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September 11, 2007

9/7: Afroskull @ Parkside Bar and Grill, NYC

Another Friday night…another night of discovering one of the many multi-talented, yet lesser known bands here in NYC. This time, it was off to the Parkside Bar and Grill on the Lower East Side for some “superfunk.” Laying aside all set plans to go home and kick my feet up after the completion of my first week back at my “real” job, I took the advice of trusted music lover and frequent concert companion Randy and ditched my four DVR’d episodes of General Hospital (yes, Sonny is STILL alive…don’t lie, you know you were wondering) for a couple of hours of what was promised to be great music. When Randy told me we were going to see his friend’s band, Afroskull, doubt immediately kicked in and visions of mullet-clad 80’s cover bands soared through my head (sorry Randy, couldn’t resist). Afroskull!?!?! Are you kidding me?? But, truth be told, Randy’s never steered me wrong…and what’s in a name anyway, right? After investigating further into the origin of the band’s name, I’m definitely not ashamed to admit that the meaning behind it WAS lost on me http://www.afroskull.com/theband.htm.


Parkside Bar and Grill, on the corner of East Houston, is definitely the smallest venue I’ve seen a show at this summer. A no-frills watering hole in front, trimmed with piano note patterned walls as well as a foosball and pool table, one would never think that hiding just beyond the one “in service” bathroom was a back room that hosts some of NYC’s best local live acts nearly 7 nights a week. As if foosball isn’t enough! 


With roots in both the Big Apple and the Big Easy, it’s no wonder that when the guys in Afroskull get together something special happens. They’ve managed to combine hardcore rock n’ roll (claiming Frank Zappa and Black Sabbath as influences) with a huge helping of good ole’ fashion New Orleans funk, reminiscent of The Meters and even Maceo Parker, giving them a sound all their own…"New Orleans/NYC Superfunk,” as they’ve so aptly titled themselves. These boys can rock, thanks to Joe Scatassa’s raw electric guitar riffs and Jason Isaac’s up-tempo pounding drum beats. Funking things up are Matt Iselin on keyboard/vocals, Dan Asher on bass and a soulful horn section that includes Jason Wiseman on trumpet and Mark Nikirk on tenor sax (though I believe there were some horn substitutes in attendance Friday night). With the exception of a few tunes that show off Iselin’s vocals, most songs are colorful, upbeat instrumentals that immediately grab you and get you grooving. Playing together for 10 years now, the guys in Afroskull know how to improv all over the place, whether in solo jams or all at once, yet sound perfectly in sync. They’re one of those bands that you watch and wonder how, in the midst of playing such spontaneously erupting rhythms, they know how and when to come back together so tightly.


A few of the highlights of the night (although it was hard to narrow it down) included an awesome cover of Maceo Parker’s “Southwick” shortly into the set, a fast-paced, jazz infused rock tune called “Space Chicken” that really showed off each individual musician’s talents, and of course my favorite of the night, “a song about Chocolate Babka,” that had hints of 70’s psychedelic rock. Can anything with the word chocolate in it be bad?? Definitely check these guys out if you have a chance! http://www.afroskull.com


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Good job Les! small venue. looks like a good time.


I can't believe I lost a game of foosball to Randy. Lucky bastard. Cool venue and a great show!


Gotta love the name! Plus I went to high school with Iselin, so it's great to hear that he's still "funkin things up".

I will definitely check them out!
Thanks Leslie!

Wendy Wecksell

sounds like a great concert! good band to know.


Some times the weirdest places have the best music. Nice find!


looks like a very intimate venue!


Wow, I am psyched to go see them the next time they play. Havent heard Matt Iselin's name in so long! Good job, Les!


I'm diggin' tha name too! You sure are getting tons of fun with this gig, Leslie! To say nothing of the musical edjumacation and exposure you so obviously appreciate! May I be your "right hand woman" next summer...if you decide to do this again??? ;-) Great review.


That is quite a tiny venue. Thanks for your review.


Looks like a great place for a concert!


Afroskull, huh? I'm glad you had a great time!


different name! Looks like the venue was very cool though. Glad you liked it!

Jack L.

"From the Big Apple to the Big Easy . . ." great image. You must be an English teacher or som'tin. Thanks for the heads up on the venue - didn't know it existed.


my kind of venue. good thing smoking isn't allowed in bars in NY! that would be very uncomfortable!


Afroskull...hmm...will have to catch them next time around. Keep up the good work~~~~~~


sounds like you made the right decision to review this group. I may be out of the loop, but I'm in awe over your ability to capture the soul of these groups.This one is over the top just like all the others. To the winner's box--YES!

Megan Ross

This looks like an awesome venue, and another great concert!

venecia castro

that was tough, great job leslie you rock

Michael R

Sounds like you never saw or heard a group you didn't have something positive to write about. I like that quality, always looking for the best in things.

Joyce Nicotera

You are just never at a loss for words. Another great review ...


Great review! From experience I know Afroskull gets even better than the performance you caught. There's a nice 10th anniversary gig coming up that shouldn't be missed.


Billboard is crazy if they do not pick you as the winner. You have managed to peak my interest in many new bands through your blog.


How do I say WINNER....LESLIE! You ROCK. Shall I say Maceo Parker - Jazz Fest - night to remember.


Afroskull - these guys look nothing like there name would imply. Got to love the name. Small Venues are great. Love the review.


I think I know one of those guys! Great blog once again. Will miss your writing. And the winner is......Leslie Lehrman....in my book!

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