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Archive for the ‘Gregory Porter’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: GREGORY PORTER-“Be Good (Lion’s Song)” (Field Recordings, May 14, 2013).

The still from this Field Recording [Gregory Porter: A Lion In The Subway] certainly led me to think that Porter would be singing on an actual moving train car (the ambient noise would be IMPOSSIBLE to filter out).

Of course, it wasn’t the most practical (or legal–bands and other musical acts need to audition to even set up underground. And those are just the “official” performers) thing to actually get Gregory Porter to perform on an operational MTA train. So we asked him if he’d perform for us at the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, a collection of vintage memorabilia and reconditioned cars housed in a former subway station. All the better: Porter has a way with vintage suits, and there was a fortunate coincidence about the way it all felt right among the period-specific ads which flanked him. Accompanied by pianist Chip Crawford — who perfectly punches and beds the gaps here — Porter sang his original “Be Good (Lion’s Song),” a parable of unrequited affection.

The only thing I know about Gregory Porter comes from his Tiny Desk Concert.  I marveled that he wore a hat with ear flaps the whole time.  Well, he does the same thing during this song.

Gregory Porter has the frame of a football linebacker — maybe because he once was one, for a Division I college — and the rich, booming voice you might expect from a guy with such lungs. It cuts through a crowd with its strength, in the manner of an old-school soul singer; it demands attention with its sensitivity. If Porter weren’t winning over the international jazz club and festival circuit, he’d rise above the din wherever he went.

This is a sweet, quiet song, befitting him and the location.  The lyrics are a clever metaphor about lions and love.

[READ: October 22, 2017] “Scared of the City”

This is an essay about being white in New York City.

Franzen says that in 1981 he and his girlfriend were finishing college and decided to spend a summer in New York City– a three-month lease on the apartment of a Columbia student on the comer of 110th and Amsterdam.  It had two small bedrooms and was irremediable filthy.

The city seemed starkly black and white “when a young Harlem humorist on the uptown 3 train performed the ‘magic’ act of making every white passenger disappear at Ninety-Sixth street, I felt tried and found guilty of my whiteness.”

A friend of theirs was mugged at Grant’s Tomb (where he shouldn’t have been) and now Franzen was morbidly afraid of being shot.  The impression of menace was compounded by the heavy light-blocking security gates on the windows and the police lock on the door.

Franzen made some money when his brother Tom came into the city to do some work for hot shot photographer Gregory Heisler at Broadway and Houston.  Franzen was a gopher and made trips around the Bowery and Canal Street but he knew not to go to Alphabet City. (more…)

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tinySOUNDTRACK: GREGORY PORTER-Tiny Desk Concert #550 (July 18, 2016).

gregory Gregory Porter is a soul singer.  For this Tiny Desk Concert, it’s just his voice and a piano played by Chip Crawford.  It’s odd that in the middle of July he’s wearing a suit and what looks like a balaclava, but whatever.

The first song, “No Love Dying” is a slow piece and Porter doesn’t really get to show off his power too much.  But his voice sounds great.  When it’s over he says he likes to think of that song in times of trouble, and we are welcome to take it into our houses in time of trouble as well.

“Take Me To The Alley” is about the backstreets and forgotten places and how we treat the people who are in those alleys.  This is also a slow, pretty song.

The final song is a warning, and we’ll know what’ its about when we hear the lyric: “Don’t Be a Fool” that’s all you need to know.  It, too, is a mellow piece, full of love and offering advice to not be a fool.

I didn’t know Porter before this, and I was pleasantly surprised by his songs.

[READ: November 18, 2016] The Tiny Wife

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business (actually they are switching to non-fiction, it seems). They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.

Proceeds from Kaufman’s book go to Sketch— Working Arts for Street Involved and Homeless Youth.

This has been my favorite story from Madras Press so far. It was suitably weird but it followed its own internal logic and was really funny/intense at the same time. (more…)

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