Here's a round-up of music stories we're reading this week, clever girl.
Here's a round-up of music stories we're reading this week, clever girl.
Angie Martinez's Backyard BBQ
The Garden At Studio Square
Saturday, August 18
Better than: Getting lost coming home from Queens.
CBS sitcoms, Tom Wolfe and Republicans alike have all painted New York City as a noisy, grimy nightmare, a melting pot of sex and kvetching, guns and soupy hot dogs, where steam rises like prices and trash falls like dreams. No place for families, a godless murderzone where the women are as fast as streets are clogged, where stress stains the ceilings and piss, the sidewalks. Bright lights lit by hellfire and Wall Street's cigars. Millions of peopleall strangerspassing one another, every face as hard as their concrete surroundings, a Darwinian experiment thrown to the rats.
It's almost out of character for the city, then, that Angie Martinez's BBQ on Saturday night was so low-key, so relaxed, a small-town block party held in often-overlooked Queens. Grids of dominos and games of spades played out among the trees and open sky; pitchers of sangria and lemonade held down the picnic tables. All that made the night distinctly New York were the names involved, a polka-dot collection of bold-faces: Questlove mixing VIC's "Get Silly" into dead prez into "Dance (A$$)" onstage while Joe Budden, Fabolous, Sanaa Lathen and Gabrielle Union Instagrammed one another in VIP. A scruffy Miguel stepped over legs and under arms to get to the bar, as DJ Khaled engaged in flirt-fighting with his fiancée over a smoking cigarillo. We found love in a hopeless place.
Howard Gilman Opera House
Friday, April 20
Better than: Celebrating "4/20."
Questlove's "Shuffle Culture" eventat which ten or so musical acts performed a handful of songs each, but never more than one at a time, as if the set list itself were on shufflewas at once strange and familiar. On one level, the premise was anticipatory, predicting a future where concertgoers won't have the time or patience for a low-concept, single-band show. On the other, one could see the evening's roots: in the mixtape, the DJ set, the all-star benefit concert, the R&B revue. And it was this marriage of old and newanalog and digitalthat permeated the night, a constant reminder that, as Q-Tip famously told his daddy, things go in cycles.More »
In a recent tweet responding to a follower's assertion that he was a celebrity, the drummer and head Root Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson demurred, claiming he was merely "a personality." The follower had a point, though; according to a website devoted to Quest's blogs about meeting famous people, for instance, the man has gone on dates with Natalie Portman, turned down a European tour with Justin Timberlake, and napped in Spike Lee's office. But what's not up for debate is how he got to wherever he is. A brief tangle with Michele Bachmann supporters notwithstanding, Questlove has risen to fame on the strength of his drumming, which can be heard on D'Angelo's Voodoo, Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun, Common's Like Water for Chocolate, Jay-Z's Unplugged, and Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, not to mention thirteen albums by the Roots. By staying impossibly funky and perilously behind the beat, he has boom-bapped his way into the ears and, with his high-profile stint as Paul Shaffer to Jimmy Fallon's David Letterman, eyes of the mainstream. "Shuffle Culture," running this Thursday and Friday at BAM, should only bolster his ascent.
As one might assume, Questlove is an especially fun interview. In the Voice this week, we talk about everything from Back to the Future to Lorne Michaels; here, we pinball from Sun Ra to Sesame Street. Drummers, it is often said, have the best seat in the house; in the case of Questlove, he's also got the best stories.More »
VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul
Sunday, December 18
Better than: Whatever Ryan Seacrest is going to cook up for VH1 Soul.
