Letter From Camp NYC Pizza, Vol II

Posted in Home Slice in NYC by robhomeslice on October 1, 2013

Dear Austin,

 

 

The view from the Staten Island Ferry is pretty amazing, especially at sunset when the great golden ball retreats to the West, to be closer to you, dear Austin.  The ferry is packed w/ commuters returning from Manhattan to the fifth borough. They sit on the benches, not staring at the beautiful vista, not looking out at the bay where Ellis Island still stands, haunted still by the thousands and thousands who passed through it, carrying paper packages tied with string. We lean over the railing, catching the breeze in our hair. We are headed to Denino’s, and we are hungry.

 

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Jessica, Jenna and Jackie ready for some more pizza!!

Addie, short for Adeline, greets us with a loud shout over the packed restaurant, over the tables crammed with regulars, each of whom would later tell us: “I grew up at this place”. The Homies in Staten Island are legit, Austin. Friendly and fearless, so totally at ease and at home in this family shop stacked w/ a century’s worth of tradition and comfort.  We sit at two long tables in the back room and try to remember to pace ourselves as the salads are followed by the wings followed by pizza after pizza after pizza. Their dough is so good; each pizza is perfectly round and cooked just right. They use gas ovens like ours, cooking directly on stone: no screens, no short-cuts – and every time nothing but net. Denino’s is like that old man at the playground who schools every hotshot by hitting three-pointer after three-pointer. Practice, it is clear, makes perfect.

 

I walk outside to call my sweet wife back home. It’s maybe 10:30 on a Wednesday night and the ice cream shop across the street has three lines, four deep, that constantly stay that way by the cars pulling up and the families getting out.  The New England houses are simple and practical two story buildings. The trees that line the street are thinning; Fall is close.  When I go back into the shop they’ve put “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” on the juke box in our honor. A few of us move to the makeshift dance floor between the tables in the main dining room and two-step. Nano takes a middle-aged Staten Islander by her hand and dances with her. She is giddy, her ruddy cheeks blushing. We are not the first to dance in this way, impromptu and joyous, in this shop. I can tell it has happened a thousand times before, and will continue on forever. As this is that kind of place: where the neighborhood ties of family mean something, where the heart of that neighborhood is that shop. We, as a group, are honored in that moment for being recognized and named as family. I miss my wife, at home w/ you Austin, more and more. Being in the center of a family like that reminds you of the family you have, the neighborhood that is yours.  I sure miss you, Austin.

 

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All aboard the pizza party bus!

 

We meet the next morning and walk uptown to Madison Square Park with Shake Shack and EATALY in our sites. We go into EATALY first. This is the huge, and I mean like big-as-a-city-block-and-some-five-stories-high, super market. And I mean SUPER. It is like an old school European Market w/ constellations of counters and mongers of every type and kind. I stand dumbfounded in their bakery where three guys are cutting down a huge piece of dough, folding it into loaves. One of the baker’s apprentices off-handedly picks up a handful of flour and tosses it against the glass, where I stand. He smiles at me with the kind of playful irreverence we love and value at Home Slice. I love this guy. I make my way to the drawers of dried mushrooms and smell each, thinking about the earth they came from, the people who picked them, the travel they made to come here in the middle of Manhattan, and the vision of the great Chef Mario Batali who is the genius who knew that EATALY was exactly the sort of thing New Yorkers needed: a place where artists could work, and where the community would benefit from that art. Each department of the store is like an old Roman City State, separate and independent brought together by Caesar’s Road. Batali is that kind of Caesar. Hail Batali!

 

The line at Shake Shack is already curving the South End of the Park, already a good 30 people deep before we double it w/ our crew. There are probably 30 employees inside of the tiny building, each moving fast and fluid. There is no room inside for any kind of loose elbow, no space for any slumping body. The woman at the counter is cheerful and kind, her Bronx accent thick and lush. She doesn’t blink twice at the size of our crew, or of disorganization. She smiles sweetly as we bumble through our order, making changes as we go. Minutes later we are sitting in the park, being harassed by the pigeons, eating burgers and fries, each one equally as beautiful as the next. There is nothing slapdash in what they are doing. We are inspired by their stamina, and their dedication to excellence.

 

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Thank God For Shake Shack.

