Ingrid Michaelson

Bess Rogers CD Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Last night was Bess Rogers CD Release Party for Out of the Ocean. It was a three-hour, three-act show. I already covered the two opening acts, Allie Moss followed by Ian Axel.

Bess has created a beautiful CD. As good as the songs are, the production by Chris Kuffner (Bess’ husband) is incredible. It’s available on iTunes, Amazon and physical CD from Bess’ site as well. I recommend you check it out on Bandcamp (linked above) so you can verify for yourself whether you like it, then buy it.

BessRogers

In keeping with the fact that Out of the Ocean is a concept album, Bess decided to play the CD start-to-finish at the show. Given the production, that meant having a bunch of people on stage to recreate the sound.

Bess played the ukulele, acoustic guitar and glockenspiel. Of course, more than that, she sang amazingly well. The energy on stage was feverish for much of the set and that translated to the audience as well. That lent more of a rock feel to the set, whereas the album feels like a more polished collection of pop numbers.

BessRogersUkuleleBessRogersSinging

A lot of people helped Bess make this a very special night (playing to a sold-out crowd at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2), so let’s get to them, left-to-right on the stage:

Misty Boyce on electronic keyboards, melodica, glockenspiel and background vocals. This was our first time seeing Misty, who is a headliner in her own right. Misty did a good job all around, though her vocals were very hard to hear except on the one song where none of the others sang (other than Bess).

MistyBoyce

When she played the melodica, the hose coming out of her mouth looked like she had a breathing/feeding tube. Winking smile

Allie Moss sang harmony on most of the numbers (as wonderfully as you can imagine). I noted above that Bess played glockenspiel. That was on one number, and Allie held it for her, causing Bess to declare that Allie was an excellent glockenspiel stand. Smile

BessRogersAllieMossChrisKuffner

Ian Axel on electronic keyboards. Ian played on at least half of the numbers. You know he was excellent, right?

IanAxel

Elliot Jacobson on drums. So clean, so precise, so fast. At one point, Chris Kuffner couldn’t contain himself and pointed at Elliot and called out his name. The crowd took the opportunity to show their appreciation.

ElliotJacobson

A little while ago I learned something that makes me wonder how Elliot kept his concentration throughout the set. He tweeted the following:

elliotjacobson Elliot Jacobson

I have a fiancé !!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

Congratulations Elliot!

Tony Maceli on electric bass. Tony was wonderful throughout the set (as he always is).

BessRogersTonyMaceli

Chris Kuffner on electric guitar and vocals. In addition to producing the CD, Chris played a bunch of the instruments on it. Marvelous job live and on the CD as well. On the finale, Chris switched to an acoustic guitar.

ChrisKuffner

For those of you that don’t know, in addition to being headliners in their own right, both Bess and Allie are part of Ingrid Michaelson’s band, singing three-part harmony with Ingrid, with each playing guitar as well.

Ingrid sang on Bess’ CD and joined for a few numbers to sing background vocals alongside Allie.

AllieMossIngridMichaelson

When Bess finished playing all of the songs (winding up with Brick by Brick) she talked to the crowd a bit. The topic was her very successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the making of this CD. One of the prizes/rewards was having a show dedicated in your honor, with your name worked into one of the songs in the set.

Bess called out to see if the person was there (and indeed he was). She dedicated the show to him. He flew in from Minneapolis for the show, so he beat our own Lindsie by quite a few miles. While Bess honored him, she forgot to work his name into a song. Oops. I suspect he’s not going to ask for a refund. Winking smile

To thank the rest of the many Kickstarter backers in the audience, Bess ended with a very special number.

Martin Rivas came on stage and along with Ingrid Michaelson, Allie Moss and Chris Kuffner, Bess sang In My Life (by The Beatles), accompanying herself on the ukulele, performing the fantastic solos on it, flawlessly! The five part harmony on such a gorgeous song was a stunning way to end a great evening of music.

