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Tag: folk music

Haunting Klezmer Sounds and Protest Songs Outdoors in Park Slope This Week

One of the most powerful protest songs that’s been resurrected in recent years is Mir Veln Zey Iberlebn (We Will Outlive Them).

This old Jewish melody, reinvented by Brooklyn klezmer band Tsibele, is as indomitable an anthem as any freedom fighter could want. In this seven-minute live clip, the group lead a singalong in the deliciously Middle Eastern-flavored freygische mode. Midway through, they provide the grim backstory.

When the Nazis marched into Lublin, Poland in 1941 and rounded up the Jews there, they were as sadistic as usual. Driving the population out into the fields, they commanded the captives to dance. The response was this song. As we all know, those Jews did not outlive their tormentors, but they raised the bar for defiance in the face of evil about as high as it can go.

As sadistic as the lockdowner regime has been, there’s special resonance in that song for us. Inevitability theories of history are full of holes, there’s no doubt that if the world is going to survive, we will outlive them. You can buy an embroidered patch for your coat which says exactly that, in Yiddish and English, from the band.

Half of the group – violinist Zoe Aqua and accordionist Ira Temple – are teaming up for an outdoor show with trumpeter Dan Blacksberg on July 29 at 4:30 PM at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, 58 7th Ave at Lincoln Pl in Park Slope. It’s about equidistant from the Grand Army Plaza and 7th Ave. B/Q stations.

Starting in the mid-teens, Tsibele became a fixture across several scenes here, and made some waves with their album It’s Dark Outside – Indroysn iz Finster, streaming at Bandcamp. Bassist Zoë Guigueno, flutist Eléonore Weill and trumpeter Eva Boodman focus intensely on Aqua’s dark arrangements of some well-known, politically resonant old songs.

Aqua’s slashing, low-register lines pierce the brooding ambience underneath in the first tune, Dem Nayntn Yanuar/Ninth of January, a dirge commemorating the 1905 massacre of freedom fighters in St. Petersburg, The band maintain a somber atmosphere in the blue-collar lament Di Svet Shop, based on a poem by Morris Rosenfeld.

They pick up the pace with a dead-serious take of Nifty’s Eigene, violin and trumpet taking turns with the original lead written by legendary klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein. The album’s big, ominously atmospheric epic is a murder ballad, Tsvelef A Zeyger/Twelve O’clock, with a looming trumpet solo at the center.

Likewise, Boodman’s moody, soulful lines intertwine with the trills of the flute in the slow, darkly methodical Rosemont Terkisher. They close the record with the lilting, wistful title track, a love song.

Fun fact: tsibele is Yiddish for “onion.” Lots of layers to peel back here.

A Welcome, Outdoor Return Gig by a Familiar, Edgy New York Klezmer Powerhouse

Isle of Klezbos and Metropolitan Klezmer are the Parliament/Funkadelic of erudite Jewish party music. No, they don’t play funk – although they’re very danceable. And Isle of Klezbos are back in action, with a gig this July 22 at noon at St. Marks Park at Second Ave. and 10th St.

If not funkiness, what do the two klezmer bands have in common with P-Funk? Like George Clinton’s crew, they’re basically the same band. It didn’t start out that way. Clinton’s genius was in double-dipping a record label (albeit for double the studio work, so it was actually a fairer deal all around). Isle of Klezbos began as the all-female offshoot of the well-loved, theatrical, latin-tinged Metropolitan Klezmer, bolstered by a couple of ringers. They eventually became so popular and so good that at one point it looked like they’d eclipsed the original project. Then the Klezbos (would it be ridiculous to use Klezbo in the singular?) took a backseat to Met Klez again. Either way, both bands can absolutely sizzle onstage, and they were playing lots of outdoor shows years before the lockdown

Over the past decade or close to it, Met Klez earned plenty of coverage here, The last time anyone from this blog was in the house at one of their gigs, it was for a careening and tantalizingly abbreviated late-night set at Drom in January of 2020. Isle of Klezbos are also hardly strangers to the front page here. Their Live in Brooklyn album got the thumbs up in 2014, as did a subsequent Bryant Park gig. The show a little later that year at their frequent summertime haunt, the community garden on 12th Street in the East Village, was even more fun.

That one involved beer. Their gig in the garden the following year, over the Labor Day Weekend, did not, but it was just as entertaining, maybe because moving toward the front of the space to watch the band instead of hanging in back with the brew crew meant trading up to a more sophisticated kind of entertainment.

Was this the year the PA blew out and the band had to play all-acoustic? See a band enough times and everything starts to conflate unless you write it all down…or make a field recording.

Some highlights that still resonate after all these years: sax player Deborah Kreisberg’s plaintive solo during one of her originals, a quasi-cumbia; an epic take of drummer and bandleader Eve Sicular’s towering triptych, East Hapsburg Waltz; and accordionist Shoko Nagai’s quiet, moody rivers of minor chords. Trumpeter Pam Fleming led the group through an undulating reggae tune (she used to play with Burning Spear) and later, if memory serves right, her chromatically edgy, Middle Eastern-flavored Revery in Hijaz. Other players have filtered in and out of the band before and since: it will be fun to see who’s been engaged for the Second Avenue park show.

Aviva Chernick Mashes Up Haunting Old Ladino Songs With Americana

Aviva Chernick has an expressive, honeyed voice and leads an eclectic, sometimes psychedelically tinged band who reinvent old songs from across the Sephardic diaspora. Her album La Sirena, which also contains several of Chernick’s originals, is streaming at Bandcamp. If you think old Jewish songs and American country music have nothing in common, you haven’t heard this strangely beguiling record.

It begins with A Ti Espanya, a fond, gentle waltz.  Chernick sings Min Hametzar in Ladino and English, a brooding, metrically tricky psychedelic folk tune with Joel Schwartz’s moody washes of steel guitar over Justin Gray and Derek Gray’s rock rhythm section: “They call to you from an aeroplane,” is the refrain.

