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The Elgin Marbles Bring Their Wickedly Catchy, Psychedelic Jangle and Clang to Bushwick

What is up with this week? Suddenly it’s 2019 again. There are more great multiple-band bills around New York than there have been in, um, years. Wonder why that is?

The best of the bunch is at Gold Sounds on March 18 and starts anticlimactically at 8 with psychedelic janglerock guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ band Girls on Grass, followed by cult supergroup the Elgin Marbles, who play the wickedly catchy, serpentine songs of bandleader/guitarist Dann Baker’s previous outfit, Love Camp 7. Up next are Canadian country crew the Pickups and then Cementhead, who enjoyed a good run (and a revolving door of band members) as one of the few memorable indie bands in New York in the late 90s and zeros. Cover is $12, dirt cheap for a lineup of this caliber.

This blog was in the house for one of the Elgin Marbles’ first shows, at Troost in Greenpoint in August of 2019. It was a psychedelic janglefest. Bassist Dave Mandl did his usual swoop-and-dive routine where Love Camp 7’s late, great Bruce Hathaway would have punched in with his judicious, melodic lines (Hathaway was also a first-rate composer of new classical music: let’s hope his orchestral scores will someday resurface somewhere).

Drummer Heather Wagner had the hardest job of all. Negotiating the late, great Dave Campbell’s labyrinthine lines with any similar kind of flair would have been a steep learning curve under any circumstances, but she was up to the challenge and was relentless about it. The addition of Greek/Cypriot surf band the Byzan-tones‘ guitarist and bandleader George Sempepos added to the intricate, starry lattice of sound. Baker balanced his erudite jangle and chime with the occasional, unexpectedly buzzy blast of noise to keep the crowd on their toes, when they weren’t hanging on his winkingly sly lit-rock lyrics and cat-ate-the-canary vocals. There seems to be only one video from the show that’s made it to the web, but it’s a good one, Sempepos’ jagged, spiky slide guitar over Baker’s slinky sway.


The Best Twin Peaks Cover Band in New York Slinks Into Bushwick

Of all the extreme niche cover bands in the world, one of the best are Fuck You Tammy. The bandname is a reference to the most recent iteration of Twin Peaks. The group – a spinoff of the similarly cinematic but more techy Scam Avenue – dedicate themselves to playing music from every incarnation of David Lynch’s iconic film noir franchise: the first two network tv seasons, the brief cable comeback series and the Twin Peaks movie.

They released their lone single so far, a lush but hauntingly intimate and psychedelic version of True Love’s Flame, in February 2020, barely a month before the lockdown. The good news is that they’re back, and have a relatively rare hometown show coming up on March 15 at 8 PM at Alphaville. The venue is one of many in (increasingly less) trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods who’ve fallen for the goofy dollars-and-cents online ticketing fad (which may be a condition of taking Trump plandemic loans). What that means for customers, assuming that whoever’s working the door isn’t making change, is that it will probably set you back an even $14 cash.

This blog was at Long Island City Bar in February of 2018, where the band drifted through a lustrous, lusciously lurid set. Unfortunately, that show didn’t make it to the web, but a shorter show from the Bell House from a couple of weeks later did and is up at youtube. And it’s every bit as good: the Queens gig was more instrumentals, while this one focuses more on vocal numbers.

What’s best about this band is that they add subtle original touches, when they’re not doing a stunning job recreating these cult classics note for note. They open the show with a vigorous punk jazz-tinged take of The Pink Room, the creepy Black Lodge stripper theme from the movie, propelled with a stalking pulse by bassist Julie Rozansky and drummer Nate Smith as saxophonist Anthony Cekay fires off jagged, smoky accents. Then frontwoman Devery Doleman – who has much more powerful pipes than Julee Cruise – takes over in front of the band and turns in a similarly pouncing cover of Floating

Keyboardist Bill Ferullo and guitarist David Andreana open Falling with the Twin Peaks title theme: just as at the Queens gig, the effect is a lot more stark and sinister than the plush, saturnine studio sound of the original score. Then Doleman shimmies in her red dress and goes way up into Cruise-ing highs for Rocking Back Inside My Heart, the wistful pop ballad from the comeback season.

Rozansky, who has a softer voice, takes over the mic and keeps the sad 50s vibe going in Just You, Andreana firing off spot-on reverbtoned jangle and whipcrack behind her. Then the band bring the menace back with a brisk take of Into the Night, eerie echoey electric piano against spare guitar jangle and an unscripted, smoky Cekay sax solo. It’s the high point of the show.

Little Jimmy Scott’s version of Sycamore Trees is impossible to beat, so the band reinvent it with more of a cliffhanger guitar noir edge. They go back to slow, distantly pensive 6/8 retro ballad territory with The World Spins as Rozansky punches in with her treble up behind Doleman’s angst-fueled vocals, and then max out the mystery as they wind it out with a dead calm. The two frontwoman sing disconsolate harmonies in the closer, a meticulous recreation of The Nightingale. Where Tom Csatari’s Twin Peaks covers focus more on the menace that a band can find outside the lines, Fuck You Tammy max out the red neon inner core.

Nick Demopoulos Brings His Surreal, Starry, Deviously Entertaining Sonic Universe to Chinatown

Guitarist Nick Demopoulos has a formidable jazz background and was a member of paradigm-shifting drummer Chico Hamilton’s band for several years. As you might expect, Demopoulos is also a pioneer – as an instrument builder. In one of his more colorful solo projects, he plays his touch-sensitive SMOMID, which stands for String Modeling Midi Device. With its twinkling lights, it looks like the instrument James T. Kirk would play to seduce an alien babe after a long trip into the future. The sounds he gets out of it are just as entertaining.

The first time this blog caught him playing it was in the spring of 2017 at Troost in Greenpoint alongside Moist Paula Henderson – who was playing EWI instead of her usual baritone sax – and Dorothea Tachler on vocals, keys and mixer. His solo set there just over seven months later was just as trippy, and surreal, and immersive. There’s literally hours of material on his Soundcloud page which will give you a good idea of what he sounded like that night.

Parenthetically speaking, that we would be talking about something that happened over five years ago like it was yesterday, or if it was news, is more than a little problematic, right?

The good news is that Demopoulos has picked up like he was never interrupted. His next gig with his space-age instrument is on March 11 at 8 PM at Downtown Music Gallery.

