Thursday, November 21, 2013



This week, Oscar- and Tony-Award winner and composer of the hit Broadway musical Once, Glen Hansard weighed in on Declan O'Rourke, saying, "Declan O'Rourke is one of the rare breed, he arrived fully formed, his songs, and delivery belie his age, and ours. He's a timeless troubadour with a voice that breaks through all your defenses and gets to the heart of the matter. One of the true greats of our island."

O'Rourke will kick off an east coast tour on December 3 as others have sung his praises from NPR World Café, which tabbed him a "Next" artist, to USA Today, which said, "The Irish balladeer's storytelling skills shine."

Travel + Leisure premiered the "Time Machine" video.

Declan O'Rourke December East Coast Tour Dates

December 3 - Tellus 360 - Lancaster, PA
December 4 – Passim - Cambridge, MA
December 6 - The Cutting Room - New York, NY
December 7 - Divinity Lutheran Church - Baltimore, MD


Brooklyn and Purchase, NY indie rock/shoegaze project Wry Climate released the EP 'Radio Tower Pulse' this week. Hear it here. weighed in, "The music of Wry Climate feels like waking up early, bleary-eyed and trying to piece together some half-forgotten dream. With songs that blend the laconic pop of Real Estate with a slow-building wash of shoegaze-y noise, the New York-based recording project-turned-band of Dan Nelson creates a wistful tone."

Blackbook raved, "It's recommended if you like Cheatahs, Real Estate, and daydreaming."

CMJ called it "a jolt of sonic collage art."

Pop Matters opined, "New York’s Wry Climate inventively updates ‘90s shoegaze riffs with notes of dreampop and bits of noise, turning their subtly complex tunes into something much more than the sum of their parts. The group has earned comparisons from Deerhunter to Dirty Projectors to Pavement, meaning they’re in good, eclectic company."

Monday, November 18, 2013



Leyla McCalla – Carolina Chocolate Drops member and vocalist/cellist whose solo album 'Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute To Langston Hughes' will be released February 4 on Music Maker Relief Foundation – has been added to an APAP showcase January 10 at City Winery with Wesley Stace hosting. She joins a bill with Stace (formerly John Wesley Harding), David Wax Museum, Arc Iris (Jocie Adams, formerly of The Low Anthem), Joy Kills Sorrow, Sam Lee, and Grace & Tony.

'Vari-Colored Songs' is a stunning solo debut consisting of original music set to Langston Hughes music; Haitian folk songs; and two originals.

WHO: Leyla McCalla, on a bill with David Wax Museum, Arc Iris, Joy Kills Sorrow, and others
WHAT: Wesley Stace's APAP Showcase
WHEN: Friday, January 10, 2014, 6:00pm doors, 8:00pm start
WHERE: City Winery, 155 Varick St, NYC
TICKETS: $18, 20, 25 at City Winery box office and

There is already buzz in the UK, where she has played on three BBC programs and the Guardian made her subject of a profile and a four-star review, saying that the album casts "a charming, resonant spell." Last month, she opened for Mavis Staples. Clive Davis of the Times (UK) called 'Vari-Colored Songs' a "triumph… unforgettable." Meanwhile, Songlines Magazine named 'Vari-Colored Songs' one of its top ten new albums, calling it "exquisite," continuing, "Anyone who's seen the Carolina Chocolate Drops will have been warmed by this young woman's artistry… this exploration of the city's under-explored Caribbean currents is most welcome; the Big Easy is, after all, as close – both geographically and culturally – to Port-au-Prince as it is to New York City."

Thursday, November 14, 2013



Next artist on NPR World Café and Irish singer-songwriter Declan O'Rourke will headline the Cutting Room December 6. His US debut album 'Mag Pai Zai' (Rimecoat / Missing Piece) has earned acclaim from the likes of USA Today, SPIN, Travel + Leisure, and beyond. NPR World Café host David Dye says, "It is definitely time for this music to cross the ocean... O'Rourke has a penchant for writing about love and history with equal amounts of ease and gravity."

Watch the "Time Machine" video.

The legendary John Prine – for whom O'Rourke has opened – said this month, "Declan O' Rourke is a great songwriter. He is a fine fellow too and I believe the missing link to the Inkspots."

