This Week: Ray-Bans & Rolling Stones Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

I was so crazy yesterday that I forgot to do the one thing I really wanted to do. This season does that to you. I wanted, expected, ached to attend the Ray-Ban: 75 Years of Legends event at The Darby last night. The Flaming Lips performed. I will attend the Rolling Stones concert as they bring their 50th anniversary tour to the Barclays Center on Saturday. It’s amazing that we are celebrating something that started 50 years ago and another thing that’s 75 years of tradition.

On this oldie-but-goodie tip, we have the wonderful Beatles cover band, the Newspaper Taxis, performing Revolver at the Red Lion, 151 Bleecker St. According to my pal Brian August, The Beatles never performed any part of Revolver live. My ex- wife Jennifer Hamdan did cover “Tomorrow Never Knows” when she was signed to Next Plateau Records. Her track failed to make it to any plateau, but it was fun. Still on the oldies tip, Gary Spencer will celebrate his 50th birthday with a bash tonight at  his Hanky Panky attachment to Webster Hall. Oldies but goodies – the prodigy producer/mixer Neil McLellan and good ol’ Andy Rourke (The Smiths) – will DJ, and The Darling Darling Music Company will perform live.

Older than Methuselah, Marty Abrahams told me about his solo exhibition “Break On Through” at the Salomon Arts Gallery, which will happen on 12/12/12 from 6pm till 9pm. If I’m not at that mega, super duper, ginormous Sandy relief concert at the Garden with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Roger Waters and all those other old guys, then I will attend Marty’s thing.

Somebody who never ages and whose humor is timeless, Murray Hill, will bring his annual “Murray Little Christmas” to us next Saturday the 15th, from 8pm to midnight to Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St. Murray is amazing, amazing, amazing. Here’s the scoop:

“Expect an evening of hilarious and wacky skits with the cast, a sleigh full of cheesy holiday songs, plenty of nuts, fruits and tree trimming. This year’s special guests:

BRIDGET EVERETT (carnal chanteuse and fearless cabaret star), ERIN MARKEY (wacky performance artist), CARMINE COVELLI (a.k.a. SEBASTIAN THE ELF), THE NYC BURLESQUE CHOIR (conducted by Shelly Watson) with live swinging holiday music from Murray’s band THE CRAIG’S LIST QUARTET (Jesse Elder–piano, Kenball Zwerin–bass, Matt Parker–saxaphone, Arthur Vint–drums and rimshots). Set design by Steven Hammel."

BlackBook Party Tonight, One Of NYC’s Biggest Party Nights Tomorrow

‘Tis the season to be confused as too many events attempt to wash away the memory of the storm that nearly washed us all away and continues to define the lives of so many. The Sandy events will culminate in that Paul McCartney, Bruce, Bon Jovi, Who, Roger Waters, Kanye, Alicia Keys, etc., etc., etc. thingy at the Garden on December 12. I wonder if Kanye will complain about Paul McCartney’s billing or something like that. Kanye is doing three shows at Revel in AC for New Year’s weekend for those who do that.

A couple years ago, New Year’s Eve nights were defined by how long the open bars were and what kind of music was played. DJs are still the stars, but it’s great to see mega, super-duper, uber acts raising the good time bar. I can’t believe its Thanksgiving already. The storm seemed to wipe away the calm before the holiday storm. Up is down and down is up and gee, I have to pay rent already? Uptown comedy club Stand Up NY is taking its show on the road tonight with a one-off (which I’m guessing will eventually turn into a two-off or more) at Hair of the Dog, 168 Orchard St. at Stanton. A whole lot of great comics will bring cheer to your holiday starting at 6pm. You can get tickets here.

My Thursday rock and roll DJ gig at Hotel Chantelle with Sam Valentine is canceled due to turkey festivities, but it’s being pushed forward to Wednesday, tomorrow night. Hope those rockers get the message. 

