- The Man Behind The Music
- A Different Kind of Bar In Jackson Heights
- Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca
- What's Next for Dirty Mac?
- Realizing a Dream
- A Staten Island Band Strives to Make a Career out of Their Passion
- The Cyrus Movement Prepares for Musical Warfare
- Winston Ford's Information Highway
- Vespertina's Opera Songbird
Author Archives: jerrica.williams
Posts: 14 (archived below)
Sitting in the Lyric Diner on 3rd Avenue, Peter Panousopoulos sits looking over the menu pondering what to take for lunch, all while eating Birthday Cake Italian ice from Ralph’s. What may seem as backwards, dessert before the meal that is, it is a true example of his endearing personality: never be conventional. The 19-year-old Filipino and Greek musician-turned-basketball player-turned back musician is one of admiration. Before even deciding on burger and fries, he is already ready to discuss his vast musical knowledge, the type that would cause the unambitious to cringe in fear. Yet, that ambition is far from pretentious; his easygoing smile and nature works like a domino effect for anyone who surrounds him.
Since he was eight years old, Panousopoulos has been involved in music. He began playing the piano then began taking up the guitar two years later. He is the type of person who is naturally musically inclined, being able to point out almost any instrument in the music he hears. “I kind of have this obsession with sound,” he says.
That obsession is very much taken care of: he has three guitars and a Cord M50 Digital Audio Workstation keyboard, which allows him to make use of sounds beyond the basic keyboard, such as drums. To test himself, he listens to a song once then plays it from memory. “I don’t just listen to the lyrics of songs,” he says. “I listen to the repeating beat.”
He grew up listening to Spanish music and rock, which are still his favorite music genres to listen to. Linkin Park, The Starting Line, Blink 182, and Don Omar are just a few of his favorite artists. When it comes to rap music, it’s impossible for him to single out a favorite artist. “Maybe if you give me a top 20, I could work with you,” he laughs. Yet, just as he can listen to rock, Spanish, and rap, he can as easily listen to pop and R&B. When Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” comes on in the diner, he starts humming and singing every line without fault.
His love for music has not always been smooth sailing, however. When Panousopoulos entered high school, he had to make a choice between the school band or school athletics, which the school was known for. “It was a no brainer,” he says. “We didn’t really have much of a music program at our school.”
So for sometime, Panousopoulos gave up music for basketball and soccer. He continued playing basketball into his first year of college at Baruch, where he is now a sophomore. But during his first season, he injured his knee, switching his focus back completely on music.
During his senior year in high school, he started professionally DJ’ing, which he still does once a week to this day. In the past four months, he has performed four times, most recently at the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he played the guitar and sang. When it comes to releasing his own music, he has not come out with a CD or EP yet, but he works continuously to become a better musician. “I make every single aspect of my music,” he says confidently.
His knowledge of instruments is heard when he plays the guitar. The notes flow right into one another with ease, and his confidence with it radiates. Rather he becomes a famous musician, or music stays as his personal niche, he will always make beautiful music.
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While he is becoming more and more comfortable with singing, his passion remains with the guitar and the piano. For more than ten years he has perfected his skill with these instruments, and he only plans to get better.
In the future, he doesn’t know where life will take him, but he wants to have options. “I want to go to Greece or the Philippines. I might DJ full time. I really would like to get an apprenticeship with a music CEO.” Nonetheless, he knows music will always be apart of his life. “It’s apart of who I am, “ Panousopoulos says with a light smile. His passion is apparent, and wherever he ends up in the music genre, it will be because his ambition to master the musical art form got him there.
In a near empty room at the 92Y Tribeca cafe, there she stood calmly, clasping onto her guitar as if it was her shelter, eyes closed as if she was escaped, and voice soothing the air softly yet distinctly. As Brooke Campbell ended her first number, and from every number then on, she would say “Thank you very much,” in an unmistakable southern accent. Comforting the quiet room with a soft smile, she poured herself into another song, once again, escaping into a place where no one else was present. The world consisted of she and her guitar, and the crowd willingly watched her live in it.
