The Delancey

Lisa Jaeggi at The Delancey CMJ

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Lisa Jeaggi came onto my radar roughly a year ago. I can’t exactly remember how, but it was most likely an email newsletter from her record label, Modern Vintage Recordings. I listened to a few songs (likely on MySpace) and liked what I heard. I started following her on Twitter and was looking forward to catching a show. Our schedules conspired against that, until last night.

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I was already planning on making my first foray to The Delancey to catch Derek James. Imagine how pleased I was to see that Lisa Jaeggi was on immediately after him.

Lisa’s style is described as folk/pop and I won’t quibble with that. She has a fantastic voice, plays the guitar nicely (first half of the set was finger-picked, second half strummed, for the most part). I enjoyed every single song, but I can’t say I had a chance to concentrate on the lyrics (that will require a more private listening session). Still, the lyrics I heard interested me, so I’m betting the more I hear, the more I’ll like.

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Lisa was supported by two people, left-to-right on stage:

Ben Martinez on electric guitar and vocals (no good individual link). Ben was excellent on the electric guitar. His play danced around Lisa’s, mostly when she wasn’t singing. Subtle but gorgeous stuff.

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He also sang wonderful harmony with her. I was surprised that I could hear him, because he stood way back from the mic. I don’t know if I heard him despite that, or only because I was dead center, around 10 feet from the stage. Either way, it worked.

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Will Whitney on djembe (no good individual link). This was a pretty small djembe, held between Will’s legs (most of the djembes I’ve seen are mounted and much larger). Will was absolutely amazing. I couldn’t believe how rich the percussion sounded coming from just two hands and one small-ish drum.

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It’s not fair to say Will only used two hands. A number of times, each of fingers (at least on his left hand) were acting separately, making for many different (fast) digits striking the djembe in rapid succession.

Will and Ben were integral to making Lisa sound very full. That said, I am sure that Lisa could hold my attention solo, accompanied just by her guitar.

I am extremely happy that we caught Lisa’s set and I will be sure to track her down again for another round.

In my previous post I mentioned being impressed with The Delancey sound guy. During Lisa’s set, he came down from the sound booth (immediately to the left of the stage) and stood next to me (shoulder-to-shoulder) so that he could hear the music as the audience was hearing it.

He asked a couple of people if anything needed adjusting and asked the band as well (about their monitors). Everyone gave him the thumbs up, so no big adjustments were necessary. He did raise Ben Martinez’ guitar volume up a smidge, which was much appreciated. Having someone take such pride in their work is always nice to see.

Thanks to Modern Vintage Recordings and The Delancey for sponsoring a wonderful evening of CMJ music. We caught three sets there (and loved every one of them). We had to leave and missed a few more that I was looking forward to. There was an open bar from 6-8pm. We ended up being extremely cheap dates, since neither of us had anything. Smile

Derek James at The Delancey CMJ

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Derek James playing somewhere and we’re in town? That’s where we’ll be. He was headlining a CMJ Showcase at The Delancey on the main stage. We had never been to The Delancey, but now you know why we’ll never be able to say that again.

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I’ve written about Derek many times now. The most recent one was a review of his new CD (something I rarely do). The CD is out now, so you can just go buy it (and rate your reviewing skills vs mine). I mentioned in that post that I’d be buying it once it was out. Since we still enjoy physical CDs (luddites that we are), we bought two last night after the show and got Derek to sign one as well. Thanks!

The main stage at The Delancey is quite small (just wide enough to fit the four of them, barely deep enough for each to take a step or two forward or back. The room itself is extremely long and very narrow. I parked myself at the bar directly across from Derek.

The sound guy (sitting immediately to the left of the stage) was excellent, actively ensuring that the sound was right for us and the performers as well (more on that in the next post). That made a world of difference. I’ve complained twice now that at Rockwood 1 (one of our favorite places), Derek’s vocals have been washed out by the volume of the instruments. Not so last night.

