In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, there is a smaller size wine shop with great selection called Vine Wine. (This is not really a story about Vine Wine.) I visited the bottles for over an hour then walked back to the subway.
My visit here in the city is almost coming to a close so I’d been reflecting on what I’ve enjoyed so far. Earlier in the day I’d walked by a violinist on the corner in the NYU neighborhood (near Astor) and been struck by how talented she was. It was a pleasure to hear her, but I didn’t stop. Then coming down the stairs in the Metropolitan station I heard another musician. After quite a few bars I realized the man playing and singing behind me was striking. His lyrics were reflective and smart, the styling brought together nostalgic feeling, with unexpected turns in beat and timing, and his voice and playing were both fantastic. At the end of the first song people around us clapped. At the end of the second song people clapped again and more of them.
The train arrived and I realized I wanted to hear more but had no more cash on me (I’d already put it in his guitar case). So, when he broke for the train’s arrival I introduced myself and told him my conundrum–I have no cash and I want a cd, but I could trade him a bottle of sherry for it.
This is Andrew, and that was my sherry. Notice he is happy. (sorry for the blurry. phone pic.)
We had a lovely, though brief, exchange. He warned me I’d miss my train and I responded I knew that. It was worth it.
Andrew Kalleen writes all the songs for his band with Kristen Stokes. Together they are Lawrence and Leigh. I’ve only had time to hear a few songs from the 6-song cd (it’s the third in a three part series, though the first to be released; later they’ll release all three in unison) so far and am struck by how well the writing carries acoustically, and how distinct that subway sound is from the recorded versions. I’m inclined to think first off that I prefer the acoustic but I’ll keep listening to the cd. Where Andrew’s voice is rich and full, Kristen’s takes up haunting and playful elements. She’s a beautiful singer, and, from what I can tell, is more commonly featured. But the truth is Andrew’s a beautiful singer too. He also does all of the instrumental elements except live drums, which is impressive in that the cd shows a range of instruments.
The cd’s sound carries the reality of its “recorded in our apartment” origins with rough spots along the way, but through those you can hear a balanced approach driving the writing, and a sense of experimentation I find interesting in the recordings. To put it another way, there is something worth listening to here, and a ton of potential.
Dear Andrew, thanks for taking my trade. That’s a damn tasty sherry you’ve got in your hands there. I hope you enjoy it. I wish you and Kristen all the best of luck. And I hope to hear more of you.
Thanks to Melissa Sutherland for taking the time to help me select sherries via text.
Incidentally, for those of you that don’t know–Williamsburg, aka. holy god hipster mania–seriously, I walked into a wine shop playing the Monkees; then playing Neil Diamond; then playing Neil Diamond doing the Monkees; as if that wasn’t enough, a guy in the shop almost fell on me because he was standing ironically and tripped himself. Honestly. For those of you unsure of what this looks like–wrap one foot around the ankle of the other, then lean a little bit and wait. That said, Vine Wine is a great shop, and I enjoyed walking around Williamsburg quite a bit.
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