A Box, A Cab, and a Laundromat Walk into a Bar….

Not really. That would be pretty bizarre. But my earlier post on venues got me thinking about the variety of weird-ass performances spaces that have cropped up as videotaped sessions, and I thought I’d compile a playlist of some of my favorites. Just for kicks.

NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts (check out Fanfarlo’s)
Probably one of the most well-known recording sessions ‘in miniature’, the Tiny Desk concerts take place at the desk of Bob Boilen, the host of NPR’s All Songs Considered. Surrounded by the familiar chaos of a packed office, musicians from Adele to the Antlers have graced the space.


Bandstand Busking (Peggy Sue, above)
Bandstand Busking brings an assortment of fantastic musicians to abandoned bandstands around London. I happen to think it’s the bee’s knees, and I know from experience that it’s a great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Black Cab Sessions
Black Cab Sessions has featured everyone from Laura Marling to Little Boots. Artists squeeze themselves and their instruments into the back of a cab, play a great song, and call it a day. One shot. My personal favorite is the fabulous session with King Charles, but the acoustic version of “Was It Worth It” by Summer Camp is also wonderful (and sassy!).

Balcony TV
Balcony TV films bands on balconies (duh) all over the world. They’ve spread from the UK to everywhere from Mexico City and Auckland. Balcony TV is very likely to have filmed the band you’ll be listening to obsessively eight months from now. Their Mumford & Sons video, for example (and by far their most viewed), was filmed not too long after the band was formed….and look at them now. I’m rather fond of the Spindle & Wit session above.

Lavomatik Sessions
This French recording session takes place in a laundromat. I never would have thought of that as a possible recording space, but admittedly the acoustics would have to be pretty good. Jeremy Warmsley’s session starts with “Take Care” and ends with a sweet little piece of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

Folk In a Box
Folk In a Box doesn’t record anything, and you should consider yourself pretty lucky if you happen to hear one of their concerts. The premise is simple: one person walks into a small wooden box. Someone in the box is playing folk music. The audience member listens.

Songs from the Shed
It’s like Folk In a Box, on a larger scale–with ‘larger’ being extremely relative. For one, these concerts are actually taped. The Shed has been doing quite well for itself; it was featured in a BBC documentary, and has gotten a lot of press coverage. You can see in the Admiral Fallow session above that it’s a pretty tight fit, but bands seem to do just fine.

Bird Song – Alessi’s Ark (TWHP Session) from The Wild Honey Pie on Vimeo.

The Wild Honey Pie Buzzsessions
These things take place everywhere. King Charles played in a horse-drawn carriage; other bands play in New York’s Union Square, LA vintage stores, random apartments, various parks, creepy New York alleys. The Wild Honey Pie also has a lot of concert footage and filmed interviews. The above session with Alessi’s Ark is beautiful.

Yours Truly
Yours Truly (http://www.yourstru.ly) hails from San Francisco and has produced some wonderful, high quality music sessions. The one above by the Morning Benders was the very first thing I ever heard by the Berkeley band, and it got me hooked. They produce lovely videos, and get great artist interviews/behind-the-scenes looks. It also features the clever gimmick of artist letters–signed Yours Truly, of course–written to whomever they damn well please. The Morning Benders, for instance, wrote to Phil Spector.

These sessions are the tip of the iceberg. I didn’t include the obvious ones, like Daytrotter (yeah, it’s audio…but it’s fabulous) or La Blogotheque. If you have any favorites or sessions in particularly zany locations that I’ve missed, leave me a comment!

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