About Cassidy Dawn Graves

Contact: cassidydawngraves@gmail.com / Twitter: @malegazegraves

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Cookie Tongue Is a ‘Freaky Folky Family’ Band With a Touch of Witchiness

(image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

(image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

A ghostly woman covered in white moves slowly, shaking. A man with long hair wails and plucks a guitar. A harmonium drones. Puppets emerge to the tunes of a flute and the beat of a drum, and a whimsical world is created that feels like a fairytale set to song, sometimes melancholy and sometimes full of life.

This is just a typical performance from the Brooklyn band Cookie Tongue, a “freaky folky family” currently in the throes of raising funds to record their latest album, Orphan Arms.

Cookie Tongue sprang from the brain of musician and visual artist Omer Gal in 2011. Upon their East Coast rebirth about a year ago, the band is now additionally comprised of Jacquelyn Marie Shannon, Chris Carlone, Brandon Perdomo, and Liza Pavlovna. Similar to Omer, all the other members also make their own art, from Butoh dance and theater to textile art and videography.

“My first band was with an ex-girlfriend in Israel. She was really into theater and fantastical worlds,” explains Omer. “When I moved to San Francisco, I moved alone, so that mixed with being in a new place created new songs. I was doing my MFA, there was a bunch of other artists there. Through jamming with them, I started writing songs that I felt were good enough to call Cookie Tongue.”

He adds that the first Cookie Tongue included yet another ex-girlfriend, who was the group’s violinist. “I can’t play music with someone who isn’t family,” he explains.

Upon his move to New York, Omer left the woman and the former iteration of the group behind yet again, but had already met his next partner in art and life.

“I met Omer at a Cookie Tongue show in San Francisco,” said Jacquelyn. “I went to a couple of shows and [it was] a super blown-away, I can’t believe this exists kind of thing. I just remember how transportive it was. I felt like I was in a book or another world.”

Omer and Jacquelyn (image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

Omer and Jacquelyn (image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

Jacquelyn, who initially joined the band as a Butoh dancer and now also plays an assortment of instruments, moved to New York from San Francisco around the time Omer did to study Butoh under the instructor Vangeline. There, she met Chris Carlone and Brandon Perdomo, other core members of the band.

Omer met the band’s newest member Liza on the street selling what he calls “Shithead shirts,” hand-painted t-shirts he makes bearing grotesque (yet somehow endearing) faces. These shirts are also available as rewards for donating to the band’s Kickstarter.

The uniquely fantastical nature of Cookie Tongue allows the members, especially Omer, to bring more than just interesting instruments and surreal sounds to the project. The focus is never just on music, but creating an entire world through their performances, whether this be through puppets, storytelling, dance, animation, or something else entirely.

Omer Gal's art and some of the rewards available on their Kickstarter (image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

Omer Gal’s art and some of the rewards available on their Kickstarter (image courtesy of Cookie Tongue)

“When I thought the music wasn’t good enough in the beginning, I added the art to it to make it feel like even though I’m not completely sure about this, I have the art, which I know is good,” Omer explains.

“We were talking about the theatrics of our shows, but how does that translate to an album? And so that’s one of the fun challenges, how we capture that theatrical experience in a soundscape,” adds Jacquelyn. “This is what we look like, this is what we feel like, and the challenge of translating that into sound. There’s a lot going on besides the music.”

Orphan Arms isn’t Cookie Tongue’s first album– that was 2014’s Biotic Rituals, a selection of songs sporting similar vibes but more indie-rock peppiness. But that was recorded with the San Francisco iteration, and they are starting fresh. Well, maybe not so fresh, per se.

“I think this album is gonna be a little more, sort of soggy dust. Gravelly, brownish, grayish texture,” Omer says when I inquire about it. “Grainy. And kind of a little bit desaturated.”

Omer and Jacquelyn explain that the “witchiness” of their surrounding community (they consider Bushwick’s Tarot Society a “home base”) has also impacted the band’s sound and image.

“I think what we’re seeing especially right now is this kind of renaissance in the idea of magic,” says Jacquelyn. “Looking for magic, looking to a fairy tale and figuring out what that means to us.”

