Category Archives: Independent Film

Live Music Theatre @ 92Y Tribeca

Thank God It’s Friday. One of the most overplayed, yet classic sayings that truly defines a person’s emotions and experiences from the current week. Whether it’s yelled in the subway station or overheard in a nearby stranger’s phone conversation, this phrase resonates the feelings of working class people and their unashamed, honest excitement that it’s finally the end of the week and the coveted weekend can begin once again.

So picture this- It’s Friday night, you’re hanging out with the girls, filled with happiness and laughter from indulging in way too many cupcakes and coffee, and distracted with your friend’s favorite retelling of the funny adventures you had together last weekend. It’s after 7 p.m. and the next activity of the night continues as you travel to the café for a causal-style seating show to hear live music.  

Friday night should become the optimal day to meet up and have an extreme girl’s night out. Thankfully 92Y Tribeca provides patrons with a versatile, yet fresh option for a fun evening activity and destination. Over the years, 92Y Tribeca has swiftly transformed into a well-known, community platform and arts center that regularly host several engaging author panels and ticketed social events. Since its first event in 2009, the establishment has provided their monthly Live at the Café series which has been very positive and beneficial for various young, up and coming musicians residing in the city.

Some of the past live music events included performances by local artists such as Brooke Campbell, JP Schlegelmilch and Jason Myles Goss. As a previous attendant of the past live audience event featuring Brooke Campbell; I can say that the event delivered on its promise, it was certainly a very engaging and energetic musical night. What I enjoyed most about the event, was sitting up close and personal and listening to Brooke Campbell’s original songs. She truly is a class act performer.

Surprisingly, the café is comprised of an intimate, yet coffee-house style audience setting and has friendly customer service at the food counter. For newcomers, this event may feel similar to attending a movie screening at your local theatre except here you can enjoy a performance filled with enticing beats accompanied with a personal pan pizza, a glass of wine or espresso. 

“After attending one of our events at the café, people have visited again with friends,” says Patty. Patty is a current staff member and works with the customer service team at 92y Tribeca’s downtown location. During our discussion, she gossips about their upcoming events in the café.  She says, “Along with the Live at the café series, the center consistently welcomes a large crowd for their popular ticketed musician events that are held each month. There is a wide, growing list of independent singers and bands that perform at the café, and further event details are listed for public view on our website”.  

92Y Tribeca has definitely become an animated local spot for music and entertainment. I completely admire and appreciate their grand mission statement that states their need “To bring together and inspire a diverse community of people from New York City and beyond by providing exceptional programs across the spectrum—in the arts and culture, Jewish life and education, health and fitness and personal growth and travel”.     

This year, the center offered numerous affordable, family-friendly interactive events for the younger children. For instance, the center provides great kids and adult workshops where you can sign up and join one of several hands-on, instructional sessions for beginners who have an interest in playing a sensational instrument.  “92Y Tribeca has successfully implemented a productive, yet comfortable venue for many local New York natives to visit and enjoy with friends and family,” said Patty. Furthermore, with the economy at its increasing level of improvement more events like this should be offered for New York residents and music lovers alike.

To find out more information for upcoming events at the café, you can view the calendar inclusive of a list of all upcoming artists’ performances on the center’s website. Or call their number, 212-601-1000. Be sure to look out for local urban blogs in your area to learn about some of the live events offered to the public.

Posted in Independent Film | 19 Comments

Winston Ford’s Information Highway

“Our site grew dramatically through the word of mouth”- Winston Ford

Winston “Stone” Ford
Owner and CEO of
Twitter: @couchsessions | @thisisstone

Sit on your couch and pop out anything with an internet connection, because The Couch Sessions will blow your mind.

Created in 2005, The Couch Sessions is the premier online destination for alternative urban music  and culture. The site is dedicated to spotlight the artists that are trying to make a name for themselves in the world of music. The site contains interviews with artists such as: Big K.R.I.T, Ryan Leslie, Dallas Austin, Dawn Richards, and many others. The blog is the brain child of Winston “Stone” Ford, who wanted to create an outlet where the music he liked would be spotlighted.