MartinRivasMartinRivasChrisKuffnerBessRogersAllieMossIngridMichaelson

Every ticket entitled the attendee to a copy of the CD and a cookie. Since we have a copy through Kickstarter, we intend to gift our two new copies to our godchildren (I guess I blew the surprise, since they’re likely to read this before we get it to them). Smile

CD-FrontCD-Back

You don’t really need a set list, since the CD was played in order, but here you go anyway (you’re welcome):

SetList

Allie Moss, Matthew Perryman Jones and Lauren Zettler at Rockwood Stage 2

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I have no fear of emptying my music bucket list in my lifetime, because I add things to the list at a faster rate than I check them off. Last night, I got to finally remove two items that have been on the list for a while. I can summarize in advance that both items were as satisfying as I had hoped they’d be when they first made it on to the list. 🙂

Allie Moss was very high on the list. The other was seeing Chris Kuffner play bass. I’ve seen him play lead electric guitar a dozen times. Check and check!

Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2, a fantastic venue) mostly has one-hour sets (45 minutes plus setup between artists), so there isn’t typically a headliner, except for the paid shows at Rockwood 2 (this was a free show, one drink minimum with a voluntary tip jar for each set). They often cluster a  group of friends so that they can join each other on the various sets, which is exactly what happened last night, to great effect.

Since I came specifically to see Allie, I’ll start with her set.

One other important note. Lois takes all of the photos for this blog. She had a fever last night and didn’t attend. My Droid failed me completely in the low light. I chatted for a bit with Allie’s mom, who was taking photos of all three sets. I asked her if she would be kind enough to email some of them so I could include them in the blog.

Yvonne Moss took every one of these shots (click on any for a larger version), including the B&W and negative artistic transformations. I hope you agree with me that she’s an excellent photographer. The link from her name will take you to her blog on various topics. A most interesting woman!

Allie Moss is a superb singer/songwriter/musician in her own right, but she spends a good deal of time as a member of Ingrid Michaelson’s band. Given Ingrid’s commercial success, Allie tours quite a bit with her.

AllieMossSaulSimonMacWilliams

Allie has a beautiful voice, plays the guitar very well and writes very good songs (light Pop, Jazz/Folk). You can listen to nine songs on her site (linked to her name above) and get a very good sense of whether your taste aligns with mine.

Allie has a very relaxed stage presence, getting the crowd to chuckle many times. She’s a natural performer.

While she performed a couple of solo numbers (beautifully), she was backed on most by an excellent group of musicians. Here’s one of Yvonne’s transformations (can you feel a Poster being formed?):

AllieMossNegative

Lauren Zettler on piano and harmony. Lauren played the piano beautifully and sang gorgeous harmonies with Allie. Lauren had her own set prior to Allie’s, which I’ll cover later, but she never played the piano during her set, so this was a very pleasant addition/surprise.

There were no photos of Lauren playing the piano with Allie, but you’ll see a couple below when I cover Lauren’s set.

Saul Simon MacWilliams on a lot of stuff (Allie was between us, totally obscuring my view, but I am sure he was on percussion, electric guitar, electric keyboards, at a minimum, probably more, including some background vocals). He was excellent throughout. Even though I couldn’t see him, thanks to Yvonne, you can! 🙂

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Chris Kuffner on electric bass and background vocals. I’ve written a number of times that people I trust have told me that Chris is an extraordinary bassist. Finally, I can judge for myself. During the set, most of what Chris played was solid straight-up bass playing. Allie’s set didn’t call for anything fancier. (Chris is blended into the background on the right hand side in this photo):

AllieMossChrisKuffner1

Luckily for me, while he was warming up, Chris ripped off a few riffs that were mind-boggling, so even though I didn’t get to see it during the set, I now know that my peeps correctly clued me in to yet another of Chris’ many talents!

