New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Tag: rock music

Purist, Potently Lyrical Janglerock, Americana, Powerpop and Soul From the Bastards of Fine Arts

For the past several months, the Bastards of Fine Arts have been working up a formidable body of catchy, anthemic, purist rock songs via a mostly-monthly residency at 11th Street Bar. The project took shape as a challenge of sorts, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Matt Keating and his lead guitarist co-conspirator Steve Mayone hell-bent on writing a new song every week. Their project caught on with social media and went viral. Fast forward to 2018, they’ve got a full band now (Jason Mercer on bass and Greg Wieczorek on drums) and a catalog as vast as a band who’ve been around for five times as long. Which means they can mine it for the real gems.

Playing as a duo at the American Folk Art Museum in May of last year, they were at the point where they were working every style they knew (and they know a lot!). Sam Cooke ballad? Check. Lou Reed (a guy Keating is unsurpassed at imitating)? Doublecheck. Honkytonk anthem, Wallflowers janglerock, wistful Americana waltz? Triplecheck.

A year later at an early 11th Street gig, they’d pulled the band together and had built up a set that transcended its origins. They opened with their catchiest number, the gorgeously bittersweet I’ll Take the Fall, Keating both self-effacing and witheringly cynical at the same time. Another even more vindictive number traced the story of an ex that the song’s narrator spies out on a date with some dude. On the way out of the bar, she drops her coat; the dude picks it up for her. Keating’s narrator would have left it there.

Because part of the project is “what style CAN’T we do,” there are plenty of jokes to go around, some more inside than others. Switching to piano, Keating turned a Mayone ballad into a gospel tune; Mayone added some sardonic metal licks to a Keating soul number. They worked a bossa groove, Mercer spiraling all over the fretboard during a more recent number, Walk in the Park, a rare instance of a song of theirs which doesn’t seem to have a cynical undercurrent.

In a very subtle Elvis Costello vein, they vamped along on a bouncy soul-blues tune for a good three minutes, at least, without changing chords once. At the end of the set, they brought up Keating’s daughter Greta, who flashed some incisive chops on Strat as well as a similarly edgy lyricism and soaring vocals. Most children of great musicians don’t go into music for obvious reasons; Greta Keating, like Amy Allison and Jakob Dylan, is every bit as formidable as her dad was when he was in his early twenties. Here’s hoping she sticks with it. The Bastards of Fine Arts are back at 11th Street Bar on Dec 18 at 9 PM.

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Spottiswoode at Joe’s Pub: Elegant Dissolution

The most unselfconsciously beautiful solo during Spottiswoode’s album release show at Joe’s Pub Friday night came during the louchest song of the night. Candace DeBartolo added subtle flourish to her deep-Coltrane tenor sax resonance during a number titled Love Saxophone. For anyone who hasn’t already guessed, you need a Y chromosome to own one. Frontman/guitarist Jonathan Spotitiswoode said that at the time he’d written that one, he was “another person.”

There were many other unselfconsciously beautiful moments throughout the night. Still Small Voice Inside, one of the best tracks on the new album Lost in the City, comes across as cutting, knowingly aphoristic, Ray Davies-ish late 60s folk-rock. Onstage, the band played it even more mutedly – as it turns out, it has a spiritual dimension, inspired by a familiar saying by the bandleader’s North Dakota-born singer mom. Spottiswoode asked the sold-out crowd if they’d indulge him in a “kumbaya moment” on the vocalese section after the chorus: pretty much everybody sang along.

Another unexpected high point, if a similarly quiet one, was Batman & Robin. The band played this straight-up jazz song with elegance and grace, an expansively poignant, picturesque account of a guy trying to get the most out of weekend custody with his kids. Spottiswoode isn’t necessarily known as a jazz guitarist, but the song underscored whatever cred he wants to take from it.

There were plenty of loud songs, too, all of them drawn from the new album, since as lead guitarist Riley McMahon confided, this band never thought they’d never get back together after the bandleader’s recent relocation to his native London. Guest violinist Antoine Silverman’s shivery, slithery acerbic, Romany riffage kicked off The Walk of Shame, a booze-infused wee hours confrontation with grim reality. Throughout the show, Spottiswoode’s weathered baritone brought to mind Nick Cave, especially when he really cut loose. Knocking back several drinks – vodka cranberry, maybe? – during the set probably had something to do with that.

Trumpeter Kevin Cordt added ripe, Lynchian tones to raise the menace of the more cabaret-infused tunes. Bassist John Young switched nimbly between Fender and upright, drummer Tim Vaill maintaining a slinky, often latin-flavored groove and Spottiswoode fired off some unhinged blues licks during a couple of latin soul anthems. But the star of the night, musically, was pianist Tony Lauria. Shifting effortlessly between surreal Brecht/Weill blues, starlit neoromanticism, lively Afro-Cuban tumbles, funereal organ and even a perfect evocation of Springsteen pianist Roy Bittan, he put on a clinic in how to make the music match the mood. The group closed counterintuively and almost elegaically with I Don’t Regret, a calmly waltzing shout-out to Spottiswoode’s days living on East 5th Street, when the East Village was a hotbed of artistic talent. Those days are gone, for now anyway – but at least we have the album, and a group no worse for the wear and tear of 21 years together.

Live Music Calendar for New York City and Brooklyn for December 2018 and January 2019

Daily updates – if you go out a lot, you might want to bookmark this page and check back regularly. If you’re leaving your hood, make sure you check http://www.mta.info for service changes considering how the trains are at night and on the weekend.

If you don’t recognize a venue where a particular act is playing, check the comprehensive, 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. Many different styles to choose from.

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 show listed without the start time, that’s because either the artist, their publicist or the venue in question sent incomplete info – those acts are usually listed last on a particular date.  Always best to check with the venue for the latest information on set times and door charges, since that information is often published here weeks in advance. Weekly events first followed by the daily calendar.

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 found out about here, somebody was up late after a long day of work editing and adding listings to this calendar ;)

On select Wednesdays and Sundays, an intimate, growing piano music salon on the Upper West Side featuring iconoclastically insightful, lyrical pianist Nancy Garniez – a cult favorite with an extraordinarily fluid, singing, legato style – exploring the delicious minutiae of works from across the centuries, beverages and lively conversation included! Next performance is 12/5 at 7 PM with special guest violinist Gregor Kitzis playing Mozart, email for details/address

Mondays at 7 PM multi-instrumentalist Dennis Lichtman’s popular western swing band Brain Cloud at Barbes followed at 9:30 PM by a variety of south-of-the-border-style bands playing cumbias, boogaloo, salsa, maybe all of the above.

Mondays at the Jazz Standard it’s all Mingus, whether with the Mingus Orchestra, Big Band or Mingus Dynasty: as jazz goes, it’s arguably the most exhilarating show of the week, every week. The first-rate players always rise to the level of the material. Sets 7:30/9:30 PM, $25 and worth it.

Also Monday and Tuesday nights Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks, a boisterous horn-driven 11-piece 1920s/early 30’s band play Iguana, 240 W. 54th St ( Broadway/8th Ave) , 3 sets from 8 to 11, surprisingly cheap $15 cover plus $15 minimum considering what you’re getting. Even before the Flying Neutrinos or the Moonlighters, multi-instrumentalist Giordano was pioneering the oldtimey sound in New York; his long-running residency at the old Cajun on lower 8th Ave. is legendary. He also gets a ton of film work (Giordano wrote the satirical number that Willie Nelson famously sang in Wag the Dog).

Mondays at the Vanguard the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra – composer Jim McNeely’s reliably good big band vehicle – plays 9/11 PM, $30 per set plus drink minimum.

Mondays in December, 10 PM noir guitar legend Jim Campilongo leads his trio at the big room at the Rockwood, $10

Mondays in December, Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg, two sets starting at 10:30 PM. 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 astute, 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 lead soloist on baritone sax, with frequent special guests.

Tuesdays in December, clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party  at 9 PM at Barbes (check the club calendar). Get there as soon as you can as they’re very popular. $10 cover.

Wednesdays in December, 8 PM the Binky Griptite Orchestra (formerly Sharon Jones’ brilliant oldschool soul backing band) at Threes Brewing Outpost, 113 Franklin St (Greenpoint/Kent Aves) in Greenpoint, free

Three Thursdays in December: 12/6, 12/13 and 12/20, 7ish Sophia Sobers’ enveloping, hypnotic electronic soundscape Synthetic Sound Baths at 320-B Canal St (Bwy/Church). Chill on plush soft sculptures Sobers created as part of her multimedia installation, free 

Thursdays at 8 in December 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 – play the Jalopy, $15 adv tix at the bar at the main space. Tons of special guests followed by a wild raga jam!

