Northside Festival 2012: RECAP

The streets of Williamsburg belonged to musicians, even more than normal, for the four days that the Northside Festival staked its ground. There was a constant bustle of badge-clad press agents, photographers, managers and agents in addition to guitarists toting their instruments and lead singers trailed by groupies.  Booze was certainly also flowing freely.  At Good Co. on Hope Street, Jameson hosted a party featuring their whiskey and McClure’s pickle juice.  A young lady I met at the bar admitted, “I’m not even in the music industry, but all my friends are. And I wish I was.”  Then she ordered herself a pickleback (a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice, which is apparently a New York phenomenon?).

The catalog of bands and showcases was extensive; in browsing through the program trying to determine which band to check out next,  I quickly realized it was a crapshoot. There were very few names I recognized, so any choice was going to be hit or miss. Luckily, there were more hits than misses. Here are a few highlights…

<< well, what are they?? >>

(Photos by Andrew St. Clair)

Under African Skies: The Story of Paul Simon’s GRACELAND

It has been just over 25 years since Paul Simon released his revered album Graceland.  To commemorate the anniversary, Sony Music in association with A&E Indie Films and Radical Media produced a documentary titled Under African Skies which was screened on June 5th at New York’s legendary Ziegfield Theatre. The screening was followed by a talkback with Simon and Director Joe Berlinger, moderated by Bob Costas.

The film follows the story of Simon’s trip to South Africa in 1985, his collaboration with local musicians on the making of the album and their first world tour in 1987, all amidst the intense racial tensions of apartheid and a cultural boycott imposed by the UN and the African National Congress (ANC). Archival footage is juxtaposed with footage from Simon’s return to South Africa and reunion with the original band last year. Bolstered with commentary by colleagues such as Sir Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones and David Byrne; New York Times music critic Jon Pareles; members of the band and current and former members of the ANC, this is a captivating story of triumph through music…

<< keep reading >>

Lay Low Has Found Her Voice

Johnny Cash could be heard crooning in the background as Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir and I sat huddled in a dark corner at Webster Hall.  The coincidence was striking. Lovísa is increasingly well known as Lay Low and though she may be a shy, soft-spoken Icelander, the influence of classic American blues and folk music rings loud and clear in her songs.

“I had this phase where I just collected so many great old country records, like the ones that everyone knows like Patsy Cline, like Johnny Cash,” she says, acknowledging the song playing overhead, “They’re all very known in Iceland. And I just really liked the sound, the soundscape, the way, I don’t know, how it could sound so big and also so…quiet.”  … <<keep reading>>

The Joys of Flying… Solo

My boss, let’s call him S., was supposed to fly out of Westchester County Airport to Philadelphia on his way to Dallas.  He ended up on a flight all by himself.  Yep.  He was the sole passenger on the plane.

The morning of his flight, it snowed for the first time all winter in New York, so of course the flights were delayed.  He was rebooked so that he wouldn’t miss his connection in Philadelphia, but then the original flight was delayed to the point that it was leaving at about the same time as the later flight so they, at the super efficient White Plains airport, were rebooking everyone onto a single flight.  Apparently they were paging him prior to boarding the original flight but due to the state of the art acoustics and the clusterf*ck of people stranded in the single waiting room, S. did not hear them calling his name.  But he did hear when they said it was final boarding call.
“We’ve been paging you,” they explained.  
“I didn’t hear it.”
“Yeah, our PA system is terrible.”

Well that flight was leaving so they kept him on the next flight.  By himself.  He walked through gatecheck and the woman didn’t even bother looking at his ticket; she just glanced at him and confirmed “You’re the passenger?”  He walked on the plane and thought- Where should I sit?!  Oh all the options!  (he chose 2B so he could put his bag underneath the seat in front of him) Then he had a moment of anxiety in realizing that he was going to have to actually pay attention to the flight attendant’s emergency exit speech.  But, as one might expect in this sort of situation, he made best friends with her and all was well.  She did give an abbreviated speech, starting with “I see you have your seatbelt fastened, S.” and continuing, something to the extent of, If Anything Goes Wrong, I’ll Just Tell You What To Do.  She asked him what he wanted to drink and brought him the can in her hand (and he was excited because he got to have the whole thing, being that there was no one else to give the second half to).  He told her how I had responded to his email stating that he was the only passenger on the plane with my own hopes that he was running up and down the aisle singing and dancing.  She chuckled.

His next flight was oversold and he was in the last row where the seats don’t go back and a 24 year old  Texan kept trying to engage him in conversation despite his best efforts to avoid him.

Hey.  You win some, you lose some.