Saturday, May 26, 2007

Classical Violin: Luellen Abdoo

Amazing Grace

For the purtists: A fast piece uncut (she pauses in the middle)

A fast piece edited (musical timing preserved)

Interview with Luellen Abdoo

Artist: Luellen Abdoo
Medium: Violin
Location: 42nd Street Grand Central by the L train

Luellen Abdoo is the Wedding Violinist. But I suppose that doesn’t tell you too much about her. She plays weddings, of course, but, along with Synergy String Quartet has played gigs, made CDs, worked with other famous artists and freelanced and worked with Music Underground in the subway.

Hailing from Clinton in upstate New York (that’s near Utica), Luellen went to school at SUNY Purchase where she studied under violin teacher affiliated with the school; including one former Concert Master of the NY Philharmonic. “Actually,” Luellen explains, “I wanted to play the cello but the violin teacher said ‘you’re too small to play the cello, why don’t you play the violin.” At 11 years old this might have been true but Luellen contends that his advice was because he was a violinist and needed violinists for his ensemble.

Now that she’s into violin, though, Luellen is hooked. “Once you get into the violin there’s no turning back.” It’s a very challenging instrument, she explains, and there’s so much music for it that you become caught up in it. True to her statement, Luellen works her violin in all forms of musical delight, usually playing classical but also throwing in ethnic music, some Beatles or a Hymn. The Amazing Grace featured, for example, was played in memorial to the Virginia Tech massacre.

Luellen plays with Music Underground an MTA program. She plays in the subway for exposure and the tips but also for the people. “The people are great, actually…usually. I mean, obviously a lot of them ignore you but when someone comes up and they really appreciate it, that makes it all worth while.” Luellen recounts that he has had a person come up with tears in their eye and say “you just made my day.”

The Wedding Violinist has a simple, message: Live music is really important. Luellen herself keeps is real by playing “au naturale” with no amplification and only a little stereo for backup.

Like what you hear? Book her or her entire quartet for a wedding, party or gig
Luellen – 917-593-1010

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Painting: Courtney King

Interview with Courtney King

A look at Courtney King's Art

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Paintings by Courtney King

Artist: Courtney King
Medium: Paint
Location: Union Square on University Ave.

Courtney “Black Dragon” King is an artist from the Jamaican city of Montego Bay. He started painting at age 6, saying “I have a love for art from when I was a child” and describing his passion and ability as a “gift from God.”

Mr. King moved from Jamaica because he says the economy is not set-up to support the arts. A lot of people can’t afford the paintings and art is not a 100% interest of the people. Even if they see a piece they like, he explains, they can’t afford it. Mostly paintings that sell in the galleries in Jamaica are to tourists. “To the natives, they can’t afford it because they have their families to support.” Under these conditions Courtney did not feel he get the money or recognition he needs to be a success.

Courtney now resides in New York and stays here to meet different people to whom he can express his art form. However, this is after a long life of travel working a seaman and barwaiter and traveling to places like Europe, Africa, Canada and Mexico.

Not bound to traditional art subjects, Courtney is particularly proud of his telling of the Bruce Lee story through painting and reckons he’s the first black man to do so. “Bruce was my hero from childhood.” Mr. King also shares the same birthday as Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon, and feels a spiritual connection with Brandon who was born the same day but has already passed.

Courtney is inspired to paint by his obligation to use the gifts God gave him and gives God credit for all the work he does with his hands. “[W]e have to go some day when we leave this earth, but we don’t know when God going to call us home. So everyman have a responsibility to fulfill on this planet…the things we posses in this world is of no value when we die…but art itself is more of a spiritual connection.”

While selling on the street now, Courtney’s main goal is to have his own studio. He seeks make a significant contribution to the art world. To that end he seeks a big publishment so he can feel secure and satisfied and to be able to do his best and show the world his best.

Like what you see? Courtney often sells at
Union Square, Coney Island and Battery Park

Really like what you see? Contact Courtney and commission a work

Friday, May 18, 2007

Japanese Ink and Brush: Tabo

Tabo Painting

Believe it or not, Tabo ripping up his own work

Thumbing through Tabo's work

Interview with Tabo

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Tabo at work

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Tabo at work

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

Tabo at work

Originally uploaded by concretebeat.

A finished work

Artist: Tabo (translator Joey Yasumatsu)
Medium: Painting
Location: Union Square in front of the George Washington statue

New York is one of those cultural Meccas that draws artists from all over the world. Case in point: Tabo of Tokyo, Japan has come to New York to start his global career. Despite working in galleries and studios in Japan and presenting at a recent exhibition in Chelsea, New York, Tabo has flown across the earth to perform in Union Square because “he’s thinking New York is like the center of the whole world and that Unions Square is the center of New York.”