With Schwartz’s bluegrass-tinged leads Kol Dodi is the strangest old brooding medieval nigun you’ll ever hear, Likewise, the album’s title track, a muted bolero, has a simmering roadhouse blues undercurrent. And Arvoles Yorvan could be Dolly Parton…in Ladino, with National steel guitar and dobro swooping in the background.

The sad waltz Este Montanya de Enfrente has a delicate web of acoustic and Portuguese guitars. Notwithstanding her big crescendo on that one, Chernick’s alternately misty and acerbic delivery on a muted take of the traditional Adon Olam could be the album’s high point: the melody makes a good Balkan-tinged bounce. Chernick closes the record with the a-cappella miniature Rikondus de Mi Nona. The album also includes a couple of blithe tunes by Bosnian singer Flory Jagoda.

Feral, Catchy Guantanamo Party Music Captured For the First Time on Album

Imagine a world with no screens. Where after work, instead of obsessively spending an hour or two on Instagram, you went home and picked up an instrument. And when your neighbors across the way heard the song, instead of filming thirty seconds of it and posting it on Instagram, they joined you and started dancing. And then somebody brought a bottle of rum, and then even in the 110-degree, global warming-era heat, there was a party.

That’s what the new triple album Changüí: The Sound of Guantanamo – streaming at Bandcamp – sounds like, in Cuban Spanish. It’s a party in a box: three and a half hours of wild, rustic, funny, deviously innuendo-laced, historically rich music, played mostly by a bunch of jangly local acoustic pickup bands who have never been recorded before. Which is no surprise, considering that much of their part of the island didn’t have electric power before the 1990s – and explains why this material sounds as feral as it does.

Changui music has been appropriated by salsa bands for decades. In the wild, it sounds like son montuno with a more straightforwardly shuffling beat, although that rhythm is stretched to all kinds of new places here. Tres players show off their fretboard skills in long, careening, spiky solos. Singers trade battle rhymes, or endless rounds of call-and-response over an undulating groove from a simple marímbula rhythm box and bongo beats with a contrasting, labyrinthine, shamanic complexity.

Like salsa and blues, the repertoire is self-referential and self-reverential. Innumerable stars from local scenes are remembered in these songs, along with their descendants, who play their songs now and big-up themselves. One of the most compelling bands on this album is an all-female crew haphazardly assembled when the bandleader’s regular lineup was unavailable – and her subs turned out to be incredibly amped for the performances.

It’s normal to be suspicious of westerners who go into formerly colonized parts of the world and emerge with what they claim is new evidence of a previously undiscovered tradition. What is not in doubt is that Italian musicologist Gianluca Tramontana went into Cuba in 2017, hoping to score enough found sounds for a NPR piece. Two years later, he came back to the US with hours and hours of field recordings, distilled into this box set with a 124-page booklet including Spanish lyrics, plus some pretty good English translations. For non-native Spanish speakers, the vocals are much easier to understand than you might assume: the cheat sheet is a welcome bonus.

It would take another 124-page book to chronicle all the sounds on the record. Typically, the tres clangs and pings, shedding overtones almost like a twelve-string or Portuguese guitar. The spirits are invoked, bandleaders assert themselves as kings of the mic and the party, as the groove pulses from stark to frenetic and back. The lyrics can be suggestive, or snide – one of the funniest songs here is a dis aimed at a real princess of a girl – and also political. Several numbers reference the freedom fighters battling Spanish conquistadors in the 1890s.

There’s a haunting, delicately slashing minor-key number accusing vintage salsa bandleader Juan Formell of stealing the Guantanamo sound: after all these years, the sting still seems fresh. Singer Francisco “Mikikí” Hernández Valiente distinguishes himself with his gritty, impassioned style. Tres player Yoemnis “Sensei” Tabernas lives up to his nickname, and then some. Likewise, fast-fingered Pedro Vera, leader of Grupo Familia Vera, validates his claim as “El rey del diapasón.”

Grupo Changüí de Guantánamo are the band best known outside of Cuba here: they’ve toured the US and played New Orleans Jazzfest. The all-female Las Flores del Changüí are represented mostly by ringers who are very good.

Grupo Estrellas Campesinas and their tragically, recently deceased founder Armando “Yu” Rey Leliebre contribute strongly here, along with Grupo El Guajiro Y Su Changüí, Mikikí y su Changüí, Mikiki’s brother Melquiades y su Changüí plus a multi-brother extravaganza and the unrelated Popó y su Changüí.

There are also a couple of playful lyrical battles between Celso Fernández Rojas a.k.a. El Guajiro and José Andrés Rodríguez Ramírez, better known as “El Sinsonte,” backed by Grupo Changüí de Guantánamo. One can only imagine how much more material there might be in Tramontana’s archive that didn’t make it onto this album.

A Look Back at an Imaginatively Crafted Balkan Folk Album

Balkan singer Eugenia Georgieva’s album Po Drum Mome (A Girl on the Road) – streaming at Spotify – came out in the spring of 2018. It’s an original, captivating, cross-pollinated take on ancient folk tunes from Bulgaria and the Black Sea. The arrangements are elegant, yet not sterile.

Georgieva is the kind of international artist you would have expected to see at Golden Fest. She never made it to New York’s annual Balkan music extravaganza, but if all goes well we will get a Golden Fest 2022.

She sings the first song, Gyul Devoyche (A Girl Like a Rose) very tenderly over a spring-loaded backdrop of bandura, guitar, gadulka fiddle and a lushly flurrying, Egyptian-tinged string section.

The second track, Deno, Sreburno Vreteno (Silver Spindle) is a lilting waltz with dancing, chirping bagpipes over elegant guitar chords and simple bass. The album’s title track is a classic Bulgarian theme with bracing close harmonies, those signature whoops, and tightly clustering strings, bagpipe and bandura.

Then she completely slows things down with the hazily melancholy Podzim Sum, Male, Legnala, which could be a pastoral British rock ballad with Balkan instrumentation: in the song, a dying mother regrets leaving her children behind. Brayne Le Ivane (Hey, Brother Ivan) has a delicate lilt fueled by bagpipes and gadulka, and a rousing chorale at the end. The gist of the song is that a hardworking wife beats a beautiful one. 