Last night's VH1 Divas taping existed both as a performance and self-contained, 24-hours-out advertising opportunity for its broadcast. (Tonight at 9 ET!) TV tapings are always strange to experience first-hand, given the way they're designed for after-the-fact consumption; there are lots of long lulls in the action for the purposes of commercial breaking/set redesigning, and in "let's all get together and put on a show" scenarios like this one there are TelePrompTers with lyrics ready to assist the under-rehearsed. Despite the breaks and assists, though, this taping didn't have the hermetically sealed feeling of ones I attended during the pre-social-media erapeople were encouraged to tweet and Foursquare check-in and let their pals on social media know what they were experiencing via corporately provided hashtag. In the 21st century, after all, all publicity is.
The night's bent toward soul meant that most of the acts on the bill had pipes and credChaka Khan, Mavis Staples, Martha Reeves, and Wanda Jackson represented for the pre-music-video era, while the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Ledisi, Jill Scott, and Jennifer Hudson were among the new-schoolers. Jessie J's tireless, apparently unending promotional campaign also continued here; her new party trick involves her stuttering out words instead of singing them in toto, a tic that serves to both illuminate the bleatiness of her voice and make her seem even more malleable and annoying. She's the opposite of a diva, her jet-black-dyed artifice doing a miserable job of covering up the void within; I expect either a turn to Christian rock or the "mysterious" leak of a sex tape within the next 12 months.More »
You'd think between the tapings of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, being shuttled from to gig to gig, and freaking out at Prince concerts, it'd be hard to pin down Questlove for 15 minutes, but it was surprisingly painless. We caught up with the Roots' drummer and resident hip-hop historian at the new monthly "Rock Freak" party at the Hudson Hotel, where we got his reaction to winning three Grammys, learned that Bill Murray is a fan, and talked his weekly residency at Brooklyn Bowl. There is also, perhaps, a burgeoning affection for Juliette Lewis. Read on.
Grammy fresh. Photo via @questlove
Better Than: That time Justin Bieber played the drums with Questlove on Jimmy Fallon.
Around 8 p.m. on Sunday night, Questlove Tweeted that he was off to spin the "hardest DJ set of m'life." The gig was Giant Step's annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, a night of dance music that delivered messages of freedom, peace, and all the other warm fuzziness that comes with the holiday. To be fair, four hours is a long time for warm and fuzzy.More »
Well, this was entirely unexpected. Behold: a massive compendium of every celebrity ubiquitous Roots drummer and all around hero Questlove has ever met, complete with the story of how it happened and what they were like. Highlights include his summary dismissal of the '90s mixtape rap star Canibus--"all of my interactions with him are always the same: jam session. he spits. turns around to stop me from drumming so the audience can hear him. and there is never a "ooooooooooooooooooh!!" moment."--and the time he went over to Will Smith's house, which is a story it takes him about ten thousand words to tell:
The Dude Company 175 Varick Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn.
French stencil artist The Dude Company rolled through New York in May for an Orchard Street Public Works Dpt. show and left behind some public works for the rest of us. He's been known to pay homage to unequivocally worthy subjects like the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King, Jr, but his best recent street pieces, technically speaking, come in the form of a few terrifically detailed stencils of Questlove. There's the near-perfect three-color one above, painted on a metal Varick Avenue door in Bushwick, and one on wood in Williamsburg:More »
Hard to see how today's New York Post item on yesterday's Black History Month menu at NBC makes the whole thing any less parodic or ridiculous. So "the African-American chef who planned it doesn't understand the fuss"? And Questlove, who Tweeted about the whole thing and thus started this whole imbroglio, was for it before he was against it, according to that chef, Leslie Calhoun? "Questlove, who I serve every day and who enjoys my food," Calhoun told the Post, "requested the neck bone [cooked in] the black-eyed peas and fried chicken, then got off the line, saying, 'This is racist.'" Which it was, or it wasn't, but we can all agree that the fucking sign looked like something Curb Your Enthusiasm would use for a gag, no? Nobody saw that for what it was? Except for Questlove. Who surely enjoys fried chicken as much as the rest of us. But might not enjoy it when its unironically paired with a big sign that says "In Honor of Black History Month"? There are reasons that would be a bad idea. No? [NYP]
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