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March 29, 2011

Recently on Examiner: Pharoahe Monch at SOBs

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I've decided that it's about time for me to get back out and shooting for Examiner.com again. Thursday night, I shot Pharoahe Monch perform at the release party for his new album, WAR. One of my earliest shoots for Examiner was a show of his celebrating the 10th anniversary of his first solo at Sputnik. I'm thinking of it as sort of a new beginning.

Examiner doesn't pay particularly well, but the practice of shooting events regularly is really useful. It's been a couple of months since shooting a show and I was surprised at how many little mistakes I made in my preparation that I had down when I was shooting regularly. None of it was insurmountable, but it was all stuff I should have known better. It was a good reminder of why the best thing you can do in photography is to just keep shooting.

September 9, 2010

Greg Stamper Sings

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Last month, my friend Greg Stamper gathered friend and family to the release party for his new album, "One with You." Greg is a talented singer, which is something I had no idea about when we worked together as computer techs years ago.

As I pursue my own passions beyond the office life that I've lived for the last decade, it's completely inspiring to see Greg doing his thing.

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June 4, 2010

On Examiner: Summer Concert Season Begins

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With City Seen up, I've finally got some time and attention to get shooting for my nightlife column on Examiner.

And just in time for summer concert season to begun. The same day I put up the show, I headed out to Red Hook Park to catch Jay Electronica open up The Summerstage series.

The summer looks like it will be a good one for shows. Big Daddy Kane is playing at Von King (Marcy) Park in Bed-Stuy, Antibalas, the band behind Fela! is playing as part of the River to River festival and all sorts of acts will be in Williamsburg as part of the Northside Festival.

I'm hoping to get out to as many as I can over the course of the summer to put my new camera through its paces. I also want to take another crack at shooting street musicians in the parks around the city.

May 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party

A new Hot Bird rises from the ashes

If there was much of a theme at all in my last couple weeks of posts it was Brooklyn Bars. Besides the regular Brokelyn 25 series that I've gotten moving again, I've also posted about a few new choice spots to imbibe that have opened up recently. Above is Hot Bird, which I lucked into on its second night open. I basically got the first shots of the space and thus ended up on Brownstoner and Eater. The place looks pretty amazing, so I expect to spend quite a bit of time there this summer.

See what else I've been posting about after the jump...

Continue reading "Recently on Examiner: Drinking in Brooklyn and the Freedom Party" »

April 5, 2010

Bar Sputnik Closed Down

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I was disappointed this weekend to find Sputnik, on the Bed-Stuy/Clinton Hill border shuttered with an 'out of business' sign on the door.

After years of wanting to go, I only ended up there twice. Last fall, I was there two weeks in a row, shooting Pharoahe Monch and Brand Nubian for some of my first Examiner columns. With Evil D on the turntables and legends literally inches away, it was Hip-hop at its finest.

I wasn't anywhere near a regular, but I'm sad to see it go.

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March 28, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Jam Bands, Food Fests and Hip-Hop

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Woo! It's been a busy week. I've jumped back into the Examiner gig with both feet. Last Sunday night, after Cochon 555, I headed to Brooklyn to shoot The Disco Biscuits play Brooklyn Bowl. The night before, I covered the opening for Make It Fit at Brooklynite Gallery and the next night, I was at Choice Eats for Midtown Lunch. In one of my better attempts at synergy (without recycling, thank you), I managed to squeeze a Food Fest post together about Cochon 555 and Choice Eats, as well.

K-OS at Le Poisson Rouge

Besides all that, my Examiner column over the last couple weeks had recaps of a K-OS show in The Village, the third anniversary Mixer at Cakeshop and recommended Mé Bar for outdoor drinks on a Friday night when the weather was nice.

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This weekend, I've taken some much needed downtime at home with Tammi, but as the weather warms up, the activities in the city tend to multiply, so I expect to stay busy.

March 9, 2010

Recently on Examiner: Bowlive!

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Apologies for the hiatus, some things have been going on in the real world that have taken me away from electronic life. I'll be back up by the end of the week with posts and photos and all that good stuff.

In the meantime, here's what was going on last week on Examiner. Brooklyn Bowl, which has become one of my favorite venues in town is in the middle of hosting a two week residency with Soulive. It's called, cleverly, Bowlive.

I'd heard of the group before, but never really knew their music. They are an instrumental band that blurs the boundaries between funk, soul, rock and jazz and they throw a great party.

For five nights last week and another five nights this week, they are performing with some great guest acts, starting last week with Vernon Reid and continuing this week with guests including Questlove and Rahzel on Thursday and Charlie Hunter tonight.

It was a hugely fun show and I wish I could stop in again before it's all done to see them perform again.

When things settle down a bit, I plan to get back to some of the regular posting I had been doing for my column. Expect a return to the Brokelyn 25 and maybe even an attempt to start up my Late Night Snacks feature again.

