Tag Archives: Jonathan Richman

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Icelandic Singer-Songwriter Ólöf Arnalds Plays Mercury Lounge

February 3rd, 2017

Despite her instrumental prowess—classically trained on violin and viola and self-taught on guitar and charangoÓlöf Arnalds’ calling card is her crystalline voice. She was already fairly well-known in Iceland’s music scene by the time her debut solo release, Við Og Við (stream it below), arrived in 2007, going on to win Record of the Year and Best Alternative Album at the Icelandic Music Awards. When the LP came out in the U.S. three years later, Paste declared, “Earnest, heartfelt declarations of love are a welcome change from the too-cool posturing of so much of today’s popular music. Familial affection will never go out of style; neither will deftly plucked stringed instruments, subtle orchestral swells and a songbird lilt this impossibly lovely.” The singer-songwriter has since toured with the likes of Björk, Jonathan Richman and Dirty Projectors and released several more EPs and full-players, including 2014’s Palme (stream it below). It’s “as pure as powdered snow, yet bubbling over with fairy mischief,” proclaimed AllMusic. Arnalds (above, performing an Icelandic version of “Turtledove” for the Line of Best Fit and, below, covering “Mr. Tambourine Man”) “is a weaver of ephemera, and with each new collection of music, she both defines herself and furthers her own mythology, a mythology that’s wholly intertwined with the lore of her Nordic homeland.” See her play Mercury Lounge tomorrow night. Alternative-folk trio Cold Weather Company open the show.

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Jonathan Richman – The Bowery Ballroom – November 21, 2013

November 22nd, 2013


Photos courtesy of Peter Senzamici | petersenzamici.com

(Jonathan Richman, featuring Tommy Larkins, plays The Bowery Ballroom again tonight.)

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Double Your Pleasure with Two Nights of Jonathan Richman

November 20th, 2013

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman took up the guitar at the age of 15 and was playing in public just a year later. He relocated from Boston to New York City in 1969, but his music didn’t get a lot of love, so he headed back north and formed the influential protopunk band the Modern Lovers. Wanting a quieter sound, Richman eventually turned the Modern Lovers into an acoustic group, most notable for their doo-wop sound and the funny lyrics that would remain a hallmark of his later solo work. Richman earned the most attention his career would get thanks to the Farrelly brothers featuring him and his music as a comedic Greek chorus in There’s Something About Mary. And although that flick came out 15 years ago, punk-rock OG turned modern-day troubadour Richman (above, performing “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar”) remains as busy as ever. He’s currently touring with drummer Tommy Larkins. And together they play The Bowery Ballroom tomorrow and Friday.

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Jens Lekman Comes to Terminal 5 on Monday

October 5th, 2012

Shortly after taking up the bass to play in a friend’s band as a teen, Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman began writing his own music. Ultimately, his reliance on funny, melancholic lyrics earned him comparisons to Jonathan Richman and Stephen Merritt, meaning he’s doing something right. But it wasn’t just Lekman’s words—his catchy guitar pop has earned him followers across the globe. So when Lekman (above, doing “I Know What Love Isn’t” for Pitchfork.TV) released the heartache- and heartbreak-filled I Know What Love Isn’t (stream it below) last month, a world tour was in order. See him on Monday at Terminal 5.

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Dent May Plays the Late Show Tomorrow at Mercury Lounge

July 19th, 2012


After dropping out of NYU film school, Dent May headed back to his native Mississippi, taking up residency in Oxford. It was fitting he’d made his home in a literary town because May began writing funny, articulate songs that found him compared to Jonathan Richman and Stephen Merritt. Although he thinks the comparisons to Merritt were mainly because the Magnetic Fields frontman plays the ukulele, and May’s first album, The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele, was filled with catchy, uke-heavy tunes like “You Can’t Force a Dance Party.” But the singer-songwriter didn’t want to get pigeonholed to one sound or one instrument. So he’s moved on because “I don’t want to be that guy, and I never did.” Of his new album, out last month (stream it here), Paste says: “Dent May has gone disco, and we should all totally be OK with that. He mostly abandons his trademark ukulele on his latest, Do Things, opting instead for some sequin-y synth and hair gel.” And while he’s left behind the instrument that put him on the map, he hasn’t completely left behind New York City because you can see Dent May (above, playing “Best Friend” for Fader TV) at Mercury Lounge on Friday night.