The way the SMOMID works is that when Demopoulos strikes a key, it sends a signal to his computer, triggering a vast available number of samples, from bagpipes to birdsong. The first Soundcloud track is the closest thing to EDM there, and a red herring: don’t let it turn you off. Things get fun in a hurry after that: imagine R2D2 playing a carillon.

Organlike textures underpin squiggly, twinkling loops and every little springy, mechanical texture you can think of. Animal noises and flitting human vocal samples also pop up occasionally. And despite the wild panoply of sounds, Demopoulos’ tunes are straightforward and catchy.

The last number in the long WKCR broadcast up at Soundcloud is a rare example of Demopoulos in full-on goofy mode. There’s a loopmusic aspect to this, but most of what he does is live. He typically uses a steady rhythm and likes a trip-hop beat. And while most of what he’s playing is in the upper registers, he can work woozy, synthy P-Funk bass sounds, or a pretty fair digital approximation of a digeridoo. At those 2017 Brooklyn shows, he built soundscapes to get lost in and could send you off to similarly unexpected places at the Chinatown gig.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn For March 2023

All these concerts are free of restrictions on entry. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar. If a venue is unfamiliar, look for it on the old guide to NYC music venues here, which is more of a worksheet now, but it has links to most of the places on this calendar.

Tuesdays in March, Inspired, latin-influenced postbop trombonist Conrad Herwig and his septet at the Django, $25.

Thursdays in March, 5 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez at Bar Bayeux. 2/28 at 7:30 PM she leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

Sundays at around 8 PM trumpeter Jon Kellso and (frequently) guitarist Matt Munisteri lead the Ear-Regulars in NYC’s only remaining weekly hot jazz jam session at the Ear Inn

3/1, noon, not a music event but important, say no to Kathy Hochul’s persistent attempt to build concentration camps on New York soil at the rally at the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Office Building. 163 W. 125 St. at 7th Ave. in Harlem

3/1, 8 PM Middle Eastern-flavored surf band twinbill: the Zolephants and slinky Pontic surf crew the Byzan-tones at Sundownstairs, 68-38 Forest Ave (at Catalpa) Ridgewood, Queens $10, J to Seneca Ave.

3/2, 8 PM singer Lea Kalisch‘s irreverent Shtetl Cabaret revisits Yiddish theatre music classics and not-so-classics at Drom, $20 adv tix rec

3/2, 8 PM 8 PM deviously theatrical oldschool C&W/rockabilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. at Otto’s

3/3, 8 PM new-music group Black Box Enxemble play works by Ari Sussman, Cole Reyes. Eliza Brown. Jimena Maldonado and Inti Figgis-Vizueta at Culture Lab, $20

3/3, 8 PM  the raucously oldtimey Buck and a Quarter Quartet at Sunny’s

3/3, 9 PM jangly, clangy, surf-inspired retro psych band Spirit Ghost play the album release show for their new one at Alphaville, $15

3/3, 9 PM Afrobeat all-star crew Armo – feat. members of Antibalas – at Bar Lunatico

3/3, 10:30 PM prolific postbop composer and tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser leads a quintet at Smalls, $25

3/3, 10:30 PM lyrical Mingus band pianist David Kikoski leads a trio at Mezzrow, $25

3/4, 7:30 PM lyrically provocative mashups of Ethiopiques, parlor pop, hard funk and psychedelia with Meklit at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

3/4, 8 PM brooding folk-rocker Peter Is Dead a.k.a Peter Carlovich, female-fronted dreampop band Heat Death and sprawling,. jangly athemic newschool psychedelic band Bard’s Flying Vessel at Alphaville, $14

3/4, 9 PM Pangari & the Socialites play classic ska and rocksteady– most of it from the 60s Skatalites catalog – at Bar Lunatico

3/4, 9ish deviously fun, female-fronted ska band Across the Aisle at Lucky 13 Saloon, $tba

3/4, 9ish guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ exhilarating psychedelic janglerock band Girls on Grass and Renee LoBue’s darkly catchy veteran powerpop/art-rock band Elk City at the Windjammer, $tba

3/5, 4 PM the Orchestra of St. Luke’s play works by Tania Leon, Keyla Orozc and others at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

3/5, 5 PM Siwoo Kim, violin; Melissa Reardon, viola and Raman Ramakrishnan, cello reinvent Bach’s Goldberg Variations for string trio at Our Saviour’s Atonement Lutheran Church, 178 Bennett Ave at 189th, Washington Heights, $25, A to 186th St.

3/5, 8 PM improvisational, immersive bassist Kato Hideki leads a quintet with Doug Wieselman: clarinet; Masahiko Kono: trombone. Gordon Beeferman: piano; Ryan Sawyer: drums & percussion at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

3/5, 7 PM Miqayel Voskanyan’s hauntingly driving Armenian jazz MVF Band at Drom, $25 adv tix rec

3/6, 8:30 PM edgy oldschool and newer soul styles with singer Maya Sharpe at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $10

3/6, 9 PM  boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with Jack Grace at Skinny Dennis

3/6, 10:30 PM  smartly impressionistic postbop pianist Miki Yamanaka leads a trio at Smalls, $25. She’s back on 3/13

3/7, 6:30 PM Louise D. E. Jensen on sax with cellist TJ Borden followed by drummer Dave Miller with multi-reedman Ras Moshe and then drummer Anders Griffen with violin scorcher Sana Nagano at Downtown Music Gallery

3/7, 7 PM  noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at the big room at the Rockwood, $20

3/7, 8 PM funk-jazz crew the Silver Arrow Band at Drom, free. They’re back on 3/21

3/7 the Sun Ra Arkestra show at TV Eye is sold out. Good for them.

