THEATER: “The Vagina Monologues” Is Back at Cafe 217

February 16th, 2018, 3:00 pm by Greg

Author-activist Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues is back at Albany’s Cafe 217 this weekend. As a benefit for Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, Amanda Brinke directs the staged reading of the award-winning play from Sunday-Tuesday (February 18-20).

The cast includes Julie Adler, Jenn Bullington, Amy Frienberg-Trufas, Caryn Halte, Tracy Henry, Chardonnay LaTease, Kristin Lilkas, Mindy Mannix, Hollie Miller, Renea Pollack, Michelle Sanders, Susan Ungerman, Susan Watson-Amos and Katrina Wilkinson.

Tickets are $35, which includes a three-course dinner and the show. Tax, tip and bar are not included in the ticket price. Seating is at 6:30pm and reservations are required. Call 518.253.9821 for reservations.



February 16th, 2018, 1:30 pm by Greg

By Don Wilcock

White soul singer and chromatic harp master John Nemeth plays the Upper Room in Albany on Saturday night (February 17) with his current band, the Blue Dreamers. With 16 Blues Music Awards and two Blues Blast Awards to his credit, Nemeth is touring on his 2017 album Feelin’ Freaky, produced by Luther Dickinson at his Zebra Ranch in Coldwater, Mississippi. The album comes three years after his previous CD, Memphis Grease, recorded with Memphis soul band The Bo-Keys.

Sly & the Family Stone, Prince and now John Nemeth each had a way of being cool that was unrelated to the conventions of the form or the personalities that preceded them and defined funk, soul and Memphis grease (the name of Nemeth’s indie label, by the way). Nemeth has an advanced sense of self and a strong creative ability matched by his band. Drummer Danny Banks has been singing John Nemeth songs in previous bands and can read his moves like a twin brother. Matthew Wilson, who played bass on Feelin’ Freaky, has moved over to guitar. Replacing him on bass is Blake Rhea, a 42-year-old Memphis musician steeped in the southern sound.

Nemeth is excited about this tour. He’s been off the road for several months, and Albany is the third stop on a tour unencumbered by the craziness that accompanies promoting a new album. In a rambling interview he described a typical road tour where each band member disappears into their own earphones listening to their private music. These guys all listen to music together, and they create a sound that builds organically from the melody up. Nemeth calls it living on the edge. Some bands “cheat” and build songs that lift sections from familiar blues classics, combining music lifted from here and there, almost like a dance DJ. “It’s an awesome feeling to have a band that can create an original song from the bottom to the top,” says Nemeth.

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Tanglewood Announces Two New Concerts

February 16th, 2018, 12:10 pm by Greg


Photograph of David Crosby by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Tanglewood in Lenox has announced a pair of new pop concerts for the summer of 2018. Both shows will be held in the Koussevitzky Music Shed.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public at 10am on Tuesday, February 20.

Here are the details for the two new concerts:

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2/16/18: Today’s Top Tips: Friday

February 16th, 2018, 7:00 am by Greg

MUSIC: Gregory Porter @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy. The soulful jazz singer and two-time Grammy Award winner steps into the Music Hall spotlight in support of his latest album, a tribute to the music of Nat King Cole. 8pm. $38.50, $44.50 $49.50.

MUSIC: Loudon Wainwright III @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs. The American songwriter, Grammy Award-winning folksinger, actor, author and former Saratoga resident returns. 8pm. $57.

MUSIC: Rose Record Label Gala @ the College of St. Rose’s Jack’s Place, Albany. Sydney Schizzano will be taking the Jack’s Place stage for the last time as a Saint Rose student while alumni Alenni will be performing as a member of Grl Pwr. Pink Nois and Julia Gargano will also be performing new music. 8pm. FREE.