February 24, 2010

It's A Family Affair

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So, you thought your parents were embarrassing when you were a kid? How many times did they drag you out to sit on a bucket while they played drums and sang on the subway platform?

February 20, 2010

This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn

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I know, the alliteration is awesome, right? Wait, it's not? Oh well. There's more coming. I've launched a series on Examiner based on Brokelyn's Beer Book that I mentioned in last week's Examiner round up. I'm calling it The Brokelyn 25 and the plan is to go through all 25 of the bars included in the Beer Book and post about them.

It's a pretty great excuse to explore some of the cool bars that I've always meant to check out and more than a few that I'd never heard of before. So far, I've posted about my Williamsburg crawl.

I've mixed the new with the old favorites and enjoyed some time at each place taking in the atmosphere and color of each place. There was Thrash Metal, pizza and a shot of Jim Beam at The Charleston. That place completely took me back to my days hanging out at dives in the East Village ten years ago.

The Brooklyn Brewery is still the same as ever, picnic tables, beer tokens and folks hanging out with friends. It was my first destination in Williamsburg and is still a good time.

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I finished up with Brooklyn Bowl, which I get out to often for shows, but rarely get to just sit at the bar. While there I had my most entertaining moment thus far, when this guy decided to take his share of a pitcher with a straw. Who needs a glass?

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The only music photography I've done recently has been last week when I covered the Brooklyn Tea Party. No, it's not a political group. It's a lot more interesting than that. BTP is a loft apartment that has been transformed into a music studio and performance space by the guys who live there. All three are in music in some way or another and they use their expertise and network of friends to put together a regular party where friends and fans come together and share music with one another.

When I first heard about it through a friend who was performing, I rolled my eyes and thought it was elitist hipster bullshit. But after experiencing it, I'm really impressed by the love and effort that goes into it. The music was interesting and eclectic and the performances all balanced one another very well.

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Continue reading "This Week in Examiner: Beer and Bands in Brooklyn" »

January 31, 2010

Aspen: Monster Energy Drink's X Games Party

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Last night, I got a pass to go up to the top of Aspen Mountain for the Monster Energy Drink Party. In all my years coming out to X Games Events, this was my first sponsor party. It was a good time, if not my usual scene.

On stage, Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys warmed the crowd up and Del The Funky Homosapien performed old and new songs from his current album all the way back to his 1990 debut. Up front a crowd of hyped up fans bounced to the sounds of Mister Dobalina and Doctor Bombay.

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It was fun to get into a crowd again and keep my music photography going after a little while away. The snowboarder kids are an interesting bunch. Their typical dress is often already pretty outlandish, so when they go all out, it's quite the spectacle. I just wish I had an excuse to post it on Examiner.

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More photos after the jump.

Continue reading "Aspen: Monster Energy Drink's X Games Party" »

January 23, 2010

This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture

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This week I went a little outside my usual area of coverage on Examiner. Jazz and Poetry are both art forms that I respect, yet know little about. So, I jumped in and covered a bit of both.

Nearly every venue in town this week has been hosting benefits for charities providing aid and service to Haiti's Earthquake victims. With so much else going on this week, I only got to cover one of them, L'Union Fait Force at Le Poisson Rouge.

The coolest part of the show was watching the Doctor Lonnie Smith Trio perform with Trumpeter Roy Hargrove. Smith (top) is a great showman whose flair added excitement to the show. Hargrove on the horn was wonderful.

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There was plenty more going on: Dance, Haitian drums, a pair of guitarists and the Vijay Iyer Trio, which is actually what drew me to the event. That morning, WNYC announced the event and played some of the Trio's take on Mystic Brew - better known to those of a 'certain age' as the basis of the classic "Electric Relaxation" by A Tribe Called Quest.

The show was fun and eclectic and went late into the night. I was so wiped out, I had to take off before the last set even started, missing hosts Groove Collective perform with Bernie Worrell of Funkadelic.

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On Wednesday, I changed things up a bit with by covering the Mixer Series at Cake Shop in the Lower East Side. It's a monthly series that hosts poets and authors reading their recent work. And first up was Tess Taylor, above, a classmate in college. We hadn't seen each other in at least the 10 years since graduation, but it was good to catch up, however briefly.

I don't know the first thing about poetry and I don't read books nearly as much as I should, but it was a great experience being surrounded by smart people enjoying intelligent things. I really hope to keep going to future Mixers.

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Among the other readers was Steve Geng, who read scenes from his new book, Bop City about Paris during the Algerian war. Just in the 15 minutes he was up there, he touched on themes of terrorism, sex, race, and French culture that fascinated me.

After the jump, more photos from both events...

