Two Boots Celebrates its History in the Lower East Side


Nightlife culture includes a wide range of creative elements from music to culinary arts to visual spectacles. It has a broad appeal not just for exclusive audiences but for the wider community. Two Boots, a long-time resident of the Lower East Side community will be celebrating its anniversary with an evening of music food and entertainment this Thursday.

At first, you might not think of a pizzeria as a part of the nightlife community, but anyone who has emerged from a bar or club in the middle of the night knows the importance of late night sustenance. Two Boots has been providing grub to the nightlife community for 25 years and is planning to celebrate with an outdoor festival at the East River Park Ampitheater. They are calling it the World’s Best Pizza Party and they are working with Summer Stage, AT&T and the Onion for this free event. There are over 100 performers and artists scheduled to participate including:

Luis Guzman

Nuyorican Poet’s Café

The Sierra Leone Refuge All Stars

Odetta Hartman

Lady Circus

Grolsch and Smutty Nose will be providing the beer and of course Two Boots will be supplying the pizza.

Mike Rosen is the spokesperson for this event. He told me that this event is about recognition. Two Boots knows that much of their character, history and success comes from the Lower East Side and the nightlife community. Over the years, they have worked with various local groups including the Lower Eastside Girls Club, the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Time's Up. This enormous pizza party is just another way to give back to the people who support them. The mainstream media is very quick to report on stories that paint nightlife and its related operators as blights on their community. This event does more than show that local businesses like Two Boots contribute to the community. It shows that the elements of nightlife culture can be shared and enjoyed by everyone.


Event: Two Boots Anniversary Concert

Cost: Free

Date: Thursday August 23rd, 2012

Time: 5:00 pm- 9:00 pm

Place: East River Park Amphitheater

Twitter: @TwoBootsHQ

Have fun.


Because It’s New York City: The Nightlife Culture Interview with Amanda Bantug


It is common knowledge that online marketing and digital distribution gives artists and musicians the ability to create and release music from any where on the planet. The cliché of coming to New York with your guitar to make a name for yourself isn’t as universal as it once was. But even in the era of iTunes Youtube and Reverbnation there are still many artists yearning to perform in the City. In the first interview of its kind, NCI talked to Amanda Bantug an alternative musician from Georgia who is planning her New York debut.  

NCI: When you imagine playing your music live in New York, what do you see in your mind’s eye? What do you think that first experience will be like?

AB: Since I’m not from New York, of course I imagine thousands of people singing my songs back to me a MSG, but realistically, that is not going to happen right off the bat. I know I’ll probably be at a more intimate venue, which is wonderful because I really get to interact with the audience. I hope the audience will give me a lot of their attention and really get to know me through my music. It’ll be really exciting for me because I love New York so much and it’ll be a dream come true to even play up there. Even if it’s just me and a guitar.  

NCI: Tell me about the last song you wrote. What inspired it, how did you develop that idea and what kind of emotions did it bring out of you when you knew it was done?

AB: I literally just a wrote a song yesterday. I have a very close friend who actually inspires me to write a ton of songs. They’re just in the phase of doing anything they want to do and take anything they are handed. It sucks because they have such a great talent that could take them wherever they want, but their heart just isn’t in the right place. So that is what the song is kind of about. After writing it, I just feel like a weight lifted off of me, because sometimes I can’t express myself best verbally, so I put in song. But songs can’t fix things, so the emotions I still feel towards my friend haven’t changed.  

NCI: What inspiration do you think you will get from being in New York City to perform? 

AB: I’ve read somewhere that being in different surroundings can help your mind open up to creating different ideas and what not compared to what someone would usually create in their day to day setting. With that being said, I would definitely be inspired to write about different concepts with a different type of genre. I am always up for experimenting with sounds, lyrics, and structure.

NCI: Why do think a lot of musicians still want to come to New York to perform? In an era of digital distribution and independent music, what still draws artists like you to want to perform here?

