As one of PopMatters’ “Musical Hopes to Break Out in 2016”, Julien Baker is unsurprisingly a very talented artist. What might be surprising to some is that her music is regularly somber and occasionally devastating emotionally. Her sparse debut album Sprained Ankle, released in October 2015, has tough songs that deal with loneliness and depression. This winter, Baker has been generating a lot of buzz on the back of her emotional solo performances.
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It was a Wednesday night in the City of Angels and the local freak power congregation was out in force to hear Chris Robinson and company testify. The former Black Crowes vocalist has achieved a rare feat with the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, striking sonic gold with a second band after the dissolution of the one that made him a rock star. But that’s what “farm to table rock ‘n roll” is all about as the band calls it, a down to earth organic formula of devotion to the rock gods and muses.
The annual Winter Jazz Fest in New York City features dozens of acts performing in several venues in and around the East and West Village. This year, one of the most diverse offerings was Brooklyn-based group Red Baraat who serve up a fusion of bhangra, qawwali, funk, jazz and rock plus the addition of a guitarist recently has given their music a new edge. Red Baraat’s set at Le Poisson Rouge followed a set from Sex Mob, a band with a twenty year history behind them. Magnet Magazine described the Mob, “led by slide trumpeter/master of ceremonies Steven Bernstein, the Mob titillated the crowd with their unique New York values and muscular musicianship.” After some turn over in the crowd, a younger and more ethnically mixed crowd made their way to the front, Red Baraat took the stage to power through eight songs and get people dancing. Sinewy Eastern guitar sounds intro-ed “Zindabad” and then the dance party was underway. The audience was superlative, smiling wholeheartedly and dancing as if a fever overtook them. Photos from the wild show plus tour dates for Red Baraat follow below.
If it seems like Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio just can’t stand still, it’s probably because he’s one of those musicians who just has to keep busy because his devotion to the musical muses demands it. This has been a boon for fans who can never get enough live music as Anastasio’s musical wheel keeps turning. They’d prefer Phish year round since the influential jamrock band has been at the top of their game in recent years, but they’ll follow Anastasio’s exploits in any format offered. They just call him Trey, though, since their musical bond makes him seem like an old friend, even if they’ve never had the chance to meet.
One of the first shows I caught this year was one from a Brooklyn band, San Fermin at their Lincoln Center ‘American Songbook’ show. I wasn’t very familiar with them and they hadn’t yet released their 2015 album Jackrabbit. But their unique, unrestrained baroque pop was memorable and I knew I wanted to check them out again. Fortunately, they were performing a three night run of shows at the Bowery Ballroom to celebrate their third anniversary as a band.
To enhance the merriment, band leader Ellis Ludwig-Leone invited a lot of friends to join San Fermin on stage, both to support San Fermin songs and to share that particular artists material. Some of the guests included Aaron Livingston of Son Little for two numbers including his “The River” (I hadn’t seen a proper set from him this year despite the buzz around him), Nanna Fabricius of Oh Land, Mike Wilbur of Moon Hooch wailing on his saxophone, Casey Dienel of White Hinterland, Kristin Slipp of Cuddle Magic (her song “What If I” was included in the set) and Eliza Bagg and Oliver Hill of Pavo Pavo. These eclectic additions swelled the number of people on stage to almost a dozen at various points but the stage never seemed too crowded.