Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane

I love when Patti Smith narrates her audio books. There is something about her voice that soothes the passion in my soul. Her latest title is Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane. It is available from Audible. You can download it and listen for free if this is the first time you are getting an Audible trial account.

I just finished reading Will Hermes article about Patti’s performance in the New York Times this morning. He is a superb music journalist and I am glad to see him writing for the Times. 

Her stage patter has always been its own entertainment, part stand-up comedy, part populist sermonizing.

Patti Smith at the Minetta Lane features live audio of performances captured over three evenings in September of 2018 at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, woven into a single, one-of-a-kind audio event. Pioneering artist and writer Patti Smith commands the stage to perform original spoken-word stories from her life, interwoven with the music of her beloved catalogue, played live by Smith, her son and daughter–Jackson and Jesse Paris Smith–and longtime collaborator Tony Shanahan. What transpires is a personally revelatory showcase, an intimate portrait of an icon, focusing on family and taking stock of a near to 50-year career devoted to artistic integrity.

©2018 Patti Smith (P)2018 Audible Originals, LLC.

St. Marks Is Dead?, I Don’t Think So…

My earlier blog post was about Jackson Browne’s song, “The Birds of St. Marks”. So in the spirit of continuity I write….

I recall the day, many years ago when I skipped high school in Connecticut with friends and headed into New York City by train.

We took the subway to Astor Place in the East Village. Next we headed to St. Marks Place the hippest street I have ever been on. I bought a black and white Jimi Hendrix poster at a head shop. I hung it on my bedroom wall.

These memories surfaced due to a forthcoming NYC history book, St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives of America’s Hippest Streets by Ada Calhoun. (Thanks for that tweet, Will Hermes)

I wish I didn’t have to teach on Monday night, November 2nd or I would be attending Ada Calhoun’s book release party at Cooper Union.

Now I just have to figure out how to get an autographed copy of her book 😉

Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me

What I love about my music hobby is that there are always new music documentaries to savor.

The cult classic band, Big Star has a documentary film, Nothing Can Hurt Me that I can’t wait to get my hands on to see.

“A fine documentary on the classic-rock era’s greatest cult band.”- Will Hermes, Rolling Stone

– See more at:

Rhapsodic City: Music of New York

The vibrant culture of New York City offers a plethora of events when it comes to arts and entertainment. I have written about the upcoming EMP Pop Conference and Red Bull Music Academy on this blog. My latest discovery is this awesome event series from the New York Public  Library.

Series Features Programs with Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, A Celebration of Women in Hip-Hop, Plus Special Screenings, Performances and Presentations

February 21, 2013 – This spring, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts presents Rhapsodic City: Music of New York, a new six-week long interdisciplinary series exploring the city’s distinct role in the formulation, emergence, and legacy of some of the most exciting music movements in the 20th century.

Tackling a different music style or subject each week — hip-hop, punk, the folk music revival, Prohibition-era jazz, Mambo and Salsa, and the Brill Building’s heyday — Rhapsodic City: Music of New York features panel discussions with icons and experts, performances by leading artists, special film screenings and presentations of the Performing Arts Library’s remarkable collections.

Highlights from the series include a discussion of punk style and sound with Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein; performances by Jazz Age Lawn Party founder Michael Arenella, Grammy-nominated bandleader Bobby Sanabria, and Joe McGinty from the Losers Lounge Band; a celebration of women in hip-hop; and an exploration of Greenwich Village in the ’50s and ’60s led by Elijah Wald, author of the book that served as source material for the Coen Brothers’ latest film.

“At The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, we are deeply aware of how vital music is to this city’s cultural fabric,” said Jacqueline Z. Davis, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleishman Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. “Using our vast archival materials — including sheet music, films, recordings and more — Rhapsodic City: Music of New York provides an opportunity for us to illustrate some of the most compelling examples of how New York inspires new genres of music, and how musical styles from around the world have become part of the city’s own cultural narrative, creating a distinctly New York story.”

All events included in the Rhapsodic City: Music of New York series take place at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza) unless otherwise noted below, and are free and open to the public.

