B-Boy Limping

“My Name is Steve Martin and I Play The Banjo”
March 15, 2011, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Music, New York | Tags: , ,

As you can see from my face, I am very serious about it. You have to be to win a  Grammy.

Just kidding! I’m still silly. Here I am imitating a bird (I think) like the title of my album that came out today, Rare Bird Alert. I got the name from a movie I just shot with Jack Black and Owen Wilson about competitive bird-watching. It comes out in October. Go see it!

Here I am playing the banjo, in case you guys didn’t believe I could play…

And here is the iPad that I keep my setlist on. (I am very high tech.)

Here is my band The Steep Canyon Rangers…

…And here I am making them sing a gospel song for atheists.

You can catch us Wednesday 3/16 on the Late Show with David Letterman. We already taped it and I’ve already re-watched the best parts.

Which was all of it, duh.


Last night I watched two strangers make out


Well, one of them is a stranger. The other is Stephen Elliott, author of The Adderall Diaries. This is what he chose to do for his public risk at the Happy Ending Music and Reading Series last night at Joe’s Pub. Because really, there’s nothing like a make out session with a random person in the audience to cleanse the palate after reading aloud about convicted murderers.

This was a risky choice, but I think it worked out well for both Stephen and the young lady who eagerly volunteered to make it happen.

Actually, it may have been a little too well, if you catch my drift.

Happy Ending at Joe’s Pub, 9/2/09

Guys, I think I need to be friends with more graphic novelists. Because, for reals, THEY R FUN. Wednesday’s graphic novel-themed Happy Ending Music and Reading series at Joe’s Pub was probably the best one I’ve been to so far, and that’s saying something because every one of them have been above par.

What made Wednesday’s so good? I’d say a few things: 1) the visual and narrative element, 2) the fact that host/curator Amanda Stern had a few friends in the lineup and 3) that these guys didn’t give a shit and just went for it.

First up, Laurie Sandell, Glamour mag contributing editor:


She read from her graphic memoir about her sociopath father, The Imposter’s Daughter. While at times it seemed tough enough to confront the personal subject matter in front of a crowd, Sandell exposed herself one step further when, for her public risk, she read from her “incredibly pretentious” early admissions college essay to Tufts. Let’s just say… she got rejected from the college. And rightly so.

You can catch Laurie on September 22nd at KGB Bar. (And here’s her recap of the night. More pics there.)

Next up was Chip Kidd.


Oh, Chip Kidd.

Chip Kidd, if you don’t know, is one of if not the most celebrated book cover designer in the industry. He designed this and this and this among countless others and constantly has to fight off the question “So, can you judge a book by it’s cover?” But for those who are so inclined to judge, Kidd’s covers are witty, visually arresting, and strive to reflect what’s between them, both in content and tone.

Also, Chip Kidd is also a huge fan of Batman. Last year he published Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan, a collection of manga adaptations of the American Batman comic which were produced for one year in Japan about 40 years ago.

Kidd read from Bat-Manga! complete with sound effects and voices for all the characters in all his enigmatic, nerdy, and Tarantino-esque glory.

This is a panel from the comic:


Kidd’s public risk was an a capella version of Radiohead’s “Let Down” from OK Computer. Here’s Thom Yorke singing it. And oh god, I wish I had audio of Chip Kidd doing the same. I do have a pic (just fill in the audio in your head):


Last up for the writers was Brian Selznick, the author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which won the Caldecott medal in 2008.


On the left is Brian reading from Hugo Cabret and on the right is Brian doing his public risk.

Okay, his public risk.

So, when Brian walked out on stage dressed to the nines, I was instructed by my date to look at his shoes. They were amazing: beacons of silver, shiny as the stars in the sky. This guy has some style, I thought. Then later I found out why his feet glowed. Brian’s public risk was to re-create a musical number from a play he did in his East Brunswick high school called “My Name is Alice.” Brian played the Mad Hatter. What you see in the picture of the right is Brian stripping down to a resemblance of the outfit he wore at that performance in 1984, which included pink tights, sequined-boxers and yes, the awesome silver shoes. This was right before he performed the most glorious musical number and right before he did the “walk of shame” off the stage and asked “So… should I take my pants with me?”

And there you have it, the graphic novelists of Wednesday’s Happy Ending Music and Reading series. They should all be my friends. Unfortunately my camera died before I could get pics of the musical guest, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Amy Correia as she led us all in a sing-along of “Rhinestone Cowboy.” But trust me: that won’t happen next time.

The next one of these takes place on 9/13 at the Brooklyn Book Festival, the theme comedy and the guests Rakesh Satyal, Jonathan Ames & David Cross. Musical guest: Jonathan Coulton.

Be there.

The handclapping was phenomenal

Joe’s Pub, Tuesday 7/21/09.

I happen to know a few things about the two underground club DJs-turned-main-guys in Brooklyn’s Phenomenal Handclap Band. I know that Sean “Medicine Man” Marquand’s favorite muppet is Forgetful Jones and Daniel “Witch Doctor” Collás’s favorite Sesame Street character is Grover.   Collás loves The Food Network and once ate at Li’l Frankie’s every day for two weeks while Marquand wanted to be a scientist when he was younger and never steps on cracks in the sidewalk.   Fascinating, right? And I can go on (and on and on). But while I can spout off facts about these two and their hand-picked indie supergroup for some reason until this week I had never seen them live.

