Cooler Than Your Friends

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We toured Sixpoint Craft Ales

Last Saturday was a good day! Spring finally showed up, the flip flops I bought last week in Florida made their first contact with the sidewalks of New York and more importantly – we toured the Sixpoint Craft Ale Brewery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

If you haven’t had beer from Sixpoint it’s probably because you don’t live in New York, Philly or Boston as that is just about the only place you can find it right now. Sixpoint doesn’t bottle their beers and if memory serves me correctly (the tour was a few days ago – which is reaching the limits of my memory span) they are currently in about 600 bars and send out 80-120 kegs weekly. More on that later, but in a nutshell they have maxed out the capacity of their facility lately and are trying to figure that out as we speak.

Where the magic happens

What stood out to me on the Sixpoint tour was the honest pride, love and passion they have for good beer & their beer. These guys seemed like grown up home brewers and beer lovers above everything else. They were most concerned with making good beer. A lot of breweries might say that, but you could tell by the laid back unscripted walk through their facility. This was their passion and they loved what they did. That being said the brewery was relatively small, had a family atmosphere and I think only employed 4 full time, 4 part time and some interns.

Sixpoint found itself in Red Hook almost by accident when the brew master found himself at a bar next door a few years back, Rocky Sullivan’s of Red Hook, and it was mentioned there was an old brewery right next door. Long story short, a brew master was shopping around for a brewery, came across and old one in Red Hook and the rest is history – Sixpoint was born. (I’m leaving out the part about how much work they probably had to do cleaning it up, retrofitting and all the other stuff – although it was mentioned that this was a preferred alternative to the 1.5 million it might take to start a brewery from scratch – you do the math). Again, my memory sucks and I took no notes on this tour, but I think the facility used to be the Park Slop Brewery or something and had been shut down for years but had all the equipment to brew. There was a good re-cap of the nasty beer left in one of the tanks they avoided cleaning out until they absolutely had to, and how funky it was.

Sixpoint has recently maxed out the capacity of the facility (people can’t get enough of their awesome beer) and is now trying to figure out what’s next. We all know NYC real estate is ridiculous, although I got the impression they really wanted to stay if at all possible. They said it doesn’t take much more labor to produce 2-3 times more beer than they do now and that the limits on the facility were really forcing this issue as they have literally maxed it out. My favorite quote was the statement “people want to drink more of our beer and we don’t have enough of it. That is a problem”. At any other brewery you might get some business schpiel about cost/supply/demand blah blah blah but here it was all about providing good beer to people who wanted it. This to me really summed up the core mission they have to make quality craft beer.

Rooftop Garden with Chickens, Composted Grain & Old Kegs

Some quick takeaways were that every Sixpoint beer you drink is never older than 7-10 days, maybe 14 at most. That is as fresh as it gets my friend and very awesome. On top of this, almost all of the Sipoint beer produced is a pure, unique batch from start to finish. This pretty much defines craft to me and works something like this; Sixpoint brews 30 gallon batches (with the exception of one 60 gallon tank that they occasionally double up on with two of the same types of beer batches) meaning that every beer might have subtle features and uniqueness to that batch – even though it is the same beer recipe. Large breweries might make multiple batches of the same kind of beer, then combine them all together to bottle/keg at which point it will more or less become a big mix of the same type of beer, but the subtleties of each batch get lost. Every time you lift a Sixpoint to your lips know this – It is almost always totally unique to one batch and a few days old. No wonder it is such good beer.

The tour we took was one of a few awesome New York City neighborhood tours offered from Urban Oyster. We talked with one of the partners/founders of Urban Oyster afterwards over some beers as he attends most of the tours and the company offers a lot of cool, New York Tours that are worth checking out. This tour also included an hour long open bar afterwards with all the delicious Sixpoint beer you could drink at Brooklyn Ice House – a sweet neighborhood bar down the way with a nice backyard area and 2 for $5 pulled pork that was the bomb. Thumbs up to the beer, the tour and the visionaries that make Sixpoint happen. Word up.