AB: Cause it’s New York City! What else is there to say? There are only a few cities in the US that are as diverse as NYC. I feel like you can always run into someone up there who can pull a couple of strings for you. Because of all this digital distribution, there is so much going on, it’s hard to listen to all of the bands that deserve a chance. That is why us artists need to play live in so many places, including New York :)





YouTube: Amanda Bantug Videos

The Culinary Side of Nightlife Culture: An interview with Jimmy Carbone and Rev Ciancio

By Gamal Hennessy

Music and fashion might be the most public aspect of nightlife culture, but consumption is the most basic and integral part of the experience. What we can eat and drink in nightlife is very different than what we allow ourselves to consume in normal life. There is an escapist quality in culinary nightlife that is just as strong as the artistic passion or the sexual expression. To get a better appreciation of this side of the culture, NCI sat down with Rev Ciancio and Jimmy Carbone to get their perspective on the eve of their new event series Elixirs and Eats.

NCI: Where did the concept of Elixirs and Eats come from?

Jimmy: We've been producing events together for a couple of years now. We know what goes into a successful event and what people enjoy. We have also made connections with a lot of small businesses creating unique small batch spirits. We decided to couple our involvement in culinary culture with the up and coming spirits producers that we know to create a unique series of events.

NCI: How did each one of you get involved in the culinary aspect of nightlife culture?

Rev: I started in the music biz as an artist manager. Managing bands is essentially like as series of pop up events.  I'd set up the tour, get the band in their van or bus, promote the shows and put the band back on the road when the show was over. After doing that for a few years, my interest in music events began to ebb, but my interest in the hospitality industry overall got stronger. That's when I began to focus on more culinary productions around the city.

Jimmy: I started out on the culinary and hospitality side of the business. I own and operate a restaurant called Jimmy’s No. 43 so the food and drink side of the equation has always been important to me. It was my involvement in that business that exposed me to the spirits that we are going to be focusing on for Elixirs and Eats.

NCI: How is your event different from other tastings in the city?

Rev: We’re different for two reasons. We've found that many of the tastings in the city focus more on the cocktail and not on the complexity of each spirit. That's why we want to offer our independent spirits neat or on the rocks, so our guests can get a full appreciation of the straight bourbon and the food we pair it with.

The other thing is, a lot of liquor tastings have a stiff corporate feel about them. We want to expose people to these great spirits and we want them to be able to meet the producers of each liquor we bring it, but we also want people to have a good time. That's why we're going to have great live music and a first rate burlesque show as well. We want people to get off work, come straight over, enjoy a summer evening on a beautiful rooftop and have a good time. That's always the main focus for us.

NCI: Tell me about the entertainment that you’ll have for each event and the venues you are working with.

Jimmy: We should talk about the venue first. Hudson Terrace is an amazing spot in terms of location, style and set up. It is the perfect place to spend a summer evening. It's also a great place to create a unique New York experience. We're going to have international trumpet player Fabio Morgera and his trio playing live to add to the ambiance and the Love Show burlesque to add some spice to the night. When you combine all that with our culinary offerings you get one of the best after work experiences in the city.

NCI: What about your beverage partners? Tell me a little bit about how they got involved in Elixirs and Eats.

Jimmy: We've met many great independent distillers when we were producing our previous events. For this first show, we're bringing together Warwick Valley, Caledonia, Scorpion Mezcal, and Templeton to let our guests sample and discuss what their spirits are all about. If you have a love for well made bourbon or you want to find out more about it, this will be a great setting for that.

NCI: What is the ultimate goal of Elixirs and Eats?

Rev: We want to expose people to more of the culture of spirits and create an atmosphere where people have fun exploring new tastes, new music and new experiences. We're not planning to take over the world with Elixirs and Eats. We just want to have fun giving people what they enjoy.

Have fun.


Life Beyond Robotz: A Nightlife Culture Interview with Ko-Lition



In spite of persistent claims that both nightlife and hip hop have been ruined by a lack of creativity, there are still artists and operators in the underground pushing nightlife culture to the next level. Two performers who are making a name for themselves in the world of live hip hop are the brothers DeLorean and Karl. We sat down with them to talk about their music before their next big show at the Knitting Factory this week.

• Genre: Hip Hop/Jazz/Electro-Soul

• Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

• Inspirations: A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Digable Planets, Maroon 5, Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco, Biggie, Tupac, 

• Previous Performances: Ko-Lition TakeOver Santos Party House!

