Brooklyn Roads Newsletter

Yesterday, Today and Bruce Morrow: Talkin’ With Cousin Brucie
Yesterday, Today and Bruce Morrow: Talkin' With Cousin Brucie
ARTISTS ON THE HORIZON Brother HijinX Takes Their
ARTISTS ON THE HORIZON Brother HijinX Takes Their
Music and Roots Seriously
BACK IN THE DAY: Brooklyn Music Milestones
BACK IN THE DAY: Brooklyn Music Milestones
Brooklyn Voices
Volume 1, Issue 3
Editor- David K. Moseder
Publisher- Howard B. Leibowitz

All music…. All Brooklyn !!

Celebrity Interviews! New Artist Profiles! Contests! Brooklyn Music Venue Picks!

The sounds of summer cascaded throughout the borough as Brooklynites enjoyed musical treat after musical treat outdoors at little or no cost, thanks to a number of great organizations and sponsors. 

Brooklyn Roads ran its first contests, thanks to Daptone Records, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Brooklyn Concerts and Celebrate Brooklyn! -- and the response has been amazing!  

This year’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival achieved a number of milestones. Artistic Director Rachel Chanoff put it best on closing night, as she described how “we went from Jones to Jones.” Brooklynite Nora Jones enthralled concert goers on opening night and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings shared a triumphant homecoming with over 20,000 friends. We were pleased to take part in our inaugural season as a business friend of Celebrate Brooklyn! as our Daptone contest prize winner was announced from the stage on closing night at the historic Daptone Review! We beamed with pride as our Daptone Gift Bag was raffled off at the show, thanks to our friends at Celebrate Brooklyn! and Daptone Records.

The hot summer nights got even hotter at the Brooklyn Concerts, which were once again hosted by Borough President Marty Markowitz. The Beach Boys, Mark Lindsay, Flo & Eddie, Mickey Dolenz, George Thorogood, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Toni Braxton, George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, The Ohio Players, Salt-N-Pepa, Bebe and Cece Winans, and The Mighty Sparrow all brought crowds to their feet.        

This summer also saw the sixth annual Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival evolve into a weeklong event, complete with panel discussions, films and a live performance by De La Soul. It spanned multiple venues, including Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn Bowl, The Brooklyn Historical Society, Brooklyn Tech High School, The Music Hall of Williamsburg and Southpaw. Founder Wes Jackson told Brooklyn Roads that he first got the idea of the festival after attending the New Orleans Jazz Festival in 2004. Wes told us that it was one of the “best times I’ve ever had” and he wondered why “there wasn’t something for Hip Hop music and culture and for Brooklyn.” The Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival has helped to change the image of Hip Hop to a more positive one and legitimize this music form that is “mirrored by jazz.” Wes also created the Brooklyn Bodega, a website that is the online home of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival and provides a year-round platform for the fans of the Festival and Hip Hop in general.           

We hope you enjoy this issue, which includes interviews with “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and Brooklyn newcomers Brother HijinX, and we’ve added the brand new single from The Sweet Divines, “Heckuva Man,” to the BK Play. We appreciate all the support and invite you to keep on letting us know what you think.

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Past Issues
 Volume 3, Issue 6
 Volume 3, Issue 5
 Volume 3, Issue 4
 Volume 3, Issue 3
 Volume 3, Issue 2
 Volume 3, Issue 1
 Volume 2, Issue 3
 Volume 2, Issue 2
 Volume 2, Issue 1
 Volume 1, Issue 3
 Volume 1, Issue 2
 Volume 1, Issue 1

Yesterday, Today and Bruce Morrow:
Talkin' With Cousin Brucie

"Cousin" Bruce MorrowBrooklyn Roads was honored to have a conversation with Radio Hall of Fame inductee and DJ legend, “Cousin” Bruce Morrow. A New York radio icon at stations WINS, WABC, WNBC and WCBS “Cousin Brucie,” now plays the music he loves on Sirius XM satellite radio. His  shows, Cousin Brucie’s Saturday Night Party-Live  and Cruisin’ With Cousin Brucie  are on Sirius’  60s on 6” and both have playlists that include a healthy dose of Brooklyn rockers Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Jay & the Americans, The Crystals and one of his personal favorites, Little Anthony & The Imperials. “Anthony [Gourdine] is one of many artists who come on my show,” he says. “They’re all my kids. We’re still a family.”

It’s not all about oldies with Bruce. “I try to keep up with what’s happening now,” he says, “I’m glad about the resurgence of R&B.” Indeed, he was gratified to learn that Brooklyn artists such as Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings are keeping old-school soul alive and that oldies shows with groups like Kenny Vance and the Planotones, another local act, still draw big crowds. That his native borough is at the forefront of such developments doesn’t surprise him because, as he puts it, “Brooklyn is a very magical place…very together,” adding nostalgically, “Brooklyn is home to me.”