Georgieva kicks off Sama Li Si Den Zhunala with imploring melismas over deliciously shivery gadulka, the group building suspense before they leap into this popular, acerbically catchy minor-key linedance tune. Likewise, Zmey Lyubi Moma (Dragon in Love), a beloved staple of the Bulgarian folk repertoire, gets reinvented with lots of spacious, improvisational interludes and suspense along with the expected quavery microtones and tricky rhythms.

Buenek (translated on the album as Lazar at the Gates) has a bouncy Greek feel. Georgieva returns to the Bulgarian canon for the thorny rhythms and minor keys of Ivan Bulya Si Dumashe.

She delivers Trugnala Rada (Rada and the Night) –  a tale of resistance against the tyranny of the Ottoman empire – mostly a-cappella with a wary, melismatic intensity, exchanging occasional riffs with the chirps of the kaval flute. She closes the record with the rather stark, delicately pulsing Oy, Toyne, Toyne, a road song. On one hand, this album doesn’t have the unhinged wildness of a lot of music from this part of the world; on the other, the arrangements are fresh and as unpredictable as the music itself even if they are somewhat more polished.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for July and August 2021

Sure feels good to get this calendar back to a monthly schedule again! Who knew we’d ever be able to, without going to war. This is a work in progress, and errs on the side of freedom, as far as restrictions are concerned.

Every venue listed here has been vetted to the best of this blog’s ability, but this is a weird time. All of these shows appear to be unrestricted, but if in doubt, trust your intuition. Clubs that were laid-back and friendly in March of 2020 are still probably laid-back, and friendly, and life is probably back to normal there. If a venue was problematic before the lockdown, you can bet that if it’s still in business, it’s really problematic now.

If you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly. Rock shows are really lagging behind jazz and classical as far as getting back up and running again. Hopefully that will change. Additional shows will be added through the summer as they’re announced.

If you’re leaving your hood, don’t get stuck waiting for a train that never comes, make sure you check the MTA delays and out-of-service page for service cancellations and malfunctions, considering how unreliable the subway has become.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check with the artist, or check the recently updated list of over 200 New York City music venues at New York Music Daily’s sister blog Lucid Culture.

This is not a list of every show in town – it’s a carefully handpicked selection. If this calendar seems short on praise for bands and artists, it’s because every act here is recommended if you like their particular kind of music.

Showtimes listed here are set times, not the time doors open – if a listing says something like “9ish,” that means it’ll probably start later than advertised.

If you see a typo or an extra comma or something like that, remember that while you were out seeing that great free concert that you discovered here, somebody was up late after a long day of work editing and adding listings to this calendar ;)

Mondays starting at 9 PM sharp, Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play two sets at Union Pool. The Rev. is one of the great keyboardists around, equally thrilling on organ or electric piano, an expert at Billy Preston style funk, honkytonk, gospel and blues. He writes very funny, very politically award, sexy original songs and is one of the most charismatic, intense live performers of our time. It’s a crazy dance party. Paula Henderson from Burnt Sugar is the usual lead soloist on baritone sax, with frequent special guests. Sizzling guitarist Binky Griptite – Sharon Jones’ lead player – is also often there.

Fridays in July, 8ish torchy cumbia/swing singer and accordionist Erica Mancini at Sunny’s

7/1, 7:30 PM intense, rapturous Balkan/Middle Eastern ensemble the Secret Trio –Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanovski & Ara Dinkjian – at Drom, $20. They’re back on 7/27 at 9:30.. After this show, at 9 moody, tuneful string-driven Americana and chamber pop with DM & the Expats play ($15 separate adm)

7/2, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/9

7 /3, 7:30/9:30 PM cleverly lyrical, darkly klezmer-tinged pianist Uri Caine with Mark Helias on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums at Mezzrow, $25

7/5, 7 PM wryly retro, period-perfect classic 60s style female-fronted honkytonk band the Bourbon Express at Cowgirl Seahorse.. 7/10, 8 PM ish they’re at Schnitzel House, 7319 5th Ave in Bay Ridge, R to 77th St.

7/5, 9 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Bar Lunatico

7/6, 7/8:30 PM postbop trumpeter Josh Evans leads a quintet at Smalls, $25

7/6, 7:30 PM chamber orchestra A Far Cry play works by Grieg, Part, Jessie Montgomery and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/6, 8ish harmony-driven all-female Americana band the Maybelles at Sunny’s

7/6, 8 PM legendary, risque, politically spot-on calypso icon the Mighty Sparrow at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/6, 8:30 PM tuneful original delta blues and acoustic Americana from guitarist Jon LaDeau at Pete’s

7/6, 9 PM badass honkytonk/Americana songwriter Olivia Ellen Lloyd and band at Skinny Dennis

7/6, 9 PM Trio Catarina with hotshot Brazilian accordionist Felipe Hostins at Bar Lunatico

7/7, 6 PM new string quartet the Overlook with guest Tanya Birl-Torres play music by black composers: Leila Adu, Shelley Washington and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor at the Hispanic Society of America, 613 W 155th St. west of Broadway, 1 train to 157th St., free

7/7, 9 PM dark blues/folk noir/oldschool soul songwriter Kelley Swindall at Skinny Dennis

7/7, 6 PM horn player Cort Roberts leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. He’s back on 8/11

7/7, 8 PM ish edgy alto sax player Kate Mohanty plays her bday show followed by uneasy female-fronted psychedelic abstract rock band Gold Dime at Our Wicked Lady, $12

7/7, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center with Shai Wosner, piano; Chad Hoopes, violin; Kristin Lee, violin; Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu, viola; David Requiro, cello; Xavier Foley, bass play works by Beethoven and Dvořák at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/8, 6 PM soaringly explosive jazz composer/torch singer Nicole Zuraitis at 55 Bar

7/8, 8 PM painter Jim Watt completes his “1000 Watts” series of 1000 ink washes in the monochromatic Japanese Sumi style while an allstar jazz trio – trumpeter Antoine Drye, guitar icon Bill Frisell & drummer Kyle Benford – improvise behind him at Collab, 309 Starr St, Bushwick (St. Nicholas/Cypress Ave), L to Jefferson St, $20 sug don. Watt will donate $100,000 (a hundred grand, you read that right) to benefit jazz musicians imperiled by the lockdown through sales at his dealer Jim Kempner Fine Art.