WHO: Rimecoat / Missing Piece Records Artist Declan O'Rourke
WHAT: Headlining Concert
WHEN: 6:30pm, December 6, 2013
WHERE: The Cutting Room, 44 E 32nd St, NYC

"Compassion, romance, a sense of mortality, and a sense of history run through the songs of Declan O'Rourke… his calling is as a balladeer, proffering reassurance in the face of inevitable sorrow." – Jon Pareles, NY Times

"Declan O'Rourke is long overdue for a stateside breakthrough." – Luke McCormick, SPIN

"The Irish balladeer's storytelling skills shine." – Edna Gundersen, USA Today,

"Warm, enveloping voice." – Eric Danton, Wall Street Journal

"Classic crooning sound." – Nate Storey, Travel + Leisure

"Greatness... A listen to a song like 'Time Machine,' 'Caterpillar DNA' or 'Langley's Requiem' is to feel a biting wind blow right through you, and have you reaching for the first warmth available. Heaviness has never had a better home."– Bill Bentley, Morton Report

"Be warned: O’Rourke isn’t just another balladeer with an acoustic guitar. His voice, lyrics and arrangements have distinct impact." – Chuck Campbell, Knoxville News-Sentinel

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

About Plymouth Church

Our History

Plymouth Church was founded in 1847 by transplanted New Englanders who wanted a Congregational church like those in which they had been raised, with a simple order of worship, governed by the congregation.

The 21 men and women who founded the church in Brooklyn Heights called as their first pastor Henry Ward Beecher, thus beginning the most prominent ministry in the second half of 19th century America. Beecher's powerful preaching and outspoken opposition to slavery filled the pews to overflowing, so it was a blessing in disguise just two years later when fire damaged Plymouth's original church on Cranberry Street. A new red brick Sanctuary seating 2,800 was quickly constructed, fronting on Orange Street behind the ruined original. That first building was later rebuilt to house offices, parlors and Sunday School rooms.

Under Beecher's influence, Plymouth Church held deep philosophical connections with the Underground Railroad--the secretive network of people who helped slaves escape to the North and Canada. Documentary evidence lends support to the belief that Plymouth was also a site of active participation, known as Brooklyn's “Grand Central Depot.”

Beecher was a master at creating public events to strengthen the fight against slavery. He staged mock “auctions” at Plymouth, urging the congregation to purchase the freedom of actual slaves. During one service, he trampled the chains that had bound John Brown. He invited famous anti-slavery advocates to speak at the Church, including William Lloyd Garrison, Sojourner Truth, Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, and Frederick Douglass.

Beecher was also an ardent supporter of congregational singing during church services, with all members participating. With his brother, Charles Beecher, and Plymouth's organist, John Zundel, he began compiling a book of hymns for his church. Beecher published The Plymouth Collection in 1855, introducing the world's first modern hymnal in which words and music were printed on the same page.

Many celebrated Americans became a part of Plymouth history. In February 1860, the as-yet unannounced presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln was invited to speak at Plymouth Church. The Young Men's Republican Union, perhaps fearing that few people would cross the icy East River, moved the speech at the last moment to The Great Hall of The Cooper Union in Manhattan. This momentous speech, in which Lincoln stated his position against slavery, is credited with winning him the Republican nomination for president. In spite of the relocation, Lincoln did attend church at Plymouth the day before, and his pew is now marked with a silver plaque. Three weeks later, after campaigning in New Hampshire, Lincoln again worshiped here. Plymouth is the only church in New York City Lincoln ever attended.

In 1867, a group from the Church undertook a five-and-a-half month voyage aboard the steamer Quaker City to Europe and the Holy Land. Joining them as a journalist was the young Mark Twain. His satiric account of this pioneering tour group, The Innocents Abroad, was Twain's best-selling work throughout his lifetime. Twain spoke at Plymouth, as did many other famous writers and activists, including Clara Barton, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, and William Thackery. More recently, in February 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon on "The American Dream," echoed just months later in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.

Beecher died suddenly in 1887 and was succeeded first by Lyman Abbott, a lawyer turned minister and religious journalist, and then by Newell Dwight Hillis, who oversaw the completion of the Plymouth campus as it exists today.