• Latest Project: Debut album 'Love Jazz Robotz'

• Next Local Performance: May 24th, 2012 'Ko-Lition TakeOver The Knitting Factory'

NCI: Talk to me about the philosophy behind your music and how it compares to the current generation of music?

KO: Part of the idea behind the concept of robots is the assembly line model that we all have to subscribe to in our daily life. We go to work every day, we load up our spreadsheets and contribute to the process of making things work. It is an existence that can feel very mechanical, very robotic.

Even when you talk about creating music and being in the music industry, there are methods you need to adopt and things you need to do if you want your music heard. There are elements of it that are very much like a machine. If you don’t conform to that model then getting your music heard is almost impossible. Of course, there are artists like Prince or Radiohead who can challenge prevailing industry models after they have been established. But nowadays even mainstream artists like Drake have to give their music away for free at some point to get their music out there. Part of Must Be Robotz is an exploration of that reality.

NCI: So the song is basically a critique on the forces of conformity in music and life in general?

KO: We don’t dislike current forms of music. Our music is hip hop with a jazz foundation, but we can get into the more electronic forms of rap. We even get down with dubstep and other types of electronic music. There is a lot of good stuff out there.

Our message is more than just a critique. We’re not attacking people’s lifestyles or society or the music industry. Part of what we are saying is that you need to find your way to enjoy the life you have. Maybe the price you have to pay for your fun and your individuality is your job. That’s how you can afford to do the things you want to do. We have to handle our own management, marketing, booking, legal stuff and production to be able to get on stage at places like Santos and the Knitting Factory because that’s where we can share our music.

NCI: What is it about performing that is so attractive to you?

KO: When you are on stage you are at your most vulnerable. When you go up there and pretend to be someone you are not, the audience sees right through that and they will reject you. You have to be willing and able to put yourself out there and expose yourself to really connect with the crowd. It doesn’t matter if you have to open raw emotional wounds in your lyrics, freestyle a few bars because you forgot your lines or work around the fact that the band has spontaneously decided to go into an extended solo jam session. When you’re on stage the rigid predictable life is gone. You are more alive because things are uncertain and unpredictable. 

NCI: Is that why you use a live band instead of a CD in your act?

KO: That is a big reason for it, but that isn’t the only reason. Some of our major hip hop influences like Digable Planets did their shows with live bands and that was a big inspiration to us. There are some sounds that have a special quality when you hear them live and we want those sounds in our show. But the biggest reason is the spontaneous energy that comes from live music. The crowd gets hyped up from a guitar or drum solo in ways that never happen if you just pop in a CD. We call our record company See Music Live because that is one of the best ways to escape the monotony of what we have to go through every day.

Have fun




21 Essential Websites for New York Nightlife Culture


There are so many blogs and websites for New York nightlife that if you tried to read them all you’d never have time to go out. This list collects some of the best and most up to date writing online. This isn’t a list of sites about the industry side, venue reviews or a list of purely self promotional sites. There are plenty of good ones in both those categories, but this list focuses on the sites with a cultural focus. Some of them will be familiar, others will be new. I hope all of them will help learn more about New York nightlife culture go out and have fun.


Music/ DJing

Ear Drum NYC


New Music Daily

Village Voice Music 


Nightlife Tastemakers

Elite Daily

Good Night Mr. Lewis

Guest of a Guest

NY Nightlife: @NYNightlife (on Twitter)  

Societe Perrier


Bartending/ Drinking

New York Barfly

Shake and Strain

The Truth about Bartending


Restaurants/ Eating

Eater New York

Grub Street New York

Zagat New York


Fashion/ Style/ Photography

The Dandy Project

I Rock the Shot

Paper Magazine

Young, Rich and Faking It  






The Beer Friends


Nightlife changes over time, so this list will change with it. If you think I left someone out that needs to be here, or you think someone is here who shouldn’t be, let me know.

Have fun.