7/8, 8 PM the NY Philharmonic play Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers; Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite; Mozart: Symphony No. 40 at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/9, 7 PM perennially popular original feminist folksinger Toshi Reagon & Big Lovely at Bryant Park

7/9, 7/9:30 PM cutting-edge B3 organ grooves with the Jared Gold trio at Smallls, ,$25

7/9, 7:30 PM iconic Afro-Cuban percussionist/bandleader Pedrito Martinez at Drom, $15

7/9, 9 PM  fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Skinny Demis. . He’s back here on 7/31 at 4.

7/10, 2 PM afternoon improvisations: guitarist  Aron Namenwirth with Daniel Carter, Claire de Brunner, Tamio Shirashi plus poet No Land at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

710, 4 PM Sarah Durning & the Fun Sisters play twangy oldschool-style original honkytonk at Skinny Dennis

7/10, 5 PM  lustrous singer and badass cello-rock bandleader Serena Jost in a rare solo show  at Five Myles, 558 St. Johns Place (Classon/Franklin), Crown Heights, 2/3 to Eastern Pkwy/Brooklyn Museum

7/10, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re back here on 7/24

7/10, 7:30 PM the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center play works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at Damrosch Park. Maybe listen from across the street because there may be restrictions.

7/11, 3 PM dynamic front-porch Americana/blues songwriter Mary-Elaine Jenkins at Pete’s

7/11, 3:30 PM the Noga Band featuring amazing Middle Eastern oudist Avram Pengas at Wagner Park north and west of the Battery

7/11, 4 PM oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Skinny Dennis

7/12-16, half past noon sly, cinematic, tuneful Microscopic Septet pianist Joel Forrester at Bryant Park

7/12, 9 PM the perennially popular Western Caravan play western swing at Skinnny Dennis

7/13, 7 PM pensive, eclectic, tuneful jazz/art-rock songwriter Becca Stevens at the big room at the Rockwood, $15

7/15, 9:30 PM  ferociously dynamic, tuneful,female-fronted power trio Castle Black at Bar Freda, 801 Seneca Ave (Cornelia St/Putnam Ave) in Ridgewood, M to Seneca Ave

7/16, 7 PM  sizzling salsa dura band the Spanish Harlem Orchestra at Bryant Park

7/16, 7/8:30 PM drummer Sylvia Cuenca leads a quintet with Dave Kikoski on piano and Craig Handy on tenor sax at Smalls, $25

7/16, 8 PM  psychedelic supergroup the Elgin Marbles feat. members of Love Camp 7, Dervisi and Peter Stampfel’s jug band at the Parkside,$10

7/16, 9 PM the raucously oldtimey Buck and a Quarter Quartet at Pete’s

7/17, 5ish “a wonderful bunch” of sax players: Peter Apfelbaum, Claire Daly, Jonathan Haffner, Jeff Lederer, Jessica Lurie, Sam Newsome, Jay Rodriguez, and Stefan Zeniuk play a site-specific, echo-centric improvisation outdoors from the rooftops around 55 Waterbury St. in Bushwick

7/17, 9 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

7/18, 5 PM the all-femalle Lotus Chamber Music Ensemble play a program TBA at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar

7/18, 6 PM orchestrally epic alto valve trombonist Scott Reeves plays the album release show for his new lie one at 55 Bar

7/18, 7 PM brooding, intense lo-fi gutter blues songwriter/guitarist Breanna Barbara at Our Wicked Lady, free

7/18, 7:30/9 PM Falkner Evans solo on piano – sometimes inscrutable, sometimes darkly rapturous – at Mezzrow, $25

7/19, 7 PM the Orchestra of St. Luke‘s music for winds and brass by Ibert, Valerie Coleman, Stravinsky, Dukas, Scott Joplin, Leonard Bernstein and Matthew Arnold on the steps of the Brooklyn Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. 7/21, 3 PM they’re at the back of the northwest corner of the plaza at Lincoln Center and 7/22 at 7:30 PM they’re outdoors at the Queens Theatre in the Park in Corona

7/19, 9 PM darkly brilliant, psychedelic Klezmatics multi-reedman Matt Darriau‘s group plays a Yusef Lateef tribute at Bar Lunatico

7/20, noon classical ensemble the Sterling Strings play their hilarious string quartet versions of rap and pop hits at Metrotech Park in downtown Brooklyn

7/20, 7 PM vibraphonist Felipe Fournier‘s wild Tito Puente and Dave Brubeck cover band, Supermambo at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/20, 7:30 PM the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra play works by Purcell, John Blow and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

7/20, 7:30/9:30 PM  rapturously eclectic jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her trio at Mezzrow, $25

7/21, 6 PM noir-inspired honkytonk crooner Sean Kershaw at John Brown BBQ, 27-20 40th Avenue at 28th St., LIC/Astoria, any train to Queensboro Plaza

7/21, 7 PM adventurous indie classical ensemble Contemporaneous play edgy, often poignant new works by Alex Weiser, Zachary James Ritter, Yasmin Williams, toy pianist Lucy Yao and a world premiere by Yaz Lancaster at Pier 64, 24th St. and the Hudson, free, rsvp req  

7/21, 8 PM bhangra-klezmer mashups with Sharabi feat. trumpeter Frank London & Deep Singh with singer Sarah Gordon plus the psychedelic, Afrobeat and klezmer-influenced Zion 80 at Drom, $20

7/21, 9 PM deviously entertaining hot 20s swing chanteuse Sweet Megg Farrell and band at Skinny Dennis

7/22, half past noon mostly-female, kinetic klezmer/cumbia/cinematic jamband Isle of Klezbos at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St.

