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A Spree Grows in Brooklyn: Bi-Annual Guitar Show Takes Root

2013SpringtimeGuitarShow
What It Is…
On Sunday April 7, 2013 Brooklyn Bowl hosts what has become a seasonal tradition for all things with strings, The Third Annual Brooklyn Springtime Guitar Show. Event promoters Lisa Sharken of Vintage Guitar Magazine and DJ Uncle Mike (who also runs the Collect-i-Bowl Record Fairs) have packed the house with a variety of vendors eager to show you their unique wares.

I first reported on the show back in spring of 2011 (read it here) and have made it my business to be on hand every time since then. It’s a great chance to test drive the handiwork of a diverse group of custom luthiers, boutique amp alchemists, and stomp box builders. There are of course plenty of high quality vintage instruments to encounter as well. The gathering has a fun, local swap-meet feel. You can bring a guitar, amp or old EFX box you’d like to sell or trade.

SkeletonPete Says…
If you love being surrounded by a bounty of beautiful instruments, and appreciate the warm glow of rectifier tubes, you must not miss this event. Doors open at 11:00 AM, and the show runs until 5PM. Admission is FREE! The Brooklyn Bowl is located at 61 Wythe Street, between N.11 & N.12. The venue has plenty of great local brews on-tap (I’m partial to Kelso of Brooklyn’s Nut Brown Lager) and Blue Ribbon, the in-house restaurant, has a menu of tasty vittles a step above the usual pub fare.

Nigel Hall Band @ Bowlive III

Nigel Hall @ Bowlive III : Night 5


Keyboardist/Vocalist Nigel Hall, who took the stage as a special guest during the early Bowlive III shows, also took a turn as opening act on night five of the ten night Soulive Brooklyn Bowl residency. Joined by Soulive members Neal Evans and Eric Krasno (on Bass guitar) Hall got the room percolating with a super energetic set. Backed by a stellar group of players including Adam Smirnoff of Lettuce, drummer Louis Cato and a full horn section (James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, Matt Owen) Hall engaged the audience with smooth soul jams like “Too Sweet” and “Never Gonna Let You Go”. Singers Alecia Chakour and Mel Flannery added harmony and response vocals to the headline worthy set. Hall returned to Bowlive on night 10 (which I watched streamed via iClips) for a version of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” sung with Ledisi.

Photos of Soulive’s night 5 performance (Saturday March 3, 2012) can be found here.

Bowlive III: Freeform Funkafied Fine-ness

Bowlive Special Guest Jennifer Hartswick Channels Her Inner Robert Plant


There Are No Words…
Often an experience is greater than words can adequately describe. That is the case with the event I attended this on Saturday March 3, 2012. I could say transcendant, I could say joyous. I could say mind-blowing – even though that would break a New Year’s resolution. I will say Free Form Funakfied Fine-ness. That’s the best I can do. If you weren’t there it doesn’t suffice.

I admit I’m super late to this party. Again sorrier than words can express. I got turned on to Soulive last spring when I was introduced to organist Neal Evans at Eagle Rock’s Rory Gallagher Tribute show at Iridium. By that time I had already missed the second Bowlive, and vowed not to let another pass without covering at least one date.

Soulive: Alan Evans, Eric Krasno, Neal Evans


What It Is…
The trio Soulive is brothers Neal and Alan Evans on Keyboards and Drums, respectively, with guitarist Eric Krasno. Bowlive gives the band a chance to bring up musical friends and do what great jam bands do – JAM. The musical moods run from Booker T. & MG’s instro soul, to Parliament funk, to Led lined dinosaur rock and Coltrane jazz explorations. You catch hints and pieces of familiar rock tunes strung throughout, “Manic Depression” here, “Soul Sacrifice” there. “Rubber Soulive” is (no surprise) their spin on the music of The Beatles.