In 1934, Plymouth Church merged with the neighboring Church of the Pilgrims, the first Congregational church in Brooklyn, becoming Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. Organized in 1844, Church of the Pilgrims had as its founding pastor Richard Salter Storrs, who served the Church until 1900. Like Beecher, Storrs was one of the most famous clergymen in America, known as a thinker, writer, and orator of note. Selected as Brooklyn's keynote speaker at the dedication of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883, Storrs was also a trustee of Amherst College and president of both the Long Island Historical Society (now known as the Brooklyn Historical Society), and the American Historical Association.

The original Church of the Pilgrims was housed in architect Richard Upjohn's 1846 building at the corner of Henry and Remsen Streets in Brooklyn Heights, now the home of Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church.

In the 1950s, Plymouth chose to remain an independent Congregational church, rather than join either of two new Congregational denominations formed after World War Two: the United Church of Christ or the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. Instead, Plymouth belongs to the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, a fellowship of several hundred autonomous Congregational churches.

In acknowledgment of Plymouth Church's significant and unique place in American History, the National Register of Historic Places designated the church a National Historic Landmark in 1961.

In September 2011, Plymouth Church returned to its original name, without the added "of the Pilgrims," for all public purposes. In going back to our roots prior to the 1934 merger with Church of the Pilgrims, Plymouth Church welcomes a new era with a name as modern as it is historic.

The roots of Congregationalism go back to the English Reformation and, as the name Plymouth suggests, the earliest settlers of New England. From our colonial roots, marked by simple white meetinghouses on virtually every village green in New England, Plymouth has expanded its present-day identity to reflect the broad diversity of our urban Brooklyn community.

About Free The Slaves

Guiding Principles
Everything we do is weighed against one simple question: will this free slaves and help them stay free?

  • We believe all people have the right to be free from any form of slavery and to realize their true potential.

  • We are committed to supporting sustainable solutions that don't hurt those we're trying to help.

  • We base all our strategies on accurate research.

  • We are committed to building a diverse movement and to seeking guidance from local and regional anti-slavery programs around the world.

  • We are non-partisan and politically independent.

  • We are transparent with our finances and programs.
Our Approach
Slavery flourishes when people cannot meet their basic needs, and lack economic opportunity, education, healthcare and honest government.  A holistic approach is required to eradicate slavery forever. That's why we:

  • Free slaves around the world by working with grassroots organizations where slavery flourishes.

  • Record and share their stories so people in power can see slavery and be inspired to work for freedom.

  • Enlist businesses to clean slavery out of their product chains and empower consumers to stop buying into slavery.

  • Work with governments to produce effective anti-slavery laws then hold them to their commitments.

  • Research what works and what doesn't so that we use resources strategically and effectively to end slavery. Forever.

Our goal: to end slavery in our lifetime.

Free the Slaves Organizational Description:

Free the Slaves liberates slaves, helps them rebuild their lives, and transforms the social, economic

and political forces that allow slavery to persist. We support community-driven interventions in

partnership with local groups that help people to sustainable freedom and dismantle a region’s

system of slavery. We convince governments, international development organizations and

businesses to implement key changes required for global eradication. We document and disseminate

leading-edge practices to help the anti-slavery movement work more effectively. We raise awareness

and promote action by opinion leaders, decision makers and the public. Free the Slaves is showing

the world that ending slavery is possible.

Most Recent Facts about Modern Day Slavery

• 21-30 million people are trapped in slavery around the world today (Sources 1+2)

• 22% of slavery victims today are in sex slavery (Source 1)

• 78% of slavery victims today are in forced labor slavery (Source 1)

• 55% of slavery victims today are women and girls (Source 1)

• 45% of slavery victim today are men and boys (Source 1)

• 26% of slaves today are children under age 18 (Source 1)


1. U.N. International Labor Organization Global Estimate of Forced Labor 2012


2. Walk Free Global Slavery Index 2013

Where is Slavery Worst?

