Saul Conrad

Saul Conrad

Saul Conrad

National Underground, New York City, NY • February 16, 2013

Sometimes musicians with an innate talent for crafting highly personal prose put to music will slog through sets at venues meant for people to hang around the bar area drinking and conversing. For 24-year-old Massachusetts native Saul Conrad, that kind of evening happened at the National Underground in New York’s lower East side, a venue that marginalized what I thought was a pretty good performance.

Saul Conrad

May Terry
Saul Conrad

Saul Conrad’s Americana folk songs are an intimate collection of little gold nuggets for self-reflection. Think of a jam sandwich of Elliot Smith with a smear of Townes Van Zandt (if you took away his country twang) and a voice that reminds me of They Might Be Giants. Kate Schecter, who sings on Conrad’s album Poison Packet, provides hand-in-glove harmonies to boost and lighten up the set, most notably in the light-hearted country song “Whiskey Eggs.” But overall there’s also an odd solace in listening to the somberness of Conrad’s lyrics and the intertwining of his and Schecter’s vocals in “Darkness,” “Bird in the Sun,” and “Bonfire Blues.”

Kate Schecter and Saul Conrad

May Terry
Kate Schecter and Saul Conrad

Now here’s the rub. Partially owned by Gavin DeGraw (the hat-obsessed Top-40 pop-pianist/singer most recently of Dancing with the Stars fame), National Underground is a really small dive bar that seems more like a local watering hole for townies and the occasional straggler hoping to see DeGraw stop by. The poorly designed layout has a stage view that is blocked by two intrusive columns smack in the center of the place. Because of this, more than half of the people in this bar were oblivious to Conrad’s set. Moreover, the poor acoustics reverberated the bar chatter, which at times was so loud that I could barely hear Conrad’s singing. This is a real shame, because I think he deserves a better audience.

Maybe Conrad is more coffeehouse than dive bar, but it’s no reason not to check him out. Just tune out the bar noise and ingest Conrad’s Poison Packet.

Saul Conrad: mountainofleopards.com/saul-conrad

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Best of Film 2021
    Best of Film 2021

    Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite features, seven supplemental films, and two prized repertory releases of 2021.

  • I Saw A Dozen Faces…
    I Saw A Dozen Faces…

    From The Windbreakers to Bark, Tim Lee is a trooper in the rock and roll trenches…and he’s lived to tell it all in his new memoir.

  • The Lyons
    The Lyons

    A man on his deathbed is surrounded by bickering family members, many of which you would strangle him given the chance. In other words: a brilliant comedy!

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

From the Archives