“I would spend weekends going through [my father’s] vast record collection when I was little. My father was a huge music nerd, but what he taught me was not to segregate my music choices. He was as huge a fan of a band such as: The Doors, The Rolling Stones, The Commodores and Donna Summer. I also became fans of such artists as Marvin Gaye and Parliament Funkadelic. I feel like any artist who can pursue their art, remain happy, and expand their audience is an inspiration to me. There are so many names that come to mind that I would be sitting here for days trying to list everyone,” says Ford.

“Stone” began blogging in 2002 but instead of covering the art of music, he covered the art of war. Winston began covering the Iraq War and found himself disillusioned with politics. Who could blame him when most of the contradicting news articles were more confusing than Lil Wayne’s lyrics.

“I’ve always been musically inclined and I thought I could use the power of the Internet to make my voice heard. I felt like it was my obligation to give these artists their just due. Some of the artists that we’ve profiled have sold out shows after being spotlighted,” says Ford, who started the blog as mainly a hobby.

“When the site began, it was mainly an outlet to write about the music I liked. I would update the website when I got bored at work. I never thought that I would be making money from it at all. Now, it’s a business. While the content remains the same, we have advertising targets to meet and guidelines to uphold,” Ford says.

One of the main guidelines that The Couch Sessions upholds is their commitment to their fans and readers. In 2010, Winston met with the top one hundred fans of The Couch Sessions. In the five year span of its inception, the blog has maintained a growth in their audience. “Our site grew dramatically through the word of mouth,” says Ford. The word of mouth in 2011 includes the use of social media sites such as: Twitter, Facebook, Tumbir, and even Myspace (the three people who still use it). “I’m able to interact with fans from all over the world. I’m able to have instant and real time discussions with fans in Brazil, New Zealand,and the UK. When I travel to a new city, I always find new fans of the site to connect with. Social media has expanded rapidly, but I feel like the next five years will focus on cutting through the clutter and information overload. Social Networks will get more specific. There will be networks created based on your interests, says Ford.

Ford also thinks that music is expanding as well.

“It’s a very interesting time for the music industry. Music is no longer controlled by a few powerful gatekeepers and major labels will rapidly lose their market share to the indies. In the next 5 years there will be a pop star, who will forgo the traditional music route and create their own record label, while keeping a substantial share of profits and royalties. Music will also become more less of something you consume and more of a social and lifestyle experience. Services such as MOG, Spotify, Google Music, and Apple’s upcoming iTunes in the cloud will change the way the next generation of listeners experience music. I also see brands like Mountain Dew, who already has Green Label Sound, which is home to artists such as Chromeo, jumping into the music label game as well,” says Ford.

Whatever the case may be, The Casting Couch will be on the top of everything. With social media, television, and entertainment expanding, one can gather information right on the couch. Let the The Couch Sessions help you enjoy your sessions anywhere.


A Recent Video That Was Featured On His Site which features rapper Aloe Blacc
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Four Girls and a Picture of a Guy

Well, here we are, three months later, tired and eager for summer, but not quite blogged-out yet.

This semester started out with five eager students with high hopes for the world of blogging, but after several depressing speakers and more blogs than we would like to count — we’re done. For good. And, you know, it’s not exactly a good thing — which is totally not what any of us expected.

Truth is, as challenging as it was to write weekly blogs about topics that we weren’t always passionate about, our group bonded over mandatory lunches, concerts, and occasional group therapy sessions about our personal lives, and made the best out of each experience.

Despite the amount of work we had to do on a frequent basis, and our challenge to keep up with it, we learned, we grew and we are now a step closer to being professional bloggers with our own unique voices. No matter how depressing some speakers might have been, we still have hopes and dreams within the blogging world that we will accomplish.

Kari affirmed her beliefs that the only topic she has any interest in writing about is music, and is feeling confident about a future in blogging about it, whether it’s for pleasure or much needed money.

