Two long-standing annual fundraisers make for a constellation of downtown superstars; this year’s lineups are impressive as ever.
New Year’s Day Marathon at The Poetry Project January 1, 3pm to January 2, 2am, at The Poetry Project, 131 E 10th St, tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door.
The venerable Poetry Project is celebrating 50 years at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. As recounted in a history of the intellectual incubator in this week’s Village Voice, the Project has hosted the likes of William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, Spalding Gray, Jim Carroll, Robert Lowell, Patti Smith, and countless others. The 43rd installment of its annual marathon will feature living legends Penny Arcade, Justin Vivian Bond, Grace Dunham (yes, Lena’s sis), Jonas Mekas, Thurston Moore and his Sonic Youth bandmate Lee Ranaldo, Eileen Myles, Elliott Sharp, Lynne Tillman, Anne Waldman, and some 140 others. This is the only reason to work off that New Year’s hangover in a church.
This fall, fans of modern classical music will basically be rolling in a sonic leaf pile, as three modern masters make the scene.
Glenn Branca Symphonies, at the Red Bull Music Academy Festival.
Glenn Branca– whose sprawling guitar symphonies were a big influence on early Sonic Youth, among others– once collaborated with David Bowie on an audio-visual installation, as he mentioned during his 65th birthday celebration a few years ago and reminded us during his recent appearance a the Red Bull Music Academy festival. To honor his “hero,” Branca is debuting a new work, “The Light (for David),” at Roulette on Oct. 8 (advance tickets are $25-$30). He’ll also unleash a revised version of “The Third Ascension,” a followup to 1981’s acclaimed “The Ascension” that made its US premiere at The Kitchen in February. Bring earplugs, cuz Branca’s work can be ear-shattering and mind-melting.
Days after Iggy Pop dressed up for Carnegie Hall, the hallowed concert hall was slumming it in Maspeth, Queens. This past weekend, it mounted a performance of West Side Story in the sprawling former factory known as the Knockdown Center. To make the production even more unusual, the cast mixed seasoned pros like Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening) with over a dozen teenaged apprentices. A chorus made up of 200 high schoolers from across the city joined a 40-piece orchestra for songs like “One Hand, One Heart” and “Somewhere” as the Sharks and Jets had it out under Amanda Dehnert’s direction. The production ran for just three nights, but we were there to see Tony kiss a girl named Maria. Watch our video for a taste.
Turns out Lead Belly, the legendary post-war Louisianan blues and folk singer was a New Yorker near the end of his life. What’s more, he was a resident of the East Village. (We learned that, and a lot more about the iconic proto-rock-n’-roller at the unveiling of his commemorative plaque.) So it’s fitting that, a little more than 128 years after his birth, he’s getting a grand celebration at Carnegie Hall. Er, wait– if the guy’s been so insanely influential, why wasn’t he playing at Carnegie Hall back when he was breathing? Well, in a word– racism.
But also, the guy just didn’t sell that many records in his lifetime, despite having a stamp of approval from the preeminent American folk music chroniclers of the day (John and Alan Lomax), the Governor of Texas (who, dazzled by Lead Belly’s songwriting chops, pardoned him from serving a sentence for murder), and WNYC and CBS (both stations gave him radio shows back in the day). But in the end, Lead Belly wins, as the guy who will go down in history as one of the greatest musicians ever, so great he spawned even more greatest-musicians-ever. As George Harrison once said, “No Lead Belly, No Beatles.” Nuff said.
Two members of East Village royalty, Philip Glass and Iggy Pop, have upcoming gigs at venues that befit their majesty. Iggy, whose throne is in Miami these days, just released the first and second songs off of Post Pop Depression, his recently announced album with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age (out March 18). The supergroup (also made up of members of The Dead Weather and Arctic Monkeys) announced tour dates today. The NYC stop, on April 12, will be at the United Palace Theatre, the gilded, grandiose former movie palace in Washington Heights. (The onetime Loews “wonder theater” was a sister of the Kings Theatre in Flatbush, and is bigger and possibly even more jaw-dropping than its lavish sibling.) Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m., with presales starting Thursday.
It doesn’t get more New York than this: Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Debbie Harry and Miley Cyrus (?!) singing “People Have the Power” at Carnegie Hall along with Philip Glass, Ira Glass, Dev Hynes and the Flaming Lips, among others. It happened last night to close out the 25th annual Tibet House benefit.