Campbell defines herself as a folk-pop singer. Yet, her quiet, feather like tone rides the edge of soft blues, while drops of country itch out without knowing. It is a beautiful combination, paired with her guitar and innocent nature. She sings as if music is all she has left, sounding almost weak from her past endeavors. Blending in perfectly with her essence was the environment: the dim, red-lighted setting combined with the small yet homey art space of the café invited her voice right in. If a crowd member closed their eyes, they might just get lost in a world of their own.
Her music is somewhat on the sad end, a pro or a con depending on one’s mood. Singing lines such as, “Soon I’ll be just another girl. Soon it won’t matter that we loved,” her voice screamed of helplessness, while barely being loud of enough to catch the words.
After singing a few songs from her latest album, Sugar Spoon, such as Why?, Sugar Spoon, and Please Go, she sang covers of other artists, such as Willie Nelson’s Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain. If unfamiliar with Nelson’s music, the song could be mistaken for one of her own. Her distinctive nature is present in every song she sings—she simply does not try. It is who she is.
After her hour-long performance, her genuineness shined as she came and shook the hand and spoke to everyone in the crowd. Stating she originally is from North Carolina, her welcoming personality is now understood. She is a Southern belle at heart, and it shows throughout her music.
With the natural talent she holds, it is disheartening to see such a few number of people in the crowd, especially at a free event; there were no more than 15 people present. But like many other musicians, Campbell is working to make a name for herself. She has had three albums, the latest being Sugar Spoon which was released in 2009. She has gotten some attention from press, including the Arts Journal, but beyond that, she has a long road to travel before she claims any true acclaim.
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Nonetheless, regardless of anonymity or fame, Campbell is a talented musician who’s voice provides emotional relief from current troubles. If her next performance costs, it would be well worth the pay.
A few weeks ago, on a brisk Monday evening, young adults–anywhere from the ages of 16 to 25– gathered up in the small clothing store Prohibit NYC. It got so crowded to the point where I had to stand on a chair, which would end up being abnormally convenient. After about an hour and a half of waiting, in walks Dom Kennedy, the underground rapper who will very soon be joining the company of famous rappers such as J.Cole, Big Krit, Kanye West, and more. After giving his motivation speech and a little background on himself, he came around and personally met every person in the audience, keeping a smile on his face the entire time. It was a beautiful thing.
There is something about an underground artist that I love. Don’t get me wrong, mainstream artists cannot help their amount of fame, and I have love for them too. But, when you are able to go see an underground artist, one you feel is on the brink of stardom, you feel a certain rush. And many underground artists, especially underground rappers I’ve found, will talk to you no matter the occasion, even giving you a motivation speech on how you can reach your potential.
The ability for an artist not to forget the people that allowed them to reach stardom is inspiring.
Two friends that were with me at the Dom Kennedy event, who happen to want to be rappers, got to not only shake his hand and take a picture with him, but actually talk to him and his producer on how to make it in this industry.
So, for all the underground artists that are getting that “big break,” don’t forget the little people who always knew you. Because when you recognize we were there, it’s a beautiful thing.
Tamar Kali’s Pearl (remix), is one of loud confusion. Literally. Kali’s loud voice combined with unknown lyrics only leaves one to rely on the video for understanding. What seems like a quest to find freedom and true beauty in women through “naturalness” and a collection of body piercing, it is still a work left up in the air in meaning. Different, maybe. Trying too hard, more likely.
Lotus Flower represents the mindset of a legendary rock-n-roll band: spacey, modernistic, delusional, and at the same time free. From their new album The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s new single feels like a stoner’s dream, sounding as if it is flowing through cloud nine, attempting to touch the base of Heaven. The song is soft, hypnotic, and the video only adds to the feeling of a loss of conscience in reality and the feeling of being diverged into a dream.
