Brooklyn Roads Newsletter

The Heart of Brooklyn: A Generous Helping of Benefit Shows
A Generous Helping of Benefit Shows
Full of Soul and Inspiration, The Sweet Divines Live Up to Their Name
BACK IN THE DAY: Brooklyn Music Milestones
BACK IN THE DAY: Brooklyn Music Milestones
Brooklyn Voices

Volume 2, Issue 1
Editor- David K. Moseder
Contributing Editor- Lori Draz
Publisher- Howard B. Leibowitz

All music…. All Brooklyn !!

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

Digging Into A Tuneful New Year

Jay-ZAlthough this past year ended with everyone digging out of the snow, we prefer to remember the great variety of home-grown music Brooklynites were digging all year long. In that spirit, we’re eager to start the new decade in the burgeoning musical capital of the East Coast. We usher in 2011 with glad tidings for our readers and kudos for an array of the borough’s best and brightest artists.

We start by sending out huge congratulations to a pair of Erasmus Hall High School alumni, Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, whose accomplishments will be recognized at upcoming ceremonies. After years of incomprehensible snubs by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Neil will take his rightful place among its inductees in March. Though categorized as a performer, Neil also joins an extensive list of Brooklyn songwriters in the Hall, including Jeff Barry, Gerry Goffin, Ellie Greenwich, Woody Guthrie, Carole King, Barry Mann, Doc Pomus, Mort Shuman and Cynthia Weill.

Barbra Streisand is being honored by The Recording Academy  as its MusiCares Person of the Year in conjunction with the 2011 Grammy Awards. Her musical and philanthropic achievements will be saluted on Feb. 11th with an all-star fundraising dinner and concert featuring Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Diana Krall, Kristin Chenoweth, Donna Summer and fellow Brooklynite Barry Manilow.

Going for the Grammy

Two nights later Barbra and Barry go head to head (or should we say throat to throat) in the Grammy competition for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Her Love Is the Answer and his The Greatest Love Songs of All Time are two of the five nominees.

Jay-Z, whose autobiography Decoded begins the New Year in the top 10 on the New York Times Best Sellers List, is up for several Grammys including Record Of The Year and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, both for his duet with Alicia Keys on Empire State of Mind; Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group, On To The Next One (with Swizz Beatz); and Best Rap Album, The Blueprint 3.  

In the category of Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, Halo (Live) by Jay-Z’s wife Beyonce competes with Norah Jones’ Chasing Pirates (from her album The Fall). Vampire Weekend hopes Contra will take home the Best Alternative Music Album trophy while Laurie Anderson could walk away with Best Pop Instrumental Performance honors for Flow (from Homeland).

More Kudos and Congratulations

On the radio front, Neil Diamond and Vampire Weekend were among the  Brooklyn artists whose CDs got an enthusiastic shout-out from staffers at WFUV-FM in their annual “Best of 2010” top 10 lists. The National’s High Violet was far away the most popular album, being represented on 10 such lists. Others garnering kudos for their work include Citizen Cope (The Rainwater LP), The Hold Steady (Heaven Is Whenever), Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings (I Learned the Hard Way),  Matt & Kim (Sidewalks) and Sleigh Bells (Treats).

Brooklyn Roads would like to bestow kudos on our loyal readers who enjoy this newsletter and share it with their friends. We are so grateful to all of you for helping us to grow our network and allowing us to bring you more music news in 2011.

Brooklyn is truly one of the nation’s number one music hubs and we welcome your feedback on stories you’d like to see.

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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

The Heart of Brooklyn:
A Generous Helping of Benefit Shows

Eddie Money

Benefit concerts featuring Brooklyn artists were among 2010’s many musical highlights in our borough. Brooklyn Community Services (BCS) kicked things off in February, with the Dana Fuchs Band and The Revelations featuring Tre’ Williams rocking the Church of St. Ann in Brooklyn Heights. Most recently, another BCS gala and a concert for the Coalition for the Homeless helped to make the holiday season bright for many local residents. The former, held on Dec. 12th at Jalopy, included local favorites Deni Bonet and Johnny Pisano, plus Saturday Night Live Band vocalist Christine Ohlman and singer-harpist Erin Hill. The following evening, The Knitting Factory in Williamsburg hosted The Shalita Christmas Spectacular for the homeless children with a rock-and-soul bill headlined by The Shalitas and featuring Nicole Atkins, Cudzoo, DJ Vinyl Fog, Kendra Morris, and the Nouvellas.

All Through the Year

The months in between were also filled with humanitarian happenings such as:

  • Brooklyn Academy of Music’s show for The Red Hot Organization (AIDS awareness), headlined by Ditmas Park-based rockers The National;
  • Rock-A-Relief at Jalopy in support of Project Main St. (ALS research), featuring three local folk/country/Americana acts:  Jennifer Milich, The Shambels and Jessica Rose & The High-Life;
  • Friend-of-Brooklyn Patti Smith and company headlining at Southpaw for the Fourteen Foundation’s mentoring program; and
  • The Fund for UNICEF’s George Harrison tribute at The Bell House.

