Sunday, July 26, 2009

Venue Spotlight: Littlefield; Kaki King gets artsy

The economic downturn has had an adverse effect on the local concert scene this summer. At least three major venues (Studio B, Vanishing Point, and the oft-maligned Shank) have either suspended operations indefinitely or closed for good. And while the D.I.Y. spaces -- places like the Market Hotel, Monster Island Basement, and Death by Audio -- continue to draw large (albeit slightly homogeneous) crowds, their programming seems to have ossified into the same retinue of musicians. On the other side of the coin, more business-oriented venues like the Music Hall of Williamsburg and Bell House have severely curtailed their schedules, underscoring the gravity of the situation. It seems absurd to think of a $10 or $15 ticket as a luxury item when even the more respectable heritage acts (such as Bob Dylan & Willie Nelson, whose minor-league ballpark tour is unfortunately bypassing KeySpan Park) charge upwards of $200 for a single seat, but such is the curse of the zeitgeist. Until the storm finally begins to dissipate, it seems that the Brooklyn scene will lie in an odd form of stasis, still the subject of endless media inquisition -- at least until something grander rolls around -- but unable to truly live up to the "music capital of the world" appellation recently bestowed upon the borough by David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet.

Yet even in these trying times, the muses continue to be heard. The heretofore derelict industrial town of Gowanus seems to be supplanting the north Brooklyn corridor as the center for local live performance these days (quite thankfully for south Brooklynites who don't value interminably long late-night subway trips), with the Bell House, Old American Can Factory, and Issue Project Room all in the area. Recently joining their ranks is Littlefield, a performance and art space at 622 DeGraw Street. Like many of the new crop, music is only a part of a multifarious business plan that extends -- according to owners Julie Kim and Scott Koshnoodi -- to "art exhibits, literary events, and film screenings." Over the course of the next month, they will be hosting concerts by the likes of Bernie Worrell's SociaLybrium (July 29th and 30th), teen math-rock stalwarts Fiasco (August 2nd), and local singer-songwriter/busker Kaki King's The Exhibition (August 7th). According to the press release,

Sprung from the idea of using paint to visually represent the wide range of movement of King's virtuosic guitar playing, The Exhibition has now grown to involve much more than just paint. Each artist/fan was given the blank canvas of a guitar to shape, break, build, and form around the theme of a Kaki song of their choice. Hailing from all corners of the United States, each artist has taken his or her guitar in wildly different directions that range from ant farms, to delicate etchings and even to creating an explosion! Many are also incorporating Kaki's hand movement into their design. Follow their progress at the Facebook page.

For more information, click here.

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