Tonight, BlackBook has teamed up with Stoli for a Mixers and Shakers event at the Thompson LES on Allen Street. I hear the new hotel they are doing by City Hall is wonderful. I never get invited to these BlackBook things and I’m getting paranoid about it. I’m gonna crash it. Flash my column or something to the intern at the door. 

The confusing-on-purpose Murray Hill and his cohort Linda Simpson will make their Monday night BINGO extravaganza extra-extraordinary this coming Monday again at Hotel Chantelle with a joint birthday celebration. I, of course, never miss a BINGO and I am considering turning pro. I even had BINGO tattooed on my shoulder a couple months ago. I roll like that. 

Tomorrow night, the night before Thanksgiving, is traditionally one of the biggest nights of the year. Many have four or more days off work looming, and many are traveling in to dine with friends and relatives. Many places let college kids take over as they are flush with holiday loot. Others know their patrons will be absent for a moment or more as the snowbirds flock south to mark the Miami season and try to grab all the gusto and cash from them before they leave. Big DJs and quality entertainment abound, but call to see if the joints you usually like haven’t sold out to the frat-boy set. 

So if this is Thanksgiving, then December must be near and I am in no way ready for December. I must remind you as you feast and celebrate that many of our neighbors are still climbing out of the mud. Find time to help, donate, and contribute.

What I’m Missing: Zac Efron, Domi Dollz, and Rob Zombie

I’ve been a busy bee of late and have missed so many events that I would have loved to attend. Most notably, I couldn’t attend the Magadeth-Rob Zombie concert at the PNC in Jersey. That hurt.

Saturday I was DJing at Bantam for Tatjana Gellert’s birthday bash. It was hours of music from Donna Summer to Rob Zombie to LCD Sound System to Blank Dogs to Iggy to Tuxedo Moon. I was all over the place for the fun and beautiful crowd. The only place I couldn’t be was with my friend Robert Escalera  who is in from LA to offer up a film and cocktail event with the cast and crew of a movie produced by his favorite charity, the Zeno Mountain Farm.

According to its site:

"Zeno Mountain Farm is an organization that runs camps for people with and without disabilities. Everyone works together so all can experience a life full of creativity, adventure, fun and community. Typically, each camp has a theme that helps to focus and unify the group. The themes include but are not limited to filmmaking, theatre, high challenge sports, music, adventure travel and art."

The event was at the Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street. The movie is called Finding Zac Efron.

"When Zeno Film camp cast member and Zac Efron-uberfan Elizabeth gets sick, the Zeno gang springs into action. They decide to find Zac Efron and get him to go cheer Elizabeth up. They scour the city of Los Angeles to find Zac… But what they discover is beyond anything they ever expected! Finding Zac Efron stars all the Zeno Gang, plus cameos by Ted Danson, Lou Ferrigno, Mario Lopez, Joe Manganiello, and others… Is Zac in the film? … You have to come and see for yourself!"

Well, I couldn’t come and see, and I don’t know if Zac was in it since I was at Bantam. I urge you to check it out. Robert worked with me at all my hot spots of the ‘90s. His role varied, from my right hand to the heel of my left foot. He was almost as invaluable as he thought he was. He is joining me at the Bowery Poetry Club for BINGO tonight. I’ll get there early to explain to him how to play the game.

On Thursday I will DJ again, this time at Bantam and, as usual, Hotel Chantelle. Therefore, I’ll miss that night’s Domi Dollz event at the Museum of Sex. It starts at 7pm and is the most fun… for people interested in sex. There are sexy Doms and subs and they serve aphrodisiac cocktails and everybody laughs and feels frisky. They are so good at it that, they have, in the past, been able to teach an old dog like me… some new tricks.

The Stones Concert at Barclays: My Conversation With Mick Jagger

On Saturday night, while the rest of the world thought what they were doing was important, I found myself in the perfect place…in the perfect situation. The Rolling Stones brought their 50th anniversary tour to the brilliant Barclays Center. As the show ended, I posted this on Facebook.

