Archive for August, 2009
It’s not a geographic location. Balthrop, Alabama is actually a band. And a small fictional town. And a state of mind.
Helmed by siblings, primary vocalists and songwriters Pascal and Lauren Balthrop (who actually go by the names Jemison Thorsby and Georgiana Starlington), the rag-tag collection of musicians boasts a somewhat fluid line-up.
When I first heard them on WAMC-FM’s “Performance Place,” they were just a duo. When they were back on “Performance Place” again last week bolstered by a pair of sax players, they had grown to a quartet.
Onstage at MASS MoCA‘s Club B-10 on Saturday night, they had expanded once again, this time to a nine-piece ensemble with drums, bass, accordion, electric guitar and banjo as well.
Well, actually, only eight of them were on stage.
Sitting at a table just to the right of the stage was the band’s ninth member – artist Michael Arthur (whose Balthrop, Alabama name is Toxey Goodwater). He was armed with just one clean sheet of paper, a variety of pens, some small toy cars and plastic characters and a full glass of red wine.
Today marks the 49th anniversary of the birth of Chris Whitley, cult singer-songwriter and neo-bluesman.
Although he never achieved the mainstream success that he deserved, his 1991 album “Living With the Law” was one of the most remarkable debuts of the past two decades.
Chris Whitley died of lung cancer in 2005.
Right now, our fave Whitley album is 2001’s “Rocket House,” featuring a batch of unlikely special guests including Dave Matthews, DJ Logic, Blondie Chaplin and Bruce Hornsby.
Here’s a live version of the title track:
UPDATE: Bill Patterson sent along these photos, adding “the first two were from 6/10/2005 in Bellows Falls, Vt, the 3rd with Hayes Carll (and Darcy Yates then from the Fred Eaglesmith Band) is from 6/11/05 in Walpole, NH. Both were associated with the Roots on The River Festival. “
(photos by Bill Patterson)
OK, back in June, the open mic night at Albany’s Muddy Cup went belly-up.
Early this month, Chase Billows tried to revive it in conjunction with albanyopenarts.com.
And now it appears that former Muddy Cup open mic hosts Tom Teta and Matt Delgado have found a new home for their weekly open mic sessions, too.
It’s at Emack & Bolio’s ice cream emporium in Guilderland on Monday evenings, and yes, it starts tonight. Sign up begins at 7:30pm; music gets underway at 8pm.
Can there be too many open mic nights? I think not. Encouraging begineers is crucial to the future of any music scene. And providing a low-pressure outlet for more seasoned performers to experiment with new material and ideas is just as important.
Long live the open mic night! No matter who’s in charge…
Today is Van Morrison’s 64th birthday.
Erik Hage – perhaps best known around Nippertown for his music writings in Metroland, including his monthly column, “The Major Lift” – describes Morrison as “one of the greatest, most idiosyncratic and unique performers and songwriters in the history of popular music.”
And Hage knows what he’s talking about. He wrote the book on Morrison. Literally.
Hage’s first book, “The Words and Music of Van Morrison,” was published earlier this year as part of the ongoing Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection.
So in honor of Van Morrison’s birthday, here’s the Nippertown.com interview with Erik Hage – professor, music journalist and author:
Q: In the opening statement of the introduction to the book, you write, “If you’re looking for me to sum up or define the work of Van Morrison in this introduction, I simply can’t do that – for more than anything Van Morrison seems to constitute an entire universe unto himself.” Was this book a daunting task for you?
A: It was very daunting, but the flipside of that is that only an artist of Van Morrison’s breadth and scope really warrants a book like this. There aren’t too many artists whose music I would give over a year of my life to. But he has such an expansive and diverse canon that it was a truly worthwhile and illuminating experience for me.
The only other “pop” artist I would be interested in exploring in such depth would be Bob Dylan, for the very same reason. There are countless other artists I like to listen to—perhaps even more than Van Morrison—but few who really warrant this type of work. Dylan and Morrison are still making compelling records and still searching out new ways of expressing themselves. Others, like Paul McCartney or Neil Young aren’t still doing stuff that’s compelling to me.
Yes, the summer-long series of free concerts in Troy’s Powers Park was supposed to have ended this past weekend with the big Uncle Sam Jam.
But the August 22 was rained out, which means that the always revved-up rockabilly favorites Johnny Rabb and the Jailhouse Rockers were postponed. If you want to add a little old-school rock ‘n’ roll to your Labor Day weekend, Rabb and the boys will fire it up at Powers Park at 6pm Saturday, September 5.
Of course, it’s free.
Real Good for Free: The Final Stretch Festival @ Saratoga
Real Good for Free: Lake George Jazz Weekend (9/19-20)
Real Good for Free: LarkFEST!!!!!!!! (Sept. 19)
Real Good for Free: Riverfront Park, Athens (Fridays)
Real Good for Free: Albany Jazz Festival @ Riverfront Park (Sept. 12)
Real Good for Free: The Fabulous Folk Fest @ Bolton Landing (Sept. 6)
Real Good for Free: Thurman (Mondays)
Real Good for Free: Rock-It in Schenectady (Fridays)
Real Good For Free: Halfmoon (Wednesdays)
Real Good for Free: Albany Public Library (Third Fridays)
Real Good for Free: At The Plaza, Albany (Wednesdays)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 28
Jeebus @ Savannah’s, Albany
The Christine Santelli Band @ the Van Dyck, Schenectady
Emar with Mr. Eggz @ Casper Land, Troy (FREE)
Climbing PoeTree @ the Grand Street Community Arts Center, Albany
C.B. Smith @ the Jonesville Store, Clifton Park
Troy Night Out @, ummm, Troy (FREE)
Taking Woodstock @ the Spectrum Theatre, Albany
SATURDAY, AUGUST 29
Albany Latin Festival 2009 @ Washington Park, Albany (FREE)
Los Straitjackets @ the Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, Mass.
Balthrop, Alabama @ MASS MoCA, North Adams, Mass.
A Tribute to Lisa Atkinson @ A.S.K. Arts Center, Kingston
Mamalama @ Musica, Hudson (FREE)
Kevin Seconds with Mike Trash @ Valentine’s Music Hall, Albany
Christine Santelli @ Alchemy, Woodstock
Cave Dogs: Archeology of a Storm @ Byrdcliffe Theatre, Woodstock (also Sunday)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30
Rob Sanzone, Jordan Loder, Kiki Dufault, Tim Ward, Seth Rogovoy, Sauerkraut Seth Travins, Bob Benson and more @ Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass.
Last day of the Washington County Fair, Greenwich
Just feel like laying around the shanty? Watch the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival on your computer