3/8, 7 PM the Brooklyn Raga Massive – a rotating cast of A-list Indian, jazz and rock musicians who love to jam out classic Indian themes from over the centuries to the present day – at Branded Saloon

3/8, 8/9:30 PM lyrical pianist Aaron Parks leads a trio at Bar Bayeux

3/8, 8 PM Palestinian singer Nibal Malshi performs vintage classics from Syria, Lebanon and Egypt at Roulette, $30 adv tix rec

3/9, 7:30 PM Rolling Stones tenor saxophonist Tim Ries and his quartet at the Django, $25. He’s back on 3/30

3/9, 7:30 PM conversational pianist Jeffrey Siegel plays works by Chopin, Schubert and Sibelius at Scandinavia House, $25

3/9, 7:30 PM eclectic. edgy violinist Zach Brock with pianist Aaron Goldberg and bassist Matt Penman at Mezzrow, $25

3/9, 8 PM ferocious powerpop/psychedelic guitarslinger Pete Galub opens a triple bill with edgy King Crimson-influenced Woodhead and noisy stoner boogie band Mustafina at Main Drag Music, 50 S 1st St, Williamsburg

3/9, 8 PM smartly crafted, new and recent Dan Joseph chamber works for marimba and saxophone, violin, cello, saxophone and clarinet, and  piano, with pianist Marija Ilic and ensemble; composer Michael Byron premieres new works for two pianos and small orchestra featuring pianists Joseph Kubera and Steve Beck with Petr Kotik conducting members of the S.E.M. Ensemble, as well as a performance by violin duo String Noise (Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim Harris). at Roulette, $20 gen adm

3/9, 8:30 PM  Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage plays his dark Americana and blues at 11th St. Bar

3/9, 9 PM slinky psychedelic reggae-tinged jamband Ace Bandage – who are a lead singer away from brilliance – at Bar Freda, $10

3/9. 9 PM cinematic, ethereal vibraphonist Chris Dingman leads his trio at Bar Lunatico

3/10, 7:30 up-and-coming saxophonist Erena Terakubo leads her group followed at 10:30 by clever, purist B3 jazz organist Akiko Tsuruga at the Django, $25

3/10-11, 7:30 PM suave, smoky tenor saxophonist Harry Allen leads a trio with Mike Karn on bass and Andy Brown on guitar at Mezzrow, $25

3/10, 8 PM violist Joanna Mattrey leads an intriguing improvisational ensemble with Patrick Shiroishi, Chris Williams, and Gabby Fluke-Mogul at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

3/10, 8 PM Bint plays Arabic occult-inspired dark electronic soundscapes at MITU580, 580 Sackett St Unit A (off Union), Gowanus, F to Carroll St, $10

3/10, 8ish gutter blues band Daddy Long Legs play the album release show for their new one at the Sultan Room, $21

3/10, 8/9:30 PM riveting Japanese shamisen player/singer/improviser Emi Makabe leads a trio with Thomas Morgan on bass at Bar Bayeux

3/10, 10 PM ferociously dynamic, tuneful, female-fronted art-rock power trio Castle Black at Bar Freda, $10

3/11,6 PM pianist Jed Distler and cellist Juliana Soltis play works by Amy Beach, Leo Ornstein, Helen C. Crane , Florence B. Price and Margaret Bonds at Bargemusic, $35

3/11, 7:30 PM Nagash Armenian Ensemble play songs on themes of exile at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

3/11, 7:30 PM Indian singer Pratima Doobay and drummer Roshni Samlal exploring the global diaspora of Hindi folk songs, the poetry of Shivanee Ramlochan, bass riffs by Liany Mateo, and the visual art of Renluka Maharaj at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

3/11, 7:30 PM  tuneful oldschool soul/jazz trombonist Dave Gibson leads his quartet at the Django, $25

3/11, 8 PM guitarist Nick Demopoulos’ twinkling, psychedelic Smomid spacescape project at Downtown Music Gallery

3/11, 9 PM tuneful, first-class Kenyan reggae crooner Nixon Omollo at Shrine.

3/12, 3:30 PM potentially mind-blowing improvisation with violinist Ladonna Smith, Taylor Rouss on sax and “game calls,” and Andrew Drury on drums plus the Home of Easy Credit witih Louise D.E. Jensen on sax and Tom Blancarte on bass at Soup & Sound

3/12, 4 PM early music ensemble Alkemie play medieval works by Guillaume du Fay  at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

3/12, 4 PM Yael Weiss, piano; Mark Kaplan, violin; Peter Stumpf, cello play trios by Haydn and Schubert at Bargemusic, $35

3/12, 7:30 PM imaginative, purist baritone saxophonist Claire Daly leads her quintet at Smalls

3/12, 8 PM ghoulabilly band the Gunsmoke Sinners at Otto’s

3/12, 8 PM the Trinity Youth Chorus and Trinity Baroque Orchestra perform Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at St. Paul’s Chapel, free

3/12, 9 PM mysterious organ-driven 60s Canterbury-style psychedelic band the Lucifer Sams at Gold Sounds, $12

3/12, 9 PM singer Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

3/13, 7 PM guy/girl harmonies and eclectic folk-rock/new wave songwriting with the Oracle Sisters at Baby’s All Right, $18

3/13. 7:30 PM NY Phil principal clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Pacifica Quartet play works by Prokofiev, Brahms and James Lee at Music Mondays, Advent Church, northwest corner of 93rd and Broadway, free

3/13-14, 7:30/9 PM tenor sax legend  George Coleman leads a quartet at Smalls, $25

3/13, 9 PM slinky, impressionistic postbop jazz with saxophonist Alison Shearer and her quartet at Bar Lunatico

3/13, 10:30 PM crooner Kevin Harris with jazz organ paradigm-shifter Brian Charette at the Ear Inn

3/13, 10:30 PM  classy, cinematic, purist NZ jazz pianist Alan Broadbent  leads a trio at Mezzrow

3/14, 1 PM organist Amelie Held plays a program TBA at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown

3/14, 6:30 PM improvisational alchemy: guitarist Aron Namenwirth, trombonist Steve Swell and guitarist Rodney Chapman followed at 7:30 by Dr. Paul Austerlitz & the Spirit Cabinet at Downtown Music Gallery

3/15, 7 PM in reverse order: surreal, amusingly bombastic heavy psych band Howling Giant, the noisier Restless Spirit and Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager at TV Eye, $15

3/15, 8 PM socially aware 2nd gen nueva cancion songwriter Juana Luna plays the album release show for her new one at El Puente, 211 S 4th St. Williamsburg, J/M to Marcy Ave, sug don

3/15, 8 PM cinematic rock band Fuck You Tammy play amazingly spot-on recreations of themes and songs from Twin Peaks and David Lynch films at Alphaville, $14

3/15, 8 PM extrovert drummer Johnathan Blake’s Trio with Ravi Coltrane and Dezron Douglas. wow, at Bar Bayeux

3/15,  8:30 PM Dark Streets play Celtic classics by the Pogues, Flogging Molly, the Dubliners and others at 11th St. Bar. 3/17, 8 PM they’re at Mama Tried

