Kale Force: Sound Bites Interviews The Hairs

The Hairs
is the latest muisc project from Kevin Alvir who has previously masterminded NYC indiepop bands The Lil’ Hospital and Knight School. Even though the band is pretty new, The Hairs already have a 7″ on Portland’s fine Magic Marker Records that contains four scrappy, charming songs. One of which, “Duh x 12,” has gotten some attention for its video which was directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp who made internet sensation Marcel the Shell.

MP3The Hairs – Duh x 12

The Hairs play Week Two of the Sound Bites Series which happens this Sunday (July 3) down at the Fulton Stall Market down by the Seaport. The band is on at 3PM sharp. Trains are funky on the weekends so come early, grab a pizza bianca from Grandaisy Bakery or some breakfast radishes from Migliorelli Farms (right by the Sound Bites stage) or an amazing hamburger from NY Farm 2 Door. You can chill out and hear me spin tunes from 2PM till the band starts.

Kevin was kind enough to answer some food-related questions. Judging by his answers, I’d invite him to dinner anytime.

You’ll be playing at the Fulton Stall markets. What’s your favorite vegetable?
I wish I could say kohlrabi, but I think it’s kale. There’s something real satisfying about kale. For some reason, I need kale all the time once I do have it. It goes well with everything – pastas and meats. Also if used in salads, it’s really exotic and delicious. I made caesar salad and used kale instead – and it’s so addictive.

What’s your least favorite?
Green or red peppers [mine too, especially green. – ed]. I just feel like they’re everywhere and in everything. They just don’t taste special anymore. I mean, they’re good but to have it in something you eat everyday…

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?
YES. I always imagine my songs to be a chicken pot pie of sound and feeling. Food does seem to make it into my lyrics. It’s a part of life. We need it to live.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?
When we practice as the Hairs, morale goes up when we have snacks like Pretzel Chips + Hummus and Wine. We practice at Patty’s house — and occasionally she’ll make dinner. I guess nothing terribly intriguing. But I am always interested in food preparation and I usually stand with my mouth hanging open watching her make blackened catfish or creamed spinach or potato salad with arugula w/ mustard and anchovie paste. Patty’s a great cook. Her food is prepared like a Paul McCartney song.

NYers, as a rule, don’t cook much. What about you?
I dunno — ocasionally? There was a time when I was so into cooking that I just craved my own cooking. But it’s all ebb and flow. Lately, it’s a lot of takeout or eating on the run — life just gets busy. If I lived in a more sedate town, I’d want to cook more.

Do you have a signature dish?
I can’t tell if it’s my bf’s or my own….but making kale salad with tahini dressing and some soy sauce + other fresh vegetables. I make a browned chickpea with carmelized onions & garlic with wilted kale, I can eat that everyday. A fried egg with white rice and kimchi (from a jar, of course). Frittatas with off beat cheeses and vegetables.

Where do you eat in Brooklyn?
I love eating in Fort Greene and/or Cobble Hill. All those restaurants are pretty top notch.

What’s your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you’re willing to splurge a little?
Any Banh Mi joint is great for a cheap meal. Chinatown Manhattan is great for cheap eating. But when I want to splurge, I think my favorite place is Brooklyn Public. The food there is great. Just huge portions of the best nachos, best burgers, but I usually go for their mussels & fries plate. Best Bloody Mary’s too!

What’s your go-to hangover food?
It seems to always be eggs and potatoes. More specifically an omelette with french fries doused in hot sauce, preferably sriracha sauce.

What food would you imagine The Hairs’ music being paired with?
I feel Hairs music is like a chicken pot pie. I see it paired with pickled vegetables and buttered corn bread. Or else fried chicken on a bed of mixed greens with a vietnamese vinegarette.

Cheese and Onions: Sound Bites Interviews My Teenage Stride

One of the great Brooklyn bands of the last seven years or so, My Teenage Stride continue to crank out clever, tuneful indiepop. Through myriad line-up changes that rival The Fall, frontman Jed Smith has kept his sardonic, melodic vision going strong. Smith and the current MTS line-up are currently working on a new record. Until then here’s a classic hit:

MP3: My Teenage Stride – Heart Shackles

But don’t wait for the new album to see My Teenage Stride. I’m proud to have the band launch the second season of the Sound Bites Summer Series at the Fulton Stall Market this Sunday (June 26). The fun starts at 2PM with some warm-up DJing from me, and then My Teenage Stride will take the stage at three. I cornered Smith into answering a few food-related questions which are as follows.

