Produced by Nancy Walker – an excellent singer-songwriter-turned-concert-promoter – and emceed by Dave Michaels from radio station EXIT 97.7, “The Right Mix” showcased some of Nippertown’s very best roots-oriented musicians, packing the intimate Saratoga Arts Center Theater with a full house of fans.
Hot on the heels of his new CD, “Music Here Tonight: Live At Caffe Lena” on Fool’s Hill Music, magnificent singer-songwriter Michael Jerling kicked off the evening’s music in fine fashion. Accompanied by percussionist-keyboardist-accordionist Teresina Huxtable and the Northeast’s incomparable, premier bassist Tony Markellis, Jerling rolled through a set of evocative, heartfelt songs, highlighted by the humorous, real-life-on-the-road odyssey “Wide Awake In Parsippany” and the comical “In The Middle Ages.”
Up next, singer-songwriter Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys took the stage, spotlighting songs from their new album, “So Far So Good” on Real Life Enterprises Records. Gaudet is an excellent songwriter and acoustic performer, who after a ten-year hiatus from music, has returned to find his true calling fronting this four-piece band. Bassist Bob Ristau, guitarist-mandolinist Sten Isachsen and fiddler Tim Wechgelaer have joined forces with Gaudet to help bring to life his wonderful, slice-of-life, musical storytelling.
As the closer to the triple-bill, Rick Rourke fronted his band Lost Wages, pointing out to the crowd that he and his group would have been just as proud to have been the opener, rather than the headliner. It isn’t about star-power or popularity when it comes to Rourke; it’s all about the music. Whether co-fronting the Bluz House Rockers, the Out Of Control Rhythm & Blues Band or his own outfit, Rourke is a superbly soulful vocalist, a great guitarist and an intuitive R&B saxophonist-harpist. With the aid of former Lonnie Brooks guitarist Larry Clyman, bassist Lucas Ruedy and drummer Doug Kline, Rourke and company brought the house down with their dynamic, high-energy songs.
A beaming Nancy Walker had a success on her hands. “My goal in showcasing these three bands was to offer an evening of diverse music in a venue that I believe is essential to our community,” stated Walker.
She added, “I hope to not only raise an awareness about the Saratoga Arts Theater, but also to demonstrate how essential it is to the health of our own music community to present musicians in a new and fresh way. In the future, I hope to offer opportunities for the public at large to learn about the craft of writing songs and to connect the writers in our region.”
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk. You can see more of Andrzej’s photos from this show at our Flickr set.