Continue reading "This Week on Examiner: Adding some culture" »

December 2, 2009

Hawai'i: Music

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Every place we went in Hawaii, regardless of which island, there was live music. Every hotel bar, out on the beach and along the sidewalks of Waikiki. Most of it was so-so, not a lot to write home about, but with my recent experience shooting music, I tried to keep in practice where I could.

November 15, 2009

Recently on the Examiner: Shooting Music

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It's funny how things work out. Months ago, at the beginning of the summer, I hoped to spend the summer taking photos of street musicians around the city. But between all the rain and a hectic schedule, I didn't get much opportunity for all that.

Now, over the last couple months I've found myself in the front row of show after show shooting musical performances for The Examiner. From hip hop acts I've known since I was a kid to indie bands I've never heard of. It's pretty amazing and I'm just getting started.

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It's not so recent anymore, but the week before leaving for Hawaii, I saw the Dirty Dozen Brass Band play Brooklyn Bowl in a fun, festive show opened by the band Turkauz, which I'm going to keep my eye out for in the future.

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Then, that weekend, the Brooklyn Museum celebrated it's new rock photography exhibit with performances by some Indie Bands, which I got to photograph.

The photo show itself is amazing and inspiring. As a developing (heh) photographer, seeing how both the musicians and the photographers started out before creating the iconic works that have shaped our understanding of an intrinsic part of our culture.

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On a technical level, shooting in the dynamic and frenetic environment is educational every time. Different lights, different personalities, different settings add to the challenge of capturing the moment as I want it.

I hope to spend more time shooting concerts and performances going forward.

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October 4, 2009

Examiner: The Roots play Brooklyn Bowl

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Thursday night, I covered The Ten Dollar Coolhunter Jam hosted by the Roots at Brooklyn Bowl for Examiner.com. It was a great show and all the more exciting to me because, even though I've been a fan of The Roots for 13 years, I haven't seen them live since 2001.

I was right up front and got a bunch of up close shots of the band, the other groups performing and Talib Kweli, who was a surprise guest.

It was also pretty awesome because I hadn't heard of nearly any of the other groups performing and they were all really interesting, playing music that I'd definitely like to hear more of. Personally, I was really blown away by Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew from Sierra Leone. The music brought in influences from all over the place and they just had so much energy on stage that it was palpable.

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Check out the post on the Examiner for links, a slideshow and more details. Even more photos posted on Flickr.

July 23, 2009

Batala at Farragut Square

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I've found that when traveling, sometimes the most interesting experiences are the ones you just stumble upon unexpectedly.

Saturday, while we walked through DC heading down to a Museum from our hotel, we felt, more than heard the thumping beats of The Batala Washinton Percussion Band performing in Farragut Square.

Tammi and I joined the crowd that had gathered to watch these dozens of women pounding on their drums and feeling the rhythms flow through them.

Batala is an international network of groups that celebrate Afro-Brazilian rhythms around the world. This group is all women, but others, including the founding band in Paris are mixed.

If you'd like to see them, Batala Washington can be found rehearsing every Saturday at Farragut Square. They also have a number of performances listed on their calendar


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July 1, 2009

Music In The Streets

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In those few, precious moments of dry, warm weather, I've found myself appreciating the street musicians I otherwise pass by without a second thought.

Above is one of the many groups I saw one weekend in Washington Square Park. I didn't get a name for their group, but their sound was old fashioned, with the washboard playing and the twenties-style singing. The comeback of this warbling, rustic sound complements the 'speakeasy' trend in the bars and restaurants that have been popping up everywhere.

Below is a similarly old-school group called the Scandinavian Half-breeds, in front of the bike shop on Vanderbuilt during Summer Streets.

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The emotions and gestures on display by performers offer ranges much more difficult to find in everyday life. As I spend more time trying to improve my photography, I hope to get the opportunity to capture more of these artists expressions and moments.

If I manage to get enough together, I may put together a series of photos here on the blog along with information about the performers.

June 4, 2009

i2Y '09

Here's a quick heads up that DJ Juice E is going to be DJing the "I'm Too Young for This" un-gala again this year. Last year I reposted Emily's email about the event. Here's her message for this year's event:


Hi Everyone!!

About a year ago, I sent out a special request to YOU to come out and celebrate my 1-year out of chemo anniversary at I'm Too Young For This's Stupid Cancer Gala. I must say that I was floored by the response I got. I was amazed by how many of you bought tickets or donated funds. It made me prouder than ever and thankful to know such great people. That's why I was so glad to get a call from my friend Matthew Zachary who runs I'm Too Young For This asking me if I'd wanna spin at this year's Stupid Cancer (un)Gala on Wednesday, June 10. My answer: OF COURSE I WOULD! I CAN'T WAIT!! And now I'm hoping that once again, YOU'll help support this wonderful event for a very special cause.