You’ll be playing at the Fulton Stall markets. What’s your favorite vegetable? And why.

I’m gonna go with onions. I probably use them more than any other vegetable, with garlic bringing up a close second.

What’s your least favorite and why?

Okra. Oh dear god, okra.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

Only if you count the Frank Zappa tune “Call Any Vegetable”, or if you consider gin a vegetable- I think of it as more of an herb, personally.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

Our old guitar player Jeff kept to a strict diet of beef jerky when we did a national tour- I’ll let you use your imagination as to why.

NYers, as a rule, don’t cook much. What about you?

I like to cook a lot when it’s practical and affordable. I grew up with a lot of home cooking and baking on a farm with a big vegetable garden and corn and stuff. After ten years in the city, I had hardly even ever ordered delivery until last year, and I gotta say- I find it stressful for multiple reasons, beyond it simply being too expensive. I mostly cook Mexican and Italian type things so I don’t know if it’s really all that healthy, but I definitely feel better after eating food I made myself. This answer contains none of my trademark avoidant humor. Sorry about that.

A lot of people have been in My Teenage Stride over the years. Who was the best cook?

Almost certainly me, though I can’t be sure.

Where do you eat in Brooklyn?

Home, not home, Mexican places in Bushwick

What’s your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you’re willing to splurge a little?

Tony’s Pizza on Dekalb and Knickerbocker across from my apt. building has one of the best Sicilian slices in the city for 2 bucks and it has great, huge pasta dishes for 6 bucks. There’s also El Sol De Cholula, a Mexican deli with a real good taqueria that’s also real cheap on Wilson and Hart, also right by my place.

I really don’t go to real restaurants more than like 5 times a year at the most because I am cheap, poor, and don’t like to be around people with money, but I love Il Passatore on Bushwick and Metropolitian, but it’s actually incredibly cheap for a really excellent Italian place that’s got real atmosphere and terrific food. I mean it’s a serious place- their gnocchi is to die for and they bring olives and flatbread while you order and it’s a really great restaurant in general but for some reason it’s just very, very inexpensive. Maybe because it’s next to a gas station and there’s a White Castle around the corner? Anyway, HIGHLY recommended.

What’s your go-to hangover food?

Strawberry-banana yogurt smoothie. Cure-all. Makes you feel better AS YOU’RE DRINKING IT.

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?


Introducing the Sound Bites Summer Series 2011

I’m pleased to announce that Sound Bites (aka me) has teamed with the Seaport Music Festival/River to River folks and the Fulton Stall Market to bring you another free series of indie rock shows this summer. In a slightly different form.

Unlike last year, which took place on Wednesdays on the big Seaport Stage, this Summer’s series will take place on Sunday afternoons so hopefully that means you won’t have to sneak out of work to attend. More changes: this year the shows will be in one of the stalls in the Fulton Stall Market, playing amongst the many farmers and purveyors. The Fulton Stall Market is now in it’s third year and is worth a visit even without jangly pop music providing a soundtrack.

We’re doing four consecutive Sundays beginning June 26. The entertainment is as follows:

One of the great Brooklyn bands of the last seven years or so, My Teenage Stride continue to crank out clever, tuneful indiepop. The band are fresh from a performance at Spain’s Primavera Sound Festival where, I’m told, the audience loved them so much that they continued to chant their name throughout Pulp’s reunion performance. (They may have also been chanting “My Legendary Girlfriend” but with thick accents who can really say?) MTS are working on a new record as we speak. Do I detect a Calatan influence here?

MP3: My Teenage Stride – Cast Your Own Shadow

You may know Kevin Alvir from his previous bands L’il Hospital and Knight School. If so you know what to expect: scratchy, scrappy, slightly snarky, super-catchy. The Hairs are pretty new so they only have one single out so far which you can get in physical form from Magic Marker records or digitally below. Check out the video too which was directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp who made internet sensation Marcel the Shell.