As many bands do, they’re using Kickstarter to raise funds for their album, with a reach goal of $5,000 to record the songs and press them onto vinyl. They saw the video pitch element of crowdfunding as an opportunity to make what is essentially a short film that manifests the spirit of Cookie Tongue, feeling more like a piece of art than the familiar “here’s why you should donate” spiel.

And even that’s a bit different. Omer and Jacquelyn talk at length to me about the importance of family and community, whether in the band or beyond. Cookie Tongue’s previous iterations were more casual, Omer says, but this one truly feels like a family. He recounts seeing Devendra Banhart play a show in Tel Aviv and being affected by the band, how each member got to be in the spotlight and even the audience was invited to be a part of it.

“When I saw them walk out of the club I thought, I want a band like that,” he recalls. “I want a band that’s like a family.”

“We are really into knowing who wants to be a part of the community,” says Jacquelyn. “It’s not just donate because it’s a good thing to do, but because we want you to be part of this thing that we’re building.”

Cookie Tongue will be having a fundraiser dinner and performance at a secret location this Sunday, February 19. Find out more by contacting them through their Facebook page. Their Kickstarter concludes on February 22.

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Performance Picks: Riot Grrrl Antigone, Marionettes Abound, Toasty Roasts

WEDNESDAY

(flyer via Room Service / Facebook)

(flyer via Room Service / Facebook)

Room Service
Wednesday, February 15 at The Jane Hotel, 8 pm: 

Valentine’s Day has technically passed, so all you single people can breathe a sigh of relief and all you non-single people can also breathe a sigh of relief because the pressure to give into capitalism has maybe lessened a little. Depending on who you are, of course. But if you’re longing to stay in the spirit of flowers, chocolates, and a pink n’ red color palette, this edition of Greta Titelman’s Room Service comedy show at The Jane has got you covered. With a lineup full of love-worthy folks like Bowen Yang, Lorelei Ramirez, Alyssa Stonoha, Petey DeAbreu, Blair Socci, Tom Thakkar, and Ricky Velez, you’ll be sure to spend the night feeling warm inside, expelling laughs from your gullet in only the most loving of fashions. Rounding out the bunch will be two individuals aiming their Cupid’s arrow in a more musical way: Ruby McCollister and Tim Platt as “resident songbird” and “heartthrob,” respectively. Keep Reading »

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No More Black Targets, Gazoo To The Moon, and More Art To See This Week

(image via Superchief Gallery / Facebook)

(image via Superchief Gallery / Facebook)

Gazoo To The Moon: Next Dimension
Opening Friday February 17 at Superchief Gallery, 6 pm to 10 pm. 

Street artist Gazoo To the Moon is seemingly everywhere; even if you don’t think you’ve heard of him, it’s more than likely he’s caught your eye. If you’ve walked down the street and seen the phrase “To the moon” followed by a sweeping arrow, that’s him. Lately, he’s branched out from his signature phrase and has begun constructing elaborate line designs in neon colors, perfect for tripping out under a blacklight. Gazoo’s work has been recently showcased in a show co-presented by Mountain Dew, popular party series BangOn, and in installations for Refinery29 and Turnstyle at the Columbus Circle subway station. This time, he’s taking over Superchief Gallery’s location in Greenpoint bar Tender Trap. Grab a drink, and go galactic.

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Bejeweled Opera, Empowering Blurred Lines, and More Performance Picks

WEDNESDAY

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

(image courtesy of Hallie Haas)

Masterpiece Classic: Women in Art
Wednesday, February 8 at UCB Chelsea, 8 pm: $7

It is generally agreed upon that art is Good. However, the art world is where things get a little more polarized. This new character-based show by comedian and actress Hallie Haas takes on the type of people who consider themselves high and mighty creators, the type of people who take themselves reeeeeeally seriously. The premise is that Laura Linney, of course, has gathered together seven of the most sophisticated and acclaimed women artists for an evening that feels a lot like a certain public access television show. Only probably a lot weirder. Especially considering Haas will be playing every character. This spoof on PBS classics feels especially timely, considering I just got an email asking me to sign an online petition so that Donald Trump doesn’t get rid of PBS Kids. Please, think of the children. And the art.

