Art/Music

Opera In Bushwick: Not Your Grandma’s Rosinni

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Photo by Robert Altman

Aerial stunts, fake fruit by the thousand, and a warehouse. Throw classical music in the mix and you won’t find yourself at the Met, but you will have a rager at LoftOpera.

“It’s everybody’s mission to bring something new to the art form,” Daniel Ellis-Ferris says. As founder of LoftOpera, Brooklyn’s performance company that generates hip yet accessible opera, he should know best.

Since its founding in 2013, LoftOpera has created a home — or the Brooklyn equivalent, various warehouses — for its artists, singers, and audiences. Next up is its tenth production to date, Le Comte Ory, running June 2–11 at The Muse in Bushwick. In Rosinni’s comic romp situational humor and mistaken identities abound, two ingredients that jive nicely with LoftOpera’s vibe. Continue reading

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#aloneha: Tropical Goth Is A Thing

#aloneha
Tropical goth fashions via Wetstunts on Instagram

The latest un-popular fashion trend is Tropical Goth—and it’s exactly what you think it is. Picture Charles Manson wearing a Hawaiian shirt stumbling into a backyard BBQ grill. Flaming flamingos and casual-day-for-cutters aside, you may not know that Tropical Goth is also a Brooklyn-based record label and dance party (of course it is). The Tropical Goth crew emerged a couple years ago from the minds of a couple of Bushwick’s Bossa Nova Civic Club DJs. The maestro of Tropical Goth is Shredder aka Chris Video, with Publicist, Food Stamps, Marcus Webb, Deadontheinternet and other tortured tiki souls dropping beats at select parties. Somehow they manage to blend beachy island vibes with dark industrial techno better than the best pina colada you’ve ever had on a drug-fueled bachelorette party in Puerto Rico. Continue reading

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East River Eyes: Jeffrey Gamblero

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View from India St./Greenpoint Ave Ferry Landing

If you ride the East River Ferry you’ve likely seen the 20-foot-tall letters that spell out JEFFREY GAMBLERO on the dock of the India Street stop. They are outlined in black and filled in with a vivid aqua green. It is the color of surgical scrubs, of Winterfresh gum and cartoon characters, and a fitting hue for what has become an unofficial landmark of the Greenpoint waterfront.

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Korn Eyes

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Shot! Free Screening of Danny Brown Documentary TONIGHT at House Of Vans

Premiere week kick-off begins at House of Vans with Danny Brown concert doc.
House of Vans and Rooftop Films partner to bring the world premiere of Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic

In a world full of bullshit and bullshitters, Danny Brown is as clean as a whistle. In fact, his authenticity is perhaps as pure as a baby bull’s shit. No matter how it’s put, Danny Brown is a true artist, and there’s a new documentary out tonight that will school you on the matter.

Directed by Andrew Cohn (of Medora fame), Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic captures raw moments with the indie rapper as he prepares for a homecoming show at The Majestic Theatre in Detroit. With 21 cameras, Cohn’s crew captured full coverage of the live show, but the documentary also includes intimate footage with Danny in his own hometown.

The film premieres tonight at House of Vans in Greenpoint as part of the Rooftop Films Summer Series, and it will be followed up with a live performance by Danny Brown himself.

Andrew Cohn, whose career initially started with screenwriting in Los Angeles, but who is now based in Brooklyn, enjoyed much success with his first documentary, Medora. The heart-wrenching doc follows a seemingly hopeless small-town high school basketball team through their losing streak in Medora, Indiana. The film premiered at SXSW, and it won an Emmy last year. 

Andrew Cohn at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Demis Maryannakiss)
Andrew Cohn at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Demis Maryannakiss)

Danny Brown: Live at the Majestic is one of Cohn’s newest documentaries (he also just finished Night School). This time, as with Medora, he seems to have been born to make this film. As a Michiganian, Cohn was a fan of Danny Brown before the rapper’s fame hit global proportions — before XXX or Old hit the charts — back when Brown was just a drug dealer in Detroit trying to make it as a rapper. Cohn says he remembers when it was a big deal whenever Danny was featured on the cover of “Metro Times” in Detroit. As a fellow Midwestern artist, he’s enjoyed seeing Brown’s fame rise as his own filmmaking success has evolved.

I had the chance to catch up with Cohn about the documentary — how it came about and what it was like working with the creative force that is Danny Brown. 

Greenpointers: What made you decide to make a doc on Danny Brown?

