LIVE: Lake George Blues & Roots Festival @ Wood Park, 8/2/15 (Day Two)

August 13th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg
Albert Lee and Cindy Cashdollar

Albert Lee and Cindy Cashdollar

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Cheri Bordelon

Sponsored by the Lake George Arts Project, the inaugural Lake George Blues & Roots Festival took over Wood Park recently, showcasing a stellar line-up of local (guitarslinger Joe Lowry and his band, the Kevin Maul-led Mississippi Hot Dogs) regional (Mulebone, Atlas Gray) and international (the pairing of British guitar hero Albert Lee and steel guitar great and Woodstock native Cindy Cashdollar) talent.

LIVE: Lake George Blues & Roots Festival @ Wood Park, 8/1/15 (Day One)

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LIVE: The Arch Stanton Double Drum @ the Madison Theater, 4/25/15

May 5th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg


Photographs by Cheri Bordelon

One of the highlights of the Arch Stanton Quartet’s drop party last fall for their sophomore disc Blues for Soli was when original ASQ drummer Jim Ketterer joined the group on tabla for the swirling Terry Gordon original “Groovin’ at the Azur.” After the show, it was generally agreed that the group’s unique sound opened a whole new door with a second drummer, and that matrix should be explored further. On Saturday, the Stanton Quartet – plus Ketterer – took the stage at Albany’s Madison Theater and did just that, with outstanding results.

Taking advantage of the Madison’s excellent performance space (which will feature two shows by the Mike Stern Quartet on Friday, May 15), Ketterer and current ASQ drummer Steve Partyka placed their kits on either side of the stage, surrounding Gordon, guitarist Roger Noyes and bassist Chris Macchia with a diverse drum sound that was the percussion equivalent of pairing a tenor and an alto sax: Ketterer’s smaller kit brought a slightly higher sound to his drumming, and he added both tabla and conga sounds where appropriate.

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ART/LIVE: Black Velvet Art Party @ the Georgian Resort, 11/22/14

December 5th, 2014, 11:00 am by Greg


Photograph by Cheri Bordelon

Sponsored by the Lake George Arts Project, the 26th annual Black Velvet Art Party was held at the Georgian Resort in Lake George last month. This invigorating, inspiring and slightly insane gathering of the local North Country art community is renowned for its out-of-the ordinary presentation of black velvet art and over-the-top fashion statements. Proceeds from this event help fund the Lake George Arts Project and its year-round Courthouse Gallery exhibition series.


1. Best of Black Velvet: Gary McCoola’s “Gimme Shelter”
2. Velveeta (the cheesiest): Armon Art Brown’s “Gnarly”
3. Velveluminous (the brightest): Joy McCoola’s “Grate Openings”
4. Velveluptuous (the sexiest): Kat Griffin’s “Gnarly Fairy Chair”
5. Velvet Underground: Betsy Brandt’s “After Rousseau”
6. Black Velvet Amoeba Art Award (Best Amoeba Art): Sam Bowser’s “Amoebas on Parade”

1. The Joan Reid Award (most inappropriate attire): Mike Vittengl
2. Tres Tacky: Mel Ostberg
3. Velviagra: Billijo Meader
4. Svelte: Ray Perry
5. Velvelicious: Cathy DeDe
6. King BVAP 26th: Brian Landenburger
7. Queen Velveteen: Denise Perry

LIVE: Jazz at the Lake @ Lake George High School Auditorium, 9/13/14 (Day One)

September 22nd, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
Anat Cohen (photo by Rudy Lu)

Anat Cohen (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk, M. Cheri Bordelon

Weather has always been a factor at Jazz at the Lake, but it’s usually just dropping temperatures reminding us that fall is only a couple of weeks away. This year, the rain came down hard enough to move the first day of the festival to the rain site at Lake George High School. As I walked up to the complex of buildings on Canada Street, I had visions of a cavernous gym with a small, old stage under one of the basketball hoops. Fortunately, when the high school got a makeover back in the ’90s, it included a 500-seat theater with good acoustics and great sightlines; unfortunately, school staff couldn’t get the ventilation system working, which made things a bit close as the afternoon went on and the house filled almost to capacity.