Fridays and Saturdays at 5 PM adventurous indie classical string quartet Ethel plus frequent special guests playing a mix of classical and more contemporary material at the balcony bar at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, free w/museum adm

Fridays at 7:30 PM tenor saxophonist Ken Fowser leads his band at the Django. Jukebox jazz in a JD Allen vein but not as dark and more straight-ahead/groove-oriented: as postbop party music goes, nobody’s writing better than this guy right now.

Free classical concerts on Saturdays at 4 PM in October at Bargemusic;  usually solo piano or small chamber ensembles. If you get lucky, you’ll catch pyrotechnic violinist/music director Mark Peskanov and/or the many members of his circle. Early arrival advised.

Sundays in December, at sometime past noon at Hank’s, Nashville gothic crooner Sean Kershaw‘s legendary honkytonk brunch is back; special guests from his wide circle of NYC Americana acts keep the afternoon going until about 7. It’s just like 1999 again -at least until the bar closes sometime this year

Sundays in December, 8 PM purist guitarist Peter Mazza – who gets the thumbs up from bop-era legend Gene Bertoncini – leads a series of trios at the Bar Next Door; the 12/30 show is a very very rare solo gig

12/1, 5 PM, cinematic guitar-and EFX dude Xander Naylor  followed by atmospheric, cinematic drummer/composer Tim Kuhl – sort of a more straightforwardly trippy version of John Hollenbeck – at Pete’s

12/1, 7 PM Tejas Tope solo on tabla, sarangi player Rohan Misra, then a carnatic vocal performance by Shankhadip Chakraborty with Misra, Todd Miller on tabla and Niyati Kashyap on harmonium at the Chhandayan Center For Indian Music, $20

12/1, 7:15 PM dark psychedelic acoustic blues/klezmer/reggae/soca jamband Hazmat Modine at Terra Blues. They’re also here on 12/15

12/1, 8ish acerbic, smartly historically-inspired, politically fearless acoustic songwriter Kristin Lems at the People’s Voice Cafe, sugg don, $20, “more if you choose; less if you can’t; no one turned away.”  

12/1, 8 PM brilliantly improvisational pianist Mara Rosenbloom‘s philosophically-inspired FLYWAYS with bassist Adam Lane and singer/percussionist Anais Maviel   at I-Beam, $15

12/1, 8 PM drummer Devin Gray’s intricately kinetic, highly improvisational Dirigo Rataplan at Greenwich House Music School, $15/$12 stud/srs

12/1, 8 PM a rare NYC appearance by high-voltage Afro-Colombian bullerengue bandleader Darlina Saenz at the Jalopy, $15

12/1, 8 PM imagistic, compellingly lyrical acoustic songwriter Sandy Bell guests at chamber pop stylist Alice Bierhorst’s album release show followed at 10 by epic ranchera/bolero brass crew Banda de los Muertos at Barbes

12/1, 8 PM the NYU01 Orchestra play Elgar: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85; Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, “Italian” at the NYU Skirball Center, LaGuardia at Washington Square South, free

12/1, 9 PM a stripped-down oud and vocal version of Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay at the Owl

12/1, 8:3o PM soul-rockers NO ICE‘s charismatic frontman Jamie Frey followed by scruffy indie gutter blues duo Eleanor at the Gutter, $5. Frey is also at Freddy’s the following night, 12/2 at 8.

12/1 Unsteady Freddie‘s monthly surf rock extravaganza at Otto’s begins at 9 PM with the surf-punk Tsunamibots, the Swiss Obsidians, the brand-new Renegade Lounge and sometime around midnight the kazoo-driven El Muchacho

12/1, 9 PM ten-piece country/carnivalesque/acoustic rock powerhouse M Shanghai String Band at the Jalopy, $!0

12/1, 9 PM the Space Merchants – the missing link between the Stooges and X – at Hank’s, $8

12/1, 10 PM oldschool soul ballads with singer Camille Atkisson’s Empire Beats at the Way Station

12/2, 1 PM low-key deep-Brooklyn sounds with Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens playing a gospel brunch show at Bar Lunatico. They’re also here on 12/16

12/2, 2 PM Trio Solisti play works by Haydn, Brahms and Dvorak at the Town Hall, $17

12/2, 2:30 PM erhu player Feifei Yang leads her quartet playing a wild mix of 1930s Shanghai speakeasy tunes, coy classical and cheesy top 40 covers at Flushing Town Hall, $16/$10 stud free for 18 and under

12/2, 3 PM Chloe Fedor and Jessica Park,violin; Monica Davis,viola; Benjamin Larsen,cello and Stuart Breczinski,oboe play Mozart: Oboe Quartet in F Major, K. 370; Paolo Marchettini: Septem vitia capitalia (The Seven Deadly Sins); Britten: Phantasy Quartet for Oboe & String Trio in F minor, Op. 2 and Beethoven: String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95 at Concerts on the Slope, St. John’s Episcopal Church, 139 St. John’s Place downhill from 7th Ave, Park Slope, any train to Grand Army Plz, sugg don

12/2, 3 PM the the NJ Symphony Orchestra play works by  Milhaud, Stravinsky’s Firebird and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in  Blue with soloist Aaron Diehl at NJPAC in Newark, $20 tix avail

12/2, 3 PM the Greenwich Village Orchestra play the Beethoven Triple Concerto in C Major and the Bartók Concerto for Orchestra at All Saints Church, 230 E 60th St (2/3rd Aves), $20, $20

12/2, 3:15 PM concert organist Daniel Brondel plays a program TBA at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

12/2, 4 PM the Orchestra Now plays Bartok’s Symphony No. 6 at Symphony Space, free

12/2, 7:30 PM serpentine, cinematic, epic art-rock band Book of Harmony and string metal band Stratospheerius at Drom, $10 adv tix rec. This twinbill absolutely slayed at Gold Sounds last summer.  

12/2, 8 PM perennially tuneful, pensively lyrical Americana janglerocker Mike Ferrio of Tandy and Good Luck Mountain at 11th St. Bar

12/2, 8:30 PM Cameron Mizell – the best pastoral jazz guitarist not named Bill Frisell – at Pete’s

12/3, 6 PM the improvisationally-inclined Osso String Quartet at the Fat Cat

12/3, 7 PM the Argus Quartet premiere string quartets by Ted Hearne, Christopher Cerrone and Juri Seo at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/3, 7 PM diverse, purposeful, poignant bassist/composer Iris Ornig  plays the album release show for her new one Storyteller with a killer quintet featuring Arco Sandoval on piano at 55 Bar

12/3, 8 PM witheringly lyrical Texas populist songwriter James McMurtry at City Winery, $28 standing room avail

12/3, 8 PM fascinatingly lyrical, individualistic pianist Sylvie Courvoisier with her trio, then joined by trumpeter Nate Wooley at Roulette, $18 adv tix req

12/4, drinks at 5:30 PM, show at 6, perennially interesting piano/percussion ensemble Yarn/Wire play works by Crumb, Saint-Saens and Tschaikovsky at the Miller Theatre, free

12/4, 7 PM lustrous singer and badass cello-rock bandleader Serena Jost  at Pangea, $20

12/4, 7:30 PM the NY Philharmonic play Britten’s Violin Concerto and Shostakovich’s ferocious antiwar Symphony No 7 at Avery Fisher Hall, $30 tix avail

12/4, 8:30  PM Thurston Moore leads a series of non Sonic Youth bands at the Stone at the New School, $20. Get there early. Choice pick: opening night with Bill Nace (guitar) Samara Lubelski (violin)

12/4, 9 PM wickedly torchy noir songwriter Julia Haltigan and her killer band on her old home turf at 11th St Bar

12/4, 10 PM Ensemble Ipse play recent music for string quartet including works by Stephanie Griffin (the hilarious Happy Car Ride from her Lost String Quartet), Alex Hall, Ari Sussman, Ursula Brown and Can Bilir at Arete Gallery, $20/$10 stud/sr

12/4, 10:30 PM charismatic, adventurous postbop/avant garde trombonist/crooner Frank Lacy leads his sextet at Smalls

12/5, 1 PM rising star pianist Mackenzie Melamed plays works by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Medtner at the Greene Space, free, res req 

12/5, 7 PM the New School Studio Orchestra plays a rare all-John Clayton big band jazz program at the New School auditorium at 63 Fifth Avenue, Room U100, free

12/5, 7:30 PM postbop sax cult hero Kenny Brooks leads his quartet at Smalls

12/5-8 the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy starts tonight, with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre begins at 9:00 PM – The Jalopy Chorus; 9:30 PM – Taylor Plas; 10:00 PM – Yva Las Vegass 10:30 PM – fearlessly haunting, dynamic, charismatic Romany/Balkan chanteuse Eva Salina with pyrotechnic accordionist Peter Stan; 11:00 PM – Lord Youth; 11:30 PM – Rashad Brown; Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern starts at 8:00 PM – Wyndham Baird; 9:00 PM – Hannah Thompson 10:00 PM – The adrenalizing, bluegrass fiddling Berger Sisters; 11:00 PM – Anna J. Witiuk

