Saturday, July 28, 2007

Watercolor Impressionism: Lee Erickson

Lee Erickson painting

Interview with Lee Erickson

Artist: Lee Erickson
Medium: Water color
Location: Union Square West and 16th St. outside Coffee Bar

Lee Erickson – painter, psychic, biker – paints in the street because he likes New York. That is, he likes the subject matter “I just paint from life and the city works for me.” Although he was born (and the emphasis is on born) in Bridgeport, CT, Lee is a self-avowed city person and now lives on the outskirts of New York.

The son of an illustrator and a graduate of Silvermine College for fine arts, Lee now goes all around the city painting on location and from life. But you won’t see him painting hackneyed images of Times Square. “I got a list of places I go, 42nd St. ain’t on the list…Central Park is definitely not on the list.” Instead, you might catch him at 11th and 6th, Ave, 18th and Irving or Perry and W. 4th. “I’ve got about 50 places I go.”

Lee will also go where people send him on commission “if it falls within the kind of painting I do, I do it.” Lee doesn’t do portraits and really hates doing paintings of places without people and cars (although he’s open to the job) – “as far as I’m concerned it’s stupid, how you gonna paint NY without the people?” However, Lee admits that he does like painting horses and he’s happy to do a picture of a scene without people and cars as long as it’s true to life.

Lee has been painting in water color and oils for 35 years and says the street treats him pretty well. To compare, over an eight month period during which Lee went to Louisiana, he sold 52 paintings on the street while a gallery featuring some of his work sold none. But “that’s how it works” he explains, “people like to see…performing artists. They come on the way to work, they come back and see it’s finished and they buy it.”

Like what you see? Check out
Lee’s influences – Degas, Manet, Monet, Morceau, Delecroix

Really like what you see? Commission a painting

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Voice, guitar, kazoo and washboard: John Roundcity

John Playing

Interview with John

Artist: John Roundcity
Medium: Vocals, guitar, kazoo and washboard
Location: Washington Square Park

When John Roundcity says he’s a native blues player of the “great black swamp” he’s talking about Toledo, Ohio. John has left his hometown swamp to search for opportunity in the Big Apple. “The Midwest is dying out,” he explains, “the jobs are leaving, no one wants to pay good money to listen to decent music…Even Detroit,” he laments, “Detroit’s a shithole, everybody knows that.” Remaining true to his roots, though, he adds “…but you gotta love it.”

So did John come to New York make money in the music business? “Ah, not so much… I’d rather play music…[but] there’s all this other opportunity around me.”

Although searching for any kind of opportunity, John Roundcity loves his music. He caught the music bug from his grandfather who was a harmonica player. His grandfather liked the blues so he says he naturally gravitated toward that. After learning the harmonica John taught himself the guitar. “I play the harmonica and I like to sing, so I figured I’d pick up guitar. Something to accompany my voice, I guess.”

John just moved to New York about a month ago but he’s not stranger to the place. He was usually here two to three months out of the year anyway visiting his brother. John loves playing in the streets of New York and enjoys it more than he being on stage, stating that he likes to be loud on his own and that after losing some hearing from performing on stage too much, he finds it hard to get back into it. He also has this to say:

“When you’re playing in a club or a bar it’s hard to get peoples’ attention…but if I could get just one person to stop when going from point A to point B and pay attention to what I’m doing, that gives me more satisfaction than playing in a room full of drunk people who necessarily don’t even give a shit. It gives me more satisfaction to be down here on ground level…I love it all.”

Like what you hear? Check out John’s
Influences – Harmonica: His grandfather and Sunny Terry
Guitar: Charlie Patton, Skip James and many old blues cats

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Dulcimer, cahone and bells: Max ZT and Rich Stein

Max and Rich playing

Max and Rich discuss how they got into music and how they make a living

Max and Rich talk about their style of music and their influences

Artists: Max ZT and Rich Stein
Medium: Dulcimer, cahone and bells
Location: Union Square on the steps near 14th St.