Teresa, who has revived her passion for film through this course, has learned that a job doesn’t only have to be about making a lot of money, but about doing something one is passionate about.

Izabella (who demands to be called Bella from now on) is no where near where she started out at the start of the class — a miserable intern with absolutely no money nor desire to blog about food/music/film, and ended as a freelancer (with still barely any money) but with a proven love for one thing and one thing only — fashion.

Diana, who managed to get caught up with the amount of work there was to, was able to finally choose a topic to blog about endlessly. Even though the topics we covered were not of much interest, Diana allowed herself to open her mind and work outside her comfort zone.

And last but certainly not least, David. The graduating senior of our group, and the only guy around to bring conversation back from the depths of crazy feminism, brought a great voice to the group and the class and will surely be a success in whatever he sets out to do.

Have a great summer and good luck to David and all the other grads!


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A long way from home: songs of exile

After more than a half century of friendship, what is left for us to talk about? Why music, of course. Nissam Abitol, an amateur musician and an aficionado of Arabic music, who, like me, left Morocco in the late 1960s, had a moment of bittersweet longing for his youth. And to book end the years of his sentimental yearning, he kept dwelling on two songs: the Algerian Enrico Macias’ ‘Adieu mon pays’ [1962] and Egyptian Om Kalsoum’s ‘Al Atlal[Ruins]’ [1967].

‘For me, these songs began my emotional rupture with the land of my birth’, he exhaled in a long breath. ‘Don’t you think that the fact that you went to French style schools, which had for mission to “civilize us”, first uprooted us from our elders and who, to our embarrassment, clung to the use of the Arab dialect at home and took pride in our history?’, I immediately asked.

‘Maybe’, he answered. Yet independence in 1956, Mohammed V’s appointment of a Jew to the key ministry of communications, was a signal that there was a place for Jews in decolonized Morocco, he added. I nodded in agreement. ‘Nonetheless, we were in a minority, and made more so as a clandestine hemorrhage of Jews sought a safer port in an approaching storm in France or Israel or Canada or the US’, I added.

Nissam left for Paris to study at the ‘Institut des sciences politiques’ in 1961. ‘At first, I was like a child lost in a sweets shop, but soon the novelty wore off’, he confessed. Paris is grey, cold for half a year; he missed the more clement Morocco; he often found he had to bear up against the racism toward North Africans. And so, ‘I fell into the trap of sentimentality and of cultivating a disdain of everything French, reinforced by long war in Algeria and reading Franz Fanon’, he confessed.

All that changed in 1962 with the independence of Algeria and the stampede of French and Jews toward shores of metropolitan France. At that moment, Macias’‘Adieu mon pays’ hit the top of the charts. It endowed North Africa with  a mysterious, if not mythical, quality for a people suddenly exiled in Europe through no fault of their own, by expelling the legacy of past colonial rule.

Macias is a trained in ‘maalouf’, Andaluse Arabic music. He suffused his music, as a crossover artist, with its themes, strains and rhythm. Melodically, ‘Adieu …’ is sentimental, reprising the maudlin feeling of loss, desolation, and destruction. Accompanied only by a guitar, Marcias strums its strings, thereby mimicking sounds of the music Jews and Muslim brought to the shores of North Africa after expulsion from reunited and Catholic Spain. He also uses his voice by stretching phrasing recalling Hispano Arabic singing.

‘Adieu …’ is a simple song. It evokes the heat of an African sun; the splendor of the blue Mediterranean by the way the sun reflects its sapphire sparkle; the pristine whiteness of houses suggesting the loss of geographical innocence; and the lingering memory of abandoning a lover [North Africa] whose teary blue eyes dissolve into the sea as she bids adieu as the ship carrying her lover into exile, and whom she may never see again. And then the cry of grief like a dagger in the heart: ‘What is to become of me?’

