Singer/ songwriter Brooke Campbell Shares Her Talent at the 92nd Street Y

There she was- with her black hair in a ponytail wearing a black shirt covered by a white sweater and blackish-gray denim jeans. Her wardrobe was accessorized by her brown six-string guitar.

As folk singer/songwriter Brooke Campbell readied herself for her performance at the 92nd Street Y Tribeca she walked on and off the black mini stage, which should rightly be described as a small square in the corner where naughty children would be placed for time-outs, placing candles on a table to add to the ambiance and illuminate the small stage.

Campbell is originally from North Carolina and although her primary residence now is Nashville Tennessee she is residing in New York until this summer.

Campbell, although she would sing songs such as harmonies, Christmas songs and songs from the fifties with her mom in the car growing up, did not really commit to becoming a musician until she attended college. As for picking up a guitar she did not do so until she was 21. Campbell, in an interview for the website, said that she began taking her talent seriously the same time she began to for a relationship with God.

When it comes to writing and sharing her music she feels, as she told the website, that it is “a great responsibility to tell the truth before God.”

As she walked on the stage again to do her mic-check, and fiddle with her strings to make sure they were properly tuned, just a couple of inches from her stood a  four foot stool, the color of dirty grey, which had a coffee and a glass of wine placed on top of it. As she finished preparing she would take sips of each one.

The couple of people who were there prior to her showcase where busy talking either on their phones or to each other to notice that the singer/songwriter was there.

As she began her set at 8:15 PM, 15 minutes prior to starting time, she announced to the small group and those who were still getting themselves seated, with a smile on her face, who she was and that she would play for them for a while.

Singer/ Songwriter Brooke Campbell

As soon as she began to sing it felt as if you were transported into the early to mid 90’s. Closing your eyes you would’ve believed that it was singer/ songwriter Jewel up there; both having a soft melodic folksy sound to their voice. The kind of sound that is appropriate for a coffee house style venue. The sort of music that when song the amount of people in the crowd becomes irrelevant because no matter who you happen to be that song, no matter how long it is, is about you and is being song for you. The type of music that causes you to connect with a complete stranger.

The title track from her album Sugar Spoon is a 3 minute 5 second version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. In the upbeat folk track Campbell sings about locking herself “inside the house and melting down the key turned it to a sugar spoon to talk to my coffee.” Later in her lyrics she mentions climbing into a bottle and going down a rabbit hole.

A connection to Jewel can also be made there. In her 1995 album ‘Pieces of You’ in her song ‘You Were Meant for Me’ Jewel sings about breaking the yolks to make a smiley face and consoling a cup of coffee that didn’t want to talk. The huge difference in both tracks in both tracks was the topic; whereas Campbell’s song was upbeat Jewel’s concentrated on a breakup.

Unlike the album’s title track where Campbell’s lyrics suggest that she welcomes the confusion, ‘Why?’ is a song that speaks about the confusion brought on when it comes to love and her emotions surrounding it.:“I slam doors close and even I don’t know why love scares me so.”

Listening carefully it becomes apparent that Campbell makes a transition from feeling love in her relationship to feeling ignored.  Some of the most poignant of the lyrics were: “I am full of bullet holes through my back and through my soul as I bring you your beer/ You don’t even know my name you look pass me to the game.”

As she kept playing her songs, every once and a while stopping to adjust her guitar to the tune appropriate to the next track or remove her sweater, she would tap her foot to keep along with the beat. She was wearing black shoes that seemed to have a weaved overlapping zigzag design to them.

Every once and a while the people would clap and she would respond with a “thank you” and a smile to the small gathering. Over the course of the performance there were people still coming in to sit down, and even though it was not a pack house she appreciated those who were there.

Kari Pulizzano, who did not attend the showcase but did listen to Campbell’s tracks feels that although she has “the upmost respect for self-made musicians” in her view Campbell was “an average chick with an acoustic guitar, singing little bits of her life to strangers in a small bar with a brick backdrop.”