3/15, 9 PM smart, purposeful Americana guitarslingers Jason Loughlin and band at Skinny Dennis

3/16, 1 PM NOVUS NY plays works by Brad Balliett, Valerie Coleman, Joan Tower and Louise Farrenc at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free. They’re back on 3/23 playing works by Tania Leon, Christopher Cerrone, Kevin Puts and Paola Prestini and on 3/30 with works by Missy Mazzoli and Jessica Meyer, plus Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht

3/16, 7:30 PM  eclectic violinist Dana Lyn’s protean, psychedelic, ecologically aware jazz project Baby Octopus plus one of New York’s most eclectic, interesting oudists, Brian Prunka  with a string section, wow, at the Owl

3/16, 7:30 PM tabla virtuoso Sandeep Das and his instrumental HUM Ensemble blend Indian and Turkish sounds at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

3/16, 8 PM a rare Brooklyn gig by multi-reedman Scott Robinson and his group at Bar Bayeux

3/16, 8 PM wildly virtuosic jazz improv trumpeter Peter Evans with vibraphonist Joel Ross, bassist Nick Jozwiak and drummer Michael Od at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

3/16, 8 PM the perennially intense, tuneful godfather of edgy, lyrical, anthemic downtown NYC rock, Willie Nile plays his album Streets of NYC at City Winery, $28 standing room avail

3/16, 8 PM Max Lifchitz conducts the North/South Chamber Orchestra playing his own works plus pieces by Frank Corcoran, Robert Lemay, Rob Smith and Hsuh-Yung Shen at Christ & Saint Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th Street (between Broadway & Amsterdam), free

3/16, 8 PM pianist Joseph Kubera plays Daniel Rothman’s Queens Plaza, and Dry County by Conrad Winslow at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, $15

3/16, 9 PM hypnotic percussive Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa collaborate with steel wizard Daniel Freedman and guitarist Gilad Hekselman at Bar Lunatico

3/17 starting at noon live music all day with Jameson’s Revenge, Shilelagh Law at 4,  the Narrowbacks at 8 and Prodigals at 10:30 at Connolly’s, free

3/17, 8 PM intense, ecstatic oldschool soul band Empire Beats at Silvana

3/17, 9 PM cult favorite gonzo pianist Dred Scott‘s Cali Mambo band with Tom Beckham on vibes at Bar Lunatico

3/17, 9ish psychedelic cumbia band Los Aliens play the album release show for their new one at C’Mon Everybody, $13

3/17, 10:30 PM  noir-inspired alto saxophonist/composer Nick Hempton with his quartet at the Django, $25

3/18, 4 PM Sarah Durning plays twangy oldschool-style original honkytonk at Skinny Dennis

3/18. 6 PM cellist Andrew Gonzalez plays Bach’s Cello Suites #4-6 at Bargemusic, $35

3/18, 7 PM in reverse order at St. Vitus, damn, what a great doom/stoner metal lineup: ferocious female-fronted art-rock/stoner metal band Ruby the Hatchet ,  classic 70s style doom band (some would say Sabbath ripoff) High Reeper, and the death metal Leather Lung, $20

3/18, 7 PM ish dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues.

3/18, 8 PM maybe the best quadruplebill of the year: guitar goddess Barbara Endes’ exhilarating psychedelic janglerock band Girls on Grass, psychedelic supergroup the Elgin Marbles feat. members of Love Camp 7, Dervisi and Peter Stampfel’s jug band, Canadian C&W purists the Pickups and acerbic, surrealistically jangly early zeros favorites Cementhead playing the album release show for their new one at Gold Sounds, $12

3/18, 8 PM a rare US performance by flamenco guitar wizard Rafael Riqueni at Roulette, $30 adv tix rec

3/18, 8:30 PM moodily lyrical, politically savvy Irish folk-rocker Niall Connolly  at the downstairs room at the Rockwood, $15

3/18, 9 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

3/19, 11 AM, not a music event but family friendly and brilliantly conceived: Libs of Tik Tok Story hour with Chaya Raichik reading from her empowering new kids’ book No More Secrets and Trent Talbot reading from his Fight For Freedom Island at the Women’s Republican Club, 3 W 51st St #2, free

3/19, 3 PM Jessica Bowers, mezzo-soprano and Oren Fader, guitar play works by Brahms, Mozart, Tim Mukherjee, Randall Woolf and others at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave,, $25

3/19, 3 PM baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire play melancholy themes by baroque Jewish composers at the Rogers Auditorium at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, $35 tix avail

3/19, 3:15 PM German organist Stefan Madrzak at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

3/19, 5 PM brilliantly adventurous harpist Bridget Kibbey  at the lounge at Hudson View Gardens, 116 Pinehurst Ave, Washington Heights, A to 181st St., $15

3/19, 7/9 PM lyrical pianist Geoffrey Keezer leads his trio at the Django, $25

3/19, 7:30 PM dark, sardonic, brilliantly tuneful jazz pianist Danny Fox and his Trio at Mezzrow, $25

3/19, 9 PM pianist Cat Toren‘s magical Ocelot trio followed by the similarly lustrous Ochion Jewell Quartet  at the Owl

3/19, 9 PM trumpeter Wayne Tucker leads his sunny soul-infused jazz quartet at Bar Lunatico

3/20, 1 PM vibraphonist Nikara Warren’s soulful Black Wall Street project at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

3/20, 9 PM jazz tuba legend Bob Stewart with his son, violinist Curtis Stewart and Kelvynator guitarist Kelvyn Bell at Bar Lunatico

3/21, 1 PM organist Thomas Gaynor at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

3/21, 7 PM ragas and kathak dance with surbahar virtuoso Radhika Samson, dancer Barkha Patel, Lasya & Ensemble on bansuri flute at Joe’s Pub, $30

3/21, 8 PM Marwa Morgan sings compositions by iconic Egyptian tunesmith Sayed Mekkawy with her quartet at Sisters Brooklyn, 900 Fulton off Washington, $20, C to Clinton-Washington

3/21, 8 PM electroacoustic composer Lucie Vítková’s creepy, dystopic portrait of a cyborg, Earth Eater at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec

3/22, 1 PM purist oldschool jazz guitarist Bill Wurtzel with bassist Jay Leonhart at the American Folk Art Museum

3/22, 8 PM energetic ragtime/Romany swing guitarist Felix Slim at St. Mazie’s. 3/27 at 9 he’s at Skinny Dennis

