised between $20k and $25k for the ceiling restoration at Old First, which is awesome.  Many times that figure need to be raised to fully repair and restore the sanctuary but every chunk helps.  Plus the Bash helps raise awareness about the space, and is also an opportunity for Old First to host a great community event even without the use of its main space.

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