Pulizzano did say that Campbell “appears to have a great passion for what she’s doing” and that she would not mind hearing her on a weeknight out having drinks and dinner, but that Campbell’s voice seemed “strained and nasally” and that her guitar playing was average and that she, Pulizzano, wouldn’t go out of her way to catch the singer/ songwriter’s set.

She also preformed covers in her set. One of them was for her brother who, she informed the crowd, had just returned from a tour in the army.  The song had no title but she explained that it was found in a church a long time ago and was written about soldiers who died in war.

Another cover was Patty Griffin’s song “Long Ride Home.”

Brooke Campbell-Long Ride Home

When she finished her set she walked up to the people sitting in the front tables (those who seemed to be really paying attention to her) and said “thank you for coming” and smiled.

Brooke Campbell’s album ‘Sugar Spoon’ can be found on iTunes.


The Artist and the Listener: An Unspoken Connection

I love music. I have loved music since I was a zygote. I listen to at least one song everyday and I’m not exaggerating! The choice of songs I listen to has in large part to do with the way I might be feeling for the day. One day I might listen to one song repeatedly another day I might listen to a mixture of artists. Take note that I wrote artist, not singer.

Don't you Just Love My Drawing!!! Especially The Mic!!!

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a singer as someone who sings which is defined as a person who produces “musical tones by means of the voice.” That same dictionary defines an artist as “one skilled or versed in learned arts.”

I see an artist as someone who sits with their thoughts and then links them together like a chain that is made heavy not by metal, but by the emotions and time spent crafting it together. Each lyric acts as one link in the making of the chain. When the chain is complete the writer has gotten used to its weight and although it might still be somewhat heavy the person can carry it, and they carry it with pride.

Singer/songwriters Jewel, Sara Barilles, and The Script (Danny O’Donoghue, Mark Sheehan, and Glen Power) are several people who come to mind.

Jewel's Album 'Spirit' (1998). Taken From My Computer From My iTunes Library.

Barilles, when it came to writing new songs for her album Kaleidoscope Heart, said on her website it felt “like pulling teeth to write them.”

While writing for their self-titled debut album Sheehan’s mother became terminally ill. This had a tremendous affect on the band’s writing: “That was pulling on my heart strings in a big way. Lyrically it was pouring out of me” said band member O’Donoghue whose father also passed away during the album’s creation. “But then amidst all this travesty and disaster, these songs have risen out of it. That was the time when it finally came home to me how important music was to me, cos in my darkest moments that’s what got me through.”

Sara Barilles' Album 'Kaleidoscope Heart' (2010).

What O’Donoghue and Barilles said on their websites proves my point. Every word, lyric and chorus that the artist writes is an outward expression of an inner emotion. Time after time when pen hits paper or finger hits keyboard that person is acting as their own therapist.

Every time someone decides to listen to a music track they are giving themselves permission to feel something and they assume the risk that the emotion they feel may not always be positive.

The Script's Self- Titled Debut Album (2008) (THEY'RE IRISH ♥!!!)

I have an unspoken deal with the artists I listen to. Since they have put a lot of themselves in to their music they have earn some privilege to co-exist with my emotions. If I don’t want to share my emotions with them, be it happiness, sadness or anger, I simply change the track.

As You Can Tell (Hopefully) I Love Music & My iPod!!!

Every time I listen to a singer who didn’t write their own lyrics I am not connecting with them I am connecting with the songwriter.

Songs are called tracks for a reason. Songs are placed in order on an album because the artist wants to create a journey for their listeners. Tracks are laid down so that a train may ride on them. As a listener you are a passenger on that train and you can decide to take the entire journey or only make a couple of stops.

In today’s music industry anyone can be a singer, but not everyone is an artist.

This Oyster Can Keep Its “Pearl”

The beats of “Pearl Remix” create the image of a club scene filled with flashy strobe lights and hundreds of sweaty people rubbing up against each other. Although It would have been much better without Tamar-kali singing. Without her voice it is a song that you probably hear at a beach party, with her it sounds like an older woman screaming at a bunch of kids to get off her lawn.

