Review and photographs by Lindsay Malachowski
The night didn’t start well. Five hours before the event the rain came through. Ordinarily a little rain wouldn’t have hurt anything. But this was an outdoor show. The stage sat near the water, and while it was covered, there would be no shelter for those watching the performance. The only alternate location, the Stewart House, had been ravaged and destroyed by the flood waters of Hurricane Irene and was currently closed.
Two hours before the event one of the keyboard players Daniel A. Weiss called. He had thrown out his back the night before and would not be able to make it.
One hour before the gig the concert promoter called and said that there had been a mix-up with the dates. There was no sound man available. This was a problem, since most of the band members were already at the venue or on their way from out of town or out of state. Concert-goers were already showing up. The promoter insisted they cancel the concert immediately.
This is how the night started out for the members of David Malachowski & the Woodstock Allstars and their only scheduled show for 2012 at the Athens Riverfront Park in Athens.
But then a funny thing happened. The rain passed through but didn’t linger. Since they ordinarily employed two keyboard players, one would have to suffice for the evening. At the very last minute, another sound man was found who had a PA and was available immediately. Just 30 minutes before the almost cancelled show was about to begin, it all started coming together.
The band consists of seven key members: David Malachowski, Machan Taylor, Pete Levin, Daniel A. Weiss, Dennis Gruenling, Erik Lawrence, Gary Burke and a rotating repertoire of other musicians and singers which at one time or another have consisted of Genya Raven, Lorenza Ponce, Geraldo Velez, Graham Maby, Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Mike J Vicesgilia, Stacy Wilde, Albert Cummings and Greg Haymes to name a few.
The concert itself is a mix of new and old songs like “Stormy Monday” by T-Bone Walker and “Green Onions” by Booker T & MGs, as well as a host of self-written and produced songs by lead singer and guitar player David Malachowski such as “Jump Up” and “Day Is Done.” The Allstars started off appropriately enough with “Let’s Get Started,” written by Malachowki and Taylor, before firing into “Further On Up the Road” with Michael J. Visceglia dropping some fat bass chords. Machan Taylor crooned her buttery soft vocals across Miles Davis’ “All Blues,” while Dennis Greunling wailed on harmonica like he had been born with it attached to his lips. Erik Lawrence showed off his serious saxophone skills on “Ode To Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry.
Crowd favorites were “Cross Road Blues” (a laid-back twist on Eric Clapton’s famous hit) and the powerhouse “I’m Going Down Newberg,” which tested the strength of the speakers, with each band member showing exactly why they were considered to be an ‘Allstar.’
They finished up the finale with a 20-minute rendition of “Feelin’ Alright,” which had Pete Levin proving that you could still rock out with just one keyboardist onboard and Gary Burke bringing down the house with an earth shattering drum solo that hit the ground like a sonic boom which sent waves of sound out across the park. David Malachowski ripped on a bright orange, flame-top Les Paul while leading his band through one hit after another, all the while showing no sign of the calamity that had gone down just mere moments before showtime.
After performing for just about two hours, it was over. What had taken months to plan and only a few hours to almost completely unravel was finally in the books. Will they play again? Who knows? But the people of Athens sure hope so.