7/22, 4:30 PM jazz singer Tahira Clayton’s Jazz Trio outdoors at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

7/22, 7/8:30 PM colorful,  eclectic, paradigm-shifting B3 jazz organist Brian Charette  leads his organ trio at Smalls, $25

7/22, 8 PM original blue-eyed soul chanteuse Miss Tess in a rare duo show at Sunny’s. 7/23 she’s under the Dumbo Archway at 5.

7/22, 9 PM smart, purposeful Americana guitarslingers Jason Loughlin and band at Skinny Dennis

7/23, 7:30/9:30 PM tenor saxophonist Tivon Pennicott with Louis Cato on bass and Joe Saylor on drums at the Jazz Gallery, $20

7/23, 8 PM poignantly lyrical, eclectic pianist Marta Sanchez leads her trio with a killer rhythm section of Michael Formanek and Gerald Cleaver at Bar Bayeux

7/24, 2 PM improvisational keyboardist Matt Mottel plays his bday show at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

7/24. 5 PM careening, microtonally-tinged electric blues band Jane Lee Hooker at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar

7/24, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues

7/24, 7/8:30 PM Mike LeDonne takes a relatively rare turn on piano with a trio  at Smalls

7/24, 7:30ish the Sun Ra Arkestra at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/24, 8 PM sprawling large jazz/ambient ensemble/jamband Burnt Sugar at Damrosch Park

7/24, 10 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Skinny Dennis

7/24, 10 PM allstar percussion and sax duo Matthias Kunzli and Peter Apbelfaum’s Soup du Jour at Pete’s

7/26-30 half past noon big band pianist Russ Kasoff solo at Bryant Park

7/26, 7 PM Certain General guitarslinger Phil Gammage plays his dark Americana and blues at Cowgirl Seahorse

7/26, 7 PM newgrass band Damn Tall Buildings at Pier 1 on the upper west

7/27 1 PM not a music event but very important and enlightening: America’s Frontline Doctors livestream their White Coat Summit to stop the ongoing lethal injection campaigns. Hero doctors Simone Gold, Scott Jensen, Lee Merritt, Steve LaTulippe, Mark McDonald and other allstar freedom fighters strategize a way out of the trap that was set for us on March 16, 2020.

7/27, 7 PM the George Gee Big Band play vintage 30s swing at Gantry Plaza State Park

7/27. 8 PM ambitious saxophonist Michael Thoma and his quartet outdoors at Queens Theatre in Corona Park

7/27, 10 PM catchy, uneasily jangly female-fronted psych-pop rockers War Violet at Our Wicked Lady, $12. They’re also at Pete’s on 7/31 at 10 for the tip jar

7/28, 6 PM vibraphonist Sae Hashimoto leads an ensemble playing new classical repertoire tba at Madison Square Park. She’s back on 8/4

7/28, 10 PM guy/girl harmony vocals and a mix of Americana and lyrical Waits-ish songwriting with Loose Change at Pete’s

7/29, half past noon fearlessly relevant, toweringly intense latin jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill leads a smaller band than usual at St. Marks Park, 2nd Ave/10th St

7/29, 4:30 PM original klezmer stylings with violinist Zoe Aqua, trumpeter Dan Blacksberg and accordionist Ira Temple outdoors at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

7/29, 7:30 PM the Mingus Big Band celebrate their new home at Drom, $30

7/29-31, 7/9:30 PM fiery, erudite pianist Orrin Evans leads his quartet featuring powerhouse sax player Immanuel Wilkins at Birdland, $30

7/29, 10ish sly blue-eyed soul pianist/crooner Nat Osborn at the big room at the Rockwood, ,$15

7/30, 8 PM Indian percussionist Ravish Momin’s Sunken Cages + Migiwa “Miggy” Miyajima‘s lavish large jazz ensemble at Damrosch Park, you can watch from across the street because there are draconian restrictions

7/30, 7:30 PM postbop saxophonist Greg Osby and his Quartet and clarinetist Oran Etkin’s Open Arms Project at Drom, $30

7/30, 11:30 PM expansive, expressive jazz pianist Miki Yamanaka leads her trio at Cellar Dog (the old Fat Cat)

7/31, 5:30 PM blazing all-female street band the Brass Queens at 5th Ave and 3rd St. in Park Slope

7/31, 7 PM salsa romantica crooner Tito Nieves at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

7/31, 8 PM Raga Maqam with paradigm-shifting trumpeter/santoorist Amir ElSaffar and members of  Brooklyn Raga Massive mash up hypnotic, often haunting Arabic and Indian sounds at Damrosch Park. Their Lincoln Center show a couple of years ago was off the hook. Hang on the sidewalk across the street because there are restrictions

7/31, 8 PM legendary Brooklyn psychedelic funk band Groove Collective at Drom, $20

7/31, 9 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Skinny Dennis

8/1, 5 PM Los Cumpleanos – with Nestor Gomez – vox/percussion; Lautaro Burgos – drums; Eric Lane – keyboards; Alex Asher – trombone and others playing trippy, dubwise tropical psychedelia at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/1, 7 PM wild, sizzling guitar-and-brass-fueled Ethiopian jazz jamband Anbessa Orchestra at Pier 1 on the Hudson

8/1, 7 PM the Harlem Gospel Travelers and irrepressible 60s-style blue-eyed soul singer Eli “Paperboy” Reed at Our Wicked Lady, $15

8/1, 9 PM singer Richard Julian and pianist John Chin play Mose Allison songs at Bar Lunatico. Perfect pairing: Julian’s wry sense of humor and Chin’s erudite chops.