That evening we went to Lombardi’s on Mulberry in Little Italy. It’s just a short walk from the hotel, Austin, just a few blocks. Lombardi’s is THE OLDEST pizza shop. The apprentices from that shop, way back at the beginning of the 20th century, went on to open Totonno’s in Coney Island, John’s in the Village, and Patsy’s uptown in Harlem. Lombardi’s oven is bigger than your car, Austin, and runs close to 900°. The guy working the oven wears safety goggles and heavy gloves. The peel he sticks into the oven to move the pizzas around is as big as a Viking Oar, and heavy to boot. These guys in the kitchen are moving fast but quiet. There is no room for error, there is no space for indolence. They open up the coal feed and I stare into the fire. I swear, Austin, time stopped for me when I got close to that fire. I got as close as I could, feeling the heat come off the coal, staring into the white hot void. Feeling the skin on my face tighten, I could hear only the fire in front of me, where the coals have been burning for the last 100 years. I was transported, Austin, as if I were staring into Vesuvius. They pulled me away from my trance, as I would not have moved any other way. I went upstairs to join the crew.

 

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The dudes lined up and ready at Lombardi’s!

The pizzas that came out were crisp and charred, each burn a birthmark, a badge of honor. Their tiny pepperonis curl up like the Grinch’s smirk. Their ricotta, so beautiful and scalloped, is charred at its wispy tips. The flavor of that oven is undeniable. The coal’s accent lingers on the dough. I walk Jenna, one of our cooks, over to the chimney that is built into the wall that runs down to that huge oven below. We put our hands on the brick and feel the heat. It isn’t so great that we are repulsed by it but rather so comforting that we both find ourselves moving closer to the stone wall, embracing the heat that feels like a warm hug, that feels like the sun baking your body after you just get out of Barton Springs. We hold hands while holding on to that wall. It is amazing how current runs through us humans, transferring at the fingertips and palms. We are conductors, all of us. I feel it in each slice of pie I eat. I feel the work and pride of Lombardi’s Army. I feel the history and careful dedication to excellence. It comes through loud and clear, above the din of the other diners, beyond the cacophony of Little Italy on the precipice of the San Generro Feast.

 

The weather has turned on our last day, Austin. The thick humidity has fallen even heavier on the concrete. The storm clouds rolling in from the West are menacing and serious.  The light in the city is dim even at mid-day. Traffic is thick. We march West to the Highline, a beautiful park along the West Side Highway, built on the skeletal remains of the El Train. It is planted w/ wildflowers and herbs. It is strange, Austin, to be standing three stories above Manhattan, with a nose full of Sage and Rosemary. We wait on a few pizzas from the new addition of a respected shop from the East Side.  We are tired, Austin, and the pizzas can’t really come soon enough. Soon enough for our bellies, which still demand more pizza. Soon enough for the threatening sky, which will open up sooner rather than later. They quote us a ½ an hour for the pizzas, which is respectable. The guys behind the line kind of balk when they see the size of our order (4 pizzas), and grumble amongst themselves about this weird pop in the otherwise slow morning. One guy shrugs his shoulders while building a large salad into a pizza box. “It’ll be done when it’s done,” he said to no one.  The order takes double the amount of time, a full hour after all is said an done. The sky opens up as if on cue when Terri & Jen step out onto 10th Avenue to head up the stairs to the highline. The rain comes down w/ the intensity of a Central Texas gulley-washer. The rain is thick and fat, cold and heavy. We scramble, along with everyone else (including Alec Baldwin) to cover under a building built above the highline. There are stalls along the side with people selling coffee, or juice, or prints, and now umbrellas. We’ve lost Jen and Terri to the rain. Nano goes off in search and returns shortly w/ Jen, Terri, and the pizzas that took too long.

 

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Sometimes the only way to deal with bad weather is with a little vino.

