Archive for the ‘News’ Category

It’s Never Too Late…

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

VIDEO: Pianist-composer Neil Tatar and cellist-vocalist David Darling perform “Where Did the Time Go”…

It’s not often that someone is honored as Best New Artist at age 64, but…

Congrats to Queensbury pianist-guitarist-composer Neil Tatar who earned top honors as Best New Artist at the 12th annual Zone Music Reporter (ZMR) Awards ceremony in New Orleans on Saturday, May 7.

The 64-year-old musician’s two albums – his debut Where Did the Time Go? and his latest album, Learning to Fly – were also both nominated for Best Instrumental Album by ZMR, which tracks new age, world, ambient, electronic, solo piano, relaxation, instrumental albums.


Things Are Looking Bright for Caffe Lena

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

As you likely know by now, Caffe Lena will be undergoing extensive renovations this summer – including the expansion of seating capacity, installation of an elevator and lots more interior changes.

But the venerable Saratoga Springs coffeehouse is also undergoing some major behind-the-scenes changes, including the recent addition of Hollywood heavyweight Kevin Bright to the Caffe’s Board of Directors.

You may not recognize his name, but you’ve quite likely seen Bright’s work – he was the Emmy Award-winning executive producer of the beloved sit-com “Friends,” for which he also directed more than 50 episodes, including the series finale.

“Caffè Lena is holy ground,” says Bright, a folk music fan who first set foot in the Caffe back in 1973 when he saw a performance by Happy & Artie Traum. “We don’t have many places like it anymore, and what Lena can do for the local community and the community of folk music is wonderful. We need to keep it alive and moving forward.”

On the Move: Caffe Lena’s New Summer Home

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Following the fabulously successful Folkathon last weekend, Caffe Lena heads into the home stretch with just a month of concerts left on the calendar before major renovations begin on Monday, June 6. The renovations – including an elevator to make the Caffe handicap accessible – are expected to take several months to complete, and the folks at Caffe Lena are hoping to re-open in the revamped, reconfigured, enlarged space on October 1.

But what’s going to happen to the fabled coffeehouse during those lucrative Saratoga summer months?

Well, like so many in the Spa City, Caffe Lena is going to be moving into a summer home – the Grove at Neumann, an independent senior living community at 233 Lake Ave. in Saratoga that held its grand opening last November.

Expect to hear the same great Caffe Lena music at the Grove, and most of the same tasty menu – including those de-lish chocolate chip cookies – will be available as well. In addition, beer and wine will also be sold at the Caffe shows. And dinner-and-a-show combo specials will also be available.

Here’s the June schedule of concerts upcoming at Caffe Lena at the Grove at Neumann:


RIP: John Caldwell, 1946-2016

Monday, February 22nd, 2016


By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Sara Ayers

He was a seriously funny guy…

A proud member of the Usual Gang of Idiots at Mad magazine, Ballston Lake cartoonist-illustrator John Caldwell died early Sunday morning (February 21) following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.

A Cohoes native who graduated from Hudson Valley Community College and later attended NYC’s Parsons School of Design, Caldwell was a definite outside-the-box thinker when it came to the art world and his cartoons, which appeared everywhere from Playboy to Women’s World; from Rolling Stone to The National Enquirer; and from The New Yorker to The National Lampoon to The Wall Street Journal. His unique take on funny transcended the usual low art vs. high art boundaries.

As a syndicated cartoonist his singular single-panel gems were published in daily newspapers around the country, including The Albany Times Union. He also published a half dozen books, including “Running A Muck: A Bunch of Zany” Cartoons (Writer’s Digest Books, 1978); “Mug Shots: A Splendid Collection of Cartoons” (Fantaco, 1980); “The Book of Ultimates” (McGraw-Hill, 1983); “Caldwell” (Fawcett Columbine, 1988); “Fax This Book: Over 100 Sit-Up-and-Take-Notice Cover Sheets for Better Business” (Workman, 1990).


RIP: Dan Hicks, 1941-2016

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Dan Hicks

Benito Cortez, David Bell, Dan Hicks (right) with Hot Licks Benito Cortez and David Bell @ The Egg, 4/23/10

By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

No question about it – Dan Hicks was the walkin’ one and only.

