Tag Archives: Nick Kinsey

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Kevin Morby Sells Out The Bowery Ballroom Ahead of New Album

May 25th, 2017

Kevin Morby – The Bowery Ballroom – May 24, 2017


Kevin Morby’s upcoming album, City Music, is an ode to this country’s metropolises, especially New York City. Fulfilling a “dream come true,” he played a packed Bowery Ballroom on Wednesday night, featuring many songs from the new record and filling them with the tangled, contradictory energy of the city. Morby opened with the title track, singing, “Oh that city music, oh that city sound,” two guitars jostling like taxis down an avenue, the music setting the audience in that liminal space between sway and dance before finally kicking into a double-time, double-energy finish that pushed things over the edge. The rest of the show seemed to teeter like this, Morby and the band itself like a city between night and day, romance and stoicism, dreams and reality.

Morby got his start in Woods and it felt appropriate that his band was made up of musicians who either came from other groups or are on their way to solo careers, including Nick Kinsey (Kinsey) on drums, Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) on lead guitar and Cyrus Gengras on bass. Together they were formidable, as equally comfortable creating hypnotic soundscapes as they were unleashing full-on guitar jams. The highlights featured all facets and more, like “Destroyer,” “Harlem River” and “I Have Been to the Mountain,” each opening into a variety of surprises, funky or thoughtful or full-on psychedelic. As inspired as the band was, Morby’s songs stood on their own and “Beautiful Strangers,” played solo “for Manchester,” resonated with every lyric.

I couldn’t have been the only one in the sold-out room who picked up on shades of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed in Morby’s songwriting and voice as he sang songs about New York City, like “Parade” and the album-closing “Downtown’s Lights,” in New York City. So, it was not a surprise, but no less satisfying when he covered a song by each, closing the set solo on a Dylan-birthday tribute of “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You” and finishing the three-song encore with a cover of Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll.” For the latter, Morby brought out Sam Cohen on third guitar, creating an appropriately city-sized noise to end the night. —A. Stein | @Neddyo

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Dave Harrington’s Merry Pranksters Are Worth the Wait

June 27th, 2016

Dave Harrington’s Merry Pranksters – Rough Trade NYC – June 25, 2016

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Some things are worth waiting for: It wasn’t clear to me that people would gather in the back of Rough Trade NYC at midnight on a Saturday while Dave Harrington and his ensemble checked the sound for their set. Certainly there were other options available (including going home to bed). But we waited patiently (both beer and tacos were available) and Harrington and Co. proved to be well worth it. The band was a one-time grouping of 10 musicians called the Merry Pranksters, gathered for a night of groove-based improvisation. With two drummers, a bassist, a three-person horn section, keyboards, vibraphone and Harrington on guitar, it appeared somewhat unwieldy on the small stage. But under Harrington’s guidance, the band proved to be lithe, opening with a definitive spat of free-form space-out, the drummers quickly found a groove with bassist Spencer Zahn and everyone followed suit, including the dance-ready audience.

Harrington was as much bandleader as lead guitarist—he didn’t jump in for his first solo until 10 minutes into the first jam. The musicians were like different colored Lego pieces, Harrington reaching into the bag, grabbing one and then adding an interlocking brick to the improvised structure. The music came along in chunks of eight to 10 minutes. Deep, funky stretches dissolved into prettier melodic ambiance, which, without fail, built to some stunning, if not slightly dissonant, climaxes. In the best improv sessions, the musicians can’t fear not being perfect. And late on Saturday night, the Merry Pranksters embraced it with plenty of overlapping ideas, noise and weirdness until a breakthrough, a groove was found, and we found our boogie again.

Discord became bliss and vice versa, on repeat. A double-drum section in the middle was followed by a horn-free jam-out that somehow tied together modulated riffs from the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix, Harrington at his most triumphant on guitar. The set ended with variations on Miles Davis’ “In a Silent Way,” beauty and elegance turning muscular and torrential and then back. The crowd barely diminished—the music striking everyone oblivious to the hour—and chanted for an encore. Harrington obliged, returning to play a lovely solo version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’s “Pure Imagination,” looping and weird and certainly worth the wait. —A. Stein | @Neddyo