Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photograph by Kirsten Ferguson
Moments after taking the stage at the venerable Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, Grainbelt bandleader Howard Glassman set the holiday tone: “Grandpa pissed his pants again…” In Grainbelt’s take on the holiday season, human foibles abound, as do our often quiet, unappreciated noble moments.
This rockin’ roots band drew upon a slew of originals, including the yet to be released “Oh Darlene,” and diverse covers (who else but this quintet would have the imagination and skill to invoke Willie Nelson, Steve Wynn, Robert Earl Keen, the Replacements, the Who and a classic Hannukuh song?). Glassman’s acoustic guitar meshed perfectly with the Telecaster, played to perfection by Jason “El Scorcho” Hughes; the rhythm section of bassist Chris Blackwell and Jimmy “The Kid” Kaufman propelled the songs with gusto. Off to the side, but very much an instrumental focal point on several songs was Roger Noyes on pedal steel.
Imagine 22 songs on a Friday night, wry stories and song introductions, and pervasive good will to all. That’s the Grainbelt experience, something you should sign up for in person in 2013.
GRAINBELT SET LIST:
Dead Man’s Song
Leave a Stone
I Can’t Give You What You Need
Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips Away (Willie Nelson)
Send Me a Postcard (Steve Wynn)
Faith Is a Long, Long Way
From an Old Bottle
Time Passing By
If Only Was Lonely
Merry Christmas from the Family (Robert Earl Keen)
In for a Penny
Waste a Day Together
Can’t Hardly Wait (the Replacements)
Don’t Cry Your Tears Around Me
A Quick One While He’s Away (the Who)