Blogueando en vivo desde Miami

¿Qué bolá aseres?

Blogging live from the set of Cuban-American comedian Alexis Valdes‘ show Esta noche tu night here in Miami, where I’m here with bilingual Cuban rock band Delexilio recording our appearance that will air tonight on nationally syndicated Spanish language channel MegaTV.

For my first time in Miami, the city is blowing up with the Latin Grammys last night and the 2nd annual Miami Music Festival. We ran into the Wayans bros this morning on the set of Telemundo’s Acceso Total with Mariana Rodriguez, and we’re rockin it Cuban-style, live tonight and tomorrow for the festival at Bardot and Transit Lounge.

This pobre gringo is enchanted with the Latin culture down here, the mescla of Spanish and English and Spanglish and the celebration of cultures simultaneously Latina and of the United States. Generations now have grown up here in south Florida and maintained their heritage, their language and identities while taking on another as children of the US- children del exilio, of the exile.

Our conguero Igor Arias put it starkly:

“Ésta es la música de la nueva generación nacida aquí.”

“This is the music of the new generation, born here [in the US]

As a judío and great-grandchild of inmigrantes, I can’t help but have a great deal of respect for the new generations and olas that make this country and city the cultural hodgepodge that it is.

Harry Potter: Snape Seeker

Wizard Rock king and queen Lily & James (née Grace McLean and Jay Stolar) have finally released their Harry-Potter-riffic debut record! As previously mentioned, I only read up to the third book so the references are almost completely lost on me, but the pair were amazing and hilarious at their CD release last Tuesday.

Below is a track I produced for the record, “Snape Seeker”, an ode to girls liking bad guys, or to Alan Rickman, or something like that.

I also wound up playing bass on several other tracks, all of which sound amazing thanks to Jay and Grace’s ability to simultaneously take the music seriously and themselves not-so-seriously.

The rest of the album is worth checking out and is available below.

“Political Wife”, the track I produced for sketch comedy group Political Subversities‘ music video, has more than 20,000 views on YouTube! The track is finally available on Bandcamp (below) and iTunes, along with the ringtone being available in the iTunes store.

Lily & James @ Bandcamp"Political Wife" @ Bandcamp

Suite Camus: L’été video

My good friend Andreas Arnold posted a video of “L’été” (“Summer”) from his Suite Camus, an instrumental piece blending sounds of Albert Camus’ pied noir experience in North Africa and his French literature, and written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Camus’ death this year (as well as his upcoming 100th birthday in 2013).

The video includes some beautiful shots of the countryside around Barcelona.

Carrie Manolakos vids up; Disappearing languages

First, videos are up from Carrie Manolakos’ sold out Joe’s Pub show from August. Below is one of her rockin tunes showcasing this girl’s vocal fireworks, “Don’t Lie To Me”. We’ll be playing a joint set coming up December 14 with Morgan Karr at the Bitter End.

Completely unrelated but equally fascinating– Ross Perlin, a linguist and “New York Jew in China” posts some great footage from his work to preserve languages of rural China in danger of dying out.

“Political Wife” on Huffington Post, iTunes

The music video I did with Political Subversities is getting some buzz after being blogged on the Huffington Post yesterday!  Now the track is available for download in the iTunes store and on

I attended the group’s opening of their new run at the People’s Improv Theater in midtown NYC last Saturday and they are on fire with some sharp new material for the election season and beyond.

Lily & James: “Wizard Rock” is apparently a thing

I don’t get 90% of the references since I never read past the third book in the Harry Potter series, but Lily & James (a.k.a. Grace McLean and Jay Stolar) have the apparently flourishing genre of “wizard rock” down to a science in their new video for the track “I Want Harry Potter Back”, on which I played bass.

They’ve got a CD release party coming up October 26 at Googie’s Lounge, and the record should feature some more tracks that I played on and one that I produced. Until then you can preview a few tracks here:

Political Wife, Childish Gambino and more


Just returned to NYC from 2 weeks in Abu Dhabi and South Africa (posts to follow), and things are happening!

Yesterday, musical sketch comedy group Political Subversities released their brand new video Political Wife, for which I produced the music. In the last 24 hours since it’s release, it’s garnered more than 1400 views!

The writer of the song and star of the video, Shaina Taub, will be no stranger to readers of this blog. She’s on a roll lately: we finished a recording last month of selections from The Daughters, just in time to perform the number “Child” at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre’s 22nd Festival of New Musicals at New World Stages, this coming Thu 10/21 with Kate Ferber on vocals.  I’ll also be performing “Just Ahead” by Will Reynolds from The Sixth Borough at the same festival.

