beautiful

Agnes Obel Covers Elliot Smith's 'Between the Bars'

Play “Just So” to anyone in Germany and they’ll tell you it’s the music from the Deutsche Telekom television advertisement. Which it is. The kind of exposure many an artist would die for. Well not literally, obviously. Or the kind of publicity an independent spirit might agonize over, venturing into the commercial arena.

I can’t help feeling that Agnes Obel is not going to have her feathers ruffled by something, in the greater scheme of things, as inconsequential as a song placement in an ad. Yet is not intriguing how a few bars of music can seep into our consciousness and set us off wondering where they came from?

This facebookish world of ours offers us the illusion of getting to know people we don’t really know. Who their friends are and what they like. Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel likes Alfred Erik Lesley Satie and Sonic Youth. Debussy and Dylan. Hitchcock and PJ Harvey. But what people like is not necessarily the same as what he or she is like. Clues, perhaps, but as fans of Hitchcock well know, not every clue leads you where you think it might.

So we focus on the facts. Agnes Obel is from Copenhagen but she lives in Berlin. She studied at the University of Roskilde, a town renowned for a Glastonbury style music festival and home to a marvellous viking ship museum. She possesses the rare gift of a songbird’s voice and is about to release her debut album.

Then, like a good detective, we study the photograph. The owl and Agnes. Except their watchful gaze leaves you feeling its they who are looking at us, rather than the other way around. Did you know that an eagle owl’s eyes do not move, instead owls can move their heads almost three quarters around without moving their body? Agnes, meanwhile, seriously beautiful, looks a little like Liv Ullmann in Bergman’s “Persona,” or Tippi Hedren in self-assured Marnie guise rather than the catatonic figure in The Birds. She appears perfectly balanced alongside the eagle owl, both mutually protective of their proud serenity. A clue staring us in the face, yet conjuring up more questions than answers.

Listen to Anges Obel's beautiful cover of Elliot Smith's "Between the Bars"

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Agnes Obel Tour Dates:
6/4: SANTA MONICA, CA @ McCabe's
6/6: HOLLYWOOD, CA @ Hotel Cafe 8pm
6/7: SAN FRANCISCO, CA @ Rickshaw
6/9: PORTLAND, OR @ Alberta Rose Theatre
6/10: SEATTLE, WA @ Freemont Abbey Center
6/13: WASHINGTON, DC @ Sixth & I
6/14: NEW YORK, NY @ Joe's Pub
6/15: PHILADELPHIA, PA @ Tin Angel

Danielle Ate the Sandwich | Gothic Theater

Before attending Danielle Ate the Sandwich at the Gothic Theater on October 8th I was unsure as to what kind of sandwich exactly she may have eaten. However, after speaking to Danielle before her show and watching her exuberant performance I was certain said sandwich must be chock full of wit, talent and brilliance.

'GYPSY JAZZ FAMILY TRIBUTE' at The Django Reinhardt NY Festival

"Gypsy Jazz" is a family tradition passed on from one generation to another and so it was with the SCHMITT family coming from the Strasbourg area of  France, near Germany.  George, father of legendary gypsy guitarist Dorado Schmitt, while virtually unknown for his talent as guitarist and violinist outside the area he lived, taught his son Dorado who taught his sons Samson and now young Amati only 14 years old...keeping the tradition of hot gypsy jazz alive.  To all of them, Django Reinhardt was a God of music in whose footsteps all gypsy musicians walked.

To see Dorado, Samson and Amati (who will debuted in the US at the Festival ) is to see how it all works, side by side.   It is in the family blood, a part of the customs and culture, a sharing and passing down from one member to another....very much a part of gypsy life.  George Schmitt passed away this year and so the Django Reinhardt NY Festival celebrates his influence on his family thru music. Birdland will host the Schmitt Family Tribute, performing in memory of of the elder George Schmitt. The Festival is Produced by Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta and going into its 11th year and has taken the US by storm thru tours connected to the Festival each year which has taken stars of the Festival to the Kennedy Center, Disney Hall in LA, The San Franciso Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Chicago Symphony Hall, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and much more.  It has caused a resurgence of 'gypsy jazz' in America with other festivals and concerts springing up all over, greatly due to the enormous talent of lead gypsy guitarist, legendary Dorado Schmitt who has been a part of the presentations for over 9 years and will be here again this November.

The Schmitts will be joined by bassist Xavier Nikq and violinist Pierre Blanchard from France and master jazz pianist Peter Beets from Holland.  As always there will be a Special Guest each night starting with renowned Russian cellist Borislav Strulev opening night Nov. 2 who will perform "Nuages", Django's most important composition, with an arrangement by top musician Roger Kellaway.  On Nov. 3rd will be swinging saxist Anat Cohen, Nov. 4th beautiful young talent Miguel Zenon also on sax , Nov. 5th Colombian jazz harpist Edmar Castaneda returning by special demand, Nov. 6th David Langlois on washboard percussion, and the fabulous Joel Frahm on sax Nov. 7th.  The beautiful and wonderful vocalist Hilary Kole will step in as well as a surprise on some nights.

George Schmitt may not be a 'star', but his family will shine on him brightly this year at the Django Reinhardt NY Festival at Birdland.  HOT GYPSY JAZZ dating back to the 20's and 30's in Europe when great gypsy guitarist DJANGO REINHARDT met and performed with virtuoso violinist STEPHANE GRAPPELLI changed music forever and created the one of the most memorable musical partnerships in musical history.  This will all be re-created at Birdland Nov. 2-7 and remains music that is ever exciting, creative, original in style and very cutting edge while it still incorporates beautiful melody and romance through the brilliant virtuosity of the players.

On sale at the Festival will be the new CD, Dorado Schmitt and The Django Reinhardt NY Festival Allstars "Live at the Kennedy Center". 

Birdland:  315 West 44th Street (bet 8th and 9th Avenues)
Reservations:  212 581 - 3080
Shows 8:30 and 11:00 pm (tues. thru sunday)