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DanceAfrica Bazaar

DanceAfrica Bazaar

New York is filled with culture and people from all across the world making it one of the biggest melting pots out there. Walking down the street you may hear a handful of different languages being spoken or stumble upon a parade of celebration for […]

Stay Cool, It’s The Brooklyn Way

Stay Cool, It’s The Brooklyn Way

This past week here in New York definitely determined that summer is here. Scorching hot days — where the minute you step outside you begin to melt — are upon us. My first few summers here in the city I somehow managed to survive without […]

Sofar Sounds

Sofar Sounds

Lights are finally going down and the people around you begin chanting even louder. Music begins to play and you close your eyes the minute you hear a voice booming out through the sound system in hopes of losing yourself in the moment. Right then you get shoved forward as beer is spilled on you while hearing someone around you being loud and out of control already. Your moment of connection with the music is lost and now you are beginning to fume with annoyance. We’ve all been there no matter who you were seeing live or where at. The mindset of seeing a live music performance today has been taken over with the mindset of just being seen there. The era of FOMO is fully upon us and the era of seeing live bands to fully enjoy the music and lose yourself in it is dwindling.

 

This is a common frustration I was finding myself in and discussing with friends around me. I would end up not seeing groups I love or attending shows because I would end up leaving at the end of the night defeated and annoyed. This constant struggle sparked a conversation between me and one of my closest friends where she introduced me to a company that was founded by people who shared my aggravations. Three guys in London used their dissatisfaction with seeing live music to form their own company that had the vision to bring the magic back to live music and those who valued it and wanted to connect with it. What better way to do that than to have your own personal show in your apartment and only invite friends who will appreciate live music like you do and won’t be engrossed in their phones, yelling in a ridiculous manner or spilling beer on everyone around them. After they had their first successful mini show in one of their apartments in London, the global community that is Sofar Sounds was born and kept growing from there.

 

 

Today you can find shows put on by Sofar Sounds in more than 300 cities globally. All shows have the intent of connecting you with musicians from different genres and instill an environment to enjoy them in. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience my first ever Sofar Sounds show and enjoyed it so much I decided to attend another one the week after. Each show was different and unique in its own way while still inhabiting the company’s core values the entire time. Both events consisted of three acts and were held at a local bar in Prospect Heights, close to my neighborhood Crown Heights.

 

The first event I attended was on May 30th and I was able to experience Suenos Jazz Quintet, The Chairman Dances and The Aviary. All acts brought their own style and talent to the evening and ranged in an array of genres. The first act, Suenos Jazz Quintet was phenomenal managing to fuse jazz with an R&B/Hip-Hop aesthetic that rocked the whole venue to its core. They exuded a vibe that was able to sync everyone in the room listening to them. Their talent, coordination and compilation is what I live for when it comes to seeing live music. Please stay up to date with them on their Facebook page in hopes of seeing them live yourself.

 

 

The second two acts, The Chairman Dances and The Aviary digressed to a more intimate acoustic sound due to the small setting. The Aviary band was completely stripped down now that I have had a chance to listen to their recordings. Their sound had a more melancholy feel to it twisted in with indie rock, connecting me to a deeper space internally. The Chairman Dances finished the night with what they call ‘bookish indie rock’ which in itself is amazing and frankly they are just that. A group curated of songs that aren’t put in one box in particular like a happy song but have a way of navigating you through everything that is. The Chairman Dances were the perfect way to end the night and frankly kick off Summer.

 

 

After having such a wonderful time and talking about it the entire walk home I decided to submit my name to be selected for another show the following week. By luck of the draw I was selected again finding myself at another Sofar Sounds show a week later. Similar to the week before there were three acts, it was at the exact same bar (within walking distance of home) and a room filled with people who were there for the exact same reason I was, to enjoy and appreciate live music together. The three acts during this night were drastically different than the previous week’s but in all the same, very talented. In true acoustic fashion the first act, Vinegar Mother started us off with a lead singer who had one of the more soulful voices I have heard live. Everyone in the room was captivated by her voice completely losing themselves in each and every moment she was singing. The small amount of time she did perform seemed to fly by due to the fact that I just found myself in a mesmerized state, completely losing all sense of time. Little did I know this was only the tip of the iceberg for the evening.

 

 

The night just built off of the soulfulness of Vinegar Mother by bringing in Bel-Ami to project his own alluring voice into the night. He exemplified a wide range of styles into his music but at the core harnessed the sound of soul/R&B. His act was stripped down even more than usual to a raw acoustic setting especially during his closing song which he sang to his girlfriend who was there. It was raw and beautiful, making me even feel like it was just them two in the room but in an enchanting way. Everything about his set was haunting and mesmerizing, silencing the world for everyone in the room.

