Archive for the ‘News’ Category

RIP: Percy Sledge, 1941-2015

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

By Don Wilcock

Percy Sledge passed away on Tuesday (April 14) from liver cancer. He recorded six songs in Muscle Shoals, Alabama on February 17, 1966, and he liked all five of the others better than he did “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

“I didn’t know anything about music,” he told me in 2004. “All I done was just sing.” But Sledge producer Quinty Ivy felt differently, and Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler “went crazy, absolutely crazy about the song.” “When a Man Loves a Woman” became Atlantic Records’ first million seller. It became one of the cuts in “The Big Chill,” a film that defined ’60s soul for the generations to follow. And it unilaterally established a career for Sledge that still sustained him 38 years later when I saw him perform at Columbia-Greene Community College in April, 2004.

It was a song that almost never saw the light of day. It began with a catchy melody, a completely different set of lyrics and a title that was the polar opposite of what it would eventually become – “Why Did You Leave Me.” Sledge was lead singer in a band called the Esquires playing fraternity party gigs at Ole Miss and doing covers of Beatles hits and soul smashes like James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please” and Wilson Picket’s “634-5789” and “Mustang Sally.” One night, Ivy who was establishing himself with a studio in Sheffield, Alabama, heard Sledge sing an original with the Esquires.

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Congrats to Wild Adriatic!

Monday, April 6th, 2015
Wild Adriatic (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Wild Adriatic

Photograph by Stanley Johnson

Congrats go out to Nippertown rock trio Wild Adriatic, who are headed for the national spotlight on stage at one of America’s largest and most prestigious music festivals.

Thanks to online fan voting in the Bonnaroo Battle of the Bracket by Sonicbids, Wild Adriatic – featuring singer-guitarist Travis Gray, bassist Rich Derbyshire and drummer Mateo Vosganian – have won a performance slot at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Tennessee from June 11-14.

(Actually, voting in the final Championship round continues until 11:59pm tonight [Monday, April 6] with Wild Adriatic squaring off against the Nashville-based Americana roots band Boy Named Banjo. But the results are moot, as both bands have earned a gig at Bonnaroo (as well as $1,000), and there are no additional prizes, just bragging rights, for the Championship winner.)

So, Nippertown.com sends out our heartiest congratulations to Wild Adriatic!

No Belleayre Music Festival in 2015

Monday, March 30th, 2015

“The Board of Directors of the Belleayre Conservatory, which has presented the Belleayre Music Festival for the last 23 years, has decided to put the 2015 festival on hiatus while it reviews opportunities for a newly envisioned Belleayre Music Festival for 2016 and beyond,” says board president Jackie Kuhls in a press release.

In other words, there will be no 24th season of the Belleayre Music Festival this summer.

Despite the festival’s recent financial problems, Kulhs said the board hopes to reinvigorate the festival. “The board has committed itself to examining the opportunities and challenges of a major entertainment entity in the Belleayre region. The Belleayre Conservatory remains positive and committed to improving arts-based tourism in the region and will continue to work and raise funds for this effort.”

Over the course of its two decades-plus, the Belleayre Music Festival at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in Highmount has presented a wide array of music greats, including including Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock, kd lang, Patti LuPone, Wynton Marsalis, Buddy Guy, Lyle Lovett, Sonny Rollins, Vince Gill, the Doobie Brothers, Charlie Dan­iels, Frankie Valli, Blood Sweat & Tears and so many more.

Tony Simotes Joins Berkshire Theatre Group as Managing Director [Berkshire on Stage]

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Tony Simotes. Photo by Kevin Sprague ©2010

Tony Simotes (Photo by Kevin Sprague ©2010)

In news that is as surprising as welcome, Tony Simotes has decided to stay in the Berkshires and apply his numerous talents to the growth of the Berkshire Theatre Group. The question of what would become of “our Tony” following his departure from Lenox’s Shakespeare & Company last October has ended. Happily.

The announcement was made by Berkshire Theatre Group’s Artistic Director/CEO, Kate Maguire. Simotes will become BTG’s Managing Director and an Artistic Associate and will begin work at BTG today (Monday, March 30).

It is reported that his responsibilities will include budgeting, fundraising, community outreach and helping formulate BTG’s strategic plan.

