You are here

New York City Ramblings

A decade-by-decade musical journey through one of the most multicultural and highly populated places on earth. Join Harvey Bruce as he spins you the scene-shattering hits and lost obscurities that have influenced music around the world. From the Cubans and Puerto Ricans who revolutionised jazz, to the disco tunes being played 70s gay clubs that shaped the rise of hip hop and new wave, there'll be no shortage of twists and innovation as we get down to the core of the Big Apple.

We've reached the end of the line folks and it's all change, or is it? Harvey takes you through the final sights and sounds of music past and tries to make sense of it all. From the biggest noises in pop, to the carefree strumming of anti-folk, the city isn't finished making itself heard just yet.


Come the 90s and New York City arguably isn't the centre of the US music world anymore - but this city of millions doesn't hold back. Harvey Bruce spoons up some dabblings in house music, a hint of grunge, along with a chunk from the feverish-if-rather-commercial 90s hip hop scene. Could this show BE any better?


As the hitherto isolated hip-hop scene in South Bronx is leapt upon by producers, critics and art collectors alike, new hip-hop singles are generated at a rate of knots in the early 80s, and create new movements around the globe, but as the profit is taken out of the hands of the creators of the innovative artform, some try to claim it back. We also hear some music from Irish and Jewish communities, hardcore punk and Philip Glass.


Whether you're cutting it with the celebrity elite in Studio 54, or you're a queen from Queens dressed to the nines, New York City is disco city in the 70s. Meanwhile, dirty young punks are spitting, swearing and evoking the ghost of Rimbaud onstage in the grimiest venues in town. Not to mention the newest form of folk expression to come out of the streets of South Bronx - and this time there ain't no banjos.


Getting a hit of the swinging sixties, Harvey Bruce takes us through the rougher side of the psychedelics and listens to Cecil Taylor and Frank Zappa break laws of time and space, only to calm your nerves with some New York calypso and a Xhosa wedding song.


Join Harvey Bruce as he rocks and rolls his way through some of the best rhythm and blues from the streets of Harlem - showcasing industry-changers and masters of derivision. Then after checking into Greenwich Village, sit back and chill with some hard-bop.


As New York's young men head over the Atlantic to fight in the Second World War, jazz retreats into smokey basement joints with be-bop taking stage. Meanwhile Woody Guthrie prefers to kill fascists with his guitar. Also, gather up your friends as Leadbelly teaches you a brand new game.

Track Listing

Episode One: 30s and before

With Tin Pan Alley churning out hit after hit, and the Harlem Renaissance in full flow, 1930s New York is a city in musical overdrive. In episode one, we explore the golden age of big band orchestras, broadway hits, and some of the sounds creeping up from the southern states.

Track List