LIVE: Punch Brothers @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 12/10/15

December 22nd, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Review by Bokonon
Photographs by Timothy Raab

Punch Brothers have always been too intellectual for me. Until that Thursday night. Braniac Berklee bluegrass, all up in itself. Until that Thursday night. That Thursday night at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Punch Brothers gathered around a single mic and made mad musical magic.

Super Saratoga Springs singer Sharon Bolton sat in front of me, hooting righteously at the end of every number. I was right there with her.

Mandolinist Chris Thile is the point man of the band, and he’s been seen in the area in myriad permutations – solo, with Michael Daves, with Nickel Creek, with Edgar Meyer, with Brad Mehldau… But Punch Brothers is a band, and they functioned on that mic like an octopus, tentacles of sound weaving in and out. And it was clear from the first beat that the boys were as smitten with the room as the crowd was with them.

“We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the past 10 years,” banjo man Noam Pikleny deadpanned. “And one of the worst was not playing here before.”

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Shine On, Super Harvest Blood Moon

September 29th, 2015, 11:00 am by Sara


Photographs by Timothy Raab

LIVE: Ryley Walker @ the Half Moon, 5/16/15

May 27th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review by Greg Haymes
Video and photographs by Timothy Raab

Ryler Walker has big ears and an open heart – which is to say that his daring music is a deftly blended amalgam of a multitude of musical genres and he isn’t afraid to lay it all on the line, emotionally speaking.

In support of his stunning, recently released sophomore album, Primrose Green, the 25-year-old Chicago-based acoustic guitar phenom made his Nippertown debut recently at the Half Moon in Hudson. It was a dazzling hour-long display of the American Primitivism guitar stylings pioneered by John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Peter Lang and carried into the 21st century by such fretboard masters as Daniel Bachman, Steve Gunn and William Tyler – mind-boggling finger-picking rooted in traditional folk, but applied to more of an avant-garde, neo-classical aesthetic.

Accompanied by the sublimely understated electric guitar playing of Brian Sulpizio, Walker sat on a stool, bent over his guitar in concentration, often swiveling his whole body back and forth in a physical manifestation of the trance-like musical groove that they conjured up together. Following a seven-minute instrumental introduction, Walker slid gracefully into “On the Banks of the Old Kishawaukee,” which proved to be the most traditional sounding selection of his hour-long set. It was, however, hardly traditional.

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LIVE: Mary Chapin Carpenter @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 4/23/15

May 15th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg
Mary Chapin Carpenter

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Photographs by Timothy Raab

WHO: Mary Chapin Carpenter
WITH: Lunasa
WHERE: The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
WHEN: Thursday, April 23, 2015

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LIVE: The Charlie Watts Riots @ the Low Beat, 4/10/15

May 4th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg
The Charlie Watts Riots

The Charlie Watts Riots

Photograph by Timothy Raab

When the Charlie Watts Riots released their sophomore album, A Break in the Weather, back in September of 2013, it looked like the band was about to break big. Like nationally. Or even a Japanese tour.

But instead, the power popsters pulled back on the reins of stardom, and they all but stepped out of the spotlight altogether. In fact, for a while there, it seemed as though maybe CWR had quietly called it quits without telling anyone.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. After a hiatus from the Local 518 spotlight of nearly a year, Charlie Watts Riots emerged from hibernation last month and rattled the roof of the Low Beat as though they’d never left.

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait so long for their next show…

LIVE: Caladh Nua @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 3/11/15

March 17th, 2015, 2:00 pm by Greg

Review by Brett Williams
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Videos and photographs by Timothy Raab

As she finished an a cappella passage during the first set of Caladh Nua’s Wednesday night show at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, lead singer Lisa Butler looked slowly, wonderingly up from her microphone, apparently delighted by the legendary acoustic quality of the Capital Region’s most under-appreciated venue. Though she probably couldn’t see it, staring back at Ms. Butler was an audience equally delighted with the performance put on by one of Ireland’s best young traditional music ensembles.

Midway through a tour of the Midwest and Northeast, quintet Caladh Nua became the latest installment of the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall’s annual pre-St. Patrick’s traditional Irish music concert which has, in recent years, featured the likes of the Chieftains and Danú. And while Caladh Nua – which translates roughly to “New Haven” – may lack the stateside name-recognition of those other acts, that takes nothing away from their playing, which was as technically good as it was stirring – by turns lilting and melancholy, contemplative and rousing. Everything, in short, traditional Irish music should be.

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RIP: Joe Cocker, 1944-2014

December 23rd, 2014, 9:59 am by Greg

Joe Cocker

Photographs by Timothy Raab

Ben Sisario’s obituary for Joe Cocker at The New York Times

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LIVE: Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 3/27/14

April 3rd, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review by Bokonon
Video and photographs by Timothy Raab

In the first few years of her career, Shawn Colvin was devastating. Remember, she was already 33 when “Steady On” was released in 1989, a fully developed artist who had advanced beyond a mere Joni Mitchell fascination to carve out her own hard, smooth territory.

The propulsive, open-tuned guitar, the flinty, percussive lyrics and a terrifying gift for melody — all of which were nurtured by a relationship with John Leventhal — joined with a preternatural onstage confidence, making Colvin something more than powerful, but mesmerizing.

But around the time she finally hit it big, with “Sunny Came Home,” in 1997, the demons started creeping out of her songs and into her life. Depression cracked the façade and her performances became scattered, sometimes downright weird.

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