3/22, 8 PM the String Orchestra of Brooklyn collaborates with composer-performers Zach Layton and Nyokabi Kariũki at Roulette, $25 adv tix rec. They return on 3/23, joined by cellist Andrew Yee

3/22, 9ish Red Baraat trumpeter Sonny Singh plays funky bhangra psychedelia at C’Mon Everybody, $19

3/23, 7 PM acerbic classical and tango pianist Polly Ferman plays perform a program of Piazzolla, Joplin, Villalobos, Albeniz, Chabrier, Mortet, Cimaglia, Gottschalk, and Binelli, at Christ & Saint Stephen’s Church, 120 W 69th St (between Broadway & Amsterdam), $20

3/23, 7:30 PM stark, haunting Tunisian artrock/soul songwriter/guitarist Nour Harkati at Drom, $25 adv tix rec

3/23, 7:30 PM western swing and 20s hot jazz chanteuse Tamar Korn with soul/gospel belter (and Lenny Molotov collaborator) Queen Esther,at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

3/23, 7:30 PM  the Harlem Quartet perform music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Aldo López-Gavilán and more at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

3/23, 8 PM jangly, gritty dark country band Midnight Confessions (not to be confused with Lisa Lost’s legendary 90s reggae band), stomping late 90s style indie/punk band Wild Powwers and and post-Syd Barrett-ish Obits spinoff Savak at Gold Sounds $14

3/23, 8 PM pianist Per Tengstrand and cellist Robin Park play works by Beethoven and Rachmaninoff at Scandinavia House, $30

3/24, 7 PM Rob Schwimmer plays new music for Theremin, Haken Continuum and piano, also possibly works by John Barry, Bernard Herrmann and the Beach Boys at Bargemusic, $35

3/24, 7 PM pianist Mariel Mayz plays the album release show for her new one featuring music by Cuban composer Leo Brouwer at the Americas Society, 680 Park Ave., free, res rec.

3/24-25, 7:30 PM adventurous trumpeter John Bailey leads his quartet at Smalls, $25. 3/24 at 10:30 energetic, inventive, gospel-inspired pianist Pete Malinverni leads his trio

3/24, 8 PM excellent oldschool soul-influenced psychedelic band One Way Out, legendary garage-psych guitarslinger Palmyra Delran and enigmatic folk noir chanteuse Soraia at Berlin, expensive, $19 but a good lineup

3/24, 8 PM the Dallas Symphony Orchestra play Tschaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 plus Rachaminoiff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Garrick Ohlsson on piano at Stern Auditorium at at Carnegie Hall, $34 tix avail

3/24-25 at 8 PM and 3/26 at 3, in solidarity with the freedom fighters in Iran, Hamid Rahmanian’s Song of the North, a shadow puppet performance of the ancient Persian epic the Shahnameh with Nashaz’s Azam Ali on vocals at Symphony Space, $25 tix avail

3/24, 8 PM the Eris Quartet – named for an astrologically vengeful asteroid – play a program TBA at the Owl

3/24, 9 PM brassy, psychedelic Afrobeat band Holy Hand Grenade at Aphaville, $14

3/24, 9ish a rare reunion show by late 90s/early zeros janglerock/powerpop legends the Star Spangles at the Sultan Room, $16

3/24, 9:30 PM fearless, insurgent, amazingly spot-on comedienne/vocal impersonator Tammy Faye Starlite does her hilarious, spot-on Nico “tribute” at Joe’s Pub, $20

3/24, 10:30 PM  purist oldschool tenor sax player Craig Handy leads his New Orleans-flavored band at the Django, $25

3/25, 7:30 PM carnatic violin powerhouse Arun Ramamurthy and his group at the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music  $25

3/25, 7:30 PM  the New York Virtuoso Singers perform Bach cantatas at Merkin Concert Hall, $30

3/25, 8 PM, repeating 3/26 at 3 the 8 PM, the NJ Symphony Orchestra  play WIlliam Grant Still’s gorgeous Symphony No. 1 and Tschaikovsky’s haunting Symphony No. 4 plus works by Arvo Part at NJPAC in Newark, $25 tix avail

3/25, 8 PM the fiery, string-driven Sedi Donka Balkan Band at St. Mazie’s

3/25, 9 PM deviously entertaining hot 20s jazz chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrell puts on her western swing hat at Skinny Dennis

3/25, 9 PM brilliant pianist  Emilio Solla’ and Antonio Lizana team up for tango-jazz and flamenco-jazz at Joe’s Pub, $30 adv tix rec

3/25, 10:30 PM wildly erudite tenor saxophonist Eric Wyatt and band at Smalls for a set and then the jam session, $25

3/26, 3 PM luminous latin-inspired jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her quartet at a house concert in Prospect Lefferts Gardens, sug don, email for deets/location

3/26, 4 PM fiery, force-of-nature klezmer/classical violinist Lara St. John  plays a program tba  at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

3/26, 5 PM one of New York’ most acerbic, distinctive voices in front-porch folk, Jo Williamson at the small room at the Rockwood,

3/26, 9 PM Pastoral gothic accordion art-rock band Sam Reider & the Human Hands at Bar Lunatico

3/27. 7 PM the New York Composers Circle premieres intriguing new small-ensemble works by Hubert Howe, Mark Belodubrovsky, Linda Marcel, Sergey Oskolkov, Madelyn Byrne, Nataliya Medvedovskaya and Robert S. Cohen at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Ave, $20

3/27, 10:30 PM electrifying vibraphonist Simon Moullier and band at Smalls, $25

3/27, 10:30 PM playfully intense pianist Liya Grigoryan leads her quartet at the Django, $25

3/28, 1 PM organist Alexander Straus-Fausto at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, free

3/28, 8 PM hypnotic electroacoustic composer Caterina Barbieri, and low-register avant noise maven Eli Keszler at Pioneer Works, $25 adv tix rec

3/29, 7:30 PM drummer Dan Pugach’s Nonet with firebrand chanteuse Nicole Zuraitis out front at Smalls, $25

3/30, 1;30 PM, repeating 3/31 at 8 the 8 PM, repeating 12/8 at 3 the NJ Symphony Orchestra play the Faure Requiem plus works by George Walker and Ravel at NJPAC in Newark, $25 tix avail

3/30, 7 PM 20-string koto player Yumi Kurosawa leads her quintet playing the album release show for her new one at Joe’s Pub, $25

3/30, 7:30 PM drony, pounding psychedelic stadium rock with King Buffalo at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

3/30, 7:30 PM pianist Eliza Garth leads a string ensemble playing works by Gillien Weir, Mario Davidovsky and others at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

3/30, 8 PM brilliant swing jazz/oldtime Americana chanteuse Samoa Wilson at St. Mazie’s

3/30, 9 PM  iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $25.

