One Night Only: The Velvet Underground Pay Tribute to Nico and Allen Ginsberg

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Tonight, fans of the Velvet Underground will get to see their idols pay tribute to two of their most revered friends and collaborators--just not on the same stage. At Housing Works, Lou Reed will be celebrating the vinyl and digital re-issue of Allen Ginsberg's FIRST BLUES. Across the East River, John Cale will be kicking off his three-night run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with a sold-out tribute to Nico, which will also feature Sharon Van Etten, the Magnetic Fields, and Kim Gordon, among others. Torn on which show you'll hit later? Here's a brief preview of each, along with a few educated guesses as to which songs you'll get to hear Reed and Cale wax poetic on this evening.
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Tonight! Will Hermes Talks About His New Book With Kool Herc, Laurie Anderson, Bob Christgau, And More

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River left empty for obligatory Klosterman blurb.
Yes, tonight at Housing Works longtime Voice pal Will Hermes assembles hip-hop Godfather DJ Kool Herc, Patti Smith Group guitarist Lenny Kaye, Laurie Anderson, Salsa legend Larry Harlow, and former Voice music editor Robert Christgau to discuss the city's music scene(s), as they unfolded from 1973 through 1977. This period is also the subject of Hermes's recent book Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, a remarkable side-by-side examination of downtown rock, loft jazz, salsa, disco, early hip-hop, and whatever else was going on sonically, tracking each genre as it evolved over the period. Hermes has been part of a few excellent panels lately, joining Mark Yarm, Marcus Reeves, and Marisa Meltzer at the Brooklyn Book Festival and Nitsuh Abebe at a recent Love Goes To event, but this looks like the best one yet.

And in slightly nerdier news, on Friday, Steven Shaviro, whose essay on Greil Marcus and the Pointer Sisters was one of the highlights from Zer0 Books's extraordinary The Resistable Demise of Michael Jackson, speaks uptown at Columbia's Center for Ethnomusicology, where he'll deliver a paper entitled, "Splitting the Atom: Post-Cinematic Articulations of Sound and Vision." Apparently, he'll be focusing on the music video for the Massive Attack song of the same name, embedded below.

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Mountain Goats Performance Doc Screens Sunday at Housing Works

The Life of the World to Come, the new and frequently heartbreaking record from the Mountain Goats, is out next Tuesday. Starting tomorrow, the Colbert Report will be streaming the album in advance of John Darnielle's scheduled October 6th appearance on the show. And this Sunday, Housing Works will host Darnielle and Brick director Rian Craig Johnson, who earlier this year shot a video of Darneille performing the entirety of Life of the World in a rented hall at Pomona College. Johnson's a big Mountain Goats fan--he once directed the video to Get Lonely's "Woke Up New," and on his blog he calls Darnielle's newest "beautiful." The idea here was to capture "what's so special about seeing John perform live," Johnson writes:

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News Roundup: R.I.P. Mary Travers, Mountain Goats on Colbert, Read-N-Rock-N-Roll Ya Variety Show at Housing Works Tomorrow

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Travers with Dylan and Donovan.
--Mary Travers, the star and siren of folk's Peter, Paul and Mary, died yesterday. Though the Times obit is weirdly fixated on the beards of the two men that usually flanked her, Pete Yarrow and Paul Stookey, Travers was the consensus star of the group--her voice was at the center of everything they did. And though the trio's music holds up somewhat indifferently to these ears, give Travers and her bandmates credit for being on the right side of history: Peter, Paul and Mary performed at the 1963 March on Washington, were in Selma and Montgomery in '65, did benefits for Cesar Chavez, and were arrested in front of South African Embassy protesting against apartheid. Travers stayed both politically and musically active up until her death, at 72, from complications related to leukemia. It was a life to be proud of.


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Live: The Lowbrow Reader Presents Peter Stampfel, Larkin Grimm, and the Fiery Furnaces at Housing Works

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Photo of the Fiery Furnaces by http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcn/3748625513/" target="_blank">Jesse Chan-Norris

Peter Stampfel, Larkin Grimm, and the Fiery Furnaces
Housing Works
Wednesday, July 22

"This one's about traveling to a distant galaxy to bring back spirit orgasms for women on earth who've never had one," Larkin Grimm said last night to a decent crowd at Housing Works, capturing the irreverent and earnestly bizarre tone of the evening. Grimm, an anarchist folk-rocker and former member of the Dirty Projectors, was one of five performers--three of them musical acts--that gathered to celebrate the seventh issue of The Lowbrow Reader, an excellent and actually quite high-minded comedy magazine edited by Time Out music writer Jay Ruttenberg.

Peter Stampfel and his Ether Frolic Mob kicked off the event with an eclectic set ranging from full-bodied Delta blues covers--e.g., Charlie Patton's "Shake It and Break It"--to things a bit more in the Pete Seeger, if not A Mighty Wind, vein. Stampfel, dressed in Birkenstocks and a racy Hawaiian shirt, did some yodeling and frenetic banjo picking and gave props to the great jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke.

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