BERGGREN/KIRK/SHAW’s “North River/North Woods”

August 11th, 2009, 11:02 am by Greg

nrnw(Sleeping Giant Records, 2009): You don’t have to be a mountain man or woman to enjoy this collection of Adirondack folk music. If you’ve done any camping or hiking in New York State’s great mountains (or even if you’ve just admired the majestic view on postcards), you’re likely to feel connected to this music. Embracing the outdoors and the simple charms of homespun tunes, three of the area’s most beloved songsmiths – Dan Berggren, John Kirk and Christopher Shaw – team up for the first time on this album.

Well, actually, the trio is only playing together on seven of the album’s 17 tracks, but you get the idea because the rest of the selections are duos or solos.

Berggren’s focus is songwriting. While the majority of the tunes are traditional, Berggren contributes a half dozen of his own tunes to the disc, including the captivating spoken word tale of the “Cremation of the Old Floyd Place.”

Kirk’s focus is on the instrumental end of things. The CD showcases the multi-talented player’s considerable skills on fiddle, mandolin, guitar and flute, as well as some fancy clog-dancing percussion on the French Canadian medley of “Reel St. Joseph/Mason’s Apron.”

Shaw, meanwhile, is the strongest vocalist of the bunch, and it’s a shame that he didn’t step up to sing lead more often here. Still, “Ballad of Blue Mountain Lake” is the album’s highlight, and it has more to do with Shaw’s knack for insightful narrative singing than it does with the contributions of such high-profile special guests as Rory Block and the Band’s Garth Hudson.

Put these three veteran musicians together, though, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, as evidenced by the deeply heartfelt a cappella offering, “River Driving.”

A few other special guests drop by to add their own seasonings to the mix, including the Finest Kind’s Ann Downey (who steps up to sing “Log Driver’s Waltz”) and fiddle phenom Cedar Stanistreet (who teams up for Kirk for another of the album’s best tracks – the achingly gorgeous twin fiddle lament “Be Thou My Vision”).

The best music is the music that you make yourself – a communion with with friends or strangers. But if you can’t make your music, this might be the next best thing. Come gather ’round the campfire.

Dan Berggren, John Kirk and Christopher Shaw (and Cedar Stanistreet) will celebrate the release of “North River/North Woods” with a concert at the Ndakinna Education Center in Greenfield Center on Saturday, August 15, as part of the ongoing Down to the Earth performance series.


Be Here Now: The Dog Days of Summer, 8/1/09

July 30th, 2009, 10:00 am by Greg

Dogs are great!
Museums are great!
But let’s face it, dogs and museums don’t usually get along all that well.

Well, that all changes at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake on Saturday, August 1, with the museum’s very special “Dog Days of Summer” program.

After all, how often do you get a chance to bring your pooch along to a museum?

Saturday’s Dog Days celebration will revolve entirely around man’s best friend with an abundance of activities throughout the day, including a canine obstacle/agility course, dog dancing sessions (might Bow Wow Wow show up to provide the music for this one?), working dog demonstrations (including the chance to meet Judd, a six-time Iditarod sled dog), a pooch parade and a brown bag lunch with curator Hallie Bond, who will discuss famous – and not so famous – dogs of the Adirondacks.

And Christopher Shaw, Adirondack singer-songwriter-storyteller-and-all-around-good-guy is slated to perform a pair of shows of specially selected canine-centric songs and stories at 1 and 3pm.

Of course, you’re encouraged to bring along your pooch. There’s even Doggie Day Care, so you can wander the grounds while the staff looks after Fido!


Real Good for Free: AHMF @ Lake George

June 11th, 2009, 9:09 am by Greg

The Lake George Arts Project’s great Wednesday night concerts aren’t the only free shows at Shepard Park this summer.

Local music fans are going to revel in the third Adirondack Homegrown Music Festival, which takes over the park beginning at 11am on Sunday, July 12. It promises to be quite the musical smorgasbord featuring a dozen acts over the course of the ten-hour day.

The musicians have also banded together for a good cause. Compilation CDs will be sold throughout the fest, with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House of Albany.

Here’s the line-up of bands donating their time and talent:

11am: Dreaded Wheat

11:40am: Travis Gray

12:20pm: Capital Order

1:15pm: Pitchfork Militia

2:10pm: Sauce

3pm: Phil Camp

3:40pm: Three Dimensional Figures

4:25pm: Flakjacket

5:05pm: Curse the Mariner

5:50pm: Chain Lightning

6:45pm: Capital Zen

7:55pm: Day in the Life

Real Good For Free: The Clark @ Williamstown
Real Good For Free: Skidmore Jazz
Real Good For Free: Scnenectady Central Park
Real Good For Free: Clifton Park
Real Good for Free: Albany Public Library
Real Good for Free: At The Plaza, Albany
Real Good for Free: Skidmore’s Tang Museum
Real Good For Free: Rockin’ on the River, Troy
Real Good For Free: Pearl Street Live
Real Good For Free: Freedom Park, Scotia
Real Good For Free: Jazz on Jay
Real Good For Free: Cook Park, Colonie
Real Good For Free: Lake George
Real Good For Free: Schodack
Real Good For Free: Art on Lark
Real Good For Free: River Street Festival
Real Good For Free: Canajoharie
Real Good For Free: Guilderland
Real Good For Free: Alive @ 5
Real Good For Free: Powers Park

Holly & EvanJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCaffe LenaCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Capital District Habitat For HumanityMohawk Hudson Humane Society