Boy, what a magical night. Here’s Thomas Dolby’s review…
Joe’s Pub was the perfect venue to meet TED friends and enjoy three excellent bands. It’s been a while since I enjoyed an evening of music so much. Joe’s booker Bill Bragin is known as one of New York’s greatest champions of new talent, and it was his recommendation that brought Ethel, Vishal Vaid, and Stew to TED’s attention.
First up was Ethel, a modern string quartet that’s been attracting a lot of attention from the likes of Steve Reich and Joe Jackson. All superb players, they have an intuitive rapport and plenty of resonance, effortlessly trading melodies between the two violins while ‘cello and viola lay down a surprisingly groovy backdrop. A dark and unsettling composition by the impressive composer and TEDster Michael Montes was followed by a new piece composed by Ethel cellist Dorthy Lawson; this showed just how well the quartet are able to blend rock’n’roll rhythms with classical phrasing and harmonies.
Vishal Vaid is a master of the remarkable Indian ghazal folk style. A gifted vocalist, he improvised using just the syllables of notes of the ghazal scale, interlocked with his harmonium chords; layered over the accompanying six-string electric bass, acoustic guitar, and Rahis Khan’s fine tabla, effect was truly mesmerizing.
Originally from L.A., Stew is a great performer that somehow funnels his varied skills as a standup comedian, political satirist and protest singer into short catchy songs with titles like "Rehab", "Kingdom of Drink", and "When Black Men Ski." Peering over his glasses, it’s a bit like having your favorite college professor sing to you. I’m sure he’ll be a smash hit in Monterey–though I couldn’t help thinking that Tom Reilly will have a hard time spoofing Stew, because he’s already so outrageous and hilarious.
A fun night, and what a joy to meet three fascinating new additions to TED’s musical roster. The New York connection is going to turn out to be a fabulous source of new faces and inspiration!