My Goodness, Austin, those pizzas just weren’t that good. I could tell from the cuts on the pies alone that the cats working that shop just didn’t care. The cook quality on each pizza varied wildly. Even their signature Artichoke Pie was flawed and runny. In that moment I felt so sad for those cooks who don’t know the satisfaction of continually pressing past the line of excellence. They don’t know the joy that comes from making a stranger happy. They don’t know how a promise is a promise, and thirty minutes means thirty minutes.  I thought about my small gang of cooks back home, tending those ovens and making the magic happen. I thought about how each cook works to maintain quality above quantity, and how deeply they respect the customer they can not see. Each pizza, after all, is a kind of gift. It is that thing you open on Christmas morning. Wrapping paper strewn, boxes ripped asunder, revealing either that thing that was given with love, or that thing that was simply a quo following someone else’s quid. Those guys, at that shop, on that day, did the bare minimum and gave what little they had to offer. So sad for them. So sad for those who will go unsuspecting and receive only what money can buy.  I think again of our shop there on South Congress, and the staff that continues to delight themselves by exceeding what had been possible.  I miss my cooks, dear Austin, almost as much as I miss you. But I am happy, here on the West Side Highway, that you have each other.

 

It is our final dinner, Austin, at Rubirosa in the heart of Little Italy, on the opening day of the San Gennero Feast. Rubirosa is small and intimate, a kind of warm rabbit warren of a shop w/ twisting turns of hallways that lead to the back room where our group sits. The courses come with Italian timing, perfectly lazy with plenty of space in between for conversation and more wine. We are chummy, Austin, there together in that space. The dishes are large, family style; it suits us perfectly. Each of us makes a plate for the other. We feed each other in this way, course after course. Though our service skills are sharp it is our love that really makes this happen. We are all so happy to be together in this way, sharing ourselves and our meal.

 

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View from the Ferry. We sure do love you, NYC.

Nano gives the final speech of the trip, raising his glass to the group. He breaks down “enjoy” linguistically and gets to the thesis that it really means BRINGING JOY. As he looks around the room, from cook to host, from host to waiter, from waiter to concierge, from concierge to manager, from manager to owner, he sees that unifying trait: each brings joy wherever they go, like the tiny tinder Prometheus stole from the bottom of Vesuvius when Zeus wasn’t looking. I am surrounded, dear Austin, by this gang of lovers, this team of caretakers. We raise our glasses to the work we’ve done in the past. We raise our glasses to the work we will do in the future. We raise a final toast to you, Austin. We are ready to come home.

 

 

-Philly

 

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Letter From Camp NYC Pizza, Vol I

Posted in Home Slice in NYC by robhomeslice on September 24, 2013

Dearest Austin,

 

 

We landed at JFK tired, a little confused, and hungry. We were right on track following the steps of the Italian immigrant history of pizza, here in old New York City. It’s 28 of us, Austin. Some of us have gone every year for the last six; some of us have never been to New York before at all. Some of us worked until about three hours before the plane took off @7:00 AM yesterday. Some were too nervous too sleep. All of us, dear Austin, came here on our pilgrimage w/ a piece of Austin in our hearts. It is the graffiti we leave behind here in this concrete canyon, here is this tall city w/ small strips of sky. We come like the immigrants before us, with our native Texas soil in the crease of our shoes, to New York so that we can learn more than we know, test what we believe, and, unlike the immigrants, to return home to the soft and rolling hills, the clear and wide sky, the sweet and cool rivers and greenbelt, of the City that is our home, the place where our ovens burn.

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Mike and Liv soaking in NYC.

We went straight to L&B Spumoni, in Gravesend, Brooklyn, just spitting distance from Bensonhurst. It is an aging Italian community and there, for 63 years, is this pizza shop: L&B. It has a wall of ovens, 3 triple stacks in a row, w/ a fourth in the corner, a pounding table between it and the long line of shiny, metal deck ovens. Out front there is a large patio, lined w/ long rows of bench tables. The locals outnumber the tourists 2:1, and tourists arrive in busses for the famous Sicilian Square pie.  The accents are amazing, Austin. They are sharp, and lyrical, and hard nosed. Everyone, it seemed, was talking about “Dis Guy” or “Dat Guy”. Everyone was advising the other: “fuggehdaboutit”. We could not fugghedabout their pie, their famous Sicilian. Its lift is something else, Austin – like pound cake. The sauce is sweet, not quite like cake icing but somehow not quite not like cake icing. The pizza men carried pie after pie out of their kitchens into the patio, to the waiting groups of families, and strangers who had become friends. I can’t lie, I think our Sicilian is different – crisper, lighter, less saucy, but saucier in attitude. Confident and sexy. Just like you, Austin.

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The whole gang getting Lucali all to ourselves.