The Fab Fete

Amy CorreiaThe lineup for the Nov. 29th Harrison fete, a they-should-be-stars-studded extravaganza celebrating the 40th anniversary of the late Beatle’s All Things Must Pass, was produced and led by Brooklyn-based band The Universal Thump (pianist/singer/songwriter Greta Gertler and multi-instrumentalist Adam D. Gold). Joining them, along with indy faves Amy Correia, John Wesley Harding, Missy Higgins and Dayna Kurtz, were more than a dozen of the Borough’s best and brightest, including Amy Allison, daughter of jazz legend Mose Allison; Oren Bloedow of Elysian Fields; Lee Feldman, who has drawn comparison to Tom Waits and Randy Newman; Pete Galub, who played in Allison’s and Gertler’s bands before going solo; Byron Isaacs of Ollabelle; Carol Lipnik, Coney Island’s self-proclaimed “Singing Mermaid”; Red Hook’s Courtney Kaiser; drummer/songwriter Chris Moore, who often sits in with GaluJohn Wesley Hardingb; the duo of David Nagler & Therese Cox; Williamsburg soul sensation Rozz Nash; and PT Walkley, who opened for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden in 2009.

Right on the Money

Among all of 2010’s worthy benefit concerts, the one that may have struck a chord with most Brooklynites was Eddie Money’s show for the Wounded Warriors Project. The September event was one of the musical highlights of Aviator CenterStage’s inaugural season at Floyd Bennett Field.

Following a rocking set by local favorites the Grayriders, Eddie stepped onto the stage and brought the audience to its feet. Singing in his familiar husky, raspy voice and playing killer saxophone between vocals, the East New York native opened with Two Tickets to Paradise and, as they say, the hits just kEddie Moneyept on coming. Ably supported by guitarist Tommy Girvin, bassist Lee Beverly and drummer Glenn Symmonds, Eddie played to an enthusiastic crowd of longstanding fans -- and many new ones. In a pre-show interview he told Brooklyn Roads that his songs resonate across all generations because, “I write from the heart.”

Eddie’s Aviator show was itself a multigenerational affair, with his five-year-old nephews joining him onstage for Wanna Be a Rock Star and niece Kerry Mahoney handling the Ronnie Spector part on Take Me Home Tonight, capably subbing for Eddie’s daughter (and frequent touring partner) Jesse Money. The emotional highlight of the evening was “a new song I just recorded about our heroes in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he told the crowd. “It’s called, One More Soldier Coming Home.”

Royalties from the song, written by Greg Stryker (“a friend from a military family”), are being donated to the Wounded Warriors Project, dedicated to providing programs to meet the needs of injured armed services members. “The song is about a kid who comes home deceased,” Eddie explained, adding, ”It's an honor to perform it every night.”

Remembrances of Brooklyn Past

He felt especially privileged to sing it for his hometown fans. “I loved growing up in Brooklyn,” he told us as he waxed nostalgic about “vanilla malteds, silver dollar candies and ring-a-levio,” “dances at St. Michaels on Jerome Street,” “seeing Jackie Robinson and Gil Hodges at Ebbetts Field, where my father was an usher” and attending Franklin K. Lane High School. It was there that Eddie formed his first musical group, a doo-wop quartet, in 1963. He paid tribute to that era during his Aviator show with covers of A Million to One and You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me. Forty-seven years later he’s still busy writing, recording and touring. We look forward to his next Brooklyn homecoming and also to a great 2011 season at Aviator CenterStage.

Full of Soul and Inspiration, The Sweet Divines Live Up to Their Name

Sweet Divines The Sweet Divines, four young ladies who sing old school soul, live up to the expectations raised by their evocative, self-descriptive name. This is no easy feat considering that the name also pays homage to a legendary soul quartet, the Sweet Inspirations. “They are our number one influence,” says vocalist Jennie Wasserman. “They were the best ever.” Backed by J.B. Flatt’s sizzling Divine Soul Rhythm Band, this fantastic foursome is doing their idols proud.

The Sweet Divines are part of Brooklyn’s burgeoning soul revival scene, which includes some of the group’s favorite local acts, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Lee Fields and Eli “Paperboy” Reed. Their soulful sojourn began in 2007 when Flatt and Wasserman were auditioning new talent for the Dansettes. Pamela Quinn, Ashley Vitha and Heather Wolfe were all impressive, but in the middle of the process the Dansettes disbanded.

The four women persevered, getting together in Flatt’s Brooklyn basement “for a little jam session around the piano,” says Wasserman. “It was magic. The personal and musical connections were obvious right away. We all grew up singing music that allows us to emote, tell stories and connect with an audience.” Thus the Sweet Divines were born.

