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Slick Rick at the Putnam Den

This Friday, Slick Rick will be at the Putnam Den in Saratoga, alongside DJ Trumastr and Oddy Gato.

The Putnam Den is proud to present the Great Adventures of Slick Rick tour on Friday, November 28th. It is a rare and special occasion for an artist of Slick Rick’s calibre to perform in an intimate venue, in addition to performing alongside local favorites DJ Trumastr and Oddy Gato. Slick Rick is a Grammy-nominated rapper that hails from what is known as the golden age of hip hop, and will be showcasing hit singles from throughout his decades-old career. No stranger to the mic, this MC is surely a must-see bucketlist artist for all fans of hip hop.

Doors are at 9pm and the show is 18+. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 day of. Read more on the event page.

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Coffee in Albany

I’ve written about coffee for a while, but there has been a substantial change in the coffee options in the past year or so that it’s worth looking at as a whole. Especially since some of what I’ve written in the past is not true anymore.

I drink all my coffee black and have been doing so since 2008, so keep that in mind when reading my recommendations. If you add sugar and cream to your coffee, you end up masking all the nuanced flavors. Those who add sugar and/or milk tend to prefer dark roasts, as a light roasted coffee won’t be able to cut through the milk. This “strong coffee” flavor is generally just the flavor of an over roasted coffee bean.

Cafes

Here are the places I’d recommend getting coffee that have a spot to sit and read a book or chat with a friend.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St

The focus at Stacks is coffee. They are a multi-roaster shop which is pretty rare. That means they have many different coffees from many different companies. They have a small selection in their bakery case of goods from local bakers, which isn’t ideal if you’re looking for a meal but is adequate for a snack.

Their espresso is the best in the area, and they usually have more than one option ready to go for espresso. It’s typically their house blend espresso as well as single origin or espresso blend from a featured roaster. They also do pour overs, iced pour overs, cold brew, macchiatos and more. Even a pumpkin spice latte if that’s what you’re into.

Tierra Coffee Roasters, Madison Ave and Delaware Ave

Tierra Farms is a big company based in Valatie that mostly makes granolas and roasts nuts, but also roasts their own coffee. On Madison Ave they have a store where you can buy all their bulk nuts, coffee, granola and more. Their store is right next to their cafe, which has a full food menu, beer, and coffee. They do Chemex, cold brew (via Toddy and Hario tower), standard drip coffee, and all the flavored lattes you can dream of. They have another cafe near the Spectrum on Delaware Ave, which has a small selection of their coffees and nuts, as well as a full menu and coffee bar.

Bread & Honey, Madison Ave

Bread & Honey is a wholesale bakery with a cafe space. They happen to have Gimme! Coffee, as iced coffee (seasonal), drip coffee, and by the 12oz bag. Their hours aren’t listed on their door and they’re non-standard which is sort of frustrating, but you can check their facebook or give them a call to see if they’re open. You can buy their breads in the cafe and get food off their very limited menu as well.

Lucas Confectionery, 2nd St, Troy

The Lucas Confectionery is a wine bar in Troy. They have Blue Bottle coffee that you can get as a french press, pourover or espresso. You can also buy bags of whole bean coffee from The Grocery which is right around the corner on Broadway.

Uncommon Grounds, Western Ave

Uncommon Grounds is a bagel spot that roasts their own coffee with a huge food menu. The coffees they have ready to go are wildy hit or miss. They recently changed their coffee program and have been putting out much higher quality coffees. They roast their coffee to highlight the beans qualities, not to some arbitrary roast level of “dark” or “medium”. They call their good coffees something like “Organic Fair Trade” and are on a separate menu. Look for any coffee that’s listed by geographic location and order any of those as a french press and avoid their Vac Pot house blend.

I could not in good faith recommend Hudson River Coffee House, Stagecoach Coffee, Iron Gate, Mug Shots, or Daily Grind solely for their coffee. They are there in a pinch but are not a destination.

Beans

If you’re a nerd like me and make your coffee at home, there’s plenty of spots to grab a bag of high quality, freshly roasted beans.

Brew, Lark St

Brew is a craft beverage shop on Lark St that mainly sells craft beer. They also sell Tandem Coffee, Stumptown and Intelligentsia by the bag. They also have coffee brewing supplies such as Chemex, Aeropress and french presses. In the summer they have cold brew by the cup.

Stacks Espresso Bar, Lark St

They have a few shelves of coffee from a revolving selection of roasters, as well as their house-roasted coffee.

Bread & Honey, Madison Ave

If you can catch them when they’re open, you can grab bags of Gimme! Coffee. They usually have one blend and one single origin.

Tierra Coffee, Madison Ave and Delaware Ave

They have a million different kinds of coffee for sale in their retail store. I stick to the lighter roasted single origin options.

j57

KC’s Music Monday: J57

If I was a musician, after finishing a project, I’d probably allow myself take some time to relax before starting the next one. And that’s one of maybe thirty reasons why I’m not a producer or rapper. Brooklyn-based J57, of the Brown Bag All Stars, just happens to be both. And he puts the work in.

I always personally enjoy when an artist breaks into another element of creating – such as a DJ learning production or a rapper getting into more than just rocking the mic. It’s all about putting passion into learning your craft inside and out, and J57 is living proof there’s nothing wrong with being well-rounded in the studio these days.

