New York

Solo in New York City

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BIG NEWS.

Two of TSOYA's top pals have solo shows running in New York, and if you miss them, YOU'RE A FOOL.

Our pal Mike Birbiglia has his first solo stage show, called Sleepwalk with Me, running at the Bleeker Theater. Mike has always been fantastically hilarious as a standup, but this show is also receiving acclaim for its emotional depth. WE VOUCH FOR MIKE. If that's not good enough for you, listen to Mike on TAL and TRY not to laugh uncontrollably. FURTHERMORE: you can get discount tickets with this link.

ADDITIONALLY: our pal Mike Daisey (above) has his new solo performance, If You See Something, Say Something, running at the Public Theater. It's about the resonances of the cold war in contemporary America, and in Mike's own life. If it's like his other work, it's fantastic. The Times certainly seems to have enjoyed it. So have others. Tickets are available here. Mike has generously offered TSOYA fans a big ticket discount -- $35 tix can be had with the code SSMKTG. It is offered with the proviso that tickets are selling out fast and that code might stop working at some point.

OK, New York: GET OUT THERE.

Get out of the house, nerd.

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This post is going to be sans-graphics, but fulla-info.

If you live in Seattle, I hope I'll see you this weekend at Bumbershoot. And if you can't come this weekend (or if you can), I hope I'll see you at Sketchfest Seattle later in September. Guests at Bumbershoot include Janeane Garofolo and The Human Giant, and at Sketchfest we'll have Dan Savage.

If you're in New York, don't miss Will Franken's "Grandpa, It's Not Fitting" at Ars Nova on Wednesday night. Will is an amazing solo performer who made his name in the San Francisco theater world. He essentially does one man sketch comedy, and what isn't hilarious is always fascinating -- you really go for a ride.

If you're in Los Angeles, don't miss 826 LA's Falltime Yukfest September 10th. I'm really proud to be sponsoring this amazing show, with Tim & Eric, Jimmy Pardo, Al Madrigal, Bill Burr and a bunch of other great stuff. Proceeds benefit 826 LA's literacy programs.

Finally, if you're in San Francisco, and you miss Louis CK at the Punchline Weds-Sat, September 3-6th, you're a fucking idiot. Seriously, just fucking go. There is no better standup in the world right now, and you should count your blessings that you could ever, ever get to see a show like his at a place like the Punchline. Tickets here.

Podcast: Bob Powers says "You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero"

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Show: 
Bullseye


Bob Powers is a New York-based performer and writer. His first book, Happy Cruelty Day, was a compilation of made-up holidays. His new book is a parody of Choose Your Own Adventure books, which tackles the lifestyle of the failed artsy-type.

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Eels
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Podcast: The Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Tad Kubler

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Show: 
Bullseye

The Hold Steady are a Minneapolis-bred, Brooklyn-based rock band. Their grand visions of love, teenage life, and fringe characters offer a Midwestern take on a genre pioneered by Bruce Springsteen. They call themselves a bar band.

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Dog Days

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Demetri Martin
Show: 
Bullseye

We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

H. Jon Benjamin has an unmistakable voice. You might recognize him as the voice of Ben on the animated show Dr. Katz, or coach John McGuirk from Home Movies. He's also written for shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and Human Giant among others. What you don't know, is what he does with the proceeds. Demetri Martin is a stand up comedian and and also a former writer for Late Night. Dimitri, a Yale graduate, explains why he decided to drop out of NYU law school and how he found the path to comedy.

Podcast: Ze Frank Live in New York City

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Show: 
Bullseye


Ze Frank is the creator and... host(?) of zefrank.com, a remarkable collection of toys, ideas and vlogs. His year-long video blog project, The Show, is widely considered the pinnacle of the form. In the show, he urged listeners to dress their vacuum cleaners in people clothes, to make a sandwich out of the earth by placing slices of bread at opposite sids of the globe, and much more.

All our videos for this show were shot by Benjamin Ahr Harrison, a New-York based videographer. You can find him online at badcharacter.com. Thanks, Ben! Our audio was captured by Jeff Solomon.

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Podcast: Jay Smooth Live From New York

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Show: 
Bullseye

Jay Smooth is the host of WBAI's The Underground Railroad, a blogger at hiphopmusic.com and the creator of the video podcast The Ill Doctrine. I talked with him at The Sound of Young America Live!, part of Sketchfest NYC at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York.

All our videos for this show were shot by Benjamin Ahr Harrison, a New-York based videographer. You can find him online at badcharacter.com. Thanks, Ben! Our audio was captured by Jeff Solomon.

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Podcast: Live in New York with Michael Showalter, Dawn Landes and Pangea 3000

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Show: 
Bullseye

Last month, The Sound of Young America taped our third live program in New York, as part of Sketchfest NYC. In a few days we'll post interviews with Ze Frank and Jay Smooth, but first I'd like to present the performance portions of the program. You can find the normal audio links below, but we've also got video of the show, so it seemed crazy not to share that here.

First up was Pangea 3000. This New York sketch group performed a sketch that I am not allowed by law to play on the radio, no matter how badly I want to.

Pangea 3000 - "Spelling Bee"

Next up was Michael Showalter. You may know Michael from The State, from Stella, or perhaps as Coop in Wet Hot American Summer. He's also a standup, and released his first standup CD, Cats & Sandwiches, last year. He told a story about trying to adopt a cat, shared some very silly poetry, and closed with some info about frogs. You can download the portion of his set that we didn't podcast from this direct link.

Michael Showalter

Our musical performance came from singer-songwriter Dawn Landes. Dawn was suggested to me by Brooklyn Vegan, and as soon as I heard her sing, I knew she was the perfect choice.

