B&B’s Lastest Song of Their Lastest Show Ever!

As you know, Barefoot & Bankside had their last show ever, what with Jamey “Brother” Hamm leaving for Alabama and all. I recorded their closing song with my phone and futzed with it in some editing software as a learning project, and decided to show off my rudimentary skillz. So, please enjoy the very last performance of fan favorite “Make Me Stay” by Barefoot & Bankside.

Y’all have a good’n!

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So Long, Jamey Hamm

Empty Stage_edited 2

It seems an apt tune as I reboot this little blog o’ mine. And, so, my apologies to the two or three of you that read this. Since the last time I wrote in these pages, Brooklyn has lost some good folks. It began with Matt “Cracked” Frye who’s down North Carolina way now. Then ol’ Alex Mallett wandered west to Kansas City. Trisha Ivy went on back to Tennessee. Now it’s Jamey “Brother” Hamm’s turn. He, his wife, and their brood have pulled up stakes, and as of this writing they are currently ‘Bama bound. Everybody’s going home, it feels like.

Jamey2_edited 3

Jamey “Brother” Hamm

While these folks were making their exits, I was working a lot at the shitty day job, keeping up with a nice gal, and trying to write a book. The blog fell to the side. There wasn’t any time for checking out bands, then writing, then editing, then putting together a multimedia post. Then the nice gal fell by the side. We hired new help at the day job, and I’m working less. So, now I’m in danger of having too much time on my hands. In the interim, I was sad to watch these musicians go. And, yeah, sad about the nice gal, too. It felt like the life I had built myself through TRS was dissipating. I suppose in actuality it was. I accept it, though. Not just because I have to, but because I understand it. The people of your life, they are a river. It’s like when ol’ Vonnegut wrote those three little words that sum up the whole of our personal experience in this world. You remember. He wrote, “So it goes.”

 

Gypsy & Gang_edited

Celebratin’ Brother Hamm

I’ll miss the music of those fine singers and players. And the conversation. But Jamey’s going home is a big one. His band Barefoot & Bankside got this blog started. On May 29th, a Sunday, he had himself a farewell show at Littlefield in Gowanus. It was, like most solidifying moments, bittersweet. Brother Hamm had been here for almost a decade, and in that time had made a substantial mark on the Brooklyn Americana music scene. Literally everyone I’ve written about in these pages can be traced back to having met Jamey “Brother” Hamm at his coffee shop, Roots Café, in South Slope, which he made a nexus of southern/Americana culture in Brooklyn.

 

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His farewell show was itself a musical history of Brother Hamm’s Brooklyn tenure. Beginning with a gospel duo he had started upon first moving here, he went on to fill the stage a la Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense” with many of the performers he’d worked with through the years. It was, in short, a kickass night. A good way to see him off, as he’d picked the most appropriate way to see us off. I’ll miss him. I’ll miss all of them. So it goes.

Amanda of Barefoot & Bankside, and soon to be Amanda of just Amanda (She’s playing Threes Brewing June 22nd in a solo capacity.), now owns Roots Café with her husband. It’s where I do most of my writing, and I get to watch her welcome new folks to the neighborhood, to Brooklyn, to NYC. She makes them feel welcome. That’s a thing that doesn’t really happen to most of those fresh off the bus.

PBPJ 2

Possessed By Paul James

And wouldn’t you know it, as I was wondering if I should restart this blog, a friend let me know that Possessed By Paul James is in town. I found this musical entity when I first started this blog and fell in love with his album “There Will Be Nights When I’m Lonely.” He’s out of Texas. And he don’t get much out of the Texas area, but for one night he was in Brooklyn. And I went to go to see him. And once again I was happy to see and hear an artist representing the absolute best of the South. I found myself back on that road home, that road that is home. It’s like when ol’ Robert Frost said those three little words that sum up the whole of human life. He said, “It goes on.”

Y’all have a good’n!

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Friends And Lovers And Sisters And Mercy

I started this blog because I found a New York music scene that isn’t being written about a whole lot. I had been meaning to start a blog for a while, but couldn’t find the right niche to separate myself. Then I heard Amanda Neill from Barefoot & Bankside sing for the first time. Also, I began this for self-promotion. It’s something I’ll be putting in query letters to agents as I shop my first novel. My hope is that this blog will gain a decent following and the writing quality be exceptional to a sufficient degree so as to show off. In that regard, I’m ostensibly here to piggy back on very talented hard working people for my own gain. Truth be known, truth be told—as the Barefoot & Bankside song goes (and whoever else said it. Jesus, maybe? And who knows who He stole it from.).

