The Juggs, Sport of Kings, Youngman Grand, Tor Miller

The Juggs

Sport of Kings

Youngman Grand

Tor Miller

Mon, October 29, 2012

Doors: 7:00 pm

Mercury Lounge

New York, NY

$10

Cancelled

This event is 21 and over

The Juggs - (Set time: 10:00 PM)
The Juggs
The Juggs are a psychedelic blues band hailing from Brooklyn, NY. The 2010 release The African Queen is there debut EP. The group features singer/songwriter Kareem Big Bear Bunton on vocals and guitar, George De Voe(Guitar), Nick Gonzales(Drums), and Charles Becker (Bass). Formed by Mr.Bunton in 2006, the band is often described as Chicago blues with a touch of stoner rock much inspired by Muddy Waters Electric Mud and early ZZtop. The band is currently active and touring.
Sport of Kings - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Sport of Kings
Sport of Kings is a combination of members from far flung places and music of different styles. Songwriter Richard Kelly moved to Brooklyn, NY from Dublin, Ireland in 2006, where his band Capratone received much acclaim and airplay and released an EP and LP on Irish independent labels. Taking a break from playing music, Richard set up 'Scientific Laboratories Music Studios' in Brooklyn, attracting bands such as Yeasayer, The Ravonettes and Au Revoir Simone. Playing his songs in a 4-piece band with bass player Ben Haberland, the departure of the second guitarist led to the decision that brought about Sport of Kings. At the time, the music was catchy, clever indie rock along the lines of Pavement, Modest Mouse, and others, mixed with 4-part Beach Boys style harmonies. From Haberland's suggestion that the guitarist be instead replaced with a keyboard player, it was decided that the keyboard in question should be a Fender Rhodes electric piano, reflecting their love of Steely Dan and smooth 70's rock, much of which features the rhodes. Colorado native Matt Beckemeyer joined in that capacity in early 2009. So happy was everyone with the new musical direction, which gave the songs a totally fresh feel, the band agreed to take the fusion of their original sound with 70's smooth rock to it's natural conclusion, in the form of a three piece horn section consisting of brother Mac and Jas Walton and Billy Aukstik. Sport of Kings are currently mixing their debut album with Michael Leonhart, Steely Dan trumpet player and producer on Donald Fagen's latest solo album, Sunken Condos.
Youngman Grand - (Set time: 8:00 PM)
Youngman Grand
Youngman Grand is a Brooklyn based rock band - supplying loud, dark and melodic music to very few people in the last 5.5 years. Their first album, self-titled, was never released in 2013. The follow-up album, GOOD XXX, will never be released, summer 2015.
Tor Miller - (Set time: 7:00 PM)
Tor Miller
Native New Yorker Tor Miller is endearingly vague when asked to explain the source of his singing voice. He grew up, he says, with a dad “who was part of the Glee Club at university, and he’d sing all the time at home, all these old college drinking songs. But my mum can’t sing to save her life. My parents always say that I would sing around the house all the time, too, but I don’t remember that. I do know that they would go to parent evenings and ask my teachers about my participation in music, and the teachers would go: ‘What? He never contributes.’ I’d sing along to the radio, but I never thought anything of it.” (one can easily lose count of the great singers who will give a similar answer when quizzed about their talent. How cool must it be to be able to shrug in explanation -oh, the singing? I never thought anything of it.)

As Tor tells it, it took a major upheaval in his life to kickstart his conviction and self-belief, and turn him from someone who would “sing around the house all the time” into an artist on a mission. When he was 12, his parents moved from Manhattan out to New Jersey and six months later, Tor enrolled in a new school. It was those six months, and the two years that followed, that would shape him both as a singer and as a songwriter. Each weekday he and his mother would do “a 90-minute commute. She would drop me off and I’d sit for about half an hour, waiting for school to open, listening to the music she had given me – Ziggy Stardust, Elton John, Fleetwood Mac. I listened to those records pretty much nonstop, up and back. And that was the point when I started writing my own songs.”

