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Sun Sessions with Conor Emerson

“I think of myself as your childhood imaginary friend come to life. When I am writing and recording music, I try to synthesize organic and natural sound, like actual sound from nature, as well as sound from space I am in, closing drawers and shuffling papers, like getting textures from that and then reorganizing and repurposing them in a way that takes them out of their original context. I don’t know where I exist musically but I just like to make music whenever I can.”

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The Decemberists at the State Theater

The Decemberists kicked off their tour with a performance at Ithaca’s State Theatre this Friday. Despite having a couple of kinks to work out, the band produced a beautiful sound that involved a variety of instruments. The Decemberists delighted the audience with songs old and new, and great energy that filled the entirety of the theatre. The Decemberists were introduced by Julien Baker, a young songwriter out of Memphis. Her soft but slightly haunting vocals were perfect for the night’s setting and tone: captivating and emotive.

Kelly Zutrao of Wet performing at The Haunt.

Wet: Electronic and Compelling

 

It was the perfect way to start off Spring Break — I was going to see Wet perform at the Haunt.  The band filled the Haunt with a passionate and engaging performance, playing with a soft energy that gripped the audience and created a relaxed, yet compelling environment.  It was a loving, intimate night. The band opened with “It’s All in Vain” from their album Don’t You.  The phrases “I don’t believe you” and “I can’t feel you” were vocalized softly, but hit the crowd with a strong effect.

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TEST SPIN: Bob Dylan — Triplicate

On March 18th, the American music canon lost one of its greatest contributors.  Chuck Berry defined Rock n’ Roll and he paved the way for legendary groups and artists like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley and John Lennon.  The music world lost a heart of style, personality and talent with the end of Berry’s prolific life — he died at the age of 90 after his last public performance just 9 years prior.  Since his passing, the music world, as well as mainstream news platforms, have honored Berry’s legacy with equal fervor.  Time Magazine wrote, “ While Elvis Presley gave rock its libidinous, hip-shaking image, Berry was the auteur, setting the template for a new sound and way of life.”  Bruce Springsteen tweeted, “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.”  John Lennon said, “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’”  Berry duck walked into history and will stay there until the music stops.

Gucci Mane at Barton Hall Sunday.

Gucci Mane Lights Up Barton

After DJ sets that included multiple play-throughs of “Fake Love” and “Bad and Boujee,” one arguably misplaced playing of The Chainsmokers’ “Closer,” and several cries of “Y’all ready for Guwop?” and “Let me hear you say brr,” the lights finally went black. Instantly, dozens of phone flashlights and Bic lighters lit the center of Barton Hall. “Eeeeeeyyyyyyyy!” came a voice from backstage, to thunderous applause. “Let me hear you say ‘It’s Gucci!’” Sporting a backpack, aviators, and a hoodie bearing his namesake, Gucci Mane delivered a quick, but high-energy set on Sunday night, featuring earlier songs like “Go Head (Shawty Got A Ass on Her)” and “Making Love to the Money,” as well as hits from his time since his release from prison, such as “St. Brick Intro” from “The Return of East Atlanta Santa.” In between each song, he gave ample time to flash his trademark smile and rattle off his trademark lines.

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Spinning Singles: Tinashe, “Flame”

With the best assets of a dancer, model, songwriter and singer wrapped into one package, Tinashe has the makings of a superstar. From her dazzling performances on tour to her collection of mixtapes and albums, the star potential is evident in everything in which she partakes. After being enchanted by her feature on Snakehips’ “All My Friends,” I’ve held the belief that she’s one of the most talented artists in the business. And yet, not everyone shares my romanticized view of the songstress. Maybe you vaguely remember her face, never heard of her before, or worse, forgot that she even exists.

X Ambassadors' Sam Harris, who was one of the organizers of Cayuga Sound Festival, performing.

X Ambassadors Bringing Music Festival to Ithaca This Fall

This fall, after school is in full swing and the August heat subsides, Ithacan band X Ambassadors are bringing a music festival to Stewart Park in Ithaca. Focused on drawing diverse national acts to the town and showcasing music, food and drink in Ithaca, the first Cayuga Sound Festival is set for September 22-23. The Roots will be co-headlining with X Ambassadors, and K.Flay, The Knocks, Margaret Glaspy and Jukebox the Ghost are also on the bill. The festival is a collaboration between the X Ambassadors, This Fiction artist management and DSP Shows, an Ithaca-based concert promotion and production company formerly known as Dan Smalls Presents. They’re already thinking about the festival in the long-term — “We want to start this small, but eventually grow it into something really special that will draw people from all over the world to see all the incredible things Ithaca has to offer,” said X Ambassadors’ lead vocalist Sam Harris.

The Districts at The Haunt

The Districts: Energetic and Invigorating at The Haunt

When I started listening to The Districts a few summers ago, I quickly fell for the band’s fresh and personable sound.  It was the lead singer’s powerful voice and the band’s unique sound that kept me a fan for years. Stepping into the venue Saturday night, I was filled with suspense and excitement.  The band filled the smaller venue with their vibrancy and rich sound.  By the end of the night, the band had transcended my expectations.

Consider the Source at The Dock

“Sci-Fi Middle Eastern” Band Consider the Source at The Dock

Consider the Source introduced themselves as a “sci-fi middle eastern” band, returning after two years to Ithaca at The Dock. Gabriel Marin plays a double neck guitar, one side fret-less and the other standard, which together with a “sci-fi” range of effects offered almost every sound but what one could expect from a guitar-bass-drums trio. The set started with soaring melodic progressions which returned to the same Balkan and Turkish harmonic cores, only to be interrupted by riffs of double-pedal (Jeff Mann on drums) and strummed chords on the bass (John Ferrara). Later on, we got to hear many more nuances of each musician’s arsenal, of which I will mention a Wooten-inspired bass solo that was as lyrical as it was percussive. I left thinking that for a fusion band, Consider the Source is probably a brilliant name, if you can stop bouncing around to their music and think about what is being mixed with what.

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Pluck and Verve: Jerusalem Quartet Enlivens Barnes Hall

Since the mid-1990s, the Jerusalem Quartet has been slinging its unmistakable tone and adroit programming to audiences worldwide, and at last to Barnes Hall on Saturday night. What distinguishes Jerusalem Quartet from its umpteen contemporaries is its interlocking tonal spread, meticulous attention to rhythm and balance of repertoires. For this performance, these spirited musicians presented a trifecta of drama, whimsy and lyricism. Ludwig van Beethoven’s Quartet No. 11 in F minor set the stage not only musically, but also technically, as idiosyncrasies came immediately to the forefront.