We later went to Lucali, in Carroll Gardens. This little shop is just over seven years old (remind you of any other pizza shops you might know?). The owner and pizza maker, Mark Ionoco, is a neighborhood guy who made good and took over a failing candy store and converted it into a shop which is, in its own way, an homage to Dom DiMarco @ DiFara’s Pizza. Mark is cooking in a 900° wood fired oven. He hangs his kitchen mandolin on the parmesan grinder mounted on the corner of the thick marble slab where he hunches and stretches his dough. His pies cook in just under three minutes, with minimalist but bona fide ingredients. Oh, Austin, I wish you could meet Mark. We’re trying to convince him to come visit. He’s dying to do so. He’s heard so much about you. Mark opened his shop to us, and talked pizza w/ us. He was kind of stunned at what we knew, and that there were so many of us. It is simply him and an apprentice, in his shop, with three very, very pretty women working the front of house and lavishing us w/ hospitality. We shook hands when we left, pleased to meet a brother in arms, and friend in a strange place.

Today we took pizzas from Ben’s, pizzas from Prince Street Pizza, Italian, Meatball, and Eggplant subs from Faccio’s (est. 1932) and carried the entire picnic across the island of Manhattan to the piers on the West Side, with the beautiful Statue of Liberty directly South of us, and New Jersey to the West. We stared West, past that industrial skyline, and knew you were past that horizon, Austin. We ate slices, sharing bites. We fed each other sandwiches, careful of the messy and downright sexy marinara sauce on the meatball and eggplant parms. Their Italian Assorted was brilliant in the contrast of the spices in the cured Italian meats, and the zing of the vinegar dressing the lettuce and tomatoes. The picked peppers are an amazing touch. The bread, so soft and deep in texture and flavor, is dusty w/ flour, and split up the side like a taco.

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Spencer and Kevin hogging all the leftovers.

There are no Breakfast Tacos here, Austin. It is hard to believe.  It’s most hard to believe in the morning, when you really want a taco.

We leave in a couple of hours for Staten Island, to Denino’s Pizzeria. It’s a home grown, family shop now run by ex-fireman Mike. Mike’s great grandfather John (American born and Sicilian Immigrant’s son) opened the shop in 1937Mike also has a room full of ovens, like L&B, satisfying the community that grew up eating that pie for special occasions of celebration, or simple occasions of families joining for food. Their pie is special, Austin. Crisp and perfectly cooked. Served w/ a kind of Staten Island sass that warms your heart, and tickles your ribs.

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Keegan, Jeff and Jackie ready for more food. Bring it!

We are two days in, Austin, w/ two more to go. There is so much to see, so much to try to learn. So many great cooks and pizza makers.  And, I have to tell the truth: the people here are really, really nice. New York has been kind and loving to us.

But we look forward to coming home, Austin. To be with you, day and night. To feed you the pie we make with love, in the town that is our home. We are immigrants no more, Austin. And in two days, we will be home.

-Philly

Sicilian Pie Is Here!!

Posted in Sicilian Pizza! by robhomeslice on May 28, 2013

Get Hip to the Square! 

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Thick, airy, saucy and complete with a crisp, oil-fried bottom, the legit Sicilian slice you’ve been craving is now available at Home Slice! A staple of most NY slice places, Sicilian-style pizza has always intrigued us, and this past spring we started developing our own recipe in earnestNow that it’s perfected, we’re serving it on Mondays only – by the slice or the whole pie — until we run out. Please come try it out and tell us what you think!

The Home Slice Sicilian is

  • A square slice, with 9 slices in one pie.
  • Made with an artisan dough that takes longer to rise
  • Similar to focaccia, airy and has body.
  • Is soft with a crisp, olive oil fried bottom.
  • Worth the wait; it cooks longer than a normal pizza – 13 minutes in the pan and two minutes out of the pan, directly on the pizza stone.
  • The plain is topped with Home Slice house sauce, provolone, thinly sliced mozzarella, Romano and oregano – and in true Sicilian style the cheese is underneath the sauce! And the pepperoni has all that and…well… loads of our delicious pepperoni.
  • $3.50/slice plain; $3.75/slice pepperoni; $22 for a whole plain pie and 24.50 for a whole pepperoni pie.
  • Like all Home Slice Pizza, made with love

Our poetic kitchen manager, Phil, rolls his sleeves up yet again to share how our Sicilian slice fits into an illustrious history:

Sicily.