3/31, 8 PM hauntingly cinematic Lynchian/southwestern gothic instrumentalists Suss at Culture Lab, $24

3/31, 8 PM  catchy, slinky psychedelic funk/punk band Eliza & the Organix  at Bar Freda,$10

3/31, 8 PM Korean oboeist/flutist Gamin and ensemble at Roulette, $30 adv tix rec

3/31, 9 PM  powerpop band Giftshop– the missing link between Blondie and the Distillers – at the small room at the Rockwood

4/2, 7 PM iconic, hilariously charismatic Americana songstress Amy Allison at Pangea, $25

Candles, Penlights and a Caroline Shaw Chorale Downtown

This isn’t a blog about religion, but as Paul Wallfisch has said – and he was a diehard atheist the last time anybody here checked – religion has given us a lot of beauty. While a lot of that beauty was snuffed out when houses of worship were summarily shuttered in the 2020 lockdown, a handful of venerable New York institutions have brought live music back to their services. One of many long-running traditions in this city that died that year was at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, where their house ensemble had been performing Bach chorales and hymns at a lunchtime service and later shifted that to an early evening compline series.

Last night, Stephen Sands conducted the Downtown Voices in a welcome, warmly crepscular setting. Lit only by candles and the penlights of the choir and string section, they delivered a quietly electric, dynamic take of Caroline Shaw’s To the Hands.

Before the lockdown, Shaw’s music was ubiquitous in New York: this piece was especially robust early on, but then the voices held back with a stark, minimalist intensity. The chorale has Shaw’s trademark circular motives, but also a guarded optimism whose distant folksiness is more somber than wistful. The composer wrote it as a response to a Buxtehude piece whose central theme is “What are these wounds in the midst of your hands?” Obviously, the great Dane was referring to Christ; these days, it could be anyone.

That might have been reflected in the abundant use of space and frequent sense of abandonment, the women and then men of the choir opting to sync very closely with the work’s overall wary atmosphere and theme of global displacement. Shaw’s text quickly diverges from the original latin to Emma Lazarus and her huddled masses “yearning to breathe free” – if only she knew what crushing irony that phrase would resonate with now!

The choir’s emergence from a desolate, sparsely populated valley into an insistent march was unexpected but seamless. The strings returned with wispy, flitting harmonics in contrast to the increasing lushness of the voices. A hypnotic, enveloping ambience wafted behind an expressive soprano’s elegantly plaintive solo. Swells contrasted with sober lulls as the choir and instruments made their way into in the unexpectedly surreal and disjointed conclusion, bits and pieces of the baroque mingled within strangely circling violins behind the calm solidity of the voices.

Shaw has graciously made the entire score available for anyone who wants to sing or play it: hit her dropbox for the parts.

The next free concert at St. Paul’s Chapel is March 12 at 8 PM with the Trinity Youth Chorus and Trinity Baroque Orchestra performing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. This is not one of New York’s larger churches, so early arrival would be a good idea.

Sit & Die at Otto’s on March 2

Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co. aren’t just the Spinal Tap of pre-rockabilly Americana. They saved this blog’s publicity stunt.

They probably would have volunteered for the job if they hadn’t already been chosen for it…as a plan B.

Whether you get the trio’s innumerable inside jokes – many of them references to impossibly obscure artists or cultural memes from the 1950s and before – they’re as deadpan hilarious as they were when this blog reviewed their show at Otto’s back in September of 2011. That’s where they’ll be this March 2 at 8 PM.

Sit & Die’s shtick goes way deeper than cornpone humor. Much of what they do is a parody of artists who indulged in it, both lyrically and musically. And they’re as much of a Fringe Festival theatre act as they are a band. They wear matching vintage outfits complete with bowties that would make Dr. David Martin proud. Frontman/lead guitarist Michael McMahon (brother of the brilliant Amy Rigby) will typically launch into a joke, bat the dialogue to guitarist Mike or bassist Garth, and as the night goes on and everybody gets more liquored up there they’ll start to go off script. If they’re doing multiple sets, the last one is the one to catch.

Considering how long they’ve been together – this blog’s owner first saw them at Union Pool around the turn of the century, when they were a shockingly serious, straight-ahead oldtime C&W act – they’re tight as a drum (which they don’t have). Like a lot of acts from the cd-and-myspace era, their studio work isn’t well represented on the web, but as you would expect from such an amusing crew, there’s a ton of stuff up at youtube, including their mid-teens ep At the Brooklyn Beefsteak.

This one opens with Song of the Beefsteak, a vaguely Italian ditty whose main joke is the backing vocals – no spoilers. The musical joke in Say Mister Is That Your Cow, a western swing tune, is a pedal steel (again, no spoilers). The innuendos are a little more obvious and less outright cruel in Bop-A-Betty. The last track is Eat Drink & Be Merry My Friend, where McMahon shows off his flashy 1954-style fretwork.

And their Reverbnation page has Dig That Cazy Monkey, which is sort of a Bill Haley spoof but also an anti-imperialist broadside.

Over the years, New York Music Daily has crossed paths with Sit & Die – as their fans call them – many other times, under many different circumstances. Most importantly, there was that 2011 Otto’s show which enabled this blog to maintain a streak of writing up 23 concerts in 23 days, which ended nine days later with a new record of 32 consecutive days of concert coverage.

There was another very welcome Sit & Die show at Otto’s a couple of years later during a particularly lean period, where the band basically brought dinner. Tthey’ve been known to hand out bags of salty snacks along with period-perfect 1950s style stage props and unusual dollar-store finds.

Slow, Slinky Psychedelic Cumbia Grooves From Locobeach in Queens

By ten in the evening, the back room at the Brooklyn bar had filled up with undulating bodies. The swaying groove from the drums and the sinister, spare reverb guitar mingled with the torrential textures, and swoosh and warp and wah-wah from the two little keyboards that Locobeach bandleader Josh Camp bent over patiently, like an alchemist trying to find a sonic secret that had disappeared in Peru around 1983.