Tastemaker Spotlight: Vivian Sessoms


NCI is proud to announce a new program that spotlights the people who bring creative energy to New York Nightlife

Vivian is a New York gem who has performed with a wide range of A-List talent including Diddy, Michael Jackson, Cher, Joe Cocker, Chris Botti and Pink. Her previous albums as part of the group Albright have gained critical acclaim in independent music circles and her voice has been heard live around the world. She’s bringing her sound back to New York in 2012 with live performances and a new album, so she definitely needs to be on your music discovery radar.

  • Genre: Jazz/ Soul
  • Hometown: Harlem, New York
  • Inspirations: Roberta Flack, Barbara Streisand, Chaka Khan, Patti Labelle, Alison Krauss, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole
  • Previous Performances: BAM, Village Underground, Rockwood Music Hall, Jazz Standard, Blue Note and Radio City Music Hall.
  • Latest Project: Heart (scheduled for release Summer 2012)
  • Next Local Performance: Sunday April 22, 2012 at Feinstein’s




Vivian at CDBaby

Vivian on Youtube

Vivians Blog


Have fun.


Expo Update: Maor and Paul Seres Add Their Support to the Nightlife Culture Expo

The Nightlife Culture Initiative is adding two more names to its impressive line up for the first Nightlife Culture Expo, running April 4th to the 7th in New York City.

Maor ( ) is an independent artist who has a long performance history in New York City. He has performed live at well known venues including Joe's Pub, Knitting Factory, CBGB, Don Hills, and The Bitter End. His newest single “Long Way Home” is a timely message about gay bullying and discrimination that needs to be heard in these turbulent times. Maor has agreed to bring his message and his music to Stonewall Inn as a part of the LGBT Appreciation Event on April 5th.

Paul Seres ( ) is one of the most influential operators in New York nightlife. As president of the New York Nightlife Association, he works with all levels of state and local government to ensure that nightlife is part of the political agenda. As a member of Community Board 4, Paul ensures good operators can open venues and poor operators are dealt with fairly. As an experienced operator himself, he has managed several venues and has recently taken over day to day operations of the new LES lounge DL . Paul has agreed to talk about the importance of nightlife culture from an operator’s perspective at the Nightlife Culture Panel at Affaire on April 7th.  

The Nightlife Culture Expo is a charity event created to help elevate the perception of nightlife culture. The inaugural Expo will have five events, four days at venues including Double Seven, Cielo, Sutra and Affaire. In addition to Maor and Mr. Seres, the line up of special guests already includes nightlife luminaries like Rakim, Little Louie Vega, Kevin Hedge and Steven Lewis.

For tickets information please visit /events/  for more information about the Nightlife Culture Initiative go to /

From Nashville to New York: A Nightlife Culture Interview with Shonali Bhowmik


by Gamal Hennessy

Vital Statistics 

Name: Shonali Bhowmik

Group Affiliation: Tigers & Monkeys, Variety Shac

Hometown: New York, New York via Nashville, TN


Latest Project: 100 Oak Revival

Shonali Bhowmik has spent years in New York’s music and comedy scenes. As part of our ongoing focus on the panelists at our upcoming Nightlife Culture Expo, NCI caught up to her to talk about her latest album, the benefits of the internet to the music industry and being a Southern Belle…

NCI: You have your own band (Tigers and Monkeys), an ongoing comedy show (Variety Shac), a pilot for a TV series and a day job. When did you find the time to record a new album? How long did it take you to finish this with everything else you have going on?

SB: I recorded this album in a way that I haven’t done in the past. It’s taken me a few years to complete this release because I flew down to my hometown of Nashville, TN on various weekends to lay down the basic tracks in the home studio of the enormously talented Paul Burch.

My intention was to just go for a sparse live recording and immediately release the “Shonali Basement Tapes” album. But instead, I returned to New York and just started hearing additional musical layers which absolutely had to be added to the recordings in order for me to feel satisfied. So over time, I scheduled sessions with Matt Gill in his Manhattan studio, Key Room where after work he and other musicians helped me add piano, cello, guitar, vocals late at night. I just couldn’t stop recording, and then there were technical issues with converting the tape to digital format which meant we had to rerecord instruments. So the short answer to your question is this album took forever. Ha.

NCI: You have had other albums with other groups in the past. How is this record artistically different from the previous releases? What were the inspirations for this CD?