8/2-6, half past noon lyrical, dynamic original jazz pianist Victor Lin solo at Bryant Park

8/3, 7 PM fiery electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band at Shipyard Park, 13th St and McFeeley Drive in Hoboken,

8/3, 7:30 PM the East Coast Chamber Orchestra play works by Mozart, Golijov and others at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park

8/3, 8/10 PM postbop jazz supergroup the Cookers – Billy Harper, Cecil McBee, George Cables, Eddie Henderson, and Billy Hart – at the Blue Note, $30 bar seats avail

8/4, 6:30, PM guitarist Oren Fader and and pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg reprise their sold-out performance of rare duo works by Vivaldi, Beethoven, Hummel, Moscheles, Weber, Boccherini, Munier, Castelnuovo and Piazzolla at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/4, 7:30/9 PM cult favorite gonzo pianist Dred Scott plays Chick Corea at Mezzrow, $25

8/4, 8ish cinematic noir soul instrumentalists the Ghost Funk Orchestra at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/4, 9 PM the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem with pianist Cesar Orozco at Bar Lunatico

8/5, 7 PM Veronica Davila’s twangy, Bakersfield-flavored hard honkytonk band Low Roller at Mama Tried, 147 27th St, Bay Ridge, R to 25th St

8/5, 7 PM what’s left of the hi-de-ho Cab Calloway Orchestra at Astoria Park, on the water, take the N to Astoria Blvd.

8/6, 7 PM trumpeter Terence Blanchard with the Turtle Island Quartet at Bryant Park

8/6, 10 PM haunting gothic Americana ballads with Flora Midwood at Pete’s. Brilliant storyteller, strong singer and tunesmith.

8/6, 11 PM clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Drom, $20

8/7, 2 PM an amazing improvisational jazz triplebill: baritone sax monster Josh Sinton with Daniel Carter and Sam Newsome, then brilliant, politically fearless visionary/tenor sax improviser Matana Roberts , and also flutist Laura Cocks solo at Oliver Coffee, 5 Oliver St (cor. St. James), Chinatown

8/7, 7 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 7/21

8/7, 8 PM guitarist Nick Demopoulos’ twinkling, psychedelic spacescape project Smomid followed at 9 by enigmatic, cynical, lyrical rock band Golden Alphabet at Pete’s

8/7, 9:30 PM latin soul jams with the Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout at 55 Bar

8/8, 7:30/9 PM  intense pianist Gerald Clayton solo at Mezzrow

8/9-13, half past noon lyrical, shapeshifting Brazilian pianist Luiz Simas solo at Bryant Park

8/10-12 Digable Planets at the Blue Note are sold out

8/10, 9:30 PM lickety-split punkgrass with the Eugene Tyler Band at Pete’s

8/11, 7 PM slinky, hypnotic percussive Moroccan trance band Innov Gnawa on the steps at the Grand Army Plaza branch of the Brooklyn Public Library

8/12-14, 7/9:30 PM the best singing pianist (and the best piano-playing singer) in jazz, the irrepressible Champian Fulton leads her quartet at Birdland, $30

8/12, 8 anthemic speedmetal band Cold Dice, 9 PM the debut of Certain Death (the house band from Pfizer or Moderna maybe?) 10 PM wild fuzzy stoner metal band Grave Bathers followed by the even more macabre Castle Rat at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/13, 5 PM ageless, jangly, purist NY surf rock originals the Supertoness at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways There’s also a surf music festival, bands tba, there on 8/14-15

8/13, 8 PM   ferociously dynamic, tuneful,female-fronted power trio Castle Black at Culture Lab outdoors, 5-25 46th Ave in Long Island City, down the block toward the water from LIC Bar; 8/28 they’re outdoors at the Greenpoint Terminal Market at 3, Market St. past Kent Ave on the water, G to Nassau Ave

8/14, 4 PM B’Rhythm blend Indian music and classical dance moves at Garfield Place between Prospect Park West and 8th Ave. in Park Slope, music by Bala Skandan, choreography by Brinda Guha and Sonali Skandan and an A-list slate of dancers

8/14, 7/9:30 PM popular lyrical postbop trumpeter Jeremy Pelt leads his quartet at Smalls $25

8/14, 9:30 PM  this era’s most consistently interesting jazz pianist, Vijay Iyer at Prospect Park Bandshell. Listen from outside (try around the back) since the arena may still have restrictions

8/15, 8:30 PM catchy, pensive blue-eyed soul crooner/guitarist Noto at Pete’s

8/16, 9 PM boisterously funny oldschool 60s C&W and brooding southwestern gothic with the Jack Grace Band at Skinny Dennis..

8/17, 7 PM Dominican jazz guitarist Yasser Tejeda & Pelotre at Gantry Plaza State Park

8/17, 7/8:30 PM  charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy‘ at Smalls, $25

8/17-19, 8/10 PM the Bernie Williams Collective at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail. Not a vanity project: the greatest centerfielder of his time is a solid latin jazz/funk guitarist.

8/18, 7/8:30 PM eclectic jazz pianist Art Hirahara and his trio at Smalls, $25

8/18, 5 PM the Harlem Quartet at Times Square. Where? Follow the sound, it seems

8/18, 8 PM Stoogoid stoner boogie band Sun Voyager, noisy early 80s style postpunk band Smock and fuzzy acid blues/doom band Grandpa Jack at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/18-22, 8/10 PM postbop jazz trumpeter and sly crooner Nicholas Payton at the Blue Note, $25 bar seats avail

8/19, 7 PM double threat Camille Thurman – equally dazzling on the mic and the tenor sax – with the Darrell Green Trio, and trombonist Conrad Herwig with his Quintet at Drom, $30

8/19-21, 7/9:30 PM golden-age postbop tenor sax legend Donald Harrison leads his quartet at Birdland, $30

8/19, 7/9:30 PM edgy jazz oudist and bassist Omer Avital and his group where he got his start at Smalls, $25

8/19, 11 PM sardonic and punky Japanese girlband the Hard Nip at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/20, 7 PM amazingly dynamic drummer  Johnathan Blake and his trio and wildfire Colombian harpist Edmar Castaneda with drummer Ari Hoenig at Drom, $30

8/20, 7 PM Gordon Lockwood (blues guitar monster Jeremiah Lockwood and drummer Ricky Gordon) at Terra Blues

8/20, 7/8:30 PM the Sun Ra Arkestra’s legendary nonagenarian EWI player Marshall Allen and group at Smalls, $25

8/21, 7 PM legendary second-wave Afrobeat band Antibalas at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/21, 7 PM edgy, incisive, terse jazz guitarist Russell Malone and his Quartet at Drom, $20

8/22, 7 PM paradigm-shifting Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembel at Drom $30