Call the song ‘sappy’, but at that moment, it fused that amorphous feeling of homesickness to the end of a way of life never to be repeated anew, and, in a way, left an emptiness that we away from our country felt never could be filled. It, for sure, was a romantic notion, but one keenly perceived physically and existentially.

Furthermore, Algeria’s independence made life untenable for its Jews, and immediately the music of Enrico Macias was formally banned. ‘A harbinger of things to come, it seemed’, according to Nissan, ‘even though our King Hassan II had Jewish advisors and personal physicians and looked up us as “his children”. Decolonization spelt ultimately displacement, he added.

‘But Paris left you open to slights, insults, and at times undisguised hostility bordering on the anti Semitic, so it was with a certain relief that I returned to Casablanca with a diploma in hand’ he continued. A proud family welcomed him, but the job market being what it was, offered no employment. And quickly slipping back into well worn habits, Morocco took on a tarnished look for Nissim, and at moments he really did pine for life on Parisian boulevards. In fact, at the Olympia, he went to a sellout concert of the great Egyptian singer Om Kalsoum, and that sparked an interest in Arab and Judeo Arab music which he mocked growing up.

In 1968, word had spread through the bazaars and by the Arab telephone that Om Kalsoum had accepted Hassan II’s invitation to appear at his palace and give concerts in Rabat. The news spurred great excitement. Rumor had it that this ‘feudal’ monarch had offered her millions to sing for him. [Cynical tongues could not refrain from noting that Moroccan Dirhams which would flow into the coffers of the ‘Socialist’ Nasser, who was in bad odor the Cherifian Kingdom.] The ‘star of the Orient’ [kawkab el-sharq] as she was called arrived in time for the ‘Aid el Adhah’ [عيد الأضحى] memorializing Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac. Less than a year had passed since the Six Day War. Already it increased the exit of Jews for France, and although superficially relations between Muslim and Jew remained neutral, the feeling of trust on both sides suffered greatly.

And into the war’s aftermath of Israel’s rapid fire victory and occupation of Arab territory, Om Kalsum introduced ‘Al Atlal’.

‘Al Atlal’ [Ruins], a well known poem from the school of Egyptian romantic poetry, it, like Macias’ ‘Adiu …’, plays with the same conceits, but on a loftier and more sophisticated level. Sung in modern Arabic, a full orchestra of Oriental and Western instruments.

A woman sings of a love turned cold, a love that has become a ruin: ‘let us drink of our ruin and tell .. how lovers became past news … another story of passion’, but she hasn’t forgotten her lover. She cannot. She wails her lament by repeating the refrain which touched Nissim to the quik: ‘give me my freedom, release my bonds [hands]…you inflict harm like a powerful tyrant, give me my freedom, release me’, for I have given you yours’.

Imagine the majestic, noble bearing of a woman of 70 in the full command of a voice that had darkened over times, with Pharonic authority, her sweep of jet black hair amassed like a crown on her head, a handkerchief in her that she uses to puncture any thought of reconciliation. Not only that, Om Kalsum riffs on the lyrics, repeating them and improving them on her own, which heightens the pain of loss and collapse of hope. Ultimately, fate, the famous Arabic fate, prevails: we have to ‘learn to forget and to learn…everything is fated’. The idea of ‘Mktub’ [what is written is written], so central to popular Arabic tradition, gains ascendancy and the ardor of love is extinguished and  [smolders] in ruins’.

‘Al Atlal’ spoke to Nissim’s state of mind: it strengthened his feeling that the Six Day War destroyed any place for him in Morocco, and so his dreams of living his life in the land of his birth were also in ruins. In a span of less than six years, he went into exile, ending up in Montreal, yet the wounds of leaving North Africa remained unhealed.

Listening again to ‘Adieu mon pays’ does not stir his memory’s embers. On the other hand, hearing Om Kalsum complaint touches an exposed raw nerve. And his voice breaks as he sings that his abandoning Morocco wasn’t our will ‘but rather our fate’.