For more details and dates go here:


Music Journalism A-Z – Will Hermes

Will Hermes

Will Hermes is a senior critic for Rolling Stone. He is also a longtime contributor to NPR’sAll Things Considered“.

He shares several common identities established by other music journalists in this series. Those personas  include his status with Rolling Stone Magazine, appearing in the New York Times Music section and being twice published in the Da Capo Press Best Music Writing Series (2006 and 2007). Oh and let me not forget he signed his book (see below) for me at the Pop Conference 2012 at NYU last year.

I am especially enamored with what he has accomplished with the music book he wrote that was published in 2011. It has a special place in the music of our heart because my son who lives in New York City gave it to me as a 60th birthday present.

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever was selected as the top music book of 2011 by NPR,[4] and it was an Editor’s Choice title in The New York Times Book Review, which called it a “prodigious work of contemporary music history.”[5]

Will Hermes maintains a blog that serves as a multimedia extension of  this popular hardcover/softcopy title. I’ve  always want more content in association with the original work so this publishing solution solves that dilemma. 😉

Writing this blog post about Will Hermes has given me the opportunity to study what he has written about of late.

There were two discoveries that I made that are taking me along the path of further listening and meaningful interpretation. That is what I really like when I read Will Hermes. he opens avenues of understanding as he increases my musical consciousness.

The first revelation is what Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) is up to lately. I learned that he has a new band Chelsea Light Moving with an LP/CD digital full length recording and tour planned for March/April, 2013.

The second revelation is on the world music scale. Will Hermes wrote an album review of Brazilian artist Marcos Valle‘s recording Previsão Do Tempo (RS). He compliments that with a column on NPR’s All Things Considered that goes into more depth about Marcos Valle’s four album reissue series.

Cover of "Previsao Do Tempo"
Cover of Previsao Do Tempo

So very quickly I have two new vibrant music inputs. Gotta love what Will Hermes hears and shares with us.

Deep Hang at Pop Conference 2012 in NYC

on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 20...
on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 2010 Pop Conference, EMPSFM, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday proved a day of validation for me as a professional music blogger. We attended the Experience Music Project (emp) Pop Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center on 60 Washington Square South. I am an emp museum member(since 2009) who has eyeballed the Pop Conference sessions held in Seattle, WA with distance envy. We were enthralled that the Pop Conference had come east. It turned out to be a shrewd move as this year’s theme was “Sounds of the City”. The event being next to Washington Square Park and set against the Greenwich Village skyline added the symbolic note for this four-day event.

I got the feeling I was about to go into a deep hang of music journalism and community. I had no idea how profound that sentiment would become until later in the day. I walked away from this conference with a lot of knowledge, many more musical influences than I began the day with and a greater insight into music’s direction in the next decade.


1) Roundtable: Where is the City?, Where is the Scene?

Panelists: Consisted of several music authors, musician Paula Carino from Brooklyn, Will Hermes, whose book, (Love Goes to Building on Fire my son had given me as a Christmas present) and Mark Richardson, Editor-In-Chief, Pitchfork, the definitive music webzine of indie rock.

The gist of this session dealt with trying to define the scene in terms of music communities. The real-time dilemma of digital music evolving on the Web poses existing music distribution models such as the record store, releasing a CD versus a digital download recording, and hard copy music publishing substantive issues. I heard the phrase mentioned several times, “Music is the biggest city in the world.”

I have tried several times to write a blog post about why Brooklyn is the music capital of the world, only to abandon the idea after attempting to research this phenomenon. Paula Carino epitomized why this is so indicative of Brooklyn. She stated Brooklyn is organic. Many musicians have come there to be discovered in the Williamsburg scene. However that ship has sailed and the Williamsburg scene is analagous to the mass exodus of people who moved to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to experience the hippie scene and flower power. Many did not realize the scene had peaked and was moving on by the time they arrived there. I also learned that Pitchfork had moved its editorial offices from Chicago to Brooklyn to be closer to the epicenter of the indie scene.