New York targets the struggling: the struggling artist, the struggling musician, and even, the struggling chef. Kala Coleman, a twenty-year-old culinary student from St. Louis, Mo, is no exception. She has one goal in mind: working with food and being successful at it. It hasn’t been an easy journey for her, however. Yet, with the motivation to rise out of her past, and the passion to work in the kitchen, Coleman stands as an example for what many seem to take for granted these days: achieving success by working harder than everyone else around you.
Coleman, a sophomore Culinary Nutrition major at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., hopes to pack her bags and head for New York upon graduation. What sounds like a typical dream for many hoping to “make it big,” Coleman sees as necessary. “New York is fast paced, and so is the kitchen. That’s what I want to do. Work fast and get good money doing it.” It is a bold goal for one who wants to work in the culinary industry, with the average chef making anywhere from $57,471-$87, 563 annually, according www.allculinaryschools.com.
Her love for cooking stemmed from her childhood. She started cooking with her grandmother when she was younger, and since then, cooking has always been close to her heart. She knew upon high school graduation, she was going to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
Her motivation to work in food has grown stronger since she’s been in college. “School is tough,” she says. Classes run in 9-day sessions, so students have to learn fast. They work in three trimesters: the first is comprised of lab classes, the second of academic courses, and the last can be lab classes or a student can choose an internship.
Coleman, currently in the third part of her trimester and involved in an internal internship, is working hard to get on-hands experience. “I’m a prep cook for a place called Red Sauce at the school. So I’m learning pretty well,” she says.
Lately, however, she has been looking more into athletic performance. In this field, she will work with helping athletes enhance their performance through nutrition. She will work with members of a sports team, cooking for them and helping with their all-around diet. She could see herself working with anyone from the New York Giants to the New Jersey Jets. “I could still cook, but I could make a lot more money,” Coleman giggles.
Yet, her ultimate goal is neither working in a restaurant nor working in athletic performance. She plans to open her own non-profit nutrition organization for children. In this organization, she plans to teach kids how to choose healthier options, and to provide them with the necessary tools to do so. This project hits close to home for her. “Growing up, I didn’t really eat healthy. It’s hard, you know. Especially when all you have is food stamps and then Doritos and Cheetos in your school vending machine,” she says somberly. No one taught her about nutrition, so she feels strongly that eating healthy should start with children.
Growing up in a single-parent household in the crime-ridden streets of St. Louis, Mo., Coleman had to work twice as hard to make it out of the city. “I wanted to get as far away as I could,” she says. “Because I knew if I didn’t get out now, I’d be stuck there forever.” So, she worked continuously in high school to make good enough grades to be able to pursue what she loves. “I can’t see myself doing anything else besides cooking,” she says.
In regard to what her favorite dishes are to make, her voice lights up with excitement. “Chicken and peach cobbler!” she says delightfully. “Those are definitely my favorite things to cook.
Coleman is the essence of what it takes to be successful. One has to have a passion for what they are pursuing, and the determination to beat the odds working against you. She is destined to make a name for herself in the culinary industry, and whatever road she takes, she’ll be sure to have a delicious peach cobbler to take with her.
Why is it that a Belgian restaurant combined with the authenticity of an actual French menu and a team of heavy-accented French waiters makes one feel obligated to pull off the best French accent possible? “I’ll take the Gaufre Dame Blanche,” I said, almost pretentiously (I had a French midterm later that day, I was in the spirit). “Oui, Gaufre Dame Blanche?” the waiter said with perfection and a smile, annihilating any attempts of mine to copy his natural accent. Yet, outside of the menu and wait staff, a classic American essence filled the air through the setting—blue and white checkered tables and canary yellow walls give the allusion of your classic mom and pop picnic-styled diner.