Flatt defines the group’s sound as “southern soul in the tradition of the stuff being recorded in Memphis, Muscle Shoals and New Orleans in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.” They revere that era because “It was a magic moment in American music when there was a lot of cross-pollination between genres.”  The Sweet Divines are not a nostalgia act, however. Most of their material is original songs written by Flatt, who adds, “The majority of the people in our audience weren’t even around to appreciate this music back then.” 

The group would be gratified, though, if their music garners appreciation for some of the performers who inspired them, including the aforementioned Sweet Inspirations, as well as Aretha Franklin, Doris Duke, Bettye Swann, Dusty Springfield, Etta James, the Staple Singers, Allen Toussaint and Eddie Bo. Among the influential artists with whom they’ve been honored to play are Maxine Brown, Betty Harris, Tami Lynn, Otis Clay, Howard Tate, Billy Prince and Renaldo Domino. The influence of such talent is clearly apparent within the first 15 seconds of Sweet Divines numbers such as Don’t You Ever and Honeythistle and Heckuva Man. You can listen to the latter on our BK Play jukebox.

Wasserman acknowledges the Sweet Divines’ debt to Brooklyn’s nurturing environment. “There are venues and open-minded audiences that are really receptive to the type of music we do,” she says. “It’s hard to imagine something like Dig Deeper [Southpaw’s monthly ‘60s soul party] or the Brooklyn Soul Festival happening anywhere else right now.”

The Divines encourage fellow performers, especially newcomers, to bring their act to Brooklyn. “When artists are starting out, they need venues and audiences that will take a chance on them, places where they can make mistakes and grow,” says Flatt. “Brooklyn is great for that.” Two of their favorite Brooklyn venues are Southpaw, where they wowed the crowd on Dec. 3, and The Bell House, where they helped revelers ring in the New Year.

Brooklyn Music Milestones

BT ExpressDec. 7, 2008: In an article titled “Soul Reviver,” The New York Times Magazine chronicles the rise of Bushwick-based Daptone Records.

Dec. 21, 1974: Brooklyn Tech alumnus Harry Chapin tops the charts with “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Joining him in the top 20 that week are fellow Brooklynites Neil Sedaka (Laughter in the Rain), Barry Manilow (Mandy) and B.T. Express (Do It).

Dec. 23, 1956: Legendary deejay Alan Freed’s eight-night Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas Show debuts at the Brooklyn Paramount. It becomes an annual event through 1960. Among the dozen artists on that first bill are New Utrecht High School alumni The Three Friends and Brooklyn singer/songwriter/producer Teddy Randazzo.

Lou ReedDec. 24, 1979:  Brooklyn native Lou Reed plays the first of three Christmas shows at New York’s famed Bottom Line cabaret.

Dec. 31, 1974: With the aforementioned Mandy on its way to the top of the charts, Barry Manilow cements his reputation as a live performer, playing The Bottom Line’s first-ever New Year’s Eve show.  

Barry ManilowJan. 19, 2009: Bed-Stuy’s own Jay-Z headlines an inauguration-eve concert at Washington D.C.'s Warner Theater, changing many of his lyrics to reference the president-elect.

Jan. 23, 1983: Guitarist John Flansburgh and accordionist/saxophone player John Linnell perform for the first time as They Might Be Giants.

Jan. 30, 1961: The prolific Brooklyn-born writing team of Carole King of Gerry Goffin scored their first Number One hit with Will You Love Me Tomorrow as performed by The Shirelles. One of the most-covered tunes in pop history, Rolling Stone ranked it Number 125 of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”


Meyer Rossabi

Several Brooklyn artists released new albums in the closing months of 2010. Here’s a sampling of some of the best to get your New Year off to a tuneful start: Norah JonesFeaturing is a decade’s worth of musical collaborations. Guests stars on the 18 tracks range from legends such as Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton to contemporary icons OutKast and Foo Fighters, as well as Brooklynites Sasha Dobson, Sean Bones and Talib Kweli…Sony may have stopped production on the WalkNorah Jonesman, but The Walkmen are still producing great music, includingtheir latest album, LisbonClaire Burson’s Silver and Ash imagines her grandmother's life in Germany, from her birth in 1919 to her escape in 1938…Meyer Rossabi serves up Just a Little Taste of the Blues, flavored with fiery guitar solos and soulful vocals…The joyous single Cameras is a highlight of Matt and Kim’s long-awaited Sidewalks…How about something for the kids? Neil Sedaka's first children's book, Waking Up is Hard to Do, includes a three-song CD, written and recorded by Neil exclusively for this book …And even though their album came out in the summer, we couldn’t resist adding Treats by noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells to our winter wish list. Notable Quote: “Between thought and expression lies a lifetime.” – Lou Reed

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