Ever since I took a teaching job at ASA College almost two years ago (the recession coupled with the failure of so many publications I contributed for indefinitely postponed my plans to make an almost exclusive living from freelance writing – hey, but I’m grateful to be working) kind of thwarted my usual concert going habits of late due to the fact that I teach a couple of evenings per week, so I am grateful when I catch a two-week break at the end of every semester that allows me to enjoy live music that begins early enough so that I don’t feel like a zombie the next day.
That doesn’t mean I have stopped – I still make an average of 50 concerts a year, but that number only really happens because I spend most of my summer nights hearing music in New York City’s parks (Summerstage, Celebrate Brooklyn).
This week has been quite fruitful. Last Monday, I headed over to the Rockwood Music Hall (where I hadn’t been since I can’t remember when) to check out a short set by up-and-coming singer-songwriter Priscilla Ahn, who is releasing her new CD this May on Blue Note records (yep, Norah Jones’ label).
The place was crowded for a Monday night. She came with a very simple setup – herself on guitar, a loop machine plus a cello player. She played several songs from her new record, expertly using the loops to create harmony vocals. The next day the promo CD came in, and I kind of liked hearing the more organic sound better… though I love her sparse arrangements (also, I recognized the sound of a Hofner bass on one of the tracks)… I will surely be doing a nice review of the disc when the release time approaches.
Tuesday was the time to hear a showcase by Ari Hest, a Bronx-born singer-songwriter. The venue was a downtown studio in SoHo, where a small group that included critics, fans and other industry folk were assembled. Once again, it was a simple set up: just the artist alternating on piano and acoustic guitar and a percussionist who also doubled as a harmony vocalist. He is releasing a new record this spring, as was doing sort of an open recording session with tunes from the new disc. It was quite enjoyable – I noticed he used different tunings (he later told me one of them was open D – I sometimes experiment with open E), and his songs seemed to be very personal – except for one that openly criticized this country’s reluctance to embrace health care reform- which for obvious reasons I thought was the strongest in the set.
Wednesday came and I headed into below-freezing weather to listen to Piers Faccini at the Living Room in the Lower East Side (everything seemed to happen below Houston Street this week). I can’t elaborate much on that one because that was for a review, but I can tell you that the article will be very positive.
The spring semester begins next week at ASA, so I won’t be able to go out every single night – however, I do plan to hear (or play) plenty of music – just follow the reviews, you’ll know what I’ll be up to…..