 "The Mayans can be completely right and it will be alright as I have just seen the Rolling Stones, the greatest rock band ever. I can go quietly into the night ,as this night, I got what I want and what I needed… absolutely religious." 

A friend close to the action Saturday night told me that Martin Scorsese and Naomi Campbell and Mary K. and Ashley Olsen and a ton of others were in the house. He’s a backstage kind of guy who told me how cool they always are. I’ve met them from time to time, save for Ronnie who would have been the easiest when he had his joint down in South Beach. They were always accessible, human. Watching them on the giant stage shaped like their trademark lips and tongue, it was hard to believe they could be anything but out-of-reach rock stars. As a 10-year-old in Connecticut, we heard the Stones on a car radio. My hot cousin’s boyfriends would take us on Slim Jim and Birch Beer runs in speedsters on curvy roads.We promised not to tell. We waited to hear the Stones on the car radio. I told Mick this story one night in a club I had a lifetime ago. Around 1988. He was coming by regularly. As I sat in the back office, I couldn’t grasp that this was the prancing icon. He listened intently as I told this tale.

"It was the fall of 1964 and the Lewis clan was huddled in our country home in Connecticut. We had a party line telephone. Two rings was us, one the neighbor. We had two channels on the T.V., you know, one of those giant pieces of furniture with a small screen. For us, it was the window to the world. The days were spent fishing and exploring the deep woods. At night we were glued to the magic. 

On October 25th, 1964 we had a crisis. The Rolling Stones were going to be on Ed Sullivan, on one channel while the other channel offered the Lawrence Welk Show. My grandparents never missed the Lawrence Welk Show with its polkas and show tunes. My cousin Ron and my brother Paul plotted all week to see the Stones. We were always tasked to give the old-folk warm milk after the show so they would go to sleep easily. We decided to come in early and strong and give them so many glasses of warm milk that they would pass out, we could switch channels, and see our gods. It worked. Right before the show, after multiple milks, they passed out.

We switched and saw the Stones for the first time. There was no internet then and few magazines would have their image. There were no posters up in our neck of the woods. We didn’t know what to expect. There they were, brash and horribly wonderful. We were in awe, stirred to life maybe for the very first time.

In the middle of their first track, the Chuck Berry cover "Around & Around," my Grandparents woke up and started to mildly complain. They pointed out that the Stones hairdos made them look like girls and they couldn’t understand the words… but they let us watch."

While telling Jagger this story, he interjected: "So let me get this straight…you drugged your grandparents to watch me on the television." I said "yes." He then added: "You realize they knew." I didn’t understand. He continued: "You realize they were in on your plot and went along with it because it was important to you." 

We had never realized that but it was obvious he was right, and I felt the love my grandparents who were long gone held for us once again. I got goosebumps, and Mick told me he loved the story. 

The Stones woke me in every way. They were outside the box that I have always avoided, sometimes successfully. That Ed Sullivan Show was 48 years ago. As I stood in the Barclays seeing them at their 50th anniversary show, I realized how my life has coincided with their carreer. I had seen them 10 or more times over the decades. Threw a party for Bill Wyman, met Keith at Life when he played a Christmas show with Ronnie Spector and Mick a few other times, and now it seemed like this would be the last time.

There was a seriousness about the concert, as if this would be the end of the run. Mick ran around a lot less than back in the day. Shoot, me and almost the entire crowd runs around a lot less. It was surreal seeing him doing it well at 69. The anthems had an almost religious feeling… providing a calm reflection of the thread that was fraying.

The show ended and I bought bags of t-Shirts and scooted over to Hotel Chantelle to give them to my girl. I had attended the show with my brother, a birthday gift to my co-conspirator back in ’64. They’ve got two shows coming at the Prudential Center in New Jersey. Tickets are stoooopid expensive. I’m gonna have to go. The second song the Rolling Stones performed on Ed  Sullivan in that dream of a night so long ago was "Time Is On Our Side." That was true then, but not anymore. I’m gonna hock the watch and see them again.