For those of you who are new in my life, here's the recap: I am a Cancer survivor. And darn proud of it! This past March marked 2 years free from Cervical Cancer (knock on wood PLEASE!). I was initially diagnosed back in '05 at the age of waaytooyoung and subsequently underwent 2 years of on and off poking, prodding, having parts removed, tubes put in, blood drawn, chemicals administered, AND- somewhere deep in my records at Sloan Kettering I believe there are some compromising Polaroids of me that even Playboy would find indecent! (They said it was for radiation, but who really knows?! Look at Farrah!) Basically, I went thru the works. And for the past 2 years I am back at Sloan Kettering every 3 months like clockwork to make sure that those evil little squamous cells don't come back.



This has been an ongoing journey for me and my loved ones and I admit that I'm a much better person for it. I'm lucky. I have tons of family and friends who have supported me thru it all- and since. However I have met many young survivors who have no support system. Which of course brings me to that part where I've gotta ask YOU to cough up some MONEY!! I'm Too Young For This is a wonderful organization dedicated to supporting young adults, 18-40 with cancer. This reason that this is sooo important is that we are the fastest growing group of cancer patients. This is mostly due to that fact that doctors don't expect us to get sick. Therefore we go undiagnosed, or misdiagnosed- which is exactly what happened to yours truly. The other important aspect of this organization is that it has a strong emphasis on the arts. I guess YOU can all figure out why that's important to someone like me!!


I realize that everyone and their mother is fundraising for something or other these days (and I'm pretty sure that my mother'll back me on this one too!) (HI MOM!!) But seriously, please help us out and buy a ticket. Even if you can't make it out. The minimum is $25 but we'll take any small donation that YOU can manage. The event runs from 7-10pm- so plenty of time for YOU to come out, get seriously drunk and still make it to work the next day!! I'll be DJing along with my great friend- and the most amazing DJ I know- DP1. There'll be raffles, food, drinks, giveaways and a lot of very cool people. And just in case ya missed it- I'll be there!!

So there you have it. Feel free to check out their website: http://www.ImTooYoungForThis.Org
http://ungala.i2y.com/
Wednesday, June 10 @ the Taj Lounge
48 W 21st St, NYC
$25 = sponsor a survivor
$25 = admission
$45 = admission + free drink + 5 raffle tix
$65 = open bar! (beer, wine and soda)
Plus you might go to heaven. Who knows, right?

Finally- to all my friends at MSK- Thanks for all your hard work and for takin such good care of me!!
Now buy sum tickets!!!

Hope to see ya there!!!

Emily "Juice E" Rubin- Friend, DJ and very proud Cancer Survivor.

May 17, 2009

London: The Message

I took this photo five years ago on my first and only trip to London. It was at a Hip-hop show at Shepherd's Bush Empire. The show was called The Message and it starred Gza from Wu Tang Clan, Dead Prez and a number of British rappers I'd never heard of before. Gza was still doing the same songs I heard him do in the late 90's when he performed at my college. And Dead Prez hyped the crowd saying the crazy shit they are known to say. ("And you white people can be down, too. Just give back what you took!")

But what I still remember now was hearing the British MCs rhyming in an indecipherable accent. There was a freestyler on stage lambasting his fellows for trying to sound American when they are "BRITISH!" Coming minutes after hearing Dead Prez reject their nationality in favor of being "An African," I wondered if anyone else noticed the irony.

I also remember the Palestinian MC whose hook was in Arabic. It was the first time I had seen International Hip-hop live. I've been fascinated with the concept of foreign language Hip-hop ever since.

It's a challenge to me as someone who has always listened to Hip-hop as a form of storytelling to listen to a song and not know the words. But it's an interesting experience.

July 17, 2008

Breakdancing at the Library

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New York Public Library, Midtown, NYC. 2006.

This troupe performs on Fifth Avenue in front of the Main Branch of the New York Public Library. The most obvious member in the group is Q, a Japanese woman who was highlighted in a NY Times article last year. She's not just there as a gimmick though. Her moves are daring and playful. The rest of the group did their thing as well. I particularly liked the popper who strutted and bounced back and forth, posing the whole time.

Note: I posted the photo above among others and the description below to Flickr when I first signed up. I hadn't planned on blogging, so I just editorialized in the set description. I just came across it and thought a repost was in order.

July 7, 2008

BAM AfroPunk Festival


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This weekend BAM opened up the AfroPunk Festival with an outdoor concert and a skatepark in the parking lot.

From the BAM site:

Say it loud! The Afro-Punk Festival is back at BAM for the fourth year running. We're delivering six days of films about black rebellion and change, as well as a celebration filled with music, a skate park, a special DIY marketplace, and much more. Spend your fourth of July by celebrating a real revolution.

Punk isn't really my thing, but Black folks doing the unexpected appeals to me. I stopped in for a little while, until the music got to be too much for me.

It was cool seeing all these kids trying out tricks on the ramps, maybe one of these days I'll catch one of them at the X Games.

