Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pat McGee Band at the Mercury Lounge

On Monday night, I saw Pat McGee Band at the Mercury Lounge in the Lower East Side. This is a favorite haunt of mine, as they have great music, the stage area is manageable, and have reasonably priced drinks.

If you haven't heard me talk about Pat McGee yet, I probably haven't spoken to you in the last year or so. In which case: "hi! welcome back to my life!" My friend, Pink, introduced me to his music in January, when she heard he was doing a two-month residency stint at The Canal Room. His music could best be described as rock/folk but it was really his stage presence that initially drew me to him and his music. Pat's been around for a while and has released 7+ albums, his most recent, These Days (The Virginia Session), being one of my favorite albums of all time. While his band was with Warner Bros. Records and released a few singles, they remain an under-the-radar successful tour band.

The residency shows I went to earlier this year were all acoustic so I was psyched to hear the full band for the first time at The Mercury Lounge. Despite the fact that Pat sounded like he had lost his voice (most likely due to his rigorous touring schedule), it was an amazing high-energy show! I was anxious to hear some of my acoustic favorites with a full band behind it but every song sounded great. Star and I requested "How We Got There", a new song Pat wrote with Jason Mraz that I had only heard played solo, and it also sounded amazing and polished. He played another new song, "Release", which sounded equally great. I can't wait for their new record!

Pat will be recording his new album in New York starting in January so my fingers are crossed for another residency stint at The Canal Room. While I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the full band the other night, I have to say, nothing beats seeing Pat play solo at a venue like the CR. The intimate setting makes it seem like he's playing in your living room and his banter with the audience is refreshingly down-to-earth.

If you haven't already done so, please check out PMB! And if you feel overwhelmed by his vast song list, listen to: Rebecca, I Don't Think I'm Listening, Now, I Know, Annabel...etc.

And watch this video from one of the Canal Room shows:
Come Back Home - this features Garen from Kill The Alarm, another one of my fav bands

Happy Listening!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chris Garneau and Friends

Last night, I went to The Bell House in Brooklyn, a beautiful venue in Gowanis, to see Chris Garneau play. If you haven't yet heard of him, you are missing out on some of the best music EVER. I was introduced to Chris' music through Guy, who was itching to share his music with someone. Chris' sound is often described as folk, Americana, pop, baroque, and carnival music. (or so it says on wikipedia) I feel that's a pretty accurate description, but for me, it's his haunting voice that really hooks me. He has a rich, soulful voice and all of his songs are beautifully composed with his amazing piano playing, string instruments, etc. His first album, Music for Tourists, is definitely one of my all-time favorite albums. Some of my favorites are: Not Nice, So Far, and Castle-time.

He is also GREAT live. My first show was almost exactly a year ago at a venue in Brooklyn and one of the most entertaining shows I've ever seen. He played a few songs by himself on his Wurlitzer and then invited several friends on his stage to play several songs with him. His stage presence is funny and witty and it looked like they were all having a great time up there. He had also just released his EP, C-Sides, so he played a few songs from that as well, including Black Out, which is another one of my favorites.

Chris is back from his European tour and literally JUST finished recording his next album, so check out a show if you can! You won't be disappointed!

There were five other artists who also played that night, but one in particular, Tim Williams, was really good. You can hear his music on myspace as well.

I think that's it's for now! Happy Listening!

Doughnut Plant x 2

My roommate, Fanta, and I very much enjoy food, so we started a list of delicious restaurants/bakeries we'd like to go to in the next year. On the list includes places like: The Shake Shack (check!), S'MAC, and Nolita House.

We decided to go to Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side on Grand Street on Saturday afternoon. What's so great about their doughnuts is that they're made with all natural ingredients and has no trans fat, preservatives, artificial flavors or eggs (???). I'm not entirely sure why having no eggs in the doughtnuts is a draw, but it's highlighted on their website, so I thought I'd share that with all of you, too. Anyway, in addition to all of those wonderfully healthy qualities, the doughnuts themselves are DElicious! They have unique flavors such as gingerbread and marzipan flavored cake doughnuts and filled doughnuts like peanut butter glaze and cranberry jelly. Yummers...

Upon entering the nondescript building, you're immediately hit with the smell of fresh-baked doughnuts, which is possibly the best smell on earth. There's a small register and the doughnuts are simply and clearly displayed on the counter. There are some benches decorated with interesting doughnut shapes in different colors along the windows that aren't particularly comfortable, but cute to look at. I picked the Valrhona Chocolate doughnut, which is a plain cake doughtnut with a thick chocolate glaze, and Fanta had a Coconut Glaze Coconut Cream doughnut, which is obviously a filled doughnut. Both were divine and very fresh tasting! It also wasn't sickeningly sweet - another plus.