When Saints Go Machine Unleash ‘Infinity Pool’

Copenhagen-based electro-pop outfit When Saints Go Machine returns to record store shelves today with their second full-length, Infinity Pool. And it’s awesome.

A sonic departure from 2011’s Konkylie, their latest effort sees the foursome—comprising vocalist Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild, Jonas Kenton on synth and backing vocals, Simon Muschinsky on keys, and drummer Silas Moldenhawer—paying homage to ’90s rave as well as hip-hop. Despite the audible shift, which features songs significantly more electronic than tracks past, Vonsild’s signature falsetto remains an obvious constant, luring listeners in with its velvety, tremulous sound.

The album mesmerizes, with standout numbers such as the percussion-heavy “Iodine,” the ominous and eerie “Mannequin,” and the hard-hitting rapper-tapped “Love and Respect.” The latter contributes something unexpected to the mix, namely Atlanta-based artist Killer Mike, whom the Scandinavian dudes were stoked said yes to their request for a few bars.

I caught up with Saints’ sweet-as-can-be 32-year-old lead Vonsild last week, an overseas call that revealed several interesting tidbits about the unique group. Read on for more and, come June 24, catch them live in the U.S. for the first time ever at Brooklyn’s Glasslands.

Congrats on your second record. How does it feel to finally share it with the world?
We’re excited. What are people going to say? It’s a bit nerve-racking. Now we can go play a lot of gigs.

How do you like life on the road?
I like touring, but you don’t have any privacy. That’s the thing. If you want privacy, it’s a set of headphones and a computer. But, we love playing concerts. And, as long as there’s good food, it’s cool. [Laughs] As long as you get your vegetables, that’s okay.

Have you always wanted to make music?
Yeah. I don’t remember ever wanting to be a fireman or something. I wanted to make music from a very early age. First I played bass, but I never rehearsed. At some point my teacher said I had to rehearse, or she wouldn’t teach me. So, that stopped. Then I got into early ’90s rap music. I had this friend—we were making music together—and I asked if I could use his equipment. He said I had to get my own. I was like, You fuckin’ asshole. [Laughs] You know? So, I got my own. That got me started. I have him to thank, maybe.

Blessing in disguise. What rappers were you into?
Souls of Mischief, Nas, OutKast, Goodie Mob, N.W.A, Scarface, Geto Boys, Del the Funky Homosapien, Bone Thugs … almost everything.

What inspired Infinity Pool?
To us, it’s reminiscent of ’90s rave culture. We grew up during that era, so that’s a big part of our music. We try to do something else with it. Lyric-wise, everything I’ve experienced the last couple years; personal experiences and what’s going on in society. But, the greatest inspiration is just working with each other.

Aw. What was the process like and how long did it take?
Around two years, a year-and-a-half maybe. When we finish an album, I start writing the next one right away. Only because I’m afraid I might forget how to write. It feels like you have to keep working, so I keep working. And then, at some point, the rest of the band takes it up as well. Then we work together on finishing it. And, when we make music, we produce the record as we’re recording. More than anything, we’re producers. We don’t sit down with a guitar and write songs.

So how exactly do you write songs?
Sometimes it’s just a thought, something I thought about for a week or a month or a year-and-a-half. [Laughs] I sit down in front of my computer and start playing with chords. I start producing while I’m writing. I’m always sitting with a microphone beside me. I like to put down lyrics and start producing at the same time.

How do you collectively select songs that make the final cut?
We don’t all have to have the same understanding of a specific song. As long as we all have a strong feeling for a song, that’s what we want. We have a lot of discussions, sometimes arguing, because it’s so important. But, that’s what ends up on the album: stuff we think has a special sound. An original idea. Something we think has a classic signature or something you would pick up in five years and say, I want to sample this. If we think a song has [these elements], then it’s on the album.