June 5, 2008

Photo of the Day: The Phantom DJ


The Phantom DJ, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

DJ Jon Oliver at Madame X, NYC. 2007.

May 4, 2008

Love Child


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Friday night, I saw Love Child a band headed up by some friends from college, Ethan and Nicole, who I hadn't seen in years.

The show was great, mixing Rock, Soul and Hip-hop influences. I totally geeked out at the setup Ethan had. He mixed beats that the band had pre-recorded using a game controller to interface with Pro Tools on his MacBook. It was pretty awesome.

Update: See photos from the show here.

October 26, 2007

Nasville: Viva NashVegas


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This afternoon, after I checked in, I walked down the Broadway strip, past some of the 'Honky Tonks" that made this town famous and, presumably a bunch of others that jumped on after the fact. It seemed a little surreal to me. Odd, because I've never seen a honky tonk before, much less a dozen within a couple blocks, yet the scene seemed familiar.

So much of the street appeared to be commercialized and contrived to sell to tourists. Crazier to me was that the sign above was proudly proclaims that this strip is becoming a little Las Vegas.

It made me a little sad, even though I don't have any allegiance to the music or its history. A little scared too... I imagine The Bronx in 40 years made into an amusement park for hip-hop, complete with stores selling fake gold chains and 50 Cent or Kanye West blaring over the PA system on every corner.

::c::

June 3, 2007

Brand New Heavies @ Highline Ball Room

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Last night I caught the Brand New Heavies at the Highline Ballroom. It was a great show. I'm not very familiar with BNH, but I've heard good things about them. Tammi wasn't interested - she says all their songs sound alike, I don't entirely disagree. I still don't really know one song from the other, with one or two exceptions, but for the most part I like their sound.

Regardless, they know how to amp up a crowd. The music swayed from Funk to Soul to Disco rocking the ballroom with it. I went with Will, who has now seen them play 3 times. One of the highlights for me was when they played "I Don't Know Why I Love You." N'Dea sang it in that Micheal Jackson style, yelling and pleading the whole way through. It was great.

Check out the photos here.

May 28, 2007

Photo of the Day: Listen


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Habana Outpost, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

May 15, 2007

Wonder-Full Party

(Originally Posted on The Brooklyn Record):

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Saturday night in Willamsburg, hundreds came out to for "WONDER-Full IX - An annual tribute to the genius Stevie Wonder" at the Sugar Factory. World famous DJs Bobbito and DJ Spinna came together once again to play any and every song that the legendary Stevie had a hand in. Any songs written and ghost-written by the artist were fair game, as were songs that sampled his works. Now hosted by Keistar Productions, Wonder-Full started out nine years ago as a way to celebrate the Stevie Wonder's birthday, May 13th. Back then, the crowd was small enough to fit in a venue with a 75-person capacity. This weekend there were easily over 1000 party-goers in attendance in the 14,000 square foot, multi-level venue.

While glad for the success, some worry that the party may have lost something. DJ Jon Oliver has been attending these parties for years and plugged it on his website weeks ago. After it was all over though, he worried that all the hype may have backfired.

This year's Wonder-Full party did not feel as intimate as in previous years. Their success is well-deserved but as is always the case, when an event becomes "the place to be" you get less people coming for (in this case) love of Stevie Wonder and more people who just want to be up on what's hot.

-clay williams

Photo of DJ Bobbito by Ultraclay!

May 14, 2007

Photo of the Day: Big Sista is Watching


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Back up singer, Blackalicious. Summer X Games 13. Los Angeles, 2006.


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May 13, 2007

A Full Day

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Wow, yesterday was great.

When I got out to Habana Outpost, they were still setting up, so I wandered over to The Brazen Head. Lo and behold, they were having another Cask Ale Festival! I had a few rounds there before it started to fill up.

When I got back to Fort Greene, Habana Outpost was packed. Their opening party spilled out on the street, filling the whole block of South Portland. Local artisans and vendors sold their wares, clowns and stilt-walkers wandered about, there was even a fire-eater. Tammi, Laura and Guy met up and we split a couple sandwiches and some corn while we watched bands perform on the stage set up in the middle of the outdoor space. After the crowd overtook us, we went to Stonehome and had a bottle of sparkling rosé.

Then, Tammi and I headed to Boerum Hill for a barbecue. Dale, who I haven't seen in close to 2 years was in town. It was great to see him.

After all that, a bunch of us headed out to Wonder-Full, the Stevie Wonder tribute party out in Williamsburg. I still don;t know enough Stevie Wonder music, so a litle of it was lost on me. I still enjoyed it. I took off a little early though.

I was wiped out.

Photo of the Day: Drum Circle


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Drum Circle, Atlantic Antic. Brooklyn, 2006.


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April 28, 2007

Bars: Black Star Bar

FKA Black Star

I miss Black Star.