This craggy bit of rock sticking out of the Mediterranean, flaunting the smoking tip of Mt. Etna, is on the other side of the Italy, separated by the Straits of Messina where mermaids were first sighted.  Sicily has been consistently invaded and abandoned, every hundred years or so, since about the 4th century BC. The population, generation after generation, became stronger and stronger, more and more reliable upon themselves, cherishing their independence and freedom as only an occupied people can.

Then they came to America. Italian Grocers began putting ovens in the back of their shops. Locals stopped in for food from the old country, community in the new neighborhood, and for this new thing they were making: pizza.

When the Atomic Age hit, pizza became undeniably American with the advent of Industrial Ovens using gas instead of coal, made of steel instead of stone. The old school Italians, of course, kept using stone to cook on. Pizzas went from being Neapolitan, small and puffy, to New York Style – Large, crisp, and divided into slices. This meant that what had been a food designed for one person became food designed for one family.

It was in the 50s and 60s that the Sicilian Pizza was born. The Sicilian, so named for that romantic bit of rock in between Africa and Italy. The Sicilian, the left-handed cousin. Luka Brasi was from Sicily. That huge, loyal, dependable killer: Sicilian.

The Sicilian Pizza is a different dough from New York Style. While the New York style is strong and springy the Sicilian is soft and lush. While each goes through a 48-hour proofing period, the proof for the Sicilian is mostly at room temperature, while the New York Style is cold fermented the majority of the time. While New York Style is round, the Sicilian is square – dependable in its right angles and geometry.

Sicilian Pizza is called everything from “Sicilian” to “Square Pie” to “Upside Down Pie” to “The Grandma Slice”. It carries all these different monikers because each time it was conceived it was brought about by someone’s personal affection. These were Italian Americans who had moved to Brooklyn and Staten Island from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Italians who had settled in Jersey. Each shop began making its own version of the square pie, invoking the Grandmother for luck. “The Grandma Slice” says it all. The Grandma is the one who can make use of everything extra in the kitchen. The Grandma is the one who will find a way to take dough that is old, and make it useful. The Grandma is the one who will take sauce, which is the most loved and cared for of all recipes in an Italian kitchen, and bring it to the forefront of attention by making it the centerpiece of the Upside Down Pie, the Square Pie, the Sicilian Pie.

We started working on our Sicilian Pie about a year ago. We researched the authentic methods. We spoke to the Maestro, Dom DiMarco at DiFaras in Brooklyn. We spoke to Tony Gemignani on the West Coast. We contacted pizza makers in Boston, in Nashville, and back home here in Austin. Each shop, each pizza maker, was free and giving when it came to sharing information about how they go about making this pie, and why. What was similar for each was this: do it with love.

So we did.

We worked w/ a dough recipe until it became unfailing and delicious.

We worked on topping it so that it would be balanced and beautiful.

And then we hit upon this thing that doesn’t exist here in Austin, doesn’t really exist anywhere close to us. It’s similar to the Maestro’s. It’s similar to the beautiful Sicilians Gemignani makes in North Beach, San Francisco. But ours is definitely our own. Our own homage to those pizza makers in the 50s who originated this pie. Our own homage to Italian Americans who make the best out of everything, and in that way make everything better. Our own gift to our neighborhood, our community.

Pie Club is Back

Posted in Carnival O' Pizza by Joseph on October 20, 2011

Yo yo yo out there in blog land, it’s actually Fall-ish here in Austin, so it must be Carnival O’ Pizza time.   You know what this means, pizza lovers, right?  It means we are again welcoming new recruits into our volunteer mafia:  The Pie Club.

This year’s Carnival is Saturday, November 19th, and we’ve partnered with Austin Bat Cave as our 2011 charity. ABC is a non-profit organization that offers free creative writing workshops to kids in schools, off-site, and at their Central Austin writing center. Last year we raised $15,000 for Habitat Young Professionals, and we couldn’t have done it without our Pie Club volunteers.  So we’re sounding the call again to our family, friends, and fans to help us do even better this year!

For those that don’t know, we have some special perks that are ONLY offered to members of the Pie Club. So come on – Roll up your sleeves with us November 19 and let’s raise so money for a great cause!

We appreciate all good intentions, but only the dedicated should apply.  Want to know more? Send us an email at Pieclub@homeslicepizza.com and we’ll fill you in on the deets.