Tabo has been painting since he was 20 when he was inspired by watching shows about art and started experimenting with the human form and clothing. From that point on “he’s been drawing only women.” About 15 years ago Tabo began working with his special variation of Japanese ink.

Usually known to paint only at exhibitions/performances in galleries in Japan, Tabo has decided to begin painting in public in New York. He likes performing in the street because “it just feels good” and he loves the attention of the people. However, Tabo does not sell his street art. His gallery work is done on a much nicer material and Tabo has no qualms about ripping up the work he feels is done strictly for performance.

Tabo was recently in town for an exhibition at The New Century Artist’s Gallery. Although he started his career in Japan, he now wants people to get to know him and thinks New York is the starting point for all this. Tabo hopes to stay in the U.S. and perform in New York forever, carrying out his motto: “Let’s continue having fun.”

Like what you see? Check out
Tabo’s artistic influences - World famous calligrapher Inoue Yuichi and New York artist Basquiat (this second one could be spelled wrong, probably is)

Tabo’s website -, which includes his schedule and a list of his works and awards.

Really like what you see? Contact him

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mississippi Delta Blues: Ted "Floyd Lee" Williams, Chikara Kitagawa, Yuichi Fujisawa

Artists: Ted “Floyd Lee” Williams (guitar and vocals), Chikara Kitagawa (drums), Yuichi Fujisawa (electric bass guitar)
Medium: Guitar, vocals, bass guitar, drum set
Location: Grand Central station by the L train

Floyd, Chikara and Yuichi playing a short track

Floyd, Chikara and Yuichi playing a long track

Interview with the band

Floyd Lee
“Hell yeah…I would play that shit out.” – Floyd Lee on his first guitar

This irreverent, colorful character is Floyd Lee. Floyd was born in Lamar, Mississippi and went to school in Memphis, Tennessee. He picked up guitar after his father who who played all the time and had three guitars sitting in his basement. Floyd eventually stole one and proceeded to teach himself to play. Floyd sites his initial inspiration for playing the guitar as seeing his father with women on his lap every time he pulled out the six-string. “And I saw him and he had women sitting on his lap…and I said wooooh!”

Floyd lead an interesting life that’s taken him all over the globe. Before getting into music, he was a batboy for the 1948 Cleveland Indians – it was first time they won a pennant and “they ain’t never won anything since then.” Apparently the Indians love Floyd so much that they continually beg him to come back and now a movie is being made about it called “Floyd Lee Comes Home.”

Mr. Lee’s exploits have taken him “all over the world, runnin’ around.” Initially starting in New York, Floyd helped start the Music Under New York program with the MTA about 20 years ago when the MTA decided to co-opt the musicians in the subway to clear the passages. Since then, Floyd has performed everywhere from subways to clubs to New York City mayoral inaugurations in countries as diverse as Japan, Russia, and Korea. In September 2002, Floyd and fellow band mate Clara E. were the first to represent New York City at Moscow's first blues festival.

Floyd has a “hell yeah” attitude about playing the subway and passes it on to everyone he can. He recounts that for more than 10 years he’s been sharing his secrets to profitable subway performance with Japanese artists who come in droves to learn English and were practically giving their music away. Floyd was kind enough to tell me the story of his friend Mitsu, who came with nothing and left, thanks to Floyd’s tutelage, with $2,000 in quarters alone.

For Floyd, though, it’s not about the money. “I come down here to play because I feel free.” He enjoys the ability to play where he wants and what he wants. At 74, he describes playing in the subway like going to the old folks home, having a good time and getting paid to do it.

Floyd is still playing all over and shows no intention of stopping. Check out his site at the bottom of this entry for his schedule. This is a man who has devoted his life to his music. “I’ve been playing shows since before you were born…think about it youngblood.”

Chikara Kitagawa and Yuichi Fujisawa
"We come to play music, music, music"

Chiakara and Yuicha are two friends who came to the U.S. with one thing in mind – “to play music, music, music.” Chikara met Floyd through a friend. He says that he likes New York but admits that playing in the subway as “hard.”

Yuichi is, according to Floyd, “the best bass player you will ever find in the city New York.” He’s also a friend of Chikara which is how he met Floyd (unless you ask Floyd, in which case Chikara mugged him for all he was worth which was apparently a spot in his band).

Like what you hear? Check out
Floyd’s influences – (his cousin) John Lee Hooker, B.B. King
and his website –

Really like what you hear? Contact
Floyd Lee –
Yuichi Fujisawa –
Chikara Kitagawa –