Astoria Beer and Brew. An unassuming little spot in northern Queens, nestled comfortably in the grand shadow of the Triboro (RFK) bridge. You walk into this place and you are immediately drawn into its intensely chill atmosphere. The industrial/vintage style decor lends a hand at creating an environment that is both extremely inviting and interesting. The proprietor of this fine establishment, Rodrigo, is (with a simple yet perfect description) a great guy. He really cares about his place, and its patrons. He cares about the acts that he has perform there as well. They have delectable food to accompany the wonderful selection of wines and brews. You should make a pilgrimage at some point to check us out, if it’s while I am performing or not is up to you :).
I’ve been playing here regularly, solo shows beginning back in June when I played as part of the Make Music NY Festival running that weekend. I immediately fell in love with the place. The love seemed reciprocal, as Rodrigo asked me to play there every other week from then until basically whenever. I have been playing there almost to that exact frequency since then.
The sound at this place is fantastic, in fact all but one of my YouTube videos were filmed there (using a cellphone camera for lack of something better). Even through a cellphone mic, the sound is phenomenal. Check out some vids here:
I played a show last Friday night, and it went incredibly well. I went through my tunes without a hitch, and kept the crowd engaged the entire time. The harmonies and guitar melodies were flowing in rivers, converging into a wonderful mix aided by the JBL system that is concealed within the room. It seems as if the sound is coming from everywhere. It is really something to be heard.
Here’s my set list:
First Set, Electric
We Are Going to be Friends – White Stripes
Kids – MGMT
Breathe – Original
A Million Years – The Grass Roots
Homeward Found – Original
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has flown)- The Beatles
Demons – Imagine Dragons
Almost Enough – Original
All I Need is the Air That I Breathe – The Hollies
All of Me – John Legend
Speak Your Name – Original
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley version
Friday I’m in Love – The Cure
That set finished off so sweetly. I sing the cover of Friday 3 steps above the great Robert Smith (capo on the 6th fret), in a soft falsetto. This is a complete juxtaposition to the previous song, Hallelujah, which is filled with emotional rasp, and some powerful wailing.
The second set, which is Acoustic went as follows:
Riptide – Vance Joy
I’ve Just Seen a Face – The Beatles
Play Pretend – Original
Melt With You – Modern English
Your Pride – Original
Who Did That to You? – John Legend (Django Unchained Soundtrack)
This Year’s Love – David Gray
Hard Truths – Original
Jealous Guy – John Lennon
Come on Home – Original
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
I love the rise and fall of this set, the wax and wane. Some songs are so soft and would lull the crowd, only to jolt them awake with something like “Who Did That to You?”. I like my sets AND my music to contain crescendos. Since it was Christmas, I wanted to do two sing-alongs, and thus began my favorite part of the evening. I played two covers:
Merry X-Mas War is Over – John Lennon and Yoko Ono
O Holy Night – Traditional
I never expected to have such a group of singers in the crowd. Rising harmonies, powerfully bouncing about everywhere, and people really feeling connected. The background to War is Over were excellent, alternating with my lead vocals. I got chills by the each time we hit the chorus on O, Holy Night. It was spontaneous, and real. It was wonderful. It is why I do what I do.
The night completely warmed my heart, and made this, my last show of the year, quite possibly the best show I’ve ever played. Thank you to Astoria Beer and Brew for allowing me to grace their wonderful establishment. You are a good man, Charlie Brown (Rodrigo Urbierta).
Check out A B&B at 21-76 21st Street, Queens, NY 11105. They are off the corner of 21st and Ditmars. You won’t be disappointed at this Astoria gem.