Secret Garden Video Series

Mini music documentaries by Hooves on the Turf.

Callers play the Secret Garden

On a rainy Sunday afternoon I went to meet the amazing Sara Lucas and Ryan Seaton of Callers. The location was Trophy Bar, in Williamsburg, which at that early hour wasn’t open for business yet. Sara was catching up on a late lunch and Ryan was getting a head start on getting the bar reading for the evening. Though they usually play as a trio, drummer Don wasn’t around. Ryan played the guitar and Sara sang, and we immediately realized how fabulous the acoustics was at this place: it seemed as if Sara’s voice leaped up to the ceiling, from which little hands protruded to hold the notes and sway them until she closed her mouth. So they tried out many many songs, out of which you’ll hear in this video, “Meet Between”, a Willie Nelson cover of “The Ghost”, and “Valerie”. I’m sure I’ll be posting some of the outtakes at the end of the year.

callers_secretgarden

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Matt Jones and friends at the Secret Garden

After Matt Jones played his set at Union Hall, we led him and a few of his friends to an abandoned couch that was a block away from the venue. The lighting was poor, but that comfy bulk of green sitting amongst the continual swooshes of passing cars seemed like it was just waiting for us. Matt was joined by cellist Colette Alexander, who miraculously lifted a folding chair out of the venue without anyone noticing, and Carol Gray, who played the fiddle. They played three songs, “Lady Dawn”, “Threadlines” and “Hand Out the Drugs”, out of which the first two are from his latest, Black Path, and the last one features a little clap-along. Soon after they started playing, the person whose house we had settled in front of came out and stayed for the street show, as did a camera-happy couple who lived nearby.

matt jones

Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps plays at the Secret Garden

Before playing their Spike Hill show in Williamsburg, Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps were to perform a few songs in the ever-so-mobile Secret Garden. Their bright-eyed bassist Jesse Schuster had wanted to play an upright bass, but when we couldn’t find a spot that housed one we could borrow, we thought a well-lit patch of a quiet-ish sidewalk, by which their van was parked close to the venue, suited us just fine. Drummer Arlen Peiffer grabbed a glockenspiel and a shaker, and the other three—Alex Ramsey-Blood, Caroline Smith and Jesse—fared well amongst a guitar, a banjo and some finger-snapping. Their sweet songs reigned on the sidewalk, turned a few heads, and evoked kind words from a passing stranger. We topped it all off with a cover of a pretty filthy song, though. All three originals heard here are from Backyard Tent Set.

caroline smith and the good night sleeps

secret garden video series February 24, 2009

tUnE-yArDs plays at the Secret Garden

A few days after I saw tUnE-yArDs open for Beirut at Music Hall of Williamsburg, I went to film the amazing woman behind it, Merrill Garbus, in Bed-Stuy, where she was staying at a friend’s apartment for a short visit. She asked me if I had specific requests, and though I said she could play anything she wanted, she ended up picking three of my favorites, “Little Tiger”, “News”,  and “Hatari”, and one new song, “Harold”. We tried the first performance out on the stoop, but it was amazingly noisy–multiple airplanes, spontaneous banging, and one “just yell it out and somebody will hear it” conversation. So we headed back inside, walking around in the apartment and singing in the bathtub, talking about the band’s young history, promising future, make-up tradition, and so on

tune yards

“Little Tiger”, “News” and “Hatari” are available on BiRd-BrAiNs, which she recorded almost like a collage over two and a half years, and is getting a proper release in vinyl and digital formats from Marriage Records on March 10.

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secret garden video series February 17, 2009

Drink Up Buttercup plays at the Secret Garden

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Drink Up Buttercup is one of my favorite new bands right now; I love their distinct aesthetic for rhythm and how all four members seem to totally get it as a sound of their own, which seems to happen less often than you’d think, I guess. I met with them in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, just as the sun was just setting, and they were on their way back to Philadelphia after playing a few New York shows. They’d come in their tour van that “wolf howler” Farzad Houshiarnejad described as “nothing but trouble”, though he wasn’t quite referring to the the two shiny trash cans that were peaking out of it while they unloaded more portable instruments like a keyboard and a tambourine.

