Caleb Hawley


In the midst of the increasingly cold weather (and the midterms growing increasingly awful around us) a friend and I recently stopped in at a super hip bar downtown to warm up a bit and hear singer-songwriter Caleb Hawley do his thing. I was not disappointed – Caleb is the sort of musical act that bursts with energy, the kind that will make even an exhausted, frozen engineering student like myself stomp his feet (and sing along, if I had known the words).

Despite seeming to be a standard singer-songwriter act, Caleb does a good job of being original – with intelligent, catchy lyrics and the complex, shimmering guitar parts fitting of someone with a degree in Jazz Composition from Berklee. Of course, Caleb isn’t just a jazz musician – but he adds a whole new element to the usual singer-songwriter by putting jazz and bluesy elements in his songs. Even then, he’s still up for a bit of rockstar showmanship; at one point he played a guitar solo behind his head, Jimi Hendrix style.

At the end of the day, Caleb Hawley plays the kind of music you want to listen to – it’s smart, it’s fun, and it makes you feel good. Even songs about emotional distress are transformed into something hopeful, something that makes you smile and tap your foot to the music. He does a great job of putting all the pieces of jazz, blues and bits and pieces borrowed from elsewhere together to make music that’s easy to relate to and above all, fun to listen to.

Caleb is playing Postcrypt tonight (!), where he’ll be the third act of the 8:30 show. You can find some of his music over at his website in the meantime.

-Louis Cialdella

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The Dang-it Bobbys Review

by Aly Petteruti

To say that The Dang-it Bobbys is a “country group” is a gross understatement—Kris Bauman and Luca Benedetti infuse their music with sounds ranging from indie rock to jazz to folk. The one inescapable mark of bluegrass on the pair is the banjo—an instrument that unfailingly evokes toe tapping, hootin’ and hollerin’ from the audience. Throw in some flannel and a washboard and you could easily forget you’re in New York City.

It is impossible not to get caught up in the banjo frenzy of The Dang-it Bobbys upbeat songs, but the group isn’t just a soundtrack band to a square dance.  The two musicians obviously have a cache of musical experience in different genres that they feel free to draw on when creating their songs; Bauman’s vocals are similar to those of a jazz singer, and the pair’s smooth harmonies add unexpected depth to their ballads.  Inspiration is the name of the game in songwriting, and the variety in their sound makes is clear that The Dang-it Bobbys suffer no dearth of sources.

Benedetti and Bauman’s clear voices sing out songs of bad times as well as the good, but, in the true fashion of Appalachian Folk, you will find no self-pity or melodrama in their music. The lyrics tell stories of mistakes with a smirk oppose to a grimace, adding gladly welcomed playfulness to the stage.  Musical traditions are acknowledged in The Dang-it Bobbys style, but, with the exception of the band’s bluegrass roots, not one is adhered to exclusively. It’s Americana music in the best sense of the words: a melting pot of tender and jubilant styles resulting in a final product that can be recognized by many different genres but not truly claimed by any.

For a listen, head over to The Dang-it Bobbys’ website. Better yet, head down to Postcrypt tonight and hear them live. Music starts at 8:30 and The Dang-it Bobbys are on at 9:30, make sure to get there early to get in!

 

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October 2nd, 2010: Our First Open Stage of the Season

By Malcolm Culleton

Our season is now two weeks old, and last Saturday night we had the first of our monthly open stages. I’ve seen a lot of Postcrypt shows over the past three years, and open stage nights have always been my personal favorites. Both as a twentysomething with a guitar-playing hobby and as a teenager with delusions of musical grandeur, I’ve hung around at enough open mics to know that not all of them are worth the trouble of signing up. Often the music is generic and not terribly imaginative. Sometimes a specific social or political dynamic overshadows the quality of the performances (specifically, I once had the shock of stumbling into what seemed to be a meeting of Toronto’s communist party). Occasionally the other musicians are standoffish or unfriendly and/or leave right after they’ve had their ten minutes on the stage. And who can forget those awful events from high school that featured some kid’s Screamo band flailing around for thirty minutes because they couldn’t–or wouldn’t–listen to demands to turn the damn amps down and get off the stage?

A good way to save yourself from all of these unpleasant experiences is to come to a Postcrypt open stage. As you might expect in such a small, intimate space, the shows are characterized by a strong sense that we are all part of a musical community. In fact, to a large extent we are–many of the same musicians have played at Postcrypt Open Stages month after month, in some cases for many years. For these folks, Postcrypt is a place to showcase new songs, listen to what other musicians are doing, mingle in the hallway, and form friendships.

Performances run a full gamut of acoustic music, from jazz to blues to hip hop to country to old standards such as protest songs, sing-along tunes, and Bob Dylan covers. Occasionally we even get poets or stand up comics. But whatever you choose to present at a Postcrypt Open Stage, you’ll be guaranteed an audience that is not only willing to listen but is enthusiastic and eager to be involved in whatever it is you’re doing. The shows are free and informal. They are almost like musicians’ workshops, where everyone participates by listening thoughtfully to every word, chord, and tune that fills the room.

And if the October Open Stage was any indication, the good things will just keep right on coming in 2010-2011. I first stopped by around 7:15 to find the usual group of performers huddled around the sign-up sheet (when it comes to guaranteeing yourself stage time, you can’t come too early), as well as a fair number of new faces. In spite of their dissatisfaction with some of our latest “changes” (mostly the ones that we’re all dissatisfied with as well), they were willing to hang out for over an hour before the show started in order not to miss out on one of the chairs that comprise the ‘Crypt’s maximum capacity. And what a show it was–colored by harmonicas, delta blues, ukuleles, percussive guitar, and even a couple of Latin American folksongs. And when we got through the set lineup early–around 11:10, the ‘Crypt was treated to twenty minutes of duets, covers, and impromptu performances.

After the show had ended, I spent a few minutes chatting with a local singer-songwriter who was visiting Poscrypt for the first time. “I’ve been to a lot of open mikes in New York,” he told me, “but this one really blew them all out of the water.” It seems that many others agree–Postcrypt consistently makes top-ten lists for NYC Open mics, and has been ranked as high as #2. .

But why take my word for it? Stop by on the first Saturday in November and check it out for yourself!

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The Postcrypt Blog is back!

Friends, folk, musicians, troubadors, jongleurs, etc.,

After a long and mysterious hiatus, the Postcrypt blog is back!  This is your friendly neighborhood blogmaster and editor-in-chief, Malcolm Culleton.  In spite of our recent troubles with administration, our humble coffeehouse is back in business and preparing for another fantastic season, dry as it may be.

I and my team of writers will be updating this site frequently with reviews, previews, and profiles of this year’s Postcrypt acts, as well as announcements and general information about what we think is the best place to hear acoustic music in New York City. Be sure to check in often for information about upcoming events or just to get a taste of what we’re all about. See you in the Crypt!

Yours in cyberspace,

Malcolm

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