I expect it’s still difficult to narrow down. Who in the band cracks the whip?
All of us. We’re all cracking the whip. We’re all perfectionists. We just keep working. We don’t stop. That’s why it’s so hard to make an album. We’re all hard on ourselves. We have the goal of making something we think is special, that we really feel for. We like to stay inspired and, to do that, we have to keep moving forward.

What would you be doing if not this?
I would be a chef. That’s meditation to me. Listening to music and cooking. We eat a lot of food in our band. Every time we play a concert outside Denmark, we try to figure out what restaurant we’d like to visit and what kind of food we’d like to eat.

How long has it been since you’ve been to New York?
We’ve never been with the band! But my brother used to live in New York.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re here?
I used to like sitting on the stoop in Bed-Stuy by my brother’s apartment. That’s the best thing to do in New York. I eat a lot of food when I’m in New York, always. And go to a lot of concerts. Everyone’s playing there.

Your songs are frequently remixed, often to great effect. What’s your take?
It’s makes you see your own music in a new light. People listen to a remix and they go back to the original. It works to our benefit.

You must feel blessed to be able to earn a living making music.
We do feel blessed. We’re fortunate. We have a lot to be happy about. I’m just glad it’s possible for us to keep working and to live off what we do.

Any expectations for Infinity Pool, reception-wise?
We were really surprised by how people reacted to the [first] album. Now, people are calling it a breakthrough album. But, when it came out, no one said anything. For us, it’s a natural progression, like making music: slow and then it takes shape. Hopefully people will like this album, get something from it. Or a lot of people, hopefully, will think it’s a good album and it will make them feel something. That’s what I hope for, at least. 

[More by Nell Alk; Follow Nell on Twitter]

MONDAY FUNDAY: Tonight’s Top NYC Events

So it’s the first day of the work week and there are four more days to go. We get it. But why ruminate when you can start to make Mondays the best night of the week? This weekly column is devoted to finding the best events across NYC hosted by individuals and places that are doing amazing, crazy, wild, sexy things on Monday nights. And we’re here to honor them. Here are tonight’s top events.

See something beautiful: 
Launching tonight is Time Warner Center’s star-studded holiday light display. Twelve 14-foot LED stars will dance and flash to Yuletide tunes, illuminating Columbus Circle. After, grab a cocktail at Warner’s new fourth-floor lounge overlooking Central Park: Center BarThe light show runs until Jan. 3rd. All the details here.

Do something crazy:
At LES nightclub Hotel Chantelle, there’s a legendary weekly game called Drag Bingo that’s attracted people from all across the globe. The celebrity drag hosts – Murray Hill and Linda Simpson – give away ridiculous, crappy prizes (like cat figurines and sheep slippers), and tell saucy stories about their past sexcapades. The best part: in the third-to-last round, winners strip down to just a couple of paper plates to cover up. Feeling adventurous? This is your place. The games begin at 7:30pm and last until 10pm. Happy Hour starts at 7pm. All the details here.

Watch something classic:
The Academy Award-winning 1975 crime drama Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino and directed by Sidney Lumet, opens tonight, 9pm at the East Village’s Anthology Film Archives. Watch the heist go wrong until Saturday the 8th.  And when you’re done, have some post-film discussion at international beer haven d.b.a. on 1st Ave. All the movie details here.

Hear something special:
In NYC, there’s a deep yearning to hear something that’s truly new, fun, rich, and fresh – and that’s hard to find – but you’ll find it tonight at Rockwood Music Hall, where rising singer and songwriter David Alan Thornton debuts some of his top narrative-infused pop songs with a band of pros, including pop sextet The Dirty Gems’ Mark Sanderlin. Plus, it’s Thornton’s birthday show, making it an especially celebratory night that’s hard to resist – so don’t.
The concert starts at 10pm. All the details here.

Follow Bonnie on Twitter.