That Little Brown Box

Bruce vividly recalls growing up in “a very diverse neighborhood” in Sheepshead Bay, going to school at PS 206 (and later, James Madison High School), and getting good and dirty playing in vacant lots. “That time of my life was very important to me,” he says. Like most kids in the 1940s, he also listened to shows on the radio, but otherwise took this media for granted. That changed on April 12, 1945.

 “The first time I paid attention to the radio, really listened, was when I came home from school one day and noticed my mother and all her friends sitting on the porch crying. The radio was saying, ‘The President of the United States, FDR, has died.’ I realized that little brown box marked ‘Philco’ could make my mother cry. That’s when I first recognized the power and magic of radio.”

He never dreamed that one day he’d be a famous part of that magic.  “In fact, I was a very shy kid,” he says, but an English teacher thought the 12-year-old Bruce had some talent and encouraged him to try out for a play about dental hygiene. “I won the part -- I played a cavity,” he laughs. It may have been an inauspicious start for a future Radio Hall of Famer, but, “I found I loved relating to the audience and my shyness left me overnight.”

Rock 'n' Roll Is Here to Stay

Bruce’s destiny was assured in 1954 when Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ who not only gave rock ‘n’ roll its name, but promoted it fearlessly, came to New York.  “He was our hero,” he says. “He was playing rock ‘n’ roll and doing shows, and the music [brought] a wonderful change to our lives.  It was about us and we related to it. When I started listening to this music, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Bruce speaks fondly of his forays to local record stores on Kings Highway. “They had listening rooms where you could play a record and then buy it if you decided you really liked it. Today you have the Internet where you can only audition 30 seconds of a record before you buy it. It has me a little upset because I like to be able to ‘kick the tires.’ I want to touch an album, even a CD -- it doesn’t have to be a piece of black shellac.”

Although it was the likes of Bill Haley, Fats Domino and the early Doo-Wop groups that would stir his passion, the first piece of “shellac” he ever bought was a 45 rpm EP of Mario Lanza.  “I used to listen to his show on the radio and I loved his instrument -- his voice. I’m very eclectic when it comes to my music.”

The Most Beautiful Instrument

He singles out the Everly Brothers as an example of the era’s great harmony music. “It’s so simple and so easy to remember. When you can hum or sing part of a song the first time you hear it, you know it’s something special. It wasn’t so technically cluttered that you couldn’t hear the singing.” In his book Doo-Wop, he discusses how this great vocal tradition was born of financial necessity. “These artists, most of them black, worked with ‘kitchen record companies’ owned by relatives. They couldn’t afford big productions and instrumentations, so they had to rely on the best instrument in the world – the human voice.”

Bruce believes that, since the late 1970s, too many artists over-rely on technology and have forgotten that “the human voice is the most beautiful of all instruments when used properly.” Bruce has nothing against technology, in fact he loves it, “but not when it interferes with or supersedes the human experience.”

But Sirius-ly Folks.

Fast forward to the present, where technology enables Bruce to “keep our music alive” and share it with the whole world. “My Sirius audience is huge [because] people are very hungry for this music,” he says. “They’re not getting it on terrestrial radio, where the programmers have decided if you’re over 48, you might as well be dead and buried.”

Bruce’s place among the world’s most recognizable voices was confirmed a few years back with his contribution to Across the Universe. “I got a huge amount of reaction from that film -- and I was just a radio voice in a taxi,” he says. “Right away people know who the voice is. It’s nice to know that people appreciate it.”  

When he’s not on the air, doing voiceovers, making public appearances or writing (including his latest book is Rock ‘n’ Roll: …And the Beat Goes On), Bruce works tirelessly for Variety Children’s Charity. “They take care of kids with physical, emotional and social problems,” he says, adding emphatically that “All the money goes to these kids -- it doesn’t disappear into administrative costs. I’ve been a very lucky man and feel privileged to give back with my time and energy.”

Brother HijinX Takes Their
Music and Roots Seriously

Brother HinjinXBrother HijinX is a rock band that grooves hard, incorporating funk elements, odd sounds and textures, and extended improvisation into their music, complemented by strong lyric writing. “If you come to a Brother HijinX show,” says guitarist/vocalist John Cabán, “you will dance, but you’ll also listen.”

Though the band’s multi-genre roots reach deep into the past -- “Imagine if Elvis Costello and Steely Dan met up with The Meters, Pink Floyd and The Police at a waterfront bar in Brooklyn,” John quips -- their music is anything but retro. Some tracks on their eponymous debut CD have even drawn comparisons to contemporary bands such as 311 and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

John and lead vocalist and keyboard player Anthony Robustelli have been writing, playing, and recording together for more than five years. Both were immersed in Beatles music by the time they were eight years old and both have Stevie Wonder on their long, diverse lists of dream collaborators. From there, however, their influences diverge.