12/5, 8 PM Dervisi feat. guitar god Steve Antonakos play “exotic Greek gangsta blues” and Middle Eastern flavored hash smoking anthems at Troost

12/5, 8/9:30 PM  rising star singer/pianist and Christian McBride protegee Kelly Green with Alex Tremblay (bass), Evan Hyde (drums) at Mezzrow, $20

12/5, klezmer clarinet/mandolin wizard Andy Statman at Barbes, $10

12/5, 9 PM bass goddess/soul singer Felice Rosser’s ageless reggae-rock-groove band Faith  at C’Mon Everybody, $10

12/5, 9 PM Lainie Fefferman premieres her electroacoustic song cycle White Fire, “about feminist ways of re-owning foundational Jewish texts – attempting to give a powerful voice to matriarchs and heroines often sidelined in the narrative,” at Issue Project Room, $15/$12 stud/srs

12/6, 7 PM cellist Matt Haimovitz and the Mannes Cello Ensemble play a program TBA at the New School auditorium, Room A106, 66 W 12th St, free

12/6, 7 PM the Jazz Passengers’ spectacular vibraphonist Bill Ware leads his quintet followed by the great unsung NYC hero of darkly purposeful, noir-tinged jazz guitar, Saul Rubin at the Fat Cat. Rubin is also here on 12/11 and 12/18 at 7

12/6, 7:30 PM, repeating on 12/8 at 8 Jaap van Zweden leads the NY Philharmonic playing Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, plus works by Schubert and Strauss at Avery Fisher Hall, $31 tix avail

12/6, 7:30 PM adventurously tuneful pianist Aruan Ortiz with special guest tba; the concert’s second half features two chamber pieces: Living in the Midst of a Twisted Globe, to be performed by the trio of violinist Mary Rowell, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler & pianist Geoffrey Burleson; and Ogguere (when the soul of the earth, dances around spectral motions), played by brass quintet: Daniel Blankinship and Nate Wooley (trumpets), Ryan Keberle (trombone), Vince Chancey (French horn) & José Dávil (tuba)  at Greenwich House Music School, $25/$20 stud/srs

12/6, 7:30 PM kinetic Cuban jazz pianist Elio Villafranca leads his trio at Aaron Davis Hall, free, rsvp req 

12/6, 6 PM klezmer violinist Jake Shulman-Ment with rippllng tsimbl (Ukrainian Jewish dulcimer) player Pete Rushefsky at Poe Park in the Bronx.

12/6, 7 P{M pianist Biljana Petrovska plays a rare program of works by Macedonian composers Tamislav Zografsky, Damjan Temkov, Bete Ilin and Dimitrije Buzarovski plus her own haunting arrangements of folk tunes at Gallery MC

12/6, 7:30 PM the playful the Nouveau Classical Project perform a program of emerging composes TBA at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/6, day 2 of the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 8:30 PM – Miss Maybell with Charlie Judkins; 9:00 PM – Brooklyn Raga Massive with Neel Murgai & Mir Naqibul Islam; 9:30 PM – Bobby Blue The Balladeer 10:00 PM -western swing faves Brain Cloud’s frontwoman Tamar Korn – who can impersonate any instrument ever made; 10:30 PM – wild, spiraling, rare rustic minor-key Polesian klezmer dances and grooves with Litvakus;11:00 PM -pensively psychedelic, massively tuneful Moroccan/Venezuelan-influenced songwriter Miriam Elhajl; 11:30 PM – fiery oldtimey string band the Four O’Clock Flowers. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 8:00pm – Paisley Fields; 9:00pm – Mara Kaye; 10:00pm – Skalopy Brass

12/6, 8 PM New York’s most charismatic, darkly compelling lyrical songwriter/storyteller/keyboard genius Rachelle Garniez followed by Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay  at Barbes

 12/6, 8 PM deviously theatrical oldschool C&W/rockabilly parodists Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co with “guest vegan” Stella Rose Saint Clair at Mable’s Smokehouse, 44 Berry St, Williamsburg, free

12/6, 8:30 PM the world’s creepiest crime jazz/film noir band, Big Lazy at Bar Lunatico

12/6, 9 PM intense, soaring harmonium player/singer Elana Low – a more organic, trancey version of Marissa Nadler, maybe –  at Petes

12/6, 9 PM Betsayda Machado y La Parranda – “the voice of Venezuela” and the Jimi Hendrix of the cuatro, Jorge Glem lead an allstar band playing  parranda, gaitas y aguinaldos and more at Drom, $25 gen adm

12/6, 10 PM perennially haunting, atmospheric folk noir/art-rock chanteuse Marissa Nadler at Rough Trade, $15 gen adm

12/6, 10:30 PM long-running phantasmagorical art-rockers/circus punks Devotchka at the Manderley Bar, $27.50. 12/8 at 8 they’re at Elsewhere, $27.50 gen adm

12/7, 6 PM magical ex-Chicha Libre timbalera Karina Colis leads her latin jazz group followed at 10:30 by cutting-edge B3 organ and trombone soul/jazz grooves with the Jared Gold and Dave Gibson Band at the Fat Cat

12/7, 6:30 PM high-voltage psychedelic cumbia/Afrobeat jamband MAKU Soundsystem at the rec center at Marcus Garvey Park, free. The following evening, 5/8 an hour earlier they’re at the Arrow Fieldhouse, 35-38 35th St. in Astoria, free, N/W to 36th Av e, They’re also at Joe’s Pub on 12/13 at 9 for $15

12/7, 7 PM the Bil Afrah Project celebrates one of the Middle East’s legendary albums: Ziad Rahbani’s 1975 Bil Afrah suite. An all-star NYC lineup includes percussionist Michel Merhej, who played on the haunting, dynamic original album, very rarely played live in its entirety. The group absolutely slayed with this last year –  at CUNY Elebash Hall, 365 5th Ave north of 34th St., $25

12/7 day 3 of the annual three-day free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 8:00 PM – Eli Smith 8:30 PM -the haunting Ukrainian Village Voices; 9:00 PM – plaintive Yorkshire/Appalachian singer Jan Bell – whose gloomy chronicles of Brooklyn gentrification are spot-on; 9:30 PM – charismatic, politically fearless, historically-inspired oldtime country blues duo Piedmont Bluz; 10:00 PM – The Sunwrays (Frankie Sunswept & Kyle Morgan);10:30 PM – The Horse-Eyed Men; 11:00 PM – Isto; 11:30 PM – Nat Myers. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 7:00 PM – Starcrossed Losers; 8:00 PM –  blues guitarist Will Scott – who can play just about any style from all over the country; 9:00 PM -King Isto’s Tropical String Band play jaunty, balmy Hawaiian sounds; 10:00 PM – Balkan chanteuse Jenny Luna‘s haunting, slinky, oud-driven Turkish band Dolunay ; 11:00 PM – The Rocket 88’s

12/7, 7 PM irrepressible, transgressively funny postbop saxophonist Jon Irabagon does double duty, first with his noisy Axis project, then with pianist Gabriel Zucker. Cellist Mariel Roberts of the Mivos Quartet follows, solo at Spectrum, free

12/7, 8 PM amazing string quintet Sybarite5 – who are also the world’s coolest Radiohead cover band – at the Cell Theatre, $27

12/7, 8 PM downtown guitar icon Elliott Sharp followed by Hat (the electroacoustic Iranian music project) at Happy Lucky No. 1 Gallery, $20 for both sets, $15 for one. Sharp is also there the following the night, 12/8 an hour earlier followed by eclectically tuneful keyboardist Brian Marsella & Tuba Mob

12/7, 8:30 PM fearlessly smart, eclectic, avant garde-inclined Toot Sweet accordionist Mary Spencer Knapp solo at the Gutter, $5

12/7, 10 PM Pangari & the Socialites play classic ska and rocksteady – most of it from the 60s Skatalites catalog – at Barbes 

12/7-8, 10 PM purist, lyrical postbop tenor saxophonist Alexa Tarantino leads her group at Birdland, $30

12/8, 4 PM the Erik Satie Quartet – Ron Hay (trombone), Max Seigel (bass trombone), Ben Holmes (trumpet), and Andrew Hadro (bari sax) –reinvent classic and obscure Satie chamber pieces as well as rare compositions by his obscure contemporaries, followed at 8 by Holmes’ broodingly Middle Eastern/klezmer-tinged Naked Lore trio with Kyle Sanna and Shane Shahanan and then at 10 by psychedelic salsa bandleader Zemog El Gallo Bueno at Barbes