Uncovering The Secrets Behind Broadway’s Bad Boy Hit ‘Rock of Ages’

Every rose has its thorn, every town has its rebel, and when it comes to the Great White Way, Rock of Ages is it. Flanked with a panties-covered set, a cast with amazingly toned abs, and a score full of the best ‘80s songs, this powerhouse Broadway musical defies the conventional stay-in-your-seat theatergoing experience, and transforms it into a sex-soaked rock concert that melds sincerity with parody; beer and shots are proffered in the aisles, rock posters dress the walls, and audience revelry is encouraged and inevitable. This bad boy breaks the rules, and it’s working; in its fourth year, Rock of Ages is selling better than ever. This month, it served its one-millionth customer, and has consistently been one of Broadway’s top 10 most-attended shows this year.

Of course, there are questions: How? Why? What is its mystical secret?

I sat down with two stars of the show to try to unlock these very questions: Jeremy Woodard – who plays Stacee Jaxx, the near-washed up, wild rock star – and Justin Matthew Sargent, who plays Drew, the aspiring rock star.

Apart from the music, what do you think people love about this show?
Jeremy Woodard: There’s something nostalgic about the ‘80s. Seeing as the economy is where it’s at, this show lets you just kick back and enjoy. There’s no drama – everything is said in jest. And when things are bad out there, you need to laugh a lot.
Justin Matthew Sargent: The story, too. It’s not your usual rags-to-riches tale. The characters start with a dream, until they realize the reality of it and that it’s not the kind of life they want to lead. They reevaluate and find new dreams in it all.
JW: The show doesn’t take itself too seriously. At all.

Unlike other jukebox musicals that stick to just one band’s music, Rock of Ages features the songs from a bunch of different ‘80s artists – Poison, Twisted Sister, Journey –  attracting all the fans that come with them. That’s a pretty brilliant, commercial concept.
JMS: Oh, totally.The fans go nuts for this show. It’s all built-in. And even though it’s ‘80s rock music and a niche kind of thing, you have a lot of versatility – you’ve got your power ballads, your songs that kick ass, sweet songs like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” There are so many different genres that make up ‘80s rock. And the coolest thing is when the people from those bands come to see the show.

What rock stars have been in the audience?
JMS: We’ve had Journey come to see the show, Phil Collins. We had Dee Snider in the show for a little while, and he’s just the nicest. I was such a big fan of his before we worked with him, and still am.

Jeremy, since you play Stacee Jaxx, the magnetic, women-obsessed rocker, do you receive any crazy emails, dirty underwear, etc. from fans?
JW: Thankfully, no dirty underwear. When I had Facebook, I used to get crazy messages that crossed the line, so I bowed out. There hasn’t been anyone that’s been scary. We sometimes get weird letters, but the girls get stuff more than we do.
JMS: Fans make us food all the time though – lots of cookies. They’ve also made real dolls out of us.
JW: Early on, our original Stacee – James Carpinello – had a lady come out and ask him to sign her shoulder as Stacee Jaxx, and then she got it tattooed afterward. She still comes around every now and then. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

What a souvenir. I’ve heard there are fans that have seen this show over 250 times.
JW: Oh yeah. I ask people sometimes how they can afford to see it that often. I like Krispy Kreme, but I don’t think I can eat that many donuts.

Rock of Ages

On The Verge: Piano Gladiator ELEW & His Rockjazz

When a new genre of music is created, the world takes notice. And in Eric Lewis’ case, the music industry took more than notice; with the creation of his own style of rockjazz, he’s set the scene on fire in a controversial, stormy way that suits the man and the brand that he is. Merging rock guitar techniques with pop and ragtime, and putting it all on the piano, Lewis – known onstage as ELEW – has outraged the jazz world, while awing the pop/rock world – especially when he plucks and beats the heck out of the piano’s insides and shield. Outfitted with armor on his wrists, a suit, and a vivacity that defies merely sitting on a piano bench, but standing and rocking the entire time he plays, ELEW’s renditions of pop/rock anthems and original songs on his latest record introduce a sound we’ve never heard before. As ELEW prepares for his Friday, Nov. 9th show at Le Poisson Rouge, he shared what gets him high, his favorite distraction, and when he played for a legendary celeb.