I’m most definitely an Allie fan now, so expect to see me at future shows (please make room for me). 🙂

Matthew Perryman Jones was up after Allie. He’s a singer/songwriter/guitar player. He opened with one number on electric guitar and switched to acoustic for the rest of the set. Matthew has an exceptional voice making the entire set a pleasure to listen to.

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Allie joined him for two numbers singing beautiful harmony, including one number that she learned right before the show. She had an iPhone cheat sheet, just in case. 🙂

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Todd Bragg played the drums for all but one number. Todd did an excellent job. What was impressive to me (this is more about Matthew, but speaks to Todd getting it right as well) is that it’s not all that common to have a singer with an acoustic guitar being backed by a full drum set (no bass, no other instruments or vocals).

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Matthew’s voice is so strong (not overwhelming in the least) and there’s enough of a reason to have a beat in many of his songs, that it just works, well!

MatthewPerrymanJonesBW

Peter Bradley Adams played the piano on three numbers. He did a fine job, but it wasn’t integral to the sound of these songs. In a not-so-small irony, Peter Bradley Adams is on my music bucket list too. I’ve listened to the free EP’s that he regularly gives away and I’m extremely impressed with him. I still need to catch him doing his own set before I can cross his name off the list.

PeterBradleyAdamsMatthewPerrymanJones

Lauren Zettler was the first artist up for the evening. She sang, amazingly (what a voice) and played acoustic guitar on all but the last song (I’ll get to that shortly). Lauren has the kind of voice that can easily be the lead in a Rock band, though her own songs are more Folk/Pop.

LarenZettler

On her last number, Lauren switched to an electric ukulele (it looked like a baby Stratocaster). I have never seen anything like it and I have to admit that I missed much of the song just staring at that cute little thing. 😉

Cameron Mizell accompanied Lauren throughout her set on electric guitar and harmonica. He did an excellent job.

LarenZettlerCameronMizell3 LarenZettlerCameronMizell2

If I don’t catch what Lois had/has, I’ll be crossing another 1.5 items off my bucket list tonight (unfortunately, late for me). I’ll be back at Rockwood 2 (10pm), seeing Rachel Platten for the first time and seeing Martin Rivas play a full set following that (counts as .5, since I’ve seen Martin play short sets many times now).

Paper Raincoat at Rockwood Music Hall

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ambeR Rubarth and Alex Wong are two of the hardest working musicians in NYC’s vibrant indie music scene. Each has a number of projects going on simultaneously. They also regularly guest star at local shows with other indie rising stars.

The Paper Raincoat is their collaboration project, an ingenious concept, telling a long-running story (a novel), unfolding song after song. Of course, each song stands alone superbly on its own, making their music all the more delicious.

Paper Raincoat

Paper Raincoat

For those who missed it, I first wrote about The Paper Raincoat in April. More recently, I wrote about ambeR Rubarth’s CD Release Party at Joe’s Pub.

The Paper Raincoat is also having a CD Release Party at Joe’s Pub, on October 6th, at 9:30pm. We already have tickets, and I urge you to get yours soon, as there is little doubt that the show will sell out, and that it will be fantastic!

With that background, it should come as no surprise to find that ambeR and Alex joined in a new project last night, debuting at Rockwood Music Hall, called Cardboard Bikini. It was billed as a super secret show!

Before you rush around the web, spending too much time figuring out that this was a wonderful tongue-in-cheek play on Paper (Cardboard) Raincoat (Bikini), I’ll spare you the trouble, by sharing my perspective on why they did this at the end of the post (I have zero insight from them, just my speculation).

We’d never been to Rockwood Music Hall before, and were curious to check it out, as a number of people we like show up there regularly. It turns out that it’s a teeny tiny bar a few doors in on Allen Street, off of Houston Street. I chuckled when I got inside, at the Music Hall moniker…

All shows at Rockwood are free, and the vast majority last an hour. One drink minimum per person is required, and for some shows, a tip bucket is passed around at the end (last night included, most people donated, along with us).

