For the past few years, Eamon and I have been working with our buddy Mark Connell to create a space of our very own. It’s taken ages, but finally (FINALLY!) we are about to open.
In case you haven’t heard us talk about it, here’s the scoop. It’s called Nowadays, and it’s in Ridgewood, Queens, right on the border of Bushwick. It’s a large outdoor space with trees, grass to lie in, little hills for the kids to run up, picnic tables for hanging and playing games (we’ll have backgammon, chess and checkers sets at the bar), a big concrete ping pong table, and, occasionally, freight trains that that roll by. Pretty cool.
At the bar there are local beers; wines and sangria from Gotham Wines; and sodas from Brooklyn Soda Works. We’ll also have food – classic American backyard barbecue fare like a crazy delicious grass-fed burger, vegan and regular hot dogs, a beet burger, an avocado salad, and a big fat pickle. There’s a nice slight Asian flare because our friends Mel and Steve, who’ve done Asiadog for years, are running the Nowadays kitchen. (For a peek at the food, check this Grub Street piece.)
Nowadays will pretty likely be the eventual home of Mister Sunday, but for now, the space is just a place to hang out – Mister Sunday will stick down at Industry City for the duration of the summer. Of course the music is still important to us, so Eamon and I have dug into our collections and pulled a bunch of albums to soundtrack the space. Every album will get played in its entirety. It’s nice to listen to things as they were meant to be heard! Here’s a few album cuts we pulled for the Times.
Starting tomorrow, Thursday, June 18th, we’ll be open every Thursday through Sunday day through October. Our hours and such are on the Nowadays site. Can’t wait to see you out there!
Nowadays is at 56-06 Cooper Ave near Wyckoff in Ridgewood. Take the L to Halsey or the B26 to Irving and Halsey. Full directions and more info at nowadays.nyc.
If you’ve ever gotten to the party early, you’ve probably heard Eamon or Justin play a full album or two. We’ve got a pretty nice sound system, and it’s a treat to hear a good long player over the PA before the dancefloor fills up. This year we’re making something official of our casual tradition with one of the guys selecting an album in advance and telling a little about why they’re going to play it. Justin’s taking the first turn. The record he’s chosen is RL Burnside’s First Recordings:
Back in October of 2011, I took a trip through the south that landed me in Clarksdale, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Before then I had the cursory blues knowledge that any music fan might, but the stops in those two towns made me fall deeply in love with the music. (I made a short mix of some of my first blues infatuations back in January in 2012 in case you’re interested.) Since then, I’ve grown my collection, and I’ve become particularly interested in the blues as dance music.
In its heyday, the blues were played in many ways and served many purposes, but my favorite recordings are the ones that put me in a trance, where the guitars drone and the vocals punctuate. Even when there’s no percussive elements in a recording, you can almost hear how dancers would’ve clapped along or stomped their feet to fill in the space.
The first recordings of RL Burnside contain some of the hardest dance tunes I’ve heard in the blues. Absolutely crushing stuff. (I played “Skinny Blues” at peak time at one of the most recent Mister Sundays.) Even the songs that aren’t dancers are full of groove and swagger. I can’t help but nod my head through the whole record.
The story of how this album was recorded is also very cool. George Mitchell, one of the great blues scholars and field recorders, was in Mississippi in 1968, searching for unknown players. He was led to RL by Othar Turner, a legendary blues man himself. When Mitchell arrived at Burnside’s small home, his wife, nine of his ten kids, and a few local friends were squeezed inside. Mitchell took a seat on their couch, and RL started up. After the first song, George Mitchell, mesmerized, hit record on his tape machine and captured the album we’ll listen to Sunday.
If you’re interested in any more of the story, feel free to come to the booth and ask to see the jacket. (I also have the first issue of some of the recordings, which has a little more back story. I’ll bring that, too.) I’m really looking forward to playing it for you – and, selfishly, taking yet another opportunity to listen to it myself!
So I’m starting my look back on 2014 with a record from 2012. Here’s why: Beyond trying to stay somewhat on top of what’s happening in current dance music (which I can barely manage), I tend not to pay much much attention to new releases. It’s nice, because I end up discovering things through conversations, record store trips and other happenstance. All that is to say that my look back on 2014 is more about my own musical experiences this year than it is about music that actually got released this year.
Anyway, no matter when it came out, Here We Go Magic’s A Different Ship is brilliant. The lyrics, song structures, singing, playing and, not least of all, the production (courtesy of Nigel Godrich), are impeccable. Every song got stuck in my head at some point, and the title track of the album (above) graduated quickly to my favorite-tracks-of-all-time list. I liked the album so much I bought it digitally so I didn’t have to stop listening when I left the record player. There’s only one other album I bought digitally this year…
It only came out two weeks ago, but I’ve already listened to Black Messiah plenty enough times to know it’s one of the best things I’ve heard, not just this year, but ever. Sonically genius, lyrically powerful, socially relevant, it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. Also amazing is that the album feels so directly connected to Voodoo, while at the same time, completely fresh. If you haven’t gotten caught up in the hype yet, please do.
