Vicente Garcia NYC Area Mini-Tour


He has opened for the likes of GRAMMY Award winning artists such as Mana, Juanes, Shakira, Cultura Profetica and the legendary Juan Luis Guerra.  It’s plain to see Vicente Garcia has accomplished a vast number of things in his young career. One which also includes his debut album “Melodrama” which was released in 2011 and recording with LAMC star Ximena Sariñana.

But now the Dominican soul tropical singer-songwriter, known to the world as the protégé of the aforementioned Guerra, is set to embark on mini-tour of the New York City area. The tour will begin February 21st with a FREE show in Willamsburg, Brooklyn at Viva Toro for the first time ever! The final stop on the tour will be at Rutgers University on February 26th.

So if you’re into music that is the perfect blend of soul, reggae, pop, hints of bachata, and old school Mo-Town then this is the tour you MUST SEE!



Feb. 21, Viva Toro, Brooklyn
Feb. 23, Hofstra University, Long Island
Feb. 24, Corcho Wine Room, Washington Heights/Inwood
Feb. 25, Corcho Wine Room, Washington Heights/Inwood
Feb. 26, Rutgers University, New Jersey

For more on Vicente Garcia:

Vicente Garcia on YouTube

Vicente Garcia on Facebook

Vicente Garcia on Twitter

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Free Music For Paid Listeners


“I wanted to give this project more of a mixtape feel”, rapper Tom “Upgrade” Taub told me via our phone conversation this past Monday with regard to his latest release “Free Music for Paid Listeners” which was released last Thursday. From what I gathered during our discussion the title of the record is a playful means at taking shots at individuals who complain about purchasing musical content. “I wanted to put ‘Free Music’ in the title so I don’t have to hear people complaining about digging $5.00 out of their front seat to purchase a CD. So it’s free music for people listening who are actually paid, have full jobs, and have no problem dropping $10.00 plus on a meal, but bootleg records all the time because they’re too expensive”, Taub explained.

The twenty-four track record, which was made available on the internet , boasts a veritable cornucopia of tracks and skits riddled with pop culture references from the titles right down to the superior lyrical content. When asked about the pop culture themes Upgrade offered, “It’s really just naming songs or mentioning things that I don’t have a problem admitting I like. Ecto cooler is one of the greatest drinks ever! Goosebump books were my shit! Carlton’s dance is a damn classic! It’s just stuff I like really.”

The record features solid rhymes by Gregg Self, Mr. King and Streets. While the production of it was largely spearheaded by Escrappa and Joe D it also included gems produced by Enew, Buckwild, Jake One, Spinz and newcomer to Team Upgrade Dopamine.  “I felt a lot less pressure on this one”, confessed Taub when comparing the making of this record to his debut album released last spring.  “I put “Smile and Nod” on such a high pedestal and was thinking so much about how it would be received by the listeners that I didn’t get to really expand or experiment in my music in a way I would like to. On this FMFPL project, we just put out what we felt was dope music. And the music only gets better from here!”

“Free Music for Paid Listeners” is yet another unyielding effort at the continued building of Upgrade’s fan base until his sophomore album is released. It’s been nearly a year since “Smile and Nod” was released and since then he has continued to put the word out about his music, earned a spot on the Bamboozle Tour and rocked the house last month for a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at the Tony Bennett Concert Hall in Queens, New York. “I make music because it’s what I love to do and really the ultimate goal is to get the music out to as many people as possible.  I want this project to get people excited for more Upgrade music”, Taub shared with me.

In assessing his career to date “The Best Circumcised Rapper of All Time” laid out a few choice thoughts. “I’m a lot less worried about satisfying everyone”, Upgrade stoutly declared.  “People are going to either love or hate the music, and switching my style to everyone’s liking would be impossible. I’m really comfortable with the music I’m making now, and look forward to constantly experimenting and improving with every project.”