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6 Things to Know About Making DIY Spaces Work

Detail view of suggestions made to the DCA Commissioner by members of the DIY community in late January (image via NAC)

Detail view of suggestions made to the DCA Commissioner by members of the DIY community in late January (image via NYC Artist Coalition)

Last night, dozens gathered in Greenpoint event space Magick City to discuss the current state of DIY spaces in New York and to brainstorm ideas they could offer the Department of Cultural Affairs that would help keep DIY arts and culture spaces operating safely without being prohibitive financially to those running them.

The meeting was organized by the NYC Artist Coalition, “an emerging coalition of artists, creative organizations, community leaders, activists, policy makers, and specialists providing mutual support and advocating for informal and affordable community spaces in NYC.” The Magick City discussion was a follow-up to a packed meeting about DIY spaces two weeks ago with the commissioner of Cultural Affairs. This willingness to formally cooperate with a city that is so often seen as actively working against DIY spaces comes hot on the heels of the Ghost Ship fire tragedy in Oakland, an event that shook up the DIY community nationwide and led to increased crackdowns on other homegrown venues.
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Art This Week: Colorful Constructions, Lovin’ on Planned Parenthood, and More

Denise Treizman, Gripped, 2016. Glazed ceramic, PVC pipe scrap, ink, spray paint, resin, pom-pom and bungee cord, 7 x 4 x 2 inches (image via SOHO20 Gallery)

Denise Treizman, Gripped, 2016. Glazed ceramic, PVC pipe scrap, ink, spray paint, resin, pom-pom and bungee cord, 7 x 4 x 2 inches (image via SOHO20 Gallery)

Part Is No Object
Opening Friday February 10 at SOHO20 Gallery, 6 pm to 9 pm. On view through March 12. 

Denise Treizman’s colorful sculptural creations are refreshingly playful, uplifting and childlike. This solo show of her work is opening in SOHO20 Gallery’s modest +/- Project Space, a space highlighting “ephemeral” or site-specific work. For Treizman, site-specific is everywhere, as her “constructions” are made of essentially anything that crosses her path, from pom-pom puffballs to PVC pipe. She collects these “fragments,” whether they be bits and pieces found on the side of the road or broken remains of a studio project, and then puts the mismatched pieces together to create something entirely new. There will be two other openings this weekend at SOHO20 Gallery, one of paintings by Nana Olivas and one showcasing work by the gallery’s three 2016 Residency Lab artists.

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Disney Burlesque, a Show in a Bathtub, and More Primo Performance

THURSDAY

(flyer via The Slipper Room)

(flyer via The Slipper Room)

Burlesque Tribute to the Ladies of Disney
Thursday, February 3 at The Slipper Room, 7 pm doors, 8 pm show: $10 

Hotsy Totsy Burlesque is back again. Known for their titillating tributes to all things pop culture, Hotsy Totsy has created scantily-clad evenings dedicated to Game of ThronesStar Wars, Stephen King, The Muppets, and more. This month, they’ve stepped away from the fur and sci-fi in lieu of something more delicate and nostalgic. Yes, they’ve whipped up a tribute all your favorite princesses: the ladies of Disney. However demure these princesses may be, this show doesn’t exactly seem to follow suit. The concept hinges upon Cherry Pitz and Handsome Brad as the Fairy Godmother and Prince Charming respectively, who seem to be enjoying their very own Happily Ever After. Only, paradise can be boring for a mere duo. As per the show’s description, “Looking to spice things up, the two love birds have decided to throw a ball, looking for the hottest princess in the land to join them in a threesome!” Keep Reading »

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Comedy Theater The Annoyance Will Close Its Williamsburg Location

The Annoyance's stage (photo via Annoyance Theatre NY / Facebook)

The Annoyance’s stage (photo via Annoyance Theatre NY / Facebook)

The New York chapter of comedy theater The Annoyance has announced they’ll be closing their location on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg at the end of March. Originally started in Chicago 28 years ago, The Annoyance began holding classes in Williamsburg in January 2014, and went on to open up a physical location in the city later that year in December.