Open on Sunday album cover

Highlights: Paula Carino surprised me with a copy of her CD, Open On Sunday on me, I listened to it today and I really like what I heard. Look for a review of her CD this week on this blog ;). I got to say hello to Will Hermes after the panel discussion and asked him if he would sign my copy of Love Goes to Building on Fire. He graciously did so. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he had read my blog post about his book. 😉

New Inputs: Wedding Present, DJ Rupture, Chillwave, Beirut, Open on Sunday, Paula Carino

2)  Sound of the City, a tribute to the genius of Charlie Gillett

Panelists: Robert Christgau, David Laing, Charlie McGovern

One of my principal objectives of the Pop Conference was to catch the session with Robert Christgau. I have been reading Christgau’s music reviews since 1969 in the Village Voice. He has long been an inspiration to me as a music writer. His paper, “The Original Sound of the City, How Charlie Gillett Named This Conference”, was an energetic rambling of tight construction. Robert Christgau proved once more why he is the dean of rock critics as he crystallized Gillett’s role for the theme of the Pop Conference and his influence on many in their mutual love of music. I was enchanted with Christgau’s punctuating style that kept me fascinated, smiling and educated throughout. I love Christgau’s stream of consciousness. He never fails to stir up my sentiment as well as give me new music inputs to research and listen to with active interest.

Dave Laing from England was next on the agenda. He read his paper, “Charlie Gillett, Sound Citizen of London”. Dave solidified Charlie’s role as a disk jockey on the Honky Tonk program on the BBC. It was insightful to get the British point of view about Charlie Gillette. Dave Laing is an eloquent writer who uses words like idiosyncratic path, antipathy, and contrasting/dissonant music scenes as distinct verse. His presentation was a breath of fresh air which exuded through his writing.

Charlie McGovern was the third speaker and his presentation used audio clips to accent his writings. His paper, “Up to the Streets of Harlem: Black Vocal Groups and Postwar Urban Life” dealt with post war, post modern cities. He took us through urban modernity. He discussed how Clay Cole share cropped the black artist. He played music clips that underscored his paper and produced a skillful, multimedia effect.

New Inputs: Bees Make Honey, Kilburn and the High Roads, a new copy of Charley Gillett’s Sound of the City 😉

3) Jazz Alleys

Moderator: Paul Bresnick, Presenters: David Adler, Nate Chinen, Phil Freeman and Alex W. Rodriguez

The jazz panel presentation and discussion were the most thought-provoking event of the day. The quartet of jazz music journalists represent some of the finest jazz music writing featured in the country today. They created the hang for us yesterday.

The first presenter David Adler has written some great jazz music pieces that I have enjoyed. His presentation was enthusiastic and pinpointed the music of Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. I was struck by how David juxtaposed the 1920 and 30;s sounds of  the hot house stomp with how the Ghost Train Orchestra is building on that foundation of sound for the future. David contrasted the sounds of John Nesbitt, Charlie Johnson, and Tiny Parham with Brian Carpenter’s updated interpretations. Carpenter’s band is true to the sound and sentiment of the original purveyors of hot house yet take it to its next logical dimension. David Adler served as conductor and arranger as his hand punctuated the air as the sounds played. He was very elucidating. I must get this recording for my collection.

Nate Chinen followed David Adler’s presentation with a talk about jazz artist discrination that took place reagrding New York club cabaret cards were in issue and enforced. I am very inspired by Nate Chinen’s writing. I aspire to write as well as he does one day 😉 What I admire most about how Nate Chinen writes is that he takes a central idea, as he did with his presentation, the cabaret card, focuses his energies on making that a catalyst to further explain and define the next layers of the epicenter. He positioned the cabaret card in a revolving radius fashion as he built out his rationale from there. Nate was quick to point out that there were socio-political hurdles, discriminatory practices taking place against seminal jazz artists such as Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk who found creative outlets to overcome such censorship tactics.

Nate Chinen was also my major reason for attending this conference as I had read his past Jazz Times [the]Gig column about his Seattle 2011 Pop Conference experience. I had made a note after reading his column that I would attend the next Pop Conference I could.

