Steve Lukather and Bill Evans’ Toxic Monkey @ The Iridium (Dec 4-9, 2018)

After a year of planning, Steve Lukather and Bill Evans’ Toxic Monkey return to New York City at The Iridium for a six night run, from Tuesday December 4 through Sunday December 9 at 8:30pm. There will be an additional 10:30 pm showing Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

When you’ve played with the greatest musicians in the world, enough simply does not exist. Guitarist Steve Lukather, otherwise known as the founding member of TOTO, recorded on Michael Jackson’s’ Thriller, the best-selling album of all time. Saxophonist Bill Evans anchored himself performing with Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. You can look up the rest of the laundry list; to play with one of these greats alone, would be a professional musicians wet-dream.

Buckle-in. This will be a no-holds-barred, jazz, blues and vocals gig. “It is a lot of intense shedding, but there will be great music too,” said Evans. “We wanted to do this in a club that is conducive to what we’re going to do – And that is The Iridium. We’re gonna have some fun, blow the walls down and kick some serious ass.” After Evans heard the repertoire from Steve, he knew.

When you have a group with Keith Carlock (Steely Dan/John Mayer) on drums, Will Lee (CBS Orchestra) on Bass and Steve Weingart (Simon Phillips) on keyboards, that is one hell of a band,” said Evans. “We are going to get up there and start ripping, right from the beginning.” The All-Grammy-Award-Winning group will perform anything from Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Robin Trower to material from Steve’s Los Lobotomys and Evans’ Soul Bop. Toxic Monkey wrote ten beautiful songs as well. All of which will be jam-packed into the intimate space of The Iridium.

More jaw-dropping than their discographies and talent combined, Toxic Monkey went out of their way to make this run happen. They want this – just as much as you don’t want to miss it. Particularly, Evans holds Luke in high esteem, a feeling that extends outward amongst bandmates and friends.

Being a guitar fan, “I have certain guitar heros that I’ve always wanted to play with and listen to. Steve Lukather is at the top of that list,” said Evans. “I like the fact that he takes so many risks and comes from so many diverse musical backgrounds; rock, jazz – it doesn’t matter, he is ridiculous at all types of music.”

People are gonna get what they came for. That’s what it was like at The Blue Note, seven years ago. “Steve wears his emotions on his sleeve, as well as his guitar playing. He is not preconceived. He creates in the moment and just goes – trust me, I would hear if it was different,” affirmed Evans. Every night Lukather is creating something fresh, which makes Toxic Monkey worth it for Evans.

“There’s always something special about a first night; And a lot of times, the first can be one of the best, because the energy is so high. We will be plugging in to go,” said Evans. Many of these tunes will be played for the first time. After a night under their belts, Toxic Monkey will be ‘kicking-ass’ on Wednesday. By Thursday there’s no telling what could, and will, happen.

The best part, is that all dates are left open for things to bloom. When you play with this caliber of musicians, there is a certain sentimentality for the music. Spontaneity may include Steve calling out a half-time feel in A-Major, mid-set, and then shred a huge guitar solo. The goal is for Toxic Monkey to have fun, with the players they all want to play with.

Unplug. Turn off your cellphones. Laugh. Be there and be present for this magical six-night series. “When Steve gets up to the mic, he says anything; and I mean anything,” said Evans. Consider yourselves warned. Dig out your best of dirty jokes to be featured as that nights winner, picked by yours truly, Steve. And don’t worry, the strip poker will be confined to the back room. It’s going to be one wild hang.

SEE THIS PUBLISHED ON: Nysmusic.com

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Brooklyn Comes Alive: ‘My Life Before, Then Forever After’ with Karina Rykman

BROOKLYN COMES ALIVE | 1 DAY | 3 VENUES | 50+ ARTISTS

SEPTEMBER 29 @  BROOKLYN BOWL, MUSIC HALL OF WILLIAMSBURG & ROUGH TRADE

Multi-instrumentalist Marco Benevento entrust his iconic top-hat upon Karina Rykman, a fill-in bassist in her early 20’s at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rykman’s mouth agape; Marco’s stare tracked dead in her eyes, sealed shut in the moment. She was in disbelief, but this three-day stint would soon end. It didn’t.

Benevento, in addition to Ween bassist, Dave Dreiwitz, played instrumental roles in shaping Rykman-on-the-rise. She dove head first into a towering repertoire of Benevento tunes,  learning them backwards and forwards, day-in and day-out, Rykman recalls.

