The Weird Humor of Sophie Strauss

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

“I have tons and tons of spinster lyrics,” Sophie Strauss explains, referring to her writing process. She starts with the words, the collection outpacing the completed works.

“For a while I used to write everything and then just teach it to a guitarist,” she continues. Of late, she’s been sharing the songwriting burden. “Lately, I’ve been collaborating on writing much more.” Her guitarist, Mimo Reynolds, has co-written three out of nine of the songs, “as the set list currently stands.”

That set list will be performed on Thursday, with Cam Johnson percussively filling out the combo. They’re closing out the 13th at 10.30pm.

“I like the freedom of playing shows by myself,” Strauss admits, “but the fullness of the music and the range of what I can play is much greater when I’m working with other people.”

Both styles – solo and accompanied – can be heard on Strauss’ EP, I’m Sleeping If You Call. The next release will feature more of the band sound. “It’s just a matter of finding the studio and the time and to record something fuller than an EP.”

Time’s running short, as Strauss, still in college, is spending a semester abroad in the Spring. This gig at Sidewalk may be the last time to see this up-and-comer before she up and leaves town. It’s a shame we’ll so soon lose access to this young artist, her evident charm, and her growing repertoire of songs.

Luckily, there will be the videos. “We shot a handful of videos around the city. Though a traditional music video is glamorous and appealing, my music isn’t really suited to a lip-syncing polished video just yet, certainly nothing off the EP.”

Instead Strauss and her collaborators recorded live takes of songs with the greatest backdrop known to mankind: New York City. 

“We decided to just go out and record and see what happened. Plus, as nerdy as this sounds, I just really love singing so I got to sing over and over and over again all over the city!”

The video, for “Warm Bed,” is full of personality and warmth, and is only the first to see the light of day. The others are for songs that I haven’t released anywhere else yet, so they’ll be a surprise!”

Growing Up

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Adam Green, former member of the Moldy Peaches and current friend of Toby Goodshank, is seen below holding a child.

He may have had something to do with its creation.

Further research may be required.

Sunday? Funday!

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Before the Lesbians came, Ariah Noetzel played a solo set to what seemed to be yet another set of rude Frenchfolk (Have the French been coming to the East Village in greater numbers lately, or is it just the Sidewalk they’re visiting. What happened? Why?).

As mentioned above, Noetzel played alone, though future gigs promise to be with members of her expanding band. She is going to be, for the time being, a regular part of Sunday evenings at the Sidewalk.

But after Noetzel was the lesbians. Last week began the UHaul Sunday series, which, while geared to be an LGBTQ, seemed to start off all about the L. Beginning with a Speed Dating aspect that quickly became a general mixer, then a couple of punk rock bands with tables removed for maximum danceyness, it was the continuation of a highly anticipated new activity for your Sunday nights. 

Gay as hell, and well worth experiencing over and over again.

Yellow K!

Posted on: November 9th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

The Yellow K Records Party Friday night, was, by all accounts, off the hook. Between Sidewalk regulars Erin Regan and Jagged Leaves (which features Regan supporting her husband Dan Penta/Cockroach Bernstein) were other acts on the Maryland label.

Seagulls, the Deli’s band of the month, followed Regan’s calmly depressing set*. A harmonic folk act, the band engaged a growing crowd.

New God, on tour, was next. It’s been said they are sacharine pop, like “listening to a tripped-out seashell.”


Giggles EP cover art


Jagged Leaves finished it up. In it’s most primitive incarnation, the happy loving couple sang Penta’s songs, old and new, with harmony and enthusiasm. The crowd had diminished after midnight, but was still big enough to provide thunderous applause for the band, now at home in their new label.

* But awesome. Always awesome.

The Show of the Season

Posted on: November 6th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

Tomorrow, Friday night, JUANBURGUESA plays the Sidewalk Cafe, for perhaps the last time for the decade.

JUANBURGUESA, the rock band that effortlessly backs up poet Jonathan Berger, has played two shows over the summer, but before that, has not existed as a performing entity since sometime in the Aughts. Their recent return over the Summer AntiFolk Fest, while unheralded, was much appreciated by a surprised audience.

JUANBURGUESA is a sonic and visual experience, and well worth your time. Before him is Mac McCarty and the Kid Twist Band. Afterwards are the Mots Nouveaux. It’s all good.

Gushing About Gene

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

One of the first acts I loved at the Sidewalk Cafe was Gene and Mimi, and husband and wife duo. He wrote the songs; she sang them with a power and personality that was simply amazing.

He was Gene Morris, and he was a pretty good singer, too, with a lot of humor and range in his vocals, as well. Gene and Mimi put out a couple of CDs in the 90s, then started breeding, releasing a couple of other things. While Mimi continued performing in a cabaret direction, Gene retired from music. Until now.

He’s back, as one quarter of Gusher, which features a man called Mr. Shy.

They all write material, they all sing together. I don’t know if the material will be as strong as the amazing work Gene and Mimi produced in the day, but Gusher has a pedigree that makes it very much worth experiencing.

Check it out!


Posted on: November 4th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

The inescapable Touching You is on tonight, after the amazing Urbana Poetry Slam.

They’re both very much worth experiencing – but only one is free!

I’m not sure if Touching You Vs. Gabriel is the equivalent of Debris Bouquet, or these are two separate events tonight, but, after a brainful of competitive poetry, what could possibly complete your evening better?


Eff’in Death

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

It’s no secret that John S. Hall, vocalist for King Missile (in all its myriad combinations) is an East Village institution. Well, it may be a secret to you, but it shouldn’t be.

He was involved in the Doug Linse album release show last Sunday, October 26, reading poems between musical acts. Almost all of his material was from the new identity he’s  been writing under, That Fuckn’ Guy.

This may be the best thing he did on Sunday. You should listen.


Yoga is Hot!

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

In the midst of LachFest is the delayed CD release of Joe Yoga’s 30 Love.

It’s time. The album has been available digitally for a little bit, but only now does Yoga have the wherewithal to actually create physical copy for his 20th century audience to appreciate.

Please note, though: This is not Coach. It is not Downward Dogs. This is not Rooster or Kill the Band or any other project that Mssr. Yoga is involved in. This is just him and a guitar – unless he’s in a new band that we don’t know about.


Posted on: October 14th, 2014 by Jon Berger No Comments

The second night of LachFest – in the Week of the Lach – on Wednesday, October 15, features some special acts – included a super secret guest – doing special shows, but the pieces de resistances (is that French? Could someone who knows Fresh validate that?) will be the Tribute section, where artists will devote themselves to playing songs written and performed originally, by Lach.

This isn’t unlike the I Heart You features that Ben Krieger had sporadically done, but this particular event will all be in tribute of one man, one Lach.

Afterwards will be the Folk Brothers, the original duo of AntiFolk All-Stars who bonded together to supergroup their way to fame and fortune (any day now).

The Folk Brothers were Kirk Kelly and Lach, doing some adrenaline-fueled covers, selected originals from their individual sets, and a couple of songs composed for the combo. It seems like it was the formation of the Folk Bros. that seemed to cement some of the concepts of AntiFolk. Their gig will be the first in this decade, at least.

Involved in the Tribute are acts as diverse as Jim Flynn, Bob Black and Tommy Volume. More, too, but those are the diverse ones.