As is so often the case, a great teacher proved another catalyst. “I had this piano teacher at the new school who would just let me play what I wanted to, so I’d play him these songs and sing along really quietly, and one lesson he said: ‘You have a really good voice. Next week, instead of just working on the piano part, we’ll learn the vocal as well. And the week after, we can try writing something.’ So it was all thanks to that one teacher.”

The music lessons aside, Tor’s new school was, for a long time, not a place he was happy to attend. “I was a complete outcast; I didn’t talk to anyone for about two years. But I was getting confident in my music, and wrote my first couple of songs, so I decided to perform at the eighth-grade talent show – and at that point, no one had really ever heard me even speak. I was so mad about moving schools and leaving all my friends, so I hadn’t participated in anything, but I got up there and performed a song I had just written, and immediately after, people suddenly wanted to talk to me, I got all this attention – especially from girls! It propelled me to keep going, and I started booking shows, open-mic nights in places like The Stone Pony in Asbury Park. I went to high school, and joined a jazz band there, and some of the guys in that joined my band, and we just carried on playing shows. But it all came from that first performance in eighth grade.”

The songs “began to pour out, most of them about isolation and loneliness,” Tor says with a wry laugh. “I felt that I’d been taken out of the city and away from a life I loved, and thrown out on a horse farm in New Jersey. And here, suddenly, was something I liked – and I didn’t like anything at the time.” The bug had bitten him and, when he took up a place studying music at NYU, Tor dived right in. “The moment when it felt properly real was in my first semester at college, when I was writing all these songs. There was this room in the basement of my dorm building, next to the laundry room, it could reach 100 degrees in there, but I’d be in there three or four hours every day, writing away, skipping class, and I really felt that I was coming into my own. My attitude was, ‘No, fuck the classes, you need to be working on your music’.

Glassnote Records – home to artists such as Mumford & Sons, Phoenix, Childish Gambino and CHVRCHES – picked up on the buzz about Tor, and last year, he signed to the label. Which led, he admits, to a slightly tense family summit with his mum and dad. “I’m supposed to be on this two-year leave from college at the moment, and I think my parents both fully expect that I’ll be going back there at the end of it. It was an incredibly awkward conversation when the deal came about. I had to say: ‘Because of this, I don’t think I’ll be going back to college next year.’ That was pretty nerve-wracking.”

Headlights, the title track of Tor’s EP released in February 2015, includes Hold the Phone, a song from Tor’s dorm-basement days that he recorded on his i-Phone, and which first gained traction when Zane Lowe named it as the Next Hype on his R1 show and Now and Again which has a swagger Ziggy would have approved of, and a sonic eclecticism that recalls Lindsay Buckingham’s multilayered production mastery. But it is Midnight that most captures Tor’s impassioned musicianship – and his abiding, imperishable love for the city he was forced to abandon temporarily as a teen.

In the midst of the release of his new single Carter & Cash, Tor is working to complete his debut album at London’s Eastcote studios with the producer Eliot James (Noah and the Whale, Two Door Cinema Club, Plan B, Bloc Party). Tor describes the recording environment as “a bit dilapidated, which is exactly how I like it. And Eliot is a producer who really drives the recordings, and captures the grit in a song. It’s a huge relief to finally find the right match.” He’s determined not to play it safe, he says, or smooth off the rough edges in his songs. “Risk-taking is rare in music. When I wrote some of these songs, I’d listen to some of the lyrics and think, ‘Fuck – do I really want to be saying that? Do I really want to let everyone know how I feel?’ But I think that’s something you have to do if you want to produce work that is honest.”

The key moment in Midnight is when with the backing vocals rising to a tumult behind him, Tor sings “Calling out, calling out for something true.” The most thrilling thing about Tor Miller – though he may not have realized this yet – is that he’s found it.
Venue Information:
Mercury Lounge
217 E Houston St.
New York, NY, 10002
http://mercuryloungenyc.com