Author Archive

Ryan Beatty hits the East Coast: MTV News and Fox DC Morning Show

Last week I got to join 17-year-old Ryan Beatty for a series of shows and promo appearances when he visited New York, including a gig at Webster Hall.

MTV News took the young heartthrob on a tour of the city, which we wrapped up with an acoustic performance in Central Park.

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Ryan Beatty, Music News

Later that week, we headed down to DC for a radio appearance and an interview/performance on FOX 5’s morning show. Coincidentally, 60’s psychedelic music legend Donovan, who had just been inducted into the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame was performing there the same day.

At Webster Hall, we were joined by a stellar band including Adam Stoler, Julian Pollack and Ben Antelis, while Ryan was swamped with teenage fans who sang along to every word.

Curtis & Reinhard’s “No Nothing” featured on So You Think You Can Dance

I can’t even begin to express how proud I was to see Curtis & Reinhard‘s “No Nothing” tonight on So You Think You Can Dance, from our record Live At The Pigeon Club. It was stunning to see the tune choreographed and performed so well by Witney and Marko:

The heart-wrenching tune is without a doubt a favorite from the album and at our live shows. I distinctly remember hearing Blaire Reinhard‘s voice through the headphones as we recorded it, incredulous that I was hearing such a sound, that I was part of something so moving occurring at that very instant. It’s those kinds of moments that drew people like me to music in the first place and that keep me coming back, day after day.

Clinton, Gray and Blaire write about the unique collaborative process for this song here on the Curtis & Reinhard Blog, and you can download “No Nothing” directly from iTunes.

Congrats to Blaire, Gray and Clinton– I find it inspiring that such a moving, meaningful song can make it onto national television to find such a wide audience.

Live on “America’s Got Talent” with Bria Kelly and 7 in Unison

I had a blast last night getting to appear with two contestants on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”– 16-year-old Virginia native Bria Kelly, who performed Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder & Lead”, as well as California dance troupe 7 In Unison, who did a routine to the classic tune “Fever”. Also in tow were good friends and great musicians Dan Weiner (drums), Sierra Noble (fiddle), and Tim Kubart (guitar).

Anna Krantz “We Are Young” at Irving Plaza with Ed Sheeran

I’ve had some great gigs the last couple months with London-raised Anna Krantz. Twice we’ve gotten to share the stage with 21-year-old fellow Brit Ed Sheeran, who’s stunning one-mand-band live show is taking the under- (and over-) 18 demographic by storm.

Here’s a great video taken by a fan of Anna’s live cover Fun’s “We Are Young” at Irving Plaza last month:

Anna has a penchant for strikingly beautiful melodies and poignant, meaningful lyrics, which you can check out on her just released Foundation EP.

Abby Bernstein “Talk In Tongues” Album Available Now

Proud to have co-written and produced 6 tracks off Abby Bernstein’s brand new sophomore album, Talk In Tongues, out today on iTunes. Also pleased with the contributions of my frequent partners in crime Adam Stoler and Will Hensley, who co-wrote and produced the remaining tracks.

To top things off, Abby’s video for our tune “Mary’s Son” now has over 300,000 hits on YouTube!

You can check out the record on iTunes at this link:

Kudos to others who contributed: Chris Camilleri, Adam Christgau, Jordan Perlson, Mark Santangelo, Dana Leong, Michael Barimo and Adam Handwerger.

Abby Bernstein “Mary’s Son” Video, Huffington Post Interview

After a “pre-release” party this past week at NYC’s The Living Room, Abby Bernstein just released the video for her new single Mary’s Son from her upcoming record Talk In Tongues, which I co-wrote and produced.

Thanks to Jon Chattman of the Huffington Post who did this great interview with Abby and myself for his A-Sides series.

Grace McLean Debut EP “Make Me Breakfast” Released Today

Grace McLean & Them Apples’ very first record Make Me Breakfast is available now!

I’ve been working to produce this record with Grace for almost 2 years and the music’s come a long way. You can download it from the link above and hear what we’ve been cookin’ up. (Hint: it’s breakfast).

Catch us playing live tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 in New York @ 9pm!
Props and thank yous to everyone involved: (and here’s where I paste the credits):

Music & Lyrics by Grace McLean
Produced by Justin Goldner for Funky Butter Productions
Mixed by Chris Abell
Mastered by Larry Lachmann
Recorded at The Butter Lounge, additional recording by Anthony “Rocky” Gallo and Tom Gardiner at Virtue & Vice Studios, Chris Camilleri at Dubway Studios, Sam K. Shaw at The Buddy Project
Grace McLean – vocals, piano, ukulele (Cabbie Landlord), pump organ (Cabbie Landlord)
Liana Stampur, Kate Ferber – background vocals
Hiroyuki Matsuura – drums and percussion
Idrissa Kone – talking drum (Samuel)
Justin Goldner – bass, keyboards, guitars, drum programming, banjo

New Grace McLean single “My Friend’s Roommate” from upcoming debut EP

I’ve been hard at work producing Grace McLean‘s debut album Make Me Breakfast for well over a year now, and her first single “My Friend’s Roommate” is finally out of the oven.