Dawn Landes

All our videos for this show were shot by Benjamin Ahr Harrison, a New-York based videographer. You can find him online at badcharacter.com. Thanks, Ben!

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Interview: Wes Jackson, founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival

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Wes Jackson is the founder of the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, co-founder of Seven Heads Entertainment, and president of marketing firm The Room Service Group. He answered my questions via email about his motivation for creating the Festival and what he looks for in a performer, among other things.

Aaron Matthews: Why did you start the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival?

WJ: I started the Festival for several reasons. One, I thought hip-hop should have a world class festival on par with the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.  An all day, outdoor representation of the city’s music, cuisine, culture and energy. 

Secondly, I wanted to create an event that would help reclaim the hip-hop brand from years of bad press, vultures and interlopers.  Hip-Hop needs to grow up and take itself seriously.  There teenage fans of hip-hop as well as 30, 40, and 50 year-old fans. Hip-Hop fans of all ages need quality music and events that appeal to where they are in life.

The Summer Jams take care of the teenagers. There is Rock The Bells who attacks this issue with a sledgehammer and a slightly alternative spin.  I wanted to create one for our demographic as well. Metropolitan, educated, slightly older, female, and racially/ethnically diverse.

AM: What do you look for in a performer when you are assembling the lineup for the festival?

WJ: Someone with fundamental skills. More than this elusive ‘swagger’ that is so prevalent these days.  I am looking for someone who is pushing the art forward. I look for real content. Stage presence. When putting together the line-up, I look for a balance of old school and new school. Local acts and acts that rarely make it to Brooklyn. 

AM: How do you balance the different tastes of long time Brooklynites and more recent arrivals?

WJ: It’s not that tough. I get Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One for the old heads. Lupe [Fiasco] and Mickey Factz for the gentrifiers. Is that a word?  At the end, both old and new Brooklynites appreciate quality and history.  We also price the event so that as many socio and economic groups can participate.  This brings the old and new communities together.

AM: Have there ever been issues over which acts have been chosen?

WJ: Sure. Everyone has their favourites and I have the final say. Feathers get ruffled sometimes but we are all pros and sort it out.  The one who gets pissed is me when I let people talk me into acts I know don’t fit the brand.  I have learned to use my experience and lead without being despotic. My gut instincts on this are usually right. For the most part we all come to a consensus.

What was your initial goal in starting Seven Heads Entertainment?

WJ: My goal was to work with my friends and changed the world. Still is. [Laughs]

Back then I was enamoured with the idea of running a record label. I wanted to be Russell Simmons. After the returns started to mount, that dream ended. Fundamentally I just wanted to get my vision of hip-hop out there. I wanted to start my own business and realize my dreams.  We did some great things. Released some fantastic records. Saw the world. I hope to bring the brand back soon as a digital entity.

The main performance day of the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival starts at 4pm tomorrow, featuring performances by Mickey Factz, Blu & Exile, KRS-One, DJ Premier, 88 Keys and more.

You can find out more about the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival at brooklynbodega.com.

Mickey Factz: "I'm dope as fuck"

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Some of you web savvy folk might recognize the name Mickey Factz. The Bronx emcee has been the subject of many a blog post as of late thanks to his boundary-pushing approach to hip hop. Not only the music he creates, but they way it is being heard has both hip hop fans and hipsters alike asking “Who is this guy?!” Mickey Factz is an over-night success years in the making. He spoke to me about his digital mix-tape The Leak Vol.1, his evolution as an artist and who he’ll most likely be compared to.

Chris Bowman: You mention in your bio that your "music will get to the masses whether it be through traditional or non-traditional mediums". The success of the on-line mix-tape series has been a prime example of the latter. With The Leak you took a different approach releasing one track at a time. Why did you decide to try this method?

Mickey Factz: Gotta cause a stir up somehow, someway. By doing that it creates a word of mouth campaign, leading people from all walks of life talking about Mickey Factz, whether it’s good or bad. They're talking and that's all that matters. By talking, it creates awareness, people then act on that awareness.

CB: You made a good point when you said "In evolution, only the strong survive. Those unable to adapt to a changing platform or culture, will be left extinct." Over the years you have evolved from Renegade to Jack Danielz to Mickey Factz, changing your style along the way. What have you learned from those previous incarnations?

MF: Interesting question. As Renegade, I was basically vicariously living thru my favorite emcee's. Some of ‘em were violent. Some of ‘em were straight up lyricists and others were just partiers. Because of backlash that I might have gotten from the streets, I used Jack Daniels as a cover up. Saying I was drunk when I did it. Turning into Mickey Factz was essential ‘cause it made me look within myself and become the artist I am today.

CB: Your music has been embraced by a wide variety of fans, earning you the recently coined label of hipster rapper. On the other side of that it seems to have stirred up negative feedback also. As you say, either way at least people are talking. What is it about your style you feel has caused so much buzz?

MF: It’s the flamboyance, the swag, the lyricism, the cockiness, the human side. All of these emotions lead the fans to accept what I do because it’s real and they go thru it too. Every word has a purpose and meaning. Plus I'm dope as fuck.

CB: You have already been offered a record deal from Atlantic Records and a solo deal from Missy Elliot. What made you decide to turn those offers down?

MF: It wasn't the right time. Timing is everything and right now, it’s the time for Mickey to position and align himself properly to gain the maximum exposure he deserves.

CB: What would you like to add that people might not already know about you?

MF: That y’all will compare me to Michael Jackson, that's how confident I am.

Mickey Factz will be performing at the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival along with Blu & Exile, KRS-One, DJ Premier, 88 Keys and more Saturday July 12. Also, you can download the latest installment of The Leak here.

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