For me and Eric, along with a bunch of our friends, it was 'our' bar back when. Our 'local' - except neither of us actually lived over there.

It's gone now. They closed up in January '04 after the landlord outpriced them. The people who took over turned into a crappy place called Kabin that has giant plasma screens and no soul. I walked in once and it all just seemed wrong.

Kim g put me on to that place for her birthday. Maybe in 2001?

On Friday nights, Garfield the DJ played some great music. I must have run up to his booth dozens of times to ask for the names of songs he was playing. Every now and then I'll come across a page in a notebook with a drunken scrawl, "take me to the mardi gras - bob james" or some other such classic sample that I first heard at Black Star.

They packed them in on Saturday nights. Even with the lounge in the back room open, it was jammed. But we knew the staff, so we could always get a good spot.

On weeknights, after work it wasn't nearly so busy. Usually there were no more than a dozen of us there sitting at the bar hanging out with the bartenders and bullshitting. Thinking back to that, I understand the appeal of social clubs and lodges for old men.

To this day, I've never found a bar I felt as at home in. Blind Tiger got pretty close, until they closed. I'm holding out hope for the new place, but so far it's just too crowded. Black Star is pretty much the standard to which I judge nearly every other bar.


::c::

April 24, 2007

Photo of the Day: Feeling the Music


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dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans. 2005.

April 20, 2007

Solomon's Porch: An Eclectic Neighborhood Eatery

(Originally posted on The Brooklyn Record):

Solomon's Porch

If you find yourself in in Bed-Stuy this weekend, stop in at Solomon's Porch, a café, performance space and neighborhood gathering spot: It's a solid choice for good food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere.

The menu offers food as varied as Moroccan Chicken Skewers and a Lamb and Black Bean Chili, as well as pub-food staples like Buffalo Wings, Calamari and Hamburgers. The burger isn't worth the time it takes to cook, but the wings are terrific, fried crisp and doused with a spicy, vinegary hot sauce. My only complaint is that they serve too few of them in an order. Conversely, the Chicken Skewers were bigger than we had expected. The two skewers each carry three juicy chunks of rosemary scented chicken.
After the jump: what to drink with your poultry.

Photo by ultraclay!.

Continue reading "Solomon's Porch: An Eclectic Neighborhood Eatery" »

April 16, 2007

Graffiti of the Day: Sun is Shining


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Wishful thinking, I suppose. The sun is definitely not shining. New York saw the highest rainfall on record yesterday. 7.5 inches fell in Central Park. Today the city is soggy.

April Showers and all that, I guess.
::c::

April 9, 2007

Photo of the Day: dba New Orleans


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dba, Frenchman Street, New Orleans, 2004.

I've been going to dba in New York for years. When I found out they had a sister bar in New Orleans, I had to check it out the next time I went there.

The space is much bigger than the New York location, taking up two storefronts. The photo above is of on half of the space. To the right, there's a door to the other room which has a stage up for performances and the other side of the double bar.

The beer selection is exactly what I'd expect from dba: very extensive, and inclusive of many local beers. They get creative with the beer too. This is where I had my first "Dirty Ho," a beer cocktail mixing about 75% Hoegarden with a Framboise lambic. It's a pretty fantastic concoction, adding the fruit flavor of the lambic livens up the hoegarden, which in turn cuts the excess sweetness of the lambic.

The Frenchman Street strip of bars and restaurants sits just a few blocks outside the French Quarter, but is thankfully worlds away from the contrived excess of Bourbon Street. On my first trip to New Orleans, a friend who lived out there at the time took us to a couple of bars on Frenchman. It took me a couple trips before I could figure out how to get back there. It's a much more local scene so it totally bypasses the bead-throwing and nonsense found down the road. The strip runs about two or three blocks and it's full of music. Nearly every bar had some performance listed.

The last time I was at dba New Orleans, was two years ago. Tammi and I caught the Tony Dagradi Organ Trio performing with one of the Marsalis brothers on drums.

d.b.a.
618 Frenchman Street,
New Orleans, LA. 70116
504.942.3731

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[Updated 4.29.07. Added more info for The Bar List]

April 5, 2007

DITC: Fantasy (Bad Boy Remix)

Yes, it's Mariah Carey, shut up. You know you remember it.
I only mention it for ODB's rhymes:
"Me and Mariah/ go back like babies and pacifiers/old dirt dog no liar/keep ya fantasy hot like fire!"

All rapped through the sloppy lisp of gold fronts.
Classic odb.

::c::

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April 4, 2007

No New Commute


IMG_3257.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Taking the L into Manhattan turns out not to be as speedy as I had hoped. It took me just over an hour to get to work today. That's no good.

On the plus side, I did see these guys performing on the train.
::c::

March 27, 2007

Photo of the Day: Blow


IMG_4176, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.