MP3: The Hairs – Duh x 12

JULY 10: pow wow!
A copy editor’s nightmare but the name — all lower-case with an exclamation point — suits pow wow! well. They’re the little band that could. The band caught fire back in 2008 but then checked out for a year to regroup and figure out their sound. Not that it’s a totally new direction — a little less ’60s soul and a little more C-86 — but I like it, based on the one new song that’s been circulating.

MP3: pow wow! – It’s Not That Easy

After two years of poking along (and having lives or something I guess), Brooklyn trio Hospitality have finally gotten around to making their debut album which is just about finished. So I’m told. Hospitality are winsome and charming and they can rock too, don’t let them fool you. When I found out I was doing this series again this year, they were the first band I thought of.

MP3: Hospitality – Liberal Arts

The fun begins at 2PM with yours truly DJing for an hour and then bands are at 3PM. No pool parties this year, so what else you got to do? Come out, enjoy some local indiepop, buy some vegetables, check out the tall ships. It’ll be fun. It’s free! Hope to see you there.

Sound Bites Interview: Toys and Tiny Instruments Band

Some bands don't need a lot of explanation. Toys and Tiny Instruments Band just that kind of group. You see their name, and you know what they do. Except just how good they are. These merrymakers played Bruar Falls a while back and while the night started with some eye-rolling — oh boy what is this novelty thing about to happen? — everyone there ended up kinda being wowed. They may buy their gear at Toys R' Us but that doesn't mean they don't write awesome songs, and that they can't play their instruments well. Check out their MySpace page which now has some real recordings that will be featured on an upcoming EP.

When I partnered with the Seaport and Fulton Stall Markets to do this Lunchtime series, I wanted to book bands I thought would make people stop and say "hey what is this?" and then say "whoa this is great" TATIB were one of the first groups I thought of. They're playing the final week of the series this Wednesday (June 30) at 1PM, preceded by some DJing from yours truly. Colin Summers, head toymaker, kindly answered some food-related questions which are below.

You're playing opposite the Fulton Stall Markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Avocado.  It's so delicious.  Wait . . . is that a fruit? 

What's your least favorite and why?

Avocado.  It's not even a vegetable!  I just looked it up.  It needs to stop pretending and come clean.

Does the tiny theme carry over into your eating habits? Is it just sliders and hors d'oeuvres for you?

Yes.  Every day all seven members of the Toys And Tiny Instruments wake up in the studio apartment that we share and make a breakfast feast that consists of clementine oranges, string cheese singles and M&M minis. Not only does this fit with our theme but it is all that we can afford.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

The purchasing of food has!  We have a song called Supermarket Rage.  That was written after working in a grocery store for about a year.  Working in a grocery store sucks as you get all the crazies.  They are often in a rage.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

Does alcohol count as food?  If so we've got a ton.  If not we, we may have one involving having snack time and nap time on a Megabus to Rensselaer. 

What is your favorite cheap eats place in NYC? Where do you eat at most often?

Hmm . . .the cheapest, which happens to be where I eat most often, is my apartment.  Maybe this is a better question for one of the members of the band that goes to resturants.

Who is the most finicky eater in the band? Who is the best cook?

Alessandro has been known to cook a mean rice.  Karen cooks desserts.  Duffy doesn't like most food.  

What is your food secret shame?

I love Jamaican Beef Patties.  I just ate one actually.  I will buy one from anywhere.  Alec is a vegetarian so he doesn't eat those, but he does have a soft spot for McDonald's Mcflurries.  I'm not sure if he's ashamed about that, but I am at least.  

Do you have a go-to hangover food?

We only consume tiny beverages so hangovers are prevented.  

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

Tiny 25 cent bodega ice cream sandwiches.