Joining ambeR and Alex last night was Adam Christgau on drums, just as he did at the Canal Room show where we discovered them. Just like at that show, Adam was awesome last night. I am always impressed when a drummer can play it just right for the size of the room they’re in, and given the teeny size of Rockwood, Adam managed a very large sound, without ever stepping on ambeR or Alex.

Adam Christgau

Adam Christgau

Rockwood was packed to the gills. Roughly 20-25 people were seated at a handful of tables near the stage, and another 50-80 were packed in like sardines standing and enjoying the music. Lois was lucky (due to a number of selfless, kind people) to get the seat immediately in front of the stage, right in the center, between ambeR and Alex! I stood for the entire show, and enjoyed every second of it (except for the standing part). 😉

They opened the show with two of their hits, Brooklyn Blurs and Sympathetic Vibrations (two songs we can’t get enough of!). They played a few other songs that we’re familiar with, but in the middle of the set, they debuted (at least for us) a couple of songs that were fantastic. This included a song called Right Angles, where both Alex and ambeR play the grand piano simultaneously, meaning, four handed! Wonderful!

Alex Amber One Piano

Alex Amber One Piano

They closed the show with the same two numbers that they closed Canal Room with, and we can only hope that they do it again at Joe’s Pub, because they bring the house down every time. On the first one, all three end up drumming on Adam’s drum set at the same time. It’s incredible. At Canal Room, Lois was the designated tambourine player. Last night, a wonderful NYC musician named Adam Levy (I covered him in the ambeR post) had the honor.

Adam is pictured in the front here, with the tambourine in his hand:

Amber Adam Alex Drumming

Amber Adam Alex Drumming

The Famous Tambourine

The Famous Tambourine

They finished up with an a capella number, including Adam, which is a joy to experience. Quite a transition from pure drumming, to pure singing (well, not so pure, as they use their bodies for percussion to accompany the a capella singing, and I’ll say no more, just go see them!). 🙂

Adam Amber Alex A Capella

Adam Amber Alex A Capella

The only disappointment was that setting up on the tiny stage required more maneuvering than normal, and it took them longer to finish the setup than they anticipated. So, instead of the show starting at 10pm as scheduled, they started playing at 10:25pm. They played over their 11pm limit (by 11 minutes), to make up a bit of it, but otherwise, an amazing evening.

Now, my speculation as to why the show was billed as Cardboard Bikini, not Paper Raincoat (to repeat my caveat, this is only my opinion, I have no idea whether this is correct or not!):

  1. The official CD Release Party is October 6th, and they wanted a way to test out some of the new material live, in anticipation of the Joe’s Pub show, without the pressure of formally debuting it as Paper Raincoat.
  2. Rockwood Music Hall is so small, and Paper Raincoat has a very nice following (as do ambeR and Alex separately), that if they had announced a formal show, lots of people would have been disappointed to not even be able to fit. While they not-so-secretly announced it to their Twitter/Facebook/MySpace followers, at least people who checked out the Rockwood web site, or follow other concert update sites, might have skipped a show by the unknown band Cardboard Bikini. (A good reason for you to follow them on Twitter/Facebook/MySpace!)
  3. They have a great sense of humor, and the whole concept of a top-secret, not-so-secret show, with a clever name, appealed to them for no other reason.
  4. All of the above.
  5. None of the above.

Come see them at Joe’s Pub on October 6th, and buy the new CD there (you won’t regret it). Also, consider signing up for the mailing list and getting the announcement for pre-orders. That’s always a great way to support a band that you like! Hope to see you there!

P.S. Standing right behind me for the entire set was Greg Holden, another excellent artist who is about to start a long tour with the wonderful Ingrid Michaelson. I really want to catch him live, soon. I wouldn’t have recognized him. He said to someone else that Adam Christgau is his drummer too, so I asked Adam after the show who it was, and he told me it was Greg. Cool! 🙂