As for Upgrade’s latest effort it definitely looks like it is more than holding fans over until another full album is released. Judging by the countless positive reviews and how rapidly fans have been downloading it since its January 3rd release “Free Music for Paid Listeners” has thus far been a satisfying record to all who have been listening at no cost.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Not Quite Out Of Reach

Queens, NY native Nilsa writes songs, and then sings with her soul. (Photo: Daniel Rivera)

It’s a little half way past three in the afternoon as I spot a pintsized female finishing her cigarette behind the old Cooper Union Building. In a playful yet stern tone of voice I admonish, “What are you doing? You’re going to kill those pipes!” She pouts back at me, “I know. But I’m trying.” After she finishes her cancer stick we exchange greetings, discuss a few things going on in our lives, take a few snap shots and then get to business while trekking from Cooper Triangle to Washington Square Park.

I haven’t seen this woman perform since this past January at Amber Village with Upgrade on the song “Farewell” which is on his debut album Smile and Nod. Since then she has been burning up the club circuit with her own brand of rock and soul. Along the way she has managed to connect with her audience no matter where she performs and has certainly garnered the attention of the man penning this article.

Throughout the course of its time rock music has provided us with some powerful vocalists and songwriters since its inception. John Lennon, Chris Cornell, Ann Wilson and Janis Joplin are just some of the many names that come to mind when comes to impeccable songwriting and possessing voices that command an audience while delivering a sound message. Twenty-five year old Queens, NY native Nilsa Astacio just may be one of those who fall in the same line as it is said that she writes songs, and then sings with her soul.

If you don’t know who she is by now then you must be either living in a darkened cave or are too scared to veer in the opposite direction of some of today’s extremely bland brand of pop music. So allow me to be the one to clue you the reader on all things Nilsa.

“I pretty much started singing when I came out of my mother’s womb,” she laughs as we head down to Astor Place. While passing through Astor Place Nilsa elaborated that her formal singing career began at the age of four and was schooled early on by her father who was a singer himself at their local church. By the age of nine she was singing in a Christian rock band. “What they would do is take classic rock songs like The Beatles and change the lyrics. They would take them and make it a song about God,” she recounts. However, this would be a short lived experience as she began to develop a an affinity for such legends as the Fab Four, Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin by her early teenage years. “It wasn’t until I became obsessed with The Beatles that I wanted to write stuff. I became determined to write music. I always loved music when I was growing up. There wasn’t anything really out there that motivated me to make a name for myself until I started listening to The Beatles, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. Because all of their songs had a message and made people want to think,” she added.

By the time she was fifteen she began to have aspirations of starting a band of her own but this would not happen for another five years. As time went on she would include Nirvana, Jason Mraz and Gavin DeGraw as influences in addition to her classic rock roots. She would eventually teach herself how to play the piano in order to become a structured songwriter. To help her with this process she enlisted childhood friend and Neil Davis who would eventually go on to co write the track “Goodbye” on her debut EP Out of Reach.

Although she has expressed admiration for female vocalists like the aforementioned Joplin and Mariah Carey Nilsa made it clear that she draws her true inspiration from male vocalists. “I feel that male vocalists have a better hold over their audiences than female vocalists do,” she states as we cross Broadway and head into a local Duane Reade to rehydrate from the searing heat. “I don’t know what it is. But I see the audience reaction to a male vocalist and it’s always much more intense than a female vocalist,” she asserts. When I solicited her view as to if she believes there are any female vocalists with the same intensity Nilsa simply replied, “No. I really don’t.” When I prodded a little further she went to state, “The women that may have been able to create that type of reaction they’re not necessarily artists that I would enjoy. It’s more poppy stuff that I see people react to. Except for Janis Joplin; people would see her and lose their minds. But she was also very masculine.”

After exiting the store with our beverage choices we turn the corner on to Waverly Place. Nilsa shares with me her belief in the connection to her audiences when she performs live. “People tell me that all the time. Which I am so thankful for; they tell me all the time that I’m passionate when I’m singing and have told me when I’m on stage that I remind them of Michael Jackson and Janis Joplin. They feel I have the ability to captivate my audience. To me that’s the most important thing.”