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March 17, 2007

DITC: 2nd Round KO

This track was scandalous when it was released. Upstart Canibus, who didn't even have an album released, seemingly came out of no where and slammed veteran Rap Star, LL Cool J. Since history is ultimately written by the victor, Canibus' footnote in the annals of Hip-hop ends with him getting crushed by the sleeping giant he awoke.

LL came back hard, proving though "99% of his fans wear high heels," he was still "Bad." He reassured the hiphoperati that, despite having a sitcom and perpetually showing off his pecks, he was capable of putting out a song that was good for more than just dancing with your girl to.

To be fair, LL wasn't just in a sitcom, but had co-starred in a Michael J Fox movie. He really didn't ever wear a shirt and hadn't released a song that wasn't girly in years. Also, the fight did start after LL invited him to co-star on a song and then inserted a verse after his saying that Canibus would never ever be as good as he was.

Continue reading "DITC: 2nd Round KO" »

March 14, 2007

DITC: Me, Myself and My Microphone

I can't really be consider A+ a one hit wonder, since I don't think any of his songs ever really constituted a hit. When his album came out he was 12. His appeal was that he didn't spend too much time capitalizing on his age. He lyrics were like any other rapper at that time, sans the guns and violence. He also had guest appearances from some of the more prominent names of the time. These days the only people I know who have heard of him are my friends who DJed with me in college. They were working from the same pool of albums as I was, many of them freebies from the record companies who flooded our mailbox with acts they were pushing.

This song was a Hip-hop love song a la "I Used to Lover Her." This was a year or so before Common turned the theme into a franchise. Instead of the music, he was professing his love to his mic. His lyrics weren't bad actually, all things considered (see Puffy's lyrical skills, mentioned earlier), but not incredibly compelling.

What I like about it is the lilting tune looped in the background. I recognize it from somewhere, but can't quite place it. Q-tip does the hook, giving a little hip-hop gravitas to it all. This is before "Vivrant Thing" and Budweiser ads, when Tribe was the epitome of intelligent hip-hop.

::c::

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March 13, 2007

DITC: Step Into A World Remix

"I'm gon' make you dance."

Who ever thought a KRS-One song would start like that? More to the point, who ever thought 'The Prophet' would ever do a track with Puffy, who many of us, at the time, could only think of as the Hip-hop anti-christ. It was an obvious radio track for KRS. It had a hot beat but still had all of the self-righteousness brilliance one would expect alternating between the bubble gum clap trap Puff has always been known for:

"Hear the sound of my money machine See the 600 Benz see the chrome rims gleam See the teacher KRS and the Puff Daddy See the young black and famous Rich like Matty With the power and the knowledge at our fingertips With a style make the ladies wanna lick they lips, shake they hips Shake they rumps, bass thump Believin they could fly by the way you jump, player, uhh Hip-Hop mayor, fat rhyme sayer From the Boogie Down to the Himilayas..."
(Puffy's lyrics courtesy of Gold Lyrics )

As I said, clap-trap.

Thankfully it was the only track of its kind that I can think of. I'm not sure if the backpacker community would have survived had there been more. Contemplating the juxtaposition of skills and extreme nonsense too much would certainly had caused heads to explode.

Sorry, I can't end this entry without posting a little more of puffy's hackneyed bullshit:

Politic with the teacher (c'mon) as the hits reach ya Puff Daddy and KRS-One, double feature (that's right) Uptown diplomats, watch chips get stacked So-and-so, this and that (uhh) Just 'Show me the money!' Ain't nuttin funny (uh-huh) Have you stuck on stupid broke feelin crummy (ahah) Ain't no time for Girl 6 Cause I got a ten, holdin my stack of big Benz Correographer causin your funky dope maneuver (say what?)

Say what indeed...

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DITC: Usual Suspects

I remember the album, Vendetta, was supposed to be Mic Geronimo's big comeback. Unfortunately, the lead single turned out to be his own Flava in ya Ear remix. DMX came out of nowhere and outshined him on his own track. What I didn't remember was that Jadakiss was on it too. This was back before the Lox album, I think. He took a little while to catch everyone's attention. I remember my friends and I jumping on All for the Love, when their album came out. I wonder if we even noticed that it was the same dude who was on this track.

These days I rarely listen to new music, so I haven't heard much Jadakiss in a while, but I do know that he got pretty damn big since I got out of school. Sadly, I haven't heard anything at all about Mic Geronimo. Just like Craig Mack, no one has heard from him in a long time. According to AllMusic, he's released two albums since, one just this year. I guess there's still a chance he'll blow up. I wouldn't recommend he use too many unknown guest stars this time around.

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Diggin in the Crates: Intro

The essential part of moving is purging. Really, when you accumulate as much crap as I do, you have to purge before you can do anything. As mentioned, this has taken me back to my college days. Nothing has taken me back so much as the music. I decided to rip the giant bin full of CDs that's been sitting untouched for the last several years. Most of them are CDs that I acquired while I was a DJ and Music Director for the college radio station.