He was a ham on wry kind of guy. A hepcat with a heart of gold. A romantic who was quick with a sarcastic putdown. A folkie with swing on his brain. Back in the 1970s when Hicks was leading the Hot Licks, he was the hippest of the hipsters, whipping off sensational albums like Striking It Rich and Where’s the Money?

Dan Hicks died on Saturday (February 6), following a lengthy battle with liver cancer. He was 74 years old.

Even back in their heyday, Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks were obviously caught up in some kind of time warp. While bands like Foreigner, Foghat and Frampton were clogging up the airwaves in the ’70s, Hicks forged a wickedly witty hybrid of Django Reinhardt’s Gypsy jazz, Jim Kweskin’s jug band jams, Mose Allison’s sardonic jazz, Bob Wills’ western swing and Cab Calloway’s jumpin’ jive.


RIP: Joe Alaskey, 1952-2016

Monday, February 8th, 2016

Emmy Award-winning voice actor and Troy native Joe Alaskey died on Wednesday (February 3) in Green Island. He was 63.

Originally an impressionist, whose impersonation of Jackie Gleason was hailed by Gleason himself, Alaskey found his true career as a voice actor, taking over the roles as the voice of such Looney Toon characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety and Sylvester the Cat following the 1989 death of the great Mel Blanc, who originated the voices.

Over the years, Alaskey also provided voices for numerous films (“Who Framed Roger Rabbit?,” “Forest Gump,” “Casper”) and television shows (“Rugrats,” “Back to the Future,” “Tiny Toon Adventures,” “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law”) in addition to dozens of video games.

Relatives and friends are invited to call at the Parker Bros. Memorial in Watervliet from 4-7pm today (Monday, February 8). The funeral service will follow the wake at 7pm at the funeral home.

Joe Alaskey’s obituary

CANCELLED: The 2016 Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Clearwater Festival

The Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival – the annual Hudson Valley music festival that American music icon Pete Seeger founded and hosted for decades – has been canceled this year because the environmental conservation group that operates the two-day festival is facing financial trouble.

During a meeting on Wednesday (January 20), the board of directors for the Sloop Clearwater organization based in Beacon decided to cancel the long-running festival which had been scheduled to take place at Croton Point Park in Croton-On-Hudson on Saturday & Sunday, June 18 & 19.

Clearwater Executive Director Peter Gross says that the organization can’t risk money on the festival which earned $31,000 last summer, after posting an average net income of $162,000 over the previous six years. The 2015 Clearwater festival featured an all-star line-up of performers, including the Mavericks, Neko Case, Guster, Ani DiFranco, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Angélique Kidjo, Bettye LaVette, the Felice Brothers, the Lone Bellow and many others.

The festival has been Clearwater’s primary fundraiser since it was started in the 1970s by folksinger, environmental activist and longtime Beacon resident Pete Seeger, who died two years ago at the age of 94.

Facing ‘deep trouble’ financially, Clearwater cancels annual festival by John W. Barry at The Poughkeepsie Journal

RIP: Mark Wilken, 1959-2016

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
(photo: Jeff Mattice)

Mark Wilken (photo: Jeff Mattice)

By Greg Haymes
Photographs by Jeff Mattice, Nicholl Bautochka

Mark Wilken died on Monday afternoon (January 11) following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 57 years old. Wilken’s bass playing was the foundation of numerous Greater Nippertown bands. He was a founding member of ’70s-’80s garage rock greats the A.D.’s and later went on to join the popular Local 518 band, Mambo-X.

After moving to Schoharie Valley with his wife Yvonne Bautochka in 1999, they ran the Hotel Austin, a Central Bridge venue dedicated to hosting live music. And Wilken continued to play in bands, most notably with Crash Course.

But Wilken may ultimately be best known for his generosity in providing dozens of young bands the opportunity to record their music inexpensively (and often for free) at his home studio on Park Avenue in Albany. The music was often released as seven-inch vinyl singles on his own record label, Blue Lunch Records. Wilken often helped out in the studio by playing bass, producing or co-producing, engineering, helping with songwriting and even contributing cover design. A short (and quite incomplete) list of bands on the Blue Lunch roster includes releases by the Dugans, El Extreme, Glasnost, Sleep of Reason, Tilted Edge, Birds of Prey, the Good Sons, Fat Albatross, Mudflapp, Eve Had an Apple, Working Class Stiffs, Push, Frontier Salesman and numerous other bands.


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