Friday, July 31, 2009

Nick Ray in Theaters This Summer

Nicholas Ray the director of "Rebel Without a Cause" has taken over the city this summer. This might seem a tad bit late, because this is the start of the second week of films from the Nick Ray archives at the Film Forum. But seem like everywhere you look his movies are there. The Anthology Film Archives is playing his movies as part of there one-eyed auteur's retrospective. Where they think that having troubled eye sight was if Vogue in Hollywood's heyday. Hell I found a book about the Director last month on the street in the LES. (see Street Books) This weekend you can go see James Dean mutter the famous line "Your Tearin' me Apart!" at the Film Forum. The one to shoot for is the "The Lusty Man," "True Story of Jesse James, double feature on Wednesday the 5Th. If you miss it you can see "Jesse James" and "Flying Leathernecks" on the 16Th and 17Th. Yes if you are into old movies this was the summer. Let's hope next year has more old director's, more strange film retrospectives, and mare out door classics.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Steely Dan July 28Th, 09

Steely Dan has a sophisticated jazz-rock sound all there own, and over the next week we as New Yorkers have a chance to experience it for ourselves. Playing whole albums in there entirety is one of the best things to happen to rock in a long time. Sonic Youth started this fad and others like Van Morrison and Steely Dan have fallowed. On the night in question Walter Becker and Donald Fagen played Aja, one of the first albums ever to be certified platinum. This was an event. The backing band came out first and jammed. Then the three girl singers came out, one putting the vinyl record on a little 70's turn-table. Berker and Donald swaggered out on stage and played the a-side. Then with just a few words the vinyl was turned over and the b-side was played. Then as if that was not enough they went on to play most of Gaucho. It seemed that they would never leave the stage, playing hits like "Reeling in the Years" and "Do it Again." Who would ever get sick of these smooth groves and complex harmonies. This was just the first night on this long lush stay at the Beacon.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Street Books - Nicholas Ray An American Journey by Bernard Eisenschitz

Found - Essex St. and Rivington St in the LES .
Picked up because - James Dean on cover.
Nicholas Ray was an under appreciated part of early Hollywood. An highly passionate director that most people don't know by name. Yes everyone knows "Rebel Without a Cause" was a classic, but now after reading this biography by Bernard Eisenschitz, one finds that this director had real life experience with the nitty-gritty of American life through the 30's and 40's. Born in the Midwest he moved to New York during the depression, there he became a part of the theater. Then when President Roosevelt's New Deal gave many artist work throughout the country, Nick went out into the backwoods of this country to help rural areas with local theater activities. These experiences in peoples homes and backyards in the 30's helped Nick set up the feeling of real American hardship in his films. During this time Nick got to work with Charles and Pete Seeger. This started his love of folk and blues (used in most of his films) and Nick's technical skills in sound. Before going back to theater and then moving on to film Nick moved back to New York. Working the sound for many jazz clubs he meet Billy Holiday and other greats. Also he would bring up some of the musicians that worked with him on the radio and lived with him in the country like Leadbelly. Living such a rich life before Nick went west to Hollywood might have been why he seemed so passionate to others in the film industry. In this book Bernard Eisenschitz takes you from movie to movie with an easy flow. Here is where the reader gets the whole story about RKO, and Howard Hughes. Lucky RKO lent Nick out for Bogart's "In a Lonely Place." The title says a lot about how Hollywood could feel for the writer/Director. Even in the western, Johnny Guitar there are hints of how Nick felt about Hollywood with lines like: 'I'm a stranger here myself." The best is how Nick handled the actors and actresses. Mostly with little whispered suggestions, he was said to be able to pull the character out of the actor. Working in a very loose way, sometimes with only part of a script he would encourage improvisation, unheard of with most directors of the time. This book does not glorify Nick, Eisenschitz puts in all the gambling, drinking, and the problems with Nick's wife's. Eventually Nick goes to Europe to make some films, then ends up back in New York as a teacher and lecture. Film direction, Nick told his students, is a "hunt for the truth" This books "hunt for the truth" was more then just a story about Nick Ray, it was about how sometimes we as Americans don't really see who we are. How we need artists like Nicholas Ray to show us our own story before we believe in it.
-Nicholas Ray An American Journey by Bernard Eisenschitz, translated from French by Tom Milne

Friday, July 24, 2009

Soul Power : Zaire 74' With James Brown

This concert footage from over 30 years ago is not just a great look at the performers but also a time capsule from the 70's. Some of the electronics are funner looking then the fashion. This festival was going to be a part of the "The Rumble in the Jungle," the 1974 heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire. The fight was postponed but the concert went on as planed. This was the first trip to Africa for most of the musicians and was coined many times as "a home coming" When they say "Soul Power" its no joke with acts like Bill Withers, The Spinners, and The Crusaders. Then the heavyweight's James Brown in all his glory, and B.B. King noticing all "the beautiful Ladies" as he comes off the plane. Ali has a definite presence in this film, even poking fun at himself by getting into the ring with front man for the spinners Philippe Wynne. African artiest came out in force OK Jazz, fronted by Franco, Orchestre Afrisa with Rochereau and Makeba doing her classic "The Click Song." Celia Cruz was a highlight seeing her dressed to kill. Then Big Black's conga drum solo with the camera so close one can see him sweet. The music was fun but this film also went out into the streets to cover some of the people of Zaire. Don King, Ali, and the rest made a point to say that all blacks are brothers and deserve more freedom here in the us and around the world. With a special message from the godfather of soul himself at the end after the credits.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mandela Day Concert July 18Th, 09