As we turn down on Fifth Avenue and walk underneath the Washington Square Arch in to the park we are met with an array of colorful sounds that range from a man playing the blues on his sunburst finish Fender Stratocaster, a drummer who is wailing away and a trombone player warming up. The park is abuzz as it normally is on a Saturday afternoon during the summertime in Manhattan. During this leg to the journey Nilsa reveals her admiration of passionate vocalists and drops the names of two prominent ones she would like to work with in the future. “I love Marc Anthony. His voice is crazy. I can listen to him anytime and any day. I love Pink. She’s one of the only female singers I listen to on a consistent basis. I would definitely love to work with both of them,” she declares.

As for her current work Nilsa could not be happier to share with me the process of how her EP came to fruition. “I originally went into the studio in 2008. But I was always really uncomfortable with recording because I’m more of a live performance person. Plus the producer I was working with didn’t vibe well (with me),” she told me. The following year she would experience another setback in the recording process with a different producer. This all resulted in not only time and money being wasted but most importantly her songs were not being completed.

Eventually her comfort level in the studio would soon improve when she encountered Scott Gross of From Autumn To Ashes fame and elected to work with him at his studio in Long Island. In regard to her experience working with Gross at his Hit and Run Studios Nilsa beamed, “He made me so comfortable and so relaxed that I actually learned to enjoy the process. He’s the most phenomenal producer. His attitude is great and he let me be myself. There’s no ego about him. It’s not you have to listen to me! I’m your producer! Everything was whatever you want to do well do it. He’d give me his opinion but I had the option to decide what I wanted to do and he would not take it personally. With other producers it was a fight. He gave me the creative freedom to finish this EP.” Nilsa also went on to declare their mutual love of classic rock was also a key ingredient in allowing the recording process to take a smooth path.

As for the debut EP Nilsa iterated, “My entire record the songs are all about the same theme. Which is yearning; you’re in love with somebody. And it doesn’t matter what you do or what you say there’s a part of you that has to move on but you can’t. It was actually a specific situation that inspired me to start writing about these subjects and I never had that type of inspiration before. I’m very thankful for it.” In listening to the five track record one can get the feeling she is starting to dig deep in her soul in order to bring out her message. But she has barely begun to dig deeper and with her bright outlook on things she will have many years ahead of her to do so.

Who knows how far she will go in terms of baring her soul and what depths her amazing voice will travel to. This much I do know. For Nilsa nothing’s out of reach and it will be an absolute joy to listen to her musical journey. I would encourage anyone reading this piece to take the trip and purchase her debut EP you will not be disappointed.

You can follow Nlisa on Facebook and Twitter. The EP Out of Reach can be purchased on iTunes and heard on Spotify.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Nothing’s Going To Change Her World

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Long Live The Jimi Hendrix Of The Cuatro

This past Sunday we all officially learned of the passing of Yomo Toro. Last week we all received a false alert about his death which disturbed many who were close to him and others like me who grew up listening to his music.

Of the legend I will reiterate something I’ve stated time and time again. That is there are a handful of musicians who I know when they are playing their chosen instrument and can identify them blindfolded. I’ll always know when Dave Grohl is drumming, when it’s Flea on bass and Clapton on guitar. The same can definitely be said of Yomo Toro. You just knew it was him. I had my first encounter of this nature on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1997 in mall in Jersey City, New Jersey.

I just stood in awe, shut my mouth and listened.

While I was listening I just thought two things. The first being how cool is it to be that revered because of how people like me just flocked at the mere sound coming out of his amplifier. The second relates to his playing and the tone of his instrument. How did he manage to get that same signature sound each and every time now matter how many notes he ripped through?

Just one of the cleanest and purest tones you can get hands down. This is coming from a man who tried in vain to copy the clean tone of Kurt Cobain. I thought his was by far the most striking and I know that I was not alone in my past attempts and that others after me have continued in their pursuits. But with regard to El Maesto, as he is called, I know others have tried to do so in regard to cuatro playing. His was more punchy and crisp while the aforementioned Cobain’s was warbled and chilling one.

As for his overall play, which would include guitar work as he was known to play Gibson’s, Yomo could be considered in the realm of Clapton. But often drew comparisons to another left-handed legend in the late Jimi Hendrix. To me he was a little different because his play was a bit more precise.