In the last week I've ripped 2352 songs. Mostly it's Hip-Hop and R&B from my 1995-1999. I've heard some tracks that I haven't listened to in 10 years.

The DITC will be a series of posts about what I've found....

March 9, 2007

Hip-Hop: The Greatest of All Time

"The Greatest Rapper of All Time Died on March Ninth"

IMG_2776


10 years ago today, Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls was killed.

Hip-hop has never been the same.

Rest in Peace
::c::

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March 4, 2007

Heavy Rotation: I Don't Know...

Photos

A week or so I was hanging out with Jon Oliver, while he DJed at Madame X. Jon's been putting me on to great music for over a decade now. Whenever I'm completely tired of everything I'm listening to, I can count on him to hook me up with something I've never heard before.

Except this time. This time he hooked me with something I thought I already knew. A couple years ago he posted about the song "I don't know why I love you" by the Jackson 5. Listening to young Michael Jackson sing his heart out was amazing. I had heard a few old Jackson 5 songs and I had the Christmas album when I was young, but I grew up knowing Michael Jackson from Thriller, not ABC. 'My' Michael Jackson has a jheri curl and fancy footwork, not and afro and his 4 brothers. I listened to it over and over again.

So when a song Jon was playing started out with a pleading "I don't know why I love you..." but with an unfamiliar beat I presumed it was a remix of some sort. I was feeling it, but something seemed off. By the second verse is became clear that that wasn't young MJ. It was N'dea Davenport and the Brand New Heavies. By the time it was over I knew I needed that song. Jon got me a copy the next day, two days later I'd heard it a dozen times.

This week on his website, Jon wrote about the original version performed by Stevie Wonder, who wrote the song. I am woefully ignorant of stevie wonder's work, older or more recent. His version is much more subtle than either of the others.

Where i imagine Michael running around tearing out his afro begging and pleading, I picture Stevie sitting in a cafe trying to have a civil conversation. He gets more animated over the course of the song. By the time he loses it and raises his voice the song is nearly over.

N'dea uses the Michael Jackson rendition as a starting point and goes on from there. What she lacks in MJ's youthful energy, she compensates for with a wail from the depths

All three are now entrenched in my heavy rotation playlist and will be for a while, given the individual talents of each singer. And clearly I need to know more Stevie.

::c::

Continue reading "Heavy Rotation: I Don't Know..." »

February 18, 2007

Philadelphia: Standard Tap

IMG_3003

We made it out to Northern Liberties in early afternoon and got brunch at Standard Tap. In fact we're still here, Tammi's knitting, I'm writing and drinking beer. Really I like the vibe here, the food was a bit of a miss this time.

Both things I ate were a bit over-fried. The fried oysters had too much breading and the chicken in the fried chicken sandwich was a little dry. The rest of the sandwich was like a really good BLT, so I may actually order one of those after first lunch settles.

Standard Tap is in this big old building with many rooms over 3 floors. The sun pours in from the windows and lights up the place. Wood dominates the space as soon as you walk in, from the bar up front to the wainscotting and wooden benches running along the walls in the back room on the ground floor.

We got in a little after 1pm and it was busy. We found a seat in the back and settled in. The only menus at Standard Tap are posted on the walls. As we were looking, three items were being wiped off the board.

(continued after the jump)

Continue reading "Philadelphia: Standard Tap" »

February 8, 2007

Toronto: The Sunday Lime


iflute?, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Summer 2005: Tammi and I took a long weekend out to Toronto. The timing was perfect. The weather was gorgeous and there just happened to be a graffiti festival on Queen Street. We wandered about and I shot some of the fresh art up on the walls.
Sunday afternoon, we headed back to Queen to catch the last of the festival. We could hear music from a block away. It was coming from a bar called Big Papa's Bordello. In the fenced off garden space, we could see musicians playing as the DJ spun beats.

This was the bar's Sunday ritual, the Sunday Lime. Musicians from a group called The iDrum Collective played percussion over what Tammi called 'soulful house.' I don't know from House music, but this wasn't like any I'd heard before. It was a mix of funk and soul and the songs just flowed into each other. What drew me in the most was the musicians. There wasn't much structure to the group, The flowed in and out just like the music. They came and walked off periodically. They switched instruments from time to time, one guy drummed for a while, then took out a trumpet and played that.

A little before we left, an older man came in and hung out for a few minutes. He chat with the others for a bit, then he took out his flute. He hooked up his mic and caught the beat. As he played, he meandered through the garden passing us by, bending and moving with his lilting tune.

When he was ready for his solo, he waved his arm with a flair.
"Just like that." The band held the beat and the old man took over.

He finished, packed up his flute, said his goodbyes and left.

Continue reading "Toronto: The Sunday Lime" »


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