THEATER: “They Are Waiting for You” @ EMPAC at RPI, Troy. Turner Prize-winning visual artist Laure Prouvost presents the New York premiere of her first major stage production – a surreal and humorous medley of images, objects, words and stage effects developed in residence at EMPAC with collaborators Sam Belinfante and Pierre Droulers. 8pm. $18; students & seniors $13. GO HERE for more info…

FESTIVAL/MUSIC/DANCE: The Flurry @ various locations, Saratoga Springs. Taking place at a wide assortment of venues throughout downtown Saratoga Springs, Day One of the four-day fest is a marathon of music and dancing – workshops, dance instruction, concerts, dance parties, storytelling, kids’ activities and lots, lots more. Today’s schedule features Graham Tichy & the New Lowdown, Spare Parts, Fried Bananas, Quickstep, the Buddy System, Rosie Newton & the Green Mountain Playboys and lots more. 7pm.GO HERE for more info…

MUSIC: The Birdland All-Stars @ Proctors, Schenectady. Led by drummer Tommy Igoe, the big band has created new arrangements featuring the music of David Bowie, The Police and Steely Dan, as well as fresh treatments of iconic compositions by Charlie Parker, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. But wait, there’s more.. During the concert, spontaneous drawings and paintings on canvas, paper and iPad will be created by San Francisco artist Jeremy Sutton. 8pm. $20-$55. GO HERE to read an interview…

FESTIVAL/MUSIC: Hudson Jazz Festival @ Hudson Hall, Hudson. “Sounds from the Silk Road” features the Ara Dinkjian Quartet, an instrumental collaboration rooted in Turkish, Armenian and Macedonian Roma music headed by the world-renowned oud player. With a solo performance by pianist Armen Donelian. 7pm. $25. GO HERE for more info and the complete festival schedule…

MUSIC: Club d’Elf @ The Falcon, Marlboro. The psychedelic new-jazz combo celebrates its 20th anniversary with special guests keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist Will Bernard. 8pm. Donations encouraged.

COMEDY: The Gender Defenders Valentines Comedy Show @ Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes. Featuring Lynne Koplitz, Robert Kelly, Thea Vidale and Kevin Downey Jr. 8pm. $25-$35.

THEATER: 10×10 New Play Festival @ Barrington Stage Co.’s St. Germain Stage, Pittsfield. The seventh annual fest featuring 10 10-minute plays by 10 playwrights. 7:30pm. Through Sunday, March 4.

MUSIC: Lespecial @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany. With Front Business. 9pm. $15.

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February 15th, 2018, 4:00 pm by Greg

By J Hunter

It’s a myth that you have to be religious to feel the power of religious music. My take on the plusses and minuses of religion – not to mention the existence of an All-Powerful Being – depends on when you catch me
and how many IPAs were consumed beforehand. And yet, there I was in the Gospel Tent at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest in 1997, on my feet with my right hand held high while choir after choir hit me like a convoy of
jet-powered steamrollers. I felt the same way at the Jazz at the Lake festival in 2011, when D.K. Dyson – wearing a down jacket that made her look like Violet Beauregarde in “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” – electrified the crowd with her stunning vocal stylings on the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the basis for Don Byron’s knockout Savoy Jazz disc Love, Peace, and Soul.

Spiritual Impressions, keyboardist James Weidman’s monster release on Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music label, comes from that same space and packs that same punch. Weidman has come through these parts twice before as part of the ultra-dynamic Joe Lovano Us Five. Part of the musical feast Lovano and company served at their 2013 show at The Egg included reboots of Charlie Parker that must have terrified traditionalists but enthralled me and the standing-room-only crowd that packed the Swyer Theatre. Weidman’s also worked with legendary boundary-smashers like Steve Coleman and (for a short time) Archie Shepp, so you knew he had the background and the tools to re-imagine just about anything.

