Archive for East Village

Charlie McAlister is in NYC this week!

Posted in music, News, Tom with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by criticalreviews

One of Charleston, South Carolina’s musical heros will be in NYC this week! Charlie McAlister will be playing at the Stone, in the East Village, this Friday, August 8th! He is doing two performances at 8pm and 10pm.

If you are not familiar with Charlie you can read my review of his album Mississippi Luau here!

Artist and musician, Kevin Earl Taylor, also originally from Charleston, will be in the City to play with Charlie at these performances.

This should be a treat for all in attendance, and I high recommend checking it out (I know I will be there!).

This show, along with all shows at the Stone in August, are curated by Trevor Dunn and Shelly Burgon.

Cheers,

(Tom)

Photo by Wolfie Whitman (via flickr)

D.B.A. in the East Village (Williamsburg location to open maybe by 2009!)

Posted in alcohol, bars, News, Tom with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2008 by criticalreviews

First off some news: DBA is going to open in Brooklyn this Month! That is right, DBA will open a second New York City location on North 7th Street between Berry and Whythe in Williamsburg**. This was confirmed by the several signs for the new location that we saw in the already well established East Village location last night (and Brownstoner).

Now for a review of the Manhattan location:

41 First Avenue, New York City, NY
(between 2nd and 3rd Street)

DBA is one of those bars that I have been going to since I moved to New York two years ago. The bar is on the largish size, with a long bar on the left when you walk in, and tables down the right. There is one of those PacMan/Space Invaders tables towards the back, and a really large outdoor patio that always seems to have a seat for you no matter how large your group is.

DBA’s slogan “Drink Good Stuff,” and they pretty much keep with that slogan. They have a great selection of pretty much everything that will get you drunk, but I have taken particular notice to the excellent bourbon and tequila (they have a much more extensive selection than most bars), as well as, of course, the beer. Beerwise they have an extensive bottle list, 16 taps, and two casks.

DBA really isn’t the place for people who want to swill Bud, Miller, or PBR. I remember hearing this conversation on one visit:

Woman: I’ll have a Miller Lite.
Bartender: I’m sorry we don’t have Miller.
Woman: How about a Bud Lite?
Bartender: I’m sorry we don’t have that either, try this Pilsner…it’s made by Lagunitas.

They always have a really quality selection (but if required you can find your Corona and Stella in bottles). Last night we were drinking the Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Avery Brewing’s Maharaja Imperial IPA. All of the normal strength beers(7% abv and below) are typically $6 and served in pints (great deal on the Torpedo), and the stronger ones/obscure imports are between $6-$8 and served in goblets. Happy Hour is $1 off (not sure what the Happy Hours are though…we were there at 7:35 and it was not happy), and you can upgrade a pint to an imperial pint for an extra $1(even during happy hour).

I can say that the service at the bar is not consistently great. The bartenders are always at least decent, but on occasion you do get ignored (I have had a couple bad experiences, but not so bad that I don’t return). It is also really frustrating when your order is taken, and the bartender proceeds to take many other orders and serve them first. These problems don’t happen all the time (last night was great!), but they have happened more than once. Fortunately there is a way around the bar service problem! If you sit on the back patio there is table service, and the waitress last night was really good…even remembering drinks of people on the very crowded patio.

They occasional have food events like Cheese Night (Cheesy Mondays if I am not mistaken), and free bagels with cream cheese and lox are available during brunch hours on the weekend.

Overall I guess what I am getting at is that DBA is just a good bar. Decent selection of everything (liquor/beer/wine), reasonable prices (I hope the Brooklyn one is a little cheaper than the , but we will see), mostly pleasant staff, and a clientèle that isn’t obnoxious (which at least in the East Village on the weekend can be hard to find).

DBA is a welcomed addition to Williamsburg, and it is one more place that I see myself frequenting. In the NYC beer scene DBA seems to get less attention than it should, but I think they can give Mug’s Ale House some competition and that is a good thing.

I hope the new Williamsburg location is as dog friendly as the one in the East Village…Cooper likes to hang out at the bar.

Williamsburg photo courtesy of Brownstoner
East Village photos courtesy of NY Magazine

(Tom)

**Update as of 8/18/08. Please note I keep checking to see if the new location is open, and so far it has not. I’ll update this post as soon as I see DBA Brooklyn’s doors open.

***UDATE as of 11/13/08.  I heard from a friend looking for a bartending gig that they are supposedly going to start hiring staff soon.  This might be a good sign.  I was kinda convinced that it was never going to open.