Enter Joe’s Pub, for a packed NPR-sponsored Soundcheck event. One thing I learned about NPR audiences: they love their beer. I know this because the venue ran out of beer glasses shortly into the night. And I know this because I neglected to make a table reservation and spent the evening crammed up against the bar in the back listening to the bartenders.

But that aside, the show was dance-tastic.  PHCB’s throwback disco-funky energy was so intense that it seemed that there were even more people on stage, if that were possible. And I took some pictures, which we’re going to play a fun game with.

Here we go.

One of these musicians in the Phenomenal Handclap Band is not like the others. Can you spot him?


I’ll help.


A close-up (The “Casual Accountant?”):


The rest of the band:


Awww, I’m just kidding accountant  (although, nice necklace?), just saying that maybe you wanna consult with your band members on your collective look. Especially when there’s seven other people on stage that looks like they all got the memo. And most especially when there are assholes like me around.

Check out the self-titled debut album of the PHCB, out now on Friendly Fire.  And see them free today at 3pm at the Diesel store on 5th Ave and 54th St.


My happy ending

It’s no secret that every month or so I like to treat myself to a happy ending. It occurs in the the classiest of places, with lots of beautiful people in the room with me. There’s a host for the evening, Amanda Stern, and a handful of performers charged with the task of getting us all off.

Okay, OKAY! Y’all got me. I’m talking about the Happy Ending Music and Reading series at Joe’s Pub. For my cash guys, it’s the best ticket in town. And it’s original. In addition to reading something, storytellers are asked to take a risk on stage while musicians have to play one cover song and try to get the audience to sing along.

This past Wednesday, there were four participants. They’ll introduce themselves:


“‘O hai. I’m Nick Laird. I haz a wife named Zadie Smith a pug named Maude. Sometimes I read poems to Maude, cuz she’s the best.”


” Kevin Canty here. I’ve written some books and short stories and stuff. Also, my stories sound just as good forwards as backwards. No biggie.”


“You ladies can call me Binnie Kirshenbaum. I write, I teach fiction at Columbia grad, and trust me, I will fuck you up. No lie, bitches.”


“Elvis. Elvis Perkins. Stay awhile, why don’t you… we’re gonna sing some gospel.”


“Elvis again. These are my hippie-chic loafers. No, I don’t know why there’s a picture of them up here. But don’t they look bangin’?”


(Matthew Caws and Richard Price from a previous Happy Ending.)

[Happy Ending Music and Reading Series]
[Joe’s Pub]

In case you were wondering
June 5, 2009, 6:27 am
Filed under: Music, New York | Tags: , ,

Mandy Moore was lovely at Joe’s Pub Wednesday night.


She even sang “Candy,” for the b-boys in the room.


Eleni Mandell at Joe’s Pub
March 6, 2009, 7:32 pm
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

Eleni Mandell’s music can be described a lot of ways: nostalgic,  dark, sultry, and wicked being among them. But with the stylistic departure in her new album Artificial Fire I had to add another adjective that I never really considered her to be before: pop. Not that being pop is a bad thing: her tour’s kickoff show at Joe’s Pub last night was filled to standing room only and, while the sound is shiny, it’s complex and riotous thanks in part to her backing band.


Mandell’s  understated yet omnipresent sexuality owned the stage, with experience displayed as she slipped easily into the role of  storyteller of stolen kisses and love lost. But she isn’t a doomsayer. Rather, Mandell finds the romance in the rubble, and turns failed connections into lessons. “One time I really liked a boy and I tried to kiss him, and he went like this,” she said, leaning away from the mic to illustrate his disdain. “It was a really terrifying moment in my life, and I survived.”

Yeah, but that kid’s probably kicking himself now.

For a taste of what Eleni Mandell’s  about, here’s an old  performance of “Pauline” off her album Thrill. She played it last night as the encore:

ida in mind
March 1, 2009, 9:24 am
Filed under: Music | Tags: , ,

It’s snowing (sort of) this morning, which is appropriate because I’m trying to come up with something to write about Ida, who Sasha and I went to see at Joe’s Pub last night. Sasha put a song of theirs on a mix for me a long time ago and, while I didn’t feel the need to pursue anything else in their repertoire, the song, “Man in Mind,” resonated. They’ve been around since the early 1990s and the core of the prolific band is a married Brooklynite couple, Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell. That’s sweet. Because, while the age and demeanor of the musicians made me feel like I had fast-forwarded about twenty years in my life and was out to listen to some “nice music” on a big (and placid) night out with my friend, I should only be so lucky that far in the future to still be doing what I love with someone that I love. Or can at least tolerate.

Anyway, the hint of snow this morning is fitting because Ida’s crisp aural harmony is the kind of music best paired with a morning blanketed in white, when the world is still and void of any other noise.

Also, I had a dream about a blizzard last night. Weird.