Live at Fi – Maplewood


Congratulations to Mike Stuto and everyone at The  HiFi Bar!

Today’s the day the podcast we’ve been working on goes live.

This first podcast episode features the incredible Maplewood, incredible because they blew my top with a truly inspiring set of music on the night the tapes rolled, and incredible because they were somehow off my radar until the night of the recording. Really fine songwriting, singing and musicianship from top to bottom.

Maplewood, Live at The HiFi Bar
Maplewood, Live at The HiFi Bar

Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise since Maplewood is kind of a supergroup (with members of Nada Surf, Champale, Bambi Kino and Two Dark Birds) but I just didn’t expect to be so moved by the music and live set. It’s a great example of what we’re trying to do with the podcast – turn folks on to the great great music, comedy and spoken word events at HiFi, and ultimately encourage them to be a part of these nights in person.

RPB Creative is producing the podcast and the team has been busy recording live music, comedy and spoken word events at HiFi. All microphones carefully placed, all cables carefully coiled, and all faders gently nudged for your listening pleasure. We’re also keeping episodes bite-sized for those of you loathe to commit to another three hour download of chit-chat. Subscribe to the podcast at iTunes link below or stream over at Soundcloud.

Special thanks and kudos to the folks who’ve endured my presence while recording some of these nights – Colin Poellot, Ward White and especially the great Don Piper (who’s so good he’s getting a podcast episode dedicated to his music). And extra special thanks to the guys in Maplewood (Mark Rozzo, Steve Koester, Jude Webre and Don Piper) for allowing us to share their music.

Things We Did Last Summer

Late October seems an odd time to reflect upon a busy summer, but the pending debut of the Live at Fi podcast makes me take a look back. I pretty much spent the summer recording music, comedy and spoken word events at The HiFi Bar and it’s finally coming together in the imminent release to the world of the Live at Fi Podcast.

For much of the 90’s through the early 00’s I lived on East 11th Street, between Avenues A and B, one of the dingier blocks in the East Village.

My crappy East 11th Street apartment!
My crappy East 11th Street apartment!

My apartment was tiny, cheap and not the kind of place that attracted visitors, but it was perfectly situated for my main pleasure in life – the live local music scene.

Going out at night to see music and friends was the way it was done pretty much every night of the week. There were small music venues and bars all over The East Village, but if you wanted to know what was coming next, or see the next big thing before it got big, you went to Brownies. As one of the prime movers of the venue, Mike Stuto’s excellent taste and intuition fueled the ascending careers of a who’s-who of alternative rockers – Spoon, Death Cab For Cutie, The National, Ben Fold’s Five, The New Pornographers, The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol – they all owe a debt to Brownies and Stuto.

In 2002, neighborhood rents were rising, bands started moving to Brooklyn and Mike Stuto pulled the plug on Brownies. A month later, Mike reinvented and reopened the venue as The HiFi Bar.

Fast forward to 2015 – Mike, along with friends and collaborators is booking music again, along with comedy,  readings and much more. Each night has its own flavor, and each night brings people back to the excitement and community that live performance breeds. So Mike Stuto is going back to what he’s always relied on, what we’ve always looked to him for – his good taste.

In June 2015 I was looking to take on a new project and was taken with the idea of podcasting, and how it was changing and influencing the traditional radio landscape. I didn’t want to create another all “talking heads” show because the internet was already overpopulated with yapping,  and then I looked at the upcoming events listings for HiFi and it clicked – music, comedy, conversation – all the things I loved and wanted to share. A few phone calls and meetings later I started recording as many HiFi events as my schedule would allow. Mike and I went through dozens of ideas for show concept and presentation. A magazine format, a variety show, a reality show… an endless stream of characters and ideas.

Simplicity won out, and each episode of Live at Fi will feature selections from a night’s performance. A night out at HiFi – a keepsake for those who were lucky enough to be there, and a lure for folks to come out and enjoy the venue in person.

Live at Fi is available for download on iTunes and streaming on Soundcloud.

I’ll fill you in on episodes as they premiere – it’s great stuff!