Sound Bites Interview: The Beets

Somewhere between '60s Frat Rock and '60s proto-punk, The Beets made one of my favorite albums of 2009, their debut Spit In The Face Of People Who Don't Want To Be Cool. Since then, the band have gone through some line-up changes. Drummer Jacob Warstler has departed and Melissa Scaduto has taken over. There is also a fourth Beet now, hiding in the bushes in the picture above, and his role in the band is rumored to be a woodwind instrument. Look for the Beets new album, Stay Home, on the fine Captured Tracks label this autumn, preceded by new single "Locomotion." If you've never heard the Beets beat, here's a track from last year's debut:

MP3: The Beets – What Did I Do? (Buy it)

The Beets play the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series this Wednesday (June 23) on the Pier 17 Stage at South Street Seaport. The band plays at 1PM sharp, with me DJing before and (a little bit) after. Don't forget to check out the Fulton Stall Market while you're there. Weather looks to be lovely this week, do come if you can. Bassist Jose Garcia was nice enough to answer a few food-related questions.

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Spinach, it's very talented.  You can saute it up with some garlic and oil, and bam you have yourself a side dish.  Throw it into some eggs and it makes a great tasty ingredient.  Toss is with some veggies and some dressing and you could even have yourself a meal.  It also might have something to do with Popeye.

What about least favorite?

Cooked green peppers. Raw they are adored,  but when you cook them a bit too much and they're a soggy slimy mess — the texture just doesn't work for me.

Do the Beets actually like beets?

You're damn right they do. Bubby's Brooklyn needs to bring back the pickled beets with rosemary.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

We do have quite a few songs about puking with the idea of getting everything in you out of your system to start fresh. Puke usually gets tied in with bad food. Then you eat good food and start fresh.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

You're going to kill me but I can't come up with anything! I guess we adore a fast food chain in Seattle called Dick's. Well we can't get enough of saying we can't get enough Dick's.

Do the Beets ever cook together as a band?

Without a doubt, many summers were spent in Juan's Apartment for band practice, so we would definitely cook ourselves some lunch.  Juan makes a really great beef stew adding every spice he has in the cabinet and it works.  Pasta with tons of parmesan was also a favorite as well as good old fashioned microwaved hot dogs.  If we're lucky enough to be at Juan's parents house they definitely know how to cook and his mother is more than happy than to host and cook something up.

The Beets are from Jackson Heights, which is known for Indian restaurants. Got any neighborhood food recommendations?

Though the buffet food is not as spicy as I'd like, I would say the Jackson Diner is the place to go. They serve a lunch buffet that's definitely well worth the price of admission. There is also a favorite spot if you're willing to venture to East Elmhurst, on the corner of 82nd St. and Astoria Blvd are the best Samosas I have ever had. [Tikka Grill? -Ed]

What's your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you're willing to splurge a little?

75 cent Samosa on 74th and 37th Ave in Jackson Heights. [This place? – ED] When I'm willing to splurge it is certainly a "bandeja paisa" from any of the many Colombian restaurants in the neighborhood. It consists of white rice, fried egg, "chicharron" (fried pork skin, way more delicious than it sounds), steak, salad, plantains, kidney beans, etc.

What's your go-to hangover food?

Pizza, We are convinced that the cheese and greasiness absorbs all the gunk left in your belly – I'm sure Science would agree. Also, Water! Always remember to keep hydrated buddies, drink water during your drinking and after right before bed. You may not even wake up with a hangover, but grab a pizza anyway.

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

I would have to state the obvious, and go with a beet of course — a pickeled beet would be perfect. If you ever see us at our shows it's quite fitting, as we usually are pretty pickled ourselves.

In addition to the show on Wednesday, The Beets have a bunch of gigs lined up in the next week, including this weekend's Northside Festival. Click through for specifics.

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Sound Bites Interview: Ribbons


Ribbons have been going for about three years, mostly as a duo of Jenny Logan and Sam Roudman, though lately they've added bassist Jeff Ciprioni to the mix. Their brand new EP is called Love is Mysterious. I think their sound is mysterious too, kind of like early Throwing Muses, dark and tumultuous but also beautiful.  

MP3: Ribbons – Love is Mysterious

Ribbons are playing the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series down at Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport this Wednesday. They're on at 1PM (and you can hear me spin tunes for an hour before that). They'll be performing as the classic Jenny/Sam duo. As Jenny's moving to Portland to further her education, this could be one of their last ever shows. (You can see them as a trio at Bruar Falls on June 26 which could be the last ever ever show.) It's sad, but I'm happy they could play my series. 

