From string quartets to brass bands, the musicians who played the Paste Studio in NYC last month ran the gamut of instrumentalist formations. We also welcomed bands with ties to Syria and the Nile River, as well as from all over the U.S. and right here in the Big Apple. After polling our New York staff, here are five of our favorite sessions from April 2017.
1. Violents + Monica Martin
Violents + Monica Martin played their first official performance together righter here in the Paste Studio. The duo, which includes pianist and songwriter Jeremy Larson and former PHOX frontwoman Monica Martin, was backed by a gorgeous string quartet, who they had also just met that morning.
“We did some stuff in my studio once, but this is our first performance,” said Violents’ Jeremy Larson in between songs. You’d never be able to tell; their performances of “Equal Powers,” “How It Left” and “Unraveling” are absolutely lovely. —Bonnie Stiernberg
2. Justin Townes Earle
Kids in the Street, Justin Townes Earle’s seventh full-length, is out May 26 via New West Records. Stopping by the studio to play three new tracks, Earle discussed working with Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis, who produced the album, and his philosophy on album covers (Kids in the Street marks the first time he has appeared alone on a cover, sans accompanying female). He also discussed the more uplifting themes and newfound perspectives making their way into his songwriting on this new album. —Carter Shelter
3. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since Me First and the Gimme Gimmes released their first album of punky covers of non-punk songs, 1997’s Have a Ball. Seven albums and many shiny shirts later, the Gimmes have arranged and performed enough tributes—from Elton John to Barbra Streisand to Boyz 2 Men—to compile a greatest-hits album, appropriately titled Raking It In: The Greatestest Hits. A four-piece edition of the Gimme Gimmes (Spike Slawson, Scott Shiflett, Joey Cape and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley) crashed out pad to play four tunes with very different pedigrees. —Matthew Oshinsky
4. Béla Fleck
Touring in support of his newest work, Juno Concerto, 16-time Grammy-winning banjoist Béla Fleck stopped by the office to noodle and chat. Although he didn’t actually play any of the movements from that concerto, Fleck did offer a Bach partita and an improvised interpretation of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Check it out below. —Hilary Saunders
5. Lucky Chops
Lucky Chops blew off the ceiling when they treated us to some brassy cuts in the Paste Studio. The quintet, which got its start at LaGuardia High School in New York city more than a decade ago, rocks a sousaphone-saxophone-trombone-trumpet-drums lineup, leaving typical rock elements like guitars, vocals, and keyboards on the bench. Here, they played some cuts from their new EP, Walter, as well as a raucous version of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter.” —Matthew Oshinsky