A Song that Left Me with a “Head”ache

Radiohead’s new song, “Lotus Flower, is the kind of music you would hear in a mental institution. A slower and more horrible version of the music of Fatboy Slim and their song “Praise You.” The music that would accompany a deranged dream that was brought on by an acid trip. By the end it will leave you with a headache that leaves you thinking “why in the hell did I listen to that?”

Chocolate Place: An Amusement Park… for Your Mouth

The Teddy Bears Are So Cute!!!

As you walk up a sidewalk partially covered with small nicks and cracks you are overjoyed to finally get to your destination. Granted, just before opening the door there is a small, yet, inconvenient stair you have to pass before you come in. However, once you open that door and that sweet, warm, amazing aroma of chocolate hits your senses it is as if walking into the gates of heaven.

Stepping into a new world, away from the chill of a 47 degree windy day that leaves you wishing you could lose all ability to feel, the warmth inside Chocolate Place, located at 839 Morris Park Ave. in the Bronx, is a welcome to all the senses.

Next Time I Will Try a Pretzel

]The glass casings served well to show off in wonderful detail the many    varieties, molds, and styles of the chocolates that were waiting to be bought. Each one different from the other with its own unique and distinctive look yelling to the customer “pick me, pick me.”

White walls also showcasing various chocolates on their shelves.

They’re So Beautiful… and The Jewlery Isn’t Bad Either

A look around and you would see Betty Boop purses of red and black hanging next to the Godiva, glass casings displaying jewelry and teddy bears keeping company with the candy.

Angela DaBenigno

Also keeping company with the candy was 57 year old Angela DaBenigno, the owner of the small shop.

“Because I love chocolate” she said when asked on why she opened Chocolate Place.

As roller-coasters are to Six Flags Chocolate Place is for your mouth. A look around and you can easily spot the many varieties the store has to offer.

“I have probably over 1000 molds and chocolates. Wow, we sell at least 60 varieties. We have truffles, we have pretzels, we have barks, we have turtles, and we have clusters” said DaBenigno.

Reminds Me of The Velveteen Rabbit

When asked about the amount of costumers she serves everyday she has never kept count but said it was more or less 60 to 100 people a day to 360 to 600 people a week.

Those numbers help speak to the fact many Americans are in love with chocolate.

According to Criss White, a web writer for the average American consumes 10-12 pounds of chocolate a year. She goes on to write that “Several medical studies show that eating chocolate in moderation can actually prolong your life by reducing risk of blood clots and fighting bad cholesterol.”

How Many of Those Do You Think I Can Eat Before I Start To Lose My Teeth?

Anita Murtha, a 56 year old woman who lives in Manhattan is a huge chocolate lover herself. She has loved chocolate ever since she can remember.

Anita Murtha

You're Under Arrest for the Crime of Being Too Sweet!!!

One of the best memories she has concerning chocolate had to do with an old friend who worked in a candy factory. Whenever the friend had a problem with one of the candies the friend would buy them cheaper and bring them to her.

Now that she is older she is trying to watch how much chocolate she consumes. However, when she does eat chocolate she prefers dark chocolate because she says “I like it and it’s good for you.”

However, people can become addicted to this Mayan food.

According to the Gothamist chocoholism actually exists. A study at Yale University found that when women saw photos of chocolate milkshakes “similar patterns of neural activation are implicated in addictive-like eating behavior and substance dependence.”

Where Are the Matching Handbags???

When asked about the effect of the recession on her business DaBenigno stated that although there might have been a slight impact it was not enough to influence the store in a negative way because “the things we sell here are not so expensive that you can’t indulge in a small piece of chocolate, two pieces of chocolate. So sometimes when people feel a little bit down they will indulge in something small so in that respect I don’t think we were so affected.”

Chocolate Caramel Apple. Really Tough to Eat.

The prices of the chocolate sold at this location go from a$.75 truffle to as high as $155. That large amount comes from the fact that the store is a seller of Godiva Chocolate.