Andrew Cohn: It kinda came about as a side project because I was in the middle of making Night School, which I was in Indianapolis for. I had been in touch with his manager about doing a doc… and had lots of ideas that just fizzled and nothing came of [them]. But when I was making Night School… his manager approached me and said, ‘Danny is doing this show…it’s his first time doing a solo show in Detroit in a long time and we wanna film it, and want to talk to you to see if there’s something bigger you want to build around it.’ And immediately I was like ‘That sounds great, I’m close, I already have a crew and a ton of resources in Detroit and Michigan since that’s where I’m from’…So, first thing we wanted to do was shoot the fuck out of the live show…we wanted to just totally blow it out… And then I went back [to Indianapolis] to finish [Night School]. And, obviously, I spent about three days interviewing Danny while I was in Detroit… then had the idea to follow some fans who were at the show, and spent a few days with them, and slowly, slowly it started coming together… It was about a sixteen-month process from the first day of shooting.

GP: How did you find the fans who were featured in the film?

AC: Danny put out a Facebook post asking for fans who were going to be at the show who might be willing to be filmed…and we found some really great characters, you know, his fan base is super, super interesting… I think for Danny, he has a lot of fans who aren’t hip hop fans, a lot of them are punk rock fans. You’ll see a lot of mosh pits at his show. But I think that’s what’s great about Danny — he brings that vulnerability to his song writing. It’s not all braggadocious. He has that street credit, but he also has a punk rock mentality. Like, he refused to sign to a major label, he has this independent streak in him where he just does things his way, and I think the audience really reacts to that. He just has a really wide audience…like a lot of kids that come to his shows, I don’t think they’re gonna see a Drake show. He speaks to people that feel maybe disenfranchised, or people that are attracted to that kind of honesty.

GP: I was really impressed with how open and honest he was [in the film]. Was it easy to get him to open up like that in the conversations you had with him?

AC: Surprisingly so. I’ve done some profiles on some bigger artists and there’s always this kind of wall. They give you the PR spin of, like, an athlete after a basketball game, ‘Both teams played hard’ — this kind of sound byte stuff. But as soon as I met him — and I’m a huge Danny Brown fan — I totally understood why people love him so much. He’s so open and so honest and so vulnerable and raw. There’s none of that fake bullshit.

The first day I met him, we were filming late at night at the EL-P show, and they were all going to go back to Danny’s house and hang out after, and I [asked to come and film] and he was like, ‘Yeah of course!’ But I didn’t have car. I was trying to figure out how I would get back to the hotel…and he was like, ‘Oh, you can spend the night at my house! It’s fine.’ It was the first day I met this guy and he was inviting me to crash on his couch. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal, but now, looking back, I’m like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy. That’s crazy.’

Danny Brown at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit.
Danny Brown at the Majestic Theatre in Detroit.

GP: So, why did you approach his manager initially? Was it just because you’re a big fan?

AC: Yeah, I mean I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. I remember Danny Brown before he was big at all…he was just another rapper from Detroit. He just opened for people – he was just one of the dozens of rappers in Detroit doing their thing…To see him transcend that and be really big was really really fun to watch. And so when I approached Dart, his manager, I showed him Medora, and he and his wife really loved the film, and knew that they would be in good hands. And I just started this relationship that ended up taking a long time to come to fruition, but I think in the end there was a trust there — like we’re from the same place, we have the same point of view, you know. So that’s what was cool about doing the doc…I didn’t have to sit down and Google ‘Danny Brown’ and do research on who he is…I already knew his full story, so it made it easy when we were interviewing or talking, because I understood where he was coming from.

GP: What made you decide to have the world premiere through Rooftop Films?

AC:  Just because I know Dan [Nuxoll, Program Director], and I know that they put on amazing screenings. The screening they did with Medora was unbelievable…so I knew I would be in good hands. They said that they had requests for 2,100 tickets in like three hours, or something like that, so I knew they would be able to handle the volume and accommodate Danny’s fans. I think that was really important to us — to have something where Danny’s fans have access…[something that] was going to be free, was going to be open to the public…all ages, 18 and over. So that was important to us. And you know, New York is a big market for him, so it made sense.

GP: Most of your work seems to revolve around people in low-income situations. What draws you to that landscape?

AC: I think that I love stories of underdogs. I’m not exactly sure why. I enjoy giving a voice to people who might not be given that platform. I think that there’s a lot of people out there in that part of the country who are really overcoming a lot of odds that don’t really get credit for it. So to be able to shine a light on people who wouldn’t have their stories told is really important to me. I think everyone is attracted to different types of material, and I like just making movies about real people who are trying to live in the real world, you know, and I think there are really courageous stories in that space. And I’m from the Midwest and obviously I love the Midwest — there’s just the frankness of the people — they’re very forthcoming and honest — and so I like telling stories about that part of the country — that part of the world.

GP: What are you working on now?

AC: I just finished my other film, so [I’m] figuring out the rollout with that. I’m doing something for MTV, Vice, ESPN, doing some television stuff, then basically taking a break. This will be my fourth feature film in three years. I’ve been going pretty hard for the past two years, so I’m going to take a break and see what’s next.