12/8 day 4 of the annual free Roots & Ruckus Festival at the Jalopy continues with short sets by an insanely good, pan-global cross section of the NYC folk underground. Stage 1 at the Jalopy Theatre starts at 7:00 PM – Barry Clyde; 7:30 PM – Brother Roy; 8:00 PM – preteen banjo sensation Nora Brown; 8:30 PM – Aaron Frazer; 9:00 PM – perennially relevant, boisterously amusing acoustic Veracruz-style folk-punk band Radio Jarocho; 9:30 PM -soul/gospel belter (and Lenny Molotov collaborator) Queen Esther 10:00 PM -eclectic, tuneful accordionist/songwriter Ali Dineen; 10:30 PM – high-voltage Americana jamband Spirit Family Reunion;; 11:00 PM -dark, carnivalesque oldtimey songwriter Feral Foster; 11:30 PM – haunting flamenco/Sicilian folk chanteuse Julia Patinella. Stage 2 at the Jalopy Tavern has 7:00 PM -brilliantly lyrical dark oldtimey songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Pete Lanctot & the Stray Dogs ; 8:00 PM – Fatboy Wilson & Old Viejo Bones; 9:00 PM –Brotherhood of the Jug Band Blues – who do an awesome, slyly funny evocation of the Memphis Jug Band; 10:00 PM – La Nueva Canción; 11:00pm – Wyndham Baird & His Band

12/8, 7 PM rapturously bristling minor-key viola and clarinet duos and improvisations: Lev ‘Ljova’ Zhurbin & Vasko Dukovski at Spectrum $15

12/8, 7:30 PM pianist Jonathan Biss plays music by Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart and Schumann at Irving Auditorium, Irving Pl/17th St., $16

12/8, 8 PM the Barnard-Columbia Chorus’ Holiday Concert with the Symphony of Psalms: Igor Stravinsky, Magnificat: J. S. Bach at Church of the Ascension, 221 W 107th St. 

12/8, 8 PM the 60-piece Manhattan Wind Ensemble play works by Camille Saint-Saëns, David Holsinger, David Maslanka, Johan de Meij and Hector Berlioz at Symphony Space, $18 adv tix rec

12/8, 8ish veteran politically fearless acoustic songwriter Charlie King at the People’s Voice Cafe, sugg don, $20, “more if you choose; less if you can’t; no one turned away.” 

12/8, 8 PM drummer Sanah Kadoura’s Middle Eastern jazz group at the Cell Theatre,

12/8. 8 PM terse, anthemic dark folk/Americana songwriter Lara Taubman followed at 9 by raucous, politically sharp, anthemic folk noir songwriter Mac McCarty at Sidewalk

12/8, 8:30 PM the Spheres chamber music collective play new works by Adam Billings, Rohan Chandler, Cem Guven, Kyle Brenn, Elliott Roman and Nathan Shreve at Scholes St. Studios, $10

12/8, 10 PM the slinky, cinematic Ghost Funk Orchestra play the vinyl release show for their new single at Footlight Bar

 12/8, 10 PM sizzling electric bluegrass and C&W with Demolition String Band  at Skinny Dennis

12/8, 11 PM funny, explosive oldschool style punk rockers the Live Ones at Hank’s, $10

 12/9, 2:30 PM the 2001 at 50 festival at Barbes with a free screening of the Space Odyssey with a new score by Aaron Kruzini & Ryan Pate; Arturo Reyes; Chris Bacon (Claudio Carboni); Chris Northrup; Dinnersss; Jay Vilnai; Nick Shea; Peter Litvin and Rajeev Maddela. 

12/9, 4 PM fiery, force-of-nature klezmer/classical violin/piano duo Lara St. John and Matt Herskowitz at the Dreck Center at the Brooklyn Public Library, free, no under-sixes.

12/9, 6 PM guitarists Jay Sorce and Jordan Dodson, cellist JoAnn Whang, clarinetist Mark Dover, saxophonist Kendra Emery play music by Susanna Hancock,Maria Kaoutzani, Finola Merivale, Emma O’Halloran, Gemma Peacocke, and Shelley Washington at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/9, 6 PM Fackpamp (guitarist Anders Nilsson, drummer Hampu Ohman-Frolund and amazing microtonal violinist Sarah Bernstein followed at 7 by irrepressible, transgressively funny saxophonist Jon Irabagon‘s noisy Axis sax trio with John Hegre and Nils Dronen and at 8 by the compellingly conversational Giacomo Merega and Kent O’Doherty bass/sax duo at Downtown Music Gallery

12/9. 7 PM spine-tingling, darkly mystical art-rock/avant-garde/chamber pop songwriter Carol Lipnik – pretty much everybody’s choice for bst singer in all of NYC – with similarly haunting pianist Matt Kanelos at Pangea, $20

12/9, 7 PM crystalline-voiced noir Americana songwriter Jessie Kilguss shares a short-set bill with a lot of cult-favorite talent: Dave Derby, Nathan Schram, badass Whiskey Girls cellist Patricia Santos, first-class Americana crooner Cliff Westfall at Mirror Tea House, 575 Union St., (3rd Ave/Nevins), Gowanus, free

12/9, 7 PM genre-smashing avant-jazz saxophonist/singer Stephanie Chou  and her band debut her harrowing jazz suite about women forced into sexual slavery under the Japanese in WWII at the third stage at the Rockwood, $15

12/9, 7:30 PM rapturously eclectic jazz chanteuse Marianne Solivan leads her quartet at Smalls

12/9, 7 PM jamgrass/folk-punk road warriors Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band at the Mercury, $12 adv tix rec

12/9, 8ish NYC’s answer to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hugh Pool at 11th St Bar

12/9, 8 PM reggae-rockers Zion80 and wild, hilarious klezmer punks Golem at Drom, $15 adv tix rec 

12/9, 8:15 PM cinematic, kaleidoscopic jazz composer/singer Annie Chen plays the album release show for her new one at Shapeshifter Lab, $15

12/10, 11 AM sharp the Momenta Quartet play their deviously hilarious multimedia Lost String Quartet for children with original music by Momenta violist/composer Stephanie Griffin, theater direction by Mexican director Fernando Villa Proal and scenography by Pedro Pazáran Trujillo. Kids love the crazy humor, but the music is very sophisticated and will grab you regardless of how old and cynical you are. At Time In Children’s Arts Initiative 227 W. 29th Street, Studio 4R, free, rsvp reqd, 

12/10, 5 PM perennially tuneful, lyrical piano improviser/composer Kris Davis leads the New School Jazz Orchestra in an all-Carla Bley program at Room I531, Arnhold Hall, 55 West 13th St, free

12/10, 8 PM pianist/composer Burnett Thompson plays his new jazz arrangements of Chinese tribal melodies with bassist Alex Blake at Mezzrow, $20 

 12/10, 8:30 PM wildfire guitarist Brandon Seabrook with Cooper-Moore on diddley bow and Gerald Cleaver on drums at Bar Lunatico

 12/11, 7 PM “the Slippery Fish pay tribute to the Mexican pedal steel master Tõno Quirazco, who in the 1960’s combined the new sound of ska music out of Jamaica with country twang to invent a twist on the Caribbean sound. With Ari Folman-Cohen – bass and John Echelay – pedal steel,” followed at 9 by clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/11, 7 PM magical microtonal violinist Sarah Bernstein’s Unearthish and the vocal/piano duo of Shelley Hirsch and klezmer-jazz piano icon Anthony Coleman at Arete Gallery, $15

12/11, 7:30/9:30 PM bassist Harish Raghavan with Joel Ross – vibraphone; Immanuel Wilkins – saxophone; Micah Thomas – piano at the Jazz Gallery, $15

12/11, 7:30 PM the Manhattan Chamber Players perform Shostakovich’s ethereal, haunting String Quartet No. 13 in Bb minor, Bruch’s Kol Nidre Variations, plus works by Brahms and Schumann at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, $25

12/11-14, 8PM hauntingly jangly noir Americana/surf/punkgrass band the Sadies at Union Pool, $20. Wickedly catchy Americana/paisley underground rockers Girls on Grass open the 12/11 show at 8, with the Sadies at 9.

