March 27, 2014
Writing about music is like dancing about architecture, or at least that’s how the old saying goes. It’s only partially true: if a music writer does the job well, you’ll at least have an idea of what the music sounds like and be able to determine whether or not you be interested in following up what you read.
But at The Knitting Factory on Tuesday night, Alana Amram and The Rough Gems put me in the position of having to agree that sometimes, words just aren’t enough. I can tell you that Alana writes country inflected languid songs which she sings in a powerful yet velvety voice. I’m able to continue that Alana played rhythm guitar and The Rough Gems consisted of Philip Sterk on pedal steel guitar (which was also used as lead guitar), James Preston on bass and Taylor Floreth on drums. And it’s only challenging to note how long they played because I didn’t write it down, but it was someplace between 75 and 90 minutes.
But what is hard is trying to describe how emotional and how moving this performance was. Early on and throughout the show, Alana and the band hit that spot that music fans have. I’ve always described it as the place that a Neil Young guitar solo hits. But this time it wasn’t just a guitar, or a voice. It was just everything coming off that stage.
I saw James Preston Wednesday night and he said that the band thought that it was the best show that they had ever played. He was right of course; it had to be.
And so this morning I’m left search for words and dancing about architecture. What I can say is that I saw an amazing show on Tuesday night and if Alana Amram and The Rough Gems make to your neighborhood make sure you get out there and see them.
March 25, 2014
When I first met her a few years back, Alana Amram was playing Union Hall and Union Pool and she joked that she would only play clubs with Union in their name. That was then.
Last year, Alana pulled up stakes and moved from NYC out to LA. But before she left she recorded a new record. That album, Spring River, is now out and tonight Alana Amram and The Rough Gems will play the record release show for it at The Knitting Factory, which. of course, does not have Union in its name.
Alana is a powerfully voiced singer who started out with country music but who has veered into music that combines elements of country with elements from other genres into a sound that is both wonderful and beyond just a simple description.
Alana Amram and The Rough Gems, The Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer Street, Williamsburg (G Train to Metropolitan Avenue or L Train to Lorimer Street), $12, doors 8pm / show 8:30pm (Alana’s set probably after 10pm)
March 8, 2014
Alana Amram and The Rough Gems have long been a favorite around here. Although Alana left NYC for Los Angeles last year, she recorded a wonderful album here, Spring River, which has just been released. From that record, here is the first official video. The song, a ballad, is titled Should I Go Now. Alana and her band will be back in NYC for a show at The Knitting Factory on March 25th.
February 4, 2014
Leslie Mendelson, who has spent most of the last six months in England will be going back there shortly. Leslie will begin work this month on a new album at British Grove Studios in London with Glyn Johns. If you are not familiar with that last name, all you need to know is that he has worked with such artists as Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Band, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, Eric Clapton and The Clash.
Although Alana Amram left New York City for Los Angeles last fall, she recorded an album before she left. That record is titled Spring River and it will see the light of day next month; March 4th to be exact. Spring River was recorded with Philip Sterk on pedal steel , James Preston on bass, Taylor Floreth on drums and Scott Metzger on guitar.
June 30, 2013
The last Sunday of the month at The Treehouse at 2A is programmed by Monica “Li’l Mo” Passin. The series is called the Field of Stars. It was originally held at the late and lamented Banjo Jim’s. Tonight’s show consists of four singer-songwriters, Karen Collins (who is new to me) and Now I’ve Heard Everything favorites Alana Amram, Kelli Scarr and Monica “Li’l Mo” Passin (of course) sitting around singing at the comfortable, homey Treehouse (the upstairs at 2A). This may be the last appearance of Alana for a while, as her move to the West Coast is imminent.
Alana Amram, Karen Collins, Kelli Scarr and Monica “Li’l Mo” Passin, Treehouse at 2A, 25 Avenue A at 2nd Street (F Train to Delancey Street or 2nd Avenue, use the 1st Avenue exit), 9pm, No Cover (but a contribution for the musicians is highly encouraged)
June 24, 2013
For whatever reason, it seems that this week seems to have more shows than usual. There are outdoor shows (as befits the beginning of summer), CD release shows, and even a 70th birthday show. So to give you a head start, here’s what the rest of the week, and the rest of month for that matter, looks like.
Ben Taylor – 5th Annual Hudson Square Music & Wine Festival (in the parking lot behind City Winery) – 5 -7:30pm
James Maddock – Brookfield Place Plaza, 220 Vesey Street (River to River Festival) – 5:30pm
Alana Amram and The Rough Gems – Union Pool - show 8pm
Willie Nile – Highline Ballroom – doors 6pm / show 8pm
Monica “Li’l Mo” Passin (solo acoustic) – Path Cafe – 8pm
Kelli Scarr – The Way Station – 9pm
North of Amarillo – Skinny Dennis – 10pm
Jeremiah Birnbaum – The Living Room – 10pm
Nick Africano – Rockwood Music Hall – Midnight
James Maddock – One New York Plaza (River to River Festival) – 12:30pm
Keren Ann – City Winery – doors 6pm / show 8pm
The Del-Lords and Spanking Charlene – The Bowery Electric – show 7:30
Sasha Dobson (Record Release), Puss N Boots (opening) – The Bell House – doors 7:30pm / show 8:30pm
Patrice Pike – Rockwood Stage 2 – 8:30pm
Michaela Anne – Union Hall – 9pm
Dave Luther – Rockwood Music Hall – 10pm
Garland Jeffreys – Highline Ballroom – doors 6pm / show 8pm
Big Star’s Third: An Orchestrated Live Performance of the Legendary Album, featuring Mike Mills, Jody Stephens, Sharon Van Etten, Kurt Vile, Marshall Crenshaw, Pete Yorn, Reeve Carney and many more – Summerstage (Central Park Rumsey Playfield) – 7pm
Field of Stars with Kelli Scarr, Alana Amram, Karen Collins and Monica “Li’l Mo” Passin – Treehouse at 2A – 9pm