Wow, what a weekend, nothing to do except sit back and listen to one great band after another.
Originally, I signed up for the Clang! Thang mainly because Chandler Travis and his different projects (Chandler Travis Philharmonic and the Catbirds) were scheduled to play, but I was also curious about the revamped NRBQ with Terry Adams. I had missed him both times he came to Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park with the Rock and Roll Quartet. With all performances in the East Windsor Clarion Inn’s ballroom, weather would certainly not be a problem (good thing too, because Friday and Saturday saw some soaking rains). Going in with an open mind about the other performers I had never heard of, I found I was in for a great surprise as each one was wonderful.
Friday night’s line-up began with Heather McAdams screening a bunch of old music clips. Sometimes nostalgic and sometimes hilarious, it was a great way to start the evening. Following Heather was her husband Chris Ligon (brother of NRBQ guitarist Scott Ligon) with some of the funniest songs I’ve heard in a long time. The crowd was roaring. PJ O’Connell was next up (he recently appeared at the Linda with Terry Adams). His straight ahead set featured Travis on bass and NRBQ alum Tommy Ardolino on drums.
Closing out the night was Terry Adams and NRBQ. Only having seen Adams on YouTube videos didn’t prepare me for just how much he moves. His unorthodox playing style and intense facial expressions make him both a photographers dream and nightmare. The camera loves the pics of him, when it can get off a clear shot – I must have nearly a hundred blurry shots from the evening as he moved about the keyboards of his clavichord and grand piano in quick, unexpected motions. Despite all that, and the fact my battery was barely hanging on, I did manage to capture the moment. The nearly two hour set flew by and I was so pumped by the energy and music on the stage, it was another hour before I could sleep.
Brunch saw an impromptu serenade by Travis and a few friends, after which, was the afternoon session that saw the Catbirds sandwiched between two sets of the Chandler Travis Philharmonic (one in suits and the other in their more casual attire). Besides Travis, both groups share Dinty Childs (guitar and mandocello) and Rikki Bates (drums). You can see my previous reviews of these two wonderful bands right here in Nippertown – Philharmonic and Catbirds.
After a great dinner, the evening session began much the way the first night did with some very funny music video clips. Next was the Jim Stephanson Band from the midwest. This trio opened their set with a guest appearance by Terry Adams on keyboards. The songs were rocking so much, Adams ran back on stage to keep playing, to the delight of both Stephanson and the crowd. Nippertown’s fave, Kevin Maul, also did a few guest spots on lap steel.
David Greenberger, penner of some of Chandler Travis’ lyrics, debuted his new band A Strong Dog. While the other groups were straight ahead rhythm and blues, Greenberger’s was more of a performance piece than a concert. Rather than just using the music as a background to his spoken word, the original songs wrapped around the words, giving them a life – making the whole even better than the sum of its parts. The night, and, unfortunately, the weekend, finished with another fantastic set by NRBQ.
I hope there are future Clang! Thangs. Organizers Stacey Sandler and Donna Waite did a great job of organizing a knock out show. On the ride home, I felt a strange let down as I knew there weren’t any more performances to see. Except for a couple of self-inflicted issues, the weekend could not have been better.
Review and photographs by Ed Conway