Alex W. Rodriguez introduced us to the hang. His paper was entitled, “Deconstructing the Hang: Urban Spaces as Cross-Cultural Contexts for Jazz Improvisation.” You can read a preview of that provocative paper here. Alex really got me actively thinking in the area I am focusing more and more upon, music and technology, about how to create a collaborative space, a social network hang. I think I will make a first level attempt with Google Hangout until Apple introduces to its next level of social collaboration with its Mountain Lion cloud solution this fall 😉

The last presentation was an invigorating piece by Phil Freeman, From the Corner to Carnegie Hall and Beyond: The Urbanization of Miles Davis, 1972-1991” that will appear tomorrow on his blog, Phil Freeman drew interesting parallels to Miles Davis’s On the Corner and the Sounds of the City. He also raised lots of insight as it relates to Miles Davis’s later years. In order to do Phil Freeman’s talk justice I defer to his publishing on his blog tomorrow the paper he read and commented upon yesterday. If you are into Miles Davis, social activism and the culture of change you won’t want to miss it.

Love Goes To Buildings On Fire – Will Hermes

Radio Ethiopia
Image via Wikipedia

This is the time of year I catch up on music journalism and associated listening. I have several books at my disposal that are raising my music consciousness

One such read is an authoritative and extensively well researched book by Will Hermes, entitled Love Goes To Buildings On Fire. My son, Matthew, gave it to me as a Christmas present this year. Matthew and I have an inherent music connection that we actively share. I am proud of what he has accomplished with his skills in graphics design and music production.
I had browsed the two New York Times articles about Love Goes To Buildings On Fire, 1) “Books of the Times: When Dreamers Were Breaking The Music Apart” by David Gates and 2) “The CBGB Effect” by Gerald Marzorati earlier in the month. I had made a note to reconnoiter with this book in the music aisle of Barnes & Noble. Thankfully my son picked up on that interest and took the step for me.

I am not far along enough in the book to divulge how pivotal these five years of music evolution in New York City have been.The premise of the book as the cover art wildly articulates is that New York is an entertainment petri dish that cultures music genres with great aplomb. The era from 1973 to 1977 flourished music in fervent splendor.

I recall and relate to this era of music with my music industry past.

I was senior at the University of New Haven in 1973. I had an afternoon radio show that I did on WNHU-FM 88.7, West Haven, Ct. My goal when I graduated in 1974 was to work in artist and repertoire (A&R) for a record company. I sent my résumé to every record company in New York City. 1974 was a recessionary time. I received 23 rejection letters from each record company. I never did get to realize that dream.

I also recall it was a time that I would hop the Conrail train to New York City and go record shopping for hours on end. I would visit the East Village, Greenwich Village and the Park Row (J&R Music World) record haunts. I would come home with bags of loot that contained specialty EPs and vinyl LPs by such artists as The Talking Heads, Television, and The Patti Smith Group.

I plan to write more about Will Hermes book when I have completed reading it. I look forward to more revelations and flashbacks to follow.

My one regret with the hard copy edition of this book is that I can’t hyperlink to the citations as I would like to do. It slows down my reading to cross-reference the references.

Gary Clark, Jr. – Blues Top Gun

I was browsing the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine today, when I happened upon a music review for blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr., written by Will Hermes.

Hermes writes about Gary Clark Jr. ‘s EP Bright Lights:

Meet the Texas young gun taking the blues to nasty new places

This article commands my attention as I take comfort in the blues being carried aloft by sincere, focused musicians. Gary Clark Jr. embodies that persona admirably. I flash on last seeing Gary Clark Jr. with Doyle Bramhall on the DVD of the Clapton 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival that I own. It hits me. He played Bright Lights that day. That’s the title of the EP Will Hermes is aglow about. It fits like tongue and groove after that.

I try to resist as best I can becoming “too” influenced by the hype. It has turned out wrongly applied to artist’s musical talents in the past. The music industry reeks of false bravado just to move product. But the more I listen to the EP download, the more I find Gary Clark Jr.’s blues style and gritty vocals coursing through these old veins.

He’s truly authentic as Doyle Bramhall states. The Bright Lights EP is nicely counterbalanced, two studio tracks and two live tracks. The artist’s commitment to the blues comes across as others typify him, Gary Clark Jr. is a Top Gun Bluesman.

Making myself a note to start hunting for a live performance by Gary Clark Jr. so I can get the total effect up close and personal soon.

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