Like I'm doing with all the bands playing the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, I'm quizzing them about food.   

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Jenny: Broccoli. It's delicious and looks like a weird flower. I'm also a fan of asparagus, kale, and brussel sprouts. Pretty much anything I'd run screaming from as a kid.

Sam: Spinach. It makes you invincible. 

What's your least favorite and why?

Jenny: Cauliflower.  What the fuck, cauliflower?  It's the albino vegetable. That and baby corn, if that counts as a vegetable (I know that, technically, it does not).  It doesn't even taste like corn, it just tastes like the part of a plant that you throw away.

Sam: Baby spinach. It makes you a baby. 

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

Jenny: Not that I know of.

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

Jenny: Um.  I got food poisoning from Ethiopian food in DC while we were on tour and threw up twice in the green room right before we went on stage.  I had to cut the set short and run off the stage after six songs.  I threw up my entire soul that night.  I couldn't even drink water.  That's a sad food anecdote, maybe Sam will think of something better.

Sam: I have never heard such wretched sounds as that night in DC, it sounded like a minute into this.

On a similar note, over two years ago we were making tacos at my apartment, and I thought it would be cool to listen to Ministry while I was talking to Jenny and cutting some avocados. This song was blasting when the knife went through the avocado and –schhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiinnnnnck!!!– sliced up the lower phalanx of my index finger. Blood sprayed across the fridge and leaked hot drops on the floor. I went to the bathroom to run water over it, but red kept spitting out of the gash at regular intervals. The Ministry started me on the path to a panic attack and I felt like I was going to faint. I worried that I might have slashed a tendon and wouldn't be able to play drums ever again. I worried that the tacos would not come out right.

With Jenny's help we wrapped my perma-bleeding finger in tissue and ate our tacos like civilized folk. After I went to the bathroom to peel off the semi-coagulated half inch of cotton wrapped around my finger, but it just kept bleeding, glugging out of my finger like an upturned gatorade bottle. It was so awesome that I got to go spend the entire night in the emergency room where I made friends with a woman who seemed like a regular. She had been stabbed recently "You can read about it in the papers," she bragged. She also might or might not have been having a miscarriage. She thought I was being weak, but finally the doctor came by and gave it a look, un-dressed the wound, and the woman, the life of the ER looked at it and said "Aww damn, you can see the meat!" I got four stitches, and a lesson to last a lifetime: no Ministry in the kitchen. 

Who is the most finicky eater in the band? Who is the best cook?

Jenny: Sam is historically the finickiest.  I will let him field this question.  Although I am the best cook.

Sam: Historically I am the finickiest. I am also the best cook.

What is your food secret shame?

Jenny: I eat every part of the apple except for the seeds when no one is watching.  And orange peels.

Sam: 90% of my diet was peanut butter and jelly, pepperoni pizza, pasta with pesto, or cereal until I was 19. I am ashamed that society and the prospect of diabetes have since forced me to eat like an "adult."

Did any one food fuel the making of your new CD?

Jenny: Sam eats a lot of cliff bars.  He always has one after a show.  It just magically appears in his hand.  In the studio we drank a lot of weird juices from Urban Rustic. I think Alex, our engineer from Headgear, turned us on to that.

Sam: I am fuel.

Jenny, you're moving to Portland soon. Did you have any secret NYC spots that you can now tell us about?

Jenny: Kemmie's Caribbean Restaurant on Gun Hill Road at Bronxwood in the Bronx.  It's not really a secret, just no one wants to go up there. They serve awesome jerk chicken, and ox tail which I have yet to try. [Ed: oxtail is awesome, get it!] It's right across the street from the high school where I work so you have to go before school gets out or it's swarming with kids.

What will you miss, food-wise, about NYC. What won't you miss?

Jenny: Diversity, cheapness.  Probably bagels too although I was never into them before I came here.  I won't miss waiting an hour to be seated in some bullshit restaurant, or really tiny bathrooms.

Do you think you'll cook more in Portland than you did here?

Jenny: Yeah, although I've been cooking a lot lately here too.  Since I live in Williamsburg, I'm surrounded by restaurants, so the incentive to cook is significantly low, especially when it's 1000 degrees in my apartment.