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A True Original at The Bowery Ballroom

June 14th, 2012

Jonathan Richman – The Bowery Ballroom – June 13, 2012

(Photo: Dan Rickershauser)

Jonathan Richman is a unique musical specimen: punk-rock OG turned oddball troubadour. It is a switch that true fans scarcely mention, as they faithfully follow his artistic whims, but it is significant nonetheless. Because behind the appearance of a remarkably svelte 61-year-old crooner is a mischievous Boston-accented outsider—an original cult hero. Only his freakishly toned forearms show the impact of four decades on the road. The rest of Richman’s form and performance is gobs of childlike enthusiasm washed down with gulps from the fountain of youth. And with eyes fixed to the back of the room and beyond, his self-possessed concentration draws all surrounding bodies into a bizarrely gratifying orbit.

With faithful drummer Tommy Larkins at his side, Richman strummed, sang, danced and joked his way through an hour and a half of material last night at The Bowery Ballroom. It began with “The World Is Showing Its Hand,” from Not So Much to Be Loved as to Love, and ended, after two wildly enthusiastic encore calls, with “When We Refuse to Suffer,” from Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild. In between, Richman blended a collection of songs that either left the audience open-mouthed and amused or actively joyous, especially for an extended version of “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar.” It was a crowded and sweaty affair, as the air-conditioning was initially turned off at Richman’s request, but after a brief intermission, he acquiesced to all the needs of his audience: The air turned on and the songs kept coming. —Jared Levy

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Two Nights of Jonathan Richman at The Bowery Ballroom

June 12th, 2012


Singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman took up the guitar at the age of 15 and was playing in public just a year later. He relocated from Boston to New York City in 1969, but his music didn’t get a lot of love, so he headed back north and formed the influential protopunk band the Modern Lovers. Wanting a quieter sound, Richman eventually turned the Modern Lovers into an acoustic group, most notable for their doo-wop sound and the funny lyrics that would remain a hallmark of his later solo work. Richman earned the most attention his career would get thanks to the Farrelly brothers featuring him and his music as a comedic Greek chorus in There’s Something About Mary. And while that flick came out nearly 14 years ago, Richman (above, performing “Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild” and “Time Has Been Going by So Fast” at the Henry Miller Memorial Library) still has plenty left to say. See him play The Bowery Ballroom tonight and tomorrow.

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Three Chances to See Jonathan Richman

February 11th, 2010


Singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman began playing the guitar at the age of 15 and was playing in public just a year later. He relocated from Boston to New York City in 1969, but his music didn’t get a lot of love, so he headed back north and formed the influential protopunk band the Modern Lovers. Wanting a quieter sound, Richman eventually turned the Modern Lovers into an acoustic group, most notable for their doo-wop sound and the funny lyrics that would remain a hallmark of his later solo work. Richman earned the most attention his career would get thanks to the Farrelly brothers featuring him and his music essentially as a comedic Greek chorus in There’s Something About Mary. But, believe it or not, that flick came out nearly 12 years ago, and Richman (above, playing “Everyday Clothes” on Late Night with Conan O’Brien) still has plenty left to say. So come check him out this weekend, when he plays Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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Jonathan Richman Charms The Bowery Ballroom

June 17th, 2009

Jonathan Richman – The Bowery Ballroom – June 16, 2009

Jonathan RichmanJonathan Richman and Vic Chesnutt have been writing music on their own distinct terms—with more than 50 years playing live between them. For as long as they have each been determined to make their unique brand of rock, there has been nothing like it.

Chesnutt, wheelchair-bound his entire career, wills out tortured chords beneath his gravelly Southern voice. A staple of the Athens, Ga., music scene, the solo songwriter has played with legends. Anyone who has spent time with his personal, tragic recordings has seen the light.

Richman came on next and lightened things up a bit. This cult-like figure has been converting fans for the past three decades, so there was standing-room only Tuesday night at the church of The Bowery Ballroom. His songs are funny and deceptively naive. He uses humor to sneak in tough messages, like his song “When We Refuse to Suffer,” which says you can’t complain about your sterile existence if you live in a gated community. In this version, he added lyrics about turning off the venue’s air conditioning because it was affecting the sound. The Bowery complied, of course, and those in the crowd, as it got hotter throughout the night, cheered their own suffering. Richman ended the night with a few songs in French, translating between verses. He’s the only singer I can think of who can get away with singing about true love, ice cream and Vermeer—pure sentiment without a hint of irony.

It’s easy to see the pure charisma that propelled Richman’s entire career. He can charm a packed Bowery Ballroom audience two nights in a row with an acoustic nylon-string guitar, and that’s exactly what he does year after year. Like he says in his song “Nature’s Mosquito,” he’s just going to keep doing what he does. It’s the only thing he was made for. —Jason Dean