Monday, March 30, 2009

Artgig Concert Series - Steve Live!

There were whispers that he'd hung up the sticks and we'd missed our chance.

Sure, I've seen him drag his ass into work after a late night open mike jam session, but it was looking less and less like he'd play a true live gig with a regular band again.

When he dropped the news, I knew I had to go.

I finally caught our very own Steve Grosmark, Friday night in a rare live performance, filling in on drums with Frankie D and the Boys, at the Harvest Bistro in Jersey.

Honorary Art-gigger, Nick, joined me for the occasion.

Of course, we got lost as soon as we got over the bridge–after politely reminding us over and over again to turn, my Tom Tom GPS decided to reset itself and turn us around so we were heading back home.

We pulled over in some shady motel parking lot with my tempermental GPS, both of our phones and a set of printed directions, all spread out before us, each giving us a different opinion on what to do next.

I was sure all was lost.

Fortunately, we got back on track and made it to the gig, just as the band kicked things off.

I gotta say, Steve looked and sounded like he's been one of the boys all along.

The band was tight–playing a special blend of groovy tunes with heavy leanings on the funk.

I didn't even realize they were playing without a bass until Nick pointed it out.

And that made the fact that Steve had just jumped into the band pretty much cold, all the more impressive.

Frankie D filled some of that space with his rich voice - the guy's a natural front man.

And they have a really great sax player who really ripped it up.

The guitarist, who Nick pointed out, looks like Tommy Chong from Cheech and Chong, was also very good and did his part to keep the rhythm in check.

But the true measure of how funky the funk really is, is how many people get up to dance.

And Frankie D and the Boys had the joint hopping.

It wasn't long before they were clearing tables from the floor to make more room for more dancing.

As Nick and I finally sat down to dinner, it made for some fine entertainment.

Eventually the bassist showed up, and he only added fuel to the fire.

The dancing machine, made up of mostly thirty-something-year-old women, let loose like it was their first night out in years.

We stayed right up until the final set but cut out before the end.

Steve says they closed the joint and the place was jumping right up until the end.

Good times.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Artgig Launches Salon Firefly Website...

The creation of Bumble and Bumble stylists, Massimo DiCicco and Dawn Bruckner (aka Roni), Salon Firefly offers a downtown experience in upscale Larchmont, right here in Westchester.

I happen to be good friends with Massimo and when they opened their doors over a year ago, we threw a little placeholder page up for them but I knew it was only a matter of time before he realized he needed a real website.

I'm happy to say, the new site is up and running.

The site is cool, clean and it clearly ain't cheap, which is a good reflection of his business.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood and you're looking for a new look, stop in and tell him Artgig sent you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chris Tarry - Bigger and Better...

Have I ever mentioned that Chris Tarry may be the most prolific artist I know?

The dude is like a tasmanian devil of creativity–just this whirlwind of music and thoughts and writing and um...creative stuff.

So we just expanded his site (yeah, we actually en-widened it) to make room for some new features like his writing (as in fiction - found in "Writings") and a Message Board to get a little one-on-one with the man himself.

And let me take this opportunity to congratulate Chris on the release of a new live album, Live at The Birds Eye, recorded in Switzerland - available now as a download exclusively on his website!

Check it out:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Artgig Concert Report - Coldplay in Sydney

Our Australian correspondent, Lis, saw Coldplay in Sydney over the weekend.

Here's what she had to say:

It was awesome - Chris Martin has a very genuine, almost childish enthusiasm - very contagious. I wouldn't say their show was the cutting edge of live performance (lots of lights, some confetti, a bunch of balloons - the usual) but he certainly has a way of involving everyone - as if you were personally invited. There's only 4 of them - they don't even really fill up a stage. And Coldplay is Coldplay - great tunes, excellent performances, and uniquely Coldplay. So it was great.

The warm up bands were no-one - one group from Sydney, I think, and one from the Catskills (they were actually boasting about being from the Catskills - I guess they figured everyone would think it was some kind of major music destination). Bu neither of them had a vocalist - weird. They ended up sounding like each other. Most of the audience didn't show until Coldplay was announced.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Arsenal Rising

My dad called me last night because he'd been watching tv and caught a bit of Fox Soccer news, he wasn't sure if he'd heard them right–"was Arsenal in fourth place?" he asked.

Last we'd talked a couple of weeks ago, destiny was out of our hands and things were looking pretty bleak.