Some tracks from the new recording are HERE


This weekend, I’ll be playing 2 shows with Childish Gambino a.k.a. Donald Glover a.k.a. Troy from NBC’s “Community”, opening for Mayer Hawthorne:

Sat 10/16 @ The TLA in hometown Philly
Sun 10/17 @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Check this video from our performance in Queens in June:


Before then, you can catch me tonight in NYC with Anna Rose @ Webster Hall (8pm) and Del Exilio @ NUBLU (10pm).

Also just released: Alisa Shamrow’s Isn’t Love Strange

Alisa Shamrow's next record, "Isn't Love Strange"

Lots more on the horizon, including a performance next month at the Miami Music Festival, and some posts from my incredible times in the cultural hodgepodges that are Abu Dhabi and South Africa.

Delexilio’s New Video: Santa Tentadora

Bilingual Cuban rock band Delexilio (“Of the exile”), with whom I played last week at SOB’s and Nublu in New York, celebrates the release of our new video “Santa Tentadora” (“Saint Temptress”, though some of the subtext may be lost in translation).

Delexilio’s Dave Sandoval made a splash at the recent Latin Alternative Music Conference in NY and we should have some more dates coming up in early fall.

2 great book finds: Kató Lomb’s “Polyglot: How I Learn Languages” and Susanna Tamaro’s “Va’ dove ti porta il cuore” #Italiano

Murray James Morrison has once again turned me on to some hip shit.  Kató Lomb was a Hungarian interpreter and polyglot who devoted her life– after starting at a late age– to learning and working with numerous languages.  Her book Polyglot: How I Learn Languages (available in full in English and Russian) is whimsically, beautifully written AND packed with fascinating strategies and reflections on language learning.  I would have liked to pick this woman’s brain in any language.

Cover of Kató Lomb's "Polyglot: How I Learn Languages"

Perusing through Strand Bookstore’s sale/used shelves, I also happened upon a digestible-looking Italian novel for only $1: Susanna Tamaro’s Va’ dove ti porta il cuore (Follow Your Heart, in its English publication).  I’ve been wonderfully surprised and sucked into the pages of this book, with some beautiful writing that is simple enough for me to understand with an elementary and somewhat neglected knowledge of Italian.

(Vocab links embedded for language students)

“L’infanzia e la vecchiaia si assomigliano.  In entrambi  casi, per motivi diversi, si è piuttosto inermi, non si è ancora – o non si è più – partecipi della vita attiva e questo permette di vivere con una sensibilità senza schemi, aperta. È durante l’adolescenza che comincia a formarsi intorno al nostro corpo un’invisibile corazza. Si forma durante l’adolescenza e continua a ispessirsi per tutta l’età adulta.  Il processo della sua crescita somiglia un po’ a quello delle perle, più grande e profonda è la ferita, più è forte la corazza che si sviluppa intorno.  Poi però con il passare del tempo, come un vestito portato troppo a lungo, nei punti di maggiore uso inizia a logorarsi, fa vedere la trama, ad un tratto per un movimento brusco si strappa.  In principio non ti accorgi di niente, sei convinta che la corazza ti avvolga ancora interamente finché un giorno, all’improvviso, davanti a una cosa stupida senza sapere perché ti ritrovi a piangere come un bambino.”

One will excuse my rough translation.  Corrections and improvements are always welcome:

“Infancy and old age resemble each other.  In both cases, for different reasons, one is quite defenseless, one is not yet – or no longer – a participant in active life and this permits us to live with a borderless sensibility, open.  It is during adolescence that inside our body begins to form an invisible armor.  It forms during adolescence and continues to thicken throughout adulthood.  The process of its growth resembles a bit that of pearls, the larger and deeper one is that which is wounded, stronger is the shell that develops inside.  Then, however, with the passing of time, like an outfit worn for too long, at the spots of greatest use it begins to wear out, the seams show, in one stroke with a sudden movement it tears.  In the beginning you don’t notice anything, you are convinced that the shell still envelopes you entirely until one day, unexpectedly, in front of something stupid and without knowing why, you discover yourself crying like a baby.”

Bass Transcription: “Frutero Moderno” (Panagiotis Andreou/La Clave Secreta)

Panagiotis Andreou - "Frutero Moderno" (La Clave Secreta)

Click for free download

After witnessing a stunning set by Cuban-American bassist Danny Rojo and his band Pornoson at SOB’s last Wednesday, and having the honor to join such burning musicians onstage, I decided to delve back into some of the Afro-Cuban music I’ve most enjoyed over the years.  Beyond some obvious classics (para un gringo como yo) such as Irakere, Gonzalo Grau & La Clave Secreta‘s record Frutero Moderno blows me away with its very progressive-yet-danceable sound.  Panagiotis Andreou weaves traditional tumbao with contrapuntal melodic bass lines in this, the title track:

Note: The download link above will open a check-out dialogue but will NOT ask for any credit card information– it’s entirely free!