BEST OF 2013: Tim Livingston’s Favorite Shows of the Year

January 10th, 2014, 12:00 pm by Greg
Tommy Stinson and Melissa Auf der Maur

Tommy Stinson and Melissa Auf der Maur @ Club Helsinki, January 27 2013

Story and photographs by Tim Livingston
Additional photograph by Kirsten Ferguson

Here’s a list of a dozen concerts that I attended last year and had a lot of fun at:

1. “Home Bass: 4 Strings, 4 Hearts for Habitat” @ Club Helsinki, Hudson, January 27. Featuring Tommy Stinson, Melissa Auf der Maur, Meshell Ndegeocello and Melora Creager.

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BEST OF 2013: Berkshire on Stage’s Best Plays and Musicals of the Year

January 9th, 2014, 12:00 pm by Sara
WAM’s Emilie was a stunner.

WAM’s Emilie was a stunner.

by Gail M.Burns, Roseann Cane and Larry Murray

Gail M. Burns: As the clock runs out on 2013, it’s memory time, and how blessed we are to be living and working in the Berkshire regional arts community. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, history will recognize this as an extraordinary time and place for the arts in America, especially for live theatre, which is what you, Roseann and I team up to cover.

Larry Murray: Our readers look to our reports for both guidance and to compare their reactions with ours. If we are the theatre-crazed trio, they are the force that keep our local theatre companies going.

Gail: We both acknowledge that there is more summer theatre in the region than any one person can cover, so this year we agreed to divide and conquer – for instance you covered the season in Williamstown and I covered the season in Chester, while Roseann pitched in to round out the coverage. Consequently there were many shows that only one of us saw, so this “Best of…” list reflects our combined opinions.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Richard Brody’s Top 14 Shows of the Year
Timothy Reidy’s Top 10 Concerts Outside of Albany
Timothy Reidy’s Best Albany Concerts of the Year
Stanley Johnson’s Top 15 Most Memorable Entertainment Events of the Year
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 25 Concerts of the Year
Timothy Reidy’s Year in Review Video
Mike Hotter’s Favorite Albums of the Year
Fred Rudofsky’s Best Albums of the Year
J Hunter’s Best Concerts of the Year
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part II
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I

Got a Best of 2013 list that you’d like to share with Nippertown readers? Best concerts of the year? Best Local 518 music moments of the year? Best plays? Best art gallery exhibits? Best books by local authors? Best whatever? Please keep it local, but send it along to

BEST of 2013: Mike Hotter’s Favorite Albums

December 27th, 2013, 1:00 pm by Greg

Reviews by Mike Hotter

While there were no new albums I felt very passionate about this year (besides the Dylan reissue), here are some that I admired and listened to quite a bit – in alphabetical order:

Neko Case’s The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You: Gorgeous voice delivering gorgeous tunes about unsettling matters.

Bob Dylan: Another Self PortraitBob Dylan’s Another Self Portrait (1969-1971): A couple of self-professed Dylan fans I know scoffed when I told them how much I loved this two-disc set – such is the stigma attached to anything having to do with this era. But if you sit down with this objectively, I promise that your conception of Dylan will be enlivened, enriched and rejuvenated. Filled with some of his finest singing ever captured on tape, you also hear a person deeply in love with song. And the demo version of “When I Paint My Masterpiece” that closes, with its slightly different lyrics, is so much better than the one we are familiar with. My favorite release of 2013.

The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual: As forbidding as an electronica version of “Finnegan’s Wake,” this 96-minute-long behemoth may not be really “enjoyable” at some points, but it seems important in an almost historical way – the first bonafide hybrid human-computer classic, as chilling as it sounds.

