For the past five years, Rafiq Bhatia has been pushing out from the style and instrument that has made him a highly coveted collaborator.
A virtuoso guitarist that quickly earned a pedigree in the jazz world, Bhatia began to feel weighted down by the patterns he’d been adhering to on his debut album Yes It Will and EP Strata. His pair of 2012 releases gestured at times towards the warped soundscaping that define his newest album Breaking English, but was orchestrated within ensemble-minded compositions familiar to jazz listeners.
Coney Island Baby soft-opened on Thursday with performances by a host of downtown music staples: Murphy’s Law, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, and HR of Bad Brains. One of the long-gestating bar-venue’s owners, Jesse Malin, a veteran of the Manhattan hardcore punk scene and owner of nearby Niagara and Bowery Electric, also performed with his band. For this new venue in the former home of HiFi Bar, Malin has teamed with Laura McCarthy, owner of the legendary venue Brownies (which also occupied the space, from 1987 to 2002) and Velvet Elk Records co-founder Don DiLego, who will run the label and curate special live recordings from the venue.
Clint Michigan. Photo by Allison Michael Orenstein
Clint Asay has a chipper demeanor, as you’d expect from a former cocktail waiter at Sidewalk Cafe and bartender at Metropolitan. But he also records heart-heavy, semi-biographical folk as Clint Michigan, which is why I recently found him telling me, with a self-deprecating laugh, “I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me.”
Centuries, Clint Michigan’s second album for Kiam Records and first proper record in nine years, revisits a very specific segment of Asay’s history, when a struggle to stay clean stalled his creativity. The album’s very existence is a victory against those roadblocks, even if he doesn’t believe they’re entirely behind him: he cites his unwavering perfectionism in the studio, minor bouts of stage fright and, at one point, questions the idea of calling himself a musician, believing he lacks some virtuoso quality all artists must possess. But Centuries fashions a success for itself on two of Asay’s foundational strengths as a songmaker: the clarity of his bleak lyrical reveries and his arrangement of collaborators, which includes members of Julie Ruin and The Moldy Peaches.
Ahead of his album release show at Union Pool on April 29, Asay spoke to Bedford + Boweryabout his roots in comedy music, his friendship with Quelle Chris, and walking the fine line between writing honest songs and self-obsession.
Interfaith leaders and city officials gathered in Brooklyn’s “Little Pakistan” yesterday to decry a flier promoting April 3rd as “Punish a Muslim Day.” With City Council member Jumaane Williams calling the document “one of the most dangerous pieces of paper I’ve seen in a very long time,” Borough president Eric L. Adams pledged to join members of the NYPD on an information offensive and special patrol on Tuesday.
With a bomb cyclone in full effect this afternoon (no, these aren’t sweet hydraulics), what could be more warming than a hot cuppa bone broth? Good news: Marco Canora’s Brodo has expanded its territory once again, adding another window in Soho.
Yesterday, Carlina Rivera convened a cadre of local newspapers for her first “editorial roundtable” as the newly elected City Council member for District 2. During the hour-long Q&A session at Rivera’s office in the East Village, reporters traded questions on myriad topics that the council member has been prioritizing since she took office in January. Overall, she showed a determination to find “a balance between commerce and community.” Here’s what was touched on.
Shortly after appearing to hit their stride, Brooklyn’s psychedelic garage trio CHAPPO were hit with band-shaking tragedies– three, to be exact. In short succession, the band separated from their drummer and producer; guitarist David Feddock and his wife lost their young son; and frontman Alex Chappo’s best friend committed suicide. After a period of mourning, Alex, David and keyboardist Chris Olson found their way back to each other, and began digging deeper into the joyous corners of their songwriting. They ended up touring with Flaming Lips and Mac DeMarco, and are announcing today that they’ll play more dates with Flaming Lips in March.
Over the weekend, The Levee, a staple of the Williamsburg scene, unveiled its newest mural: the aptly-titled “Anti-Social Media.” This is the second Damien Mitchell piece to grace The Levee’s wall, after last year’s political quick-take “The Hand That Rocks the Cradle.”