I started writing because I thought I could be a beacon. I thought I might put a signal out there to all my lonely kin, and cull them in, so that I might be less alone. When I started I didn’t know that was why. I thought I was being a badass like Happy Harry Hard-on, Christian Slater’s character in Pump Up The Volume. That movie lit me up. That soundtrack may have been the ignition switch to launch me ever away from that trailer park. I mean, every piece of music played in the film was a revelation. Beastie Boys, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, and Was (Not Was). It was the first time I heard that slow cover of The Pixies “Wave of Mutilation.” And the very first time I heard the voice of Leonard Cohen. In my younger, dumber days I fancied myself a spiritual student of L. Cohen, and self-professedly his most apt pupil.

I started this blog because I needed to. Desperately, even. I’m not a joiner. That girl, the one whose heart I loved best, the one who up and died, she joined in on everything. I only ever wanted to go to bars and shows and drink and joke and be debauched. She wanted community. She sought to help and support others, and she embraced the help and support of others. Then she died, like people do. I was set adrift, which is a natural state for me. To be aimless, to wander, brings me a measure of comfort. I wasn’t paying attention then. I thought her desire for a herd was weakness. I wasn’t foolish for thinking her inclination toward communion was needy of her. I was foolish for thinking that I am above that neediness. I am not.

Last week Mary-Elaine Jenkins pulled me aside to thank me for the post about her. After my interview with Amanda Neill (post forthcoming), Amanda and I went back to her place. We hung out. She eagerly showed me her song journal, and some ridiculous costumes her husband wanted the Roots Café employees to wear on Halloween. She asked what started me writing. I played that first song I ever heard of Leonard Cohen. She’s (slowly) reading my novel. Intrepid photog, Andreea who is invaluable in her contribution to The Road Southern, has told me both drunkenly and sober how thankful she is to be a part of this blog. I have since almost the beginning of this endeavor considered her its other half. And it is a favorite thing of ours when we get together to discuss the goings on of these BK Country artists’ lives. But, who put me on this thanksgiving jaunt was Miss Trisha Ivy.


I’m not sure how Trisha became a touchstone for me and this blog. Maybe because we share the loss of a loved one whose life was cut short. Maybe because I’ve looked at life as through the window of a moving car and for this brief moment there she is looking through her own car’s window. She’s hard to gauge. She’s told me she doesn’t mean to be, but one still wonders. I believe we are friends. We are friends. I know it because I went to see her at Friends And Lovers. Twice. I thought she was playing one cold, rainy Wednesday night, and I busted my ass to get to her set on time. She wasn’t even playing that night but the next Wednesday. I wrote it down wrong. That following Wednesday was just as cold and rainy, and I busted more ass to get through it. Her gig was part of the CMJ showcase. I wasn’t even going for the blog. I just wanted to be in the audience. One amongst others. I was joining in for support. I realize I’ve been doing this for all of them. The last Mary-Elaine show was just to be there. The same with B&B, and subsequent Alex Mallet sets, or Dylan Sneed.

I hung out with Trisha after that Friends And Lovers set. I believe this was the first time she and I did so, and with drinks. You know, like people do. I went outside with her while she smoked her clove. I was not dressed for the cold. Amanda and I have talked about how cool Trisha is, how intimidating her persona can be. She was wearing a black jacket, long dark dress, and boots. Her big blond tendrils licked in the wind as if she were under water. She was looking something lovely and dark. Though I’m older than she, I felt like a high school freshman allowed to hang out with a bad girl senior. She will say that she is not that cool—when she comes into Roots Café in frumpy, comfy clothes and hair pulled back. But she doesn’t know that’s cool, too. We talked about how Amanda shits artistic gold, and Mike Beck’s (her guitar player) love life. Trisha is exceedingly animated when she tells stories. She seemed the most at ease that I’ve seen her. She told me that night that I should loosen up. The gist was that I’m no longer an outsider to the Roots Family & Co. I believe she actually said that I’m “in.” Then in reference to the blog she said quite kindly and clearly, “We’re paying attention.” And I am made less alone.

I can’t imagine what these pickin’ and a’singin’ folk think if they chance to notice me among their audience, sitting still, looking down at my notebook, or stern face (I have a resting hostile face though I am an absolute sweetheart) lit up by my phone, which I also use to take notes, but I’m listening.

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Coming Soon!

Been off the grid for a bit. Will be coming at you with the newness soon!

Things to look forward to: You’re gonna see our coverage of the Rotten Apple Roots & Bluegrass Halloween show at Union Hall, and it’s gonna make you feel soooo dumb for not being there! And if you were there, you’re gonna feel so rad!