“That first run with Marco was one of the most spectacular moments of my life. I thought that was my last show with them ever,” said Rykman, increasing with excitement. “It was the best time, then scaling the walls (of the Music Hall Of Williamsburg green room post set) throwing ice, tequila and limes.” The room was packed with Karina’s friends, family and teachers. Karina was home.

“Marco is committed to the vibe and always goes the extra mile,” said Rykman, as she reminisced about the pop-up record player and miles of christmas lights that decorate their oasis backstage. Night after night the ‘Green Room Road Case,’ lives on as Karina’s enthusiasm parallels her sheer musical talent.

The New York Native has a pure starvation and aestheticism for all things music. It predates her Benevento/Dreiwitz days. It is infectious – inspiring all those around her. In eighth grade, two years after quitting piano lessons in sixth grade, a friend placed a guitar in her lap and taught her The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army.”

“I remember my life before [that moment], then, forever after,” said Rykman. “I was fixated on playing all the time. That was my vibe.”

Two years after joining Benevento’s band full time, Rykman comes full circle, hosting the second set of The Jam Room at Brooklyn Comes Alive on Saturday, September 29th, at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Rykman will host alongside Turkuaz guitarist, Craig Brodhead, to an undisclosed list of phenomenal musicians and guests. The set will start at 1:45 am, merely 15-minutes after Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner and The Meters’ bassist, George Porter Jr.  ends the first installment of this unique collaboration.

The Jam will consist of 100-percent improvised music. “How do you prepare for that?,” asked Rykman. “Simply put, you don’t.” Take all the music you’ve learned, scales you’ve studied or harmonies you’ve practiced and “throw them all out the window! It is a crazy exercise of staying focused and in the moment,” added Rykman.

“I’ve played with people 20-plus years older than me; musicians who have committed themselves longer than I have been alive. It’s really humbling. I’m always absorbing because they have been there. I am just delighted to be accepted.”

 

The female bassist will also be playing with her new project, The Karina Rykman Experiment, at BCA at Rough Trade from 5 to 6 pm. Rykman’s Trio consist of NYU friends, Chris Corsico on drums and Adam November on guitar. “The guys in my band are slaying. Crushing it onstage and off. November is a loop-master and creates a whole world of soundscapes, so there is a lot going on.”

Three is the magic number. Karina first performed in a trio with Benevento and has taken matters into her own hands. “Harmonically it’s just me and Marco, which makes me deeply, deeply focused on what he is doing. I play a lot of lead and fuzz bass too, which almost acts like a guitar sonically.” Expect no less when The Karina Rykman Experiment takes the stage.

New-Yorkers beware, Rykman deems Brooklyn Comes Alive is not for the weak of heart. Whether she is proving-ground with her own ensemble, backing Marco in pure biss, or sneaking off to see as much new music as she can, BCA will be another one for the books.

“There’s this scene where people come out to see great improvisers improvise. It’s not for everyone, but there is something to be said to observe those who have toured their asses off and have played music for so many years.” Especially, in the Jam Room. “A collaboration brews with people that don’t perform together often, or ever!,” explains Karina. “To see someone who has put in their 10,000 hours create on the spot, is something to behold.”

Nobody knows what to expect. As the Jam Room takes flight, the motion will be from “recreational to medical, if you know what I’m saying,” said Rykman [laughs].

TICKETS ON SALE NOW

“Three north-Brooklyn venues…become shapeshifting artistic petri dishes during the annual improv-oriented rock/jazz/other festival known as Brooklyn Comes Alive.” – Village Voice

Inspired by the vibrant musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, the event brings together more than 50 artists, allowing them to carry out passion projects, play with their musical heroes and collaborate in never-before-seen formations. Each attendee will receive a wristband that grants access to every venue and makes hopping from set to set a breeze, recreating and paying homage to the atmosphere of Jazz Fest by night, which initially inspired the festival’s concept.