Silhouetted in red neon, twisting little knobs to get the optimum psychedelic glimmer or wash, he played as if he had a whole pipe organ at his disposal instead of maybe a couple dozen notes on the mini-synths with the maze of pedals and effects underneath. Meanwhile, everybody kept dancing.

Slowly and suspensefully, the group behind him worked their way up into the familiar minor-key broken chord, and the song that everybody had come out for: Sonico Amazonico, the national anthem of cumbia. As usual, the band took their time with it, mutating from that basic bassline to more enigmatically floating textures that Camp took deeper and deeper into dub territory.

This could have been a Locobeach show in 2017, or for that matter a moment from either of the two years of their semi-regular monthly residency. This blog was in the house for a half dozen of them: after a few years, memories start to blend into each other. One of the group’s more experimental moments was a Monday night in November of 2018 when one or more members were AWOL. One of the guys who pulled a pickup band together asked out loud what they ought to call themselves. “Loco Bitch?”‘

The good news that is that they survived the lockdown and have a gig at 9ish on Feb 24 at at Bar Freda in Ridgewood; cover is $10. They released their more psychedelic and dubwise debut album in 2019, which has some straight-up oldschool disco as well as the kind of cinematic groove-scapes that guitarist José Luis Pardo plays in his other band Los Crema Paraiso.

Locobeach’s latest single is Isabella, a brisk, bouncy tune where singer Cheo Pardo relates a tongue-in-cheek post-gig encounter with a girl who is, um, not what she seems. Camp’s horror-movie intro basically gives it away, but it’s still a good story.

Roots Reggae Original Mykal Rose Brings Oldschool Jamaican Flavor to a Swanky SoHo Joint

Back in the late 90s, there was a popular series of roots reggae concert albums recorded at Maritime Hall in San Francisco. Many of them were quite good. The Congos, Lee “Scratch” Perry and one of the post-Marley incarnations of the Wailers all made live albums there. That’s one reason why, in mid-August, 2001, a future daily New York music blog proprietor showed up at the club box office at the stroke of 8 PM, hoping to see a show by former Black Uhuru frontman Mykal Rose.

The other reason is that by the turn of the century, there weren’t many of the original stars left from the golden age of reggae in the 70s.

Now, if you’ve gone to a few reggae shows, you know how late everything runs. The box office wasn’t open: big surprise. Maybe the show was sold out. Looking to kill time, future music blog owner went up the hill toward the highway, found a taco stand that served liquor and had a whiskey. Maybe not the optimal choice after being up since seven in the morning, but it was a way to kill time.

An hour later, the box office was open, and the show wasn’t sold out. Great! There was an Irish pub a few blocks away to hang out at before the show started, presumably at ten.

Returning to the venue, it was obvious that this was going to be a late one. Tired after a couple of drinks, future blog owner found a place on the floor to sit, back to the wall. A rasta made his way through the crowd, selling joints and bags of weed. He eventually reached future blog owner. “Twenty-seven bucks for a ticket, I’m broke,” he laughed. Then leaned back against the wall, and passed out.

He woke with a start about an hour later to find that the Itals, who had an excellent organist that night, were already onstage. The archival notes about this concert don’t mention anything else about their set: for a better idea of what they might have sounded like, consult this piece from six years later. After they’d left the stage, future blog owner went back to his original spot and passed out again.

Mykal Rose turned out to be a wakeup call worth waiting for when he went on sometime after midnight. His backing band, with keyboards, two guitarists and rhythm section, was solid and steady as they ran through many of Black Uhuru’s biggest hits. They opened with a punchy version of Short Temper, then later did the wistful expatriate anthem Gone a New York. Rose was in high spirits, sang strongly and exhorted everyone within earshot to legalize the herb, through an extended, fervent version of Sinsemlla and a more compact take of Reggae in Session.

Nine years later, this blog’s proprietor took the opportunity to see Rose play again, this time at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn – and did not fall asleep either before or during the show. You can read about it here: Rose’s voice was a little more weathered, and his more 21st century-oriented dancehall stuff wasn’t as powerful as those Black Uhuru classics from the 80s, but it was still a good show. If you want to see how much Rose has left in the tank, he’s playing SOB’s on Feb 22 for $30. Showtime is supposedly at 8 PM: considering the current state of live performance in New York, he’s much more likely to hit the stage earlier than he did that night in San Francisco. Be aware that standing room at SOB’s is tight: forget about sleeping on the floor.

Ubiquitously Entertaining New York Americana Tunesmith Returns to an Old Haunt in SoHo

It was sometime after midnight in the wee hours of January 8, 2003 at the C-Note, and the East Village club was packed. Earlier in the night, the crowd had been treated to one of the best Americana triplebills of the year. Erica Smith channeled her inner road warrior and shook off the laryngitis which had threatened to derail her solo set, a lustrous and nuanced mix of Appalachian folk tunes and a reinvented sea chantey. She closed with her best song of the night, the soaring retro 60s soul ballad Love You All the Way.

Kings County Queens followed with a similarly luminous, low-key hour onstage, but their performance had a seething undercurrent that peaked quietly when bandleaders Chris Bowers and Daria Klotz joined voices with a simmering calm throughout the vengeful anthem How Do You Sleep. Headliners American Ambulance broke in a new rhythm section with a set of acerbically political, twangy highway rock and roaring, Stonesy songs. They dedicated their lone cover, a snidely countrified version of the Clash’s Death or Glory, to the club’s talent buyer: he’d recently reemerged after going off on a bender when Joe Strummer died.

Among the crowd at the bar after the show were a future daily New York music blog proprietor and a pretty blonde from the neighborhood. They’d been circling each other for a few weeks, and had fallen into what could charitably be called a cycle of missed signals, or, less charitably, a comedy of errors fueled by massive amounts of intoxicants. In 2003, the New York music scene was quite the party, at least if you were young and had money, or knew someone who was part of it.

The man behind the bar that night was Jack Grace, and the top guy in the city’s thriving and volatile Americana scene had brought his acoustic guitar with him. In between pouring drinks, he serenaded the customers with his big baritone voice and a long succession of Neil Young songs. Entranced, the blonde turned to the future blog owner and told him to keep his voice down. Grace ran interference: “Who are you, the human volume control?”

