The Summer Gig and Show Post Part II

Since I first wrote my first post about summer gigs, I’ve played a few shows, been to a few shows, and booked a few more.

I still can’t get over how much fun I had with The Hard Times when we played a set of blues covers and classic ska/punk tunes with Vic Ruggiero of the Slackers (videos and more excitement here). I caught Common in Ft. Greene at a festival. It was great to finally see him, but he played a very short set, half of which was a cool (yet, too long) medley of classic hip-hop tunes. The opening acts were also pretty lame and I missed Soulive entirely, who I was there to see in the first place. I caught The Aggrolites with The Have Nots at Highline Ballroom, one of the few all ages venues in Manhattan where you can see bands that aren’t big enough to fill Irving Plaza and the like. The Have Nots killed it and A.G.G.R.O. played a great set, though I felt like the whole night was a little bit better a year ago, when I saw the same two bands and one more at the Mercury Lounge. It’s a smaller, more intimate venue, though not all ages. A few nights later, I caught half a set at the pizza place near me (Two Boots Brooklyn, nothing like Two Boots in Manhattan, go right now) from a new project called Grand Concourse, featuring Kevin Batchelor of The Skatalites, Rhianna, Batchelor Party, the list goes on, Johnny Meyers of The Stingers ATX, Gideon from Westbound Train, and Eddie Ocampo of The Stubborn All-Stars and The Jammyland All-stars, as well as some other amazing musicians I know I’ve seen before. They KILLED it.

Nope, not done yet. My guys in OTiS just get better with every set, both at the Mercury Lounge and Southpaw (gotta love a venue I can walk to from my apartment). Sic N Mad, an early band from Vic and Marcus from the Slackers, was pretty fun to watch, given you don’t usually see these guys play lo-fi punk rock. That same night I hopped over from Version City monthly at the Knitting Factory where I got to see my good friends Tip The Van from the CT Ska world. Definitely catch them on Warped Tour most of the summer.

By far the COOLEST show I’ve been to in a while was at the new Bushwick Music Studio: Day 1 of The Forthrights summer tour with Vic Ruggiero and Chris Murray. The night started with The Bandulus, a sick ska/rocksteady/soul band from Texas featuring members of the Trenchtown Texans who were great. Then, I played a very on-the-fly set with The Hard Times. We were down a keyboard player, so we reworked our songs accordingly and were completely blessed to be joined by Jah Point, Nickel (or little? I never know) Dan from The Frighteners and TCB, Vic Ruggiero, and Coolie Ranx of Pilfers over the course of the night making for a very unique set. The rest of the night was essentially a Forthrights show with Vic and Chris playing a bunch of tunes along the way! I’ve never seen Chris Murray before and they both played tunes I had never really expected to ever see in my life (including tunes like “Policeman” and “One Everything“). It was some of the most fun in a while.

There are free shows all summer at Prospect Park, and I finally walked my ass over to one and saw Ozomatli play for the biggest crowd I’d ever seen there (I hear the Roots and Talib Kweli was way over capacity, glad I wasn’t there). I’m not one for festival shows but they were so good. A few days later, this past weekend, was Dirty Reggae Party VI hosted by Agent Jay of The Slackers at the Lake. It was one of the hottest, sweatiest, grossest shows I’ve ever played or gone to. The Bandulus played another great set, brand new band The Frighteners featuring Nickel Dan was SO sick, The Hard Times played another great set with some special guests (we played “Rough Rider” with a couple guys from the Bandulus!) and then R-Tronika fucking BROUGHT IT with a latin-punk-reggae-party.

Basically, I only goto good shows. I’ve gotten much better at that over time.

Hey Stranger is also about halfway through tracking what is shaping up to be a great record. We got through a ton of guitar and vocal tracks (yours truly even lending a harmony here and there) and I’ve been really enjoying the production role I’ve somewhat had. Needless to say I didn’t sleep much that weekend. The Hard Times is in the midst of some mixing of songs and I’m pretty psyched about those tunes as well. We’ve got some very cool people working on the mixes.

Hey Stranger Shows

(The Hard Times are on break until about September. Times get harder…)

Thurs, July 15, 7pm
Knitting Factory Brooklyn, 361 Metropolitan, L Train to Lorimer
With Authority Zero, Whole Wheat Bread, and Lionize. We got added last minute in place of Chase Long Beach who were originally on the bill. I caught Authority Zero once when I lived in Tucson. Stoked to play with them. Here’s a tune.

Sat, Aug 7, 7pmVersion City Monthly Flier
Knitting Factory Brooklyn, 361 Metropolitan, L Train to Lorimer
Version City Monthly with  The Bluebeats, The Forthrights, Top Shotta, and The Cool & The Deadly
All ages

Sat Aug 14, 7pm
Connolly’s Klub 45, 121 West 45 Street (between 6th Ave. & Broadway), Third Floor
21+ w/ID, with Aqua Cherry, Challenge Accepted, more TBA
New venue, new promoter, I’m curious to see what happens. Anxious to try more pop/punk shows than ska shows with Hey Stranger.

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