January 2011          back

Julie Feeney: January 11th @ Joe's Pub

When Julie Feeney took the stage wearing her little "house hat", playing an accordion and singing a song which included little vocal effects that reminded me of a button accordion, I couldn't help but wonder if I had just wandered into a Fellini movie, and I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it at all. The weirdness continued with songs like Myth where she wandered through the audience whispering gibberish into the ears of audience members and then laughing maniacally. But as I began to adjust to the altered state of reality I began to notice her knack for beautiful melodies, catchy hooks and compelling arrangements for the backup singers as well as her musicians which included upright bass, cello, violin, harp, trumpet and sometimes flute and piano.

Her song Monster, with strong influences from composer Philip Glass, shows off her talent for arranging while Grace was hauntingly beautiful and Impossibly Beautiful was impossibly catchy. I still can't get the hook for Impossibly Beautiful out of my head and found out it was used in a commercial in Ireland which makes perfect sense to me.  (Impossibly beautiful)

Her 2005 debut release 13 Songs won Irelands Choice Music Award and she was subsequently invited to orchestrate and perform the songs with the 65 piece Ulster Orchestra. This show presented mostly songs from her sophomore release, Pages, which has also been orchestrated and performed with full orchestra. This is one talented artist and she'll be returning to Joe's Pub in March. I suspect there won't be too many other opportunities to see her in such an intimate setting. (Monster)


Globalfest 2011: January 9th @ Webster Hall

(LA-33, Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole, Yoro Ndiaye, RAM, Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda....)

This was Globalfest number eight and once again they put together an evening of music as diverse, as beautiful and as exciting as you could hear under one roof anywhere in the world. Because of the nature of the show I often spend very little or no time with a handful of the acts but of the ones I spent time with, these were my favorites:

Colombian salsa band LA-33 is best known for their interpretation of the Pink Panther theme and will likely build on that notoriety with their more recent cover of Sting's Roxanne which was the highlight of the evening for me. Their salsa incorporates a variety of influences from ska to jazz but is mostly just high octane fun. (Roxanne)

Kaumakaiwa Kanaka'ole sang, played a little percussion and was backed by an acoustic guitar. She was the first representative of Hawaiian music since the inception of Globalfest and she did her genre proud. She had a rich soothing voice and a warm personality which won over the crowd right away. (video)

Yoro Ndiaye is a singer and guitarist from Senegal whose beautiful vocals and infectious rhythms might have made him my favorite act of the night. Although, with so much great music that's a tough call so maybe I'll say that while I was listening to him, he was my favorite. (video)

RAM is a Haitian group founded by Puerto Rican-born, Haitian-American Richard A. Morse. Their spiritual, social and political songs are essentially traditional Haitian music with some theatrical influences. Morse looks like a character out of a Dickens novel with his long coat and top hat and contributed some lead and backup vocals, which weren't bad, but their female lead singer was fantastic. (video)

Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda is a Brazilian big band who put a contemporary slant on the Carnival music of Northeast Brazil. With two lead vocalists and lots of horns and percussion the was the "party band" of the festival. (video)

French cello player Vincent Segal and Malian kora player Ballake Sissko created a new kind of chamber music with roots in European classical and African traditional music. I award them most beautiful music of the night. (video)

Other participants who I saw little or none of their sets include Novalima, Red Baraat (a very cool Indian brass band who I've seen before), Pedro Martinez, Diblo Dibala, Aurelio with Garifuna Soul and Rhythm of Rajasthan.



Fleming Showcase: January 8th @ The City Winery (Colin Hay, Cheryl Wheeler, Ryan Montbleau...)

Colin Hay is the former front man of the Australian pop group Men at Work who had a string of hits in the eighties including the mega-hit Down Under, Beautiful World and Overkill to name a few. His solo show is filled with amusing banter interrupted by the occasional song so that by the end of the night you've head all the familiar tunes with a few contemporary compositions sprinkled about.

Interestingly enough, my favorite song of the night was not one of his hits but a song called I'm Waiting For My real Life To Begin. It never got any attention until it turned up on an episode of Scrubs and became part of the platinum selling Scrubs soundtrack CD. Colin joked that if you ever have 1 song on a platinum record you can refurbish your kitchen but don't plan to retire. (Scrubs version)

The very talented and always amusing Cheryl Wheeler hosted the show and performed two songs including Lady Gaga's Singing Program. You can see a performance of that song here: (video)

I only stayed for a but of tunes from The Ryan Montbleau Band but they sounded great and seemed to cross genres between the various Americana influences and funk with real ease. I'd have stayed but it was a busy weekend and I was so tired. (video)


David Poe: Jan 1st @ The Living Room 

After releasing 3 excellent CD's between 1998 and 2003, the first of which was produced by T-Bone Burnett, and some live releases after that, David Poe switched gears and started working with some dance companies (Philobolus, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet) and scoring some films, moving to L.A. in the process.

This show, in one of his old haunts ,featured mostly new material from a CD in progress which appears, from what I heard at this show, is going to be as good as anything he's done. This is one artists I'd like to see get the attention he deserves. (video)