Brooklyn Summer

I make my way home to Boerum Hill next week where I’ll catch up on the city and its sound.  It’s been a long spring in Oakland, I can’t wait to head East.  In August I’ll help host Onda Vaga’s first visit to NYC.

Onda Vaga

Onda Vaga is an easy acoustic sound emerging from the hybrid of rhythms and melodies that is Buenos Aires today. Merging rumba, cumbia and tango with reggae and rock traditions, Onda Vaga creates a summer soundscape that pairs well with any breezy landscape.

The globetrotting group heads to North America in August, bringing a mobile party of guitar, horns, cajon and noise makers. Light-hearted lyrics float through raucous harmonies in the joyous global spirit of folk melodies and island dance. Onda Vaga sounds like the afterparty of a night at the pub, spilling out into the garden and down the way to the beach.

Onda Vaga has shared the stage with Beck, Lana Del Rey, Babasonicos, R.E.M., Jesus & The Mary Chain and Mars Volta. They opened for Manu Chao for soldout stadium shows and played Japan’s Fuji Festival. They’ve toured Europe playing in over 20 cities and in Morroco and Brazil. This summer is their first visit to North America with dates in New York and Toronto.

onda vaga jumponda vaga moshi

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Open House NY

Open House NY  Architecture opens its house in your neighborhood

After a summer away, Brooklyn invokes more love than ever.  This weekend has more going on than anyone could handle.  I like:

Art In Odd Places – Cat walk and sculpture taken to the streets.

Open House New York
– Architecture all over, residential to corporate spaces that let you play voyeur to the dandies.

Until the Quiet Comes

Flying Lotus at Terminal 5 – the composer performs to fanatics in a bunker.  The video/ short film for the title track off his new album, shows a side of LA not seen.  True Street Art!


A perfect line up of bilingual bands at Barbes tonight includes Pistolera and Rana Santa Cruz, two favorites.

Oh Brooklyn, so much

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Shows and Prose

The last few weeks have pushed me to the edge of what I want from this city.  Too full of shows, readings, and spontaneous NYC excitement like running into friends you want to see just when you’re exhausted, I entered a new mayhem of general overdosage.  I never thought I could get sick of Gotham.  Near a decade living here, with a 3-year break in Buenos Aires, I’ve worshiped this concrete and steel ode to fast and furious living.  Last month I hit a wall.  There is such a thing as too much, especially when it’s crammed into work and play and no minutes to decompress.  Everyone who lives here feels it at some point.  Living at the center of today is grand but the gravity pummels you at times and leaves you spent on a subway platform, wishing for the train downtown to straight under your covers where you destroy all alarm clocks and calendar reminders and text alerts and turn the city off for once.  That’s what vacations are for, you say?  It is.  But drowning in an unfinished thesis paper I realize I need to head for a sleepy spot to (w)hole up and write stuff.  Meanwhile, I’ll take in some more of what this past month brought.  Highlights:

Daniel Horowitz’s exhibit at Invisible Dog was the perfect backdrop to readings from Teju Cole and Jennifer Egan at the Pen Int’l Literature Festival.  Angela Koh made me want to go to another reading with her hip hop inspired poetry and prose at Unsolicited in the rare books room of the Strand.

For Metro I wrote about Har Mar Superstar, Nneka, and Santigold.  I found new images to love at galleries in Chelsea like Jonathan Levine Gallery and Vicky David’s Arne Quinze exhibit and all over Fountain Art Fair where Fab Five Freddy DJed.

Music, cultural offerings, Brooklyn, how can there be too much, you ask?  There’s just a lot to be had, yo.  And when there’s too much you realize there aren’t any brakes.

Theoretically sure, you can just go home and stay there.  But who gives up concert tickets or amazing meals with old friends or sunny day low rider bike cruises after a grueling work week?  Willingly?  If you don’t partake, what’s the sense in enduring the grind?  To stay home in a closet with mold on the bathroom wall, nah, I didn’t think so. 

Actually my apartment is a good little closet but since the apartment next door burst into big orange flames I’ve been reticent to embrace it in all its Boerum glory.  I’ve been feeling awful California lately.  Just saying.

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Attack of the 50-ft Chica

When an artist with a big sound comes to town for the first time you throw a fiesta.  And you invite your friends.  And there’s music and drink and dancing girls.

In the case of this Argentinean artist, there are singing girls and guitar-slinging ladies with flowers in their hair.

You are cordially invited to Attack of the 50-ft Chica, New York City

Sunday, April 29, 7pm, Pianos 158 Ludlow, LES, Upstairs Lounge,

Thursday, May 3, 10:30pm, Nublu, 62 Avenue C, East Village,

Wednesday, May 8, 11pm, Shrine 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd, Harlem,

Cordero (5/3, Nublu)

Utopians (all shows)

Tisra Dewitt (4/29, Pianos)

Madison Cano (4/29 and 5/3)

Redheadphone (5/3 and 5/8)


Ani Cordero celebrates a birthday at Nublu with her band Cordero.  The band has toured North America playing at Radio City Music Hall, Chicago World Music Festival, Bumbershoot, and Montreal Jazzfest. They’ve toured or collaborated with Los Lobos , Indigo Girls, Calexico, Ozomatli, Neko Case, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra , Luna, Lucero, Smokey and Miho, and The Wailers.  Ani plays drums for the excellent Pistolera and recently released a solo album of songs from Latin America from 1930’s-1970’s co-produced by Sergio Dias of Os Mutantes.


