There are various ways we can show our appreciation for the scenes in which we dwell. These spaces in which we cocoon, oftentimes, we feel compelled to give back to them in some fashion. Most of the time, that comes in the form of like-minded contributions, either through the music, art, or other modes that the scene engages. Other times it’s about boosting the signal, and here is where the book Bands do BK: A Guide to Brooklyn, by Bands, for Everyone (Lit Riot Press) comes in: rather than review, critique, or just signpost the music scene in Brooklyn, author/journalist Sam Sumpter chooses a way that manages to celebrate as many parts of her tribe as possible. The way she does that is to consult an impressive cross-section of Brooklyn’s music scene, asking them what their favourite spots are in the borough.
This reveals several things at once: first, it gives a window of insight into the bands and personalities within themselves, who are either charming, funny, insightful, or (more often than not) a combination of those.
Second, it gives an endlessly helpful spread of locations for various needs. If you require a watering hole that will provide good eats and cheap drinks, there’s an intimidating array presented within the book. If you need a vibing cafe that serves Haitian soul food, of course, there’s a recommendation. If you are trying to permeate the DIY scene within Brooklyn, this is the first thing I would recommend. What’s more, because of the format Sumpter’s chosen, there’s a collection of anecdotes about all the spots, which helps the reader sort through and find what they’re looking for.
And finally, another benefit to the format is the selection of musicians, artists, and bands that Sumpter consulted and interviewed over the course of many years of compiling the book and its various excerpts is the musical landscape of Brooklyn itself. Whether you want folk, rock, punk, metal, sludge, doom, thrash, rap, r&b, world, indie, pop, or literally any other genre and any of its many subgenres, Bands do BK has something for everyone. It’s a curated list by a professional enthusiast, one who acknowledges her subjective curation but presents these selections in a way that’s self-aware and sincere.
Indeed, it’s the author’s sincerity alone that elevates the book from a good guide to a great survey of Brooklyn. Each section and chapter introduction contains a love letter to that specific slice of the borough. In most cases, she does gush and romanticizes, but rather than grating, this manages to come across as an infectious enthusiasm that makes me want to consult airline tickets to NY as soon as possible. Chances are, by the time you’re partway through the book yourself, you’ll be doing the same thing.
Author: Sam Sumpter
Publisher: Lit Riot Press, LLC
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Format/Length: Hardcover/Paperback/Kindle, 338 pages
The cover for the book “Bands do BK: A Guide to Brooklyn, by Bands, for Everyone” by Sam Sumpter