Washing Away the Dust

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life ~Berthold Auerbach

Over the past week, I have had the utter thrill of enjoying widely differing live musical performances from the Latin rhythms of Si*Se to yodeling Swiss sojourners; Primordial Punk’s mosh mash-up at Galapagos on Friday night to the big band sound of Swing Shift Orchestra; and Robert Glasper’s piano in the park to the sublime Phoebe Snow in a moving midday MetroTech set just this afternoon.

Carol C.: “…bailare hasta al amanecer.”

With their mix of electronica, Soul and Latin rhythms, the collective Si*Sé, fronted by vocalist and DJ Carol C. set it off against the backdrop of a Hudson River sunset last Thursday at Pier 54. Opening the “Latin Celebracion” show for headliner Yerba Buena, they performed their hits, “More Shine” (which Carol dedicated to her Mom, front and center in the audience), “Mariposa en Havana” and “Cuando” as well as songs from their forthcoming release. The setting sun, the temperate weather, waterfront breezes and pitch-perfect sound made for a glorious summer night.


Whilst traipsing through the city in a futile search for the sold-out Vogue Italia, I stumbled across this group of travelers from Switzerland who simply asked the Stationmaster at Grand Central for permission to drop their bags and raise their sweet voices in song for a while.

Aisha Cousins’ Diva Dutch impromptu jump jam. Photo: Fred Nielsen

A romp through Williamsburg on Friday night-Saturday morning yielded an impromptu performance of Diva Dutch just outside Galapagos where Primordial Punk’s (in conjunction with the Afro-Punk festival) LaRonda held sway presenting their first Debutante Ball featuring DJ tjäde on decks, and several live performances including those of two of my fierce friends who both happen to rock “Honeychild” stage names. Chicava Honeychild shook her shimmy, took it off and turned it out in her Brown Girls Burlesque number and soon after Honeychild Coleman, the sole member of Apollo Heights bearing the double-x chromosome rocked it out with her crew. Both “Honeys” have upcoming performances, check their webpages for details.

Tamar-Kali and Sophia Ramos’ photos: Heart On a Stick

Due to a welcome gig but nonetheless much to my considerable chagrin, I wasn’t able to make it out to Fort Greene Park’s day-long Afro-Punk Saturday installment. I missed the awesome vocals of both Tamar-Kali and Sophia Ramos. I have at least seen TK do her thing within the past year, but Sophia I haven’t seen since she scorched the now defunct Wetlands with “Fire in a Rainstorm.” That she hasn’t secured a record deal is criminal. And I missed her. Those who did check her out, do tell, I wanna hear all about it.

Dave Sherman photographed by his father, Warren.

I have fairly divergent musical tastes so it’s no surprise that I went from the mosh pit to circle skirts and two-tones. On Tuesday, I joined one of my dearest friends, Dan, and his family for Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing and the big band song stylings of Chicagoan David Sherman, (Dan’s brother) in town to MC/perform with Alan Gresik’s Swing Shift Orchestra.

Robert Glasper and Vicente Archer photo: Richard Louissaint

I always enjoy the intimate outdoor concerts at Madison Square Park. Last night was no exception. Robert Glasper and his trio played with a virtuosity that belies their relative youth. A young, shirtless fan of maybe 3 or 4 made a momentary appearance on stage that threatened to steal the show, but the fellas somehow rebounded.

And last but, by no means, least we come to today. The Brooklyn Academy of Music’s R+B Festival at MetroTech provides a lunchtime oasis for those who work in or find themselves strolling the beat of downtown Brooklyn on a Thursday afternoon. On this, the 56th birthday of the incomparable Phoebe Snow, I felt chills as she, in spite of disheartening personal challenges sang as beautifully as one ever could. Before making my eyes well with her flawless performance of her 1975 hit, “Poetry Man” she graciously complimented Queen Latifah’s rendition. Yes, while Ms. Dana Owens and Zap Mama’s Marie Daulne before her both admirably covered this lovely song, no one does it like Phoebe herself. Though the attached You Tube performance (from 1989) is magnificent, today’s was superlative, her beautifully trained voice just gets better with time.


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