- 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: Ellen
Posts: 14 (archived below)
Tonight, the head rocking metal band had everyone’s head pumping, body parts flying, and energy soaring across the room. Fall of the Albatross (FOTA), a 5 man crew from Queens, all powered up their instruments and vocals and gave it their ‘best show ever.’
Before we get too far, let’s rewind back 2 days ago when the stress began. When they are not taking their finals, some of the crew members were helping to promote their newly released album, Entanglement. Guitarist Harold McCummings and Colin Ruhwedel along with their Vocalist Ray Hodge, were at Washington Square Park passing out flyers to promote their upcoming event for May 18th. Elsewhere, the other group members, Bassist Robert Anderson and Drummer Anthony Wong took out their baking tools, making free brownies for their show.
“Whewww, who knew baking brownies was harder than making music,” Anthony laughed. “I failed and decided to buy the store brand. What a life saver. Hey, brownie points for free brownies. ”
The band practiced all day on Tuesday. Harold said, “I know it’s a disturbance but it’s a necessity…I know I’m good and we have done it many times…I just want to make sure I’m great.”
The group started in 2007 by chance. They began with nothing but a concept and with practice and preservation, the band continued to grow in fame. Their first show, from what a couple of the group members remembered, consisted of family members and friends in the audience. Today, they have 659 followers on Facebook and 217 on Twitter and many metal-fantics.
Ray commented that their inspiration comes from all sort of genres and artists such as Dillinger Escape Plan and Between the Buried and Me to Earth Wind and Fire and Stevie Wonder. He continued to say, “This is what makes our band different. We blend a mix of different genres that you won’t think would go together but we did it!”
Entanglement is an eclectic blend of metal, funk, soul, jazz. “We’re all busy but that doesn’t stop us from performing. We released the album back in April…I couldn’t wait to perform the album… I’ve been dying for the day (May 18th) to come.”
The day has arrived. The performance started a little after 8pm at the famous Sullivan hall in Greenwich village. The line was short due to the pouring weather. Many who came were males in their late 20’s who eagerly rooted for FOTA as they came up on stage. The band kicked off the show with “Dulce de Leche.” The crowd went wild to Ray’s devilish voice. Lyrics spilled out in mumbo jumbo that made no sense but had a beat that reached out to a lot of people. The crowd was lost in the music, heads were flinging violently up and down and arms were flying in the air, at that point it got pretty scary to stay in the center of the dance floor.
Their next song, ‘The Silver Epic,’ took me by surprised, it was not your common angry music. It started with a funky and a smooth pop settling beat and seconds later it literally transitioned into what seemed like another song but wasn’t. Ray literally gave me a jump when his possessive demon voice emerged. It goes back and forth from funk and jazz to metal. Compared to their inspiration band, The Dillinger Escape Plan, FOTA strived in terms of guitarist skills and vocals. Their music had a creepy calmness like The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Farewell, Mona Lisa,” and a mix of raging vocals of another famous metal band Nile.
The night was a success. The band’s next biggest goal is to get recognized and signed. Colin commented, “I don’t think anyone can imagine that 5 college students could have pull something off like that…We’re new, we’re fresh,” and as corny as it might sound but he said it, “WE ARE… THE FALL OF THE ALBATROSS!”
It was 15 minutes to 3 and I found myself running late for the event. Splish Splash, Splish, Splash, my pants was drenched wet, my socks soaked in rain, and my umbrella destroyed halfway battling against a 14 mph wind. I should have stayed in bed but instead I was rushing to see Lez Zeppelin.
Lez Zeppelin, the all female tribute band, not to be confused with Led Zeppelin, the all American male rock band from the 60s, performed at J&R music store on April 16. The band staged at the $5.99-$19.99 CD sections and was supposedly set to perform at 3pm.
A small crowd of 35 started to form, pre-dominantly middle aged males and a few families. I was lucky enough to get a close spot near the stage. However, it was unfortunate that the band didn’t show up on time and I was stuck in between aisles breathing in dust from the plastic wrap of the CD’s and the smell of unflattering cologne from the guy next to me.
The band arrived 45 minutes late and the crowd was less than welcoming after having their patience tested. The 4 band members, minus one group member, immediately set up and apologized for the delay. They started the event off with a song from their recent released album, Lez Zeppelin 1, track 2, “Baby, I’m going to leave you.”
