Introducing "Stories from Storytown"
Many of you know that, for our album release, we tried a mix of storytelling and live music at an interesting venue on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Caveat. The release event went quite well, so we are going to try it again. We are pleased to announce a new bimonthly series at Caveat, Stories from Storytown. Hosted by Storytown bandleader Guy Story, this series will mix storytelling with live music from the band Storytown.
The kickoff event will be Wednesday May 1, 7-8:20pm. The guest storytellers for the kick-off are legendary guitar store owner Matt Umanov (Matt Umanov Guitars), singer/songwriter/writer Lauren Agnelli (Nervus Rex, the Washington Squares), noted rehearsal studio owner and photographer David Sokol (Euphoria Studios), and author/journalist/musician/deejay Meredith Ochs (NPR’s "The Women Behind the Songs", Aretha: The Queen of Soul - A Life in Photographs). Each storyteller will share their personal experiences in NY’s music scene over the years. And, of course, Storytown will play live in between the stories – new songs as well as songs from our debut album Welcome to Storytown. It’s a variety show of sorts about music in NYC, then and now, intimate and personal.
Meet our kick-off storytellers:
Raised in Brooklyn by a mom who was a concert pianist and an attorney father, Matt Umanov was attracted to taking apart and fixing radios and listening to the eclectic music of Frederic Chopin, Hank Williams and Johnny Mercer. After attending Brooklyn Tech H.S. – and learning guitar repair at the Folklore Center on Sixth Avenue – he was accepted into the engineering program at Northeastern University. But Umanov changed course and, following his real passion, opened a little guitar shop on Bedford Street in the West Village. Sitting amidst the constant change of New York retail, Matt Umanov Guitars (which moved to Bleecker Street in 1977) survived and thrived for 53 years, until its recent closing in December 2017. It’s likely that nearly every guitar player on the planet has been in that shop at least once, if not many times.
Lauren Agnelli began her musical and writing career in NYC in the late ‘70's writing about the burgeoning New York rock scene for the Village Voice and Creem Magazine as rock writer Trixie A. Balm. In the 1980’s she co-founded Nervus Rex, a new wave pop band with roots in the New York City independent music scene. Nervus Rex performed regularly at CBCG and released a single album on Dreamland, the self-titled "Nervus Rex." After the band's demise, Agnelli joined the Washington Squares, a new generation beat folk group who dressed, played, and sang in a style evocative of the idealistic, left-leaning folk revival groups of the Kennedy era, adding a layer of post-punk Reagan-era irony. The Squares released two LPs and earned a Grammy nomination. Agnelli continues to write and record, and she has a 5-piece Americana Group, Amalgamated Muck, who play frequent shows and are working on their first release.
Did you ever wonder where all the NY bands rehearse? Garages? Where are the garages? Basements? Well, maybe some basements. But a lot of bands book rehearsal studios to work out their live sound, and among the best, and the best known, is Euphoria Studios, founded by David Sokol. Sokol started playing music in Illinois at age five, when his grandfather sat him down at a piano. That same grandfather ignited Sokol’s interest in photography as well. In 1972 he moved to NYC to attend Columbia University, and over time he pursued both interests – shooting musicians and album covers, and founding Euphoria Studios in 1992. Euphoria is a small, high quality operation with a reputation that has attracted musicians from all genres, including Sting, Yoko Ono, Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, Michael Feinstein, Steven Van Zandt, Chaka Khan, Joe Jackson, and Suzanne Vega. Sokol has helped to make a lot of the music we love possible
Meredith Ochs is an award-winning broadcast journalist and a commentator for NPR's All Things Considered, where she created the series "The Women Behind the Songs". She is the author of several books, including Rock-and-Roll Woman and Aretha: The Queen of Soul (Sterling Publishing), and she's also a deejay, musician, culinary judge, and sailor. For more than a dozen years, she hosted a daily entertainment talk show, “Freewheelin’”, at Sirius XM, was a contributing editor at Guitar World magazine, and has written for Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, and numerous other publications.
And of course, Storytown will fill in with live songs, new and old. So SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday May 1, 7pm, Caveat, 21a Clinton St, New York, NY.
Thanks for listening.