Bowlive III is the band’s 2012 ten show residency at Brooklyn Bowl that allows them to set up camp and play in the sandbox with their musical friends. This year that included, but was not limited to, John Scofield, Luther Dickinson, Nigel Hall, Lettuce and The London Souls. Soulive’s audience is a very friendly community of fans, who made even this newbie feel right at home. Being told I was “in for a treat” seeing Soulive and opening act The Nigel Hall Band for the first time was a massive understatement.

Night 5 Special Guests…
On show number 5 Soulive was augmented by Keyboardist Marco Benevento who gave the trio additional juice by joining them for most of their two sets on swirling Leslie driven Hammond B3, drummer Louis Cato sat in while Alan doubled on guitar, and trumpeter/vocalist Jennifer Hartswick. After playing a couple of incredible horn solos Hartswick took center stage for some powerful bluesy lead vocalizing including a hellacious version of “Dazed and Confused” that ended the second set. Nowhere left to go after that? Think again. Soulive encored with a pounding instrumental version of another Led Zep classic “The Ocean”.

A full blow-by-blow, night by night, overview by those much more knowledgeable than myself can be read here. Find everyone in the Soulive extended family at Royal Family Records.

Always Bowled Over…
As I’ve said in the past, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better experience than taking in a show at the The Brooklyn Bowl. Along with its namesake bowling alleys, the venue boasts a spacious stage/dance floor area, top notch tap beer selection at the bar, and a slightly up scale pub style restaurant (without upscale pricing.) I’ve found the attention to detail in sound and lighting to be especially excellent on all the shows I’ve attended there.

Dangerous Curves: 2011 Brooklyn Guitar Show @ Brooklyn Bowl

Heaven = Bowling, Beer and Guitars

So Many Strings, So Little Time
I’ve been carrying a camera for about two thirds of my life, but also slinging a guitar for around the same amount of time. These are two very dangerous vocations when it comes to what is known in tech/hardware obsessed circles as G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Therefore, walking onto what is normally the concert floor of Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Bowl on Sunday, September 18 was not for the faint of heart guitar fan or the “G.A.S.sy”. Being surrounded by row after row of gorgeous Gibsons, Fenders, Gretsches and a unique selection of boutique six strings and basses was overwhelming. Where do you look first? How do you take it all in? Don’t you NEED one of each?

The 2011 Autumn Guitar Show offered free access to peruse the wears of vintage shops as well as new guitar, effects and amp builders. It was exciting to see so many young luthiers with their diverse visions of the perfect instrument. See the links below to their websites. During the course of the afternoon I spied Steely Dan’s Walter Becker casually chatting with the vendors, metal stalwart Kenny Pierce representing his PiercingMetal webzine, his coverage of the show can be read here. Good friend Tommy F. was heralding the soon to be available on the East Coast Lang Amplifier line. Guitar Wear designer Jodi Head was there with her delicious array of beautifully rendered straps and accessories. The black leather with conchos and the briar rose pattern (pictured below) were two of my favorites.

SkeletonPete Says…
Congratulations to promoters/coordinators Lisa Sharken (Vintage Guitar Magazine) and DJ Uncle Mike on a great show. It was fun to mingle and chew the fat with like minded folks in a nice relaxed atmosphere that reminded me of the earliest days of Comic Cons (1969-70). A total SkeletonPete hat trick. Family bowling on the lanes, Kelso Nut Brown Lager on the taps, and a sea of curvaceous six strings. I hope guitar goddess Lisa and the gang do this again soon.

Pertinent Links:
Cobra Guitars
Hahn Guitars
Jodi Head Guitar Wear
Lang Amps
Mas Hino NYC
NiceRack Effects Systems
Pigtronix Effects
Sheridan Guitars and Basses
Vigier Guitars and Basses

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Yo La Tengo @ Bklyn Bowl MOG CMJ Event (Oct. 19, 2010)

James, Georgia and Ira kicked off the 2010 CMJ Marathon at MOG’s Brooklyn Bowl blow out. Only the second bowling alley gig of their career, they played to an audience of appreciative fans while folks on the alleys threw “Jersey-side” strikes in their honor.

They dumped a Farfisa in front of me but I got some nice shots anyhow. Hope you dig them.

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