-Article by Travis Melvin

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Return of the Jitney Man wins big at NYC Film Fest

Return of the Jitney Man was awarded Best Music Video in the Best Short Film(USA) Genre at the 2010 Summer New York International Independent Film & Video Festival. The video was created locally in Brooklyn, NY by emerging artists from Resobox & Sulphurbath Productions in collaboration with world renowned Jazz musician Jeff “Tain” Watts and Laura Kahle.

“The Return of the Jitney Man” is the opening track on the acclaimed 2009 album “Watts” by Jeff “Tain” Watts. This track and album also feature Terence Blanchard, Branford Marsalis, and Christian McBride. The album has received much warranted international praise among the Jazz community, and Terence Blanchard won a Grammy for Best Improvised Jazz Solo on track 5 “Dancin’ 4 Chicken”.

The award winning music video accompanying this track involved a wide range and scope of creative techniques – all executed with precise detail that pairs perfectly with the track. Video footage (shot specifically with this song in mind and taken throughout New York) was used in combination with original digital graphics and backgrounds, motion graphics, chroma keying, clay modeling, and stop-motion animation. The end result is an incredible visual experience working in tandem with the music to create a succinct Jazz experience more than worthy of the Best Music Video award.

View the full Press Release surrounding the event

View all Award Winners from 2010 Summer New York International Independent Film and Video Festival

Resobox Visual Art & Sound Design

Sulphurbath Productions

Official Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts Website

Dark Key Music

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The Return of the Jitney Man

With a three days notice I am just now getting around to posting that the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival is starting later this week and that “The Return of the Jitney Man” is up for best music video. The music on this album is amazing, and so is the music video for this song that was created at Sulphurbath & Resobox in Brooklyn. “The Return of the Jitney Man” is the beginning track on the acclaimed 2009 album “Watts” by Jeff “Tain” Watts.

The New York International Independent Film Festival runs July 22-29th 2010 in Manhattan and will showcase a diverse range of features, shorts, documentaries and animations from all over the globe. Film screenings begin July 23rd on 2 screens at City Cinemas Village East. (“The Return of the Jitney Man” is at 10:pm – check website)

“The Return of the Jitney Man” will be screened Friday, July 23rd 2010 in the 10:00 PM EST at City Cinemas Village East, New York, NY at the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.

It’s great to this music video getting some serious recognition as they did some awesome things with chroma key, clay figures, original digital backgrounds and other video elements that went great with the Jazz. Not sure what the other mix of music videos will be like and should be interesting to see.

Here is some related info.

About Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts

Jeff “Tain” Watts holds the unique distinction of being the only musician to appear on every Grammy Award winning jazz record by both Wynton and Branford Marsalis. A true jazz innovator, Watts never fails to deliver the percussive magic that has been his trademark since his emergence on the contemporary jazz scene. For more information on Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts visit his website.

About Sulphurbath Productions & Resobox

Fumio Tashiro (a.k.a ‘Bomb Sun’) is a professional musician and artist who plays upright bass and creates original musical compositions. He has a solid background in jazz and experimental improvisation, and as a student of the upright bass studied under his mentor Milt Hinton. He currently resides in New York City. For more information, visit the Resobox website

Miho Morita is an artist, graphic designer, painter, performance artist, and furniture designer. She works classically having been trained at Musashino Art University in Tokyo and has a portfolio that includes gallery exhibitions, commissioned work, album cover art, and music videos. She currently resides in New York City. For more information on Miho Morita, visit her website

Mike Wilson owns & operates Sulphurbath Studios in New York City. He is a video artist, director, and editor and has produced short films, music videos, animations, and DVDs. For more information, visit the Sulphurbath Productions website.

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Cuatro de Mayo

In my continued efforts to fight the forces of introvert-gravity that keep whispering ‘stay at home where the beer is cheap, get some work done & play with your cat’ into my ears; I had a good night out and about in NYC last night and figured I would share. And I am already nervous about improper semi-colon use and beginning this sentence with ‘And’ since both of the people I want to mention in this post are writers. Fortunately, I decided early on to disregard the grammar police and just shoot from the hip so there’s no sense stopping now.

