By Greg Haymes
In the music biz, Greg Bell is quite a rarity. He’s a concert promoter and a really nice guy.
I can’t pretend to be objective about what Greg and Guthrie/Bell Productions have done for the Nippertown music scene – he’s been a good friend for years, and he was even my room mate for a while in the late ’70s – but it’s no exaggeration to say that the Capital Region jam band scene certainly wouldn’t it be what it is today if it weren’t for his hard work and dedication. Heck, it might not even exist.
Dr. Jah & the Love Prophets
Those are just a few of the bands that Greg has helped along the way, not just a concert promoter, but also as a genuine music fan.
But some people mistakenly think that Bell is a one-genre guy. Not so. Over the years, Greg and Guthrie/Bell Productions have promoted numerous shows that certainly don’t fit into the jam band scene – Hamell On Trial, Los Straitjackets, Rufus Wainwright, the Reverend Horton Heat, Alejandro Escovedo, Roger McGuinn, Matisyahu, Dave Alvin… the list goes on and on.
One night in particular sticks in my mind. Bell booked Jeff Buckley for his area debut at Valentine’s Music Hall just after “Live at Sine” was released. Buckley and his band put on a simply amazing performance that night, despite the fact that there couldn’t have been more than 25 in the audience. It didn’t seem to matter to Bell, who knew that he was presenting a night of magnificent music. And that was enough for him.
It all started back in 1992 with a couple of shows that Greg booked into the Masonic Lodge down on lower Madison Avenue in Albany with his pal Dale Metzger. Appropriately enough, they called themselves Two Fools Presents. Soon afterwards, Greg teamed up with Jeff Guthrie to form Guthrie/Bell Productions. Guthrie dropped out of the venture about a half dozen years later, and Greg has been carrying the ball ever since.
This weekend Greg Bell is celebrating his 20th anniversary of presenting shows all around the Capital Region – from Jillian’s and Red Square to the Palace Theatre and the Washington Avenue Armory to his own annual Bellstock festival.
The two-night celebration is taking place at Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany. Tonight’s (Friday) show features the debut of the recently reunited Conehead Buddha. Opening the show is the Sunny Side of the Street Band. Showtime is 9:30pm. Tix are $15.
The anniversary celebration continues at Valentine’s at 9pm on Saturday (April 7) night with Timbre Coup headlining the festivities. HipDrop and Formula 5 open the show. Tix are $10.
Come on down and join in the party this weekend. And while you’re there, buy Greg a beer and thank him for the great music you’ve heard over the past two decades…