Baba Stiltz’s “Palats”
A permanent fixture in my record bag the moment I heard it. What a tune. An ebullient melody and warm drums that build until BOOM! CRAZY PITCHED DOWN AIR RAID SIREN! Go Baba, go.
Universal Togetherness Band’s Upcoming Album on Numero
This Universal Togetherness Band album isn’t coming out until the end of January, but since my best buddy, Jon Kirby, is doing the heavy lifting for the record, I had the pleasure of getting an early copy. If you listen to the Beats In Space or NTS Radio shows that Eamon and I did, you’ll hear a couple of the tracks.
The album was recorded between 1979 and 1982 and then totally forgotten about, never mixed and never released. As they somehow do, Numero has unearthed it. The album an amazing concoction of raw modern soul and disco, and though it’s almost thoroughly a record of dance songs, you can listen to it from end to end. Pre-order it, and if you don’t like it, I’LL give you your money back.
Great new music from Adelaide. Man I love this.
Photay’s “Illusion of Seclusion”
TJ, who helps us run the label and the parties, hipped me to this one, and I’m so glad he did. Photay is a 21-year-old, New York-based producer who’s spent time in Guinea, where he clearly picked up a thing or two about polyrhythm. I can’t wait to hear more.
Mississippi Records’ Reissue of the American Folk Music Anthology
Moses Asch‘s original intention with all Folkways records was that they should never, ever go out of print. And while this seminal collection of American folk music was only truly unavailable for ten years, until Mississipi reissued the collection on vinyl this year, the only wax copies you could get cost upwards of $100 apiece. What a treat to have the full, three-volume collection (plus one more volume that only surfaced in 2000) of songs that launched modern music, along with reprints of the original book Harry Smith made to accompany the set. It’s an education, but it’s a very fun one.
**A highly recommended companion piece is this Folkways podcast series, specifically episodes four to six, which go into great detail on Harry Smith and Moe Asch’s making of the Anthology.
U’s “The Kids Will Take Care Of Themselves”
When we did Beats In Space, Tim Sweeney played this, and it blew me away. Crazy good slow house.
Solaris’s “Music Mind”
A slow disco jam from 1980. It starts off as a mellow head-nodder, but by about four-and-a-half minutes in, the string section starts to stab, and I go nuts. I don’t remember how I found this song this year, but I’m so glad I did.
Playing 718 Sessions
I’ll spare you the full history, but for anyone who hasn’t already heard me go on about it, Body and Soul played a huge part in my life. Danny Krivit, a B&S resident, has run another party called 718 Sessions for over ten years now, and it was a real honor that he asked Eamon and me to play there this month. The night lived up to all my fantasies, an amazing group of dancers, many of whom I recognized from my days on the Body and Soul dancefloor, intermingling with the Mister Saturday Night and Mister Sunday regulars. Crazy good energy, so special. It’s a night I’ll remember as long as I live.
Finally, here are directions and some answers to other questions you might have:
If you want to use Google Maps to get directions, the closest address to our entrance is 241 37th Street, Brooklyn. The N, R and D trains stop at 36th Street, two blocks from the party. Both the N and D run express, even on the weekend. It takes less than ten minutes to get here from Atlantic Terminal on both of those trains. The R train runs local and connects with the F and G at 4th Ave and 9th. If you’re riding a bike, the easiest, safest way is to use 5th Avenue. Once you get to 36th Street, just go down the hill, and you’re a short coast away.
OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SUNDAYS
Kids under 18 go free with as long as they’re accompanied by a grown-up, and dogs are welcome as long as they’re on a leash. We take credit cards at the bar. The closest ATM is in the deli on the corner of 3rd Ave and 36th Street. No outside drinks are allowed, but fear not: we have beer, sangria, water, and lemonade. In order to drink beer and sangria, you’ll need a wristband. You’ll be given a wristband at the door as long as your ID says you’re of age.
The music ends at 9pm, and we close the space a little later, so if you want to hang and have a drink after the tunes, you can. Before you leave, please throw all your trash and recycling in the appropriate bins so the neighbors’ front stoops aren’t junked up, and on your way home, keep your voices low so that the folks in the neighborhood can have a little peace and quiet. They’re really nice for having us around, and we want to stay in their good graces so we can keep bringing you Mister Sunday.
I played this song on Sunday, and it’s put me on a major Sylvester kick this week. Dude was exactly who and what he wanted to be: tall, strong and physically imposing, delicately beautiful, firey like a pentecostal preacher, flashy like a disco queen. There was and has been no one like him since he died from AIDS complications at the way-too-young age of forty-one in the late 80s.
His version of ‘Southern Man’ isn’t just the definitive version of Neil Young’s song because of how musically perfect it is; it’s because it was UNBELIEVABLY ballsy for a six-foot-something black man in women’s clothes to open his DEBUT record, in 1973 no less, by wailing out these lyrics in the strongest falsetto anyone’s ever heard: “Southern man better keep your head. Don’t forget what your good book said. Southern change gonna come at last. Now your crosses are burning fast. / I saw cotton, and I saw black. Tall white mansions and little shacks. Southern man, when will you pay them back?”