12/11-15, 8:30 PM no wave laptop percussion legend Ikue Mori leads a series of ensembles at the Stone at the New School, $20. Choice pick: 12/13 with amazing, darkly intense pianist Satoko Fujii’s latest quartet Mahobin (Japanese for “thermos”), and 12/14 with Mephista: Ikue Mori (electronics) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Susie Ibarra (drums)

 12/11-16 and then 12/18-23, 8:30/10 PM hard-hitting postbop piano legend Kenny Barron leads his bands at the Vanguard: the first stand with his quintet, the second as a trio with special guest Regina Carter on violin

 12/11, 8:30 PM ambitious, smart, noir-inclined tenor saxophonist Patrick Cornelius with Jared Gold on B3 organ and Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums at the Bar Next Door, $12

12/11, 9ish explosive, creepy, colorful psychedelic rembetiko metal band Greek Judas  at Hank’s

12/12, 7 PM violinist Siwoo Kim and violist John Stulz play works by Vivian Fung, Andrew Norman, and Stulz in a “string-trio concert evoking a musical house of mirrors” with Metropolis Ensemble cellist Michael Katz at 1 Rivington St., 2nd Fl. just off Bowery, $20/$10 stud,

12/12, 7:30 PM magical percussionist Rajna Swaminathan’s improvisational Indian band Mangal with María Grand – tenor sax; Linda May Han Oh – bass; Joel Ross – vibraphone + special guest Imani Uzuri – voice at the Jazz Gallery, $15

12/12, 7:30 PM the amazing, haunting, otherworldly NY Andalus Ensemble – who play ancient Middle Eastern and North African Jewish sounds from as far back as a thousand years ago  –  at La Nacional, 239 W 14th St, $20/$16 stud/srs

12/12, 8 PM the all-female Resistance Revival Chorus sing epic, inspiring populist gospel tunes and anti-trumpie broadsides at the Knitting Factory, $20

12/12, 8 PM bassist Max Johnson presents a wild new trio made up of  Anna Webber (saxophone, flute), and Michael Sarin (drumset), performing all newly written and rearranged original compositions at Barbes

12/12, 8 PM pianist Margaret Mills premieres of four new solo works by Richard Wilson, Betty Wishart, Brian Schober and Libby Larsen at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, 122 W. 69th St

 12/12, 8:30 PM poignant, eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo leading his Tango Quartet at Bar Lunatico. 12/15 they’re at Barbes at 8

12/12, 9 PM fiery, psychedelically bluesy oldschool soul/southern rockers Lizzie & the Makers at LIC Bar

12/12, 9 PM edgy lefty lead guitarist Damian Quinones and his psychedelic latin soul band at Bar Chord

12/12, 10 PM NY horror surf legends the Coffin Daggers at the Mercury, $10

12/13, 7:30 PM blues harpist Frank Fairfield and guitarist Meredith Axelrod play oldtimey country blues at Symphony Space, $30/$20 thirty and under

12/13, 7:30/9:30 PM lyrical latin jazz pianist Helen Sung plays her Helen Sung with Words project with special guest Cecile McLorin Salvant at the Jazz Standard, $30. Sung is also solo at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on 12/18 at 7 for a third the price

12/13, 7:30 PM Ljova – one of the world’s great violists, and a colorful, cinematic composer – plays “an adventurous evening of his music for strings, featuring an expanded ensemble with members of the PUBLIQuartet, Secret Quartet, and special guest” at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/13, 8:30 PM hard-charging oldschool soul/funk/rock singer Bette Smith and band at Bar Lunatico

12/13, 8 PM baritone crooner Jack Grace does double duty, first leading his country/southwestern gothic band then fronting his legendary 90s jamband Steak at Hank’s, $10. Grace and his current band are also at Bar Chord at 9 on 12/28

12/13, 8 PM avant jazz composer-performer summit: Anthony Davis and Earl Howard reconvening their quartet at Roulette, $20 gen adm

12/13, 8 PM “Sara Milonovich, Daria Grace and Vibeke Saugestad are The Wynotte Sisters. They discovered a mutual love for three part harmonies and genre-crossing covers off the beaten track. From vintage Andrews Sisters to Steve Earle to Pink, they deliver an unexpected trove of holiday chestnuts. With special guest: Greg Anderson,” at Barbes

12/13, 9 PM hauntingly atmospheric pan-Asian chanteuse/composer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu‘s latest work-in-progress at Arete Gallery, $15

12/13, 9 PM wild live techno band Bombrasstico  at Bar Chord

12/14, 3 PM the Mannes Orchestra play Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 6 Auditorium, University Center, 63 Fifth Avenue, Room U100, free

12/14, 6 PM fearlessly political, picturesque retro folk/blues songwriter Joshua Garcia at the American Folk Art Museum

12/14, 6 PM charmingly inscrutable Parisienne jazz chanteuse Chloe & the French Heart Jazz Band at Club Bonafide, $20

 12/14, 7 PM unpredictably fun, funny psychedelic art-rock band the Academy Blues Project at Shrine. They’re at Joe’s Pub at midnight on 12/15 for $20.

12/14, 7:30 PM the Trump Beatles – who sing Beatles hits with hilarious new political lyrics – at Drom, $10 adv tix rec

12/14, 7:30 PM the Orchestra Now  play  Rimsky-Korsakov’s first symphony, and Reinhold Glière’s expansive Symphony No. 3 at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall $25 tix avail

12/14, 7:30 brilliant, eclectic jazz oudist Dhafer Youssef at the Poisson Rouge, $30 adv tix req

12/14, 8 PM the Shantypeople sing twisted sea chanties; Mike Baggetta and Nick Millevoi duel it out on their guitars; the Endangered Heart Quartet with Jazz Passengers Roy Nathanson trombonist Curtis Fowlkes, join versatile bassist Tim Kiah and violinist Jesse Mills at the Owl

12/14, 8 PM playfully lyrical, fearlessly political superduo Kill Henry Sugar – guitar/banjo mastermind Erik Della Penna and drummer Dean Sharenow –followed at 10 by the intoxicatingly clattering, sintir bass lute fueled Moroccan trance grooves of Innov Gnawa at Barbes

 12/15, 1/4 PM puppeteer Lake Simons’s annual theatrical performance of Saint-Saens’ subtly creepy Carnival of the Animals at the Miller Theatre. No under-fours; kids get in for $9, adults for $15.

12/15, 2 PM jazz pianist Roberta Piket solo followed by cinematic bassist Mark Wade leading his lyrical piano trio at Flushing Town Hall, $5

12/15, 3 PM the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra play Marin Alsop’s Gospel Messiah (the Handel epic with an African-American gospel spin) at the United Palace Theatre, 4140 Broadway in Washington Hts, $15 tix avail

12/15, 4 PM new klezmer music by pyrotechnic clarinetist and Dave Tarras protege Michael Winograd and trumpeter Ben Holmes followed at 8 by poignant, eclectic, lyrical jazz bassist/composer Pedro Giraudo leading his Tango Quartet at Barbes

12/15, 7:30 PM the acclaimed Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio play the first part of the Beethoven trio repertoire at Irving Auditorium, Irving Pl/17th St., $16

12/15, 7;30 PM edgy Middle Eastern-inspired alto saxophonist Uri Gurvich with Peter Slavov on bass and Francisco Mela on drums at Bar Next Door

12/15, 8 PM dark blues/folk noir/oldschool soul songwriter Kelley Swindall followed by similarly shadowy Britfolk songwriter Adam Masterson at Berlin, $10

 12/15, 8 PM an eclectic concert of works by adventurous composer/conductor Sarah Weaver with a fantastic series of lineups. “Sound in Peace (2016)” Joe McPhee, multiple instruments, Sarah Weaver, electronics. “Symmetry of Presence (2018)” David Taylor, bass trombone, electronics, Sarah Weaver, electronics. “Fountain of Synthesis (2018)” Jane Ira Bloom, soprano saxophone, Yoon Sun Choi, voice, Julie Ferrara, oboe, english horn, Joe McPhee, multiple instruments, Ned Rothenberg, woodwinds, Min Xiao-Fen, pipa, sanxian, ruan, Ray Anderson, trombone, David Taylor, bass trombone, Denman Maroney, piano, Mark Helias, bass, Gerald Cleaver, drumset, percussion, $25/$20 stud/srs at the DiMenna Center

12/15, 9 PM ageless CB’s era funk-punk/postrockers the Bush Tetras at the Kitchen, $20

12/16, 2 PM the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra play A Grand, Grand Overture – Malcolm Arnold; Tangazo  – Astor Piazzolla; The Composer Is Dead!; Nathaniel Stookey, with text by Lemony Snicket; Rimsky-Korsakov- “Christmas Eve” Suite at the Brooklyn Museum, $20 

12/16, 3 PM, repeating on 12/21 at 7 PM the Salvatones vocal ensemble, New York Virtuosi string quartet, and organist Stephen Fraser perform works by Bach, Vivaldi, Tavener, Fauré, Rachmaninoff, plus more traditional holiday fare at St. Malachy’s Church/The Actors’ Chapel, 239 W 49th St. free

12/16, 4 PM meticulous baroque vocal/chamber Ensemble Correspondances perform Charpentier’s Christmas Pastorale at Corpus Christi Church, 529 W 121St St, $10 tix avail

12/16, meet at the Washington Square arch at 5:45, march to Tompkins Square Park at 6 PM, this year’s Unsilent Night electronic music procession is a NYC institution and one of the funnest, trippiest things you can do this holiday season. Download one of the twinkling piece’s four tracks for your phone, stream it or borrow one of composer Phil Kline‘s original cassettes for your boombox. Fun for the whole family!

