Photographs by Stanley Johnson
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Like Rome in the ancient days, Clearwater’s Great Hudson Revival means many things to many people. Some view it as the very first grand festival to usher in the summer season of roots-Americana, bluegrass and folk festivals. Old Songs, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Green River, the Newport Folk Festival and dozens of others here in the Northeast follow in its wake. Many of the same performing artists appearing at Clearwater make the rounds between them. The same for a part of the audience because they festival-hop, seeing old friends year-after-year and enjoying a weekend away from work, responsibilities and, for some, city living.
But symbolically, it’s Pete and Toshi’s Clearwater’s Great Hudson Revival that sets the tone socially and politically for all the rest. If you want to be aware of the latest liberal socio-political trends, that’s the place to be to meet like-minded people and maybe sign a petition or two for the cause. If you want to know what’s being done progressively to make the Hudson River a little bit cleaner, you will get your answers there. If you want to know what corporate entities are taking the environment seriously, you can find that out easily.
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Ed Conway
Despite initial conflicts and confusion regarding dates and venues, Greg Bell of Guthrie Bell Productions wasn’t about to let go of his idea to bring together four of the Local 518′s finest female singer-songwriters on a single bill.
Thank goodness, he didn’t. It all finally came together at The Hangar in Troy on a truly magical evening, amidst one of the summer’s most severe thunderstorms as a non-stop barrage of lightning flashed through the windows to provide a natural psychedelic light show while two veterans – Lonesome Val and Caroline MotherJudge – teamed up with a pair of relative newcomers – Olivia Quillio and Ashley Sofia – for a glorious evening of music.
Quillio was the undisputed headliner. MotherJudge was the most instrumentally exotic, backed by a band that included cellist Monica Wilson, steel guitarist Kevin Maul, the ever-esoteric guitarist-vocalist Mitch Elrod and mandolinist/husband Sten Isachsen. And Ticondiroga’a young Sofia opened the show with a solid, earnest set of songs, debuting some new material, and bringing her dad Billy Sofia onstage to sing with her on her best song of the night, “1973.”
But it was clear from the start that the majority of the crowd was there to hear “Lonesome Val” Haynes, the sparkplug and primary vocalist for the Units (who later changed their name to Fear of Strangers), Nippertown’s most popular band of the early ’80s new-wave scene.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Darlingside are the cat’s meow when it comes to four-part harmonies, and – guess what? – they’re also superb instrumentalists.
As they jockeyed around the lone microphone, Auyon Mukharji, David Senft, Harris Paseltiner and Don Mitchell each took turns as the lead singer for each of their selections.
With only one album, Pilot Machines, under their collective belt so far – their sophomore album, Birds Say, is slated for release in September – their roots-Americana mega-mix of everything under the folk, bluegrass and indie music banners sets them apart from most anything considered new or noteworthy in any of those respective musical genres.
Review by Bokonon
Two years ago, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band hit The Egg as part of its very brief 50th Anniversary Tour. The sheer novelty of the occurrence struck awe in the hearts of jug fans throughout the Northeast, and the hellacious combination of four original members plus John Sebastian and the BBQ Orchestra was quite simply dazzling.
Last week, Kweskin and company returned to The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, but the novelty was gone. None of the key players have been hard to find locally of late, even if in different combinations. Thankfully, in novelty’s place was an even better backing crew, a crushing set list and, well, more of that jug band music that seems to make you feel just fine.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Tom Lindsay, Stanley Johnson, Tim Reidy
WHO: Steeleye Span
FEATURING: Maddy Prior (vocals); Rick Kemp (bass); Liam Genockey (drums); Pete Zorn (guitar, etc.); Julian Littman (guitar); Jessie May Smart (violin)
WITH Ulster Landing
WHERE: The Music Haven, Central Park, Schenectady
WHEN: Sunday, July 19, 2015
UPCOMING: The Joey Alexander Trio plays a free jazz concert at the Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park on Sunday (August 2). The Schenectady County Community College Jazz Combo opens the show at 7pm.
GO HERE for the complete 2015 Music Haven concert schedule…
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Stanley Johnson
Texas blues-rocker/multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter brought his current band – guitarist Doug Rappoport, bassist Koko Powell and drummer Jason Carpenter – to town for a free Alive at Five concert last week – exactly 12 years after playing a free concert at the Empire State Plaza…
Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Under a crystal clear blue sky in Oak Hill, the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival began with a stellar line-up and a multitude of activities on five stages. I spent almost all of my time at the High Meadow Stage that could accommodate the largest crowd. The line-up there featured a variety of bands from bluegrass traditionalists the Del McCoury Band to the jammy Infamous Stringdusters to relative newcomers the Stray Birds.
The Stray Birds – Maya de Vitry, Oliver Craven and Charlie Muench – are known for their tight playing, clear lead vocals and strong harmonies. While Muench stayed with his stand-up bass, Craven played Dobro, guitar, mandolin and fiddle with de Vitry on guitar and fiddle. Stand-outs in the set were two songs – “The Bells” and the title song from their most recent album Best Medicine. The former was a cautionary tale dedicated to all the people working for equality and featuring de Vitry on lead vocals with fine three-part harmony on the chorus. “Best Medicine,” with lead vocals by de Vitry and nice soloing by Craven on Dobro, featured three-part harmony on a chorus proclaiming music as the best medicine. They also paid tribute to their influences with some fine yodeling from bass man Muench on Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #7″ and Townes Van Zandt’s “Loretta” with three-part harmony throughout and fine mandolin work by Craven.
Bluegrass godfather Bill Monroe helped launch many a musical career. Two of his former Bluegrass Boys – Peter Rowan and Del McCoury – brought their own bands to Grey Fox. Rowan paid his respects with a number of Monroe’s tunes, including “Uncle Pen,” “Brown County Breakdown” and “Christmas Time’s A-Comin’” with superb support from his band – bassist Sharon Gilchrist, banjoman Keith Little, fiddler Blaine Spouse and Chris Henry, whose mandolin playing provided many of the set’s musical highlights. Rowan might not have the same vocal fire-power that he once did, but he pulled out some stellar yodeling on “Blue Moon of Kentucky.” Called back for encores, Rowan introduced one his selections with some amusing stories about his former boss’ pension for running a very tight touring ship and then launched into “Keepin’ It Between the Lines (Old School).”