Max ZT says it’s not world and it’s not progressive, Rich Stein adds it’s just what you get when a couple of white boys roam the world and then you throw them together and let them make music – there’s no real defintion. Max and Rich have a good synchronicity in their description of their music, which is a good sign considering these two only met last November.

Prior to playing with Rich, Max played Dulcimer for 16 years. After seeing the instrument at a festival when he was tiny, Max concluded it was awesome and that he must have one. Successful in that first endeavor of acquiring a dulcimer, Max took lessons for about 10 years in Chicago and has come to New York to pursue another endeavor, success in music. Having lived in Chicago and Seattle, and having gone to school in upstate New York, Max contends “the music scene [in New York] compared to Seattle or Chicago is just leaps and bounds above.”

Rich Stein hails from Virginia Beach, VA and plays all kinds of percussion. He got his start at the age of 10, stating it was a typical instrumental style for a kid since he was always banging on pots and pans. Even at that early age Rich knew he wanted to rock for a living and began to take drum lessons. Rich played in school band and continued percussion throughout college in Boston. After Boston Rich felt it was a “natural progression…to move down [to NY] and do music professionally. Where else are you gonna go if you wanna play music?” To that end Rich keeps himself busy playing anywhere from 7 to 10 gigs a week. Not that Max isn’t equally serious, “we’re both…professionals. This is all I do, this is all [Max does].”

In their quest for musical inspiration both Max and Rich have traveled the world. Max cites Senegal as a major influence in his life, having studied there on several occasions. Rich has also studied in Africa, drawing attention an experience with a powerful drummer in Ghana while handling a worn wallet he received as keepsake from the encounter. Rich also notes that his teachers Jamie Hedad and Joe Galiota have had a strong impact on his musical career.

For both their parts, Max and Rich love playing in the street. With a healthy respect for the tradition of street performing in mind, they cite the sun and opportunity to meet people and see old friends as their impetus for getting out in the open. As Rich put it – “if you’ve go the time, why sit around at home when you can be outside playing music?”

Like what you hear? Check out
Influences and favorite artists - Samone Shaheen, west African, Marley, TV on the Radio, Tumane DiAbate, Umu Sengare

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

R and B Vocals and Keyboard: Sean Fingers

Sean playing

A Sean Fingers original

An interview with Sean Fingers

Artist: Sean Fingers
Medium: Vocals and keyboard
Location: 59th Street Station on the downtown A, C platform

For Sean Fingers it wasn’t really a choice, in his family “if you didn’t play and sing something you were black sheep, oddball.” This Queens native comes from a long line of musicians, including one of his greatest influences, Thomas McClary, who played guitar with the Commodores. But music wasn’t forced on Sean, rather “it was always inside of me but my family influenced it to come out.”

Despite his connections to many musicians, Sean taught himself how to play and sing. “I watched the greatest people, man…and I asked them to teach me and they wouldn’t show me nothin’…when they saw me do what I do they felt like school would take away the love, and I understand that now.”

Sean says he loves playing in the streets and subways. “This is a spiritual connection with people. God has got me out here just to touch the hearts, I believe.” Although he frequently plays gigs and is currently playing for The Legendary Intruders, he contends that he’ll never stop. “I could have a million dollars in the bank and I’ll still come down.”

Although he has been deeply influenced by his relatives like Thomas McClary and his personal favorites like Stevie Wonder, Sean also gives props to anyone who has their heart in their work for inspiration. “If you could bang a can, and I feel you…yeah.”

Sean started his love of music by writing original music but stopped playing his own songs in public for fear of being ripped off. The exclusive original track here, however, carries his message that “if you don’t have love in your life you’re not living.” Also, Sean has these words for his fans: “Look into yourself for the truth, look to God for the love, and the rest will follow…you gotta have some kinda faith, you can’t live every day thinking it’s promised to you ‘cause it’s not.”

Like what you hear? Check out
Sean's musical influences - Stevie Wonder, The Commodores, The Legendary Intruders

Really like what you hear? Contact Sean
718- 404-5146

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