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.