The Bill Murray Experience
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The Bill Murray Experience

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Jazz Americana


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Bill Murray Experience brings vintage sounds to town"

Jim Catalano
Arts Editor

New York City has long been chock full of cool bands, and the Bill Murray Experience is one of the latest to carry on that tradition.

Drawing from vintage lowdown jazz, bawdy blues and other cool sounds from the early part of the 20th century, the Bill Murray Experience has quickly earned a following in the city. The band includes Jessy Carolina (vocals), Horatio Baltz (guitar), Blind Boy Paxton (piano and banjo) and Jay Sanford (double bass).

On Thursday, June 24, the band will make its Ithaca debut at Castaways in a show presented by Tracey Craig's Rootabaga Boogie Productions. Cover for the 8 p.m. show is $10 at the door; the Bill Murray Experience will perform first, followed by the Evil City String Band. To learn more about the BME, or hear some tunes, visit

Earlier this week, BME singer Jessy Carolina talked (sometimes in third person) with the Ithaca Times via email to talk about the band's origins, its distinctive sound and its cameo appearance on "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special 3D on Ice" offering a brief BME take on the show's theme song.

Q: How long have you guys been together?

Jessy Carolina: The Bill Murray Experience started last April with Jessy Carolina, Horatio Baltz, and Jay Sanford. Horatio Baltz and Jessy Carolina have been friends for a number of years and decided to start playing some jazz music together. Jessy Carolina, who also plays guitar, was more focused on blues and folk music- she couldn't really get a hold of jazz on the guitar, hence why she and Horatio got together. After a while, they got together with Jay and started working on some songs to go busking. Jerron "Blind Boy Paxton" and Jessy Carolina met at the Jalopy Theater in Red Hook, Brooklyn about 2 years ago and have been friends ever since. He moved to NYC from California a few months ago to attend The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music and that's when he was able to join the BME (six months ago). We are very happy to have him!

Q: Does busking figure in your background?

JC: Very much so for Jessy Carolina. She's been busking for at least the last 5 years in New York City as a solo artist singing and playing guitar. She has also traveled around the U.S. with a number of friends over the years to cities such as Knoxville, TN and New Orleans, LA where they made their money busking on the streets and in parks. When The Bill Murray Experience first started out, they did the same thing - I mean, no one knew who they were and they had to practice and start somewhere, so why not Washington Square Park and Union Square?

Q: What's the appeal of playing this vintage type of music?

JC: Simply enough, it's good music. Our taste varies from person to person, but all in all we like what we do because these old songs, the American tradition is awesome. It's a shame more people haven't found out about it, but then again maybe it's a good thing that mainstream radio stations or artists don't have anything to do with it. They'd probably bastardize it anyway.

Q: Who would you say are your favorite artists to draw material from?

JC: We do a few songs that Bessie Smith sang, such as W.C. Handy's "Yellow Dog Blues" and "Saint Louis Blues." We, just like every other jazz musician or whatever type of musician, have been heavily influenced by Louis Armstrong. Then you have so many great people and bands to choose from, Sophie Tucker, The Boswell Sisters, Fats Waller, Django Reinhardt, to name a few.

Q: How'd you land that Simpsons thing? That's quite a coup, however brief!

JC: It was really weird, actually. We had just got done busking in Washington Square Park in NYC and we were putting our stuff away. When some dude that was really strange came up to us with some crappy looking flyers and asked if we'd be interested in being on The Simpsons, I was like, "Uh, OK, whatever man...". So I (Jessy) took a flyer and we all kind of laughed about it. But we gave this guy our contact and then we got an email from FOX the next day and they set up a time for us to meet in the park and told us the deal: play the theme song however way you want and we'll film you, etc. So we spent an evening working out how the hell we were going to accomplish that. I guess you can see in the footage that it's pretty silly, but we had a blast doing it and had a party the night it aired with our friends. It was very exciting!

Q: What's up with the band's name? Have you ever met the real Bill Murray?

JC: No, we've never met him and he hasn't contacted us. Not that we wouldn't wanna meet him, I think he's hilarious! Maybe we'll run into him at a party in Brooklyn someday; I wouldn't be surprised, I've heard he's quite the party man. But our name isn't really supposed to revolve around him.

