New York State of Mind Amoeblog #2: Homeboy Sandman, DUMBO, Experi-MENTAL, Film shoots, Dylan's NY, + more

Posted by Billyjam, October 3, 2012 12:53pm | Post a Comment

Welcome to both installment number two of New York State of Mind (the new weekly Amoeblog series that is a condensed NYC music/entertainment-report-meets-budget-travel-guide) and, more importantly, to the new and improved Amoeba website. As you no doubt already noticed this week here at, there has been a major overhaul of the website with a whole new look and features in place. One key addition is the new Amoeba digital download store,  where you can download music in high quality MP3, M4A (ALAC), and WAV formats. 

You can now explore digitized records via's new curated Vinyl Vaults, many of which have never been available before on CD or digitally. This is a major overhaul and we are in beta right now, so be patient while some kinks get ironed out here on the site.  But back to this New York State of Mind installment, this week I will be covering such topics as the Experi-MENTAL Festival, Giant Step, the big retro acid house party with DJ Pierre, DUMBO, the Brooklyn Bridge, Galapagos Art Space, film and TV shoots in NYC, Bob Dylan's Greenwich Village, and NYC MC Homeboy Sandman

Homeboy Sandman "Mine All Mine" from Subject Matter (Stones Throw, 2012)

A couple of months back in New York, I visited new Stones Throw artist Homeboy Sandman's East Village living space to interview him for the Amoeblog (the full interview will run here next week). His very small but functional studio-apartment living space (partially featured in his music video above) is affordable for him only because he got it on the down low as a sort of sublet through a friend in a building where rent is controlled. As anyone who has searched for an apartment in New York will attest, rental costs are crazy ridiculous, especially Manhattan and also Brooklyn in recent years where you will pay a lot for a little space. Hence if, like Homeboy Sandman, you are an artist with limited income you have to try and find and immediately lock down one of those rare affordable spaces (they're out there, but you've got to look) to have a NYC base. "I love it here in the center of the city," said the artist whose Stones Throw full-length First of a Living Breed arrived in Amoeba a few weeks ago.

"[Stones Throw owner] Peanut Butter Wolf believing in me really means a lot and being down with Stones Throw is amazing. And being with them, the exposure [I've received] has grown a lot. It's really awesome," said the former New York City school teacher who noted that on the new album track "Not Really" that he addresses that question of how (or if) his life has changed since signing with Stones Throw. "On one hand things are different now, but on the other hand things have not changed. I still just wake up and write lyrics," he said. Those lyrics, while mostly universal topics, sometimes talk about his city like the track "New York Nights," which was the first track he recorded after signing with Stones Throw.

When not on the road (like now with Brother Ali. They play Fillmore in SF on October 25th), the emcee is either at home in his NYC pad writing or out and about in New York. In fact Homeboy Sandman is a true NYC emcee, meaning that he readily takes his rhyme craft to the streets and subways of New York City. On more than one occasion, I have run into him on the streets of Manhattan like one time I bumped into him in the middle of a cipher down by Union Square. And the first time I met him was at the Subway Series - the fun sporadic open-mic, hip-hop gathering that involves informal roaming freestyle cipher sessions on the subways of New York City.


Giant Step, which began as a roving party in New York City back in the early '90s, is still going strong presenting and promoting parties in the Big Apple and beyond (they do a weekly up in Boston called Mondo at the Revere Hotel on Wednesdays) that keep the Giant Step name alive and well. Upcoming NYC shows include the US exclusive party with visiting UK DJ Gilles Peterson at (Le) Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street in the Village on October 25th and a night of ATCQ star Q-Tip Presents offline on Friday, October 19th at Irving Plaza near Union Square in Manhattan when he will be "on the 1's and 2's playing real music all night." More info on this and other Giant Step productions.


TV show and movie shoots are so commonplace in NYC that typically their occurrence gets a nonplussed response from New Yorkers who are long past the novelty stage. For natives, film shoots usually mean no parking and/or blocked sidewalks and been temporarily unable to walk or drive down your own street. But for visitors it is a fun opportunity to catch a glimpse of their favorite actors at work on the set ...and for free.

In the years I have been in New York, I have stumbled upon countless shoots (including the TV shows Law & Order, 30 Rock, and Ugly Betty) or else seen those bright colored City of NYC No Parking signs on lamp posts alerting the local residents to the film shooting coming to their neighborhood in the upcoming week.