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BEST OF 2013: Fred Rudofsky’s Best Albums of 2013

December 26th, 2013, 3:00 pm by Greg

Reviews by Fred Rudofsky

In 2013, I saw a lot of music and I bought a lot of music – yes, I’m that 21st century Luddite who still believes in owning a physical copy of an album, on CD or LP. There are a few albums that I’m sure would have made my list that I just haven’t picked up yet, but here’s a baker’s dozen of where it stands as of today… and a list of other noteworthy titles to consider as well. (Note: archival, box set and/ or reissue albums will appear on another list):

The Holmes Brothers: Brotherhood1.) THE HOLMES BROTHERS: Brotherhood (Alligator Records)
Available in Europe, but oddly not in the USA til April 2014, this album is tremendous from start to finish, as all the albums in the Holmes Brothers’ catalog have been since 1989. Blues (“My Word is My Bond,” “Passing Through”), soul (“Soldier of Love,” “My Kind of Girl”), folk (a superb cover of Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had”) and gospel (“Amazing Grace”) – they can do it all, and their three-part harmonies have no rival. Wendell Holmes sings and plays guitar with swagger; Sherman Holmes sings with warmth and plays some of the coolest bass lines around; and Popsy Dixon hits falsetto notes as deftly as he plays the drums. Do what I did: buy the album online, and be sure to order a few copies for friends and family.

Candye Kane: Coming Out Swingin'2.) CANDYE KANE (FEATURING LAURA CHAVEZ): Coming Out Swingin’ (Vizztone)
The self-proclaimed “Toughest Girl Alive” (her five-year battle against pancreatic cancer is a profile in courage and an endorsement for the healing power of music) cuts a jubilant blues album live and direct to analog, with a fine group of musicians, most notably, Laura Chavez, a guitarist who deserves the press coverage that has been given lately to Gary Clark, Jr. and Joe Bonamassa. Kane’s vivacious and sanguine, delivering several originals (check out the title cut, “Rise Up!” and “Barbed Wire Mouth”) alongside choice covers of Benny Carter, Rick Estrin and Lala Guerrero. It’s a life-affirming album for any occasion.

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BEST OF 2013: J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I

December 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg

By J Hunter

One of the “problems” with doing this thing on the radio – “Jazz2K” is also broadcast from 6-8pm on Tuesdays on WSPN (91.1FM), including this Tuesday’s (December 17) Best of 2013 edition – is that I have 60 or 70 discs to consider instead of 20 or 30. Whoever said, “Be careful what you wish for…” had a good point. Anyway, with the brand-new chainsaw I got for our anniversary (Thanks, honey! Love ya bunches!), I was able to cut the pile down to a Top 10 and eight outstanding “Honorable Mentions.” Let’s get the Honorables out of the way first – mainly because I need to get those bowling trophies off the mantle so we can hang the Festivus decorations:

Their performance at Freihofer’s felt like Saturday night during Mardi Gras, as opposed to the “jazz funerals” they’ve staged in the past. And it’s all thanks to That’s It, Preservation Hall’s first-ever all-originals release. Maybe My Morning Jacket’s Jim James produced the session, but there’s an Old School echo to the 11 studio tracks that makes them seem like gems from NOLA’s marvelously shady past. Even live takes on “Oh Liza” and “Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing” jump around like newborn colts. This righteous set is Preservation Hall’s message to “modern” marchers like Rebirth and Dirty Dozen: “Pump the brakes, youngsters! We ain’t dead YET!”

CLIFF HINESWanderlust (Self-released)
Some members of Preservation Hall have ties that are older than this fellow Big Easy resident. That said, multi-instrumentalist Cliff Hines really gets his his Marco Benevento on, with an eclectic assortment of musical styles and cinematic takes on everything from Tehran’s Green Revolution and the Fukushima meltdown to the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. Bewitching vocalist Sasha Masakowski is the not-so-secret weapon in this intricate tapestry, as Hines plays Second Line one moment, Indian raga the next, and quotes William Burroughs’ “Naked Lunch” while mashing up jazz and thrash. Wanderlust is truly addictive. More, please!

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