Photographs by Gene Sennes
By Greg Haymes
LarkFest takes over Albany’s Lark Street from Washington to Madison avenues once again on Saturday for Nippertown’s largest free street festival. GO HERE for more info and the complete schedule of bands…
And with this year’s LarkFest celebration returning to the original mission of showcasing all-local music, we thought it was time for a look back at LarkFest through the years. While we managed to pull together quite a bit of back history, there are still a number of holes in the round-up, and the list is by no means complete. So we’re hoping that Nippertown readers can come to the rescue and fill in at least some of the blanks:
1981: The debut with a crowd of about 15,000 featuring the Units, the Young Reptiles, the A.D.’s, the Morons
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Billy Cobham established himself as one of the prime architects of the jazz-rock fusion sound as the drummer with such bands as Dreams (featuring the Brecker Brothers), Miles Davis (on his classic 1970 “A Tribute to Jack Johnson” album) and the high-flying Mahavishnu Orchestra. Melding jazz sensibilities and rock aggression, Cobham struck the perfect balance.
Now 70 years old, does Cobham still have the right stuff? Oh yes, indeed, he does. In concert in front of a nearly packed house at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre recently, he deftly walked the tightrope between explosive power and exacting precision.
He was leading his Spectrum 40 Band, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Spectrum, his groundbreaking 1973 solo album debut, but Cobham wasn’t content to merely throw together a “tribute band” for a routine retrospective run through Spectrum in its entirity. Oh no. In fact, he and the band were nearly a half hour into their show before they launched into their first selection from Spectrum, a muscular, funky strut through “Stratus,” which showcased the thrumming bass pulse of Ric Fierabracci, the angular, glitch ‘n’ pop attack of keyboardist Gary Husband and the seismic guitar freak-out of Dean Brown.
LarkFest isn’t the only street fair taking place in Albany this weekend. On Sunday afternoon (September 21), the western end of Madison Avenue from South Allen to West Lawrence will be blocked off to traffic as the annual the Upper Madison Street Fair takes over the asphalt with music, dancing, art, food and plenty of fun for all ages. And, of course, admission is FREE.
The fest runs from 12noon-5pm and will feature a variety of Local 518 vendors featuring arts & crafts, non-profit organization info tables, fabulous food, dancing & drumming, a silent auction and Kids Zone activities, including storytelling, art making, face painting, games, drumming and more.
And as with LarkFest, one of the main attractions of the UMSF is the live music. Here’s a schedule of who’s playing when on Sunday:
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Armed with a trove of songs, paintings for sale, and bawdy jokes (including a couple told by his son, Detroit) unlike those of anyone else on the planet, Hamell On Trial put on a dynamic Saturday night show at the Low Beat.
An extended break-neck rhythm pattern established the tension of a shaken universe in “A Little Concerned, That’s All,” a key song from Tough Love. Next, Hamell joked that he would be featuring a 45-minute interpretive dance number, but chose instead to sing off-microphone the bizarre yet true trio of drug-related tales of “When You Are Young,” set to an indelibly bouncy Yiddish folk melody. “Seven Seas,” a staple of his live show for many years, offered newcomers to Hamell On Trial a chance to hear the story of the vintage acoustic guitar he bought one day from Buzzy on Lark Street. Some of Hamell’s most beloved songs -”Blood of the Wolf,” “Hail,” “Inquiring Minds” and “Bill Hicks” (the latter by request, thank you) were written on it and featured in the set.
The New York State Writers Institute has announced the fall schedule of its Visiting Writers Events, beginning with the current New York State Author Alison Lurie who will read at the UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall at 8pm on Thursday (September 18).
Events are free of charge, except where noted. Here’s the NYS Writers Institute’s schedule for fall of 2014:
Alison Lurie, New York State Author
Thursday (September 18)
Seminar — 4:15pm, UAlbany’s Campus Center Room 375
Reading — 8pm, UAlbany Performing Arts Center’s Recital Hall
Alison Lurie, novelist and current New York State Author (2012-2014), is widely regarded as the Jane Austen of contemporary American letters for her modern “comedies of manners,” including “Truth and Consequences” (2005) and the Pulitzer-winning “Foreign Affairs” (1984). Her new nonfiction book is “The Language of Houses” (2014), an exploration of the expressive power of everyday architecture. Author Edmund White said “[Lurie] has culled the best ideas from a vast literature and passed it all through the sieve of her brilliant mind.”
Review by Bokonon
Breowrr bah-duh-dah bumpa, brrawwr brawwr…
Take your own stab at spelling it out, but the opening strains of “21st Century Schizoid Man” sent yet another thrilling shiver through The Egg last Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Another? Well, geez, it was competing with the performance premiere of “One More Red Nightmare” (40 years on from its vinyl bow), the barbed art crunch of “Red” and the righteous skronk of “Sailor’s Tale” (itself last heard live in 1972).
King Crimson was in the house and it was any prog fan’s wet dream. Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant… pussies all compared to — Jack Black, back me up here — the majesty of King Crimson.
While the other blokes his age were bluesing it up through the late ’60s, Robert Fripp was getting his Henry Purcell on, forging a baroque jazz metal weirdness that festers to this day.
Radio station 99.5 The River hosted its “Fall Night In” concert at Albany’s Palace Theatre this past Tuesday night, and while King Crimson was churning up a massive night of prog-rock over at The Egg, the Palace took on a more pop-oriented triple-bill with the Fray headlining the evening’s festivities in support of their latest album, Helios.
But it was A Great Big World – keyboardist-vocalist Ian Axel and vocalist-trumpeter Chad Vaccarino with their backing band – who all but stole the show with their omni-present hit, “Say Something” (co-written by Albany High grad Mike Campbell).
Pop singer-songwriter Andy Grammer opened the show, and brought out a bunch Local 518 friends and contest winners to sing along with him onstage for “Back Home.”
Tom Templeton’s review at The Times Union