I also really appreciate the “no days off” vibe I get from all members of the Brown Bag All Stars. After all, you get out of it what you put into it – in this case, it’s a multitude of amazing tracks. Additionally, it’s noteworthy that with the BBAS (much like with our music scene in the 518), there is a solid and visible balance between independent projects and group endeavors, and support for every effort from both the members of the group and those listening alike. It’s hard to keep up, really, and that definitely holds true with J57.

Today, URB Magazine debuted a new track by J57 titled “Heisenberg Blue” which is this pretty instrumental that holds a large, cinematic feel before turning into a tease by ending quicker than I’d have liked. Luckily, the track is part of an forthcoming “freEP” presented by URB Magazine, titled 0057: FlaskLIFE, so there will be more to look forward to in the near future of this capacity.

Continue reading…

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Self Defense Family at the Low Beat

On Sunday December 7, Self Defense Family will be playing at The Low Beat alongside Soft Powers, Blood of Spain, and Broken Field Runner.

This is Self Defense’s first show back in Albany in a really long time, and is probably their last for a long time, so don’t sleep.

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Quality events for this weekend

Friday November 21

POLLY: Bounty at River St Pub: Wild dance party that isn’t like any other. With b0ynature, DJ Celestine, GOLDEE DUST, Party With Tina (me) and WILDECRIST.

7th Annual B3nson Family Funsgiving at the Low Beat and Pauly’s: Holiday celebration show with The Parlor, Bear Grass, Secret Release, Rival Galaxies, Hammer Hawk, Neighborhood of Make Believe, Leaks/Mirrors.

Thanksgiving Food Drive at Bogie’s: Hardcore for a cause.

Javelin, PWR BTTM, Photay at BSP Kingston: Electronic jams.

Cretin Hop at Fuze Box: Get weird at Abany’s only rock and roll dance party.

Dest Comedy Jam at HRCH: Comedy show with UA’s Sketch Characters.

Pierce The Veil and Sleeping With Sirens at the Armory: Get your swoop haircuts and tiny t-shirts out.

Saturday November 22

Ladyfest Upstate Festival at The Low Beat: One day music and art fest highlighting women-identified, trans, and gender nonconforming artists. Check the event for profiles of some of the performers.

Comic Jam at Troy Public Library: Drop in and start cartooning.

8th Annual Albany Cranksgiving: Scavenger hunt on your bike for a great cause.

Pretty Much The Best Comedy Show at Proctors: With Headliner Aparna Nancherla.

Fabolous and Konshens at The Armory: Dancehall boss Konshens with F-a-b-o-l-o-u-s.

Turkey Tap at the TU: Craft beer event.

80s Night at Fuze: It’s back apparently.

Sunday November 23

Rock ‘n Roll Brunch 8 at The Low Beat: It’s that time of month for the best brunch around.

Panel Discussion On Creative Economy at The Foundry: Artist talk with
James Howard Kunstler & Friends.

Slowshine, Playboy Manbaby, Rustle Crow at The Low Beat: “Another cool show at The Low Beat”

Alleys, Ellsworth, Korematsu vs. The United States, and Blue Streak Blvd at Fuze Box: “””Skramz”””

All weekend

Art Omi: The sculpture fields are awesome.

Day trip to MASS MoCA: Pretty drive and a great museum.

The NYS Museum: Bunch of great exhibits and it’s right in your backyard.

John Wick and The Blues Brothers at the Madison Theater: Only five bucks!

Farmer’s Markets: Troy, Delmar, and Saratoga on Saturday, and Schenectady and Saratoga on Sunday.

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Mike Arson “Playing With Matches”: Review

Starting off a track with a line like “Yeah that beat sound good, don’t it?” is saying what I assume most hyped rappers and producers think when a certain beat catches their ear when starting a project. In Mike Arson’s case, the man has practically been drowning in beats for other people’s albums for years now and it was no surprise to me that he saved some of his own fire to play with for his debut album, Playing With Matches.

Mike Arson, of Against The Grain, has executive produced for a handful of local artists over the years, including for his own group, and a handful of guest features, such as the track “Rappers Do It Better,” off of JB!!’s latest album DEADication, released earlier this year. Arson’s portfolio includes executive producing Almost Gone by Masai (2008), Against The Grain by ATG (2011), Almost Home by Masai (2013) and Growing Pains (2013). Spanning over 7 years of producing for other people’s projects, saying its exciting for Arson to have his own album finally released is an understatement.

Building a name as both a rapper and a producer, Arson’s arsenal is filled with all sorts of tricks and talent. My favorite part about Playing With Matches is that while this was an opportunity for Arson to do his thing fully as a solo artist for the first time, he still decided to bring in a handful of features from other artists to build with, while leading the reins of the direction he wanted to go in. This album is a family affair, and I will always love that element about our local rap scene. (Thanks everyone.)

Playing With Matches is solid from the quick 16 bar intro to the final track.

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tedxalbany

TEDxAlbany 2014

TEDxAlbany recently announced the speakers for this year’s event, which will be held December 4. If you’re not familliar with TEDx events, you can watch videos from last years TEDxAlbany to see what it’s about.

The description of TEDx:

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.

Tickets are still available. If you can’t attend, the event will be streamed on December 4, and videos will also be posted after the fact as well. Go get inspired!