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Rough Mix

by Ali Hibbs on December 1, 2011

Nose to the Grindstone

One syllable is all Josh Mirsky usually needs to describe his musical projects. Last year he reduced the name of his hip-hop/R&B band Mirk and the New Familiars to simply MIRK. In September, they announced that their forthcoming sophomore record would be called simply Grind. Now, as they gear up for nationwide release and touring, the best adjective to describe the scope of their plans is simply “epic.”


Grind won’t officially become available on Foster House Records until March, but as a special treat to hometown fans, the band will be giving away 500 copies of the record at Saturday’s (Dec. 2) release party at the Washington Avenue Armory (195 Washington Ave., Albany). Represented by Avid Entertainment, which is housed in the venue, MIRK are no strangers to the room, where they opened for J. Cole in October. Tree Shurts, a merch company also housed in the Armory, will have exclusive shirts for the occasion, and the bill will feature performances by Eric Sosa, Wordspit Da Illest, the City Never Sleeps and King Dreams.

You can get a sneak peek of Grind at the band’s website (mirkmusic.com), where they’ve posted a B-side music video for the song “Beautiful Music,” featuring rapper Mr. Cheeks of the Lost Boyz. Furthermore, when Grind comes out, it will feature the MIRKcard, a 1 GB USB drive full of music, videos and “site key access” to an exclusive section of the band’s website.

Saturday’s show starts at 8 PM. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Armory box office, 512-5203.

For Farmsake

Five years is a miniature eternity in the discography of Matthew Carefully. Before crowdsourced album Community Balloon, the live St. Joseph’s Oblivion, ambient Music to Fall Asleep to, micro-album Penny Riddle and mandolin-centric Kentucky—heck, back to his Kamikaze Hearts days—Carefully has been working with filmmaker Nate Simms on the soundtrack to a documentary exploring the tension between family farmers and land developers in a Rensselaer County town.

This week, the fruit of their labor, Brunswick, debuts at Albany’s Spectrum 8 Theaters (more about this on page 35). Additionally, on Sunday (Dec. 4), Carefully will play a soundtrack release show at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), performing acoustic material on guitar, mandolin, banjo and dobro, along with the Bonesteel Memorial Concern, featuring Mitch Masterson, Ian White, Bob Buckley and vocalist Katie Hammon (Bear Grass, Slender Shoulders), who sings on one of the soundtrack’s standout tunes “Walks With Purpose.” The show starts at 7 PM and costs $12. Skidmore bluegrass band Bailiwick will open.

Matthew Carefully and the Bonesteel Memorial Concern also will perform live on 97.7 WEXT tonight (Thursday) at 9:15 PM. The show will air again on Sunday (Dec. 4) at 11 AM.

Gone Solo

Around here, the name Jermaine Wells is synonymous with funk—the ill variety, to be exact. The Bronx native is a performer in the larger sense of the word, having acted in commercials and the Harrison Ford movie Random Hearts, but his main local gig is fronting the hard-working funk quintet The Ill Funk Ensemble. Somehow, all this still didn’t scratch his creative itch. This week, Wells releases his solo debut, an EP titled For Dancing Girls and Admirers, a collection of electro-pop tracks featuring his talents as a rapper. To celebrate, he’ll be performing with the Ill Funk Ensemble at Savannah’s/the Dublin Underground (1 S. Pearl St., Albany) on Saturday (Dec. 3). The show starts at 8:30.

If You Build It, They Will Come

In barely a year’s time, the Hudson River Coffee House has gone from a really good idea—converting the Hudson River Telephone Company building on Albany’s Quail Street into a café, arcade and music venue—to a hub of the Pine Hills/Student Ghetto neighborhood. Beyond selling great food and coffee, the café has become a must-play venue for aspiring local musicians, creating the type of unpretentious bohemian forum that every great local arts scene requires. This past summer, Metroland dubbed the place this year’s “Best New Venue (Coffee House).”

This week, owner Anton Pasquill celebrates his first year of business with a free anniversary show. Slated to perform are some of the venue’s most familiar faces: The Sunny Side of the Street Band, the Lucky Jukebox Brigade and Olivia Quillio, all of whom have graced the venue’s popular Thursday-night open mic. The show starts at 8 PM on Friday (Dec. 2)

Down to the Wire

Erin Harkes is one of the most ubiquitous performers in the Capital Region—not to mention one of its boldest voices. But hard work only gets an artist so far these days without a little help from her community. That’s why Harkes has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the recording of a long-awaited full-length studio album. Her band will be starting out at Woodstock’s Applehead Recording and Production, then chipping away at a brand new batch of songs in her home studio and with Josh “Mirk” Mirsky at Stage Won Studios. This is, however, all contingent upon her reaching the $5,000 goal, and the campaign is down to the wire. Looking at a deadline of Sunday (Dec. 4), Harkes was at $3,238 as of press time. Which seems like a formidable challenge, but a little bit from a lot of donors can go a long way. One fan will win a five-disc box set of Harkes’ work, but everyone gets the satisfaction of making her art a reality. You can acces her Kisckstarter page through her website: erinharkes.com.

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Speaking of Kickstarter campaigns, Albany indie rock band The City Never Sleeps have launched one such project to help buy a touring vehicle. We’re not talking a Chevy Conversion van, mind you. In their Kickstarter video, the band are quite specific about what they’re looking for: a larger, “shuttle-bus”-type vehicle, ideally deisel, that can be tricked out by mechanic/drummer Curt Mulick to not only haul their stuff but house the five-piece band during their March national tour. The band just released their debut, self-produced full-length, titled Madison, and this is the next step in getting it out there.

The band are looking to raise $5,000 in the next three weeks and are offering scaled incentives to those who contribute, ranging from $1 thank-you notes to $100 merch bundles (including a homemade robot costume) to the peak one-mile-of-travel-for-each-donated-dollar $1,000 level. You can access the band’s Kickstarter page through their Facebook profile: facebook.com/thecityneversleeps.