Hospital Productions opens Larger Store (Update)

Posted in News, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , on July 6, 2008 by criticalreviews

As I reported back in April Jammyland records, the beloved East Village reggae shop has closed it’s physical location, and is now only accessible online.

I thought that this would be the end of Hospital Productions as well…but I was wrong. Hospital Productions once located in the basement of Jammyland will reopen in the much larger main space at 60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues) where Jammyland used to preside.

I found this out when we walked by the shop yesterday, and there was a sign in the window saying that Hospital Productions will re-open in July. This was confirmed by the Hospital Productions website:

HOSPITAL STORE LIVES!

Hospital Productions is expanding to the full location at 60 East 3rd St. Renovations are currently underway. We send our salute to all the generous and dedicated supporters that assisted us in this time of transition. Thank you!

Dominick Fernow

We have the beloved noise outlet back, when will Jammyland emerge from the ashes?

You can read my Hospital Productions review here.

I don’t normally post news articles on here, but I thought this was important information that is relevant to several of my posts…I’m not going to make it a regular thing, but if necessary it will happen.

Cheers,

(Photo from Time Out New York)

(Tom)

Jammyland Records

Posted in music, record stores, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2008 by criticalreviews
60 East Third St. (between 1st and 2nd Avenues)
East Village, NYC

So I know I just posted about Count Ossie and I my be bombarding you with reggae, but I feel that it is necessary to get this up before Jammyland is gone.

On Sunday, I found out that Jammyland will be closing come the end of May (I assume due to a rent increase or loss of their lease). This is a really sad day for reggae, and music in general in New York City. Jammyland has been a reggae mainstay in New York since 1993.

Physically Jammyland is a very long and very narrow store, and if there is someone buying something at the counter it is even hard to fit in the door. But it is loaded with all things reggae. They have the largest selection of reggae LPs, 45s, and CDs I have ever seen (and t-shirts too). My experiences in the store have always been enjoyable….the sweet smell of incense and trying to lean over the mounds of Jammyland t-shirts on the floor in boxes to flip thru records. The employees are always friendly…from making recommendations, to answering questions, and even sometimes putting records on the store stereo so that you can hear them before you buy. Occasionally you will even go in and a DJ will be spinning 45s to figure out what he/she is going to purchase to play in their set later that night.

The first time I went in the store it was the most overwhelming experience I have ever had record shopping. I was more comfortable in Hospital Productions, at least I knew a handful of the names on the shelf. For those who don’t know Hospital Productions is the noise/black metal store, that is located in the old Jammyland recording studio, that you enter by walking into the Jammyland store front…going to the back of the store, and then down a ladder in to the windowless Hospital Productions. I knew literally nothing about reggae the first time I went in, and although the guy working tried to help me I had no direction and no idea what I liked. On my second visit I picked up the Soul Jazz’s Studio One Dub, and after getting some advice I went back and purchased a big handful of LPs.

The first couple of times that I was in the store I was totally blown away…and that was for two reasons: 1) the store has a killer selection, and 2) I was starting on a new genre of which I literally owned nothing. While Jammyland didn’t always have what I was looking for they always had something to temp me…it wasn’t their fault…I realize when I am looking for albums that came out twenty or thirty plus years ago that they most likely will be out of print. But with Jammyland you never know…one day that record just might be there. Someone in Jamaica or England might have been clearing out a warehouse, and if a couple copies are found… they will end up at Jammyland (that is how I happened upon Grounation). Even if they don’t have that specific obscure LP you are looking for the collection of Greensleeves, Pressure Sounds, and Soul Jazz records should be enough to hold you over. Jammyland, from what I understand, even makes trips and orders directly from Jamaica to get Jamaican pressings of albums you typically wouldn’t see in the States (I have picked up random Linval Thompson, and Sly and Robbie records, as well as a Jamaican press of The Upsetters’ Return of the Super Ape).

Their prices are also hard to beat. I love being able to walk into a store, and if you look a little bit you can walk out with a rad roots or dub record for as cheap as $9.99 (I find it a rare occasion these days when you can get a new record for $10, but at Jammyland as long as your willing to look this can happen often). But as you can assume some records go up in price pretty quickly…it is just as easy to spend $25 on an album as it is to spend $10.