Since then, it's been some dust-up in the top four, with Villa losing their nerve and games to drop below Arsenal on goals, Hiddink dragging Chelsea back from the dead and Liverpool manhandling Real Madrid in the Champion's League and then stomping Man United in back-to-back games.

I don't want to get carried away here but I like what I've seen in the last two weeks as we battle on three fronts: EPL, Champion's League, and FA Cup.

The return of Walcott and the emergence of Arshavin is one hell of a one-two punch as we head into the home stretch.

The two combined over the weekend to put on a dazzling display of speed, technique and creativity that left the Blackburn Rovers looking completely outclassed and downright foolish.

I also liked Almunia's Lehmann impression as he got fired up over the Rovers increasingly desperate and dangerous play.

I was left smiling from ear to ear and for once this season, feeling like we've got what it takes to go on a run, especially with Fabregas expected to join us for the heavyweight matches against Liverpool, Chelsea, and Man U in the last month.

Gotta feel bad for Bendtner though.
The guy works hard but he's crap in the box.
I only hope that Adebayor feels the Great Dane breathing down his neck for the spot.
I've got very little patience left for Ade, and I'll give him only a couple of games to prove his worth.

There I go, getting carried away and looking ahead.

Today we play a dangerous Hull side in the FA Cup quarters.

Please Bendtner, please find the goal.

Chelsea awaits in the semis...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lucky Arsenal

There, I said it and I'm proud of it.
Enough of Liverpool hogging all the luck.
It's about time we got some.

I've been standing back and waiting patiently over the last couple of weeks for this–the showdown with Roma in Rome.

For the first leg in London, we took an Artgig holiday and closed the shop to watch the match at a local pub. My friend, and longtime Roma fan, Danny, even joined us (only because he'd managed to lock himself out of his house). And Jim's fiance, Nicole, who plainly admits to an older man crush on Wenger, skipped out of work for the occasion.

We were treated to some of the best football I've seen Arsenal play all season. They completely dominated a clueless Roma side for most of the match but came away with only a 1-0 victory. It could have and should have been three or four goals to the Arsenal.

"Would it come back to haunt Arsenal?" the papers asked.

Then Arsenal beat up on hopeless West Brom in a league match where Bendtner actually shined, grabbing two goals for himself, in a 3-1 victory.

And this past weekend, we put on a dazzling display in the FA Cup, eclipsing any hopes of a Burnley run at glory and banishing the demons of Turf Moor, with wonder goals from Vela, Eduardo and, of all people, Eboue for a 3-0 victory.

"A return to goal scoring for Arsenal!" the papers shouted.

It's good to see the goals flowing, I thought, but a couple of wins against lesser competition do not mark a return to anything–it's simply a market correction.

I remained cautious but a bit more optimistic than usual in the build-up to last night's match in Rome.

Pre-match reports had the entire Roma first team out injured while Arsenal was surely boosted by the return of Walcott and Eduardo from injury. And the previous night's showing by Liverpool and Chelsea, dismissing Real Madrid and Juventus from the competition, surely played to Arsenal's favor as the English domination of Champion's League football continues.

But this is still a young Arsenal side who has not played with any consistency this season and they were playing a dangerous, cornered Roma side in Rome.

The big match atmosphere in Rome is so bloodthirsty, Arsenal even handed out brochures and sent text messages to Arsenal supporters traveling to the match, warning them to stick to strict travel routes to and from the stadium, in order to avoid trouble from the rabid "Ultra" Roma supporters.

Okay, so I was a little worried.

Matchday brought an eerie calm to the office and bad omens at every turn: There's no daylight savings in Europe, the Arsenal plane had been delayed, Steve called in sick and Danny was tied up at work so it was down to me and Jim, and to make matters worse, when we got to the bar we found our parking spaces were taken.

But we were able to get the same lucky seats, Nicole was planning to join us, and Wenger had selected the same team that had bossed Roma so thoroughly in London.

Jim and I ordered a couple of beers and took our positions as the match started.
We counted exactly one other Arsenal fan seated at the bar, amongst a small gang of Inter and Man U fans.

No matter what happened, I was sure Roma would raise their game and Arsenal would need to do the same.

Well, Roma definitely raised their game but Arsenal certainly did not.

Arsenal looked flat-footed and devoid of ideas and Roma looked hungry and confident.
We couldn't string more than two passes together, we were losing the midfield battle and our chances were reduced to speculative pop-up crosses and set pieces that fizzled and died.

It was nearly a complete reversal of what we saw when the teams played in London.

Roma was doing an excellent job of breaking up any hope of open play and in the process, I'm sure Eboue learned a thing or two about proper diving technique.

