An oral history of the iconic video ‘No Sleep Till Brooklyn’ with director Adam Dubin sporting our ‘No Sleep Till” tee.
- Graphic T-Shirts
This year, we partnered with Brooklyn Brewery and The Bell House to help put on Brooklyn Country Cantina at SXSW at Papi Tino’s in Austin’s East Side. Plenty of beer and tacos accompanied the great performances by Austin and Brooklyn bands. As the sun was setting on Friday night, Austin bluegrass darlings The Whiskey Shivers took the stage delivering their distinctive blend of bluegrass/country/folk/roots (dubbed “trash grass” by guitarist Jeff “Horti” Hortillosa) to hollering and kicked up dust from worn-in cowboy boots. The band closed with a song they composed by riffing off actual (not-so-friendly) comments received on their YouTube videos. Back in the courtyard, our favorite Brooklyn country revivalists, The Defibulators took the stage to a visibly excited crowd, as frontman Bug Jennings belted out to the crowd, “Eveybody’s got a banjo!” Their rowdy sound and the rowdy crowd proved that country music is alive and well from Brooklyn to Austin. Until next year SXSW!
After their raucous set at Union Pool in Williamsburg last month, we caught up with Erin and Bug from the Brooklyn band, The Defibulators at their Brooklyn Heights home to ask them a couple of questions about what it’s like to play country music in New York City.
So Bug is from Texas so I understand his country connection, but Erin, as an L.A. to Brooklyn transplant, how did you get involved with country music here?
Well, it’s funny cuz Bug didn’t get into country music until he got to NY either. I think it’s the same for both of us in that what we heard on country radio stations growing up never excited us. It wasn’t until we heard classic country, like Buck Owens and George Jones, that we really got hooked. Then when I heard Wanda Jackson for the first time, I was convinced, country can be cool and worth giving a second chance. The more I listened to older country singers, I dug the real honest and direct story telling without a forced twang or any other affectation for that matter. And a well written country song can be pretty powerful. So we decided to give it a shot. We got a small band together and started playing in bars all over town.
What’s it like playing country and bluegrass in New York City?
It’s fun. I think NYC audiences really get into it cuz it isn’t something they’re used to hearing all the time. Not like in Nashville where there’s a country band playing in every bar downtown. Our brand of country is also spiked with a New York kind of energy, so I think that helps. It tends to be on the frenetic, anxious side, verging on chaos. Folks can relate to that here, we’re not trying to sugar coat anything. And living in the city, you tend to romanticize country life, which of course goes hand in hand with country music.
The Defibulators will be playing at the Brooklyn Country Cantina at SXSW in Austin, TX on March 15th and 16th, and another free show at Hill Country in NYC on March 28th.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Nikki, our Men’s Designer. Between ping pong and ceramic deer baths, she made this playlist for you to make it through the rest of this Friday.
Before I first listened to Patti Smith, I saw this album cover for the first time when I was 16, and was immediately enamored with her. I was amazed at how such a simple pose could evoke both power and elegance. It still remains one of the most anti-establishment images I’ve seen – unconventional beauty expressed in a graceful and defiant pose. Punk rock, through a patchwork of cuticles. Years later, after so many bands and fads get popular, then fade into obscurity, Patti Smith’s music still resonates, and sounds equally as urgent now as it did in the 70’s. And while I may be the last person on the L train to pick up a copy of Just Kids, reading her memoir is a great reminder that the passionate pursuit of art is a timeless endeavor.
Just Kids primarily chronicles the period of struggle before Patti Smith managed to achieve stardom. After just moving to Brooklyn, Smith has a couple of chance encounters with another struggling artist, Robert Mapplethorpe, and the two end up devoting their lives to creative pursuits and pushing each other to produce work. On a number of occasions, the starving artists are forced to choose between marshmallow cookies or buying art supplies. Despite bouts of hunger and at times, homelessness, Smith and Mapplethorpe are driven by a passionate devotion to the arts, the discipline to constantly produce, and studious examinations of contemporary and historical art/music/literature figures from Rimbaud to Warhol to Bob Dylan. Their struggles dispel the myth of the artist as inherent, creative geniuses, but instead presents the successful artist as a culmination of rigorous study and practice. Eventually, the two bohemians move from their humble apartment in Brooklyn at 45 Hall St. (one block over from Brooklyn Industries’ former offices), to the Chelsea Hotel, to a residency at CBGB’s on the Bowery, an area that was at the time littered with flaming trashcans, and a colorful cast of users, transvestites, and musicians, among others. But despite the uncertainty of success amongst the impoverished and societal castoffs decorating downtown, it’s difficult to ignore Smith and Mapplethorp’s palpable excitement from being on the cusp of a movement. It’s that feeling that still compels young people all around the world to move to New York City to this day. – Teddy, Multimedia and Graphic Designer
We made it up to the venerable Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side last Thursday to catch The National on their final set of shows after a year and half of touring in support of 2010’s release, High Violet, an album still on heavy rotation here in the office. The venue’s impeccable acoustics were ideal for lead singer Matt Beringer’s unique brand of indie-croon, supplemented by a string quartet, a trio of horns, and at times, Jenn Wasner, from openers Wye Oak. For a band with humble beginnings playing small clubs, it was apparent that they were thrilled at the opportunity to fully realize their artistic vision in an exceptional venue. At one point, Beringer shared a story of the band trying to make it big during a 2002 South by Southwest show, only to all accidentally play different songs at the same time.
With a giant projection screen behind them playing videos of abstract designs, snowstorms and Night of the Living Dead, the band ran through most of High Violet, a couple of songs from their two previous releases, Boxer and Alligator, and the beautiful piano ballad, Exile Villify. At the end of the encore, the band put their instruments down and beckoned the crowd to join in on a hushed sing-along to the song Vanderlyle Cry Geeks. The National have always served as a pleasant reminder that when everything around you is so loud, a subtle murmur can be the most alluring song.