SB: This new album includes a backlog of music that I had written over the years since I moved to NYC in 2002. For the most part, they are representative of a moodier, bluesier, more country Shonali. I grew up in Nashville, TN and although I had always believed that my country roots didn’t impact my music that much. It took reading music reviews about my music and the specifics on my singing drawl to realize that I actually sing like a Southern belle. And then it came to me that I sing like that because I AM a Southern belle. This album is certainly not as hard rocking as songs found in my Tigers and Monkeys repertoire (of which we are currently recording another release).

NCI: There have been a lot of changes to the business and technology of music during your career. How does that affect the way you create an album now and how you sell it once it has been released?

SB: Honestly, the myth is that Napster and ITunes killed the music industry. The reality for me is that the internet is a direct way for me to share my music with the entire world. Due to the advances in recording technology, I don’t need to spend $100,000 making an album anymore, which believe it or not I did at one point. So now artists can spend a whole lot less money to make great music. This is an exciting time for musicians. As a business person, I think that artists have to be proactive and dictate where the industry goes. We should be forcing the direction. Big labels aren’t the experts anymore. So we can load up our music and sell it directly to the people. I find that “Pay what you Want” is the way to go. You want folks to have your music, but let them decide what it’s worth to them. Everyone has a different scale – be it they are broke, or they are rich, or they are somewhat fond of heavy metal, or somewhat fond of country music.

NCI: You perform a lot of your music in Brooklyn now because a lot of live music has migrated from downtown Manhattan over the past few years. How has that affected the way you and your friends create and perform music? Do you see musicians coming back to the city or do you feel that it will move farther into Brooklyn and Queens?

SB: Honestly, although I love NYC, I wonder how good it is for a rock band to live and pay bills here. I started playing music in Atlanta, Georgia where the rent was cheap, rehearsal spaces were cheap and jobs were everywhere. It was the perfect place to live as a member of a touring rock band.

In Manhattan, rock clubs will always be a mainstay, but I think the question regarding where the music will go has more to do with the viable living options available to artists. It’s been a long, long time since living in the East Village was an inexpensive place for rock n’ roll and artist types. Brooklyn and Queens have taken on those titles but those boroughs are getting more and more expensive day by day. I just read that Austin was where all the young artist types are moving. New York and the entire United States needs to do more to preserve its artistic culture especially if everyone is just ripping music off the web. (Yeah, and I was saying that this was a good thing in my response to your earlier question - yup, contradictory that’s me.)

Have fun.


My Heart in Focus: An Interview with Meleni Smith


Creativity and connection are the heart of nightlife culture. The artists who perform and celebrate our experience are the foundation of that intimacy. As a fundamental part of our look at New York nightlife, we are going to take time to talk to the artists who bring life to connection. The first conversation in this series is with the singer songwriter Meleni Smith.

Vital Statistics

Name: Meleni Smith

Group Affiliation: solo

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Latest Project: My Heart in Focus

Next New York Performance: 2.1.12

GH: How did your musical journey start? What was your first motivation? What was your first performance like?

MS: I started singing when I was six. The expression of music always moved me. It was the only art form, besides acting, that had the ability to make me feel extreme emotions.  I always felt very connected to it. My first performance was when I was in the 3rd grade for the entire school when I was chosen to sing the lead to "What the World Needs Now is Love Sweet Love." I was terrified. I wasn't even trying out for the lead but one of the student teachers overheard me singing to myself and told me to sing for my teacher.  I didn't even think I was doing anything special, but they chose me.  

GH: What is it about performing, especially performing in New York that you enjoy the most?

MS:  Performing is a rush.  You literally feel the adrenaline, the anxiety, the excitement… so many different emotions are experienced no matter the size of the audience.  I have such a love/fear relationship with it because the moment right before I begin, it's like looking down from the top of a cliff and everyone is telling you to jump.  But once you jump the relief and realization that you can do it and its ok feels so great.  Especially when the crowd is there with you and showing love and appreciation for what it is you're sharing. It's amazing.  I think some of the best crowds are in New York because New Yorkers really appreciate art and they love the experience of the live displays... but on the flip side New Yorkers are so spoiled.  They literally have seen and done it all so they can be tough crowds at times too.. haha.. But I love the energy always.  New Yorkers know what they like so if they're into it, they're REALLY into it. 

