LIVE: The Fabulous Thunderbirds @ Albany’s Riverfront Park, 6/6/13

June 12th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Fabulous Thunderbirds

The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Stanley Johnson

Were you “Tuff Enuff” to brave the rain for the Fabulous Thunderbirds?

The inaugural Alive at Five concert of the summer season got off to a mighty soggy start, and despite the best efforts of the concerts series organizers to try to get the show in before the sky opened up – the T-Birds took the stage 20 minutes earlier than the usual headliners’ start time – the blues fans in Albany’s Riverfront Park got soaked with a never hard nor heavy, but always steady rain from the moment frontman Kim Wilson launched the band into the opening “Wait On Time” straight through to the show-closing encore of “I Want to Believe.”

Wilson and his current incarnation of the T-Birds focused on tunes from their latest album, “On the Verge,” marking a distinct shift away from the blues and venturing into a deep soul groove that balanced equal influences from Memphis and Muscle Shoals. “Lovin’ Time,” “Runnin’ From the Blues” and the slinky slow grind of “Lonely Highway” emerged as some of the new album’s most potent selections, and the crowd roared with delight during the latter when Wilson moaned the lyric, “It’s a lonely stretch of highway, and the rain is pouring down…”

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LIVE: Ed Kowalczyk @ Albany’s Riverfront Park, 8/4/11

August 12th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg

Ed Kowalczyk @ Alive at 5, Albany

The last Alive at Five concert of the this summer season was engulfed in heat and oppressive humidity. The sweat was streaming off of everyone in attendance, including the stagehands and the staff from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

Behind the large, metal-framed and tarp-topped stage at Albany’s beautiful Riverfront Park, Ed Kowalczyk, former frontman for multi-platinum ’90s rockers Live, was surrounded by his bandmates, as they stood outside of their air-conditioned trailer. Wiping the sweat off his brow, Kowalczyk flashed a warm grin at the fans standing off in the distance, who were waving and calling out, “Ed, Ed, Ed…”

Running up the steps, the band commandeered the stage, launching into Live’s perennial crowd-pleaser, “All Over You.” The 40-year-old Kowalczyk traversed the stage with the speed and animation of a whirling dervish while singing the emotional anthem.

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Live: Fran Cosmo @ Alive at Five in Riverfront Park, 8/5/10

August 11th, 2010, 1:02 pm by Greg

Fran Cosmo @ Alive At Five

Rock singer and guitarist Fran Cosmo hit all the notes, and he hit them big-time, wowing the audience at Albany’s Riverfront Park last Thursday afternoon for the final Alive at Five concert of the summer. And he came armed with a mixed bag of songs drawn from his tenure with the mulit-platinum Boston, as well as Orion the Hunter and regional rockers Celebration.

He and his five bandmates churned it out in the classic ’70s and ’80s rock-style with lots of biting guitar solos, which stands to reason because in addition to Cosmo, there were three other electric guitarists on stage. No matter about the abundance of strings, the music was tight and expertly delivered.

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LIVE: The Original Wailers @ Alive at 5, 8/13/09

August 14th, 2009, 2:11 pm by Greg

Junior Marvin

Junior Marvin

The great Bob Marley died in 1981, but before he did, the members of his band made him a promise to carry on not only his music, but also his message of peace and unity.

And the Original Wailers made good on that promise in Albany’s Riverfront Park on Thursday, August 13 at the final Alive @ 5 concert of the 2009 summer season.

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LIVE: Tower of Power @ Alive at 5, 7/30/09

July 31st, 2009, 2:30 pm by Greg

Larry Braggs

Larry Braggs

Still going strong after more than four decades, Tower of Power blew into Albany’s Riverfront Park on Thursday, July 30, for the latest installment of the Alive @ 5 concert series.

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Parade of Shoes: Are You Ready, Boots?

July 13th, 2009, 4:58 pm by Sara
The boots of Katie McKrell at Alive @ 5, Albany, July 9, 2009

The boots of Katie McKrell, of the McKrells, at Alive @ 5, Albany, July 9, 2009

LIVE: Black 47/Kevin McKrell @ Alive at 5, 7/9

July 10th, 2009, 1:55 pm by Greg

Let’s face it, Black 47 guitarist-bandleader Larry Kirwan isn’t really much of a vocalist. But what he lacks in the vocal nuance department, he more than makes up for with his sheer overpowering passion.

You can read my review of the Black 47/Kevin McKrell Alive at 5 show from Albany’s Riverfront Park in the Times Union.

Larry Kirwan

Larry Kirwan

Back in 1993 when Black 47 made their Nippertown debut at Bogie’s, they whipped up quite a swirling mosh pit in the crowd. On Thursday, the beer-soaked audience played it considerably cooler with only a bit of a jig or an occasional bout of step-dancing breaking out in front of the stage.

Which is not to say that Kirwan and company played it safe or toned it down any for their free, family-friendly performance. In fact, it was a bit of a surprise when they launched into their encore – the hilarious but definitely not G-rated “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave.”

Meanwhile, Kevin McKrell – the Capital Region’s King of All Things Celtic – put together the Hard Road Ceili Band, a real all-star group of musicians featuring his daughter Katie on vocals and bodhran, exotic percussionist Brian Melick, bassmaster Rick Bedrosian, guitarist Brian Gibney and fab fiddler-vocalist Sara Milonovich.

Sara Milonovich and Kevin McKrell

Sara Milonovich and Kevin McKrell

They’ve all played with McKrell at various times over the years, but all six musicians had never actually played all together until this show. And as an opening act at a free outdoor concert, if you can get the crowd to sing along, as they did on “All of the Hard Days Are Gone” – an original song, no less – then you know you’ve got something special going on. Quite an auspicious debut, indeed. Expect to hear more from them in the coming months.

Be Here Now: The Ashley Pond Band @ Alive at Five

June 22nd, 2009, 3:01 pm by Greg

For the second consecutive week, it looks like there’s a shake-up in the original line-up for the Alive at Five concert series in Albany’s Riverfront Park.

Last week, the Outlaws stepped in to replace the Marshall Tucker Band after the wife of Tucker’s singer Doug Gray passed away, forcing the band to cancel the NY leg of their tour to return home.

This week singer-songwriter-violinist Deni Bonet and her band were slated to open the show for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at 5pm on Thursday, June 25, but Bonet won’t be playing after all.

Here’s how she explains the situation:

“As most of you know, I was booked to appear on the bill next week with Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, for the City of Albany’s Alive at Five concert series – the concert was billed as ‘Girls Night Out’, and the events department were excited about putting such a strong bill together.

Yesterday, my manager received a pretty distraught phone call from a
representative of the City (he was genuinely upset), to say that despite us having had this on the books for months, AND a signed contract, Grace Potter’s management had refused to allow me to be on the bill, and wanted to choose their own opening act. This is less than a week to go before the show! So now I’m writing to you all to say that unfortunately, I won’t be appearing on Thursday in Albany.

According to the City, they pleaded with the Grace Potter people for a week, but her management representative refused to give a reason, other than they wanted to choose an act of their own. The City events dept. have promised me a replacement show as soon as they can find a suitable event, so I hope we’ll have something to tell you before too long. Just thought you’d want to know the kind of bullshit that occurs all too often in this crazy biz of music.”

Fortunately, that’s turned into quite a lucky break for the homegrown Ashley Pond Band, who have been quickly signed up to replace Bonet on the bill. The APB just released their stunningly good new album, “The Warning,” two weeks ago.

(photo by Matthew Mac Haffie)

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