Also, a new musician to TRS, the lady blues singer, Mary-Elaine Jenkins and her smoky voice.

This lady sings the blues, y'all!

This lady sings the blues, y’all!

AND some highlights of a candid conversation I had with Ms. Trisha Ivy, that she is unawares I’m reporting on!

Banjos & Guitars at Pianos

The other night intrepid photog and I caught Alex Mallett and Dylan Sneed playing solo sets at Pianos on the LES. What was heard was awesome! What was had was fun!

I very much enjoy Alex backed by his band, but this night I was entreated to just the man and his banjo, and sometimes guitar. I’ve noted on this blog before that the banjo makes my favorite noise in this world. Better than the bird’s song it is. Better than the laughter of a child it is. Better, even, than a whispered “I need you” from a fine-ass lover who lays bare naked, biting her lip, and ready to go. Yes, better, even, than that.

When it comes to the ol’ banjo, I like it best when it’s up front and in charge of the show. I enjoy to a lesser extent when it is relegated to the background and its purpose is to harmonize and provide a little rattle. And when that ol’ banjo is front and center, I like it two ways. The first, when it’s a slow dripping pluck like Dock Boggs. Secondly, damn it, I like when that tinny li’l sumbitch is banged on. Alex Mallett is a banger. I may have been sitting but I couldn’t stop my foot from stomping in time.

Sammi, Alex’s newly wedded wife, sang a couple of numbers with her man. It was a sweet noise, I can swear to you that. It was a sweet sight, and Andreea’s photos will prove it.

Pianos 1 low res

Dylan Sneed seems to have won over everyone in the Roots Family scene. I met him as a barista at Roots Café. He’s a funny man. Supremely easy going. There is a profundity to the breeziness of his conversation, and the soft handed acceptance of all ideas put forth to him. The more I come to know him, the more of the Buddha I see in him.

Pianos 2 low res

His songs are uncomplicated. This is a feat that usually comes from the studious, and the obsessive. When I think of Dylan’s sweet, James Taylor-esque tunes, I think of the main character in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Blue Beard.” The main character, Rabo Karabekian, is an artist who in his early career could paint photo realistic scenes masterfully. The artist didn’t find fame and fortune until he started doing more abstract expressionist pieces. At a gallery a man approached him. The man was unnerved and asked why Karabekian bothered with such “easy” pieces, and that his five year old child could paint this abstract stuff. Karabekian agreed, and said but the child could not paint this, and drew to a wonderfully detailed degree a real life scene. He then referred back to his new work on display, which was just a couple of colored lines on blank canvas, and said he paints this simple way because he has options.

Dylan has options, y’all.

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Cracked Out

matt 3I have been hoping to see a Matt “Cracked” Frye show since I first saw his short set at Roots Family Reunion. TRS finally caught up to him at Goodbye Blue Monday. GBM is an old stomping ground of mine from my early, miserable days in Brooklyn. I lived a few stops down on the J train from the eclectic venue near the Halsey Station, the east side of Bushwick. Back then all of B-wick was hood. I laid in a tiny room I was renting terrified that I would never find a job. Sometimes I think I heard gun shots. If I left my building after midnight there’d be drug dealers posted on the street corners, and prostitutes displaying themselves along Broadway. One time a thick, busty lady of the night was trickin’ out in the rain in a next-to-nothing tube top and skirt. To would-be johns she called out, “I’m already wet, baby, let’s have a good time!” She politely refused my umbrella.

In winter, at our nation’s brokest time I was standing in job lines next to Harvard grads, and ex-Wall Street employees. We were all waiting in the freezing cold, the snow and slush for some janitorial type job. All of us turned down for some congenial 20-something. Disappointed and crestfallen, I’d return home to that little more than a closet of a bedroom and despair over the possibility of having to return to my home in Georgia and move back in with my mama. Survival in this economically bullying city seemed an impossibility. There were many nights of distress.

Five-six years later, I’m back in Bushwick enjoying the hell out of a Matt Frye show. A good quality beer in my hand, at the joint that used to be my haven for free entertainment and $3 PBR on tap. I arrived a little late because GBM is now out of the way of my new digs where I’ve yet to hear a gunshot in the night. Andreea, intrepid photographer, was already snapping away at Matt. Mr. Frye stuck out like a sore thumb at the Roots Family Reunion show, but there amid GBM’s antique junk, bad art, and random curios he looked more in his element.

