In the last year, I have seen both the Chandler Travis Philharmonic and the Chandler Travis Philharmonette, but on Saturday, I saw a completely different side of Chandler Travis as he brought another one of his side projects, the Catbirds, to Valentine’s Music Hall for their Albany debut. The evening started off with the Mysteios blasting through their 45-minute set in true punk fashion. John Brierly, with his guitar slung low, flew through each 2-3 minute song at rapid-fire speed, moving from one to the other, leaving barely enough time to tune between them – and with the intensity he played, this was a frequent necessity.
The second band up was the Catbirds. My curiosity was at a peak. How would they fare after hard rock onslaught of the openers? It didn’t take too long to find out the answer. These cats can rock!!! Right from the first song, “Fish Outta Water,” it was clear this was not going to be another Philharmonic show. Oh, the humor and fine playing skill was there, but they also displayed primal sounds of fully distorted instruments. In previous reviews, I have described drummer Rikki Bates as very solid in a minimalist way – never too flashy. He really let his hair down and showed he was as good as anyone I have seen – all with that same minimalist drum kit.
While Chandler was front and center playing bass, he shared vocal duties with Steve Wood on lead guitar and Dinty Child on guitar, mandolin and mandocello (yes, that hard-rock staple that’s basically an arch-top guitar with eight strings tuned like a cello and could very well be the only one in the company of a rock band). After their set, the crowd erupted with shouts of “MORE…MORE,” well, Chandler was yelling, anyway. They then finished up with a two-song encore which featured a rocking version of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma.”
Finishing off the night was Valentine’s own Howard Glassman and his band Grainbelt – another band I had not yet seen. It is kind of hard to describe them, kind of a punk–country fusion (punkry?). They were a perfect finish to a great night. Their hour-plus set kept the hard-rock blasting well past midnight. While I didn’t get the set lists for everyone that night, I would like to thank Fred Boak for providing me with the list from the Catbirds.
Review and photographs by Ed Conway
THE CATBIRDS SET LIST
Fish Outta Water (Ronnie Dawson)
Stoned (Steve Wood)
All I Wanna Know Is (Chandler Travis)
Catbirds Say Yeah (Chandler Travis/David Greenberger)
Another Night With The Boys (Carol King)
First Warm Day (Chandler)
Crutch Of Music (Travis/Greenberger)
Swamp Gal (cover, don’t know the original)
Coming Home (Mel Torme, among many)
All I Wanna Do Is Love You (Travis)
7 & 7 Is (Arthur Lee/Love)
Pajama Pants Baby (Pete Labonne)
Red Red (Dinty Child)
Gonna Keep Drivin’ (Travis)
Leaving Here (High Numbers/The Who, maybe others)
Instant Karma (John Lennon)
Jack the Ripper (Link Wray)