GP: Do you have an idea of what you would want to work on next?

AC:  Yeah, I want to take a stab at doing a narrative film. Get back to screenwriting and hopefully direct something narrative. I have a couple ideas for docs. There are plenty of opportunities coming my way and it’s hard to say no, but I need to do laundry, and just get my life back on track.

GP: Get back to the basics.

AC: Yeah, exactly.

GP: I mean, that’s a good problem to have as a filmmaker.

AC: Yeah, I’m super grateful. Especially for the opportunity to make a film about your favorite rapper…it seems so surreal. I’m just grateful to have the relationship with him. He’s just a great guy, you know.

***

Yeah! I know.

Attendance for tonight’s show is on a first come, first serve basis, and doors open at 7. Screening starts at 8:30, followed by a Q&A with Danny Brown and Andrew Cohn. Danny performs at 10PM. House of Vans is located at 25 Franklin Street in Greenpoint. 

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Greenpoint Studio Visit with Leon Reid IV

Leon Reed IV with Load Paintings, Tech-Art: Soul For Technology
Leon Reid IV with Load Paintings, Tech-Art: Soul For Technology

You may know Leon Reid IV through his street art or public art and now he has a new body of work conceived and developed in his Greenpoint studio over the last five years. Recently, I caught up with Leon at his studio to talk art, technology, and what it means to combine the two. Continue reading

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Weekend Art Roundup: May 20-22

 

 Work by Karen Marston exhibited in Demeter's Wrath

Work by Karen Marston exhibited in Demeter’s Wrath

Karen Marston – Demeter’s Wrath
at Owen James Gallery

Karen Marston is a painter focused on the fundamental contradiction of natural phenomena, the pairing of powerful terror with majestic beauty. Her large-scale oil paintings portray this strength at its extremes: tornadoes, forest fires, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions. While many of these events have occurred naturally throughout the history of the Earth, they have also been exacerbated by the influence humans have on the environment.

Opening Reception: Friday May 20th, 6-8 PM
at Owen James Gallery
61 Greenpoint Ave, #315 Continue reading

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Weekend Music: Day Job, Night Vision (5/20 – 5/23)

Why do you work all day at a job that is not your true calling?

For cash, of course. Or maybe stock options.

My day job pays the bills, but I also get to go to fun places sometimes for it too. Got to go to Alabama once.

It was great. “Where’s the best bar in this town?” I asked someone in Eufala, AL.

“Airport Lounge. They got shacks in the back.” In case you are not up on your South, that means ladies of the night are available.

Not my thing, but heading for Japan on Sunday, bizness class. Before my next brush with the picaresque, here’s the weekend music calendar, with a bonus entry for Monday night to help transition you back to the work week. Continue reading

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Tommy James: DJ & Live Music Curator for Good Room

Screen shot 2016-04-30 at 7.31.40 PMAt first Tommy James, DJ and live music curator at Good Room on Meserole Avenue, comes off as just another humble British expat living in Greenpoint. Only upon researching this piece did I discover his many musical accomplishments. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that in some circles Tommy James is even something of a legend, but one thing is certain: success has not jaded him, nor dimmed his passion for music. And it’s this passion for music that has helped make Good Room an epic venue for live music.

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Let’s Get Erotic with Frugging Parties, Blue Movies, Go-Go’s, and Filthy Tracks this May

Back in my single days I had no problem getting attention from women.

Didn’t even have to try, wearing pants that were two sizes too big, in order to feel comfortable after a large meal. Or a suede jacket in the pouring rain.

Women would stop and linger on me with their eyes. For some reason, it never turned into a date.

If you have the same problem, maybe what you need is to meet people in a sexually charged atmosphere. But sexy, not skeevy. Skeevy just feels predatory.

Avoiding skeevy this month, and leaving other seduction advice to the experts, here are some hot tips on the local scene. I’ll give you DJ’s playing vintage vinyl to accompany vintage X-rated movies. I’ve also got a lead on a local club with drag cabaret and less innocent offerings on tap in a same-sex friendly setting. Continue reading

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Thursday Spotlight: Artist Dan Sabau

Dan Sabau Greenpointers

Dan Sabau comes from several walks of life. Originally born in Romania and growing up in Cleveland Ohio, he eventually made it to Greenpoint, Brooklyn and calls this local neighborhood home. His story is interesting—formerly in a band called Slak he toured and played in New York venues. After seeing what New York had to offer, he knew he wanted to live here as an artist. During his fourth year of art school in Cleveland, he did a semester in New York through Parsons and ended up moving here three months after 9/11.  You can witness his life’s movement in his work; there’s a true story behind the portraits and faces. Continue reading

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