Like all good days, things started to unfold over cold beers (over-priced bottled beers this time, but that’s midtown for you). I met up with a new friend of mine who runs an awesome local Sheepshead Bay news blog for some beers before heading over to the New York Tech Meetup. It’s always great to see what the creative tech folks are up to in NYC these days and we watched some good startup demos, listened to a speaker or two, and also some younger kids that were getting involved in the tech scene via a new future of tech type program. Generally it is good to see what everyone who hasn’t quite sold out yet is up too, and take the pulse of the tech scene from an uncomfortable but anonymous seat in the auditorium.

Afterward the NYTM we wound our way South East from Chelsea down to the East Village by foot chatting about the usual type stuff I obsess and blab over – web marketing, business, content, marketing and interaction etc. (or what my girlfriend refers to as ‘Geek Speak’). On the way there we ducked into the Crocodile lounge for another beer and some complementary regret cleverly concealed in the form of free pizza, and met a guy doing something kind of awesome:

Marty is on a mission to visit 365 bars in 365 days. When we met him he was on day/bar 115 and seemed to be in high spirits and flanked by a few good looking women. If this wasn’t impressive enough he also mentioned he had a regular job, at which point I was even more impressed. He chatted with us for a few before continuing onward with what I ball-parked were drinks number 344-46 and then we had to leave and continued south into the village.

From there the evening slid into home base and ended where other days sometime begin – at home, on the couch, playing with the cat.

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Life at 1 year old

Ever wonder what it would sound like to record and mix the various noises of a 1 year old together and then mix it all together into an audio track? No you don’t have to! Click play while you read and enjoy the creative audio stimulation from my friend Dan. He wrote the following:

 
icon for podpress  Etienne [2:24m]: Play Now

“My daughter was born in October 2004, and shortly thereafter she and her mother came to Beijing where I was living at the time. I was intermittently employed as a voice. I did audio for English text books and the like. At one point I was paid by the Bill Gates Foundation in conjunction with the Chinese government to be the voice in a recording of an informative blurb about the misuse of needles in the countryside. Apparently they weren’t being sterilized at all, or often single-use needles were being recycled and refilled withouth being cleaned at all. But anyway, I acquired this really high quality microphone, and as I was in love with my daughter as any new father would be and had always been interested in sampling. I started recording her noises whenever I got the chance. Ultimately I chopped them up and mapped them to a midi drum kit and created this track. No other sounds or instruments were used besides what she produced.”

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Seasick in the Spring

Spring has sprung in Brooklyn and with the warm weather comes another podcast from the SulphurBath Studios in Bushwick.

 
icon for podpress  Seasick in the Spring [5:02m]: Play Now

I would call this podcast ‘dope’ but since I am now in my 30′s I am officially too old to use that term anymore – which is what I was recently told and sadly might even agree with. Instead I will settle by declaring this podcast ‘The Shit’ as I am pretty sure that is an expression that supersedes age. In fact, this podcast might even hit ‘The Shizzle’ status as this time we have Kiowa on his saxophone accompanying Wilson on the Piano.

The Shizzle Squared? WTF?

What the hell is the Shizzle Squared you ask? Press Play or start listening to the audio stream now while you read this and you can hear what the Shizzle Squared sounds like. Somehow Kiowa and Wilson managed to combine their first two takes into one completed track that sounds as if it was planned that way.

I don’t mean they rehearsed a bunch, worked on it for a few hours or did any heavy editing or post production. I mean they played two songs, one take each, then put them on top of each other pressed play and viola! the shizzle squared was born. Granted the audiophile in Wilson always has to do a few small reverb and fade in / fade out tweaks for the final output but I can pretty much say with some truth that this tip to tail this thing took less than 2 hours to produce. I know this because I sat and drank beer as they did all the hard work. If it was math it might be Shizzle^2.

Since reading my rambling is easier with some photos to accompany it I took a pic of Kiowa’s Sax and the sun beaming down on the drums in the studio. (Maybe we should have took that as a sign to add a drum track??). Since my brain remembers nothing anymore I have all ready forgotten how old the Sax was estimated to be and any other relevant details that might be important.

