I moved to New York City in 2008. By early 2009, I had found my way into a few bands. One of those bands was the instrumental reggae band The Hard Times. By 2010, we were a part of a really great scene. How did that happen? (more…)
I find myself on an evening Greyhound bus ride from New York City to Boston. I spent today and yesterday in the Hazon New York office training my successor (I hate the word “replacement,” we’re different people with differing skill sets. Replacement isn’t fair to either of us). Today was also my last day face to face with my coworkers. I’ve got two more days of work with them but it will be out of my cube in Boston. Besides being a productive day, the staff gave me a formal send-off laiden with warm-fuzzies (and thoughtful parting gifts including a bike jersey I had my eye on and a sweet multi-tool for bike tinkering). We also happened to spend a piece of that day’s staff meeting studying a few words of Talmud which was particularly nice. My work day ended with a very honest and productive exit interview which I only wish I had every other place I ever worked.
Before you get too wrapped up, I should note I don’t necessarily plan to go anywhere with this post. I intended to write in my NYC Moleskine notebook but the bus ride is way too bumpy. I just wanted/needed to write. It’s safe to assume this will be somewhat filtered but still genuine.
The past few years, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure my New Year’s Eve partying has followed a few simple rules:
Hey Stranger began recording a full length record in March 2010. It was finally available online in August 2011 and physically a few weeks after that. What took so long? I recorded 3 songs with The Hard Times in 8 hours of a Sunday afternoon. Why was this so different?
We did it the new old-fashioned way. That is, we spent time in advance of recording figuring out the best tempos for the tunes, and then recording vocal and guitar scratch tracks. In the 3 or 4 practices leading up to recording, we would take a few minutes out of an already busy practice to find the right tempo. Tony, our lead singer, then used those tempos to create the scratch tracks. We’d then go to multi-tracking where we recorded each instrument, one at a time, to those scratch tracks. This is where the bulk of the time went. (The last update I gave on recording was in September of 2011!) (more…)
Releases? Release? “The Hard Times” is a single unit, but it’s more than one person, but… whatever.
With not a lot of fanfare, my reggae project The Hard Times released our first 3 song EP “Two Bucks For Bob” on Whatevski, a boutique online store that specializes in b-sides, live songs, rarities, and side projects from the world of NYC ska/reggae band The Slackers. So how did we get in? I’ll start at the beginning but I’ll jump around. (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.
Check out this lo-fi clip of The Hard Times, me on riddim guitar, playing the rock ‘n’ roll classic “Kansas City” with Vic Ruggiero, lead singer/songwriter and keyboard player for The Slackers. He also played keys for Rancid and countless others.
Only in NYC and Brooklyn would something this crazy happen. I can’t tell you how cool of an experience this was given how many times I’ve seen him play with The Slackers (and solo for that matter) and at so many different venues. But here in NYC, these things just seem to happen to me. Ageny Jay (guitarist for The Slackers) was spinning all night which just added to it.
I’ve had the chance to play with members of The NY Ska-Jazz Ensemble, King Django, Victor Rice (playing songs like “Simmer Down” and “Drum Song”), The Scofflaws, to name a few, just because I’ve hung around late enough at the Knitting Factory. WTF?
It’s gonna take a lot to ever get me out of this town. More clips below the jump.