Tisra Dewitt writes the kinds of songs that fit what happened to you when. You don’t know if they’re new or a classic you can’t place. The songs stick and the voice drips with soul – with something like velvet and sweetness. Tisra has a voice you wish you could keep close because you might need it later. She weaves rich harmonies over acoustic guitar and stand up bass. Tisra has played Joe’s Pub, Pianos, The Living Room, SOBs, Pete’s Candy Store, and the ING NYC Marathon stage.  But she’ll sound like it’s just the two of you, in the dark.


When Madison Cano plays a venue in NYC it is full of travelers like herself.  She attracts a crowd here the same way she did living in Madrid, she finds her tribe in English and in Spanish.  She performs with her stand up band of bass, guitar, drums, and piano.


Once turntable-based, Redheadphone has stripped down a sound from all-girl horns and mixmaster to warm guitars in Spanish and English.  The band played around town but now it has set up shop in favorite spots, slowing it down to find a sound.  Attack of the 50-ft Chica finds Redheadphone playing with a new friend, Daniel from Medellin, bilingual and unprotected.


Utopians are a four-piece out of Argentina making their first U.S. appearance in New York City this spring.  Utopians are female-fronted and make driving garage rock, distributed in the U.S. by Detroit label No Fun Records.  They’ve played the biggest arenas back home in South America and they are ready to bring their dirty, driving sound to North America’s concrete rock quarry.  “Inhuman,” saw them touring throughout Latin America and Europe with an acoustic set on BBC Radio.  A second record in 2010, Freak, scored a number one hit on MTV LatinAmerica with “Say Hello.”  Utopians opened for Guns n Roses, The Cult, Metronomy and shared bills with Primal Scream, Massive Attack, Stereophonics, and Snow Patrol.  They played alongside Foo Fighters, Joan Jett, MGMT, Band of Horses, and Arctic Monkeys.  Lead singer-guitarist Barbi Recanati is known for her intensity and classic edge, reminiscent of Patti Smith and oft compared to Karen O.  She stars in the boxing ring in “Come Baby,” the band’s video with fightclub swagger:

“Utopians are a true find, reminiscent of Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. The sensation of Buenos Aires’s indie scene.”  -ROLLING STONE Chile

“Barbi Recanati delivers a vocal performance faithful to the power of her band’s live sound: a strong, feminine voice, songs written in English and packed with drama. This season’s surprise.”  -ROLLING STONE Argentina

” I could not stop shaking and dancing” -MARVIN MAGAZINE Mexico

“Garage band The Utopians is an electric explosion combined with the ragged Patti Smith-like voice of Barbi.” -PAGINA 12 Argentina

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Sonic Hot Sauce

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New Music

I’m writing a weekly column on global music artists for Metro New York and another on South American artists for World Hip Hop Market.

Los Rakas are products of their environment, hailing from a city that is home to everyone from Too Short to Kreayshawn, but they spent their childhood in Panama City where drums, dance and chant are a part of the everyday, paying homage to African and indigenous heritage with colonial Spanish inflection.  Moving to California Los Rakas present a bicultural identity that is becoming standard.  Shifting language and surroundings adds layers to boastful raps, drawing in the diverse community where they live. mas rakas

Outernational is rooted in street rock classics, New York City, and revolution; elements that give the local boys credence with rock fans looking for a new sound in line with the old guard. They recently covered Bob Dylan on Amnesty International’s 50-year anniversary compilation. But they’re truly revolutionary for unorthodox choices as a band that courts the mainstream.

  1.  The members of Outernational are gringos who sing in Spanish. A lot. They have questionable accents, they don’t speak the language, but they staunchly stand behind their choice to go bilingual, for a variety of excellent reasons.  read more

Next up, Nneka!

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Art Noise

Frozen tundra South Brooklyn is the perfect season for loading up on art goodness.  Recent sightings include:

Art Battles  Artists from NYC and Europe have works on tour around the EU and the US.  They  travel with the paintings for live painting shows and treated the LES to a gallery exhibit and an event at Le Poisson Rouge this month.

Snow White – Company XIV made Snow White a sexy beast of a live show with aerial dance, opera, hot costumes and music, and a great script. 

Lola Astanova at Carnegie Hall hosted by Donald Trump and Julie Andrews, a benefit for the American Cancer Society and a tribute to Vladamir Horowitz. “Music and the arts essential, mirror to learn about ourselves and our legacy. Connects us to the world. Heals and nurtures.” – Julie Andrews

Ozomatli at Lincoln Center Jazz – The band celebrated 17 years together with an intimate concert in the room with a massive view, The Allen Room at Columbus Circle.  They presented the show they brought to the TED Conference in San Francisco recently, a spoken word retrospective that tells stories of touring, activism, and being ambassadors abroad.  They’re also on a kids’ album of PBS educational songs, including a track called “Opposable Thumbs.”  Must be fun taking a band into the next generation with horns and bilingual synergy.

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