Monthly Archives: May 2010

Richie Kotzen and Bernard Fowler live

Again, not together, but I saw them both tonight. Richie played to a packed Highline Ballroom crowd that seemed like a mix of metal heads and strangely “normal” looking people (and of course, I’m sure, a ton of guitarist). Of course he kicks ass when he shreds on his axe, but his songs and lyrics are not the most original I have to stay. Nevertheless he’s a great player and he plays and sings his ass off. Reminded me a bit of Sambora vocally and you can hear echoes of Jimi and others in his playing, it’s just so fast and precise that it’s mindboggling.
Later my buddy Robby Angelucci (on tour with Frankie Valli, coming through the tristate area) walked over to Canal Room where long time Rolling Stones background singer Bernard Fowler and a great supporting band were giving their all to a nostalgic r’n’r crowd. Bernard’s voice is great (there’s something special when a black man signs rock’n’roll… like with the Livig Colour guy…) and his energy is uncompromised and dedicated. Keith Richards was in the crowd and was rumored would sit in but ended up not doing so. Great sound (mixed by the legendary Night Bob) and show nevertheless!

Bridget O’Neill and Oz Noy live

No I didn’t see the two of them live together. I spent the first half of the night at BB King’s to see The Moth’s finalis, where Bridget (whom I blogged about before) kicked ass with her stand-up comedy style storytelling and closed the night with a grand slam story about getting her mom stoned.
Then I ran down the West Village to see the Bitter End’s weekly installment of Oz Noy. I got there early and caught the second half of Lizzy Loeb’s set (if memory serves me right), a talented young singer songwriter who enlisted Shawn Pelton on drums for her record and this one gig tonight. After her Oz was up and was killing it with his riffs, licks, solos, sounds and pedal switching… The Oz Noy Twisted Blues Band tonight featured the great and fun Will Lee on bass, Rocky Bryant on drums & Jerry Z on keys (that was a first for me). Of course they killed it and when they were done it felt too short a set! Great musicianship.

Steinway & Sons piano manufacturing factory tour

Thanks to my AES membership I’ve had the chance to take a tour of the factory that produces one of the most beautiful instruments around. Seeing how 12’000 parts come together over the course of 9 months to create a single grand piano was definitely a treat and was worth getting up at 7am and taking 4 trains. It was fascinating and amazing to see it all happen in real life and equally interesting were other facts, such as that the original founder created the US-based company at age 50 as a European immigrant; that he was illiterate and yet his son created one of the largest libraries in the US; that his grandson helped design the NYC subway system to help the workers get to the factory (now remotely located near La Guardia airport, but once spread around in Manhattan).

During the tour I was able to observe all the stages of the making of a piano, including the wood carving by Santos and the final inspection by Willy Boot (picture), who’ve been with the company for 31 and 48 years respectively.

The artistry and craftsmanship that goes in a Steinway piano are incredible and truly make it a work of art, which is why by the end of the tour it was pretty clear why at Steinway they refer to the mass-produced instruments of the competition as “piano shaped objects” ;-)

I strongly recommend taking a tour of the facilities when you get a chance. I believe the tours are free and take place once or twice a week.
Even if you are not the lucky owner of such a gorgeous instrument you are sure to appreciate the process.

Mary Halvorson live @ the Kitchen

My good (and corageously fasting) friend Kaoru and I went to see Mary Halvorson tonight. She performed with a great band comprised of the great Trevor Dunn on bass, an impressive Tomas Fujiwara (subbing for Chess Smith), Jon Irbagon on sax (rumored to be a world champion at Dr. Mario) and Jonathan Finlayson (whose playing is almost as cool as his vintage Kellog’s fruit loops t-shirt). The quintet played great and it was the first time I got a chance to appreciate her compositions (although I had seen her playing before with Marc Ribot at Le Poisson Rouge). With long horn lines and harmonies punctuated by written free-jazz guitar structures leaning on the solid foundations of such a great rhythm section, the quinted effortlessly spaced from improv to form flirting with moody and delicate atmospheres and bursting flames in full on full out pieces! All the solos were killer! This young and humble composer is definitely one to follow and one whom I hope to work with sooner rather than later.