12/16, 6 PM guitarist Borche Naumoski and string quartet play baroque guitar concertos by Mauro Guiliani and Ferdinando Carulli at Gallery MC

12/16, 6 PM the Human Rites Trio with violinist Jason Kao Hwang, basssist Ken Filiano and drummer Andrew Drury jam it out at Downtown Music Gallery

12/16, 7:30 PM intense, fearlessly relevant Middle Eastern clarinetist Kinan Azmeh’s Syrian jazz City Band at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

12/16, 9 PM twangy Nashville gothic band Karen & the Sorrows  at C’Mon Everybody, $10

12/17, 8 PM Violist Jeongeun Park plays music by Fauré, Reinecke, Shostakovich, and Prokofiev with pianist Eric Zuber at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, $20

 12/17, 9:30 PM ex-Chicha Libre keyboard sorcerer Josh Camp’s wryly psychedelic cumbia/tropicalia/dub band Locobeach at Barbes

12/18, 7 PM slinky Ladino/Middle Eastern grooves with Alhambra followed by clever, fiery, eclectic ten-piece Balkan/hip-hop/funk brass maniacs Slavic Soul Party at Barbes

12/18, 7:30 PM violinist Elmira Darvarova, clarinetist Amy Zoloto, and hornist Howard Wall join pianist Thomas Weaver playing works by Villa-Lobos, Gershwin, Piazzolla and others at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, free, tix avail now at the box ofc

12/18, 8 PM the SoHarmoniums Women’s Choir presents “She Hath Wings,” songs of hope and perseverance, including new music by Abbie Betinis and Sarah Quartel as well as Vaughan Williams’ Magnificat” at Merkin Concert Hall, $25

12/18, 8 PM Adam Caine plays solo on guitar followed by accordion genius Shoko Nagai’s Fidoquartet with trumpeter Ron Horton and singer Maryanne de Prophetis at Scholes St. Studio, $15 sug don

12/18, 8:30 PM trumpeter Steven Bernstein’s legendary noir jazz outfit Sexmob in a rare Bed-Stuy appearance at Bar Lunatico

12/18, 9 PM jangly Dylanesque acoustic dude Hiss Golden Messenger at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, $20 adv tix rec

 12/18, 9 PM sharply lyrical janglerock/Americana/soul songwriter Matt Keating and guitarist Steve Mayone’s catchy new project the Bastards of Fine Arts at 11th St. Bar

12/18, 9:30 PM eclectic, globally-inspired violinist Dina Maccabee at Pete’s

12/18, 10 PM brilliant drummer/percussionist Willie Martinez & La Familia Sextet play classic salsa grooves at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe

12/19, 7 PM pianist Sunhwa Park plays works by Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach and Brahms at Symphony Space, $30 adv tix req

12/19, 8 PM accordion genius Shoko Nagai ’s haunting Tokala Silk Road/klezmer mashup project at Barbes

12/19, 9 PM oldschool-style high plains C&W singer Hope Debates & North 40 at Bar Chord. 12/26, same time she’s at Skinny Dennis.

12/20, 7:30 PM Romany jazz/psychedelic rock guitar mastermind Stephane Wrembel duels it out with with fellow six-string hotshot Thor Jensen at Symphony Space, $30/$20 thirty and under

 12/20, 7:30 PM psychedelic cumbia singer/personality Miss Yaya at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

12/20. 8:30 PM rising star santoor player Vinay Desai with tabla player Ehren Hanson at the Jalopy, $15

12/21, 2 PM brilliant baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian‘s LSQ at Flushing Town Hall, $5

12/21, 8 PM rustic Brazilian jungle guitar-and-accordion sounds with Regional de NY followed at 10 by accordionist/sitarist Kamala Sankaram’s hot surfy Bollywood/cumbia/psychedelic rock project Bombay Rickey – a launching pad for her spellbinding four-octave voice – at Barbes

12/21, 9 PM twisted twin-trombone dub reggae instrumentalists Super Hi-Fi play their sick dub xmas jams at Bar Chord

12/21, 11 PM the darkly eclectic, enigmatic Lorraine Leckie  – equally adept at Slavic and Americana noir and dark cabaret – at Sidewalk

12/22, 4 PM soaring, eclectic, picturesque Americana/ psychedelia/new wave songwriter Lianne Smith at Pete’s

12/22, 7:30 PM  a wild klezmer dance twinbill: pickup band the YNY All-Stars – with violinist Deborah Strauss and trombonist Daniel Blacksberg plus the Klez Dispensers (who are anything but sweet and crunchy) at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, 414 14th St (just east of 1st Ave), $20

12/22, 8 PM trombonist Vera Kemper’s Blu Cha Cha band followed by garifuna bandleader Andy Ordonez and his combo at Barbes  

12/22, 8:30 PM fiery gutbucket organ music with the Juke Joint Jelis with Brianna Thomas on vocals and Greg Lewis on B3 at Bar Lunatico

12/23, 2:45 PM fiercely populist Boston Yiddish choir A Besere Velt  celebrate fighting the power,  and also the 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, at the Town and Village Synagogue, 334 E 14th St, $20

12/23, 7/9:30 PM short sets by edgy leading lights of Yiddish song past and present: the Klezmatics’ Lorin Sklamberg, Michael Alpert, Eléonore Biezunski, Nicole Borger, Joanne Borts, Sarah Gordon, Itzik Gottesman, Daniel Kahn, Jeanette Lewicki, Sasha Lurje, Ethel Raim, Mark Slobin, Pete Rushefsky, Jake Shulman-Ment and Josh Waletzky at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th St, $15/$10 stud/sr

12/24, 8 PM Yiddish salsa mashups with percussionist Roberto Juan Rodriguez, pianists Marilyn Lerner and Anthony Coleman, Danny Sadownick, the Klezmatics’ Richie Barshay, and the reputedly amazing OY-NY Yiddish Divas – Joanne Borts, Nicole Borger, Daniella Rabbani and Alexandra Czarny – at Drom, $15 adv tix rec

12/25, 8 PM a live recreation of two klezmer albums from the 50s. Pyrotechnic clarinetist and Dave Tarras protege Michael Winograd leads an all-star band performing Tarras’ legendary Tanz! album from 1955 – a cult classic and high point in mid-century minor key jamming. Then trumpeter Frank London of the Klezmatics and percussionist Deep Singh tackle Irving Fields’s schlocky 1959 LP Bagels & Bongos lp at the Town and Village Synagogue, 334 14th St, $20,

 12/25-30, 8:30/10 PM high-voltage tenor saxophonist Chris Potter leads his quartet at the Vanguard, $30

12/26, 7:30 PM a global klezmer lineup: Moldovan singer/composer Yefim “Fima” Chorny and pianist Suzanna Ghergus, Adrienne Cooper’s daughter Sarah Gordon, the perennially transgressive Daniel Kahn, pianist Marilyn Lerner, otherworldly crooner Ilya Shneyveys, nimble tsimblist Pete Rushefsky and other special guests at Bohemian National Hall, 321 E 73rd St. (between 1st and 2nd Ave), $25

12/26, 8 PM an all-Japanese series of ensembles play music from across the centuries: koto group Violyre. cello champions Cellissimo, plus the Jets a.k.a. Chia-Dan joining forces with the US National Cheerleading Champions at Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Halll, free tix avail now

12/26, 8 PM percussive, trance-inducing, bitingly tuneful, Middle Eastern-tinged female-fronted jamband SisterMonk at the small room at the Rockwoo

12/27, 9 PM scorching, purposeful, female-fronted heavy psych band Ruby the Hatchet and the slower, doomier Dead Meadow at the Knitting Factory, $25 adv tix rec

12/28, 7 PMNew York’s most charismatic, darkly compelling lyrical songwriter/storyteller/keyboard genius Rachelle Garniez plays her third annual farewell party at Pangea, $25

12/28-29, 8 PM a rare reunion of Thalia Zedek’s legendary, scorching 90s twin-guitar band Come at Union Pool, $20

12/28, 8:30 PM Antibalas spinoff Armo play Afrobeat at Bar Lunatico

12/29, 8 PM chanteuse/uke player Dahlia Dumont’s Blue Dahlia playing edgy, smartly lyrically-fueled, jazz-infused tunes in English and French with classic chanson and Caribbean influences at Barbes

12/29. 8:30 PM state-of-the-art postbop guitarist Will Bernard and group at Bar Lunatico

12/30, 7 PM sizzling steel guitarist – and Thelonious Monk reinventor – Mike Neer with his band at Barbes

12/30, 11 PM shapeshifting instrumentalists International Orange – who mash up Afrobeat, gutbucket organ grooves,stoner downtempo and some funk  at Offside Tavern, 137 w 14th st,

The loudest New Year’s Eve concert of the year starts at 11 at St. Bartholomew’s Church with William Trafka at the organ, free

 New Year’s Eve, 10:30 PM Rev. Vince Anderson and his band play Union Pool in Williamsburg -charismatic, fearlessly political Brooklyn legend playing slinky organ funk jams with a great horn band behind him, free