In an on-air interview at WAMC-FM, Simotes also spoke about his reasons for leaving Shakespeare & Company.

Brick x Brick: Time + Space Limited’s Indiegogo Campaign

Monday, March 30th, 2015
Time + Space in Hudson

Time + Space Limited in Hudson

Hudson bills itself as “The Walkable City,” but city and state funding for its wide, fully-paved sidewalks is only available for the major streets in commercial areas that already see foot traffic.

The longtime grassroots arts organization Time + Space Limited is located on Columbia Street, a major truck route through the city, and its rubble and pothold-strewn sidewalks have been decimated by years of heavy commercial traffic. Linda Mussmann and Claudia Bruce, TSL’s co-founders and co-directors, lobbied New York State and City of Hudson organizations for months to replace the sidewalks, to no avail.

Last fall, in a quest to make their neighborhood more accessible for wheelchairs, strollers and pedestrians, they decided to take on the project themselves, leaving them with a $30,000 bill — a hefty price for a not-for-profit arts organization that runs on a shoestring budget.

Now TSL is hoping to raise $35,000 through its current Indiegogo campaign, which runs through Tuesday (March 31), to cover the cost of the sidewalk along with fees and rewards. All donations are tax deductible, and rewards will include TSL memberships and invitations to an exclusive event for “sidewalk sponsors.”

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Before the Fire: Living On Jay Street

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
A bicycle race in front of 100-106 Jay Street

A bicycle race in front of 100-106 Jay Street, circa 1990

Story and photographs by Stanley A. Johnson

Demolition on the buildings at 100-104 Jay Street in Schenectady continues this week following the fire earlier this month which killed at least four, injured several more and left dozens looking for new homes.

I did not know Harry Simpson, Robert Thomas, Berenices Suarez nor Jermaine Allen, who all died in the blaze. I did recognize James & Kristie Lynch, who lived at 100 Jay Street. They were volunteer security at almost every Alive at 5 concert for the last decade. James is always the first to tell you to get down if you attempt to get upon someone’s shoulders to see better.

The couple has had a particularly hard time settling down in the past year, winding up on Jay Street after being forced out of one of the two Colonie motels that are also currently being demolished, those for code violations.

Those two tall Jay Street buildings across from Schenectady City Hall have been home to hundreds, perhaps thousands of short and long-term residents over the years. The Gleason Building, 104 on the left, had an elaborate front full of faces and scrollwork.

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Washington Avenue Armory Suspends Music Events

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

In the wake of the melee at the Migos concert last week where six stabbings and an assault were reported, Albany’s Washington Avenue Armory has announced it will suspend all scheduled concerts until further notice.

The suspension takes effect immediately while the Armory conducts a full review of arena operations, ticketing and security procedures.

Events that have been suspended include concerts by K. Michelle (originally scheduled for Friday, March 27) and Halestorm (Tuesday, May 5), as well as dance parties Foam n’ Glow (March 28) and Aqua (Friday, April 10). Concert promoters Step Up Presents has posted on their Facebook page that “the Halestorm show is still on even if we have to move it to another venue.”

All other Armory events – including family-friendly entertainment, sporting events, trade shows and exhibitions, and political demonstrations – will not be affected by the suspension.

Stay tuned for updates…

Capital Area Music Awards Are Cancelled

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The 2014 Cammys are cancelled.

The Capital Area Music Awards – trying out the new nickname “the Cammys” – are no more.

After an inaugural celebration at Trick Shot Billiards & Sports Pub in Clifton Park in November of 2013 (back when they were nicknamed the Jammys), the second annual event was scheduled to take place at The Linda in Albany at 5pm on Sunday, January 25.

“We’re working hard to present a night of musical community,” the event’s organizer Dan Coler said on the Cammys’ website.

But on Wednesday night (December 17) – two days after the nominees had been scheduled to be announced – Greg Gamache, another of the Cammys’ organizers, posted the following on the event’s Facebook page:

Due to a lack of support from our music community, it is with a heavy heart that we announce this years 2014 Capital Area Music Awards, scheduled for January 25, 2015, has been cancelled. We truly appreciate the support of so many people in the development stage. It is our sincere hope that someday we may join together for a night of musical community and unite as one! If you have purchased advanced tickets, refunds are available where tickets were purchased.

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