A New Year

I didn't think about it unitl I thought about it, but 2013 was an extraordinary year for me and my music, if only for the number of different projects I had the opportunity to work on and present. 

Some highlights:

* My Biting Fish Brass Band toured Europe for the first time, playing to big crowds in Estonia and Finland. Here's a clip of our headlining gig on the Mainstage at Augustibluus Fest in Happsalu.

Onstage in Estonia * No Further Instructions was programmed at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, and at the Jewish Museum in NYC. Both concerts featured my 11-piece "Romanian Orchestra," and Mike Benanav reading from his book and showing his photos from our trip abroad.


The Orchestra after the Jewish Museum show

* "A Star Has Burnt My Eye," my music-theater-documentary piece about Connie Converse, continued its development, with workshop performances at the Rattlestick Theater and Joe's Pub in NYC. Director Sarah Hughes (Elevator Repair Service) has joined the team as Director of the project.


At Joe's Pub

* My Basement Tapes Project hit the road again this fall, presented by Mercyhurst Institute in Erie, PA.

Mazz, Bean, Me, Scott and Nathan, backstage in Erie

* I produced Connie's Piano Songs, the first-ever recordings of Connie Converse's art songs, featuring the recording debuts of soprano Charlotte Mundy and pianist Christopher Goddard (Release date: 2/14/14).

Connie Converse

* Peculiar Works Project in NYC commissioned me to compose a score for their multimedia theater piece MANNA-HATA, most of it performed in the show entirely acapella by the large cast in the gigantic, mostly-abandoned spaces inside the Penn Station Post Office.

* Howard Fishman Quartet was a recurring feature in Cynthia Von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse in NYC.


* And non project-specific, regular old Howard Fishman tour dates in 2013 included stops in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Upstate NY, New Orleans, Estonia, Latvia and, of course, NYC and Brooklyn.



I'm generally not one for gazing into the rearview mirror, but sometimes it can be useful to track progress and, more importantly, to express gratitude -- to the presenters who made these things happen; to my unbelievable circle of collaborators/musicians who help make my ideas manifest so beautifully; to you for showing up and showing interest in the various things I do; and to the universe for continuing to allow me opportunities to pursue and explore my various interests and passions.

Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you in 2014.

Photo by Carole Cohen

Radegast Does The Right Thing

Radegast Hall in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is not a music venue, per se.  It's a beer garden and restaurant that also happens to feature live music two or three times a week.  There is no cover charge for the music, and the place is most certainly not a concert setting; the house does not own a sound system and -- despite the cavernous environs -- there isn't really much room to actually sit and watch a band there, unless you're lucky enough to snag one of the dozen or so stools at the bar (there is, however, some room for dancing, which is not only allowed, but encouraged).   The music is not the featured attraction for patrons; it's there to provide atmosphere while you sit and drink artisinal beer and eat delicious food (more on that in a moment).

Given the above, it may come as a surprise that not only do I perform here once a month, but it has actually become one of my favorite gigs in town.

I've been playing here with some aggregation of my Biting Fish band, under the radar, for the last year or so -- usually on a Wednesday or a Thursday night. We do three sets, with short breaks, from 9pm until midnight.  Recently, these practically anonymous neighborhood hits in this unassuming neighborhood spot have been a forum for some of the most exciting, adventurous music I've been privileged to be a part of in a good long time.  In fact, a few weeks ago, on a night when the band included Skye Steele on violin, Scott Barkan on guitar, Kenny Bentley on tuba and Dave Berger on drums, the music reached such heights of expression and bravery that, at times,  I was nearly moved to tears.  It happened again just the other nightwith the same band, minus Skye and plus Andrae Murchison on trombone. 

I've been ruminating a bit about why this is, and I think I can safely identify at least one key reason.  I think, like most things, it starts at the top.  I've known Ivan Kohut, the kindly owner, for over a decade now, since the days when he worked the Arts Nights at Europa Club in Greenpoint, presented by the sadly now-defunct New York Arts and Innovations, a terrific organization headed by Marian Zak and his family.  Ivan still likes to remind me of the time that Mr. Zak honored my quartet by having us play a party for the then-President of Poland. 