 

Coming full circle and finishing the night was Founders, a band comprised of string, brass and percussion. Growing up playing the violin myself I am always drawn to groups that are able to incorporate any member of the string family into their music. Founders not only incorporated one member of the string family but four along with a killer trumpet player. The five members of classical musicians have come together to form a group that is able to collaborate and perform music of all genres but harnessing the music of the Appalachian while also taking you to a time of New York where the sounds of brass instruments seemed to fill the streets. A sense of nostalgia filled the room, a nostalgia for old New York where this type of music was the norm. I have to say in true Sofar fashion, the magic was definitely brought back to live music thanks to all three of these acts.

 

 

Thanks to the expansion and global community that is Sofar, it is becoming more accessible for people to experience live music in an intimate setting and to be surrounded by those who are wanting the same thing. Sofar has expanded to a number of cities across the globe, and you can easily find a show near you on their website here.

For all my NYC locals, if you’re interested in checking out Sofar, head to www.sofarsounds.com/nyc and use the code MYHIGHALPINE-637A5 to skip the line and get priority access to purchase tickets to the show of your choice!

 

 

 

 

I hope to see you at a show soon or if you are attending a show outside of New York, feel free to post about your experience while tagging @sofarsounds and me, @mariellelauren. Join me and Sofar in keeping the magic of live music going. Support live music, hire live musicians.

 

Coney Island

Coney Island

  Wednesday, June 21 is the official first day of Summer. Even though that is not until later this month, I usually determine the start and end of seasons by months. For me Summer begins by the start of June and goes to the end […]

Urban Cowboy

Urban Cowboy

  “When it comes to life’s adventures… never pull back on the reins.”   Top: Reformation / Denim: Imogene & Willie / Bag: Rebecca Minkoff / Glasses: Madewell    

Go Your Own Way

Go Your Own Way

I’m sure just like everyone else my style has evolved throughout my life. When I look at pictures of myself from middle school, high school even college I can’t believe what my style used to be like. For the longest time I would dress similar to how those around me were dressing in hopes of being accepted and fitting in. The older I got the more I realized how much I was oppressing myself and caring too much what other people thought of me. However I still find myself caring what others think of me from time to time. I’m beginning to think it’s an inevitable fleeting thought but for the first time in my life I dress the way that feels the most like me.

 

 

Numerous factors influence my style, where I grew up, the music I listen to, living in New York and traveling. I have taken bits and parts from all those things to incorporate into outfits I put together everyday. It’s not uncommon to see me rockin’ cowboy boots, which is influenced by my home roots, or all black from head to toe, the New York uniform. As frivolous as it can be how we dress can be the first representation of ourselves. It can often make or break the start of your day or tell the world what you want them to know or think. It’s a way of storytelling almost in the form of garments.

 

 

It was a long road struggling with my own identity and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I must say there is something invigorating finally feeling a sense of who I am and having a way to represent that through my style.

 

Top: Madewell / Jacket: Rag & Bone (old) / Denim: Madewell

Shoes: Sandro (old) / Bag: Kemo Sabe (Custom) / Glasses: Madewell

 

Sustainable Tourism: International Biodiversity Day

Sustainable Tourism: International Biodiversity Day

  It’s no surprise that the world is in a very delicate state right now. Not just politically but also environmentally. It’s a proven fact that we are having more warm days than cold days and the polar ice caps are melting at a growing […]

Skinny Dennis x Vinyl Ranch

Skinny Dennis x Vinyl Ranch

After living in Brooklyn for quite some time it is definitely starting to feel like home to me. I have my favorite restaurants, coffee shops and watering holes. I must say when it comes to deciding which place should be my go-to to let off […]

Healdsburg, CA

Healdsburg, CA

Just a few weekends ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Healdsburg, CA. It had been several years since I was in California and it honestly felt nice to visit for a weekend. I forgot how much I love Northern California and why I went to college out there. We made the obligatory stop at In n Out, but after our tummy’s were full with burgers and fries we headed up to beautiful wine country for our weekend filled with laughter, music and rosé. The ultimate reason for the trip was to celebrate a bachelorette tying the knot, and the town of Healdsburg ended up being the perfect setting for our celebration.
Due to having a larger group of girls we decided to rent an entire house. The place we were lucky enough to stay at was beautiful and accommodating. There were plenty of rooms, a large kitchen to cook, living room to play games and dance around in, not to mention the pool/hot tub in the back to lounge around by. If you are planning a similar trip for a special occasion I highly recommend seeing if you can rent out the same house we did; click here to view.