“Baby, I’m going to leave you,” can be described as a drug, a repeating trance with a smooth calmness to the ear. When the chorus hit, it gets your head rocking wildly back and forth with the beat of the guitar. Compared to the original version, Robert Plant, lead vocalist, sang it with soul while Shannon Conley sang it with a country, hippie accent that puts you into a dazed and relaxed the mind. I personally like both and applauded Steph Paynes, founder and guitarist of the group, for her amazing rock and roll solo. She rocked it out like Vinnie Moore. The riffs of her electric guitar quickly stirred up the ground, the vibrations crawled up my spine and spiked into my chest.
In unexpected times, Paynes slowed down the pace of her strumming and Conley comes back in with her trance-like vocal and ended it with a stretched. “It’s calling me, it’s calling me back…home…..” Megan Thomas sat there giving her support.
The band started out in New York in 2004. They devoted their performance to the original works of Led Zeppelin and within a year, they started to get more media attention. They appeared on Spin magazine, Chicago times, and CBS Good Morning America. They have toured in Europe, Japan, and the US. Right now, they are planning to do an extensive tour on the east coast.
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_ApYjWYz0B8" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Movies aren’t all about horror, fiction, action, or romance anymore, these days documentaries are starting to become a new hit. Artists have taken over the movie theatres, not only with their songs but also by appearing on screen and giving us a glimpse of their musical journey.
I have cousins that are big fans of Justin Bieber, and although I don’t see what the big hype about him is, I was forced to take them to see his first movie, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. I rolled my eyes when I walked in and anticipated the dreadful 105 minutes that I had to go through. Surprisingly, I didn’t find it as horrifying sitting through it as I did for the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour movie.
I came out appreciating the artists for taking us into a part of their world. It provided a version of what it is like shadowing them through the camera lens as well as getting to know the artist’s unseen private life.
Some artists try to kill two birds with one stone by allowing the making of the documentary to help bring up revenues as well as letting their fans get the satisfying end of getting up close to them. I find it smart and a bit too easy.
I can’t say that I love these documentaries as a movie but I do appreciate the effort especially Michael Jackson’s This Is It. But documentaries like the Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience movie was just getting too much for my taste.
The lyrics and soul of the music got lost in Pearl Remix. Instead of Tamara Kali being the star of the music, the drummer took the spotlight. The desk rumbled every time the drum struck its beat, almost as annoying as my alarm clock when it goes off in the morning, non-stop for 10 minutes. But in this song, it went on for a little less than 5 minutes.
A paranormal music that captures you in its catchy beat, giving off a hippie environment-like, the same feeling weed does to the mind. It’s smooth, soft, and slow, just the way a dream comes and goes. Radio head’s retro-feminine voice found it way into my heart, in an odd way.
A last minute call from a friend had me taking off early from work, and rushing to the subway. After a 40 minute ride on the 7 train, and an additional 18 minutes on the 6 train, I found myself wandering around city hall, trying to find 220 Vesey Street. It took me a good 20 minutes of speed walking to end up where I wanted to be.
On April 7, Brookfield Office Properties, management of the World Financial Center, presented the kickoff event for the 2011 Eat: World Financial Center. 18 vendors, mostly located near the financial district, came to support the opening of the Greenmarket located inside of the Winter Garden Plaza. The event was held between 11am-2pm.
Vendors such as Au Bon Pain, Devon and Blakely, The Grill Room, Southwest NY, Yushi, Financier Patisserie offered some of their restaurant’s famous bites for less than the original price. Most dishes ranged from $1 to $5.
The stands were feet apart from each other and for some stands; lines wrapped around pillars that required ushers to guide the lines. Many who came were all suited up, a few were in casual clothing such as myself, and it made me feel like I was at a high end event. Despite everyone’s diverse styles, we all shared an unified goal within the 3 hours—FOOD!
Half way through pigging out, I almost forgot the most important aspect of the event— the Greenmarket.
The Greenmarket or #18 on the paper map provided, was supposedly the highlight of the event, was nowhere to be found. A tiny stand with display of eggs, cheese, and wines was in spot #18. Apparently, the market was located elsewhere in the building for a “more enjoyable shopping experience,” claimed one of the volunteers.