• Mauritania has the highest percentage of its population in slavery: 4%

• India has the largest number of people in slavery: 14 million

• The U.S. has 60,000 victims in slavery today

• Top 10 per-capita slavery hot spots: Mauritania, Haiti, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Moldova,

Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Gabon,

• The U.S. ranks 134th


Walk Free Global Slavery Index 2013

 out of 162 countries for slavery prevalence

Countries Where Free the Slaves Works

India, Nepal, Ghana, Congo (DRC), Haiti, Brazil

Let Freedom Ring! performer photos

Left to right: Reggie Torian, Fred Cash, Sam Gooden

Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens

Free the Slaves logo

The Impressions bio

The Impressions originally formed in 1958 in Chicago. The group was founded as The Roosters by

Chattanooga, TN, natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks, who moved to Chicago and

added Jerry Butler and Curtus Mayfield to their line-up to become Jerry Butler & the Impressions. By

1962, Butler and the Brookses had departed, and after switching to ABC-Paramount Records, Mayfield,

Gooden, and new Impression Fred Cash collectively became a top-selling soul act. Mayfield left the group

for a solo career in 1970; Leroy Hutson, Ralph Johnson, Reggie Torian, Sammy Fender and Nate Evans

were among the replacements who joined Gooden and Cash. Inductees into both the Rock and Roll Hall

of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame, The Impressions are best known for their 1960s string of hits,

many of which were heavily influenced by gospel music and served as inspirational anthems for the Civil

Righys Movement. They are also 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame inductees for their hit “People get ready”

and are winners of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award in 2000.

Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield met while singing in the same Chicago Church choir After singing in a

number of local gospel groups, the two of them joined a doo-wop group called "The Roosters" in 1957,

whose members included Chattanooga, TN, natives Sam Gooden, Richard Brooks and his brother

Arthur Brooks. By 1958, The Roosters had a new manager in Eddie Thomas, a record deal with Vee-Jay

Records, and a new name: Jerry Butler & the Impressions.

The group's first hit single was 1958's "For Your Precious Love", which hit #11 on the US pop charts and

#3 on the R&B charts. However, soon after the release of the R&B Top 30 hit "Come Back My Love",

Butler left the group to go on to a successful solo career. After briefly touring with the now-solo Butler

as his guitarist, Curtis Mayfield became the group's new lead singer and songwriter and Fred Cash, a

returning original Roosters member, was appointed as the new fifth member.

The Impressions got a new deal with ABC-Paramount Records in 1961, and released their first post-
Butler single. That single, "Gypsy Woman", was their biggest single to date, hitting #2 on the R&B charts

and #20 on the pop chart. Successive singles failed to match "Gypsy Woman’s” success, and Richard

and Arthur Brooks ended up leaving the group in 1962.

The Impressions continued as a trio, and soon aligned themselves with producer johnny Pate, who

helped to update their sound and create a more lush soul sound for the group. The result was “It's all

right,” a 1963 million-selling gold single that topped the R&B charts and made it to #4 on the pop charts,

and became one of the group's signature songs. “It's All Right” and "Gypsy Woman" were the anchors of

The Impressions' first LP, 1963's The Impressions.

1964 brought the first of Mayfield's black pride anthem compositions, “Keep on Pushing”, which became a

Top 10 smash on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts, peaking at #10 Pop. It was the title cut from the

album of the same name, which also reached the Top 10 on both charts. Future Mayfield compositions

would feature an increasingly social and political awareness, including the following year's major hit and

the group's best-known song, the gospel-influenced “People get ready", which hit #3 on the R&B charts

In the mid-1960s, The Impressions, were compared with Motown acts such as The Temptations, The

Miracles and The Four Tops. After 1965's "Woman's Got Soul", and the #7 pop hit "Amen", The

Impressions failed to reach the R&B Top Ten for three more years, finally scoring in 1968 with the #9 "I

Loved and Lost". “We're a winner,” which hit #1 on the R&B charts that same year, represented a new

level of social awareness in Mayfield's music. Mayfield created his own label, Curtom, and moved The

Impressions to the label. Over the next two years, more Impressions message tracks, including the #1

R&B hit "Choice of Colors” (1969) and the #3 "Check Out Your Mind" (1970), became big hits for the

It should also be noted that 'The Impressions' were a huge influence on Bob Marley and The Wailers and

other ska/rocksteady groups in Jamaica: The Wailers modeled their singing/harmony style on them and in

part borrowed their look, too. There are many covers of Impressions songs by The Wailers,

including 'Keep On Moving', 'Long Long Winter' and 'Just Another Dance'. Pat Kelly covered 'Soulful

Love' and The Heptones covered 'I've Been Trying'. No doubt the social consciousness of Curtis

Mayfield's lyrics appealed as well as the spectacular harmonies.

