Performer Spotlight: John Zorn (a guide to Zorn@60 in NYC)

(NOTE: I updated the Sept 28 Metropolitan Museum concert section after they posted the full schedule on 8/30.)

I don’t really have any big concerts for a couple of weeks (and the last few concerts I went to ended up unblogged due to a variety of factors like illness and a painful dental emergency) so I decided I would write up a little overview of one of my favorite performers/composers, John Zorn, and the line-up of concerts he’s got going on in the next month or two.

Zorn is in the middle of an incredibly prolific part of his career – he’s released five albums this year, and I think there were eleven last year. It can be hard to keep up, and even harder to know where to jump in if you’re just starting out. (I usually tell people to start with the Bar Kokhba triple-CD live set – absolutely great music, and very easy to get into.) As far as genres go, he does anything from twinkly Christmas music to stuff that will scare the neighbor’s dog if you play it too loud. (I’m also told that Anulikwutsayl freaks out my friend’s cat. But what do cats know, anyway?) Anyway, he covers a lot of territory: classical, jazz, rock, world(ish), improv, avant garde, noise – there’s hardly anything he hasn’t at least briefly touched upon.

As part of his 60th birthday celebrations, he’s arranged a wonderful array of marathon concerts around the world – I believe he’s hit 14 countries plus a couple of cities in the U.S. so far this year, with a couple more European dates still to come. I’ve managed to see a couple of different marathons in 2013 already, and I’m very excited about all of the upcoming shows in New York – during the next month or so he’s got a truly spectacular series of concerts lined up in his hometown. I understand that not everyone aspires to my level of concert mania, so I thought I’d go over the list of upcoming NYC shows and make some recommendations for the more casual fan or the curious listener who wants to try live Zorn for the first time.

  • August 29: John Zorn & Fred Frith at the Stone. As far as I know, this will be a fully improvised set. Frith mainly plays guitar and has been in many bands, including Henry Cow, Naked City, and Cosa Brava. This show is recommended for the more hardcore fans and those who have a particular love of improv. Probably not a great introduction to Zorn’s work, if you’re looking for that.
  • Sept 2: John Zorn improv birthday party at the Stone, with guests including (more…)

Performer spotlight: Amanda F. Palmer

So: I find myself once again without any concerts to review for a couple of weeks, and therefore I’m writing about someone I’m hoping to see next week instead of a band I’ve already seen. Amanda Palmer! She is playing a tiny show right in my neighborhood and I’m hoping to win tickets (wish me luck!). It’s such a small venue that they are not selling tickets, but giving them away to a few lucky people.

The cool part, and the reason I’m writing about it in advance, is that it’s going to be streamed live on the internet, and we can all see the show whether or not we get tickets. Save the date: June 4, 7PM EST, at Red Star Union. There will also be a number of guest artists doing music and readings, including her husband Neil Gaiman, who happens to be one of my favorite authors ever since I stumbled across a copy of Good Omens back in the 90s. I think it’s going to be a really fun night.

afpjune4

If you’re a fan of AFP, you’re already writing this on your calendar. If you aren’t familiar with her music, read on! (I realize there’s a third option, but I guess they’ve already stopped reading.)

The first time I saw AFP was about three years ago, after a friend of mine (hi Lisa!) told me I should check out the Evelyn Evelyn concert at a local venue I really like. It wasn’t expensive, so I figured I would give it a shot in spite of knowing nothing about it aside from reading a brief blurb on the website (which didn’t give anything away). I may be the only person in the entire world that (more…)

Not a Concert Review: John Lurie at the Coolidge Corner Theatre (5/13/2013)

First, some music to listen to while you read:

A little background: I’ve never seen John Lurie performing live music, and I probably never will (sadly). When I heard he was coming to the Coolidge Corner movie theater to present some episodes of his television show, “Fishing with John,” I figured it was the closest I would ever get, and bought a ticket. “Fishing with John” was actually my first exposure to Lurie’s work. I watched the first episode at my brother’s house in 1999 or so, and later rented the rest of the episodes from the local video store (remember those?) and watched them with a friend. We loved it, and when I got a DVD player, I bought the DVDs with director’s commentary. I also saw him in a couple of films, and someone gave me a copy of his “Marvin Pontiac” album a year or two later.

Amazingly, at that point I had still never heard the Lounge Lizards – I didn’t get into jazz until a few years later. I have a few of their albums now, but I am by no means an expert on their work – I tend to be so focused on live music that I kind of forget about people who aren’t actively touring and making music (feel free to excoriate me in the comments!). But every time I hear them I think “DAMN, why don’t I have more of their albums – this is fantastic!”

Anyway, I showed up to the Coolidge Corner Theatre not really knowing what to expect. For the last ten years there have been a lot of odd things going on with (more…)