8/23, 7/8:30 PM erudite pianist Orrin Evans‘ richly tuneful, purist, stampeding Captain Black Big Band at Smalls,$25

8/24, 6 PM the Donald Harrison Quartet with the Harlem Orchestra play Charlie Parker’s Bird with Strings at Marcus Garvey Park, be prepared to hang on the fringes because there may be restrictions

8/24, 7/8;30 PM hard-hitting  postbop saxophonist Mike DiRubbo’s quartet at Smalls, $25

8/25, 8 PM punk/rockabilly band the Screaming Rebel Angels, goth-punks the Wh0res, and fiery, deviously fun oldtimey swing guitarist/crooner Seth Kessel at Our Wicked Lady, $12

8/26, 6 PM smart, lyrical, politically-inspired pianist Zaccai Curtis leads a trio at Times Square, Bwy at 43rd St

8/27, 6 PM an oldschool salsa dance party with 70s style charanga Son Del Monte at Alexander Avenue at Bruckner Boulevard in the Bronx

8/28, 5 PM nimble bassist Dawn Drake & Zapote‘play latin-tinged hard funk at the Riis Park Beach Bazaar, Bay 9 East at Riis Park in the Rockaways

8/28, 6 PM jazz violinist Melanie Dyer w/ poet Bonita Penn and bassist Ken Filiano at the Clifton Pl. Community Garden (1031 Bedford Ave.–b/n Clifton & Greene)

8/29, a parade of dancers with music by guitarist/bagpiper David Watson make their way through the Rockaways starting at 1 PM on the sand at Beach 86 St and end at 7 at Beach 110 St, performers include Toni Carlson, Yve Laris Cohen, Maggie Cloud, Marc Crousillat, Brittany Engel-Adams, Moriah Evans, Daria Fain, Lizzie Feidelson, Melanie Greene, Kennis Hawkins, Iréne Hultman, Shayla-Vie Jenkins, Burr Johnson, Niall Jones, Sarah Beth Percival, Jess Pretty, Antonio Ramos, Alex Rodabaugh, Carlo Villanueva, Anh Vo, Kota Yamazaki

8/29, 4 PM drummer Willie Jones III leads an allstar Charlie Parker centennial celebration band with Sarah Hanahan, Godwin Louis, Justin Robinson, Erena Terakubo with Donald Vega on piano and Endea Owens on bass at Marcus Garvey Park

8/29, 5 PM, repeating 9/1 at 6:30 colorful, charismatic pianist/salonniere Yelena Grinberg, violinist Eric Silberger and cellist Madeline Fayette play Haydn’s “Gypsy” piano trio, Mozart’s warmly lyrical Piano Trio in C and Beethoven’s daunting “Ghost” piano trio at Grinberg’s popular monthly upper westside salon, email for deets here., a 3  minute walk from 1/2/3 train at 96th St.

8/29, 9:30 PM irrepressibly sardonic janglerock/folk-punk songwriter, New Yorker illustrator and White Hassle alum Marcellus Hall  at Pete’s

8/30-9/3 half past noon latin jazz pianist Isaac Bin Ayala solo at Bryant Park

9/1, 7:30ish noiserock legends Yo La Tengo at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/8 7 PM the aptly named Firey String Sistas play their edgy chamber jazz at Pier 84, 44th st. and the Hudson just south of the Intrepid

9/11, 5 PM newschool gospel with Mary Mary singer Erica Campbell, the Walls Group, Lena Byrd Miles and Jason McGee and Choir at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/12, 4 PM the Overlook String Quartet play music by black composers Eleanor Alberga, Florence Price, and Chevalier de Saint-Georges at the Morris-Jumel Mansion, 65 Jumel Terrace about a block south of 162nd St., Washington Heights, free, A/C to 163rd St.

9/12, 7 PM southern soul songwriter Valerie June at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park

9/18, 7:30 PM Trombone Shorty at Prospect Park Bandshell. We might have to listen from outside since the arena may still have restrictions

9/19, 7 PM Patti Smith at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park,

10/3, 1 PM  hard-hitting, brass-fueled newschool latin soul/boogaloo dance band Spanglish Fly at Playground 52,  Kelly St bet. Av St John and Leggett Ave in the Bronx, 6 to Longwood Ave

The Eva Quartet Take Ancient, Otherworldly Bulgarian Choral Music to New Places

Bulgarian choral quartet the Eva Quartet’s new album Minka – streaming at Spotify – is a lot more eclectic than most collections of centuries-old, otherworldly music from the Balkans. In the same vein as the original popularizers of the tradition, Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares – with whom all four members of the quartet have sung – they take their otherworldly close harmonies, surreal whoops and shivery ornamentation to more recent places.

On this album, that means hints of Indian rhythms and melody, plus more modern songs by Stefan Dragostinov, Ivan Spassov and Dimitar Hristov, leader of the Bulgarian National Radio Folk Orchestra. As you would expect, most of the numbers here are on the short side, under three minutes, sometimes much less, occasionally bolstered by percussion or gadulka. This recording is often balanced by the high harmonies in one channel, the lower ones in the other, which actually works against the tension created by the harmonic adjacencies and microtones common to Bulgarian music. On the other hand, if you’re looking to isolate your own harmony when singing this, it makes your job a lot easier.

Sometimes the innovations – doot-doot rhythms in the fourth track, for example – add a humorous touch. Elsewhere, the four women – Gergana Dimitrova, Sofia Kovacheva, Evelina Christova and Daniela Stoichkova – ]energetically walk the maze of tricky rhythms, melismas and the occasional thicket of tonguetwisting syllables. By contrast, slow overlays of melody shift through the sonic picture in Spassov’s austere Balno Li Ti E Sinjo Ljo….only to give way to rapidfire operatics.

The aching, muted lustre of Razvivay, Dobro Povivay (Let’s Go, Get Your Clothes On) contrasts with the vocal acrobatics of the miniature after that, as well as Hristov’s Leme Dreme, with its playful tug-of-war between gadulka and vocals. And the drones of the album’s final cut are stunningly unwavering. Folk music never stands still: it’s always evolving, and this album is a good idea of where one of the world’s edgiest, most popular flavors is going.