Ivan is a man of great integrity and good business sense.  He treats the musicians who play at Radegast with respect, it contributes to the quality of the music. Ivan could probably get some schlubs to come in and play for tips if he wanted to.  He could opt not to feed the musicians and/or make them pay for their drinks.  After all, he's running an eating and drinking establishment, not a music venue.

Ivan could also dumb down his food menu.  Have you ever eaten at Radegast?  "A beer hall??", you may aslk.  Let me tell you something -- the food at Radegast is outrageously good, way better than it needs to be.  The menu changes regularly, the chefs in the kitchen use fresh, delicious ingredients creatively (right now they have a winter squash gnocchi that matches anything I've eaten at much spendier, foodie-obsessive joints in the city, and a vegetarian hot borscht that is equally out of this world).

So, yes, could Ivan be forgiven if he chose to lavish less care and attention on the food being offered to people who -- let's face it -- are going to his place to drink beer?  Sure he could.  Could he be forgiven for not paying much mind to the quality of entertainment he's providing for free to the same beer-drinking crew who -- let's face it -- aren't even really there to hear music in the first place? Of course he could.  But he doesn't, and that's what makes him special as a venue owner, and what makes Radegast the delightful, exceptional surprise that it is.

There are beloved music venues in NYC that do not treat their musicians half as well as Ivan treats the people who perform at Radegast.  Those venues shall remain nameless, but Radegast deserves to be named.  If you're local, I urge you to come out and support what's going on here. As of now, I'm there once a month, but I'm starting to wish it were even more often than that. My next Radegast "show" is on Thursday, February 16. Come on over -- you'l be glad you did!

 Photos by Rod Bachar

Heading West with Nellie McKay

I've been asked to come and play guitar in Nellie McKay's band for her upcoming dates at Yoshi's in San Francisco (Oct. 16-18) and at Jazz Alley in Seattle (Oct. 20-21).  This will be my first time performing in San Francisco, and Seattle is one of my very favorite cities, so I'm really looking forward to this!

Here's a clip of Nellie and me singing together at Joe's Pub last year on the Hoagy Carmichael standard "Two Sleepy People"...enjoy!

10th Anniversary Shows

Photo by Brennan Cavannaugh

This month (December 2008), I'm doing something a little wild to celebrate the tenth anniversary of my musical debut.

Beginning on Tuesday, Dec.9th, I'll be performing 10 consecutive shows, with 10 different bands, in (almost) 10 venues (one venue has two different bands over two nights).

It's going to be a little nuts, but I'm excited...not least because I'm bringing back a number of players that have been with me over the years AND bringing back some projects that mean a lot to me.  There will be a brand new showing of a revamped "we are destroyed" at galapagos , a return to the Algonquin where it all began, with my quartet (featuring my erstwhile bandmates Russell Farhang, Jon Flaugher, and special guest Orange Kellin), a new outing for the "Basement Tapes" Project, a Monkey Farm rock show at PIANOS, and a chance to play my newest material (with a string section!) at Joe's Pub.

Hope to see you at a few of them!

"YOUR VOICE" : JULY 22, 2009

The July 22nd concert at JOE'S PUB at the PUBLIC THEATER in NYC has become something of a concept evening entitled "YOUR VOICE," featuring a number of friends covering my songs, backed by me and the band. 

Here is a list of confirmed guests, and the songs they are scheduled to perform.  In addition to these folks, there may yet be some unannounced surprises coming to sit in with the band. Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, July 22 @7pm sharp

JOE'S PUB @ The Public Theater in New York City.  Tickets and info here.

Marika Hughes: "Someday" (from LOOK AT ALL THIS!)

Susan Oetgen "Anywhere at All" from "we are destroyed"

Sasha Dobson "It Won't Be Long II" (from upcoming new release)

Roland Barber "Want you to Be Mine" from DO WHAT I WANT)

Bill Malchow "Katie La La" (from LOOK AT ALL THIS!)

Skye Steele "In Another Life" (from DO WHAT I WANT)

Sheriff Uncle Bob "Luck" (unreleased outtake from LOOK AT ALL THIS!)

