LIVE: Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival @ Walsh Farm, 7/14/17

July 31st, 2017, 4:00 pm by Greg
Steep Canyon Rangers

Steep Canyon Rangers

Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Welcome to Mud Fox. The on-and-off torrential rain the previous two days left the roads in and out of the Walsh Farm (as well as the parking lots) in treacherous condition. That left the staff and volunteers of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival – who always do a superb job monitoring the grounds and creating the community spirit that defines the festival – with a lot of extra work. Fortunately, they were more than up to the task.

I didn’t see one concerned or sour look on the face of anyone all day, and why should there be? We were all there for the music, and that went on without a hitch.

And what better way to start doing that then listening to Sarah Jarosz and band. Jarosz demonstrated her instrumental virtuosity throughout the set on guitar, banjo and mandolin, but it was her songwriting and voice that were front and center this day. Her most recent album, Undercurrent, chronicles the emotional rollercoaster of early adulthood and becoming your own person. Jarosz and her band began the set with “House of Mercy” from that album: a song about a double-crossing lover.

Don’t try to change my mind
That knock gets louder all the time
Don’t try to wear me down
You’ll never get inside this house

Throughout her set Anthony da Costa dazzled us on acoustic and electric guitar, playing leads that always served the song, and this was best exemplified by his electric playing on “Take Me Back,” perfectly capturing the emotional mood of the song. Bass man Jeff Picked was also given room to move, and he was more than able with his solo on Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” He also made fine use of his bow on the introduction to “1000 Things.”

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THEATER REVIEW: “Taking Steps” @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

July 31st, 2017, 3:00 pm by Sara
Luke Smith and Helen Cespedes (photo by Daniel Rader)

Luke Smith and Helen Cespedes (photo by Daniel Rader)

Review by Barbara Waldinger

Barrington Stage Company’s Artistic Director Julianne Boyd wanted something light to be sandwiched between the serious musicals Ragtime and Company, and settled on Taking Steps, a comedy by Sir Alan Ayckbourn, master of farce. There was one problem: the play is meant to be performed in the round, impossible on BSC’s Boyd-Quinson Mainstage in Pittsfield. Ayckbourn himself directed the premiere in 1979 at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, England, where he served as Artistic Director for 37 years. The following year, when Michael Rudman mounted the piece at a West End theater using a proscenium arch, Ayckbourn complained that it was not a fair representation of his work.

Having written 77 plays and won numerous awards, Ayckbourn is very specific about the way Taking Steps should be handled. Why is it so important? As in many of his works, the set determines much of the action. In House & Garden, for instance, two plays take place simultaneously on two different stages and can be seen separately.

Taking Steps is likewise innovative, being set in a large, decaying Victorian mansion, formerly a brothel said to be haunted by a murdered sex worker. The house has three floors but the conceit of the play is that they are all on the same level. Ayckbourn’s stage directions dictate that although the stairs are flat, they give the impression of leading upwards. The furniture for each room occupies the same area of the stage so that the three levels “should and must overlap.” In the round, the steps would be visible to the audience looking down from tiered seats.

How do director Sam Buntrock and scenic designer Jason Sherwood overcome the proscenium arch problem? After collaborating for some four months, they arrived at an ingenious solution: they created an upper level stairway hanging from the flies, with two staircases and two doors that mirror the front and second floor bedroom doors below. This is the key or visual reference that helps the actors and the audience to understand the geography of the piece, since they are the only steps on the stage.

Thanks to Buntrock’s insistence that the actors hit the ground running, rising to their feet on the first day of rehearsal rather than spending time on table work, they were able, through repeated physical movement, to figure out on which level they were playing. Even as the characters narrowly miss colliding with each other, they still have to maintain the illusion that they are on different floors. Quite a challenge for everyone involved!

It’s Nipper Week!

July 31st, 2017, 1:30 pm by Greg

Yes, today officially kicks off Nipper Week around Greater Nippertown.

In celebration of the Downtown is Pawsome public art project – a display of 20 artist-decorated, 3-foot-tall Nipper sculptures placed throughout downtown Albany – the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society and the Downtown Albany BID are sponsoring Nipper Week through Sunday (August 6).

Each of the statues will be wearing a red collar and ID tag instructing people to take a selfie with a Nipper, then post it to the Facebook pages of both the Humane Society and the Downtown BID. Participants can then visit Nipper’s Nook, the new retail store at the Humane Society in Menands, show their posts, and receive an adorable Nipper dog toy through Sunday.

GO HERE for a map showing locations of all the statues in downtown Albany…

Also in conjunction with Nipper Week, the Humane Society is offering a microchip session from 4-6pm on Wednesday (August 2) in front of McGeary’s Pub, across the street from the Palace Theatre. Microchipping will be performed by MHHS veterinary staff in a mobile clinic. The cost is $20 per pet. Cats and dogs are welcome. Cats must be in carriers and dogs on leashes.

