By Natalie Rinn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Will song rival Ellington's trademark 'Take the A Train'?
When Ben Hudson, marketing director for Brooklyn Brewery, was planning sponsorship of a music festival in Sweden (where their hometown brews are “hugely popular”), he felt something might be missing.
“I guess I was looking for a musical link to Brooklyn as well, a Brooklyn based band or a song,” he said.
Hudson first decided that Brooklyn Brewery would sponsor a contest for an original song about McCarren Park, a significant part of Williamsburg’s history.
But a different idea came from Brooklyn Brewery marketing coordinator, Maia Raposo: “Let’s ask for songs about the G Train,” she said, and thus was born "Brooklyn, Sweden" Song Contest.
Now, with more than 40 entries of original songs, often accompanied by video, Brooklyn Brewery has “Nailed the G” with online voting that will choose a winner as of midnight Wednesday. As this story was posted on Wednesday at 6 p.m., leading in the votes was Brett Moses with a song called No Burning Headlight from his new band Teen Commandments. But for Moses and his bandmate Nick Lagrasta (who also doubles as his Williamsburg roommate), this contest was no lark.
“We came in knowing these contests can be pretty intense and we came in trying to get ahead from the beginning,” Moses told the Daily Eagle in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I literally contacted every person I know. Between Nick and I, I think we contacted 2,000 people,” said Moses, continuing that he asked each of them to vote for the nascent band’s first song.
The winner will receive two round trip tickets to Sweden and passes to the music festival sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, “Brooklyn, Sweden.” Over two days, 16 Brooklyn based bands will play at a venue called Debaser, where Brooklyn brews have long been a popular drink.
Moses and Lagrasta — who, barring a last minute voting surge, are the presumptive winners — couldn’t be more excited. “It’s an incredible prize and we wanted to enter it to win it,” Moses told the Eagle on Wednesday.
Other contestants with a significant number of votes conceded that winning was unlikely, but were happy to have the chance to write a piece of music about a train that often conjures mixed feelings.
John Marcinuk, who works as a marketer by day, submitted the song "G Train" from his working band called Worry the Worm. Marcinuk told the Eagle that the crosstown line has a bad reputation, so he wanted to point out its better attributes. “I probably have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with the train, but I wanted to capitalize on the love and not concentrate on the hate,” said Marcinuk, noting that the train passes through what he considers to be some of the best neighborhoods in Brooklyn.
Another Brooklyn couple, Abby Kirschner and Chris Schnaars, are both musicians and thought the contest would be “a good opportunity.” Each spent hours making a stop motion video of two dimensional, paper cut out G-train riders for their submission, “We Take the G.”
“Our main inspiration was from [the T.V. show] 'The Flight of the Concords,'” said Schnaars. “It was really fun to do but we were moving a cardboard person an inch at a time,” he continued, and added they now have new respect for the laborious craft.
Matthew Meyer, 32, has been a resident of Greenpoint since 2009 and recently quit his job as a lawyer (though continues to do private consulting for the firm he left), and had time on his hands.
“I absolutely love it. I love playing, I love recording,” said Meyer, who has played music since he was 16. His song is called "G Ode," which he described as “tongue-in-cheek.” “It’s just a silly, funny song. When the contest came out, I got emails from three or four of my friends,” he said, who prompted him to partake in something they knew he had fun doing.
More than 2,000 votes were cast for the top-ten submissions, with about a quarter of those going to the leader, the duo of Moses and Lagrasta and the Teen Commandments. Other leading contestants include Tim Brock ("G-Train Paradise"), Alan Markley, ("The G Train, a Reluctant Love Song"), Sheryl Cohen ("I’d Do Anything For Love"), Ross Brunetti ("I’ll Wait for You"), Jeff Nicolai ("Chip and The Crosstown Express") and Becca Ryskalczyk ("Carroll").