French HipHop/Blues Band Scarecrow Put On a Roaring Performance at Drom NYC

 

Very rarely do we get the chance to witness a group of music who can grasp the sounds of different cultures so effortlessly and harness them as their own. With the power of a roaring bluesy vocal, a groovy baseline and a smoking late 80’s/early 90’s sound, Scarecrow - The Blues Hip Hop showed us how artists can successfully master that calling. 

With much thanks to the combined efforts of The French Embassy and Bureau Export, Scarecrow showcased their talents for the France Rocks SummerFest in New York for the first time in over two years last Friday. We caught their performance at the mysteriously intimate and gypsy-esque Drom NYC amongst a group of music enthusiasts excited to take part in the French quartet’s latest act as they prepared for their second album, The Last, releasing this coming Friday.

Scarecrow’s featured performance was a spine chilling and aggressive piece that spoke of the band’s ingenuity and aesthetic appeal. Ahead of a thunderous and enticing intro, lead vocalist and bluesman, Slim Paul, let out a roaring vocal that channeled across the shadowy halls of Drom, crawling up its back-stage curtains and hurling towards us. It was a unique sound that truly blew us away: A kick-ass note that personified beautifully through Paul’s affirmed lyrical and edgy voice, labeling its mark at any New Orleans jazz club or Memphis BBQ joint.

What followed was a genre binding and sound twisting bar from French emcee, Antibiotik Daw, who also masterfully scratched the turntables with late 80’s/early 90’s urban adlibs, screeching hints of Chuck D, Run DMC and The Wu Tang Clan. Although we unfortunately couldn’t understand the fast hitting French lyrics, it was Antibiotik’s confidence, swag and all-out vibe that helped get our heads bopping, while the bluesy bass lines from Jamo and funky drum set from Le Pap, helped solidify Scarecrow’s urban and bluesy musical arrangements.

What really struck us was Scarecrow’s consistency. Whether their song was predominately hip-hop, blues, funk or a bit of both, the quartet meshed the sounds together flawlessly. When Antibiotik viciously spit on the mic, Slim Paul's raw vocals and Jamo's gripping guitar play brought Scarecrow's performance from the sounds of classic hop-hop into the essence of rock. Accompanied by Antibiotik’s scratches, we were constantly taken for a musical ride that stopped along 80’s hip-hop, 70’s funk and good old fashion dirt-road blues.

Scarecrow’s hip-hop elements, raw rural bluesy notes and urban-esque vibe provided the finishing touches on an already bubbling melting pot that billowed a steam enriched with generations of musical influences, cultures and instrumentation. Scarecrow’s continuous efforts to bridge together American and French music are groundbreaking. With sounds reminiscent of both Screamin' Jay Hawkins and 90's Hip-Hop, the group truly is deserving of their international praise. Their ability to embrace these different sounds allows them to conquer audiences in not only the U.S. or Europe, but throughout the world as they've performed over 400 shows in 10 countries and have a tenacity to produce even more.

This group can truly be an inspiration to aspiring artists and bands across the globe not only for their incredible showcases, gritty music, and cool vibes but for how they can bring cultures together. Somehow we seemed to have lost that in both the mainstream and independent music scenes, but Scarecrow tackles it head on. Truly, they are one of the best bands we’ve seen this year. Can’t wait to catch these guys again. Their new album, The Last, will be available for streaming and digital download this Friday, June 24, 2016. Make sure to catch Scarecrow the next time they’re in your city!

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Raye Zaragoza Offers a Bluesy New York Farewell at Rockwood Music Hall

 
Raye Zaragoza live at Rockwood music Hall. Photo courtesy of  Larufoto

Raye Zaragoza live at Rockwood music Hall. Photo courtesy of Larufoto

Saturday nights in the Lower East Side are typically crawling with artists and their guitar cases rushing to their next gig and filled with partially belligerent fans scattering about to find the nearest music venue. But last night, Rockwood Music Hall housed a one-of-a-kind bluesy, dreamy, folky, and all together beautiful showcase from Raye Zaragoza; your new favorite singer-songwriter.

When Raye takes the stage she resembles the presence of a revolving door. It’s as if every time she opened her mouth she would deliver a seemingly flawless note with more and more people rushing in from the streets.

Raye is a New York based singer songwriter who has been training in live music for years. Unsurprisingly, given her natural talents, it gives me no pause to learn that her father is Broadway actor Gregory Zaragoza, who had her started at a young age. Her sound is seasoned, technical, classic, and effortless at the same time.

Raye Zaragoza live at Rockwood Music Hall

Raye Zaragoza live at Rockwood Music Hall

Raye has been a part of the music scene here in New York for years, frequenting venues like Arlene’s Grocery, The Knitting Factory, and Bizarre Bar in Brooklyn. Back in 2013 she was even a featured artist at LA Skins Music Fest, which must have inspired her in someway, seeing as Raye is now relocating to Los Angeles.

“All my songs are about New York, I don’t know what I’m doing going to LA. What am I going to write about?” Raye jokes in between songs. 

The room was so involved in her, she had them completely captivated. Through the crowded audience, I couldn’t tell if it was her beautiful lyrics about love, heartbreak, and New York City, or if it was her undeniable beauty and genuine stage presence, that had everyone so enchanted. But regardless, the room was silent as she sung, and roaring with applause when she finished.

Christian Nourijanian (left), Raye Zaragoza (center) and Tim Bassom (right)

Christian Nourijanian (left), Raye Zaragoza (center) and Tim Bassom (right)

Raye’s sound is reminiscent of Norah Jones, Billie Holliday, and Eva Cassidy. She’s a strong vocalist, but perhaps even a stronger writer. Her arrangements are simple, clean and highlight the lyrics of her songs. All of which are relatable without being boring, and beautiful without being over the top. Her EP, Heroine (available on SoundCloud and Spotify), is a beautiful collection of songs that represent her vibe perfectly: a classic and moving artist.

Though this is her farewell show in New York, to end things Raye just sweetly says, “thank you,” as she strums the last note on her guitar- because this is not goodbye - you'll being seeing amazing things from this girl from here on out.

Stay up to date with her music and live stream the Heroine EP below:

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