FREE: Music On Mainstreet in Canajoharie

July 31st, 2017, 12:00 pm by Greg

Canajoharie is once again hosting its annual Music on Mainstreet concert series this summer with events that range from music to magic. The free series kicks off on the lawn of the NBT Bank on Tuesday (August 1) with Local 518 bluegrass favorites Dyer Switch and continues at 7pm on Tuesdays throughout the month, except where noted.

In the case of inclement weather, the shows will be moved indoors to the Arkell Performing Arts Center at the high school.

Here’s the complete concert schedule for the 2017 Music on Mainstreet series:

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HEARD: Playlist, 7/24-30/17

July 31st, 2017, 11:00 am by Greg

Just so you know where our ears have been at, here’s a rundown of what we’ve been spinning at Nippertown HQ (and in the Nippermobile) this past week – CDs, vinyl, streaming and maybe even a cassette or two:

The Raspberries: Starting Over (Capitol, 1974)
Frank Zappa & the Mothers: Live at Carnegie Hall, 1971 (Vaulternative, 2011)
Brian Dunne: Bug Fixes & Performance Improvements (Noble Steed, 2017)
Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man (Columbia, 1988)
Stanton Moore: With You in Mind (Mascot, 2017)
Allen Toussaint: Southern Nights (X5, 2017)
Charles Bradley: Changes (Daptone, 2016)
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin, Cheryl Studer, Bryn Terfel: Strauss’ Salome (Deutsche Grammphon, 1991)
Judy Collins: Who Knows Where the Time Goes (Elektra, 1968)
Kate Tempest: Let Them Eat Chaos (Lex, 2016)
Bobby Patterson: Soul Is My Music: The Best of Bobby Patterson (Sundazed, 2003)
John Prine: Bruised Orange (Asylum, 1978)
John Prine: Prime Prine: The Best of John Prine (Atlantic, 1976)
Various artists: Summer of Love (Time Life, 2007)
Moby: Play (V2, 1999)
Various artists: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: “Grace of My Heart” (MCA, 1996)

Palace Theatre Announces New Concert

July 31st, 2017, 10:00 am by Greg

Prog-rockers Dream Theater will be making a stop at Albany’s Palace Theatre at 8pm on Tuesday, November 14 as part of their Images, Words & Beyond 25th Anniversary Tour.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10am on Friday (August 4), priced at $29.75, $39.75, $44.75, $54.75 & $69.75.

Cohoes Music Hall Announces New Concert

Cohoes Music Hall Announces New Concert

July 31st, 2017, 9:00 am by Greg

Celtic rock favorites the Young Dubliners are headed into the Cohoes Music Hall at 8pm on Saturday, September 23.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10am on Friday (August 4), priced at $19 & $23.

Palace Theatre Announces New Concert

7/31/17: Today’s Top Tips: Monday

July 31st, 2017, 7:00 am by Greg

MUSIC: Royal Blood @ Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park. British rock duo. With Welles. 8pm. $25.

MUSIC: Chicano Batman @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany. Direct from the Newport Folk Festival. With the Sea The Sea. 9pm. $16.

MUSIC: Chalaque @ the Low Beat, Albany. With Parashi and Case. 7pm.

MUSIC: Ben Perowsky’s “3 Is a Magic Number” @ The Falcon, Marlboro. The dynamic drummer wraps up his Monday night residency with special guests Jamie Saft (keyboards) and Brad Jones (bass). 7pm. Donations encouraged.

THEATER: “The Song of Bernadette” @ the Wood Theater, Glens Falls. Adirondack Theatre Festival presents a concert of music from Frank Wildhorn’s new musical about Saint Bernadette and her visions of the Virgin Mary. 7:30pm. $26-32.

MUSIC: Bang on a Can @ MASS MoCA, North Adams. More than 40 young composers and performers from around the world debut nine new works written especially for the Bang on a Can summer festival at the World Premiere Composer Concert. 4:30pm.

MUSIC: The Further Unsound @ Dana Park, Albany. With Murma and Mark T. Jones. 5:30pm. FREE. GO HERE for more info and the complete concert series schedule…

MUSIC/FILM: Bites Camera Action @ Tricentennial Park, Albany. Music by Bryan Brundige & Crick Diefendorf at 5pm, followed by “La La Land” at 8:30pm. FREE. GO HERE for more info and the complete concert series schedule…

THEATER: “At Home at the Zoo” @ the Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge. Directed by Eric Hill, Edward Albee’s “At Home at the Zoo (Zoo Story)” joins Albee’s classic 1959 play, “The Zoo Story,” with its prequel, “Homelife” (2004) written 45 years later. 7pm. $52. Through Saturday, August 26.

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