New Year’s Eve, 11 PM ish the US Bombs – who have some of the coolest album titles of any punk band from any era – at the Kingsland, $25

New Year’s Eve, 11 PM awesomely slinky, psychedelic Israeli Ethiopiques groove instrumentalists Anbessa Orchestra  at Barbes, $20 no tv, no champagne toast

1/3, 7:30 PM trumpeter Etienne Charles’ creole jazz band at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

1/4, 8 PM Niger’s Tuareg psychedelic guitar sensation Mdou Moctar at Baby’s All Right, $15

1/7, 8:30 PM Lebanese art-rock/metal/goth band Gurumiran at Pete’s 

1/10, 7:30 PM Burnt Sugar celebrate 20 years of lush Braxton-ish largescale improvisation, hard funk, James Brown and Bowie covers and more at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

1/11, 5:30 PM laid-back Americana/country blues songwriter Jon LaDeau at the American Folk Art Museum

1/13, 3 PM the North/South Chamber Orchestra plays works by Christopther James, Max Lifchitz, Alexandro Rodriguez and John Winsor. Violinist Claudia Schaer and guitarist Hermann Hudde are the soloists, free, at Christ & St. Stephen’s Church, 122 W. 69th St

1/17, 7:30 PM edgy, shapeshifting, charismatic Korean art-rock/chamber folk/acoustic psychedelic band Black String at the Lincoln Center Atrium, free, early arrival advised

1/18, 9 PM Marcellus Hall at Pete’s

1/24, 8:30 PM ambient guitar ensemble Fyrn – whose guitars are “bowed with metal files and metal bars, creating dense and hauntingly beautiful, decaying sonic ambient landscapes that engulf the audience as the ensemble sets up in a large circle around them,”  at Arete Gallery, $15

Combo Chimbita Air Out Their Darkly Shamanic Psychedelic Grooves at Lincoln Center

This past evening at Combo Chimbita’s feral, darkly psychedelic show, Lincoln Center’s Viviana Benitez explained that the dancefloor at the atrium space had been opened up, “So that you will feed off their energy and they will feed off you.” She was on to something.

The Colombian-American band were celebrating the release of their first single, Testigo, from a forthcoming album due out in 2019. Drummer Dilemastronauta built a boomy, shamanic triplet groove over an enveloping low drone as Niño Lento’s synth woozed in and out. Then a whistle of wind echoed the rain raging outside, and frontwoman Carolina Oliveros took the stage. Decked out in a striking, stark black gothic skirt and blouse, silvery bracelets and facepaint flickering under the low lights, she was an Incan avenging angel hell-bent on righting centuries of conquistadorian evil. As the group rose to a screaming peak behind her, she didn’t waste time cutting loose, Niño Lento blasting out eerie sheets of reverb from his Fender Jazzmaster. Maybe because the guitar was so loud, she was even more ferocious than usual: their usual home base, Barbes, is a lot smaller.

Next it was bassist Prince of Queens’ turn to get a catchy minor-key riff swirling from his keys, then a reggae-tinged pulse as the guitar fired off a flickering, deep-space hailstorm. A stygian vortex of sound took centstage as Oliveros left her trance momentarily, then the group hit a galloping Ethiopiques beat with a furious, insistent- bullerengue-style call-and-response, which made sense considering that Oliveros also fronts the even trancier, considerably more rustic Afro-Colombian collective Bulla En El Barrio. It was a galloping constelacion of Los Destellos psychedelic cumbia and the Black Angels.

Oliveros stalked across the stage, channeling an increasingly forceful series of witchy voices as the next tune grew from a brooding, reggae-tinged groove to a hypnotically cantering blend of icepick reverb guitar and woozy synth swirl. The song after that was just as psychedelic, a deep-space hailstorm of hammer-on guitar over dubwise bass and Oliveros’ looming intensity front and center, foreshadowing the big crescendo the band would hit with the new single a bit later.

From there Oliveros’ imploring voice rose over an echoing, bass-heavy slink that slowly shifted from reggae to cumbia and back and forth, the menace of Niño Lento’s funereal organ closer and closer on the horizon. Sinister dub bass anchored icy minor-key clang, giving Oliveros a long launching pad for her most explosive, assaultively shivery vocal attack of the evening. After awhile, it was as if the show was all just one long, grittily triumphant anthem. You might not have heard it here first, but this is the future of psychedelic rock: lyrics in something other than English and a charismatic woman out front.

The next free show at Lincoln Center’s atrium space on Broadway just north of 62nd St. is this Nov 29, a return to the usual Thursday night programming here with Time for Three playing a similarly surreal if somewhat more sedate set mashing up classical and Americana styles. Get there as close to 7:30 PM showtime as you can if you want a seat.

Twisted Psychedelic Balkan Noir From Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores

The first track on Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores’ relentlessly creepy 2012 masterpiece Sister Death was a menacing, chromatically psychedelic Balkan art-rock epic aptly titled Fire Shuffle. The Rhode Island-based accordionist/bandleader opens his similarly brilliant, macabre new one, The Opposite – streaming at Cuneiform Records – in a similar vein, with Soft Motors. The difference is that this time he’s playing all the keyboards. In many cases, he overdubs his accordion, running it through several wildly diverse effects patches. This particular number is awash in an ever-closer circling web of catchy minor-key riffs, Redfearn a one-man Balkan orchestra. “Fear won’t stop til the mornings are soft,” horn player Ann Schattle sings, deadpan but troubled.

Tramadoliday is a deviously bouncy, chromatically juicy, increasingly orchestral danse macabre, Schattle’s horn wry and steady while Redfearn conjures up lysergic Stoogoid wah-wah, bass synth fuzz and Carnival of Souls organ around a wicked Balkan accordion riff.

Drummer Matt McLaren flits around on his rims for a good approximation of a vintage drum machine to propel the hypnotic, cell-like phrases of the album’s title track, its quasar pulse looming closer and closer. Carnivore has a carnivalesque, hurdy gurdy-like theme and dark, allusively chromatic variations: “Come, turn out the lights,” is the mantra. Finally, bassist Christopher Sadlers gets a juicy fuzztone riff of his own to run underneath Redfearn’s strobe attack.

The slightly more playful, hip hop-influenced There’s a Bat Living in My Room takes its inspiration from Redfearn’s former coke dealer, whose inability to resist getting high on his own supply resulted in hallucinations reputedly more prosaically troubling than the song title. Rend the Veil blends uneasy 60s Laurel Canyon psychedelic rock into a ba-BUMP theme for the Macedonian wedding from hell, with a sick, echoingly dissociative outro that segues into Possum, a shout-out to an old Redfearn pal who killed himself. It’s the album’s hardest-hitting and most Middle Eastern-flavored track, with a spot-on Redfearn approximation of a mighty metal guitar battle theme at the center.

The final cut, Pterodactyl, is the album’s longest epic: picture a 60s Bollywood band putting a dub reggae spin on the Buzzcocks’ Why Can’t I Touch It, if you can imagine that kind of time warp. As with the band’s previous album, look for this one high on the list of best albums of 2018 next month here.

Much as Redfearn is a spellbinding player in the purest sense of the word, it would have been even better to be able to hear Rose Thomas Bannister’s elegant organ work alongside his accordion. The similarly haunting noir psychedelic Brooklyn songwriter toured with Redfearn as a sidewoman back in 2015. Onstage, the contrasting textures and interplay between the two was unadulterated sonic absinthe.

No-No Boy’s Savagely Lyrical Songs Illuminate a Troubling Chapter in American History

“We think a lot about individuals,” electrifying singer Erin Aoyama explained toward the end of her band No-No Boy’s riveting Lincoln Center show this past evening. “When you hear a number like 120,000 people incarcerated, what does that mean? It’s a hard number to understand.”

Aoyama’s friend’s mother had been incarcerated at the Tule Lake concentration camp during World War II. Aoyama’s own grandmother had been another of almost 130,000 Japanese-Americans held prisoner without trial throughout the war. Yet among those people – most of them American citizens – “”The power of young love, finding this little bit of joy, even within a prison camp,” persisted, as Aoyama explained. This particular case was a clandestine romance where the young college student and her crush would steal moments to hold hands in the camp dishwashing room . With that, Aoyama’s high lonesome harmonies rose to the rafters as she launched into the wistful, ironically Americana-flavored anthem Heart Mountain. Songwriter/guitarist Julian Saporiti no doubt latched onto the double entendre in the song title, taken from one of the ten concentration camps where Japanese-Americans were imprisoned.