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secret garden video series February 13, 2009

The Minor White plays an impromptu Secret Garden

the minor white

We happened to be backstage at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. when we heard some determined harmonies booming out in the hallway. It was the Williams brothers–Roy and Kevin–from the Minor White, singing a few old favorites in the next room while the band was waiting to go on stage. I decided to film some of it, of which presented here are “Do Right Woman” and “Sin City” by the Flying Burrito Brothers; so this is somewhat of a semi-official, impromptu edition of the Secret Garden, but a special one, nonetheless, since it documents one of the many trials and tribulations of being out on the road: a “shoddy” bottle opener that just won’t open that damn bottle of Red Stripe!

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secret garden video series February 10, 2009

Team Genius plays the Secret Garden

teamgenius_secretgarden_2

I’d been wanting to film Team Genius ever since I heard their Hooray EP last year, and thanks to the band’s willingness to brave the cold, and drummer Scott Dyer’s intention to take his drum kit outdoors, the Winter season of Secret Garden’s going just swell. These guys seem to have a knack for writing songs that you sing along, clap and stomp to, so it’s only appropriate that they’ve managed to gather themselves into a unit of eight, even though of one them, Emma Firth, was missing when I went to see them at their rehearsal space in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

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Luke Winslow-King plays the Secret Garden

luke winslow-king

It’s a whole new Winter season here at the Secret Garden of 2009! Luke Winslow-King was in town to play slew of shows and was staying in downtown Brooklyn, where there was a gigantic Jay Z billboard looking over us; we were in a warm kitchen way high up, looking out onto the rapidly developing world of Brooklyn. Luke was playing for us as the Luke Winslow-King Trio, with friends Rich Levinson playing his amazing washboard and Jason Jurzak playing the tuba. We attempted a song out on the rooftop even though it was about 15 degrees outside. You know what happens when a tuba player attempts to play the rooftop under such weather conditions?? We wrapped it up with four great performances indoors. Onward for this and rooftop adventures!

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Hurray for the Riff Raff at the Secret Garden

hurray for the riff raff

We were supposed to meet somewhere in the woods of Brooklyn, but it was far colder than the day we strolled through the Botanic Garden with These United States. The wind was harsher and entirely inhospitable to the idea of an outdoor performance. Instead, we met at a warm apartment in Park Slope with colorful walls. Part 1 features two performances by Hurray for the Riff Raff inside the bathroom: Aubrey Freeman and his upright bass in the bathtub, Alynda Lee on the sink, Walt McClements on the toilet seat, and Shae Freeman on the ledge of the tub. They sang “Daniella” and “Skin & Bones” there. Part 2 was shot in the kitchen, where my favorite performance came up as sort of an afterthought: after playing “Bricks”, Alynda asked, “Is it possible to do one more?” They played “Grocery”, which rocked so much that I’ve made an mp3 out of it. | Download “Grocery (Live at the Secret Garden)

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Caithlin De Marrais at the Secret Garden

Caithlin de Marrais at Secret Garden

On the 30th of October, I met with Caithlin De Marrais and her friends at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, which happens to be the same church where Sufjan Stevens recorded piano parts of his album, Illinois, and Caithlin recorded parts of her newest, My Magic City. She wanted to play a few songs with her friends at the church, and Kyle Fischer, who previously played in Rainer Maria with Caithlin and William Kuehn, got us the space to ourselves. They ended up playing for over an hour, and probably continued to do so after I left. For “Carefully”, the very last song I taped, Josh Kaufman gave in to the temptation of unlocking the gigantic, gorgeous church organ, which came alive like a fabulous beast. Also present was Seb Leon, who did a Bowie-esque duet with Caithlin on her song “Outer Space Is Still Sexy”.

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  • Aqua: Love TEEN. Man they can sing. Cool. Different.
  • Suraj Joshee: Sarahana, Loved the video. You captured the simple raw essence of the music and band really really...
  • Kevination: I love infectious songs.
  • Jipes: Another great post, I love the voice of this artist. Every time I come here I’m surprised which is...
  • Jipes: Not at all, I’m really sorry if my comment seems odd but compare to people like Tallest Man on Earth,...