I have described his music before, here. So, give that a look over and/or give a listen to the music posted here.


Matt is from North Carolina. Charlotte. I was surprised to learn he started out in electronic music down there, which knowing how the majority of southern folks are, I’m sure it was in some way a “fuck you” to his surroundings, to his culture. My culture. Our culture. Then he moved to NYC, and out came the Americana, the Appalachian folkie with the Woody Guthrie “trick” in his voice. Back home, my home, his home, shoddy lip-serviced tradition and commonality are shoveled upon one in heaps. It is no wonder we slide into our punk states of mind. A lot of who I am is because looking at my trailer park neighbors then, I only had one image of myself in mind for the future. Anyone but them.

Matt Frye 2aThat’s why books and Leonard Cohen instead of football and Garth Brooks. That’s why rap music and dressing gangsta—until that became socially acceptable to the rednecks who wanted nothing to do with black people as individuals, but would steal and appropriate, as ever, their culture. After that that’s why I wore chokers, and long hair. Because, wild aimless expression over agreement, over broken polite-society. I wonder what that proto-Jody would think of me now as I have succeeded in making it out of that town and into NYC only to seek out southern/country culture. I would tell him whether he realizes it or not, (he didn’t) he was seeded by those things he swore himself against. He could let those seeds germinate and take root in that place of lip-serviced tradition and broken polite-society, and become just another. He didn’t. Or, he could hold them close instead, buck the trends and traditions, give himself to the wind and see what new things can come of old seeds in other worlds. He can cull from the old a new purpose, new point of view, unhindered by tradition, un-buffered by commonality.

Matt Frye 1

Of course, Matt “Cracked” Frye chose that old folkie sound. Maybe he heard it as a babe, or a young man, but knew that it was America’s original “fuck you” music. They were bucking against government, and social norms/injustice well before rap, rock and roll, and even country western music. Of course, he imbued it with a modern urban punk sensibility. Of course he stuck out like a sore thumb before that crowd that came to Roots Family Reunion to hear that traditional old-timey music with their friends from church. He’s an intelligent, kind and funny man, but he’s also one cracked motherfucker. What the hell else was he gonna do?

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All Work and All Play

It is not just out of laziness that I keep this post short, but the intrepid photographer, Andreea, kicks so much ass that I want her pics to run this entry. Enjoy!

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B&B Pre 1

Amanda was seriously fretting that her outfit was too revealing. Bless her heart!

The Road Southern caught another Barefoot & Bankside and Trisha Ivy set at Rockwood Music Hall, and it should be a surprise to no one that both sets were phenomenal. They let us hang around with them before the show. I got to hear Trisha Ivy, Mike Beck, and Amanda Neill practice a song in the green room. In that small room I found myself in a moment I had been hoping for since starting this blog. I got to witness a bit of the “work” that makes a show. Listening to their first play through, I thought it immensely pleasurable to watch them correct each other on notes that my lay ears thought were executed perfectly, then they corrected, and I thought, oh, Jesus, damn!

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To test out how good the sound quality is on my voice recorder I recorded Amanda Neill and Jamey Hamm rehearsing their cover of Shovel & Rope’s “The Devil is All Around.” The quality is on the low to mid side of decent. The recording doesn’t come close to the actual performance of the song, of course. I really love the feeling I got witnessing them ironing out any kinks before the show. Amanda and Jamey were about two feet apart facing each other. Both were keeping a close eye on the other. Myself and others were in the room, but Amanda and Jamey were in the song. Something about how quickly they correct themselves toward the end was where the bit o’ magic was for me. And, of course, I like the smart ass comments by band mates.

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What did give me a surprise was opener Dylan Sneed. I’d seen him play at Roots Café where it was just himself a couple times. He’s a great song writer, and exemplary on guitar. At Rockwood he had a full band backing him. They blew me and everyone else away. I knew he could sing and play, but it was something else to see him rock!

montage 3

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Roots Family Pictorialathonarama!

A Night of Song and Feast and Miller High Lifes

Pics by badass rad assassin Andreea Radulescu

Join us, won't you?

Join us, won’t you?

Roots Family Reunion is a night of celebration for the tight knit community of South Slope (and beyond) musicians, artists and proprietors. These photos are from the 4th annual iteration, and The Road Southern was damn happy bear witness to it!

God and Country!

God and Country!

Even God made an appearance to show support! But, then got way too drunk, way too early. I mean, He was ok. He didn’t do anything terrible, per se. It was just weird, I guess. A little too rowdy for the room, maybe.

 

Bambarger, Hair products for your face!

Bambarger, Hair products for your face!