It didn’t seem like anyone cared much about the market. Many just came for the food and forgot what the event was for. An old couple who walked all the way from Chinatown said they came for the “event,” but in hindsight, it was obvious that they were here for the food. The old man commented, “My daughter said there was going to be food and so I came.”
Another attendee commented, “I was expecting a whole market to be displayed when I walked in (but) then I found myself indulging in these desserts.” A group huddled together overheard and nodded their heads in agreement.
I can see why. While walking there, there were no other signs, except for a banner at the crossing bridge above the west side highway that could have easily gone unnoticed, notifying that the event was on April 7.
The information booth located at the entrance of the door, focused more on spreading the words about foursquare rather than the event. The representative said, “The market is down the hall. Have you checked in on foursquare yet?”
The market was nothing extraordinary. It just looked like a smaller version of Whole Foods offering fruits, vegetables, jams, and flowers. It was quite disappointing. The fruit stand lady explained that this was just a small part of it and that it will start to offer more once the weather gets warmer. The stands will also be taking place outside the WFC, and will be held every Thursday from 11am-7pm until December.
Jason Gordon from Brookfield, responded, “Spring is the perfect time to kick off the event. The event has been held for more than 3 years. We support farmers everywhere, from tri state areas to come out and introduce to the public their hard work. We’re fortunate to have some of the restaurants support us in the event.”
In every passing year, the event becomes more known to New Yorkers. Jordan, a financial analyst at a near-by company brought his co-worker Elisa to the event during their lunch break. Jordan said, “I was here last year but it wasn’t this crowded. I told Elisa to come since she never heard of it. I was surprised to see this many people showing up,” he chuckled and continued “maybe it’s a bad idea. Now, I have to fight for the last chicken.” (Referenced to Southwest NY’s mesquite-smoked chicken wings)
Elisa added, “I’m glad he informed me or else I would have missed out all these great food.”
It was a pleasure being in the presence of a famous television journalist. Cheryl Wills, is a reporter for NY1 as well as a blogger for The Huffington Post. In her reading session earlier this afternoon, she discussed the sentimental values of her book, Die Free. The characters in her book mirrored the experience her great-great-great grandfather, Sandy Wills, who fought in the civil war. As she read, there was passion in her voice as she described the taste of freedom. Her hand gestures made the emotions come alive. The audience sat in silence, mesmerized by the details as she explained the whimpering cries of a slave.
Seats quickly filled up as soon as her voice echoed throughout the lower level of the bookstore and attracted many near-by book worms.
On a sunny 55 degree afternoon, I found myself in front of Pongal, located on 110 Lexington Avenue, as I walked in, I felt like I have just left New York and entered India. The first thing I noticed was the dim lighting. What was supposed to be 12:30pm looked as though it was 8pm inside.
The waiter presented the menus, which offered more than 100 items, I sat in silence scanning the confusingly capacious list of vegetarian selections. Thankfully, aside from the original menu, was the lunch special menu, consisting of 4 choices. He explained that the thalis offer different small tasting. I didn’t hesitate and ordered the Madras thali. ($7.95)
There was no doubt, the decorator pulled out all the strings to make it look as authentic as possible. There were a few artful figurines and paintings hung equally apart from each other up on the wall, red cushions laid on top of the benches on both side of the restaurant, Indian music played in the background which had a smooth settling beat that was pleasing to the ear, and steel cup as drinking utensil.
My eyes widened in shock when the food came. The thali came with a wide selection of different dishes served in 7 small steel bowls on a round tray, 3 condiments, 2 petite vegetarian curries, and 2 different styles of basmathi rice. In the center was a round puffed bread, not nann, (sadly) but poori and papad, a thin, crisp cracker disc.
I started with the papad which had a delicate crunch to it. I dipped the poori into 3 different sauces, one consists of a tomato base, which was pretty watered down, and had neither depth nor flavor to it. The other sauce, a lighter shade of red was even worse, it tasted like tamarind juice: watery, acidic, and a bit spicy. The yogurt, a very common condiment in Indian cuisine sat there waiting for me to use, but it didn’t taste any better dipping the bread into it, it tasted like a cool creamy cucumber yogurt. This was the part where I wish I had some spicy tandoori chicken to go with it. The curry tasted exceptional.
The best part of the meal was the basmathi rice, it came plain and another with sautéed onions with spinach, cooked in a rich broth which gave the rice its yellow color. The way they made it with the special blend of spices gave it a tantalizing aroma and a delicious taste. In 3 spoonfuls, it was gone.
