Time to break in my new bike with the annual 5 boro bike tour. Over 30,000 came out for one of the biggest tours in the country. The best parts were hearing the bagpipes in the Bronx, the cheers in Williamsburgh and the amazing vista down the closed down BQE. I wasn’t going to cross the Verazano Bridge as I didn’t feel like waiting forever for the ferry back to Manhattan, but after seeing the amazing span, I had no choice. One of the longest suspension bridges in the world, it also proved to be the hardest part of the race. A beautiful view of Brooklyn and Staten Island made the steady incline more enjoyable. It was so cool to have the bridge closed down for the tour. Although the race was plagued by bad and inexperienced riders which cause many (and several very bad and bloody) accidents the tour was so much fun. I took advantage of the perfect day by riding across the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park to play a few games of Ultimate. A perfect day indeed.
Hem is a brooklyn based blue-grassy band with the sultry Sally Ellyson at the helm. I was fortunate to have been following the band since their debut album Rabbit Songs back in 2002. The word “countrypolitan” has been thrown around this band as of late due to their recent performances involving a full orchestra to fully realize their soundscapes. However, I feel the main band alone still delivers their rich textured sounds because of their very talented bandmates and varied instruments including the mandolin, pedal steel and accordian. I felt their performance this night was quite lackluster compared to their previous outings, but Sally’s whispery songs were enjoyable nonetheless. I guess you can be a band from Brooklyn without trying to stay hip and part of all the recent trends.
I will admit I did not know who Josh Ritter was until Katherine introduced me to this wonderful 29 year old from Idaho. His story-songs are rich yet intimate. His songs ranged from rocking ballads to delicate melodies where his voice is a perfect compliment. At one point he asked the Bowery to turn off all the lights and for a few minutes we were all alone in Ritter’s space with only his voice to guide us. It was quite magical and the place was filled with his fans singing along. Josh was just so happy on stage and it his good spirits spilled into the crowd. I don’t know if it’s because I hadn’t seen a show for a while, or whether that the audio output was dead on, but Ritter’s performance was truly amazing and one of the best shows I’ve seen at the Bowery. I didn’t want the evening to end and luckily Josh came out to play a few songs solo with just an acoustic guitar and sans-microphone, he captivated me and the crowd once again. He played for over an hour and a half and would have played more if the club didn’t kick him offstage.
(I recommend checking out Rabbit Songs)