Past editions of Brooklyn Comes Alive have seen unforgettable cross-collaborations amongst legends and favorites like George Porter Jr., John Scofield, Johnny Vidacovich, John Medeski, Bernard Purdie, Henry Butler, Oteil Burbridge, Cyril Neville, Eric Krasno, Jon Cleary, Joe Russo, Skerik, and Marco Benevento, plus members of Umphrey’s McGee, moe., The Disco Biscuits, The String Cheese Incident, Trey Anastasio Band, Lotus, Snarky Puppy, Lettuce, Soulive, The Motet, The New Mastersounds, Break Science and more. Tributes to Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind & Fire, The Allman Brothers, Jamiroquai, and Green Day comprise just a few of the many highlights over the last three years. Some groups, like [Br]eaking [Bi]scuits (members of the Disco Biscuits and Break Science), have even gone on to become nationally touring projects after their Brooklyn Comes Alive debut.

Jeff LeBlanc’s ‘Vision’ Is the Story of a Matured Songwriter

jeff1Independent singer/songwriter Jeff LeBlanc has matured into a new chapter, pushing his musical limits with his latest effort, Vision. The 7-track album is concise and effective sucking you into the heart of LeBlanc’s story.

The 29 year-old Long Island native is no stranger to success after being named The Sirius XM Singer/Songwriter Discovery of the Year. Likewise, LeBlanc earned a spot on the iTunes Top 200 Singer/Songwriter Charts and received praise from MTV, Pulse Magazine and countless media outlets across New England.

After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, LeBlanc surpassed his $12,000 goal which led him to Nashville’s Sound Emporium. This was a defining moment for LeBlanc – to record in the same studio as artists like Jack ClementJohnny CashWillie NelsonTaylor Swift and Kenny Chesney.

“I do a lot of heavy lifting on acoustic guitar and play about half of the electric guitar on the record,” said LeBlanc. “I had a clear picture of the album’s landscape,” but LeBlanc couldn’t have done it without a talented group of musicians. Some of Nashville’s best helped bring LeBlanc’ vision to light including, Tony Lucido (bass), Jeremy Lutito (drums, programing), Ken Lewis (percussion), Mike Payne (electric guitar) and Stephen Gause. LeBlanc also had the pleasure to work with Matt Stanfield (keys), Liz Longley (vocals) and Paul Nelson on cello

The opening track “Lost Tonight” begins with LeBlanc’s confident picking and a heavy quarter-note pulse from the bass drum which builds naturally into the rest of the album. “I front loaded the album with three upbeat songs,” said LeBlanc, which draws you in effortlessly.

“Stumbled”, the album’s second track is full of creativity and musicality. The lighthearted groove sits back in the pocket and is fused with drum loops and post production that makes you sway. “This track wouldn’t be the same without the programing, 1980’s drum machine and Lutito playing over it,” said LeBlanc. “There’s purposely a lot of push and pull with ‘Stumbled’ and the overall album,” added LeBlanc.

“Occupy” is like taking deep breaths. LeBlanc’s energy is redirected into the melodic guitar backing, organs and sentimental vocals that open the door into the soul of a evolved musician. Other tracks like “Love is Gone” and “Always You” are no different in their approach to captivate the listener.

“I spent a lot of time listening to the album while driving around in the car,” said LeBlanc. “I wanted there to be a story.” Evident in “Almost You,”  the feeling of driving down the open road becomes synonymous with love, heartbreak and solitude. The upbeat groove keeps driving like the wheels of a car while LeBlanc recounts “Gotta drive til’ I can’t drive no more / And I’m standing here outside your door / Holding one last chance that you’ll be there alone.”

Despite the album’s length, LeBlanc does not leave his story unfinished. The closing track “Why Do I Worry” features a clear acoustic guitar and piano that fills your body and mind. There’s a evident motion in the chorus as LeBlanc sings to himself “Why do I worry, Why do I care…I got to let go.”

“Right now I am really into piano and ‘Why Do I Worry” is kind of upbeat, yet very emotional,” said LeBlanc. “It’s weird how you can create emotion through an instrument and Matt Stanfield did exactly that on the piano.

Overall the response of the album has been strong. LeBlanc has touring plans in the works and has lots of things in limbo with Sirius XM. “Fans are connecting on a deeper level, which is what I was going for,” said LeBlanc. “I am trying to embrace the way things are changing in the music industry” added LeBlanc.

This album holds a special place in the heart of LeBlanc’s fans. Recently, LeBlanc performed two private events for families that funded a large part of the Kickstarter. “It was a super cool experience because these people have really invested a  lot of time and energy into your music – they are here for you,” said LeBlanc.
Read More – Published on Live For Live Music : http://liveforlivemusic.com/album-reviews/jeff-leblancs-vision-the-story-of-a-matured-songwriter/#ixzz3duQ1HRmE