For dessert, I ordered the gulab jamun, ($4.45) a popular dessert in Southern Asia. It was 2 pieces of fried dough, similar to the size of a munchkin you find at Dunkin Donuts, covered in sugary syrup. The top maintained a crunchy exterior but mid way down, the dough was just mushy from soaking too long in the syrup. It had a hint of sweeten condense milk flavor to it and a rose-like aroma but it was just too sweet for my taste. I rather walk down an avenue for a glazed doughnut from Dunkin.
Skip the travel to the theater and enjoy Indie films at the click of a button in the comfort of your own home. Fandor.com has recently launched an online film service offering over 2,500 licensed indie and international films, making it available for Indie fans to enjoy films they missed or want to watch.
Fandor was established in 2010 by founders Dan Aronson and Jonathan Marlow, who understand that independent films can usually fall off the wagon, rarely ever making it to Hollywood status. They strive to help struggling filmmakers, producers and distributors by getting their work out there to be appreciated. In 2011, the newly launched website, currently offers a list of 26 genres from comedy, documentary, action, to sci-fi.
Independent film makers often find it hard to get their films viewed by the masses, as independent films usually end up in select theaters that are not as abundant around the world as gigantic movie theater chains, AMC, and Regal Entertainment.
Films that get submitted and approved go on to show for a week but no more than three. If you miss it, it is too bad for you because very rarely do these folks at the Independent film theater have the resources to sponsor moviemaker’s film and publicize it into DVDs.
Just how difficult is it to find a film that was missed? Within a two- minute phone call to IFC center, I asked, “Are you still showing ‘We Are What We Are?’ It was still showing a few weeks ago.”
The lady working at the IFC Center’s box office said, “We’re not showing that film anymore.”
“Do you know where else I can obtain a copy of the film?”
“I don’t’ know where you can buy it. You would have to Google it and see if anything comes up, maybe Netflix.”
Upon making another phone call to another film center, Angelika New York which is linked with fandango, and should have more publicist power, one of the customer representatives on the other end said, “I’m not sure we sell these films [currently showing in the theater].”
“Is there any other centers showing the same films you’re showing?”
He responded, “I don’t think so.”
The easiest way to get a hold of some of the independent films is to buy it off of Netflix, Amazon, and Indieflix which only carries a limited amount of films. Fandor is beating its competitors by offering more on demand films and allowing the streams to be instantly viewed from any computer to an array of digital devices.
Fandor acknowledges that moviemakers profit from their hard work from publicity. Any attention creates opportunities for filmmakers to make it outside the mainstream of Hollywood.
Unlike independent filmmaker’s fierce competitors, who have A-list actors and actresses to publicize movies, Fandor is counting on word-of-mouth to spread the news. They are using social media such as Facebook to promote the site by offering one free watching if you sign in with Facebook. Recently hired former Facebook employee, now social technology evangelist Chris Kelly and independent producer Ted Hope has joined the Fandor team to market the site, in hopes to help the Indie film industry to thrive. “Fandor connects audience and creators directly, providing tools for each to engage deeply with the other in new ways. Fandor’s model encourages discovery and financially rewards the films consumed most, giving many more filmmakers a chance to thrive.”
Wasp, directed by Andrea Arnold found its way into my heart.
I appreciate the direction Andrea Arnold went for. She focused many of the scenes on depicting the poor broken down background as a way to accentuate the lifestyle of a single mother raising 4 kids. The film started with a crazy woman in rage, ready to pick a fight with no shoes, in her nightgown, and no shame in overuse of foul language, with a woman who has a decent house and a husband to care for her afterward, something she does not have.
What made this film the 2005 Oscar winner is the combination of a realistic family suffering, while still managing to find a way to portray the essences of what a family is. Problematic, annoying, untamed but they still have each other’s back, and at the end of the day they are the ones who are inseparable.
The one word title, Wasp, is a suitable title for the film. It was a V8 slap to the head for the mother. She was so focused on herself and her needs that she forgot her responsibility up until the Wasp, served as a warning, finds it way into her baby’s mouth.
‘Hey baby” was the main soundtrack to this film, provided a witty, tension-release moment to the frowns and saddening moments in the movie, was a great way to end the film.