Two decades later, Grace is still going strong and is no less of a wiseass. In those days, not only did he have the voice, and the often ridiculously funny songs, but he was also fast becoming a hell of a lead guitarist. He’s an even better one now – and he’s playing Feb 22 at around midnight at a familiar haunt, the Ear Inn, which has been around a couple of centuries longer than he has.

It’s been awhile since this blog was in the house at one of his shows. But looking back on his heyday in this city, Grace fine-tuned his signature mix of surreal outlaw country, brooding Tom Waits-influenced narratives and increasingly frequent detours into high-energy Tex-Mex sounds through a lot of hard work. He was as likely to play an off-night just to keep his band in shape, or work up new tunes or jokes for the stage show, as he was to take the odd bartender shift for some extra cash.

On Thanksgiving Eve, 2002, the future blog owner and the blonde went up to Rodeo Bar to watch Grace work organist Nate Smith into the mix, with Dan Hovey joining the band on lapsteel and lead guitar. On what was the coldest night of that winter so far, the band segued from Grace’s vaudevillian, Waits-ish Lonesome Entertainer into a full-length, pseudo-countrified cover of the BeeGees Staying Alive. Later in the set, they moved from South Dakota, an oddly prophetic Black Hills shout-out, into Whole Lotta Love and then a haphazard final verse of his stoner country hit Worm Farm.

Then a month and a day later, the two returned for another Grace gig at the Rodeo. By now, Smith had figured out how to fuse his soul organ into the material, more Amy Schneider than Brent Mydland. This time the place was packed, the two had to wait until the second set before they could find seats at the bar, and the band were a lot tighter. The highlight of the night was I’m Not Here, one of Grace’s best songs of the era, a cynically dissociative rugged individualist’s lament

The party continued after the show many blocks further south at the Magician on the Lower East Side. This time, it was the future blog owner’s turn to take a stab at running interference with a degree of diplomacy. To what extent that succeeded we’ll never know. Sometimes things are best left in a haze of smoky memories.

Fun With New Pieces From the New York Composers Circle

Anyone who thinks contemporary classical music is stuffy wasn’t at the National Opera Center last night for a slate of new compositions from the far-reaching New York Composers Circle. The program was diverse, and picturesque, and sometimes ridiculously funny. Yet there were sublime moments as well.

Pianist Markus Kaitila opened the evening with David Picton‘s Sonata, which in the beginning threatened to be merely a doctrinaire, abruptly shifting twelve-tone piece punctuated by lots of space – or vice versa. But then, Kaitila hit a memorably icy, glacially paced interlude which grew to an unexpectedly fanged, marching attack and back, an ascending series of quasi-tritones and then an artful approximation of major-on-minor phantasmagoria. Precisely articulated, increasingly menacing cascades followed until Kaitila brought the next-to-last movement full circle with a careful, weighty composure. The final one could have been a total reprise of the first until a series of emphatic, surrealistically leapfrogging figures. It was as deep as it was devious.

Kevin McCarter‘s Responding Variations turned out to be a conversational duo played by Artie Dibble on viola and Lillian Copeland on oboe. It was a fun, puckish piece, sometimes following a baroque-inflected tangent, otherwise a sequence of brief, wry exchanges, pensively airy passages or jaunty harmonies.

Up next was Debra Kaye‘s Submarine Dreams, performed by Mary Barto on bass flute and Troy Rinker, Jr. on bass. Kaye had been unable to find any extant duo piece for these two instruments, so this may have been a world premiere on more than one level. The two followed a swaying 4/4, then diverging as Rinker put down his bow for a minute and beat out a rhythm on the bass body. A subtle interweave followed with more goofy percussion and then an allusively Indian, misterioso flute theme over low-key bass pedalpoint.

Pianist Nataliya Medvedovskaya debuted her lively, idiomatic Ragtime suite, “The most American composition I’ve ever written,” she grinned. The opening movement was a tongue-in-cheek, cartoonish take on a familiar genre; the second was closer to the fondness of a Scott Joplin piece like Solace. The third was more exuberant and Gershwinesque.

Katie Thomas played Ukrainian composer Olga Victorova’s Fung Hoan, the Magical Birds – based on an ancient Chinese mating myth – solo on violin. Although there were vivid, leaping motives and evocative, sometimes acidically expressive evocations of birdsong, there was no distinctive Asian quality. The drama of the courtship grew more optimistic as boy bird (or maybe not boy bird) grew more confident and drew bird #2 into the dance.

Tamara Cashour‘s original intention with her Two Short Pieces was to combine the highest and lowest orchestral instruments. Ultimately, she opted for solo works instead. Barto trilled her way through the first one on piccolo. Harry Searing followed, steady, thoughtful and serious on contrabassoon for the second: to the composer’s credit, she managed to avert the trap where a device like a fanfare or a jovial stroll can get unintentionally droll if you take it far enough down the scale.

Pianist Anthony de Mare seized the moment to max out the laughs, playing and narrating Timothy L. Miller‘s Two Settings of Ogden Nash Poems, the first a vaudevillian satire of early 20th century bankster excess. The night’s lone trio piece was David Mecionis‘ Trio in Two Parts with an Interval Between, for oboe, viola and bassoon. Just where that interval was located was beside the point. The partita may have been written as a commentary on the past thirty-five months of hell in New York, as Mecionis alluded to the audience. Dibble wandered pensively while Copeland and Searing harmonized, sometimes with subtle dopplers. The three diverged, reconvened with a persistent unease, paused and then resumed, tentative accents amid a general melancholy with the oboe gradually moving to the forefront. Searing’s solemn resonance amid shivers from the viola gave way to a disquieted, triangulated stroll; the three musicians ended it on a decidedly unresolved note.

Thomas and Kaitila closed out the concert with another piece by a Ukrainian composer, Andrey Bandura’s Spring Sonata. This particular spring was a plaintive one, the piano eventually rising to a steady, glistening series of brooklike phrases as Thomas sailed warily overhead. Kaitila worked his way upward toward an ice storm and then down to a gritty crescendo, Thomas holding the center resolutely. As the work went on through a couple of seemingly rather cynical, dancing themes, it brought to mind Bartok’s more acerbic Mikrokosmos miniatures. It’s definitely music for our time: maybe not Springtime for Zelensky, but it’s hard to imagine much optimism coming out of that part the world these days.

The New York Composers Circle have been staging performances of new works by their many members just about monthly. Their next one, featuring several electroacoustic works, is on March 27 at 7 PM at the National Opera Center at 330 7th Ave, just south of 29th St.