Nelson Mandela is an inspiration to the world. He was imprisoned for leading the liberation movement against apartheid in South Africa and was in jail for 27 years. All this because he believed that everyone should be given civil rights and be able to live in freedom. After his release he helped lead the transition towards multi-racial democracy in South Africa and became the first democratically elected State President on the 10Th of May in 1994. Since the end of apartheid Mandela has received more than one hundred awards over four decades, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. "I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances." Now he asks everyone to do very simple things to make the world a better place. He would like people to go out into their community and help one another. When one volunteers a small part of their time they help bring the world closer together, as he did. On July 18Th, Mandela's birthday the whole world celebrates what one man was able to do. This is Mandela Day, and every year there is a concert to put on by 46664. This was his number in jail and now is used as a symbol. No one should be reduced to a number. Not even the people that suffer from HIV/Aids. 46664 raises awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the underlying issues that influence it, such as poverty, lack of education, gender inequality, lack of access to health facilities and the denial of economic opportunities. This years concert was right here in New York at Radio City Music Hall. The show had more entertainers than you could count. Many of them you know and love like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Josh Groban. Lots of them from around the world like Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Zucchero, Baaba Maal, and Carla Bruni. And some Native to NYC like Lil’ Kim, and Wyclef Jean. All Backed by the amazing Soweto Gospel Choir. The musicians where not alone, many of Hollywood's stars came out in support of this great man and his mission. There is no need to type out the whole story because you can watch the video for free on the 46664 web sight, A rear treat that gives you a better seat that this reporter had. Though this is one live experience that will be treasured.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sir Paul McCarthy July 17th, 18th, & 21st, 09

Sir Paul had the opportunity to play the first show at City Filed, and what a show it was. From the rock'in "Drive My Car" to the harmonious "Yesterday" it was a night to remember.The Beatles played the old Shea stadium 44 years ago and Paul Had nothing but fond memories. "Let It Be" was one that was played so long ago in 65'. Most of the Hits where played like "Back in the USSR," "Eleanor Rigby," "Paper Back Writer." "Let me drink this all in" he said as the lights went up and one could see all 55,000 people in the stands, not forgetting the fans up top in the "ashtrays." With plenty of screaming from the ladies in the front he went on with "Lady Madonna" and "Hey Jude." The Best was "A Day in the Life" that cut straight into "Give Peace a Chance." A tight transition that really highlighted how good his band is. Some of his solo songs where peppered through out the set, along with one or two from his band Wings. The skies where not exactly clear but that did not effect the good vibes. At the end Billy Joel came on stage mimicking the closing of Shea when the roles were reversed. Two more shows in the next week, so you to could see the man in action.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Big Draw July 18th 11am- 4pm Free

Need a little fun this Saturday? Looking for something different? Want to do more then look at other peoples art? Why not make your own, with some help from the Drawing Center. This Non-profit is giving out free sketchbooks and supporting free events through out the city. You can learn how to capture movement on paper with Jeffrey Gibson and Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, One Bowling Green. Can drawing help us see or hear? Find out how self expression with pen and paper can in help the mind and body at the World Financial Center Winter Garden, 220 Vesey Street. More interested in the geography? Well take a walk with other would be artiest to find the past and present of lower Manhattan, starting at the Bosque in Battery Park, Battery Place and State Street. One if not all of these events are sure to be fun and get the creative juices flowing.

Find out more at:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Maze featuring Frankie Beverly July 10th, 09

Frankie Beverly was laughing, talkative and having a all around good time on stage with Maze at the Beacon on Friday night. This was a important show for this reviewer because the band has been playing with their funky beats for a long time. Lots of artist sample from Maze and after watching them live one can see that funk bridged the gap between R & B and Hip-Hop. Beverly and Maze are East Cost, with a upbringing in Philly, but even Frankie knows that they don't fall in to the Philly Sound. So in 1970, as other like minded young people, they went west to San Francisco. With a name Change (old name Raw Soul) and under the soul giant Marvin Gaye they landed a record deal. All this Frankie loving tells the crowed during one of the small breaks in music. They went from one smooth jam to another without pause, like others connected to San Francisco sound. Some of the seven are from the original line up but know matter what happened through the years Beverly has been the guiding light.(songwriter, producer, front man) They had many, many albums (most of them gold albums) that gave them a grand fallowing but no "hits." That said know that everyone in the the room new all the wards on this summer evening. Great songs like "Golden Time of Day" and "Joy and Pain." One of the best shows seen this year. One of the acts to tell people you saw live before it was to late.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Street Books - Ghosts of 42ND Street Anthony Bianco

Found - Brooklyn on Gram near Metropolitan
Picked up because - black and white cover looked cool
History is never boring on the forty deuce, from stars to strippers its seen it all. This little corner of New York became the center of the world, "The Great White Way." Then it almost fell into ruin before being lifted up back on high. Yes it's a ruff and tumble story. A great topic for a book, fitting that our first "Street Book" is about a street. This does read easy but also tells specifics. Theater from vaudeville to burlesque, business from real estate to retail, even some police actions. All the cheaters of the streets come out when reading about what went down on 42ND and Broadway. From stables to today what other part of America could make 300 pages seem like a quick read. An exciting twenty four hour, year round street part of what makes New York, New York. Times Square is a destination for the whole world and after reading "Ghost" you know why.