Category Archives: New York 2015

June 28th, 2015 PRIDE

First and foremost – a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the LGBTQ community for the Supreme Court decision that made gay marriage a right nationwide! Justified by the14th Amendment, sexuality and gender orientation are no longer legally legitimate reasons to prevent couples from the right to marriage (and the consequential state and federal benefits marriage affords American citizens).

But before I go on, I think it’s important to note that this symbolic ruling, as noteworthy as it is, is not the end of the fight for equality. There are alarming rates of violence, sexual assault, discrimination, and suicide among every group represented by the acronym LGBTQ, and especially for those who also belong to an ethnic minority and/or are unwealthy. For example, “one in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives,” a tragic statistic that underscores how important it is to keep on fighting for equal rights, instead of simply being content with the recent good news.  If you’re looking for some way to help, I’ve compiled a quick list of charities that you could check out. But I’m by no means an expert, so I recommend doing some research before contributing:

General LGBTQ charities

Charities for homeless and youth LGBTQ 
Charities against Trans Violence

This whole weekend, New York has been bursting with celebration. On Friday, when the decision was handed down, crowds of people gathered at the Stonewall Inn, the site of  the 1969 protests against police brutality towards the queer community and the birthplace of the modern Gay Rights movement. The site also officially became a national landmark this week. We joined the crowd gathered there and couldn’t hear ourselves over the cheers and fireworks.

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Stonewall Inn on June 26th, 2015

I’m a little upset at having missed several great DJs who played for Pride on Saturday, including Ruby Rose, the Australian musician, model, and now actress for Orange is the New Black . But the main event was on Sunday, with the NYC Pride Parade, marking the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. I took a lot of audio recordings and pictures, so I think I’ll let them speak for themselves…

The loudest speakers I’ve ever heard….

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… and here’s how they sounded. It doesn’t come across well on my field recorder, but I could literally feel the bass in my entire body, head to foot.

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Black Cindy and Flaca from Orange is the New Black!

Black Cindy and Flaca from Orange is the New Black!   20150628_134107  20150628_142231

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The whole thing generally sounded like this for three hours.

Are there problems with Pride celebrations? Yeah, definitely, especially when it comes to appropriation of the movement by corporations and wealthy, mostly white partiers who basically just want another occasion day-drink and hookup. For every honest, progressive grass-roots organization I saw marching at the parade (like the Anti-Violence Project and Identity House), there was a Coca-Cola or Walmart float rolling through, with their go go dancers shamelessly flinging logo-emblazoned drinks and tee-shirts at the crowd and their DJs turning up the speakers to be heard over everyone else in the line-up.

And as I mentioned up above, there’s still a lot of work to do before any semblance of true equality can begin to make an appearance. But that doesn’t take away from the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision, and that is definitely cause enough to celebrate.

June 21, 2015 Sunday

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There’s always something going on in any part of New York you happen to be in – especially in the summer, and even when it’s so foggy you can’t see a skyscraper a mile away, like it has been this past week. I don’t think June 21st is any sort of special holiday in Chinatown (other than father’s day, nationwide), but the whole area was filled with music, fruit stands, and board games. Walking through Columbus park, I saw crowds of people huddled around xiangqi tables, and every fifteen feet there was a different band of musicians, contributing to this blooming sound tangled but pleasant noise. One guy sat by himself at the base of a statue, holding an erhu. He caught me looking at it and beckoned. I hesitated, knowing I had no money for a tip, but I couldn’t resist when he held the instrument out for me to play. It’s kind of like playing a violin, except it has more of a keening sound. After a while, I handed it back to him and asked if I could get a recording of him playing it (which you can listen to here).

One of the first things I did here (other than work) is set up a lesson with Michael Blutman, a fantastic trumpet player and Julliard graduate who, among other things, plays for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. After two hours with him out on Long Island, I left with a mind-blowing amount of new music-related knowledge and a vague feeling that I suck, which is good for a trumpet player.

Mike also referred me to a tribute concert for Lew Soloff, a legendary trumpet player who recently passed away. Many people consider Lew responsible for blurring the line between jazz and rock, especially when he and Blood, Sweat, and Tears came out with “Spinning Wheel” in the 70s. I’m starting to learn just how small the music world is; the guest musicians at Lew’s tribute included some of the best in the world, including Wynton Marsalis and Miles Evans. Mike went to school with these guys, and I know Mike because my teacher knew him, and my former teacher in Chico knew my teacher… and so on.

Last thing – if you’re ever in New York for the summer, be sure to catch the New York Philharmonic when they’re giving their free concerts in the park. FREE. This year is the 50th anniversary of the event; how cool is it that what is arguably the best large music ensemble in the world gives free concerts to the public every summer? For the past 50 years? I got to go to the one in Brooklyn, and it’s 100% worth wading through the mass of picnicking tourists and locals.  If you’re in town, there’s still a few more performances left in Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

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June 7th, 2015

Aaaand the summer blog is back!

This time I’m in New York, ostensibly for something completely unrelated to music, but I’ve brought my trumpet with me and will be writing about our adventures in the music scene of this city.

Here’s my situation: I’ve been placed in the middle of Manhattan with an 8-hour work day, a list of names, and a few vague leads on possible venues and jam sessions. I have 10 weeks to try and meet people and scrounge up a few gigs before going home. With any luck, I’ll have some recordings to post here soon, even if they’re not of me. So with that – if anyone reading this knows a musician in New York who wants to jam, let me know!