Sam: I would not cook any more in Portland. I would subsist off of craft beer made locally by a variety of top tier brewers. In fact, many people fail to realize that beyond gorgeous scenery, a low cost of living, and all those crazy bridges, Portland is home to some of the finest small scale barley-pop makers in the world.

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

Jenny: I'm thinking of a stew with very few ingredients. Sam?

Sam: Hunger.

Sound Bites Interview: Austin McCutchen


There's not a lot of serious country music in New York these days. There's gimmicky bands, and loads of singer songwriter type stuff but, for the most part, artists doing dusty honky tonk died out with No Depression. Artist doing the same in the bluegrass style are even fewer and far between. Austin McCutchen does both, staying busy with three musical endeavors. He's got a '70s style electric band, and a traditional bluegrass quartet, also making time to be part of the sprawling bro-verload that is Neckbeard Telecaster. 

MP3: Austin McCutchen – Honey Don't Be Sad (MP3)

The Austin McCutchen Quartet will bring the single-mike-style bluegrass to the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series this Wednesday (6/9) on the Pier 17 stage at South Street Seaport. As the show is in conjunction with the Fulton Stall Markets, I'm asking all the bands playing to answer some food related questions. 

You're playing opposite the Fulton Stall Markets. WHat's your favorite vegetable?

Quite possibly – the potato is my favorite vegetable.  There's nothing better than a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy.  Also you can use it to compliment dishes or use it as the basis for the meal.

Did you have a garden growing up?

My grandparents did. They lived on about five acres of land, so they grew summer squash, picked and canned things, all that kind of stuff.

Do you cook much here in NYC?

I don't. I'm spoiled. I have two roommates and we don't share anything. When I do cook, it's not very good. I'll go through periods where I decide I'm going to learn to cook something and then if it turns out bad I get turned off to the idea. Plus there's waste issues when you cook for yourself. It's hard to eat the same thing three days in a row.

Where do you like to eat here in the neighborhood?

I like Walter Foods, I go there maybe every other week. I eat at Robertas a lot, it's right around the corner from my house. There's not a lot else out there, unless I go out to the Jefferson stop for tacos. Taco Chulo is good too. Egg, the normal places.

You work at Oslo coffee. Do you have a signature drink?

I make a really good cortado. I, however don't have a crazy name for any drink that i've ever invented.

What's your hangover food?

I never get hungover. (Laughs) With my job, I don't really get the chance to get hangover food. But Robertas has amazing ricotta pancakes with apples and cinamon butter on top.

Any foods you dislike?

I pretty much like everything. I came upon liking more foods in the last four years — I used to be a picky eater but am trying to open myself up to everything. Raw tomatoes I dont' really like. Cooked are fine.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

I have a song that i wrote off the idea of melting sugar down into a liquid form…does that count?

Sound Bites Interview: Air Waves

Air Waves remind me of Terrence Malick movies. Beautiful, contemplative, full of magic hour sunlight. Less is more. Also, like Malick, there's a lot of time between releases. Or it seems that way to me. 2008 saw an EP on Catbird, and this year and Air Waves contributed "Knockout" to the 1928 Recordings' Gold Hour 7" box set that you can also check out right here:

MP3: Air Waves – Knockout

However, the band are putting the finishing touches on their new album which will be released by Underwater Peoples in September. They play the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series at the Seaport this Wednesday (6/2).  I DJ at noon and then Air Waves are on at 1PM. Nicole Schneit answers some food questions for me to tide everyone over till then.

You spend a lot of time in Austin. What Austin cuisine do you miss the most?

My girlfriend lives in Austin, I'm not from there. I lived my whole life before the age of eighteen in the same house in West Nyack, NY. Breakfast tacos in Austin are the best and, for the most part, the produce tastes fresher than in NY. 

Why can't NYC figure out how to make migas? Should they even try to at all?

Ha, I don't know! They are really easy. When people from Austin come visit me we make them at my house. NY has so much great cuisine, it's okay if they fail at migas. Then more the reason to visit Austin!

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable? And why.

Beets! Besides making your urine purple, they taste amazing. In salads, sandwiches, with cheese… And they look really neat AND you can eat the green parts. 

What's your least favorite and why?