Bambarger‘s beard products looked so fine that despite having shaved that morning, I forced out a beard on the spot. Hurt like a son of a bitch, but thanks to them, I have the finest beard in Brooklyn. Go get your beard did!

 

That Moon

Moon Shine

That Moon in full shine.

 

 

Flirt Vendor

They have write ups in New York Mag, and Time Out New York and everything, y’all!

Flirt Boutique. I was hoping this was a kissing booth.

the Cornell BrosThe Cornell Bros.

Write your parents. They're worried. They only know Brooklyn from the movies.

Write your parents. They’re worried. They only know Brooklyn from the movies.

Ryan LammA little Ryan Hamm of the Barnyard Brothers, and Justin Kilburn surprising the hell out of me on steel guitar. (pictured right)

Gypsy George

Ladies and gents, Gypsy George!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Frye and Chris MurphyMatt Frye, whose music tickles my soul, and Chris Q Murphy who may become my Virgil through BK Country.

B&BBarefoot & Bankside. Jamey Hamm is the man who puts Roots Family Reunion together. Thank ‘im when you see ‘im.

Kinda feeling like I should be paying my photographer.

Kinda feeling like I should be paying my photographer.

And Miss Trisha Ivy. I swear, I never would have thought a voice could be caught on camera.

Lightning Unbottled

Roots Family

The Road Southern's Intrepid Photographer

The Road Southern’s Intrepid Photographer

In an attempt to prime you for tonight’s Roots Family Reunion show, permit me to tell you about the last time I saw Barefoot & Bankside. It stormed and it thundered. These Brooklyn streets were rivers. I was pinned under a storefront awning waiting on an unceasing downpour, and so was everybody else. I braved the waters and met up with Andreea, official Road Southern photographer. She had forgotten her camera. We ate ramen noodles. That part’s a little lackluster, I know. Also, the rain let up and it was an easy walk to Union Hall, but the storm that had just passed was as nothing compared to the storm to come.

Sorry, just trying to set a tone.

We got to Union Hall a little late. We missed the first couple of bands. We did get there in time for Chris Q Murphy. He’s a song writer from Brooklyn. He’s definitely a student of Americana. At times he sounded country, at other times like those old bar bands in New Orleans I used to go see, a straight up rock and roll vibe as it was when electric guitar was just moving away from its R&B genesis. A supreme lyricist, his storytelling is complex and deep, yet easily accessible and understood.

B&B had been on hiatus performance-wise. Jamey Hamm had a newborn to see to. However, he and Amanda Neill had acquired an official backing band and sequestered themselves to a rehearsal space over the past few months. It paid off in spades.

Jamey normally did triple duty at a B&B show: lead singer, guitarist, and percussions. A veritable one-man band, this guy. He was impressive and great at simultaneous performance duties, and I am a huge fan of talented one-man bands such as Quintron, Owen Pallet, and Possessed By Paul James. Now he’s delegated those duties to exceedingly capable musicians. All of this has led to the blowing away of myself and the audience by Jamey’s full attention on vocals, and hollerin’, and stompin’. No one in the band was worried about timing, or remembering notes to songs they just learned. It was all muscle memory, which allowed them to open up, pour out their hearts and souls, and leave it all on the stage. Hearing Jamey’s vocals push up to and past what I’ve grown used to from Amanda was amazing, AND it caused Amanda to go even harder, which I thought could not be possible. B&B is a band busted out of its cocoon. It is no longer in its infancy and has become a thunderous force of nature.

Trisha Ivy followed. I was a bit anxious to see how this would go. B&B’s set was high energy and had everyone up and moving and cheering. At the first couple of songs the crowd had dissipated. This is not due to her actual performance. Those first songs were slower ones, the amped crowd was using the down pace as a moment to break. Trisha, a consummate performer, remedied this. She picked up the pace, she let loose her own voice. That there exists a monster in Trisha’s voice has always been hinted at in her shows despite how in control of it she can be. I was happy it was out that night, as I was happy Jamey’s own monster voice was out, and Amanda’s.

Roots Family 1In my notes that night I wrote down the best thing I’d written in a while, maybe ever. And near perfect, I think I’ve only touched it once or twice, so that its original form is 98% intact. Full of gratitude, wonder, and bourbon I wrote, “Tonight I am misty eyed at the quality of music put forth to me, and that by it I am filled with the ever elusive holiest of grails that is the present moment. I came to join and am enjoined by these talent filled, hope filled friends and strangers who connect me to my old world, and to this both fierce and gracious new one.” BK Country, y’all.