It was only a matter of time before Arsenal were down 1-0, due to shockingly poor defending on a ball that skipped across goal and right past three Arsenal defenders, before one of Roma's walking wounded, Juan, fired in at the far post.

Did I mention that most of the bar was watching Man U play Inter and so we were forced to listen to their commentary as we followed the Arsenal action? And what sinister plan did Danny hatch to keep Steve from the game? And where was Nicole?

Thankfully, Arsenal were able to hang on as the half raced by and Jim and I were relieved to be tied on aggregate at the break.

Jim dialed Nicole and she made it for the second half.

And then things started to change.

Arsenal kept working.

It was a grueling effort and we never quite got our groove back, but we hung in there–thanks, in large part, to Diaby who kept us in the midfield fight.

The game swayed back and forth.

Almunia bailed us out of danger more than once.

Roma got tired.

When Walcott and Eduardo came on late in the match I was sure we'd find a goal.

But the sides remained deadlocked and Roma actually had the best chance of the game when ex-Arsenal man, the "Beast" Baptista, broke through for an open goal from a Totti pass, but he amazingly squandered the chance.

It was tense, frayed nerves kind of stuff, but we were a long way from done.

The Man U match ended with United victorious and we played on.

The bar switched the sound over as the after work crowd filtered in.

One period of extra time came and went–still deadlocked.

We would endure a second nail-biting period of extra time before reaching the only conclusion these two teams would allow–penalty kicks.

The thought had crossed my mind at some point but I'd quickly banished it because I was certain if it came to PK's in Rome it would surely mean the end for Arsenal.

The other Arsenal fan joined us at our table.

As Eduardo stepped up for the first kick the drama was almost too much to bear...

Ice cold Eduardo.


Pizarro scores for Roma.

I could hear the air coming out as we deflated.

Van Persie steps up and...scores for Arsenal.

And a funny thing happened, I think I saw Van Persie tweak Eduardo's nose in playful celebration, a small gesture with enormous meaning that I think shouts volumes about Arsenal as a team, or at least the usually intense and sometimes sulky, Van Persie as a teammate.

Next thing you know, Vucinic takes one of the worst penalties ever for Roma, Almunia simply falls on the ball and we're right back in it.

We would go through a total of 16 penalty kicks, what felt like forever, before another miss.

Lucky for Arsenal, it was Roma.

I couldn't believe it when Tonetto's shot sailed over the goal - missing completely.

Arsenal poured forward to mob Almunia in celebration.

We celebrated with a round of high fives, and then another...

Arsenal fought long and hard and held their nerve against a Roma team showing great heart and courage.

We live to fight another day.

And if Lady Luck calls again, I surely won't turn her away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Go Saints!

Chances are, you've never heard of Siena College, a small liberal arts school of about 3,000 students, tucked away in suburban Loudonville, NY, just outside of Albany.

Well, their basketball team, the Siena Saints, beat Niagara 77-70 last night in the MAAC Tournament Final to earn a place in the big show - the NCAA's, for the second straight year.

This is a monumental achievement for a small school like Siena and a really bid deal, especially for their die hard fans, like my father.

My relationship with Siena dates back to my earliest memories, some years after my father had already graduated from Siena, but we still lived just a short drive away from the school.

Back then they were called the Siena Indians.

My dad was always close to the team and me and my brother spent a lot of time hanging around the gym and attending games.

We even had players drop by the house for lunch and I remember visiting the coach at his house.

We were tight–the Kicinski's and Siena.

We moved away from the Albany area when I was around nine and that was pretty much that as far as I was concerned–my ties to Siena faded and perhaps there was a moment when I thought Siena was gone for good.

Of course, that wasn't possible with my dad still around.

And I maintained a relationship with a family friend who runs a communications agency out of the Albany area.

And before I knew it, Siena had pulled me back in.

I did a lot of small illustration and design projects, even creating some comps for the "Saints" re-branding effort, as I made my way through school.

When I launched Artgig, our expertise in website and interactive development came in handy.

Yesterday, we designed a victory email blast for them, to remind alumni like my dad to continue supporting Siena–as if any true fan of Siena basketball needs reminding.

I hadn't planned on staying up to watch the entire game so we sent their Assistant Athletic Director an online trigger to launch the blast if Siena won.

But there I was standing in front of the television as the clock ticked down and the green and gold fanatics rushed the floor to celebrate their Saints.

Going to the big show–again.

Let's go Saints!