Min Xiao-Fen Releases a Darkly Surreal New Score to a Classic Chinese Silent Film

Min Xiao-Fen is one of the world’s great adventurers on the magical Chinese pipa lute. She first made a name for herself with her spiky, incisive arrangements of Thelonious Monk tunes, but she has done immense cross-pollination with the instrument in the years since. She’s also a brilliant singer and a composer whose eclecticism is as vast as you would expect considering her background. Her songs can be spare and intimate, in keeping with tradition, or explosively symphonic. Her latest album White Lotus – streaming at Spotify – is an original score for Wu Yonggang’s 1934 silent film The Goddess, a tragic melodrama about a Shanghai hooker who battles an evil pimp as she struggles to provide for her son’s education. The soundtrack is a duo collaboration with a similarly adventurous, cinematic artist, guitarist Rez Abbasi, who plays both acoustic and electric here

The album opens with a stark, hypnotically circling pipa theme and ambient guitar effects, dialogue from the film and fragments of the bandleader’s operatic vocals floating through the mix. There are moments where the textural contrast between Abbasi’s acoustic guitar and the pipa are subtle but distinct, others where it’s harder to distinguish between them since he sometimes uses a pipa-style tremolo-picking attack.

The galloping, syncopated, darkly windswept third track is mostly Abbasi multitracks. A handful of drifting passages for vocals and solo guitar are more spare and pensive.

A tableau for vocals and solo guitar channels utter desolation. There’s a bristling chase scene with occasional flickers of Greek rembetiko music. Echoes of bluegrass music, a tense nocturne, and a distantly sinister blend of ba-bump cabaret and the blues follow in turn. Interestingly, the moments where Asian pentatonics are front and center are few and far between, heightening the exotic effect. Toward the end, there are a couple of themes that come across as acoustic Pat Metheny with Chinese tinges. This is a gripping, dynamically shifting mix of styles that fits right into both artists’ constantly growing and paradigm-shifting bodies of work.

Lavish Golden-Age Passion From Mariachi Herencia de Mexico

If memory serves right, Mariachi Herencia de Mexico were scheduled to make a relatively rare New York appearance in what turned out to be the most draconian early days of the lockdown last year. Which was tragic. Considering the familiar circuit of restaurants and neighborhood bars, New York mariachi bands tend to be on the small side. Mariachi Herencia de Mexico’s lavish orchestral sound harkens back to a musical golden age when all sorts of innovations were happening in a style that was innovative to begin with.

Case in point: the opening number, Tres Consejos, on the orchestra’s latest album Esencia – streaming at Spotify – the lushness of the strings and brass shifting seamlessly between a lilting European waltz and a traditional Mexican huapanga beat. Or El Gallo de Oro, with its plushly jazzy horns and the joyous harmonies of the women out in front of the ensemble. Many of these songs became standards for a reason: they were ahead of their time.

Frontwoman Alda Cuevas’ often achingly vivid, dynamic vocals burst into a ripe vibrato when she reaches for the rafters, a passion echoed by the band. When the guys get on the mic, they tend to be a little more low-key. On one hand, this is party music – some of the lyrics, as in the elegantly pulsing Los Mandados, can be outrageously funny. On the other hand, the music is just as sophisticated, with accordion, cuatro and guitars rising up amid the lustre and the dizzying rhythmic shifts.

This is a long album, sixteen songs including an unabashedly romantic, trumpet-fueled bonus version of Wendy. There are ballads like Yerba Mala, with Cuevas’ impassioned presence awash in misty orchestration. There’s a version of Besame Mucho, supposedly the most covered song of all time, with a sweeping intro that’s barely recognizable, along with punchy horns and more unexpected tempo shiftts.

It’s hardly a stretch to imagine the more sophisticated Nashville assembly-line songwriters of the 50s hearing a song like the balmy Cucuucucu Paloma and thinking, “I can steal this.” Look no further than the instrumental La Cantera for the roots of Burt Bacharach. Tschaikovskian string flourishes mingle with German accordion over a stately Mexican beat in Te Traigo Estas Flores. Isn’t cross-pollination fun?

Frigging in the Rigging With the Kings Pond Shantymen

Louis was the King of France before the Revolution
And he got his head chopped off and spoiled his constitution

That’s from the old sea shanty Haul Away Joe, the second track on the Kings Pond Shantymen‘s new album Take a Turn Around the Capstan, streaming at Spotify. The name of the record is actually not a 1970s reference: before the age of cassettes, a capstan was a rope-winding spool typically found onboard ships. This nine-piece group are a throwback to the era of the original device. This is a fun singalong record.

Once in a blue moon a publicist’s press release perfectly nails what a group are all about. “The Kings Pond Shantymen sing out mainly in Hampshire and West Surrey, England. They perform shanties and other seafaring songs, interspersed with a few drinking songs and odd ditties. At Christmas they also sing carols and on Old Twelfth Night they sing wassailing songs. They aim for an authentic shanty style – unaccompanied male voices singing in harmony – on a good day. Folk style nose-singing or ear-fingering is actively repressed and barbershop perfection is certainly not their aim. What they like is to sing and drink a pint or two of beer, but not at the same time as it tends to waste the beer.”

There are eighteen tracks on the album. Most of the nine men in this merry crew eventually take a turn out in front. The material runs the gamut from bawdy drinking songs, to cynical work songs, a morose Irish ballad, and a hilarious number about basically shoveling shit on the high seas.

You might recognize a few of these tunes from later Appalachian folk versions. Otherwise, the material isn’t just the same old standards everybody knows. The most obvious number here is What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor, but the group put their own devious stamp on it. If you listen closely, there’s a lot of history on this record.

A dollar a day is a hoosier’s pay
Roll the cotton down!
And screw four more is what they say
Roll the cotton down!

A note to American readers: the Shantymen presumably do not live in a one-room shack, they just use the British spelling. Here on this side of the pond we typically use the more pretentiously spelled “chantey,” which comes from the French “chanter,” meaning “to sing.”