That was the night’s single moment to salute the resilience of the human spirit. Otherwise, Saporiti’s wickedly lyrical, historically rich double entendres and savage puns confronted hypocrisy, racism and collective amnesia. Like Aoyama, he’s an extremely strong singer, and a hell of a tunesmith, with an anthemic, Elliott Smith-inflected sensibility. What’s more, the band’s new album 1942 is only the tip of the iceberg: they’ve got about four more albums worth of material, and played a lot of those new songs throughout the show. Not bad for a guy who thought he’d never make another record after his artsy late-zeros janglerock band Young Republic broke up. “This project has been nine years in the making,” beamed Lincoln Center’s Meera Dugal, who’d booked the band – she’d been entranced by Saporiti’s vocals and songwriting chops since discovering Young Republic while in college.

With No-No Boy, context is everything. Saporiti and Aoyama offered as much insight between songs as during them, providing historical background for narratives that typically focused on Japanese-Americans in concentration camps, but also explored the experiences of Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese immigrants. Saporiti revealed the he’d been inspired to start writing these songs in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, when a Trump advisor cited Japanese-American incarceration as a precedent for the eventual Muslim travel ban. The rest is history.

Aoyama took a wistful, stoic turn on lead vocals on the band’s usual opening number, a slow, steady Romany jazz-flavored, shuffling cover of Smoke Rings,  clarinet wafting pensively through the mix as grim back-and-white imagery of detainees played on the screen overhead. ““Imagine this beautiful song Erin’s singing for you, but behind barbwire,” Saporiti told the crowd.

The duo followed that wiht Tony Ramone, a vivid, delicately bouncy tour of 1980s Chinatown through the eyes of punk rocker from the neighborhood. Guest violinist Kishi Bashi’s spiky flourishes and plaintive washes spiced the harrowing travelogue Boat People, whose collective tales of outrunning the cops and cheating death in flimsy fishing boats in Pacific storms were some of the night’s more harrowing moments.

Both Imperial Twist – a surreal mashup of doo-wop and 1960s Vietnamese faux-French psychedelic pop – and the night’s folk-tinged closing number, Little Saigon each sent a shout out to the pioneering South Vietnamese psychedelic bands of the late 60s and early 70s. The more upbeat, catchy Khmerica pondered the experience of Laotian immigrants whose story is even less part of the popular narrative: “Some kids move ‘cause parents take jobs, some move because of napalm,” Saporiti intoned.

Aoyama moved to keyboards for Saint-Denis, a muted vignette about Vietnamese immigrants in Paris. The skeletal yet anthemic Gimme Chills, with its litany of grim historical events and sarcastic chronicle of American products, offered a look at American imperialsim in the Philippines: “Gimme trial without jury, gimme Imelda Marcos’ shoe,” as Saporiti put it.

The most grisly image of all was the corpse of a suicide who’d put his head on the railroad tracks outside a World War II concentration camp. That image panned overhead while the group played Only What You Can Carry, reminding that while those camps were not designed specifically for killing, a lot of people didn’t make it out alive. And Two Candles, with a soaring Kishi Bashi violin solo midway through, was a somber salute to those who remained silent about their experiences in the camps, Aoyama’s grandmother among them.

And for what it’s worth, the band’s output – both the album and multimedia tour – are Saporiti’s doctoral project at Brown University. Let’s hope the rest of the Ivy League is as open to artistic achievements like this one. As Saporiti said with a laugh, you can reach lot more people with catchy songs than you can with a thesis that ends up gathering dust on somelibrary shelf.

The series of free concerts at the Lincoln Center atrium space on Broadway just north of 62nd St. continues with a rare Tuesday show this coming Nov 20 at 7:30 PM with Canary Islands chanteuse Olga Cerpa and her band. If you’re in town, get there early if you want a seat.

No-No Boy Bring Their Fascinating, Harrowing, Catchy Songs of Japanese-American Incarceration to Lincoln Center

In one of the more ugly chapters in American history, beginning in 1942 almost 130,000 Japanese-Americans were seized without trial and subsequently imprisoned in a total of ten concentration camps, mostly in the western states. Most of those individuals were American citizens. Virtually all of them, instructed to leave their homes behind with only what they could carry with them, would spend the entirety of World War II imprisoned.

The “no-no boys,” as concentration camp staff first called them, refused to swear allegiance to the United States or serve in the military, which makes sense considering that virtually all of these men had family and relatives were were imprisoned along with them. With their debut album, 1942 – streaming at Bandcamp – elegantly tuneful rock band No-No Boy bring the chilling, powerfully relevant history of that era to life. They’re playing the atrium space at Lincoln Center on Broadway just north of 62nd St. this Thurs, Nov 15 at 7:30 PM. The show is free, but the earlier you get there the better because the venue frequently sells out.

Frontman/guitarist Julian Saporiti harmonizes with singer Erin Aoyama in the album’s shimmering, Elliott Smith-tinged opening track, Pacific Fog, Tessa Sacramone’s plaintive violin soaring overhead. Saporiti’s narrative allusively references John Okada’s hauting1957 novel, also titled No-No Boy.

This album goes beyond Japanese-American incarceration to focus on similarly relevant history. Case in point: Boat People, a gently sweeping, hypnotic ballad that juxtaposes the story of a mid-70s Vietnamese doctor who resettled in Montreal, alongside a more detailed, harrowing account of current-day refugees:

Fourteen hours by car, cargo trucks and cabs
Just to shake the cops, Mom had to stay back
A Chinese safe house and covered tracks…

The floor of the Pacific is littered with Asian bones.

The stories lighten but are no less minutely detailed in Han Shan & Helen Keller: Cold Mountain – an indelibly tense wintertime Boston college-crowd scenario – and then Disposable Youth, a wry afternoon party pickup scenario. By contrast, Lam Thi Dep – a John Lennon-esque anthem named after a female Viet Cong soldier captured in a famous Vietnam War photo – has the most intertwined of all the stories here. Saporiti’s savagely sardonic references reach beyond the fact that many first-generation Vietnamese-Americans voted Republican, to a hilarious account of knee-jerk political correctness in academia.

Instructions to All Persons refers to the FDR edict to round up Japanese-Americans on the west coast; Saporiti and Ayoyama sing in the voice of a survivor of the camps, reflecting on their prisoner friends’ quiet defiance and attempts to maintain some kind of normalcy there.

Saporiti draws his inspiration for Ogie/Naoko, a charming ukulele waltz, from Melody Miyamoto Walters’ book In Love and War: The World War II Love Letters of a Nisei Couple, adding sobering context to an otherwise schmaltzy story. The sweeping parlor pop ballad Heart Mountain – named for the camp where Ayoyama’s grandmother was imprisoned – is another waltz, Saporiti’s narrator hopeful that someday he can consummate a clandestine romance and rebuild his life as a college professor.

Two Candles In the Dark, arguably the album’s strongest song, is perhaps ironically its most Americana-flavored one. Saporiti gives voice to an irrepressible rulebreaker looking to get over despite her circumstances:

Pretty outlaw call a quarter past, light knuckles on a barrack door
She got a brother down in Topaz, I saw that name once in a jewelry store
Wind around past the skaters and pond, looking for a cut in the wire
She’s got a key to the cellar door,
I don’t ask questions, man, just stand there inspired

Dragon Park, the album’s most stoically angry song, traces images from Saporiti’s own Tennessee childhood as a Vietnamese-American fighting off racist idiots:

I know that Southern Stare
Not just back home but everywhere

The album ends with its most Asian folk-inflected tune, Little Saigon, lost in a reverie of a place to indulge in a heritage including but not limited to Vietnamese psychedelic rock and the dan bau, a magical, warp-toned stringed instrument. At its best, Saporiti’s tunesmithing ranks with any of the real visionaries of this era: Elvis Costello, Hannah Fairchild and Rachelle Garniez. You’ll see on the best albums of 2018 page at the end of the year.

Single of the Day 11/11/18 – Lush, Majestic, Searingly Lyrical Janglerock

Noctorum – the duo of Marty Willson-Piper, this era’s greatest twelve-string guitarist and longtime member of the Church – with longtime collaborator Dare Mason – capture an indelible London moment with Piccadilly Circus in the Rain (via Soundcloud). The way they pivot out of very subtle satire to withering realism will rip your face off. Another contender for best song of 2018.

Single of the Day 11/10/18 – Full Frontal Ferocity

Arguably the loudest band ever to play the sedate Rockwood Music Hall, Hannah vs. the Many are New York’s best power trio. They’re at the Way Station at 10 tonight, a place where they actually could drown out the crowd of yuppie puppies at the bar. Check out their latest rad, theatrical single, Face Front (via youtube) frontwoman Hannah Fairchild’s lyrical torch job on an ex she ran into when least expected/desired. Don’t ever mess with a songwriter – this could happen to you.

Single of the Day 11/8/18 – Pure Punk Theatre of Cruelty

Punk rock, in its original undiluted form, is supposed to be funny, right? And 80% of humor is based on cruelty. Super American‘s Chris From Walmart (via  youtube) is 2 minutes 25 seconds worth of payback as vicious as it gets. “You deserve a girl who actually texts you back sometime.” 

Ouch.