“That’s a mighty fine sound they’ve got going on in there!” exclaimed a woman with husband and Heineken in tow as they made their way to the big-top set up behind Clinton’s Ditch in Schenectady. Snow flurries and swirling winds in the early afternoon could not deter a tent full of local singers and instrumentalists from raising funds for a noble cause.
Roots-music lovers gathered on Saturday, November 27 for a Kicking Cancer’s Ass event in honor of Kate Szuberla Jauch, a mother of three suffering from leukemia. Jauch’s uncle, harpman extraordinaire Ted Hennessy, opened the wintry afternoon with the Doornails, a talented acoustic trio featuring guitarist Mike McMann and upright bassist Geno Lemme. With gusto, the band braved the cold temperature by opening with a Chess Records-styled instrumental jam, a swinging vocal number “I’m Out,” and bluegrass instrumental featuring some deft picking by McMann and thumping bass by Lemme.
Two nods to Louis Jordan, “Early in the Morning” and “What’s the Use in Getting Sober?” warmed even the teetollers in the crowd, as did a spirited medley of Irish folk tunes. “Sesame Street” fans of all ages got to sing and dance when Hennessy brought some funky grit to “Bring Back Roosevelt Franklin”, rapping the lyrics with ease and blowing some boisterous harp over the syncopated rhythms.
Next, Hennessy’s teenage daughters Meghan and Quinn, pennywhistles in hand, joined the band on stage for a rousing take of Amy MacDonald’s “This Is the Life” and a heartfelt testament to strength through adversity, Daisy Mae Erlewine’s “Shine On.”
Shifting gears, the Doornails closed out their set with the droll saga of “Stan the Hot Dog Man” and then passed the spotlight to members of Whoa Nelly for a set of originals and energetic takes on Billy Joe Shaver, Woody Guthrie, and Jimmy Reed.
The songs and jams continued throughout the evening, and the heating system for the tent kicked in, too. Raffles were featured for a variety of gifts donated by local businesses, with all proceeds going to help Jauch to support uncovered medical expenses associated with her bone marrow transplant.
If you would like to make a donation to help Jauch with her mounting medical expenses, you’ll find more information here.
Review by Fred Rudofsky