Collard greens, I've tried to get into them because I love Southern food but for some reason the taste and texture gross me out. 

Has food ever influenced your songwriting?

I'm sure it has affected my mood, which affects my songwriting, so yes! For instance, I don't react too well from sugar so my sugar high moments don't produce the best songwriting. 

Any good food-related band anecdotes?

Ha, well someone on tour with us a few years ago had a bad reaction to eating fried frog legs. Let's just say it took us much longer to get home because of it. Lesson, never eat an exotic food from a dive roadside restaurant.

NYers, as a rule, don't cook much. What about you?

I go through phases where I cook everyday. And then there will be weeks where I don't cook at all. It is really easy in NY to be lazy about cooking. Especially because I walk everywhere and live so far from the train its hard to resist buying restaurant food. I love both though, cooking and eating out.

I want to get much better at cooking, I got a gift certificate for cooking classes for my birthday. So hopefully after I take some classes I'll be a pro. 

Where do you eat in Brooklyn?

Carmines, Sel de Mer, Peter Pan Donuts, Lomzynianka, The Bagel Store, Kyoto Sushi, I took my mom and dad to this Argentinan restaurant for mothers day called El Almacen

What's your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you're willing to splurge a little?

Oasis falafel off the Bedford stop, Carmines pizza, Chelsea Square Diner. Sel De Mar when I have some cash. 

What's your go-to hangover food?

Eggs, sausage, potatoes. 

What food would you imagine your music being paired with?

Iced tea. Everybody loves a nice glass of ice tea and it's the perfect summer drink. Hopefully people feel that way about our music.

Sound Bites Interview: North Highlands

As you may know, I'm curating a series of daytime shows at the Seaport, which kick off this Sunday (5/30) with Brooklyn quintet North Highlands. Having just celebrated their first birthday, the band are currently working on their debut album. Until that's done, you can pick up their Sugar Lips EP and here's an MP3 appetizer:

MP3: North Highlands – Sugar Lips
If you live in NYC you can also catch North Highlands tonight at Cameo Gallery where they play with Montreal's loud No Joy. But you should definitely come on Sunday for the big kickoff event. As these Seaport shows are helping to promote the Fulton Stall Market, I asked the band a bunch of food questions. The band (who have a song called "Fresca") were clearly up to the challenge.

You'll be playing across from the Fulton Stall markets. What's your favorite vegetable?

Daniel Stewart (mandolin, violin): I'm fond of the cabbage relatives like kale, brussels, and brenda was over while i was making kimchi last night, but i'm definitely a beet fanatic. 
Mike Barron (guitar, vocals): Definitely onions. I have no idea why, but I've always loved them. It started when I was about 2 years old, and my parents thought I was super fucking weird because all I wanted was onions on everything.

What's your least favorite vegetable and why? 

Brenda Malvani (vocals, keyboards): I just found out that me and Mike both hate mushrooms, right on. 
Daniel: The bastard child of the cabbage family is cauliflower. Its fine but i can't think of a blander color next to beets. [Might I recommend orange or purple cauliflower? -Ed.]
Jasper Berg (percussion, vocals): I have never been a fan of brussle sprouts. They look like the balls of nature.

Has food ever influenced your songwriting? 

Mike: If it weren't for food, I wouldn't be alive to write songs.

Any good food-related band anecdotes? 

Brenda: I always get scolded when I mention adding ketchup to anything. Also, we shot part of our music video in a fitness club from 7pm-4am and had quite the pizza party.

Does North Highlands ever eat together as a band? 

Brenda: Yeah, it's pretty important to me that when we are working on projects (recording, etc.) that we start the day off together. Feels like family, grabbing bagels and coffee before noon.

Ever cook together? 

Brenda: We mostly BBQ. I love loitering around Daniel's kitchen. His fridge is generally full of beer and pickled foods. He also taught us the right way to dress a hot dog — with Friendship sour cream and jalepenos and mustard?

Where do you eat in Brooklyn? 
Brenda: I usually go to Egg for breakfast, they have great home made jam. 
Mike: The vietnamese sandwiches at
Hanco's are pretty bangin. 
Jasper: Top three bangin' food joints: City Subs (Park Slope), Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream (Greenpoint),
Pies n Thighs (Williamsburg).

