LIVE: Al Kooper @ The Egg, 5/17/14

May 28th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg

Al Kooper (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Additional photographs by Ed Conway

FULL DISCLOSURE: During my high school days, my family got our first pet cat, and I promptly named him Kooper. “That’s Kooper with a ‘K’,” I would proudly point out to anyone who asked. “Like Al Kooper.”

My feline companion passed away long ago, but Al Kooper is still going strong at the age of 70. He’s been a semi-regular at The Egg in recent years, and he’s never disappointed. This show – billed as “Al Kooper’s 70th Birthday Concert” – promised to be something a little extra special. And it was… even though Kooper eventually admitted that his 70th birthday was actually on February 5.

For years, Kooper was the musical Zelig, simply the coolest cat on the rock scene. He not only led such ground-breaking bands as urban blues mavericks the Blues Project and horn-rock pioneers Blood Sweat & Tears, but also traveled the road-less-traveled with his solo albums (check out 1968’s dizzying delirium, I Stand Alone) and helped shape pop music history with his session work (the signature organ part on Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Need I say more? OK, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Byrds, B.B. King, Ravi Shankar…) and his masterful, behind-the-scenes production work (from the Tubes to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Rick Nelson and beyond).

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LIVE: Al Kooper & Jimmy Vivino @ The Egg, 3/16/13

March 18th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
Al Kooper and Jimmy Vivino

Al Kooper and Jimmy Vivino

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Rock icon Al Kooper’s voice was dry as dust as he addressed The Egg’s almost-full Swyer Theatre. “Y’know, it’s too bad you couldn’t go out on a Saturday night and hear some good music.”

Over the laughter of the crowd, Jimmy Vivino shot back, “I wish I’d known I had to fly all the way across the country to play some!”

Mind you, that’s Vivino’s life since he became the music director for Conan O’Brien’s current talk show: Make assloads of money five days a week by filling time during the commercial breaks, and then fly someplace on the weekend and play music he wants to play! In this case, Vivino was linking up with his old running partner and paying tribute to one of Kooper’s former running partners – the late guitar genius Mike Bloomfield.

For Kooper’s part, this was not just a one-night thing. He’s in the middle of a six-month period building a four-disc boxed set of Bloomfield’s work, spanning his time with Bob Dylan and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the short-lived genius of Bloomfield’s own group the Electric Flag, and the various recordings Bloomfield made with Kooper and others – not the least of which was the seminal 1968 jam date Super Session. “I’ve got Mike on the brain,” Kooper told us. “This is, like, my night off from work.”

“Now you know what it’s like to be me ALL THE TIME,” Vivino laughed.

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A Blues Project Reunion?

March 29th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg

Blues Project

Blues Project

Well, no, not exactly.

But it’s got to be more than simply a mere coincidence that two of the key members of the pivotal mid-’60s band, the Blues Project, are both headed into Nippertown this weekend.

Unfortunately, both shows are on the same night…

Keyboardist-vocalist Al Kooper returns to The Egg in Albany at 8pm Saturday on a double-bill with David Bromberg, while guitarist-vocalist Danny Kalb and his trio make another tour stop at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Saturday.

Kooper and Kalb were the leaders of the Blues Project, a pioneering NYC band that forged a heady, very influential fusion of blues, rock and psychedelia during their short life-span from 1965-’67. Other members of the band included guitarist Steve Katz (who got his show biz start in Schenectady of the “Teenage Barn” TV show), bassist-flutist Andy Kulberg, drummer Roy Blumenfeld and briefly vocalist Tommy Flanders.

Given their performing schedules, it’s unlikely that Kooper and Kalb will be getting together onstage anywhere in the Capital Region this weekend. But keep your ears open – Kalb is currently putting the finishing touches on his upcoming album on Sojourn Records, slated for release early this summer. An eclectic mix of blues, folk and jazz, the album will feature a reunion of Kalb, Kooper and Blumenfeld.

Don’t Be Here Now: No John/Joel tonight

July 27th, 2009, 12:08 pm by Greg

With Billy Joel sidelined by extreme fatigue and flu-like symptoms, tonight’s Face 2 Face concert with Billy Joel and Elton John at the Times Union Center has been postponed.

And that’s undoubtedly very good news for SPAC, which should see a significant jump in lawn ticket sales for tonight’s Coldplay concert.

No new date for the John/Joel concert has been announced yet, but I just loved the way that a television newscaster over the weekend advised ticketholders, “Don’t throw those tickets away.” Gee, no foolin’. I just paid $177 for a ticket, but I shouldn’t throw it away?

Anyway, I don’t see why Sir Elton didn’t just snag one of the guys from Nippertown’s real dueling-keyboards concert of the week – Dr. John and Al Kooper at The Egg last Saturday – and do the concert tonight anyway. They could have billed it as The Two Johns: Elton-meets-Dr.

Al Kooper, What Was The First Album You Ever Bought?

July 23rd, 2009, 4:01 pm by Sara

AlKooper“I remember the first single. It was ‘The Closer You Are’ by the Channels on the Whirling Disc label. I believe that my choices were either that one or ‘Autumn Leaves’ by Roger Williams.

So I went for the Channels because it was the blacker record. I guess you could say it was the equivalent of hip-hop today. Even the label was black. That’s a great record, too. I think it’s on one of those Rhino doo-wop box sets.

And I still have that single today. It would take some digging to find it because there’s about 3,999 other ones in my collection, but it’s in there. I think I probably own about 10,000 albums, 4,000 singles and about 3,500 CDs.

And now that I think about it, I think the first album I got was the second Elvis album. Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.”

Al Kooper leads his current band, the Funky Faculty, into The Egg in Albany on Saturday, July 25 for a double-bill with Dr. John & the Lower 911.

Caffe LenaJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysHolly & EvanCartoonist John CaldwellThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantAdvertise on Nippertown!G.C. HaymesRamblin Jug Stompers