It was a blending of the old and the new at the Falcon in Marlboro last Friday night. Veteran keyboard player Bill Payne (of Little Feat fame) played with the Connor Kennedy Band. These are the Young Turks of the talent-rich Hudson Valley music scene. Featured in their set were Bill Payne’s recent songwriting collaborations with former Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, as well some of the classic music of Little Feat.
Providing a rock-solid bottom was the rhythm section of Lee Falco on drums and Brandon Morrison on bass. Connor Kennedy played lead guitar, while Will Bryant played a second set of keyboards. The husband/wife team of Andy & Tania Stack – known as the Stacks – opened and sat in for most of Payne’s set. This made for a full, rich sound for the show and a generous exchange of musical ideas.
“It took me 63 years to find my voice, quote, unquote, with regard to myself, not within a band,” says Bill Payne, the founding keyboardist of Little Feat, the enduring American band with a 40-plus year legacy. They performed at The Egg in early January, but on Tuesday (June 18), Payne returns as a solo act to WAMC-FM’s The Linda in Albany.
“I didn’t do any solo shows until a year ago,” he says. At that time he had Dennis McNally open for him. McNally was the long-time historian and publicist for the Grateful Dead who wrote the definitive biography of the band, “Long Strange Trip.”
There has been a long, psychic connection between the two bands that suddenly became more tangible last year when the Dead’s lyricist Robert Hunter began a songwriting collaborating with Payne.
When I interviewed Payne in December to advance Little Feat’s show at The Egg date I wrote, “Never as popular as the Dead, Little Feat is adored by critics and die-hard fans alike, and like the Dead, they retain their distinctive sound despite the comings and goings of various personnel. Payne and Hunter’s title track to Rooster Rag [Little Feat’s latest album] sounds like a logical extension of Payne’s ’70s anthem “Oh Atlanta,” and the band’s high energy eclecticism remains a West Coast answer to New Orleans gumbo.” At that time, Payne had written 13 songs with Hunter.
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