Thursday, January 14, 2010

The song doesn't remain the same in Brooklyn

By Meredith Deliso

From the Tuesday open mics at Bar 4 to the welcoming environment of Goodbye Blue Monday, Brooklyn’s music scene is one of communities.

One that’s been going promoting local talent for the last five years has been the Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange (BSE), which, after being hosted by Vox Pop in Flatbush and the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope, now has a home nearby at Union Hall.

And, on January 18, it kicks off its first show of 2010, a night of alternative Americana that also doubles as the release party for the series’ first (of what founder Rebecca Pronsky (pictured) hopes to be many) sampler, a mix that culls from the borough’s burgeoning and established crop of singer-songwriters.

“I wanted it to be as eclectic as possible,” says Pronksy, a Park Slope native who founded the BSE in 2005 as a way to promote local talent. Among the 14 tracks is a song off her latest album, the EP “Best Game in Town,” out this past spring. “I picked the artists that have played the series and made an impression on me and on the audience. I do have a lot of artists from out of town, so I wanted to keep it local for the sampler (as well).”

One of those local artists is Greenpoint-based musician Jason Myles Goss, a Massachusetts native who met Pronsky not in Brooklyn but in Cambridge during a songwriter festival several years ago. They kept in touch, and he wound up playing the series when it was at Vox Pop in what was one of his first shows in New York. He was invited back for the January 18 show and the sampler, which includes “Mississippi Red,” a song off his third album, “A Plea for Dreamland,” out this past summer.

“I was approaching it the same way you’d pick a single – something that would summarize what the project was like,” says Goss of his selection for the sampler. “My newest record sounds like a first, because a lot of my own writing has changed quite a bit since I got here. I started to take more from rootsy songwriters I was listening to a lot, like Gillian Welch, people who would write music that wasn’t in the traditional pop style.”

Another Welch fan is Annie Crane, a Bushwick-based singer-songwriter joining Pronksy and Goss on the January 18 bill. In the midst of promoting her debut full-length, “Through the Farmlands & the Cities,” Crane is a newbie to the BSE, and, since moving to the city three years ago from upstate New York, has immersed herself in similar communities, hanging out at local haunts like Brooklyn Tea Party and Northeast Kingdom.

“It’s a huge city and you can often feel lost,” says Crane. “But there are absolutely little pockets of people that are doing the same thing you’re doing and who can help you out. I’m really excited to play on the Songwriters Exchange to get to know some new musicians.”

Feel free to do the same yourself, when the Brooklyn Songwriters Exchange kicks off the new year January 18 at Union Hall (702 Union St.) at 8 p.m. in a round with Jason Myles Goss, Annie Crane, Rebecca Pronsky and Maia Macdonald.

All BSE shows are free, and are monthly on Mondays at Union Hall The BSE sampler will be available for free at all shows and at spots in the neighborhood.


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