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Brandi Shearer Kicks off NYC series @ Living Room tonight

Posted by Billyjam, August 9, 2007 02:33pm | Post a Comment

Brandi Shearer
, the premiere artist on the Amoeba Music record label, returns to the Living Room at 154 Ludlow Street in New York City tonight (Thursday August 9th) to kick off her Thursday nights at the Living Room in August series at the Lower East Side (LES) location. Brandi Shearer's anticipated new album Close To Dark -- the first release on the new Amoeba Music record label -- is slated for release in a few weeks, on August 28th, and tonight Shearer will be including many songs off it in her set, which begins early, at 7PM. Also performing at the Living Room tonight will be Lipbone Redding (8PM) and Cresent and Frost (9PM). There is no cover but a suggested $5 tip jar at the Living Room. Tonight is week one of a series of shows that Brandi will be doing for the next couple of Thursdays at the Living Room, including August 16th and 23rd. Also note that the singer/songwriter will be performing in Philadelphia, PA this weekend on Saturday night at the World Cafe, upstairs on a bill with the Anthony Lattanze Band-- 9PM is showtime.

When Brandi last performed at the Living Room a couple of months ago, she played the more intimate upstairs room (Googie's Lounge), but this time round she will perform in the larger downstairs performance space. If you happen to be reading this while you are in New York City on any of the Thursdays that Brandi Shearer is playing (Aug 9, 16. 23), head for this recommended show and hang out afterwards in this cool part of town.  And if you cannot make it to any of these nights this month but have future plans of being in NYC sometime soon, make a mental note of the club and the immediate LES neighborhood it is situated in, as it is well worth a visit.

The LES neighborhood that houses the Living Room and countless other fun night spots (many with live music) is in a definite upscale transformation that started a few years ago and includes both new businesses and luxury housing popping up. Still, it is not fully gentrified yet and hence has a really good feel to it -- especially on week nights when it is less crowded (the area was accurately described to me by one regular as "like Mardi Gras on the weekends").

But what I think I like most about the area is that when you walk down Ludlow Street, where the Living Room is located, or any of the neighboring blocks during the daytime, you would never know it is a nightclub area, as many of the spaces have names and front awnings and signs that give the impression that they are some other type of establishment. For example, on either side of the Living Room are two spots that you wouldn't at first glance think are night clubs. On the same side of the street as Living Room and to the left is Piano's, which looks (based on the sign outside) like it is a piano repair spot. Actually, it is another cool live music space that books a lot of good bands/performers. It is also a restaurant. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Living Room two doors down is the Cake Shop, which looks from the outside like a bakery or cup-cake spot (which it is -- partially). But it is also a live music space specializing in a lot of noise and psych rock and experimental acts. And the name? "Actually it is the name of a Swell Maps song," said owner Andy Bodor (see lyrics below), who informed me that the reason why so many spots in this LES hood have names like other businesses -- such as the bar/club Arlene's Grocery round the corner on 95 Stanton Street, which actually was a grocery store up until about nine years ago -- is that it was a bit of a trend a few years back to keep the name of a previous biz.

But it is Cake Shop that I think is the best place of all in this LES district, since it not only houses a cool, funky downstairs live music space but also upstairs (street level) it is a cool laid back cafe (with tea/coffee and lots of vegan goodies + free Wi-Fi) with a great little record store in the back where you can buy used vinyl and CDs plus lots of new indie stuff (including artists who play downstairs). They also have a nice selection of books/magazines including such quality reads as Cometbus and Re-Search Pranks books for sale.

There are also a lot of great restaurants in the neighborhood to eat at, including the legendary and historic New York City delicatessen Katz's Deli (205 East Houston Street), opened in 1888, that is well worth a visit. There are also several new upscale, slightly pricey spots to dine at but -- at the other end of the affordability scale and just as tasty -- then there is my personal favorite: the real down-home, New York City neighborhood-feeling, family-owned Italian/pizza spot Rosario's Pizza (212-777-9813) at 173 Orchard Street on the corner of Stanton where the owner Sal (pictured left) is one of those wonderfully warm, instantly likable hosts who takes time to chat and sit with his patrons -- something he has been doing for years -- in this traditionally working class Lower East Side neighborhood. And the food and the prices at Rosario's? Fantastic and cheap, respectively. Sal's tantalizing spinach rollini, soft and flaky (only $2.50), is to die for --  especially after a night at the club. He's open late too.


LYRICS TO SWELL MAPS SONG "CAKE SHOP":

Cake shop girls grow fingernails
dead long and rather sharp.
They paint them glossy cherry red
and yellow marzipan.
Scoring lines along the backs
of tender chocolate mice.
I would like to buy a wedding cake for you and me!

You've always been a cake shop girl as far as I recall
ballroom dancer miniatures alongside Cherokees.
Cake shop girl, oh cake shop girl
I'd fall on bended knees
I should like to buy a wedding cake for you and me.

Confectioners don't eat a thing
that's made inside their shops.
Bottles of crushed beetle
can be bought to turn things red.
Window front displays are made
for only perfect things.
I should like to substitute a cake for you and me!

Written by Jowe Head

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Brandi Shearer (7), Nyc (80), Les (1), Cake Shop (1), Living Room (2)