What's your cheap eats go-to joint? What about when you're willing to splurge a little? 
Daniel: Greenpoint's God Bless Deli (Hallowed be thy name) is my bodega of choice by proximity.
Jasper:  Arby's on Fulton. The most hilarious restaurant in the world. Whenever there's the desire to splurge a bit, it's generally a toss-up between Diner, Dressler, and Madiba.
AndyKasperbaur (bass, vocals): I don't splurge too often due to this economical fiscal climate, but when I do I always enjoy going to M Shanghai in Williamsburg. Steamed juicy pork or vegetable buns that are to die for!  Mae the owner is awesome and I think she just opened a noodle shop on Metropolitan as well.

What's your hangover food of choice?

Andy:  I stick to fruits like apples and bananas. But some days I will hit up Tom's Diner and get some Lemon Ricotta Pancakes and their Cherry Lime Ricky drinks are exquisite!  
Mike: Bloody Mary + anything that I can put hot sauce on. 
Jasper: The Lumberjack at Manhattan Inn has recently taken over the standard bacon egg and cheese bagel as my personal favorite.The Inn's hashbrown ball is perfection. 

What food would you imagine your music being paired with? 
Brenda: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ala Mode. 
Andy: Disco Fries? 
Daniel: elote or toast. 
Mike: Ceviche with mango. 
Jasper: Perhaps one of those badass Korean hot dogs that are so hot right now.  I had one at the LCD show (on the roof cuz I'm a pimp), and it had a chicken dog, mango, onion, bok choi, and this hot ketchup that made me go, 'damn'. 

Let’s Do Lunch


Free for lunch next month? How about coming down to South Street Seaport for some free rock shows curated by this moi? The Fulton Stall Market launches its second season in the old Fulton Fish Market space on May 30 and to help celebrate, the folks behind it asked if I wanted to help put on some daytime shows the first month the Market is open. I said yes and now we've got the Sound Bites Lunchtime Series, which will happen every Wednesday in June. In keeping with the "go local" aspect that is so intrinsic to farmers markets, I stayed with bands from NYC, mostly Brooklyn.

We'll kick things off Sunday, May 30 — the Market's opening day — with a performance from up-and-comers North Highlands, and then the next five Wednesdays. I'll spin some tunes at noon and then bands go on at 1PM. It's free. Here's the full six-show line-up:

MAY 30 (Sunday kickoff): North Highlands (MP3: "Collar Bones")
Lovely orch-pop from one of the nicest, best new bands in Brooklyn. Their live show is pretty magical.

JUNE 2: Air Waves (MP3: "Knock Out")
Gentle jangle somewhere between Neil Young and Loaded-era Velvet Underground. Great songs, great stories.

JUNE 9: The Austin McCutchen Quartet (MP3: "Honey Don't Be Sad")
A talented songwriter from my neighborhood, playing bluegrass in the single mike style just like olden days.

JUNE 16: Ribbons (MP3: "Total Loss")
Dark and mysterious indie rock. This is one of their last-ever shows so don't miss it!

JUNE 23: The Beets (MP3: "What Did I Do?")
If Eddie Haskel formed a protopunk band, The Beets would be it. Bratty, but always leaving you with a thankyouverymuch.

JUNE 30: Toys and Tiny Instruments Band
The name kind of says it all. Serious pop music, but played playfully. And in miniature.

Again, I DJ for an hour at noon, then the bands play at 1PM. The Fulton Stall Market has local purveyors in addition to farmers, and I'm told they're getting cool food trucks under the FDR, so grab some grub and come watch the bands. Sounds idyllic to me. Sets won't be too long, so if you work in the neighborhood you'll be back at your desk checking Facebook in normal time. If you're not encumbered by a job, I can tell you where the cheep beer is at the Seaport.

The Seaport is one of my favorite places to see shows in NYC, certainly my favorite outdoor space, and I always look forward to the Seaport Music Festival every year (this year's schedule looks great, btw), so I'm honored and pysched to be a little part of it this season. And that it's also promoting local farmers (I try to be a locavore as much as possible), it's even better. Come down if you can, I think it's gonna be a good time.