Home Slice Pizza selects Austin Bat Cave as 2011 Carnival-O-Pizza beneficiary

Posted in Carnival O' Pizza by Joseph on October 12, 2011

Another afternoon of pizza-themed zaniness in South Austin is right around the corner, as Home Slice Pizza announces the 6th annual Carnival-O-Pizza.

The Carnival is at once a celebration of the art of hand tossed pizza, a sixth birthday party for the restaurant, and a charitable endeavor intended to give back to the community that has made Home Slice one of Austin’s favorite eateries. This year’s Carnival-O-Pizza will take place Saturday, November 19, 2011 from 12 to 9 PM, with all proceeds directly benefiting this year’s charitable recipient: Austin Bat Cave.

About Austin Bat Cave:

Austin Bat Cave (ABC) Austin Bat Cave is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides children and teenagers (ages 6-18) with opportunities to develop their creative and expository writing skills. They connect a diverse population of young writers and learners with a vibrant community of adult volunteers in Austin. All of their programs are free.

ABC understands that public school teachers are the hardest-working people in town. With all their programs, they strive to be a resource, mobilizing volunteers to help teachers accomplish what they might not be able to accomplish on their own.

“We’re really excited to be working with Austin Bat Cave this year. It’s a cool feeling that the money we raise will be put toward helping kids harness the storyteller within and feel the sense of pride and power that comes from speaking one’s truth” says Home Slice Pizza co-owner Jen Strickland. “In addition to giving many unpaid hours of their time leading up to the carnival for planning, design, sign painting, pounding the pavement for raffle prizes, and mobilizing Home Slice’s volunteer army of people from the community that we call The Pie Club, our staff also wants to volunteer to help out with kids someday” adds co-owner Terri Hannifin.  “Their dedication to their work has inspired us to work harder to put this event together.”

Manuel Gonzales, ABC’s Executive Director, agrees it’s a good fit.  “We couldn’t have asked for a better partnership than the one Austin Bat Cave shares with the awesome folks at Home Slice Pizza,” says Gonzales, “there’s no better way to highlight the creativity we inspire in the kids via our writing workshops than by teaming up with them for this ridiculously super-creative day of family fun.”

About the Carnival O’ Pizza and Home Slice Pizza:

The idea for the carnival came from a desire to create an uniquely Austin version of a mix of Coney Island, the San Gennaro Festival in New York’s Little Italy, and co-owners Jen Strickland and Terri Hannifin’s childhood memories of block carnivals in support of various charities. Home Slice’s carnival continues in this tradition of grassroots, makeshift neighborhood carnivals but augments it with events that celebrate the art of hand-tossed pizza, and also serves a birthday party for Home Slice itself and its mascot, Slicey, who turns 6 years old this year.

Held in the Home Slice Pizza backyard and parking lot at 1415 South Congress Avenue, the carnival promises fun for all ages with:

  • carnival-style games (each with a Home Slice spin to them)
  • kid-themed offerings including our own invention: Pee Wee Pizzioli
  • a huge raffle featuring amazing prizes from business all over South Congress and beyond.
  • Entertainment including live music, readings by the ABC kids, graffiti artists, dancers, moustache painting, hair styling, and more.
  • Concessions including beer (lots!), Italian wines, beverages, and pizza.
  • Last but not least is Hands on an Eggplant Sub in which contestants vie to be the last person standing with their hand on 3 feet of sandwich; in 2010 the contest went on for an incredible 63 hours!

Stay tuned to this space for tons more details!

MXTS 2011 Wrap up

Posted in Music and other Arts by Joseph on April 20, 2011

Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, March 19 2011

“Well, that was interesting.”

Kyle Morton of Typhoon at the conclusion of their semi acoustic set.

That pretty much sums up how we feel too.  HSP Co-Owner Joseph Strickland here with a recap of Music by the Slice 2011, definitely the most unique one we’ve done yet.

This was our 6th year hosting this party and it definitely did not lack for excitement!  From the thrill of seeing Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson share a stage for only the 2nd time ever, to the unexpected delight of completely unplugged sets from Versus, Lost in the Trees, Apex Manor, Fredrik and The Boxer Rebellion among others, there was never a dull moment in the 3 days of this year’s party.

