In this week's New York State of Mind Amoeblog is a preview from the forthcoming XXL magazine on the return of New York hip-hop, a review of a unique new record store/barber shop Deep Cuts at the Silent Barn in Bushwick Brooklyn, plus a novel, budget conscious, way to celebrating Valentines Day in New York City, as well as a righteous rewarding way to participate in V-Day's One Billion Rising in NYC, plus concerts picks and happenings for the week ahead.
Concerts include gospel great Mavis Staples (pictured right) on Feb. 14th as part of the American Songbook series in the Allen Room, Jazz At Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall at Broadway at 62th Street. 8pm show. More info 212 721-6500 and at AmercianSongbook. Also on Feb 14th (Valentine's Day) soul singer Freddie Jackson plays BB King's on 42nd Street in the Times Square area. More info. On Friday, Feb 15th heavy metal masters Meshuggah headline a bill at Roseland Ballroom on W 52nd near 8th Avenue with both Animals As Leaders and Intronaut opening. Tickets and info. Big Head Todd & The Monsters play Irving Plaza on Saturday, Feb 16th. More info. Longtime homegrown hip-hop acts M.O.P. and Smif-N-Wessun, both from Brooklyn, team up to play a show at the Highline Ballroom at 431 West 16th Street in the Chelsea district on Sunday Feb 17th. More info.
On Friday and Saturday (Feb 15 & 16) in celebration of Black History Month 2013 Reg E Gaines will present three performances of his multimedia one-man show The Last Celebrity which is billed as a "non-linear look at Reg’s accidental brush with fame and his journey from obscure street poet to writer of the Tony Award winning musical, Bring in da Noise/Bring in da Funk." For each of his three performances (two on Saturday and one on Friday) he will have a different opening act. For the 7pm Friday show NJ to the Bay to NY artist Azeem will do a performance of his acclaimed one man show Rude. Technically it is not a New York event since it happens across the river over in Jersey City at Art House Productions at 1 McWilliams Place. But Jersey City is only a five minute PATH train ride from WTC station in Lower Manhattan. Tickets are $10 and you can buy them here.
"New York is back" - that's the word according to New York City based Harris Publications hip-hop magazine XXL who, in celebration of this proclamation, feature on the cover of their brand new (March/April) issue both Harlem’s A$AP Rocky and The Bronx’s French Montana in both solo covers and the joint cover (left). These two newcomer NYC rap stars, "are sure to be two of 2013’s most celebrated MCs" write XXL's editors. A$AP Rocky’s debut album (as distinct from his mixtapes), LONG.LIVE.A$AP, debuted at No. 1 on the Amoeba chart and on Billboard 200 upon its release last month. Meanwhile fellow NY rapper French Montana's debut disc, Excuse My French, will drop on April 16th and is expected to do extremely well. In the new XXL issue, which hits stands nationwide on February 19th, both artists give intimate in-depth interviews with Rocky talking about such things as his former drug dealing days and the recent death of his father, and Montana discussing such things as his relationship with 50 Cent and his feelings on that almost deadly day he was shot in the head.
The above photo was snapped at last Sunday evening's opening party of the unique new Brooklyn record shop Deep Cuts where one person got a haircut while others were crate digging through the vinyl of this unique music shop. Located at the Silent Barn collective space at 603 Bushwick Ave, Brooklyn, New York. Deep Cuts is the brainchild of two WFMU DJs Marty McSorely and John Allen who figured that a barber shop and a record store would go well together. And it looks like they are right in that thinking. Sunday's opening, which was postponed by two days due to the big blizzard (snowstorm Nemo) that walloped the area on Friday last, was a soft opening since they are only "about half done with the build out" according to SoCal transplant Brandon Perry (aka DJ "Marty McSorley") who noted that they still have to, "build and a loft to fill with records too."
Perry was happy with Sunday's opening when Micky Perez and Thanksgiving Brown both DJ'ed. "The highlight was just meeting and talking to people that didn't know anyone directly involved with the space and had just heard about it though the grapevine and thought it was a cool idea and came down," reported Perry a couple of days later adding with a chuckle that, "There was one guy that was just like I heard there was free lolilpops! He had no idea what was going on but he knew he wanted a lollipop. He ended up getting his hair cut and drew out a picture of what he wanted. I think We are going to put it up in the shop. Its called The Jeff. It is always great when people buying records are excited to find something and they can't believe you have it. We knew that was going to happen, but what we didn't expect was the demand for the haircuts. There was a point where we needed to start a waiting list. We really didn't anticipate being that busy that we were going to need to take names."
One day a year White Castle becomes Love Castle. New York is one of the dozen (Midwest and East Coast) states that you will find the fast food chain White Castle which is famous for its onion-grilled sliders (you can actually find them in Cali but not freshly made - in the frozen food section of Safeway). Seven years ago the far-from-health food, fast food entity - which has been further familiarized with those outside the chain's East Coast/MidWest network states by such cultural references as early Beastie Boys songs and the 2004 hit comedy flick Howard & Kumar Go To White Castle - began its annual ironic "Love Castles" themed Valentines Day dinners.
On this one day of the year instead of lining up and ordering your food at the counter (or drive-thru) the fast food joint becomes a romantic dining setting. Red tablecloths with plastic flowers atop cover the Formica tables, decorations adorn the walls, the lighting is slightly dimmed, and waiters bring you your food. Not your typical fast food experience by any means but it is still the same fast food menu. And it is a lot cheaper ($10 Share-A-Meals being the most popular item) and more fun than the typical Valentines Day restaurant. A buddy of mine and his girlfriend went last year and had such a blast last year (their experience included getting a free downloadable and sharable photo of their unique dinner date) that they're going back again this Valentine's Day. Visit the website to make reservations and check on which NYC White Castle locations become Love Castle destinations on Feb 14th.
On a more sober note V-Day's One Billion Rising, which will be recognized with a series of events on Valentines Day all across the globe, was formed as a call to action based on the unsettling statistic that one in three women round the world will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. Doing the math: with the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than one billion. Hence One Billion Rising during V-Day, Feb 14th 2013 when activists, writers, thinkers, workers, students, poets, dancers, parliamentarians, mayors, state representatives, celebrities, and women and men all across the world and including New York City will come together, "to express their outrage, strike, dance, and rise in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women," according to V-Day founder / playwright Eve Ensler (The Vagina Monologues), who noted that New York City will be a central part of this global event Thursday.
In solidarity with women everywhere New Yorkers will march across the Brooklyn Bridge, dance for peace at such spots as ABC Carpet & Home windows (on Broadway & E. 19th St. Manhattan from 230pm - 730pm), and converge in flash mobs in Prospect Park, Central Park, Union Square, and Washington Square Park. Among the numerous other events planned for the day of peaceful protes Thursday in NYC will be the the big grand finale party RISE NYC celebration at the Hammerstein Ballroom at 8pm with such supporters of the movement as Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez on hand, plus entertainment from Maya Azucena, BETTY, Suheir Hammad, Morley, DJ Beverly Bond, Hesta Prynn, DJ Spinna, and more. It is a free party. For more information on this and all the events in NYC on V-Day visit OneBillionRising.org/risenyc.