The thing is, though, if you lose the spirit of spiritual music in the reinvention process, you’ve basically wasted your time and the listener’s. The spirit is deeply baked into Ruth Naomi Floyd’s deep, resonant vocals on classics like “Nobody Knows the Trouble I Seen” and “Let My People Go.” You feel the pain slaves felt as they sang these songs, venting their suffering and looking to the heavens for uplift; Floyd makes you feel the joy and the pain in equal portions, and you can’t help but smile when she does, or cry when the moment calls for it. As a primary purveyor of the messages, Weidman couldn’t have asked for better. Then you hear the hope that goes with “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” rise higher and higher as Weidman brings a swing to the thing, but leaves the core message untouched, and that’s when you know Spiritual Impressions will be a surprising, fun-filled ride as well as a soul-expanding experience.

“Wade in the Water” is primarily known as a gospel rave-up, but when Weidman plays the organ and Harvie S. rocks the bass, you find yourself covered in bluesy jam. Weidman uses melodica on “No Hiding Place” to make the celebration seem fun and childlike, and then Anthony Nelson’s honking baritone sax offers a marvelous contrast as he helps take the piece into a parade-like space. Nelson’s arsenal of reed instruments allows Weidman to paint with a stunning array of colors, particularly on the shining structure he and his quartet erect for “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” Nelson’s haunting flute also increases the yearning inside “Deep River” tenfold before Weidman begins his own elegant exploration on piano.

Weidman was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his preparations for his Saturday night (February 17) (UPDATE: This concert has been postponed to Sunday, March 4) appearance at Senate Garage in Kingston to discuss his new release, as well as a few other things:

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THEATER: “They Are Waiting for You” @ EMPAC at RPI on Friday

February 15th, 2018, 2:00 pm by Greg

French artist Laure Prouvost has earned Britain’s prestigious Turner Prize and world-wide acclaim for her work in mixed media installations and immersive films, but now she turning her talents toward something new.

On Friday (February 16), EMPAC at RPI in Troy is presenting the New York premiere of They Are Waiting for You, Prouvost’s first major work commissioned for the stage. Developed at EMPAC over the past year in collaboration with London-based artist-filmmaker Sam Belinfante and French/Belgian choreographer Pierre Droulers, They Are Waiting for You is a surreal, humorous and perceptually disorienting theatrical production in which stage technologies — light, haze, projections — interact with performers, musicians and the audience.

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FEST: More Acts Announced for WGNA’s CountryFest

February 15th, 2018, 11:39 am by Greg

Last month Rascal Flatts were revealed as the headliners for WGNA’s annual CountryFest, which is moving to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer for the first time. Now the rest of the line-up has been announced for the day-long fest which is slated to take place on Saturday, July 7.

Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10am on Friday (February 16), priced at $33, $53, $63 & $103 for reserved amphitheater seats; $28 for lawn general admission.

Here’s the line-up for the 2018 CountryFest:

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FEST: The Flurry Takes Over Saratoga This Weekend

February 15th, 2018, 10:30 am by Greg
Dance Flurry

Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Get Happy Feet!

Yes, it used be called the Dance Flurry Festival, the Dance Flurry or the Flurry Festival, but these days, the name has officially been shortened to simply the Flurry. And, yes, the 31st annual Flurry is taking over Saratoga Springs this weekend.

Of course, you don’t have to love dancing in order to enjoy the Flurry. In fact, you can just sit back and listen to three days of nearly non-stop fabulous music without ever kicking up your heels.

Taking place at a wide assortment of venues throughout Saratoga Springs from Friday-Sunday (February 16-18), the fest is a marathon of music and dancing at more than a dozen different locations around town – workshops, dance instruction, concerts, dance parties, storytelling, kids’ activities and lots, lots more. And, yes, there’s plenty of music from all around the globe, from the traditional to the contemporary.

In short, there are gazillions of great things to do and see and hear at the Flurry. Here are just a few suggestions:

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Cartoonist John CaldwellThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysHolly & EvanCaffe LenaAdvertise on Nippertown!G.C. HaymesBerkshire On Stage