Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson
The annual block party in the street and parking lot outside of Pinhead Susan’s in Schenectady became a full-fledged festival this year with a large stage and a headlining band that’s played many festivals in their years together.
And to make it complete, it rained. But not hard, just a constant drizzle that probably discouraged some, but didn’t slow down the hardy partiers one bit.
First up was Conehead Buddha, who played two long sets of rhythmic excursions into a variety of styles of jamming dance music. The band – which features Chris Fisher, Terry & Shannon Lynch, Ben Carle, Mike Dunn and Tom Goss – delved into their new album “Present Perfect” and demonstrated why Conehead Buddha have been so popular for so many years and why their recent reunion and return to the spotlight was so welcome.
Trying to dance to their long performance that evening would have exhausted even the hardiest of pinheads, so between sets the stage featured Talia Denis, a local 11-year-old singer-songerwriter and pianist, who has been building a fan base on the internet. Despite suffering from a cold, the young lady played a set of songs that has already attracted the attention of Radio Disney, Tony Levin and, at his invitation, a visit with Peter Gabriel. Currently she is recording her first album with the help of her band and A-list session players like Jerry Marotta, Sterling Campbell and Mike Visceglia.
Following Conehead Buddha’s second sparkling set, Lucy Stone and her band brought a set of rocking originals that highlighted her fine vocals. Lucy came back several times to provide backing vocals for headliners Rusted Root.
Also formed in the early ‘90s, Rusted Root has released seven full albums, as well as a number of EPs and film score tracks. The band featured several new tunes from an upcoming album as well as highlights from their past, such as a particularly effective version of “Suspicious Minds” from 2009’s Stereo Rodeo and the crowd pleaser “Send Me On My Way” from the 1994 platinum album When I Woke.
Band leader Michael Glabicki and co-founder Liz Berlin along with bassist Patrick Norman, drummer Preach Freedom and guitarists Dirk Miller and Colter Harper kept the rhythm pumping through a percussive set that built to an explosive frenzy during the finale of “Ecstasy,” where the band was joined by Lucy Stone’s band. The crowd was so enthusiastic that it could not have been easy for anyone living nearby to sleep in the early morning hours. I’ll bet most of them were listening, because it isn’t everyday that the streets of downtown Schenectady are treated to so much fine music.