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HAM sees Boys Noize

“Wait.. did we take a picture with  a dominatrix Easter bunny on Friday night?” I asked my group the day we came back from Spring Break. Surprisingly enough, I was hallucinating.. we did in fact get our picture taken with a dominatrix bunny who happened to be one of many opening performances we saw when we went to see Boys Noize at Webster Hall.

Webster Hall, which is located on 125 East 11th street in Manhattan, was filled to the brim with a diverse crowd of people the night of the Boys Noize concert. The red awning stands out on the tiny alleyway, and was my focal point as I rushed to the concert in the misting rain that night. After joining my group, we headed on up the stairs and emerged in a lounge area where people were mingling and drinking cocktails or nursing plastic bottles of beer. “This doesn’t LOOK like Boys Noize to me, guys,” I told my group. And of course, I was right. It was merely 10 pm and Boys Noize wouldn’t grace the stage until around 2 am.

Boys Noize is actually the stage name of one guy: Alexander Ridha, a German electronic music producer and DJ. While my group was perusing the many musical acts that were performing that night at Webster Hall, including the bunny dominatrix, we noticed people running towards a set of stairs at the back of the club at around 2 am. We decided to investigate and were greeted by the vibrations of Boys Noize’s bass thumping through our bodies as we climbed higher and higher towards the sound.

We emerged in a huge room that was filled shoulder-to-shoulder with screaming fans both dancing and waving their arms to the beat of the songs. Laura and I made sure to jump on one of the many amps that lined to edges of the room in order to get a better view of Boys Noizes manning the turntables up on stage, like a captaining manning the wheel of a giant ship. The room was dark, aside from huge seizure-inducing lightshows that filled the stage and changed to the beat of the music. The whole experience was like being in one of Kanye West’s music videos, but in a good way.

Boys Noize is a great performer because he feels out the crowd, knowing exactly when to pump the crowd up and when to calm them down. Electronic music isn’t my favorite genre, but I was dancing and really enjoying the music for a change. Boys Noize was definitely worth the wait, although I recommend going to see it with a group of people you enjoy waiting around with, like I did.


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Boys Noize Brings The Funk

“When do you think he’ll come on?” seemed to be the question of the evening floating around Webster Hall. Though no one seemed to have a definite answer, it wasn’t really a concern to the hundreds of guests in attendance for the Boys Noize concert on Good Friday. The venues multiple party rooms seemed to have everyone preoccupied until then.

Webster Hall was first built in 1886 and quickly changed the ideas of a typical nightclub experience. The venue has the capacity to hold 2,500 people a night and consists of five separate party rooms. It opened as the biggest and first modern nightclub in the United States. Over time it also turned into one of the world’s most famous concert venues. Big name artists to up and coming bands have all had a chance to perform on one of Webster Halls’s multiple stages.

On April 22nd, the spotlight was on Boys Noize, or rather Alex Ridha, a Berlin-based DJ and producer who has made quite a name for himself in the electronic music industry at only twenty five years old. He began producing and DJing at early age and first worked with American DJ Felix Da Housecat and DJ Hell who influenced Ridha’s style the most. He has now gone solo with his stage name Boys Noize and has grown popularity in the rise of Dubstep, which is a particular genre of electronic dance music that has an overwhelming bass line and a reverberant beat. To many, Boys Noize is one of the best electronic DJ’s in the industry now, even winning multiple awards including Best Electronic Artist on Beatport.

Boys Noize Album Cover

Though it is argued that the sounds of electronic music and dubstep tend to get repetitive, it should be said that Boys Noize, most of his live performances, though playing his hits also include him mixing and remixing on the spot, which adds to the excitement of seeing him live.

The crowd seemed to be put in a trance when he began. They all moved in unison to the beat and a sense of euphoria ran rampant in the air. It was obvious from the cries and frantic dance moves that everyone felt extremely happy to be there. The crowds response shows the sort of power that Boys Noize upheld throughout the course of the evening. For someone who simply plays around with noise (literally) there is something in his music that was like an intoxicating rush that everyone felt and responded to gladly. The vibes that Boys Noize and the crowd were feeding off each other was something special that only a certain type of artist can bring to their fans.

