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Monday, Jul 14, 2014
Timberlake performed an exclusive show for 2,200 people in the middle of his Summer arena tour run.

Justin Timberlake is in the middle of a huge sold-out arena tour yet he took the time to perform a more “intimate” show at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom for a corporate sponsor, Mastercard. Or it could have been American Airlines who had a larger promotional presence on site, but I don’t think I heard Timberlake give them props during his show. Just the credit card. In any case, the exclusivity made this the hot event of the night for New Yorkers even if it wasn’t the hot event of the week. There were several large concerts going on in the NYC area over several (other) nights including Katy Perry across the street at the Garden and Beyoncé and Jay-Z with two nights at the Meadowlands (Hova did not grace JT’s set unfortunately).


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Wednesday, Jul 9, 2014
Icelandic phenom Ásgeir has just released a new video for "King and Cross" and recently performed at a sold out show in New York.

After his short performance at CMJ last year, Ásgeir Trausti was slow to return to New York for a proper performance, coming over from Iceland more than six months after that gig (a Spring show at Rough Trade ended up being cancelled though it he was spotted in the US at a Hozier show). The time in between allowed him to release In the Silence, an English language version (translation help came from John Grant) of his debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn, that had been picked up by at least 10% of Iceland’s population.


The Mercury Lounge show had been sold out for months but, when the day finally arrived, the venue never seemed to pack to capacity. That was fortunate for the folks at the front who were dancing along in the gloomy atmosphere that Ásgeir wallowed in. The singer-songwriter was backed by four musicians including his older brother and the album’s producer, throughout his mixed Icelandic/English set, performing the songs from both versions of his powerful debut.


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Tuesday, Jul 8, 2014
If you are familiar with Jon Batiste, you already know he is a wild performer. He managed to kick it up a notch at his Summerstage show.

Musician and band leader Jon Batiste is a youthful, vibrant performer from Louisiana who was caught up in the jazz world at a young age. Now, as he occupies the role of Associate Artistic Director at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Batiste still takes time to tour with his band Stay Human, to connect with followers and to earn new fans along the way. And by connect with followers, I mean more than simply the “followers” that are found on social media or who buy his albums, I mean the folks who will literally trail Batiste as he conducts a musical procession from the stage to the street.


Batiste’s free show at the Central Park Summerstage was a wild set that delved into all sorts of jazz, hip-hop, R&B and other musical influences, including a rendition of the folk staple “Saint James Infirmary”. One of the first recognizable inspired bits was a take on “Summertime”, recently famous by the band summertime favorites Sublime but really hailing back to Gershwin and Ella Fitzgerald. The opening extended medley saw Batiste step away from the stately Yamaha grand piano and lift up the much cheaper, branded plastic melodica of his as the band stood behind him. The members of Stay Human clearly share Batiste’s sensibilities and have fun with their performances, whipping up familiar pop music melodies during solos and preening like showmen on stage.


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Tuesday, Jul 1, 2014
Nestled amongst the Rockies, the Snowmass Mammoth Fest is a chili, beer and music festival that maintains an intimate feel.

On a weekend getaway to Aspen, I found myself driving past some campgrounds in the vicinity of Snowmass Village. It wasn’t just that people in Colorado have a higher level of appreciation for nature (though I get the feeling they do). The reason for the pitched tents was fully explained by a hanging sign further down the road. The hamlet was the center of a unique food, beer and music festival called Snowmass Mammoth Fest. There is little buzz around this festival outside of Colorado as far as I can tell. A quick search for news post show doesn’t turn up much. But it happens to be the kid sister of the more notable Telluride Blues & Brews Festival held in September.


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Thursday, Jun 26, 2014
Although he has performed in NYC numerous times in Everything But the Girl and DJ'ed various club nights, Ben Watt's shows at Joe's Pub were his first solo shows here.

Ben Watt’s second album Hendra was released thirty years after his first, North Marine Drive. That is not to suggest that he was sitting on his laurels for those decades or that he had writer’s block. Watt and (his now wife) Tracey Thorn released several albums before the end of the ‘90s as Everything but the Girl, which he followed up with the Lazy Dog DJ project (with Jay Hannan) before finally going all in as the head honcho behind two record labels, the electronic / house imprint Buzzin Fly and the more indie rock Strange Feelings. Watt also published two books, Patient, about his battle with a rare, life-threatening illness, and the just-released, Romany and Tom: A Memoir, an honest look at his parents and growing up. While Watt did host a book launch event that included a few songs post-discussion the night before, his first true solo shows were the next two nights at Joe’s Pub. Watt was in the US to promote Hendra, with ex-Suede guitarist Bernard Butler playing alongside him, via radio interviews like this one for WNYC’s Soundcheck and a few performances in New York and in Los Angeles.


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