Photo by: Daniel Stein
Article by: Miles Hurley
Musical festival season is pretty much upon us, and our favorite yearly events, along with brand newcomers, are starting to announce their lineups. There’s a lot of good stuff going down this year, so much in fact that it’s almost a challenge to keep tabs on it all. We’d like to help, even if just in the smallest of ways. As the year rolls on, we’d like to run through some of the biggest and most exciting music festival lineups, and highlight some of the artists, the planned collaborations, special sets, and more. We won’t be able to hit everything on these lineups of course–just the stuff we think you really shouldn’t miss.
For our first edition of our “Festival Feature” series, we’re taking a look at some of the artists and bands comprising this year’s Brooklyn Comes Alive, the single-day musical collaboration extravaganza taking place on March 21 in Brooklyn, NY. In the past few years since it was first conceived, BCA has taken place in the fall, across several of Brooklyn’s most beloved music venues. But considering the amount of music packed into that one day, perhaps it was a tad overwhelming. At any rate, with this year being maybe the event’s most ambitiously curated lineup of collaborative jam sessions yet, the entirety of the day will take place between just a few stages at newly opened venue Avant Gardner.
The obvious jaw-dropper for BCA 2020 is the massive Oteil ☥ Friends set at the top of the list, which has eleven exciting names billed, from JRAD’s Scott Metzger to Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ Tom Guarna to Les Brers’ Lamar Williams Jr. The festival’s photo lineup below the article shows you all of the names coming together, and in what formations, from supergroup funk sessions to late night stuff, and more. But before that, we rundown the lineup a bit and give you a peek at some of our favorite stuff on the bill.
1. Lettuce + Dumpstaphunk = Dr. Klaw
Dr. Klaw is a no brainer win for this year’s BCA lineup, because it’s a previously performed yet still pretty rare collaboration project. You don’t get a lot of chances to see Dr. Klaw, this mega mashup of members from reigning funk jambands Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk, and usually you have to be in The Big Easy to get it at all. That’s the case of the live video sample below, which shows a deliciously groovy three song snippet from Fiya Fest a few years ago.
2. Birds of a Feather feat. members of Goose + Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
If we may say so ourselves, Brooklyn Comes Alive is no fool for inviting Rick Mitorotonda, Peter Anspach and Trevor Weeks, AKA the guitarists and bassist from indie groove band Goose, to perform this year; it’s a smart move. Over the last year, Goose has ballooned in popularity at an admirable yet perplexing rate–maybe faster than any jamband since the boys from Vermont. Part of this astonishing success has witnessed the band linking up multiple times on tour now with scene favorites Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, so the collaborative set at BCA 2020 should be a cohesive one. Pigeons’ self-hosted event is arguably where Goose really took off, so it’s fitting we give you a sample here from that.
3. Spaga Plays The Dead
Spaga is another sleeper act that really is becoming a non-sleeper pretty fast. A side project started by Disco Biscuits’ keyboardist Aron Magner that features himself beside Jason Fraticelli on bass and Matt Scarano on drums. At Brooklyn Comes Alive, the trio has been tapped to perform an all Grateful Dead set, and we can only imagine with anticipation what Dead tunes will sound like transmuted through their dreamy, experimental approach to jazz. For a single dose of the trio’s imaginative, exhilarating combined musical powers, check out this performance of “From The Table” at Ardmore Music Hall from last September.
4. Deitch + Mono + Anomalie
Now for something really smooth. There’s going to be a lot of explosive performances at this year’s Brooklyn Comes Alive, but for something completely dialed in, we suggest you do not miss the set that will go down between Lettuce’s Adam Deitch, bass wizard MonoNeon, and the keyboardist extraordinaire that goes by the name Anomalie. We can’t pretend to know exactly what’s going to transpire between these three, but we do know that it’ll be some real smooth stuff. Freshen up on this man’s skills with this video performance of “Notre-Dame Quest.”
5. Karina Rykman
There are a lot of all-timers and world renowned players hitting the stage on March 21, but it wouldn’t be Brooklyn Comes Alive if they didn’t pull talent that was born and bred right there in the Manhattan burough. This is not to say Karina Rykman hasn’t put in her share of mileage. She has, playing in venues across the world from her work with people like Marco Benevento, Mike Gordon and others. But it’s cool to see her name, which is an institution for the Brooklyn jam scene, join so many others on a big event like this. Need an example of her artistic style? Check out one of her newer songs “Elevator” which is just pretty damn cool.
6. Turkuaz + Friends
It wouldn’t truly feel like Brooklyn Comes Alive if members of Brooklyn’s truest darlings weren’t present at the party–Turkuaz. Going strong since their emergence onto the scene in 2011, the nine-member group has flourished creatively and inspiringly at the heart of the tight-knit music scenes that are the force behind events like Brooklyn Comes Alive–while also hitting pretty high places, like Red Rocks, Bonnaroo, and more. At this year’s BCA, we graciously get a set from the whole family, plus some exciting extras in keyboardist Cory Henry and Ghost-Note drummers Robert Sput Searight and Nate Werth. The best thing to show you here is their sweet new music video, made from their single “Heat Drop” off of their 2019 release Kuadrochrome.
7. Artists At Large: Members of Ghost-Note
Like any other multi-day festival, Brooklyn Comes Alive has their artists at large, and this year there’s four, and they’re all from the same band: the stealthily yet explosively popular funk outfit Ghost-Note. While only Searight, MonoNeon, and Nate Werth are officially billed as playing with other groups, those with experience of Brooklyn Comes Alive know that the rest of Ghost-Note will probably be moving from stage to stage as fast as their fingers move on their instruments. For recent proof of their ability to throw down like the best of them, check out this set from a few months back at Garcia’s at the Capitol Theatre, filmed courtesy of Relix.