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America Got You Bummed? Bounce Back at These Brooklyn Benefit Shows

Marches can be exhausting. When you need to recover, here’s where to rock out to bands or get down to beats while supporting organizations fighting the good fight.

(flyer courtesy of Daniel Leinweber)

(flyer courtesy of Daniel Leinweber)

We Support Planned Parenthood
Thursday, February 2 at The Graham, 8 pm to 4 am. $20 suggested donation.

Williamsburg bar and club The Graham kicks off a series of benefit shows with a night dedicated to Planned Parenthood. The party starts at 8 pm and goes all the way into the wee hours of the night, with seven DJs donating their time to keep the tunes bumping non-stop. Expect sets from Jacuzzi Jefferson of Pool Cosby, House of Yes resident DJ David Kiss, Australian DJ and producer Akki, house and techno maven Sophia MA of DJ crew Tribes NY, Will OB going b2b with A-A-RON, and Alex Rose.

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Openings: Black Lives Matter Show, Art for the Apocalypse, Refugee Reflections

(flyer via The Living Gallery / Facebook)

(flyer via The Living Gallery / Facebook)

Black Lives Matter Art Show
Opening Tuesday January 31 at The Living Gallery, 12 pm – 10 pm. Reception and performances 7 pm to 10 pm. One day only.

This pop-up art show, on view for one day only, features the work of Carla Cubit, who has created art in conjunction with Black Lives Matter in the form of posters, mixed media assemblages, and photos of BLM protests in the NYC area. The daylong event will also feature musical performances, a jam session, a speaker from “mobile social justice museum” The Museum of Impact, and an artist talk.

Throughout the day, a variety of BLM necklaces, magnets, pins, and other creations will be on sale for only $1, and The Stop Mass Incarceration Network will be offering posters for free. If you’d like to get involved on the creative side of things, there will be materials for folks to make their own posters or Black Lives Matter-inspired artwork. If you’re not artistically inclined, attendees are also encouraged to simply share their thoughts on the BLM movement.

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Performance Picks: Chatbots Gone Rogue, Snowed-in Radio Plays, Psychedelic Burlesque

THURSDAY

(flyer via Bordello / Facebook)

(flyer via Bordello / Facebook)

Bordello: Psychedelic
Thursday, January 26 at Bizarre Bushwick, 10 pm: $10 suggested donation 

Sinister and sultry variety show Bordello, hosted by Madame Vivien V, features a slew of out-there performers who will brighten up your night with acts of drag, dance, performance art, fire, and more. On the lineup this time is B-boy and boylesque dancer Eckszooberante and drag performer Chris of Hur, along with performer Amber Von Toxn and Heather, who appears to proudly carry the title of “The Worst.” This iteration of the show, which has been billed as “punk rock meets burlesque meets performance art,” has a psychedelic bent to it, so who knows what sensorial adventures your eyes will be asked to behold. Let the aptly-named DJ Penny Lane spin you into color-crazed oblivion, fix your eyes to the stage, and trip out.

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Animals Become Artists and Collaborators in This Unique Exhibition

 Aganetha Dyck, An Inconvenient Proposal, 2007, Porcelain figure, beeswax, honeycomb, Courtesy of the artist and Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON (image courtesy of apexart)

Aganetha Dyck, An Inconvenient Proposal, 2007, Porcelain figure, beeswax, honeycomb, Courtesy of the artist and Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON (image courtesy of apexart)

It’s generally understood that nature, while vast and occasionally intimidating, can be very beautiful. But how much of this has been intentionally placed and crafted? Is a bee’s honeycomb pleasing to the eye by accident or is there something more to it? Tribeca gallery apexart’s latest exhibition Animal Intent, organized and curated by Emily Falvey, puts animals in the spotlight alongside human artists, framing them as “collaborators” who can potentially assist in the purposeful creative act of making art, a practice normally framed as a very “human” endeavor.

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