The green apple dipped in caramel and then covered in chocolate ($5.75) gives that sweet taste with a sour punch.  Contrast that with the sweetness of strawberries covered in chocolate (1.00/each).

The Chocolate Bunny ($1.00), with rainbow sprinkles on its ears, was pure chocolate on the inside. The sweetness of the chocolate makes your mouth feel as if it is a pool and the bunny is doing the butterfly and backstroke trying to showoff to Willy Wonka and it succeeded with 10’s across the  board.

It Begged Me to Eat It!!! Now, What Kind of Person Am I to Deny Such a Request???

DaBenigno said that it was a bit of a struggle to open the shop but at the end it was well worth it: “I like working with chocolate and I really love the expression of the people when they leave they’re truly happy and they love the taste of the chocolate and they like what we make and they’re very accommodating.”

Take That Strawberry Shortcake!!!

Eating With the Small Bees

Délicieux! Magnifique! Je ne vais certainement revenir à cet endroit encore une fois et pas seulement à cause de la classe!

In case any of you are confused it means : Delicious ! Magnificent! I am definitely going back to that place again, and not just because of class!

If you want a scrumptious breakfast that leaves you wanting more, then Petite Abeille is where to go. Located on 401 East 20th Street this restaurant, even though it is small in size, carries a big punch.

I Love You Jon Stewart!!!

On the outside of the restaurant they have seating. This served me well since I sat there waiting for Sabrina and Ashley, also on assignment with me, to arrive. Even though it was somewhat warm, when you are sitting in one spot with the wind blowing, reading Jon Stewart’s book “Earth: The Book”, it gets pretty cold.

After they finally arrived, and apologized, we went in; but before we went in I noticed the big blue A staring at me through the window. I have to say seeing that made it a lot easier to eat there. If it would have been lower than a B I would not have eaten and instead watched them eat.

Made Me Feel A lot Better About Going In

We entered and a waiter showed us to our seats. As we sat there I kept asking Ashley what certain items were; she’s the foodie of the group.  I ordered a croissant ($3.00), a Gaufre de Liège waffle ($4.00), and hot Belgian chocolate ($4.00).

The waiter was kind enough to put the croissant and waffle on different plates because I don’t like my food touching.

When the croissant came it was so soft, flaky, warm and awesome. Biting into it felt like my whole mouth was skipping through a soft fluffy cloud. I ate all of it.

On Cloud Nine!!!

The waffle was sweet inside which was ok with me. Just to think I was about to ask for syrup! Every one of its square shaped craters tasted as if filled with Aunt Jemima every time I chewed.

The greatest part of the breakfast was the delicious, scrumptious, lip smacking, tasty Belgian hot chocolate. Take Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream and heat it up until it is fully liquefied and you get that amazing chocolate. As soon as I took my first sip of the chocolate I was in a chocolate trance. My biggest disappointment as far as the breakfast goes happened when I finished my hot chocolate. If it wasn’t for my nutritionist I would’ve ordered at least another.

Next Time I Will Ask For Milk

YUM Is An Understatement!!!

However, I must say that they do breakfast better than lunch. First, my lunch and those of my colleges took what felt like forever to arrive. When it finally did it was not worth the wait.

The Petite Abeille Burger ($13.50), a 9 oz. burger that comes with fries, is made with BLT with cheddar on a brioche bun and their special sauce. Since I don’t like anything that remotely seems healthy I specifically asked that there be no L or T or any other veggie on my plate.

Not Happy 😦

The burger, stated as Black Angus ground in house, tasted great. Think of a hot summer day where you are in the park having a BBQ and you watch that hot juicy burger being cooked over the coals and then you eat it. On the other hand I couldn’t fully enjoy it because even though I asked for no veggies there was a curl of purple onion on my bread. Safe to say I didn’t eat the bread.  Also my food was touching which I didn’t like!

The fries were blah. I could’ve taken McDonald’s French fries dipped them in water and they would have tasted better.

Add to that that my experienced was rushed because I had to make it to class on time. All in all there is a HUGE chance I will go back again for breakfast, lunch not so much.

The Group