Jammyland is a bit messy and disorganized but so entirely unique that it couldn’t exist anywhere else (well maybe in Brooklyn). I sit here listing to Augustus Pablo’s Africa Must Be Free by 1983 Dub (the second record I ever purchased from the store) reminiscing on Jammyland…I guess it will never completely be gone as long as their mail order is still in action, but it is really sad to think that I will never be able to walk into this shrine to Jamaican roots music again.

While I was told that the store was looking for a new location there is no word yet of if it will happen/where/and when, and I guess this means Hospital Productions will also be looking for a new home too. This will be two tremendous (hopefully temporary) losses for New York’s music scene. I plan on making at least a couple more trips to these wonderful stores before they are gone…they are a great example of what independent record stores should be.

If possible show your support in the next month…I’m sure Jammyland and Hospital Productions will both appreciate it.

Photo of Jammyland from the NY Times

also related: my review of Hospital Productions.

(Tom)

Drop Off Service (and a brief note about The Arrow)

Posted in alcohol, bars, Tom with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2008 by criticalreviews

211 Ave. A (just north of 13th Street)
East Village, NYC

So this past Friday we got some friends together and decided to check out a couple bars that we have never been to in the East village. On our list was Drop Off Service and The Arrow.

I’ll get to Drop Off Service in a minute…but first a brief note about the Arrow. The Arrow is located on Avenue A between 5th and 6th. I had been to this location in it’s short lived time as The Rook, and remembered the space being cool, decent drink prices, but really bad music. KLK and I got to The Arrow around 6:30 and it was dead (only four people and this place supposedly has a really good happy hour). Even before we could get comfortable and walk up to the bar, the bartender yells to us “Can I see some IDs.” I bartend occasionally, and I just feel that it is rude to ask for IDs before someone tries to order a drink, but whatever. The bar really hasn’t changed since it was The Rook…the space is nice, the drink prices are decent, but the music was really lame, loud, and made us want to leave. So we did before even having a drink. I expected something a little better, at least music wise, from something that was being endorsed by BrooklynVegan. Please note: althought the BV repost of the Time Out New York article makes it look like the fancy drinks are “buy one get one” our friends were told that they were not (neither is top shelf bourbon).

Back to Drop Off Service (DOS).

After we left The Arrow we walked up Avenue A to DOS (while calling and texting our friends telling them not to go to The Arrow). DOS, as the name implies, used to be a laundromat. Now it is a biggish sized bar, with a good happy hour, and a great jukebox. The place is set up, if you are looking in the front door, with a long bar running down the right side, large booths on the left and in the back, and a small room with odd couches near where the bathrooms are. The place is dimly lit and decorated in your not so typical beer signs as well as other bar type decorations. DOS was busy even at 6:30, and we ordered drinks and hung out by the jukebox while waiting for friends. The jukebox has a pretty good selection (a little bit of everything)…we played Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, Les Savy Fav, Elvis Costello, and Madness.

DOS has a really great happy hour. Everything is 1/2 priced. They have about 20 beers on tap, and serve most of their beer in 20oz imperial pint glasses. $3 or $4 for a 20oz beer is a really great deal in this part of town (or any part of town for that matter). Well drinks were $4 too. I had a couple Sixpoint Brownstones($3) and a Stone Pale Ale($4) (klk was drinking vodka soda, and Stone Arrogant Bastard<both $4>). The beer selection was pretty well rounded on tap: mostly American Craft Beers, some English and Irish, and a couple Belgians and Germans (also some Belgian bottles, and your typical Bud/Corona/ect.). They also had a nice selection of higher quality spirits too. Happy hour goes until 8pm. One thing that I found a little odd was that they only take American Express (they said that they would hold my Visa if I wanted to start a tab, but I would have to pay cash).

Right before the rest of our group got there three people got up from one of the booths and asked us if we would like to sit down (sweet). We got one of the large booths, big enough to fit our whole group, without even trying. As we were sitting down everyone else got there, and we hung out for a couple hours. Although I had read that this bar was loud, it really wasn’t bad. The music was sometimes hard to hear, but I never had to strain to hear conversations at our table.

I really enjoyed DOS, and I definitely will go back (and I imagine that I would come here a lot if I lived in the neighborhood…it is extremely dog friendly!). Up until Friday I didn’t have a bar that I enjoyed going to near 14th Steet and now I do. Drop Off Service is pretty great.

Photos from New York Magazine/ Shanna Ravindra.

Addendum: Please note I tried to go back here Friday April 11 around 1am…and it was totally a lame Frat Party. I still think that it is a great happy hour spot, but not so much for late night on the weekend.

(Tom)