Anthony, the son of a big band singer, grew up with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Mel Torme “playing nonstop in the house and car,” he says. “I also went to many jazz shows with my Dad.” On the flip side, he was also into Steely Dan and Chicago and, by the time he entered middle school, found himself attracted to “the darkness and cynicism” of the British New Wave. (Brother HijinX’s CD features an excellent cover of Elvis Costello’s Watching the Detectives.) Together these influences engendered “a love of jazz chord changes, rock and funk grooves, and dark lyrical themes [that] have had an enormous effect on my writing.”

John was influenced early on by the classic rock and R&B of the ‘70s and ‘80s. “Then in high school I started checking out roots music, blues, funk, progressive rock, jazz and reggae,” he says, noting that the common denominators that drew him to all of these sound were “great songwriting, rhythm, use of space and improvisation.“

Living in Brooklyn has also had a positive affect on Brother HijinX’s music. “There is such a wealth of ethnic influence and culture, flavor, art and media that it can't help but influence everything you write, play and sing,” says John.

Anthony imagines that Brooklyn today is like Greenwich Village was in the '60s or Soho in the '70s. “Brooklyn has always been exceptionally diverse and now it’s attracting artists from around the country,” he says. “Manhattan has lost a lot of its flavor and Brooklyn has become the place where artists gather to create.” He welcomes follow artists to do their creating at his Brooklyn studio, Shady Bear Productions, where Brother HijinX recorded their CD and current single, In Stereo.

John and Anthony also have high praise for Brooklyn’s live music venues. “Southpaw is a great place to play,” says Anthony, adding that the band recently had their debut gig at Brooklyn Bowl , which John says is “one of the best clubs I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing” . They would also like to play the new Knitting Factory in the future. Wherever they perform, they’ll give audiences a fine sampling of what Brooklyn musical expression is all about.

Brooklyn Music Milestones

Neil DiamondAug. 15, 1969: The honor of opening the Woodstock Festival goes to Bedford-Stuyvesant’s own Richie Havens. After his four-song set, the promoters ask him to keep going because the next acts are held up in traffic. Havens runs through eight more numbers, ending with Freedom, a five-and-half-minute improvisation that became an anthem for the Woodstock Generation.

Aug. 24, 1972:During an astounding run of 10 sold-out concerts at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, Neil Diamond records one night’s show, which becomes the acclaimed double album Hot August Night. Released later that year, Hot August Night would spend 78 weeks on the charts, peaking at number 6.

Stephanie MillsAug. 30, 1981: Crown Heights native Stephanie Mills begins a 16-week run in the Top 40 with Never Knew Love Like This Before. The song soon tops the soul charts, reaches number 6 on the pop charts, and earns Mills the distinction of becoming the first Brooklyn-born R&B artist to win a Grammy (“Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female”).

Joan OsborneSept. 9, 2008: Cobble Hill resident Joan Osborne releases Little Wild One. Four of the CD’s 11 tracks reference her adopted borough, including the Walt Whitman-influenced Hallelujah in the City and Sweeter Than the Rest.

Sep. 15, 1989: Bed-Stuy rapper Big Daddy Kane follows up his Gold-certified debut, Long Live the Kane, with the release of It’s a Big Daddy Thing, still his best selling and highest charting album. It spawns a number one single, Smooth Operator, and another rap classic, I Get the Job Done.

Sept. 18, 1964: The Addams Family TV series debuts and soon folks everywhere are snapping their fingers to prolific Brooklyn-born composer Vic Mizzy’s memorable theme song. One year later, viewers are introduced to Mizzy’s theme for Green Acres, another instant classic.


Grizzly BearThere will be entertainment, prizes and more at Brooklyn Community Services’ FunWalk 2010, Sept. 26, 1 p.m., in Prospect Park. The event will raise money to support recreational programs for adults with disabilities…Grizzly Bear, called “incredible" and “inspiring” by Jay Z and “my favorite band” by Radiohead lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, wowed the sellout crowd on Governors Island August 12. The band was also well received at Williamsburg Waterfront earlier this summer...Mona Lisa Cry, an album of great vocals, driving guitar licks and smart lyrics, is the debut CD from Williamsburg-based Dr. W. Recorded at Dante DeLemos’ Inferno Studios, it’s a collaboration between keyboardist/vocalist Walter Kenul and guitarist DeLemos, with acclaimed conceptual artist Richard Humann contributing lyrics…NickCasey, currently playing The Living Room every third Sunday night each month, is preparing to release their first full-length studio recording, Can’t Reason Through Love, with Grammy winning engineer and producer Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Wilco)...Frisbeees is the new single from Skyzoo, who wowed audiences at this year’s Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival. It’s the first taste of Live From The Tape Deck, the Crown Heights rapper’s joint album with producer !llmind…The lineup for the upcoming First Acoustics concert series at First Unitarian Church in Brooklyn Heights includes Brooklyn transplants The Mike Bjella Quartet and Red Molly...Notable Quotes: From The National’s concert at Celebrate Brooklyn!: “Brooklyn now is our home more than Ohio Is.” – lead singer Matt Berninger. “He’s going to get in trouble with mother about that.” – guitarist Aaron Dessner.

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