You’ve said you’re a huge fan of comic books, and that you feel superhuman and supercharged when you get on stage. What are some pre-show rituals you’ve adopted that you’ll use for Friday’s show? 
My workout. I call it "the ninja run.” I run through the forests of Riverdale with my hand in front of myself, like a karate chop or shark fin. I take on the ninja mindset. Like characters in Mortal Combat who intersect physical performance with the supernatural, I try to make my mind as much a weapon as my body. Before I play, I focus on combining my passion with precision, and vice versa.  

In a day, how do you balance working out with practicing and performing?
If I’m not exercising, I’m practicing, and if I’m not doing that, I’m playing chess. Or watching Dexter. I used to practice the piano all the time, but now the game has shifted to a perceptual challenge of the mind, and sometimes it’s very exhausting and painful. The improvisation I learn from chess is similar to what I use in music. But in chess, I’m going against someone. In music, it’s subjective to the audience, and it’s ultimately a battle with myself. But there’s such an ecstasy to it. 

Is there anything else in your life that gives you that kind of ecstasy?
Women. I’m a hopeless romantic. Being an entrepreneur, too. I have so many ideas for what I want to do next, so the power of creating those ideas is euphoric.

You crawl into the piano, plucking the strings like a guitar and beating the wooden case like a drum. Do you actually play these instruments?
I do know how to play the drums, and I played the violin for a year as a kid, but when I noticed horn players putting different objects in horns to make different sounds. I started experimenting. The things I do aren’t new exactly, but how I do it is. My way of branding it is. Alexander Graham Bell didn’t invent the telephone, but he invented the way he branded it. With my music, you want to dance to what’s going on. Playing without a piano bench and wearing armor – no one’s ever done that. I love to move, and I really want to rock.

You toured with and opened for Josh Groban for most of last year. What’s the #1 lesson you learned from him?
To be elegant. Touring with him made me re-record my latest record. Hearing the elegance of his presentation, delivery, and repoire made me want to re-record my music with that kind of professionalism. He’s so in touch with his brand, style, what it is he’s adding to the music scene, and he knows how to nurture it and present it elegantly.

What’s your ideal vision of the future for ELEW?
I want to be legendary. Yanni, Herbie Hancock, and Elton John, all wrapped into one. Hard-hitting. I want to collaborate with Lil Wayne and dubstep artists, and be like John Carpenter was to Halloween – write the story and the music for my own horror film. I want to create a comic book movie, a music festival. And I’d like to improve my chess game.

You’ve cultivated a fanbase of celebrities like Hugh Jackman, Obama, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Tell me your favorite celebrity story.
Al Pacino asked me to perform at a party he was having at his house. I started playing a crazy rhythm people could dance to, and suddenly Al jumped on one side of the piano next to me and started to play. I put his fingers on some of the notes as if we were playing "Heart and Soul," and we started playing and rocking together. 

Al Pacino

San Francisco Opening: Preservation Hall West at the Chapel

The storied New Orleans venue named after the legendary band (turning 50 this year) has made the 2,200-mile haul to Northern California, setting up its first satellite in Mission District: Preservation Hall West at the Chapel.

Though it launched with a trio of shows by its venerated namesake act (pictured here), and has already featured Steve Earle and Elvis Costello, the new Preservation Hall West at the Chapel is intent on upping the buzz of already buzzy Valencia Street by presenting very contemporary indie darlings like Here We Go Magic and The Joy Formidable. In a century-old building originally devised as a mortuary (we’ll spare you the "rock is dead" jokes), it’s a spectacular setting for live music, with bands playing under a 40-foot arched ceiling, right by the on-site restaurant. 

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