Overall, it is true that Boys Noize sounds as stereotypical as the next dubstep/electronic artist, he really served the point that all artists and their music should which is to genuinely bring happiness and enjoyment to your fans which is exactly what Boys Noize did at his performance at Webster Hall.

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Great Accents…Great Music

How did the colonialists win the Revolutionary War? With a massive army that could topple empires, the British still lost to the revolutionaries. Some people believe that England was losing too much money and were outmatched in enemy territory. Instead of honing their skills with guns and naval artillery, I believe they honed their skills with clarinets and pianos. I can proof it too. While it is not in any of our history books (insert a World War II fact), I could prove it by showing you anyone’s playlist.

The Beatles

Pink Floyd

The Rolling Stones


The Sex Pistols

Black Sabbath

Judas Priest

Led Zeppelin

The Who

Before I get carpet tunnel by pressing enter again, I have to admit that I was taken back by the amount of music that is exported from Britain. It still hurts me that people who made “Stairway to Heaven” were not hippies from California.

While there is great talent from the United States, they are not in the same league as the Brits. Americans rock hard, but the Brits rock harder. Even today, the British are well represented in music. With bands like Muse, Franz Ferdinand, The Artic Monkeys, and Coldplay selling out venues, the English are well represented today. What makes them stand out.


Dominic Brown, the drummer for Muse once said in an interview with that he likes music because “it makes [him] feel the most free [he has] ever felt in [his] entire life and gives [him] the freedom to do anything without much consequence.”  What makes them stand out is how free their music. Supposedly the United States is the home of freedom, but yet music is limited by Record Companies. Unique and different does not sell. Once an artist starts to break out they have to water down their product to accommodate the norm.

Band of Skulls

The XX


One of those accommodations is the role of women in Rock music. Once a female artist begins to become a brand, she is quickly adjusted to Country or Pop Music.  Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland and Haley Williams from Paramore are exemplars of this transition. Rock Music should not be a male dominated avenue, but the facts still remain that these women have made more money on dropping the bass and drums kit for more album sales. The XX and Band of Skulls are two unique British bands that are beginning to gain notoriety with their uniqueness and their lead singers.  Both bands have both a female and a male lead singer. The XX consists of vocalist Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim [bass]Baria Qureshi [guitar] and Jamie Smith [beats/production]. Band of Skulls consists of Russell Marsden [guitar/vocals], Emma Richardson [bass/vocals], and Matt Hayward [drums]

Honestly both female leads sound identical but it is evident that both bands have a different voice. I rather hear this on the radio then most of the “music” on the radio.


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Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

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Modern Girpower Comes With Anger

“Here she Comes…” Tamar-kali sings, and yes, you can feel it, and you might get scared. “Pearl” starts with an angry drum-beat, rhythmical and loud. Noisy guitar riffs and the singer’s dark and deep voice screams “girl-power,” like a modern and angry version of spice-girls.

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Where for art thou nose rings?

loud. boisterous. weird. interesting. bizarre piercings. These are the words that come to mind when I think of this video showing a lead singer, compelling the onlookers below with her powerful voice and ballad which was slightly irritable. The whole concept of the video escapes me: three woman, one plain, to embracing the nose piercing style trend. One woman wears plain make-up and the other two piles on the bright, funky accessories to build their look! their finally on the roof together and dancing the night away.  She sings and sings and sings some more. overall, I thought it was intriguing to watch.

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“Pearl” does not Shine

Does the sound of nails scratching on a chalkboard, or the screeching of a subway train cause you to uncontrollably cringe? Well if so, avoid Tamar Kali’s “Pearl.” The obnoxious beat loudly covers the singer’s voice, as the only lyrics you could hear through her singing are mumbled. Did I say singing? Sorry, I meant screaming. Tamar screams the high notes of the song so badly, not even auto tune can make it sound good.

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