GH: How have your travels to places like Egypt and Thailand affected your writing and performing?

MS: Being exposed to different forms and styles always affects my art even if only on a subconscious level. I absorb it all and all sounds somehow find their way in my music whether it be new melodies that I pick up or rhythmic patterns.  Egyptian music, in general, uses more notes than American music so it was amazing to hear all the in between notes that I wasn't used to hearing on this side.  The entire experience of traveling by myself to these countries made me fearless and that fearlessness has definitely affected my performing.  I learned that life is really just about sharing your gifts with the people you meet and inspiring as many people as possible along the way. 

GH: What have you learned the most from working with artists like Alicia Keys and other superstars?

MS: I actually never got the opportunity to work with Alicia Keys but hearing her voice on one of my songs was awesome.  I guess from working with more well-known artists, I've learned that at the end of the day, we're all the same. We're all just artists yearning to express what we feel we need to channel into this world.  

GH: Tell me about the creative relationship between your music and your videos? Are they conceived and created at the same time or does one give rise to the other?

MS:  Everything begins with the music. The music is the fuel for all other art forms.

GH: Is there a driving message or focus in your new album?

MS: Well the record is called 'My Heart in Focus' and it basically chronicles falling in love, then falling from love or whatever happens when things change... what we all go through during this human experience. What reminds us that yes! We are alive!! It takes you on a journey of a heart. I have a song for every stage of love from the beginning to the very end. 

GH: What performances do you have planned for the new album in 2012? Are you planning a tour?

MS:  I'm just going with the flow.  I believe 2012 will be all about the flow... But definitely visit my pages for updates!!

Have fun.


How to Find Live Music in 2012 (Websites, Apps and Social Media)

By Gamal Hennessy

I hear a lot of good music when I go out. I also hear quite a few suspect DJ’s, bartender iPods and other random forms of bad music in bars and lounges. This is not a recipe for a good time. To reverse this disturbing trend, I decided to start 2012 by going to see more up and coming live musicians play.

As well intentioned as this idea was, it created a big question: How would I find music I liked without wasting time seeing bands I had no interest in? There are thousands of good musicians who play in New York every year, but I’m like you, I don’t have a lot of time to sift through a lot of white noise. I started looking for ways to focus in on the bands that sounded good to me and avoid everything else.

Like any other problem in 2012, I tried to solve it with an app* or a website. My research has led me to a few contenders that each attempt to connect you to the music you want to hear. This is by no means an extensive survey, but hopefully it will help you find your way to a decent show or two.

Live Music Apps

Gigbeat: The best thing about this app is that it only finds the concerts of artists you want to hear. When you download the app, it scans all the music on your phone, compares it to a database of artists on tour, and then gives you the listings of every musician you listen to who is currently performing. It will also give you an alert to let you know when your artist is playing in your area and allow you to buy tickets to the show.

But the reliance on your music collection is also the worst part of the app. By definition, music discovery isn’t part of the experience because it will only tell you about artists you already know. Also, there is a lot of information on this app about shows you probably can’t go to. It’s all well and good to know that your favorite singer is playing in Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo this month, but if you live in Brooklyn that’s not really helpful. Gigbeat is good, but a function that can suggest similar local artists to the ones on your phone would bridge the gap to make this app completely amazing.

Gigbox: This app has several layers that make it a good source for shows. It focuses on your location and pulls upcoming performances. When you scroll down and find something you like, you can add the event directly to your calendar, share the event with your friends, buy tickets, read the bio of the artist and see videos of them from Youtube. You can also search for specific artists and venues, but this function didn’t work as well as the location search.

As a music discovery tool, Gigbox works well. For every artist in the database, it also cross references with similar artists and the ability to see and hear them before you go to the bar is key. Once upon a time people were willing to hang out in bars and listen to new bands hoping to find something special. But this is New York in 2012. Who has time to sit through 10 bad to semi average bands to find one good one?