That precision was on full display as watched and listened. However, what I did not realize at the time was that I was witnessing a virtuoso performance by a legend whose health would continue to decline. Toro was not standing during the majority of the set. In fact he only stood up for the final minute of the last song plus the ovation. When it was all over I wondered one more thing. That was how long will we have him for?

Well we had him here with us fifteen more years after that performance. The ones following that would begin to be less frequent because of his health but when he did perform or speak to people none of us fans took it for granted. Yomo Toro will be sorely missed just like all the other great musicians who have come in and out of my life even though their legacies live on.

Someone once asked me what word comes to mind when I think of the man. It’s a simple one that is comprised of three letters. That word is joy. He was a joy to watch, a joy to listen to and for those who got to be near him he was a joy to be around.

And now I’ll give you a bit of joy on a hot July day with Parranda Fania.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

Artist To Watch: Ben Lyman

Tulsa, Oklahoma native Ben Lyman is in love with NYC.

Now since I’ve re-embarked on my writing endeavors I have had the opportunity to reconnect with some artists I’ve known from my past and encounter some new ones along the way. To say that I am blessed to have gotten to know many of these wonderful and talented people is a huge understatement. I am fortunate to have written about these musical acts and will be forever grateful.

Such is the case with twenty-three year old Tulsa, Oklahoma native Benjamin Lyman. For Lyman this is his second stint living as a musician in The City That Never Sleeps. I encountered Ben last Saturday at the Union Square Station waiting for the L train on my way to start a much anticipated project. After briefly introducing myself I offered Ben two of my business cards and exchanged some social media contact information. Once I was done for the day with the first part of my project I ran into him again at the Bedford Avenue Station on the L line. We talked a bit more and got more acquainted with one another. Eventually we linked up yesterday for an interview for this article.

Lyman, who was introduced initially to gospel music by his parents, I found is not one of those types who are musically bashful. I find him to be very bright, articulate and to be of an avant-garde mind set. “I was inspired to start playing music by an impact that was made on me by John Frusciante, who’s kind of my hero, during a trip to LA. I was about fifteen or sixteen and that’s when I kind of decided I want to do it. I really didn’t start doing it until I was seventeen. Specifically the work of John Frusciante, his stage presence and his solo work influence me. It made me pick up the guitar and from there I kind of found that I wanted to start singing,” says Lyman of his early musical efforts and how he was impressed with the legendary Chili Pepper guitarist.

This would eventually lead to Ben adopting his avant-garde approach to music citing such influences as Asap Rocky, Depeche Mode, Bjork, Kate Bush and Frank Ocean just to name a few. Many of these artists Lyman told me he would love to be in the proper position to work with. Of his other musical work Lyman went on to tell me that he is willing to get involved in songwriting and beat making for hip-hop acts. “Lately I’ve been obsessed with Frank Ocean’s work. I feel that there’s a certain element of eastern thought in the way he approaches his stuff that is really humbling me and kind of forcing me to think outside the box in what I’m doing,” divulged Ben in reference of the neo soul artist. Ben also stated he is always “striving to find something constantly more bizarre and more diverse” in a musical sense with the need to be constantly challenged in his life.

In describing his music Ben states, “The music of my preference to make is electronic music from a singer/songwriter perspective. I make little pop songs but my music is always going to be changing. I’m writing an album right now and a lot of the work is pretty much on acoustic guitar but the arrangements are much bigger. I’ll be playing a lot of guitar but I will be branching out to rap.” In adding rap to his repertoire Lyman is showing that he is willing to showcase his range as an artist and further demonstrate his need to push the envelope. As for his rap aspirations he told me, “I think rap is a young and fertile genre. It’s breaking out of its box but it’s still very limited. There’s so much further we could be taking it and I’m not saying that I could be the one to do that at all. All I’m saying is that as an artist making music if you have pop intentions, which I very much do, you can’t ignore rap/hip-hop. That is popular music.”