There was this guy around the turn of the century named Billy Murray who was one of the most popular singers of his time. A lot of the songs we do, he did. When we picked the band name we were obviously trying to be funny, we knew no one would ever get it and automatically associate it with Bill Murray the actor, but we didn't really care. We just thought, if they ask, we'll tell 'em and that has its funny moments too: where we'll make up some crazy story about how we named the band that is a total lie, but eventually we end up telling people the truth.
- Ithaca Times

"Subway Performer Idol"


"Two Week Piano Fest for Pros and Wannabes"


"Radegast Biergarten"

This is the Wine Explorer, and I am no beer expert. In the last year I have been visiting many of the city's great beer purveyors and found a new appreciation for the diversity and excellence today available in the market, but it is still not a subject on which I can speak extensively. While I cannot accurately describe all the beers we had last night, I can definitively say that I had a great time at the Radegast Hall & Biergarten.

The place really looks like a beer hall, it could easily be somewhere in Bohemia. They had a band, The Bill Murray Experience, that rocked. Every beer I tried was delicious, especially the white Belgian beer I had two half liters of that was wonderfully orange-rindy with some nice cinnamon notes. (OK, some beer commentary can't hurt...) We didn't eat, but the food looked and smelled wonderful.

In short, I had a great time and I'll be back!

Read more:
- NY Daily News: Wine Explorer

"Rainy Days and Samurai Sword Umbrellas"

"Getting back to the show - 'The Bill Murray Experience' is the most amazing show I' ve seen short of the Avett Brothers in a cd store in the last at least 7 years. The singer apparently ordered a beer next to me in this humble little voice, and looked no different than any other person in the bar. Little did I know what we we're all in for. The band is a 4 piece acoustic with a Double Bass, Banjo, Guitar and a Thimble/Washboard for percussion. Not to forget a bevy of small little bells and whistles hidden all over the members bodies to be revealed periodically for gimmicks and pranks. Of course the washboard belongs to the singer, along with a Kazoo. Yes i said Kazoo. And this little guy had to be the most beefy badass kazoo ever because this girl could SING. Lucky for the audience she didn't have a mic, because she was a loungy sultry sorta 20's style singer with the voice of an Italian Opera Singer. People seriously could hear her upstairs and outside. We met the band after and apparently she used to do theatre so she got all that projection from there. The audience was instantly mesmerized and drawn in with the bands alternating solo's and switches from slower traditional songs to crazy folk rock shakedowns. All in all an incredible experience. " - Silence The Voice

"AMERICANA: Bill Murray Experience"

All you discerning Simpsonphiles might recognize The Bill Murray Experience from the opening montage for the shows "20th Anniversary 3D On Ice!" where the New York City Ensemble played the opening theme along with Flea, ZZ Top, and The Roots, among others. The Bill Murray Experience rattles and rolls early American busker-style over the period when the American Songbook was still great. Singer Jessy Carolina coos sweet and lowdown like a resurrected mash-up of Billie Boop and Betty Holiday. Yes, I know, I was just trying to be clever. But the Murray reference eludes me a bit. Perhaps it got lost in translation. - Rochester City Newspaper

"The Bill Murray Experience: No, not that Bill Murray, but quite an experience!"

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? knew nothing about The Bill Murray Experience until a couple of days ago, when the old-timey New York City based band was featured in this New York Post video about Play Me, I’m Yours, the art project that has put 60 pianos — available for anyone to play — in public places around New York City.

But it was love at first sight — and sound! Singer Jessy Carolina has an amazingly bluesy voice and her bandmates — Horatio Baltz on lead guitar, Jay Sanford on upright bass and the irrepressible Blind Boy Paxton on banjo — provide the perfect setting for it. It’s a new generation tackling early American roots music, jazz and pop standards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It’s repertoire that has been a rich source over the years for artists like Leon Redbone, with tunes like “My Melancholy Baby” and “I Ain’t Got Nobody.”

How we’ve missed them is a mystery. They are fantastic, and proved it last night in performance before a small and not entirely attentive crowd at The Cupping Room Cafe at West Broadway and Broome streets in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood.

Peter Stampfel, of Holy Modal Rounders fame, knows a thing or two about this kind of music. And he sums up the band’s primary appeal quite well — it’s Jessy’s emotive and engaging singing. “She doesn’t sing songs as much as she embodies them. Her singing and moves are both about as good as it gets,” Stampfel says.

But Jessy needs the rest of the band to pull it off. Her interplay with the players — especially the jovial, overall-wearing Paxton — is charming adds so much to the overall feel of the performance.

BME plays around NYC quite a bit, at places like the “secret” Shanghai Mermaid, 893 Bergen St., Brooklyn, where they play at 9 tonight, June 26 and at the Jalopy Theater, 315 Columbia St., Red Hook, Brooklyn, where they’re performing at 8 p.m. Monday, June 28.