The song is officially called ‘Seasick in the Spring’ since it is Spring and the overlaying of both the recordings ads a kind seasick type feeling to the final output. Not exactly sure where the shizzle squared references I kept using came from but when it is 5 o’clock on Friday sometimes you just have to roll with whatever words come out of your brain. I dig it. You should too.

Wilson is also playing with Yoshitake Expe + Bomb Sun (fellow Bushwick Building Dweller, accomplished Jazz Musician, Artist, etc.) at the Issue Project Room on 04/02 (today. so much for lead time on the PR…)

Kiowa may or may not still be in a band called Starlight for all occasions. The journalist in me didn’t even ask until I remembered it just now but will try and track that one down.

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More Gardens is More Better & a Schoolbus

Is there really anyone out there that didn’t have that I’m going to pimp out a school bus and drive around the country dream in their life? A week or so ago I met a guy that actually did it, and better yet did it with a piece of another bus welded upside down for a roof. And it was for a good cause!

It all started with a surprisingly successful attempt to peel my eyeballs of the LCD screen I scorch them with all day and be social – sort of. My geek equivalent of being social was attending a NY Tech Meetup at the Auditorium of F.I.T. I figured it couldn’t hurt to go see what all the real web professionals were up to while the rest of us turned 30, got tired of eating ramen in shared apartments and found a large corporation to hunker down with until the next big thing. I also figured it couldn’t hurt to have a few beers beforehand since I did work late.

Somehow fate intervened and before you know it I found myself talking a guy looking for some tech help on his campaign to get a community garden at City Hall in NYC. As busy as I am I couldn’t resist stopping to ask about it rather than walking by. It was an ingenious strategy this guy had – stand in front of the stairwell to an auditorium where you know that 700 or so tech geeks will pass through with a makeshift sign sharpee’d (yes sharpee can be a verb) to the back of a manilla envelope that said something along the lines of ‘Looking for WordPress help…’ – That’s thinking right there.
Long story short is that I ended up working with him over the next few weeks to help get a website up and running to help him promote a campaign to literally plant a community garden at city hall.

Maybe Mayor Bloomberg didn’t think anyone would actually hold him to some of the things he said about this being “our” city, but a lot of people did. Check out the 1 minute video below to see what I mean:

Moral of the story I think this time is that being social and cutting the rope from the computer and going out usually does result in good things. Also if you don’t do enough good things in your own life you can at least help others that do good things – kind of like a karma assists. If you haven’t already (and since nobody reads this I am sure you haven’t) take 30 seconds of your attentions span and sign the petition to get a community garden at City Hall in NYC at PeoplesGardenNYC.org You’ll feel better about yourself the rest of the day and you will be doing something good for our city. And for more on the awesome school bus you were probably hoping to read about you can visit TheWhoFarm.org

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one year later

 
icon for podpress  Venezia by Mike Wilson [4:35m]: Play Now

Hard to believe that a year ago this month was the first time that Wilson and I were sitting around his studio in Brooklyn and decided to try out a podcast. Me being a computer geek and him being the artist with all the equipment made this idea seem well within reach, and a year later here I am typing something for another post with another song to go with it. (In case you haven’t all ready hit the play button above while you read this)

As with most of the songs and posts on this site, it all started with cold beer in Mike’s studio in Brooklyn one afternoon. In fact, I can concretely state that an overwhelming majority of all the cool things that have happened in my life typically start off or begin with cold beers. After a few beers Mike extended his latest dart winning streak to four games (which I lost by one toss each game) and then sang a few songs on the piano. In my mind the best part about this song being the 1 year anniversary song is that it was recorded in one take and is one of Wilson’s originals. This whole podcasting thing began in that exact spirit – doing something unrehearsed and spontaneous and then sharing it. This is not always as easy as it sounds when you are working with a sound and video guy – particularly in one take and after some beers.

So after we got the track recorded it was time to make some pizza (yes, make not order) and pretty much run the evening out. It’s taken about a week to get it up and online but I’m going to blame that on hosting Thanksgiving in the new apartment this year and the large amount of pre-game cooking, shopping and cleaning involved. In any case it’s great to get lost in the words of this song and we hope to have more regular posts and media this next year. In the meantime, check out SulphurBath Studios

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