After the release of the Check Out Your Mind LP in 1970, Mayfield left the group and began a successful

solo career, the highlight of which was writing and producing the “Super Fly” soundtrack. He continued to

write and produce for The Impressions, who remained on Curtom. Leroy Hutson was the first new lead

singer for the group following Mayfield's departure, but success eluded The Impressions, and Hutson left

New members Ralph Johnson and Reggie Torian replaced Hutson, and The Impressions had three R&B

Top 5 singles in 1974–1975: the #1 "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)" (which also

reached the Pop top 20 ) , and the #3 singles "Same Thing it Took" and "Sooner or Later". In 1976, The

Impressions left Curtom and Mayfield behind for Cotillion Records and had their final major hit

The Impressions were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, and into the Vocal Group

Hall of Fame in 2003. The members who got to take part in this honor, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

inductees, were Sam Gooden, Jerry Butler, Richard Brooks, Curtis Mayfield, Arthur Brooks, and Fred

In 2008, Universal Music & Hip O Records released Movin' On Up - the first-ever video compilation of The

Impressions, featuring brand new interviews with original Impressions members Sam Gooden and Fred

Cash, along with taped interviews with the late Curtis Mayfield and video performances of the group's

greatest hits and several of Mayfield's solo hits.

The group's first million-selling hit song "For Your Precious Love" is ranked #327 on the Rollin Stone

magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of all Time,and their hit People Get Ready is ranked #24 on

that same list. The latter song has also been chosen as one of the Top 10 Best Songs Of All Time by a

panel of 20 top industry songwriters and producers, including Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and others,

as reported to Britain's Mojo music magazine.

Today's Impressions consist of Fred Cash, Sam Gooden and Reggie Torian. In 2011, English fans

celebrated the first ever public shows by the Impressions in Manchester and London, backed by the

Curtom Orchestra. That same year, the Impressions also performed at the official concert for the

dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Impressions returned to the UK in 2012 and performed in Madrid, Spain, at the Black is Back Festival.

In July 2013, they released their first single in more than 30 years, the Curtis-Mayfield penned hit for

Major Lance, "Rhythm," produced by Binky Griptite of the Dap-Kings and arranged by Johnny

Tuesday, November 12, 2013



Memphis soul men The Bo-Keys will release two vinyl/digital-only 45s today on Electraphonic Recordings. The band joins with legendary vocalists Spencer Wiggings and Percy Wiggins for a deep soul rendition of the Dan Penn and Chips Moman classic hit "At The Dark End of the Street." Versions by Cat Power, Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Ryan Adams, and in the film "The Commitments" have kept it in the public eye and Penn and Moman are most recently celebrated in the new documentary "Muscle Shoals." B-side "Wind Up Monkey" sounds like a lost, funky instrumental cut from Stax or Duke/Peacock, which debuted yesterday at Wax Poetics.

The Bo-Keys also teamed up with soul powerhouse Percy Wiggins to bring you their other new single steeped in the Bluff City heat, the original "I Need More Than One Lifetime." The B-side is a funky instrumental take on Ennio Morricone’s cult Western film theme "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly."

Check out a mini-documentary on the singles series, which premiered on the Huffington Post last week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Unforgettable" (Times UK) Leyla McCalla Opens For Mavis Staples; Earns Honors From UK Songlines


Presently on tour in Europe, Carolina Chocolate Drop Leyla McCalla has earned incredible acclaim for her debut solo album 'Vari-Colored Songs: A Tribute To Langston Hughes,' out February 4 in the US on Music Maker Relief Foundation:

+ She opened for Mavis Staples October 28 in Paris at New Morning.
+ The Times' Clive Davis called 'Vari-Colored Songs' a "triumph… unforgettable."
+ Songlines Magazine named 'Vari-Colored Songs' one of its top ten new albums, calling it "exquisite," continuing, "Anyone who's seen the Carolina Chocolate Drops will have been warmed by this young woman's artistry… this exploration of the city's under-explored Caribbean currents is most welcome; the Big Easy is, after all, as close – both geographically and culturally – to Port-au-Prince as it is to New York City."

McCalla will play APAP in New York City in January, 2014.