We’ll be playing a digital release show on August 1 at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2 followed by a more formal release in the fall.

You can grab a free download of “My Friend’s Roommate” right here:

Make Me Breakfast – Album Cover

Big thanks to all of the talented people who worked on the album, including Hiroyuki Matsuura, Liana Stampur, Kate Ferber, Chris Abell, Larry Lachmann, Rocky Gallo, Sam K. Shaw, Tom Gardiner, Chris Camilleri, and Idrissa Kone.

Siân Pottok “Solitary Soul” video

New video out by Siân Pottok for her tune “Solitary Soul”, which we shot at the Highline Park and other spots in Chelsea over the winter.

Adam Stoler produced the track, from Siân’s record Waiting For Superman, and Caro Dlm directed the video, but it was Aaron Kaswell’s class from Middle School 88 in Brooklyn that really made it special.

The Depth and Broad Reach of Communal Music

On the way back from a gig last Friday, I was lulled from my late-night subway stupor by a dude serenading straphangers with his 12-string. I had run into Darrell a handful of times before, occasionally sung him songs at his prodding, and always listened to his renditions with pleasure though he understandably never remembers me among the ocean of weary-faced New Yorkers he attempts to rouse with song. This time, he handed me his guitar and entreated me to sing some Beatles tunes together. A girl sitting across the subway, an invisible face only minutes before, joined in. Other subway riders looked up– pleased, irritated, or distracted.

It’s a pretty fantastic feeling to be making music off stage with someone you don’t know. In a city of invisible walls, it’s even more special to reach across and make an instantaneous, if momentary, connection with other human beings.

Karen Loew published this beautiful column today in The Atlantic on “How How Communal Singing Disappeared From American Life (And why we should bring it back)”.

The reasons why are legion. We are insecure about our voices. We don’t know the words. We resent being forced into an activity together. We feel uncool. And since we’re out of practice as a society, the person who dares to begin a song risks having no one join her.

This is a loss. It’s as if we’ve willingly cut off one of our senses: the pleasure center for full lungs and body resonance and shared emotion and connection to our fellow man.

The more I work in the music industry, the deeper I get into the craft of making music– which I love dearly– the more that I believe that the richest music lies not on stages and concert halls, not in headphones or subwoofers, but in the spontaneous joining of voices. For thousands of years before BMI and ASCAP, before sheet music, wax cylinders, the phonograph or the mp3, music existed as something possessed jointly by everyone in a community and open for anyone to participate in its creation.

One of the (relatively few) places where this paradigm continues strongly is within Gospel music and churches of various denominations throughout the country. While pop artists are “dumbing down” their melodies and rhythms, simplifying their music in order to reach the widest potential audience, in churches, it is shocking and inspiring the number of non-musicians– “laypeople”, if you will– who feel so strongly attached to and participate in what is incredibly sophisticated, demanding music.

It’s not surprising, then, that gospel music has played an in-extractable role in the development of American music for at least the last century, and that churches have produced many of the best musicians and performers from Ray Charles to Aretha Franklin to Billy Preston to Chris Dave.

During a trip to South Africa last year, I had the great treat to meet Fatima Asmal-Motala, who graciously took me to visit a small Muslim after-school program in a Zulu “township” about half an hour outside Durban. The poverty was absolutely shocking: as far as the eye could see, slums thrust about on the sides of hills, people living in overturned shipping containers, walls thrown together from various discarded sources makeshift dwellings.

The real treat, however, was to get to hear the children, ranging from what might have been ages 7-15, sing devotional songs together in Zulu, English and Arabic. The sound of their voices together and the smiles on their faces were as inspiring as the desolate setting left me, a sheltered product of the first world, speechless.

In her article, Loew points out the few instances of its survival in American society, including during the seventh-inning stretch at baseball games:

Belting at baseball games is an example of something essential, Schmid said. “No one there is worried about whether they’re good enough. That’s a wonderful feeling—that’s what I think we need to restore. That sense that: I’m good enough. I’m a happy amateur singer. I’m just going to let it out.”

As I mentioned in my most recent post, along with the Clinton Curtis Band I’ve been selected by the U.S. State Department to embark on an American Music Abroad tour later in 2012 or 2013, during which we’re excited not only to propagate and provide a vessel for American folk music traditions, but also to engage with and learn from the communal music of wherever they choose to send us.

One other related aside– I recently got around to seeing Béla Fleck‘s 2008 film Throw Down Your Heart, in which he journeys through Africa in search of the roots and progeny of the banjo, performing with talented artists and folk musicians from a number of countries. Great music and inspiring fare from start to finish.