Close to the East River is little Belgian restaurant Le Petite Abeille, literally The Little Bee, where the door serves as a portal into another land outside of New York, one that provides a home-style feel. Known for its selection of French wines and its Belgium waffles, the menu is nothing short of classic French dining. From les croques (ham and cheese sandwiches) to Omelette Parisienne (a Paris omelet), Le Petite Abeille provides an array of true French dishes that mostly fall under $20.
Of their specialties, the Belgium waffles seem the most appealing. During brunch, the waffles are on the regular menu, coming in eight possible variations, including plain.
Gaufre Aux Fraises ($8), or strawberry waffles, come heavenly prepared with a single Belgian waffle, loaded with fresh cut strawberries and a tower of whip cream, floating on a pool of strawberry sauce. Its preparation is far from any I’ve seen at my local IHOP, looking almost too perfect to touch. Almost.
The Gaufre Dame Blanche ($9), a Belgian waffle underneath an ice cream scoop with whipped cream and a side of chocolate sauce to pour over your waffle, is placed on the dessert menu during lunch and dinner. Yet, if you’re one of those folks that enjoy breakfast all day, this treat will serve as a good enough meal just like any other.
Both waffles live up to their looks in taste. The perfect crisp of the waffle combined with the sweet and delicious toppings prove these waffles to be ones to compete with and worth the nine bucks.
However, if you want maple syrup to come with this plate of beauty, then that will cost you an extra $4. Why? Their maple syrup is actually real maple. A choice of corn syrup is provided for free.
“Corn syrup?” I asked the waitress. “Wait, is that what we usually eat, thinking it’s maple syrup?”
“You’ve got it,” she said. “The truth is revealed.”
Beware your choices of syrup guys. We’ve been bamboozled.
Nonetheless, their waffles are specialty for a reason: they are without fault. Don’t worry, there are more strawberries and chocolate waffles to share at this little taste of Belgium.
As Adrian LeBlanc took the podium, I had but one thought: where on earth can I get some more of those delicious chocolate chip cookies from the reception? To say the least, I was incurious about anything she was about to discuss. Yet, as she began to read from her book Random Family, I was completely enticed. I was so engrossed in the passages that I was now thinking: Where on earth can I get this book? This is no ordinary event for me. In the simplest and most embarrassing terms, unless it is for an assignment that I am annoyingly forced to do, I don’t read (unless it’s a magazine of course). But for some reason, LeBlanc captured me. Her wit and charm only added to my interest in learning more about Jessica and Coco. “I think I’m generally a genuine person, whatever that means,” she said jokingly. Not only do I find her genuine, I find her truly inspirational for the amount of work she put into creating Random Family.
It’s Friday night, and you and your friends decide to go out to eat—what probably 50% of other New Yorkers are also doing. You choose a restaurant, sit down, and take a look at the menu, wondering which item sounds like it will make your mouth water the most. Once you’ve picked out your item for the night, the waiter comes to the table and you find the sudden urge to ask about payment. You say, almost nonchalantly, “You take card right?” Then awaits three words that will grind anyone’s gears who only keeps that Visa, Mastercard, or any other type of credit card only: “No, Cash-Only.” You, credit card in hand, are left sitting there, starting at the waiter as if they will somehow change the restaurant’s payment system and suddenly accept cards.
No. You and your friends have to walk around and choose a new restaurant. And the first thing you’ll say as you walk in won’t be hello but “Now do you take credit cards?”
Welcome to what annoys me the most about New York restaurants: the inability to enter into the 21st century and join the rest of humanity with a credit card machine.
I guess I need to get out of the way why I do not carry cash. What I would usually answer as “Because I don’t want to,” and leave it at that, I will be more specific in light of trying to prove a point. I do not carry cash because cash in my pocket does one thing for me: makes me want to spend it. If I see a candy bar, and I have a dollar in my pocket, I’m going to buy it. However, if I see candy and I only have a debit card, I’ll think it’s stupid to swipe a card for 99 cents. Cash also makes me want to evenly spend all the cash I have in one day, because I, for some odd reason, was born with the obsessive-compulsive need to do so.