JamBase: JamBase is unique because it has both a website and an app, although neither one is very appealing. The website will allow you to search for artists and shows around the world and once you find something you like you can buy tickets, add it to your calendar, buy their music via iTunes, read articles about the artist, join contests and a lot of other different things. The app is a stripped down version of this. You can still add the event to your calendar and get a map to the venue but I found the rest of the interface rather clunky and annoying to use.

The major downside of both aspects of JamBase is the lack of samples. There is a lot of information to wade through on this site and when I was done I didn’t feel like I was any closer to deciding on where I wanted to go. I would avoid this site and the app until they clean up the interface and provide more solid discovery aspects.

Last FM: A lot of the apps on this list are powered by, which is surprising considering how unfriendly this app turns out to be. It has functions featured shows, recommended shows and local shows, but it looks like none of those functions work unless you pay for the service. I can’t tell you how much that service is or if it is worth it because I never checked. There are too many other free services out there to pay for a subscription. I guess that’s why has to make money licensing its system to other apps.

Live Concert: This app allows you to import information from other music services (Soundkick and and then lets you search for shows in your area. As a stand-alone app, Live Concert is redundant. It offers the barest of information about the shows, no suggestions or samples that I saw and no ability to export the show information out of the app. It also crashes sometimes, so it’s probably best to skip this one altogether.

Live & Local: This app sponsored by MTV will access your Facebook music likes and then suggest local shows based on your preferences. It sounds good in theory, but the execution was very underwhelming compared to the other apps. It took me several tries to get it to work at all and when it did analyze my preferences it only gave me two shows compared to the dozens offered up by the other services. This service needs a lot more integration and functionality before it is useful as a live music source.

Reverbnation: This might be the best website for live music discovery. Once you create a profile, you can search by artist, genre, location and date range. As you browse through the results, you can hear samples, save shows to your profile, buy tickets and reach out directly to the artist through FB, Twitter or the Reverbnation social network. As a music discovery site, this has almost everything you need to plan weeks and weeks of live music.

Unfortunately, there is a downside. Reverbnation has an app, but it is for musicians, not for fans. You can get to this website on your phone, but the experience is much better on a computer.

Technology has made live music much more rare in New York nightlife, but it can also lead you directly to the live music you want to see. If you have another site or app that belongs on this list, let me know. I’m always looking for more info.

Have fun.

* All the apps listed here are available in the Android app store. They might be available for iPhone too, but I can’t confirm or deny that.

Rakim at the Blue Note Celebrating the Birth of Modern Hip Hop

by Gamal Hennessy

When I was in high school in 1986, I rode the A train from Queens into Brooklyn to get to class. I would listen to my mixtapes (real mixtapes with an actual cassette player, not an iTunes download) on the long ride of all the hip hop songs I patiently stayed up late to record off the radio. Late night radio was one of the few places you could hear hip hop back then. At the time, older people and people who thought they knew music decided hip hop was a fad. They wouldn’t support it on mainstream radio. If it was going to die out in a few months, why bother with it?

Hip hop has clearly lasted longer than a few months.

Last week Rakim and the Roots did a show at the legendary Blue Note to celebrate 25 years since Paid in Full album ushered in the era of modern hip hop. Paid in Full was different from other hip hop albums at the time because its songs had a format that was radio friendly and a structure that was more musically complex. Rakim lead the way for other rap artists like to move into the mainstream in radio, music videos, TV, movies, fashion and other staples of American culture.

During the show, Rakim explained how he grew up as a saxophone player who translated John Coltrane‘s musical flow into his lyrics. His revelation went against the prevailing myth that hip hop artists didn‘t have any musical training. QuestLove, the drummer for the Roots, described his experience in music school when Rakim’s album showed him that rap wasn’t an alternative to music or a rebellion against music. It was music. Even stars like Dave Chappelle came out of self imposed exile to testify about the huge impact Paid in Full had on him while he was growing up.

Hip hop has had a huge impact on world music over the past 25 years, but when the show was over, I wondered who people would be remembering in 2036. Will artists like Drake, Kanye, and Lil Wayne be seen as pioneers opening up new elements of modern music or will someone else release a Paid in Full for the next generation?

Have fun.