Here’s a clip of the band that gives you great sense of its joyous, freewheeling style at a June 20 show at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, Vt.

Of course any band that takes Bill Murray’s name in vain has to evoke Murray’s spot in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes. Remember “Bill Groundhog Day, Ghostbustin’ ass Murray”? How could you forget? We’ll leave you with that: - Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?

"Under Broadway: New York Holds Subway Auditions"

According to the song, if you can make it in New York, you'll make it anywhere. It turns out that's not only true for performers on Broadway; it also applies to the ones underneath Broadway. Once a year, the New York subway holds open auditions for musicians of all kinds, from singers to string quartets. They're competing for a chance to play to one of the largest and toughest audiences in the world: New York subway riders.

The mezzanine at New York's Grand Central Terminal has a beautiful view of the main concourse and its famous four-sided clock. But on a recent afternoon, about 20 men and women are sitting behind long tables looking in the other direction. They're talent judges, and they're paying attention to four musicians getting ready to show their stuff. It's group No. 44, the Bill Murray Experience.

It's a job they won't get paid for, and yet they're auditioning for it — a chance to perform in the noise and chaos of the New York subway. Jessy Carolina sings and plays the washboard, and she's been there.

"The subway's where I got started playing all this music," Carolina says. "I love the subway."

Musicians do love the subway. Not so much for the money — few people make a living playing for tips in the tunnels. Instead, it's the hope that, among the 5 million commuters who ride the trains each week, there's that one person who can help launch a career. In the 1980s, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decided to do something about all the musicians cluttering the subways. But rather than kick them out, the MTA gave them permits and special places to play. The program is called Music Under New York, or MUNY.

Jay Walder, the MTA's chairman and CEO, says MUNY is one way to make subway riders happy without spending a lot of tax dollars.

The Audition Process

So here's how the process works: In January, musicians can start sending in their resumes and sample recordings. This year, close to 300 performers took the plunge. Out of that number, Music Under New York selected 68 to audition. Each act gets five minutes to show the panel of judges what it can do. One after another, they perform, all morning long and into the afternoon. Bob Holman makes their introductions and tells them when their five minutes are up. He's been a fixture on the live poetry scene in New York as a performer and producer for decades. Holman says he likes these auditions, because you never know what to expect.

"It's the constant re-tuning of the ear," Holman says. "I like that kind of New York story."

The judges are music-industry professionals, fellow musicians, MTA workers, and a few come from New York cultural institutions. Jenneth Webster ran Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Festival for more than 20 years. She says the judges are looking for more than just good musicians.

"They need to be able to fit into the acoustics and the space," Webster says. "Otherwise, it's pointless to be down there."

Fighting The Noise

If you want charisma and audience appeal, three guys in skinny gray suits with skinny black ties have got you covered. They call themselves Astoria Boulevard, and singer Dan Scott says he's not worried about the challenge of playing in the subway.

"It's kind of a joy to actually just play a song for people — such a large group of people just kind of all passing through," Scott says.

Out of these 63 auditioners who showed up, just 27 will get letters in the mail telling them they're part of Music Under New York. They'll each receive a banner with their name on it, as well as a permit to perform in one of two dozen prime locations in the subway system. Singer Meghan McGary is part of a group that's been singing under the MUNY banner for four years. She says there's nothing like playing in the subway for getting up close and personal with an audience.

"I've had men break out into tears," McGary says. "It's a beautiful thing."

It's not a stretch to suggest that any of these artists could go on to greater things. After all, Steve Martin, Pierce Brosnan and even Kanye West were all once just playing for tips and a smile.

Postscript: Letters to all the musicians went out two weeks ago. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that both Astoria Boulevard and the Bill Murray Experience have been invited to become MUNY musicians in the subways of New York. - NPR All Things Considered


T'ain't No Sin 2010 - Full length "professional" home recording



The Bill Murray Experience's light-hearted approach to traditional jazz and popular music from the turn of the 20th century is unique in its fundamental appreciation of early medicine show routines and sensibilities, attention to arrangement and "customization" of standard compositions to fit the group and its members, and "showcase" nature of their performance. The group has been recognized by the City of New York in the MTA Arts for Transit program MUNY, had a segment on NPR's "All Things Considered", were on twice for separate performances, and were selected to represent Joe's Pub for Make Music New York.

The group is currently working on a full length album consisting of tunes in the public domain, arranging and writing original songs, and perfecting their current arrangements of tunes.