 

 

Friday we all got settled into the house and immediately took advantage of the 80 degree weather and pool. It was the perfect way for California to welcome our arrival and detox from the long cross country plane ride. For dinner we had several options on the table pending weather. Luckily the weather held up so we were able to dine at Campo Fina in downtown Healdsburg. They were wonderful in accommodating a large party; they placed us in their backyard patio area right by the bocce ball court. Our dinner was delicious. We opted to do family style and ordered an assortment of dishes to share with one another along with bottles of wine. Campo Fina ended up being the perfect place to grab dinner, not just for a big group like ours but also for much smaller groups.

Saturday was our big wine tasting day! We had reservations at three different wineries spread throughout the day. Our first stop was Red Car Wine in Sebastopol, CA. Right as we entered, Michael our server, was ready for us with a line of glasses filled with rosé. In all honesty I have never been the biggest fan of the style but this particular bottle converted me. I have already searched for places in Brooklyn that would happen to sell it. The exact rosé we had is linked here.

 

 

The decor of the winery was just up our alley. In my opinion it had a little Brooklyn feel which I always love. The different wines we tasted were all amazing. I particularly enjoyed the Pinot Noirs. Below are the exact wines we tasted if you want to try something from this winery. If you happen to be in the area though I do suggest visiting their tasting room directly, and make sure Michael assists you. He was very enjoyable and knowledgeable for our tasting.

Here is a list of the wines we tasted here:

  1. 2016 Rose of Pinot Noir
  2. 2013 Estate Vineyard Chardonnay
  3. 2013 Hagan Vineyard Pinot Noir
  4. 2013 Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir
  5. 2012 Estate Vineyard Syrah

 

 

After we had a little picnic to make sure our bellies were full we ventured on to our next tasting at Quivira Vineyards & Winery. This winery was utterly breathtaking. They had a table reserved for our party right underneath their olive trees whose fruit were served with the tasting. Unfortunately they don’t sell them to go, I was wanting to bring home a jar so badly. Our server Alec was a delight and was throwing pun after pun keeping us entertained.  His sense of humor combined with the golden-doodle that crashed our tasting may have made this the group’s favorite stop of the weekend.

Here is a list of the wines we tasted here:

  1. Rose
  2. Fig Tree
  3. Grenache
  4. Elusive
  5. Petite Sirah
  6. Montepulciano-Sangiovese

 

 

Last stop of the day was Mill Creek Vineyards. After doing research beforehand I was particularly excited for this winery due to the setting and pictures I saw of the vineyard. The main facility is a beautiful rustic barn house with a water mill on the side and an outdoor patio area to sit and overlook the surrounding vineyards. However this vineyard ended up being a bit of a disappointment. We were a few minutes behind for our reservation and during our entire tasting the group felt a bit rushed by our server. We kept feeling like they wanted us to finish our tasting as fast as we could and leave. We weren’t able to enjoy the vineyard as much as we would’ve liked.

Here is the list of wines we tasted here:

  1. 2015 Chardonnay
  2. 2014 Reserve Chardonnay
  3. 2014 Pinot Noir
  4. 2013 Zinfandel
  5. 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

 

 

Tipsy and happy we headed back to the house where a majority of the girls and the bride to be were surprised to see dinner was being prepared for us by a local catering couple. My thoughts while planning out the weekend was we all would be exhausted from the day of wine tasting and no one would want to cook for a big group like ours. Quivira Vineyards suggested I hire Odd Couple Catering and I could not thank them enough. They were so patient and accommodating during our months of emailing back and forth. They went above and beyond for the night and customized a menu specifically for the group: southern themed cuisine. The appetizers and meal were exquisite. Another recommendation if you are spending the weekend in the area and need something catered. They were truly a delight to work with.

 

 

Due to all of us being hard working professional women our trip had to be short but sweet. We all had flights out of SFO Sunday afternoon but on our way out of town we decided to make one last wine tasting stop: Banshee Wines in downtown Healdsburg. This winery was by far my favorite — not just in wine but also aesthetic. It has a southwestern decor that just made my heart flutter and the wines we tasted were so divine that those of us that traveled in from New York ordered a case of things to be delivered to Brooklyn. Still awaiting the arrival of those but I’m excited to have their wine again.


I think it’s fair to say all of us would’ve loved to stay longer and explore more of Healdsburg and visit other wineries. It was the perfect little weekend getaway and a wonderful way to celebrate a bachelorette party. Healdsburg has already been added to my list of places to travel to in hopes of revisiting and exploring the surrounding area more.

 

 

Elle Asbury

Elle Asbury

  Top: Madewell / Jacket: Imogene & Willie / Denim: Madewell / Shoes: Gucci / Hat: Janessa Leone / Intimates: Aerie