Unlike in California where the law does not require the name of the film or TV production to be included in these publicly posted notices, in NYC they have to list the name of the production. Hence if you are TV or movie buff you can know in advance where and when they'll be shooting such and such a movie. Generally just walking round NYC for a half a day you are bound to run into some film or TV show been shot. But there are also fan based websites that post alerts to upcoming shoots such as On Location Vacations where they write that this week (Thursday - Saturday Oct 6th) the TV show Gossip Girl is filming in the vicinity of Beaver and Hanover Streets way downtown in the Wall Street area of Lower Manhattan. Meanwhile straight across the East River over in Brooklyn by the water the 2013 film Angriest Man In Brooklyn starring Mila Kunis and Robin Williams is filming this week (Wednesday through Friday, October 5th) in the vicinity of John and Jay Streets in the DUMBO district of Brooklyn.

And should you happen to go to the DUMBO district (so named because it is the District Under Manhattan Bridge Underpass), this Saturday (Oct 6th) is the weekly burlesque cabaret  Floating Kabarette at the Galapagos Art Space at 16 Main St (between Plymouth St & Water St). This popular art/music/performing arts space, which originally was further into Brooklyn in Williamsburg (their old space is now the "Billyburg" club Public Assembly), is an aesthetically pleasing building that on its lower level has indoor lakes - hence the "floating" part of the cabaret show that happens Saturday.
If you visit DUMBO area and are based in Manhattan, it  presents a great opportunity to walk across (over or back) the Brooklyn Bridge which is one of the finest pieces of architecture in NYC that offers some great views of New York - and it's free. More info on walking the Brooklyn Bridge and for events in the nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park. More info on Galapagos Art Space.


Tickets went on sale this week for Motown : The Musical which opens in five months

The previews may not begin for five months, but when it comes to big. in-demand Broadway shows it is never too early to cop your tickets. And with the tickets going on sale this week for Motown: The Musical, now is the time to get tickets for this promising Broadway that opens in 2013. Previews begin March 11th. Trailer above. More info here.
This weekend in New York City is the typical endless number of choices of music and entertainment to check out. Two noteworthy events include the three day Experi-MENTAL Festival in Brooklyn and the big acid house party in Manhattan. On Friday October 5th Bay Area to NYC transplant Jason "DJ Spun" Drummond is responsible for DJ Pierre presents We Are Phuture which he describes as "a very special night of our favorite Acid music with the pioneers of the sound Phuture and DJ Pierre" who was interviewed here on the Amoeblog a few years ago. Pioneers Phuture will be playing a very rare live set followed by DJ Pierre "playing a special classic Acid House and Wild Pitch set."

This week I talked with Jason/Spun to ask him more about this weekend's retro house event that takes place at Santos Party House and will include a live Acid Exhibition. Steve Summers from the L.I.E.S. label will be doing a live analog electronic set. The whole night will be a sort of exhibition. Downtown artists Spencer Sweeney and Korakrit will deck out the place in Acid House Style," said Spun who added that this regular Rong party club night of his is doing real well which he described as, "a great crowd you couldn't find anyplace else. Cool mix of music heads, artists, hipsters, fashionistas, trannys, designers, weirdos, and club kids." 21+ $20 11pm - 4am at Santos Party House on Lafayette two blocks down from Canal Street (near lots of subways) in downtown Manhattan.

Meanwhile on Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Oct 5. 6. 7) is the 4th edition of the Experi-MENTAL Festival. The Brooklyn based experimental audio/video project PAS and Alrealon Musique who are the festival producers describe the event as "concentrating on creative and experimental music performance of all genres and artistic disciplines." Artists performing will include Onewayness, Rapoon (from the UK), Black Saturn, Haessliche Luftmasken, Giant Squid Autopsy, and Lazurite. More Experi-MENTAL festival info. that happens at Goodbye Blue Monday on Broadway in Brooklyn with an opening party at Spectrum on Ludlow in the LES (Lower East Side) of Mahattan.

NYC Music History: Dylan in New York: Cafe Wha? and 94 MacDougal

The Village Voice produced the above video on Bob Dylan's "Greenwich Village roots" back in January of last year upon the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan's arrival in New York City.  (Note that Bob Dylan's Greenwich Village is also the title of a 2CD collection of Dylan's music). Exploring these parts of Greenwich Village and NYC is something definitely of interest to Dylanologists and while many places have changed over the past fifty years, some (like the historic Cafe Wha? on MacDougal in the Village) are still there.

And finally,I leave you with a music video featuring some great shots of New York City: Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind," not to be confused with the Jay Z and Alicia Keys song and video I posted here last week. 

Alicia Keys "Empire State of Mind"

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