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



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].


“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.


Dana Fuchs hailed as the new Janis Joplin

DANAfuchsFuchs will be kicking off her tour at Fairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne on March 6 at 7:45 p.m.

New York City-based vocalist Dana Fuchs is a powerhouse behind the microphone, full of charisma and Memphis soul. Fuchs has achieved success on and off the stage including her performance in the Broadway play “Love, Janis” and for her outstanding efforts as Sadie in The Beatles film “Across the Universe” (2007). Not only did Fuchs star in the film, but also sang on the platinum-selling soundtrack, including tracks like “Dear Prudence,” “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” “Helter Skelter” and “Oh! Darling.”

Fuchs portrayed acclaimed vocalist Janis Joplin five to six nights a week on Broadway which stretched her vocal limits. Ironically, Fuchs had been compared to Joplin many times before, but had never heard of Joplin’s music because it was not played in her childhood home.

“I had to learn 19 songs in eight days for the play and I remember thinking, ‘Wow! Janis is 25 years old with such a wide vocabulary’ [of musical talent],” said Fuchs. “I couldn’t be Dana when I was on stage, so that would be the end of my inhibitions. If I had the feeling of Janis, why couldn’t I do that with my own music?” said Fuchs.

Florida born Fuchs was the youngest of six and would absorb the musical influences of both her older brother and parents. Everything from Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to The Beatles, Grateful Dead and Queen would shape Fuchs’ career. Fuchs attributes most of her musical influence to her Florida roots, growing up in a predominantly African-American school and being exposed to funk and soul, in addition to her first grade teacher who would play Donna Summers during class. When Fuchs moved to New York, blues music pushed her voice to new limits.

“At that time all of the blues clubs had the great reputation, not me,” said Fuchs. “I began performing at these clubs three nights a week which forced me to raise the bar. In this style, it is not enough to just look the part. The music has to be raw and authentic. You have to love the music and always think on your toes.”

As a musician, Fuchs is always reinventing her craft and evolving. She recalls a favorite writer who once said “a good song is never written; it is rewritten, rewritten and rewritten.”

“The best way to progress as a musician is to play live. That is where you cut your teeth and interact with fans,” said Fuchs. “Don’t give up! This is not an easy road, but what job doesn’t have its troubles.”

[Check out an Dana Fuchs LIVE CD/DVD “Songs From The Road” on Ruf Records, released November 11, 2014]

Fuch’s success also includes sharing the stage with blues guitarist Taj Mahal and James Cotton, a blues singer, songwriter and harmonica player. “I remember I was really nervous before playing with Taj when I was just starting out. He grabbed and hugged me back stage, then said, ‘You just got to do it.’”

Fuchs will be kicking off her tour at Fairfield Theatre Company’s StageOne on March 6 at 7:45 p.m. She’s excited to return to “rock out with a listening audience” and describes her music as a “non-religious rock ‘n’ roll church” that will make the audience rowdier than Fuchs first experience in a black church, where people were jumping around singing. Fuchs immediately felt the music extend beyond religion.

“Music celebrates life and that is what I try to do,” said Fuchs. Each performance is “a revival, a place where we can forget about life’s hardships, or embrace them in a beautiful way on stage.”

Fuchs’ tour will travel to Mexicali Live (Teaneck, N.J.) on March 7 and Iridium NYC on March 10, before the band heads west and through Europe in April.  At the end of the year, Fuchs plans to record a “deeper and darker sounding record.” [see the rest of Dana’s tour dates here]

“My music is about life’s trials and tribulations, but this time I want to focus on what made me want to be a singer,” said Fuchs. “The record will feature an Otis Redding tune [which I have played live before] and similar influences. I have to grind it up a bit because I’m a rock ‘n’ roll child,” added Fuchs.