I told my friend, Guy, about this delicious discovery, and he was rightfully intrigued. So back I went on Sunday afternoon for my second round of doughnut-y goodness. This time, I went with the Vanilla Bean glaze doughnut, which was simple yet full of flavor and Guy came back with not one, not two, but three doughtnuts to share! I love that man. He picked the Black Out doughnut, which is a chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate pudding on the inside and chocolate crumbs on top, the Pomegranate doughnut, which is a plain cake doughnut with a pomegranate glaze (a wonderful shade of pink) and pomegranate seeds on top, and the Coconut Glaze Coconut Cream doughnut, which was the same one that Fanta got the other day. I can't choose which one I loved best, but the Coconut Glaze Coconut Cream was the biggest doughnut I've ever seen in my life, so I guess, automatically, it was the best and most impressive. I highly recommend stopping by if you're in the neighborhood!

On a funny side note, the other night, I fell into a huge puddle that must have been at least 4 feet deep, I kid you not. One and a half drinks, high heels, darkness, and huge unsuspecting icebergs floating in ice water right off of a curb = bad news.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lesson Learned

Only in New York City will you find homeless people who are vegetarians. You're incredulous and I don't blame you. But I digress...

Last Saturday, my wonderful roommate, Fanta, baked a test run for the cookie swap we will be attending this weekend, courtesy of my equally wonderful friend, Pink. Because she had baked about 16 dozen cookies, Fanta decided to pass them out to the less fortunate of New York City. When she returned from her altruistic adventures, we discussed the plight of the homeless and what we can do to help. We found that we both always noticed one elderly Asian woman in particular who sits on the ramp under Port Authority, with her head down and eyes closed. Maybe it's because she looks like she could be my grandma, but it always makes me unbearably sad to see her. Right then, standing in our kitchen, we decided that the next weekend, we would make a few lunches and pass them out to the people on the streets, starting with the Asian woman.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning...

Fanta and I made a few turkey, ham, and Canadian Bacon sandwiches (Oscar Meyer is getting fancy!) as well as a couple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for those that may not like turkey, ham, Canadian Bacon or didn't have the teeth to eat it. We jokingly discussed the possibility of encountering vegetarian or vegan homeless people, but...really?!

We hopped on the subway in time for lunch and made a beeline for the Asian lady on the ramp. The anticipation of seeing her was almost too much and when I didn't immediately see her, I was ready to call it a day. But she was there...fortunately...unfortunately...We offered her a lunch which she gratefully accepted and even grabbed Fanta's hand to show her appreciation.

There was a man beside the Asian lady who looked equally hungry, so Fanta offered him a lunch as well. After a bit of a discussion, Fanta asked me to give him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and we were on our way. Walking to the A train, I asked her what they were talking about. The weather? The auto industry bailout?

"When I asked him if he wanted a turkey sandwich, he told me he doesn't eat meat."

"Huh. Wait, really?!"

"Yeah. And then he asked me if I was with the church."

Moving on to Washington Square Park, we didn't see very many people in need of a lunch, if you don't count the hipsters in skinny jeans who could CLEARLY use a meal or two. Ah, NYU...

Fanta and I had planned on going to Whole Foods to go grocery shopping, but because we still had some lunches left, we went to the little park next to the Whole Foods on East Houston. There we saw a homeless man in a wheelchair and approached him.

"Sir, would you like a lunch? Do you eat meat?"

Wait, did I ACTUALLY say that?

He did and was grateful for the meal we could provide him. He called to his friend across the street and pointed to his newly acquired lunch. Fanta asked him if he needed a meal as well and dashed across the street to the friend. Once we approached him, Fanta, again, chatted him up, handed him a lunch, and we headed to our Mecca. As we walked away from the friend, Fanta starts laughing and tells me that he didn't want/eat meat either. Whaaaat?!

Funny? maybe.
Unbelievable? possibly.
Entitled to make that demand? absolutely.

I think the lesson we learned today was that no matter what your life situation may be, you have every right to have your likes and dislikes - more power to you for sticking to your guns. Or perhaps the more appropriate lesson is "never judge a book by the cover". Or possibly "a baby changes everything". You pick.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vampire Weekend

I recently went to see a Vampire Weekend show at Terminal 5, and I have to say, it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to. While the opening bands left something to be desired (ie: functioning eardrums), Vampire Weekend didn't disappoint. The show was high-energy, the crowd was relatively tame, and VM actually sounded like they do on their amazing self-titled album. They played most of their album as well as a couple of new songs, including "Ottoman" from the Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist movie soundtrack.

For those of you unfamiliar with Vampire Weekend, their music is described as a mix of Afro-pop, Western classical music, and rock. ( =Indie pop?) Anyway, I highly recommend checking them out.

In other music news, my roommate and I had the pleasure of hearing Faith Hill's new single: "A Baby Changes Everything". Um...whaaaaaaaat?! I have to admit, it took me a couple of seconds to realize she was talking about little baby Jesus. Hmmmm. I generally love Faith Hill, but someone definitely gave her some bad advice. Fortunately for us, though, Ms. Hill herself dispenses good advice: a baby changes everything. Indeed.

Happy Listening!