CMJ sets tend to be a bit shorter than normal. It stinks when you can’t get enough of a performer, but it’s awesome that they try to have nearly every set at dozens of venues actually start on time!

Derek was supported by his newer set of Lovely Fools (not the ones on the CD). He tours with these guys now and this is the second time I’ve seen them playing with Derek. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know how much I love the original Fools. That will never change, but I publicly admit to be 100% satisfied with the current Lovelies.

Jerry Fuentes on electric guitar and vocals. Jerry is superb on the electric guitar and is a large part of why I don’t mug Derek in an alley for not being able to produce Roy Gurel at every show.

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Mike Tuccillo on electric bass and vocals. Mike is becoming a staple in our outings. We saw him supporting Jenny Owen Youngs just the night before. The bass play on a Derek James set is a critical part of the sound, and Mike is definitely up to the task.

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I mentioned to him after the set that he’s helping me forget Assaf Spector. He noted how different their styles are. True, and like I said above, I will always love the original Fools (Roy and Assie), but Jerry and Mike deliver.

During one song, the three of them (Jerry, Derek and Mike) take identical/simultaneous leads (electric, acoustic and bass, respectively). They nail it (it would be painfully obvious if any of them missed a single note).

Jamie Alegre on drums and vocals. Jamie had to work with a reduced kit (snare, kick, high hat and one additional cymbal) due to the size of the stage. As Derek noted between songs, Jamie kicked arse even with the smaller setup. Great job!

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Derek noted that when he tours with these guys, people ask whether they are brothers. Look at the mop-tops and beards, and decide for yourself. Smile

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Look who we ran into at The Delancey. Matt Simons was the person who suggested we go catch Alec Gross upstairs (before the Derek James set) and Chris Ayer was already up there enjoying the show.

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Alec Gross at The Delancey CMJ

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We headed down to The Delancey for two CMJ Showcases. It was our first time there. We arrived 25 minutes early and bumped into a few people we knew. One of them mentioned that Alec Gross was playing upstairs (The Delancey has three stages). We had only seen Alec once, when he played harmonica on two songs during a John Schmitt set. I was very happy to catch him doing his own stuff.

Alec Gross was terrific. We loved the set. Very folky. He has a great voice, plays the guitar nicely and is as good on the harmonica while he’s playing the guitar as he was the first time we saw him.

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We liked the songs a lot as well. I just followed him on Twitter so that I can know when/where he’ll be playing in the future, as we’ll be sure to catch more of his shows.

In a huge bonus surprise, he was supported by two people, one of whom is already high on my list of wanna see people. The other other was new to me and wonderful as well.

Will Hensley on acoustic guitar and harmony. I’ve seen Will a couple of times now. Here are two lines that I wrote the last time we saw him (supporting Jesse Ruben):

Last night, playing for Jesse, Will totally blew me away. He was amazing on traditional leads, and excellent with the slide as well.

I will be thrilled to see Will play with anyone, just for his skill, until I find out he is willing to play with a dud headliner. Winking smile

So, if I understand myself correctly, I would have gone to see Alec Gross, even if we didn’t know who he was, just because Will was playing with him. Winking smile I was already following will on Twitter, but he doesn’t tweet often, so I had no idea he was going to be there. Musicians, Promote Thy Shows!

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This was the first time we saw Will on acoustic guitar. He was excellent, but I will admit I was more impressed on the electric. It may be more a factor of Alec’s songs, than of Will’s skill.

Will did an excellent job harmonizing with Alec.

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Mason Ingram on drums. The folky nature of the set called for very subtle drumming. Mason answered the call. Impressive.

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My primary mission in showing up at The Delancey was to see Derek James. I looked at my watch and saw that it was 7:05pm and Alec was still playing. I asked a friend whether Derek was running late (CMJ is typically on time, which is much appreciated!) and he said “No, Derek is likely on the main stage” (which is the middle floor). Oops!

Lois was enjoying Alec so much (as was I) so she stayed a bit longer, but I sprinted downstairs and indeed missed Derek’s first number.

Nice job Alec, Will and Mason.