Richard Julian "Dreams of You" (from I LIKE YOU A LOT)

Ian Riggs "Pictures" (from LOOK AT ALL THIS!)

Mazz Swift "Good Times" (from THE HOWARD FISHMAN QUARTET)

Hope to see you there!

"we are destroyed" and Thursdays @ Pete's Candy

April is going to be a whole lot of fun in NY. 

"we are destroyed" (which we're now calling an opera, btw -- why not?) is about to go into rehearsals for its next showing, the first time that the piece has had a multi-night run and the first time that there will be movement, staged with elaborate brilliance by Ed Schmidt. You may remember Ed as the host and curator of DUMBOLIO, a very smart and entertaining monthly variety show that, sadly, has been on hiatus for a little while. 

Ed is directing a brand new cast, led by none other than the fabulous Susan Oetgen. "we are destroyed" will be at the ABRONS ARTS CENTER in NYC, on April 24-25 @8pm, and on April 26 @3pm. Tickets are here.

"Donner," by Howard Fishman, oil on canvas

Have a look at a nice piece on the project that just went online. I'm looking a little haggard in it, but the music sounds nice:


The other good news is that since I'll be here all month, I booked myself a residency at none other than PETE'S CANDY STORE, my old neighborhood haunt. I\ll be holding forth every Thursday night @11pm, and bringing in a variety of friends old and new to play with me. Lots of new material.  Week one (4/2) will be a rare outing of the MONKEY FARM, with Jon Flaugher joining me on bass and Dave Berger on drums.

Photo by Sean Gallagher

Meanwhile, work in the studio continues apace.  Stay tuned and thanks for listening.





This is when we're going to pop the corks and have a party. Joe's Pub has been my musical headquarters for almost all of the last decade, and it's only fitting that the big throwdown will be here. The best sound, the best lights, the best place to see a show in NYC, period.

Tonight will feature my original music, and a number of my "Romania" songs will get the full string quartet treatment. For those of you who missed the one and only previous outing of these songs in their final form at the Settlement House back in October, now's your chance!

Performing with me tonight will be:

Mazz Swift, Violin, Viola

Roland Barber, Trombone

Skye Steele, Violin

Bill Malchow, Piano, Accordion

Marika Hughes, Cello

Jon Flaugher, Upright Bass

...and maybe a special guest or two.

See you there!




DUMBO, Brooklyn


"we are destroyed" by Howard Fishman

A newly-revised version of my music theater project, this time directed by Ed Schmidt and featuring actors Robert Boardman, Susan Oetgen, Justin Nestor and Nicole Pacent. Also featuring a version of my quartet including Mazz Swift (violin), Jon Flaugher (bass), Ben Holmes (trumpet) and yours truly on guitar and piano.







Confirmed special guests include:

JOHN WESLEY HARDING (Gangsta Folk Musician)




Not to mention the band...

HF: Guitar, vocals

Mazz Swift: Violin

Ian Riggs: Bass

Mark McLean: Drums

Roland Barber: Trombone



This one is gonna be pretty special...back to the place where it all started ten years ago, the Algonquin Oak Room. 

Joining me to celebrate will be my original partner in crime, the mysterious Russell Farhang on violin.

On bass is none other than Jon Flaugher:

Rounding out the quartet for the evening is legendary clarinetist Orange Kellin, a man known as one of the foremost New Orleans clarinet players alive.

Hope to see you there!


Photo by Mark McLean





Aside from being the name of my label, MONKEY FARM is also the name I use to designate a show as being somewhat grittier and louder than normal. This usually involves my big red electric guitar.

Joining me for this show will be some good old pals who will help me.  On electric guitar will is Michael Daves, the man you hear shredding on my BASEMENT TAPES record and also on LOOK AT ALL THIS!

On drums, Dave Berger will be kickin' it. Dave and I have yet to record together, but he's played on my gigs since 2000. Dave has a nasty groove.

On bass, the baddest of the bad, will be none other than Jon Flaugher, the guy you hear on I LIKE YOU A LOT and DO WHAT I WANT. JFlag is on the road most of the time these days, playing with the likes of Ryan Adams, Josh Radin and Colin Hay, but I'm happy to have him on a bunch of these anniversary shows with me. It's been some time since the big guy and I have played electric together -- we'll be taking names.