In no way shape or form does Lyman describe himself as musically bashful. In detailing his personality both musically and personally he said, “I wouldn’t say generally I’m super bashful about my craft. Music is my outlet I think that’s why I’m not bashful. It’s my escape and the hat I can wear where anything goes. It’s melded into my body and become an extension of me to the point where my musical personality has taken my overall personality to different heights. It’s made me a much stronger, forthright and confident person. I’ve become more comfortable in my own skin since I started playing music.” Indeed a very profound set of statements from a young man who has come a long way from being a kid who once learned to play “Toxicity” by System of A Down and admitted he is a bit of an anomaly like Ace Frehley in that he doesn’t read sheet music.

As for his feelings toward our fair Gotham Ben declared, “It’s an intense energetic city. It gives you a lot and you have to give a lot. It has a certain reality about it and certain diversity about it. It’s a great epicenter to come to in order to cultivate my craft. I love this place. It’s my favorite city in the nation. I feel right at home. I feel I can be myself. I feel that there’s something I can do here. I have a unique vibe and flavor within such a diverse city. It’s something that I can bring to the whole mix.” From the look and sound of things it is blatantly obvious that Ben Lyman is on his way to accomplishing this goal.

Let’s just all hope he is able to sustain a long career in music and continue to add something to the flavor of New York City.

You can purchase Ben’s music on Band Camp plus follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.

They’ll Still Be Three MC’s and One DJ

This poster was a constant in my door room in college.

This is has been a rather difficult year so far when it comes to the death in the music world. First Whitney Houston, then Dick Clark and now one that really hurts is the passing of Adam “MCA” Yauch after his courageous battle with cancer. All of those mentioned had an impact on our lives and left their marks. In fact the Beastie Boys did make an appearance on American Bandstand. This shows you how not only Clark was a pioneer and very open to new acts on the ever evolving musical landscape but that the Beastie’s were a sign of things to come.

The Beastie Boys were originally seen as a passing fad when they officially hit the airwaves. But as we all found out over the years they were anything but a flash in the pan. They were constant staple in our lives and especially mine. Evidence of this could be seen in my door room wall right by the window as the photo on the top left-hand corner was always hanging there. They were the pioneers in the room. Their image and likeness resided alongside those of Led Zeppelin (who they sampled), Soundgarden and Nirvana just to name a few.

For me they stood for many things. They represented timeless progression in music, humanitarian spirit and trend setting. The Beastie Boys went from a four piece hard core punk band which included Kate Schellenbach, of Luscious Jackson fame, on drums to the hip hop icons that we now know them. They went from a frat boy attitude and matured before our very eyes while championing such causes as the plight of the Tibetan people. While many were pushing Nike and Timberland as part of hip hop fashion they stayed true to their roots and continued to rock Stan Smith Adidas and Puma Clyde’s. They even founded their own record label Grand Royal, where everything was guaranteed fresh. All of these things made me want to be the extra Beastie Boy.

MCA was obviously behind all of this as a founding member of the group. Of the three he was definitely my favorite. He was the backbone of the crew and more often than not he always was the one finishing a track with flare, gusto and some lines that may be simple to some but will forever go down in hip hop lore. If you don’t believe me I have two samples for you below this paragraph.

“So Whatcha Want”

Well I’m as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce
You’ve got the rhyme and reason but no cause
Well if you’re hot to trot you think you’re slicker than grease
I’ve got news for you crews you’ll be sucking like a leech


If you try to knock me you’ll get mocked
I’ll stir fry you in my wok
Your knees’ll start shaking and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck of Mr. Spock

Sadly now he’s gone but his legacy and that of his band will most certainly live on. No one could ever replace MCA and it’s very safe to say that Mike D and Ad Rock will never allow that to happen. And as for me, the kid who once wanted to be an extra Beastie Boy like so many others, I would not want to see anyone in his place. Besides those are some large shell toed sneakers to fill and there isn’t a person alive who is capable of doing so. The man known and MCA, Nathaniel Hörnblowér and Nathan Wind as Cochese will be sorely missed by me and legions of fans.

The Beastie Boys will be remembered for many great things. But for me they will always and forever be remembered as three MC’s and one DJ.

If you have any questions, comments, or story suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on Twitter @DanielRivera24 and I will do the very same.


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