Monday, April 27, 2009

Rock4rorz: Indie artists turn it up at the Bell House for a special pal

By Meredith Deliso

(Published in the 4.23 issue of 24/Seven)

Brooklyn may be known as the borough of churches, but it is also the borough of benefits. Each week it seems, people are coming out to support one another – in good times or bad – at venues ranging from its churches to popular concert halls.

On April 29 at the Gowanus venue The Bell House, Brooklyn’s music community is banding together for Rory O’Sullivan, a Bedford-Stuyvesant-based artist diagnosed with brain cancer last year, in an event billed as rock4rorz.

Chandra Ratner, a cousin of O’Sullivan of Ditmas Park who works for Simon & Schuster, and friend Jacques del Conte, a Vanity Fair photographer who lives in the East Village, felt impassioned to organize the event, bringing together acts that have a personal connection to O’Sullivan and his family.

A graduate of Bard college, del Conte also pulled from bands he knew or as a photographer in the Williamsburg music scene while living in Greenpoint.

“Through the power of Brooklyn’s small world, most of the performers also know Rory, and were passionate to contribute to this project,” say the organizers.

Several of the bands are also related to O’Sullivan, making this a family affair as well. His brother, Shawn O’Sullivan, makes up one-half of the Brooklyn-based electro-pop group Further Reductions, and their cousin Michael Guggino plays in the punk soul band Mount Olympus (hailing from Brooklyn, not Greece). DJ Alex Ratner, aka Alex Dirttt, is also a cousin of O’Sullivan’s performing at the benefit.

Other bands on the bill make for a range of genres and generations, including a rare performance by the 1960s New York City poet-rock band The Fugs, with original members Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferburg, as well as lead guitarist/vocalist Steven Taylor, who is O’Sullivan’s uncle, as the band shares the same stage as many they have influenced.

Emerging Brooklyn artists on the bill include Amazing Baby, who seem to be playing everywhere right now after playing with MGMT over the past year (when will they headline their own show here?), as well as Acrylics, who came out of the same circle as Amazing Baby, MGMT and Chairlift and have a highly anticipated album coming out this summer.

Other bands on the bill that night include White Williams, Golden Triangle, the rappers George Positive & Spiderfang, and DJ Ben Brunnemer.

After seeing The Bell House, Ratner and del Conte knew the venue would be perfect for their benefit.

“With its easy access from the F train, its beautiful open performance space, and it’s cozy lounge, it was everything we envisioned. [It’s] high class Brooklyn style,” say the organizers.
The benefit also gives the duo a chance to raise awareness about brain cancer, which is increasingly found in young adults ages 20 to 39. O’Sullivan was only 23 when diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, less than one year after moving to Brooklyn to pursue a career in film after having graduated from the Vancouver Film School. A filmmaker, DJ and visual artist, O’Sullivan has worked on everal major films and commercials in New York City including the critically acclaimed documentary Wild Combination by Matt Wolf, about the late avant-garde composer Arthur Russell.

“Rory is a role model for us. His creativity and courage facing brain cancer inspires so many people,” says Ratner. “The support we’ve received from artists has been overwhelming. The collective energy of so many creative people will help Rory and raise awareness about brain tumors, which, according to experts, will reach epidemic proportions within the next decade.”

Rock4rorz is April 29 at 7 p.m. at The Bell House (149 7th St.). Tickets are $20 in advance, available for purchase at, or $25 the day of the show. A limited number of VIP tickets for $75 include a tote with a custom screen print by the artist Sarah Maher made exclusively for rock4rorz, in addition to other items. A raffle will also include donations from photographers Daniel Gordon, Reka Reisinger and Coley Brown as well as jewelry artist Kristen Baganz.


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