This should be a very fun night, and cheap -- only $8!  Hope to see you there.












Photo by Brennan Cavanaugh

I'm doing a kinda crazy thing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of what I consider my official NYC debut (at the Algonquin Oak Room, back in '99):

Beginning on Tuesday, Dec.9th, I'll be performing 10 consecutive shows, with 10 different bands, in almost 10 different venues (9 -- one venue has two different bands over two nights). 

It's going to be a little nuts, but I'm excited about it, because I'll be bringing back a number of players that have been with me over the years AND I'll be bringing back some projects that mean a lot to me, namely a new showing of "we are destroyed," , a return to the Algonquin with my erstwhile bandmates Russell Farhang and Jon Flaugher (and special guest Orange Kellin), a new outing for the Basement Tapes, and another chance to play my newest material with a string section at Joe's Pub.

I'm going to highlight each show with its own blog entry, so just scroll down over the next few days, and click away to see what's in store. 

Hope to see you at a few of them!

Autumn in Romania

I\m pretty excited about debuting my "Romania Project" on October 24th, 2008 here in NYC with my old pal Michael Benanav.You can buy tickets here.

You can read the longform blog post I wrote a few years ago about the trip that inspired this project here.

Performing with me will be a large cast of characters, including:

Skye Steele on violin

Roland Barber on trombone

Nathan Peck on upright bass

Mazz Swift on viola and violin

Bill Malchow on piano and accordion

and Marika Hughes on cello

Here's a preview of me and the band performing one of the songs from this cycle, "In Romania":


Should be a pretty special night. Hope you can make it!

Saturday, September 13th @ The Knickerbocker in NYC

It's a two-night run at the Knickerbocker (for the full skinny, see the post about the first show on Friday, below).  

On night #2, I'll be joined by my old pals, Jon Flaugher on bass and Russell Farhang on violin.  Both guys played and toured with me extensively in my early days, and both are prominently featured on the CDs I LIKE YOU A LOT and DO WHAT I WANT (Russell also plays on HFQ Vols. I and II).

Jon is this guy:


Russell is this guy:


It's gonna be a fun time, hope you can make it!

PS Here's Russell at a show of ours in Chicago a few years back:




One of the things this blog may be useful for is to give audiences a preview of what a given upcoming show(s) will be like.Because my bands and projects change from night to night, and because they're all simply called "Howard Fishman," people often don't know what to expect. Let's start to change that a little, shall we?

This weekend, on Friday, 9/12 and Saturday, 9/13, I'll be performing at The Knickerbocker in New York City. Both nights will feature predominantly jazz standards, played in trio format. 

Joining me on Friday will be Victor Lin on violin and Ian Riggs on upright bass.  

Victor is this guy:

Victor toured with me extensively back in 2004. He's a virtuosic player, swings hard, and has a strange sense of humor. Plus, at The Knickerbocker, he gets to show off his skills on both violin AND piano (his primary instrument. 

Playing bass is this guy:

Ian's been playing with me fairly steadily since 2004 as well, and he appears on two of my CDs: LOOK AT ALL THIS! and my BASEMENT TAPES Project recording.  Aside from his fine, always-creative playing on the bass, Ian is also adept at singing harmonies with me and bouncing around stylistically like STEVE.

Here's a clip of Victor and Ian playing with me a while back at BARBES:

The Knickerbocker is a funny place. It's a well-known jazz venue, but it's also an old-school NY culinary destination.  When the music starts at 9:45, the place is usually still jammed full of diners chowing down who may or may not know that there is live music being played.  This always makes the first set a little dodgy, from a musical perspective.  

My suggestion is to come for one of the later sets: 11pm, 12:15am or 1:30am.  The kitchen is open late, so you won't miss the food, and the noise level will abate as the evening goes on, making the music much more listener-friendly and intimate.

Jazz standards? Yeah, but as the evening wears on, that becomes a more and more relative concept of what we play, when originals, gospel and even some country music starts to work into the sets.

Hope to see you there. Don't miss the cornbread!