Charisma Artist Agency APAP Showcase at Gramercy Theatre

It was a fantastic night of music, with a ridiculously large number of bands playing for a ridiculously low ticket price of $15. I’m speaking of the Charisma Artist Agency APAP Showcase held at the Gramercy Theatre last Monday. Starting out the show was the Luminescent Orchestrii, followed by Boulder Acoustic Society, the Kailin Yong Peace Project, Moira Smiley & Voco, The Asylum Street Spankers, The Wiyos, and, wrapping things up, The Two Man Gentleman Band. All the bands that performed are represented by the Charisma Artist Agency who, in my opinion, represent the best group of musicians around. And no, it doesn’t hurt that many of the bands they represent happen to be favorites of mine (check out their website for the full list).


After a longer than usual trip to NYC (due to a fiasco involving a blown tire suffered by the car while driving down), I finally made it to Gramercy Theatre in time to catch the last few songs of Boulder Acoustic Society’s set. I haven’t seen the band in a few years and barely recognized them, musically speaking. The band has a different sound than they used to, one that’s slightly more rugged, a little edgier. And I like it. They still have a great old-timey spirit and sound, now it’s just updated a bit and combined with a current flair. On Boulder Acoustic Society’s website it states that they’re “a band who wear vintage clothes, savor small batch bourbon, and rock the ukulele.” I don’t know about the bourbon part, but I can tell you firsthand that they wear vintage clothes and rock the ukulele — among other instruments.


Kailin Yong used to play violin with Boulder Acoustic Society but left the band and is involved in his own musical endeavor, the Kailin Yong Peace Project. The musicians played some electric (both literally and figuratively) gypsy inspired instrumentals, as well as some tender songs Kailin sang in Mandarin. The band was energetic in their music and movements, and their set was full of interesting music you don’t usually hear. I mean c’mon, not many bands sing in Mandarin!


Voco, a band consisting of four women, was utterly captivating. Their vocals are exquisite and the songs they sing are entrancing. Four-part harmonies create music without instruments, although the band does utilize cello, tambourine, and banjo in some of their music. They sing a lot of traditional music, from old Bulgarian tunes to folk songs by Béla Bartók. I had never seen — or even heard of — the band before Monday, but thoroughly enjoyed their set.



I’ve wanted to see The Asylum Street Spankers for quite a while now and was thrilled to get the chance at long last. They were all I had hoped and more. The band got the crowd riled and had dynamic energy as a group. Their songs are insane (in the best way possible), but I suppose that’s to be expected from a band that has the word “asylum” in their name… They’re a large band, seven members in total, and they delivered a theatrical show. And, lest I forget to mention, they play the coolest assortment of instruments including the saw, washboard, drums, mandolin, ukulele, violin, bass, banjo, and harmonica.



Joebass, The Wiyos’ longtime bassist, is taking a break so filling in was Seth Travins. The band played a varied set of music, both new songs and older ones, and I was happy to see that they busted out the washboard for at least one song. The Wiyos’ set was even edgier than Boulder Acoustic Society’s, although without the use of a drum set as the latter had. Even with their dark, avant-garde at times sound, The Wiyos largely played songs you could swing dance to. That caused the majority of the audience to finally get their feet tapping and their knees moving, while a couple of daring souls amongst the shy crowd even started to actually dance! In addition to kicking it on lap steel guitar Teddy Weber played assorted brass instruments, including alto horn on the fantastically danceable “Promenade.”



The dancing and toe tapping kept up into the Two Man Gentleman Band’s set and continued throughout. The two men of the Two Man Gentleman Band are clever, witty, and incredibly stylish. Their live shows are always a riot and the band was funnier than I remember, if that’s possible… They know how to entertain a crowd, and before I saw the band for the first time I never knew two men playing banjo and bass could be so much fun! Their musicianship is of high quality and their music is more than just a fun-filled novelty (although it’s that too).

I can’t imagine that as a performer it’s enjoyable to play for a bunch of festival bookers and music producers, as opposed to playing for a crowd of people there to see you because they’re fans. But, the musicians performing at the Gramercy Theatre on Monday night weren’t specifically playing for people who love them (although there were a small bunch of us there). I assume that most of the producers and bookers wanted only to see if the bands fit the right style and shape they were looking for, although maybe that wasn’t the case. No matter what the story was, all the bands transcended the reality of the situation, each delivering an amazing set of music.


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