Although our issues getting a sound permit from the city – and subsequent need to unplug at times – were not something we’d ever like to experience again, it did lead to some of the most amazing performances we’ve seen in our 6 years hosting this party.   And thanks to the generosity of our rad sponsors, the thirst of the beer and beverage buying public, cooperation from the weather Gods, the generosity of our friends and staff members who offered up their acoustic instruments, and most importantly  the willingness of the artists to DIG DEEP, throwing away their rehearsed sets to improvise, acoustically on the fly, we were able to raise 10 thousand dollars for our charity: YouthLaunch’s Urban Roots program!!!!

So all in all, we are psyched with how it all turned out and wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe the volume!

Thanks to everyone who had anything to do with making this happen, we love you all!!!

And hey don’t miss these sweet videos:

Ivan & Alyosha “Glorify”:

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down “Bag of Hammers”:

Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson “Delicate Cycle”:

Lord Huron: “The Stranger”:

Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz “Big Bang”:

Typhoon “The Honest Truth”:

The Cave Singers “Haller Lake”:

The Twilight Sad “Cold Days from the Birdhouse”:

Great Lake Swimmers “I Could Be Nothing “:

Lost in the Trees “Walk Around the Lake”:

Rural Alberta Advantage:

Typhoon live at MXTS 2011

Posted in Music and other Arts by Tara Bouley on March 18, 2011

“The Honest Truth” live from Typhoon’s acoustic set yesterday at Music by the Slice.

MXTS 2011 Preview: The Wooden Birds

Posted in Music and other Arts by Tara Bouley on March 15, 2011

I’m not saying that The Wooden Birds are a super group, but I’m not saying they aren’t. I mean, with members from American Analog Set and Matt Pond PA, The Wooden Birds at least qualify as an All star team.

The songs make you sway, with a slow, driving rhythm.  The vocals of Andrew Kenny and Leslie Sisson commune well together.  The sound isn’t incredibly far off from Kenny’s last band,  Austin’s own American Analog Set — it’s more stripped down and has it’s own magic in the congregation of members and how they color and contribute to his songwriting.

The Wooden Birds released their first album Magnolia in 2009. The song “Sugar” off that record was Song of the Day on NPR. They have a new album Two Matchsticks on Barsuk Records set for release in June.

The Wooden Birds will be performing at Music by the Slice this Thursday, March 19th at 2:55 PM.

Track: The Other One

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MXTS 2011 Preview: Communist Daughter

Posted in Music and other Arts by Tara Bouley on March 14, 2011

Communist Daughter is the project of Johnny Solomon out of St. Paul, Minnesota. They caught my attention last year with their first EP and the song “Not the Kid.” They have since released a full-length album. The music is so pretty, it makes you feel at ease, it lures you in just to break your heart with lyrics that are bleak and resigned, in the tradition of early Ryan Adams.

In the song Speed of Sound, Solomon toes the line between longing and surrender, “and I’m afraid I’ll stay. It’s not because of all the things that you would say. It’s because every time I fall in love is another time I watch you walk away.” With songs this beautiful, I for one welcome the heartache. Bring it on!

Communist Daughter will be performing at Music by the Slice Thursday, March 17th at 1:35 PM.

Track: Speed Of Sound

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Video: Not the Kid live in studio

MXTS 2011 Preview: Trampled by Turtles

Posted in Music and other Arts by Tara Bouley on March 11, 2011

Trampled by Turtles are a bluegrass powerhouse from Duluth, Minnesota that are rising to the top of the new school of roots music. This ain’t your grand pappy’s music; there’s no signing about WWII and bread lines. Instead, TBT are talking about what you’d expect from a bunch of young guys — love, and mostly the kind gone wrong.  Their hit “Wait so Long” off their newest of six records released since 2004, Palomino, bears this out: “I could never pretend that I don’t love you. You could never pretend that I’m your man.”

Between the blazing banjo lines, expert fiddle playing and the pristine four part vocals, it seems as if these guys were born to play bluegrass. And the world outside of the Americana scene is taking note as well.  Palomino not only reached #1 on the bluegrass charts but also hit #46 on the indie charts and these guys are playing at this year’s Coachella festival.

Trampled by Turtles will be performing at Music by the Slice Thursday, March 17th at 6:25 PM

Track: Victory

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Video: You Wait so Long live