I could not count the amount of times I could not eat at a food place because they were cash-only. Now, I can more so understand a let’s say, small pizza place. But being cash-only for an entire sit-down restaurant? The kind where meals are over $15 and using a credit card is only second nature?
This literally happened to me, once again, two nights ago at Galanga in Greenwich Village. As my friend and I sat down to order some delicious Thai food, I looked at my friend and said, “I bet you $5 they are cash-only,” knowing we both happily use Bank of America cards. And they were.
We walked around for an hour before landing on another Thai restaurant that took card. Annoying, to say the least.
All in all, I would simply like to understand the reasoning behind cash-only restaurants and their desire to lose business of customers like me who hate carrying cash.
Almost going completely unnoticed to many, within CUNY lies a festival that births the type of talent from which greats are emerged and the art of film-making is tackled through the minds of the young. March 27th dates the third annual CUNY Film Festival (CUFF), a project founded by Daniel Cowen his freshman year at Hunter College. The festival hosts a variety of talent within our school system, ones that might have been overlooked had it not been for the festival giving opportunities to young independent filmmakers.
One student, Chi Nguyen, sophomore at Baruch College, is an organizer of the festival. She is a firm supporter of CUFF. “I truly love CUFF for its free spirit and its openness to new student and faculty films,” she says. “I do believe that CUFF does showcase a great group of talented students. It is very difficult for us to pick out the best movies and it’s even more difficult to eliminate some since they all have either great concepts or great productions.” One student in particular, Kalim Armstrong of Vacationland Productions, is an example of the type of raw talent events like the CUFF discover.
Armstrong, a 32-year-old graduate student in the Integrated Media Arts at Hunter College, is an independent filmmaker that seems to have one goal in mind: social change. His current project, “In the Woods: Life in Tent City,” is his first feature documentary film as a director. It looks into the world of homelessness and affordable housing through “tent cities,” communities set up illegally by the homeless. He researched tent cities nationwide before settling on one in Lakewood, NJ, where he has been documenting for the past year and researching in general for the past two years. Using the documentary for his graduate school thesis, the project is not just a school assignment for him. “I believe through storytelling and through understanding someone else’s life and their experiences, it affects the viewer and makes the world a more understanding place,” he says. He believes in looking at people who are normally overlooked, a quality and concern not many (but more should) possess. “You know with homelessness, all it takes is a couple things to go wrong in your life,” Armstrong says. “Anyone of us can wind up not having a place to call home or knowing what to do next.” His concern for others is nothing less than inspiring.
Although he will not be entering “In the Woods” in the CUFF, he is still involved with the festival. Last year, he entered the short documentary “World’s Fair” about a man confined to living on his boat in search for a freer New York City. This year, he’ll be entering “A Field Guide Into New England Life,” about a man living by himself in a cabin in Vermont. His goals of social awareness are obvious in the context of his films. His need to spread the awareness on the people who are in need the most is reminiscent of famed independent filmmaker Michael Moore.
Although his talent in film is strong, Armstrong was not always a filmmaker. He graduated from San Francisco Art Institute with a B.A. in documentary photography. However, once he realized the could gain a greater audience in film, and video was becoming less and less expensive, he became interested in moving pictures as a way to move an audience. Since his movement into film, he has created six films on his own and has worked on at least 50 projects with other sources, including television and even corporate videos.
As far as the chances of ever going “Hollywood,” Armstrong doubts that will happen. He believes the difference between Independent and Hollywood is very fine. “It all comes down to money,” he says. With that in mind, an independent filmmaker’s passion will take precedent over the amount of money he makes, which is a goal many Hollywood filmmakers seem to seek. And Armstrong’s passion is undeniable.
“If you believe in something, you just have to do it,” Armstrong says firmly. He is the true essence of a young, motivated filmmaker. With CUFF showcasing talent like his, it won’t be long before CUNY makes a name for itself in the independent film genre.