First up was the Wired Magazine event at their flagship store in the West Village, featuring a performance from one of this years breakout bands Cymbals Eat Guitars
I had been enjoying their debut album "Why There Are Mountains" ever since the good folks at TellAllYourFriendsPR brought it to my attention.
Having caught the bands live show at Webster Hall back on October 3rd, when they toured with The Depreciation Guild and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, getting to see them again in this unique setting was something of a treat.
The Wired Magazine store is an exceptionally hip-yet-nerd-cool environment to hang and see a band in. Netbooks, toasters, shoes, phones, bicycles, high def televisions and all the latest techie-type gadgets are at your disposal. Plus, on this particular night, an open bar and all the energy drinks you could handle.
As for the CEG boys, their performance seemed a bit more relaxed and less rushed than their opening slot at Webster Hall two and a half months earlier.
Have a listen here and you'll see what I mean:
They played a spirited set, incorporating at times, frantic guitar strumming, impassioned vocals, a variey of blended keyboards - moving from quiet passages to all out blustery jams - all within the same song.
As witnessed right here:
I'm impressed with the way CEG have no apparent inhibitions about incorporating alternately noisy and/or atmospheric passages within their mostly traditional song structures.
It's a sound I've become rather fond of.
Find out more about Cymbals Eat Guitars here:
The following night my buddy Davey and I headed down to the more fashion conscious area of Soho for an in-store peformance by a Texas born and now Nashville residing singer-songwriter named Erin McCarley
It was held at the Eryn Brinie clothing store and also billed as a "Holiday Celebration"
Her voice is note perfect, the songwriting meticulously constructed and the passionate delivery immediately intoxicating.
Erin was accompanied by a keyboardist/backing vocalist named K.S. Rhoads, who provided just the right amount of support for her.
Listen here to her performance of "Sticky-Sweet"
Listen to her performance of "Blue Suitcase"
Erin's voice alternates between pure and sweet and a slightly more "smoky" rasp. The song "Blue Suitcase" has a particularly hooky chorus that sticks in your head all day long.
It's hard to say what is Erin McCarley's most outstanding feature. A wonderfully melodic voice, finely crafted songwriting and striking good looks all seem to compete for the honors. One is tempted to say that she is the total package here.
Listen as she performs her song "Pitter Pat"
Haunted by angels on her shoulder.
Yours truly - with the artist
For further reference:
The next night is was out-on-the-town again for even more holiday shows.
This time experiencing the full band electric show of Celia Chavez at Rockwood Music Hall.
Celia - a native New Yorker who now resides in California - had been performing almost nightly since touching down on the east coast the previous week.
Having already experienced her acoustic show on her first night in town, I was eager to hear how it all sounded within a full band setting.
The band accompanying her was Steven Elliot on guitar, Chris Parks on bass, Daniel Mintseris on keyboards, J. Walter Hawkes on Trombone and Sterling Campbell on drums. All quite accomplished professionals who enhanced Celia's song structures perfectly.
As for Celia herself, she has the most amazing vocal quality. Her style is light and breezy, yet there is a serious depth to her nuanced phrasing.
Listen in to the opening song of the performance:
Celia presents a playful stage presence as well. For one song, she played a toy xylophone, which served the dual purpose of echoing the melody line, while keeping everyone delightfully entertained.
When she is singing, however, there is no mistaking the fact that a serious artist is at work here.
The Rockwood has to be one of the most intimate, high-quality sounding clubs in all of New York. Celia and her band took full advantage of the vibe and delivered an outstanding show.
Listen once more, as Celia plays her own composition "Going To California", which she amusingly prefaced as "not the Led Zepplin song." Though I'm sure she could have done that version justice as well.
Find out more about Celia Chavez here:
With Celia's set over, we hung around and chatted a bit - Robin, Neil, Anne and I engaging various band members in chats - while we waited for the next performer, a most entertaining fellow named Ethan Lipton to come on.
Mr. Lipton's show is something to be experienced - at least once. The songs are lyrically hilarious - and the music is a high quality jazz presentation.
You can year exactly what Ethan does right here:
Not quite ready to end the night's festivities, Anne and I decided to head on over to Don Hills club on the west side of Manhattan for the Friday night Mondo Dance Party
They had a live band performing there as well.
Who knew checkered shirts could be so - stylish?
Somewhere in the twilight am hours, Anne and I decided to pack it in.
In the subway station, we stopped to ponder the artwork of Tom Otterness.
A surreal moment for sure - but then again - it was the Holiday Fun Season in New York City, so ultimately it made perfect sense.