Mind you, the crowd could easily have believed the temperatures were just a way of creating a sultry atmosphere for Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express, who went off like a rocket from the first notes of “New Cuban Express,” the title track from Valera’s 2012 release. You can’t help but smile when a good Afro-Cuban band is on its game, and this group had all the ingredients: Manuel Valera is a demon keyboard player and a monster composer; drummer Ludwig Afonso and conguero Mauricio Herrera were a relentless percussion machine, and utility bassman Hans Glawishchnig is as fat on electric 5-string as he is on a stand-up acoustic. But Valera took the extra step of bringing sax fiend/percussionist Yosvany Terry to Lake George, and Terry’s searing alto lines go far beyond simple “Let’s Salsa” flag-waving. Valera’s own solos had the same level of virtuosity, taking the standard A/C formula and shooting it to a dizzying height. Festival-goers were hugging the walls by the time NCE knocked its last shot out of the park, earning them the first standing ovation of the day.

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LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival @ SPAC, 6/29/14 (Day Two)

July 15th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Eddy Palmieri Orchestra (photo by Rudy Lu)

The Eddie Palmieri Orchestra (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photographs by Richard Brody, Cheri Bordelon, Andrzej Pilarczyk, J Hunter

“We’d like to close our set…” altoist/alt-jazz music mogul Tim Berne began his intro to “Static,” earning a hearty laugh from the Gazebo Stage crowd. True, Berne and his whip-smart quartet Snakeoil – Dave Douglas Quintet pianist Matt Mitchell, reedman Oscar Noriega and (making his second appearance at the Gazebo that weekend) percussionist Ches Smith – had just turned our heads around several times with 15 minutes of free-form madness to kick off Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival’s Sunday bill at SPAC, but there was no way these guys were going to play one tune for 45 minutes… right?

Well… sort-of right: “Static” turned out to be a careening multi-chapter suite that had the ensemble alternating off-its-head rubato with wildly complex melodies and figures – some pounding, some silky soft – that only seemed to lift the soloists to dizzier and dizzier heights. Noriega’s bass clarinet repeatedly traveled the distance between sub-sonic and shrieking, sometimes taking over the foundation so Mitchell could have room to express himself. If Smith played a straight beat, then I missed it, because when the deranged-looking stick figure wasn’t soloing, he was on the fill whether he was on drums or vibes. (Surprisingly, Smith’s vibes work was extremely tender in places.) Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence may have spun the Gazebo like a roulette wheel to close the Saturday bill, but Berne’s off-world excursions made Brown’s explorations seem simple in comparison.

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LIVE: Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival @ Jennings Landing, 9/7/13

September 16th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
Charlie Hunter (photo by Richard Brody)

Charlie Hunter (photo by Richard Brody)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Richard Brody and Cheri Bordelon

It’s taken a few years, but nowadays I’ll cop to the fact that I’m a pretty negative person. The glass is always half empty, and the weather is “mostly cloudy”, not “partly sunny.” So I had a lot of worries going into the 12th annual Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival – not about the bill (which was as solid as ever, despite having only two national acts), but about external factors. Forget that there were two decent-sized music festivals happening at the same time as Riverfront: Rest Fest in Troy and the New Music Festival at Empire State Plaza. Was Riverfront going to suffer repercussions from last year’s (albeit necessary) weather-related mid-fest shutdown?

As usual, I should have taken an extra chill pill before heading down to Corning Preserve. It was just like old times, as the early-comers coated themselves with sunblock at the top of the amphitheater more than a half-hour before the first act hit the stage; the crowd was growing nicely by the time Sensemaya was mid-way through their super-sweet set, and both grassy knolls flanking the space were filling up with lawn chairs and blankets. People were bopping and swaying and ready to get stuck in for a good time, and not even the steady drizzle that came down later in the day could dampen their spirits. People just popped their umbrellas or snapped up their hoods and said, “Bring it on! This year, we’re here to stay!”

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LIVE: Harold Ford & the Cash Band @ The Egg, 2/26/11

March 3rd, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg
Sten Isachsen, Harold Ford and Peter Maine

Sten Isachsen, Harold Ford and Peter Maine

Saturday, February 26 was the 79th anniversary of the birth of the great American music icon Johnny Cash, and to celebrate the occasion tribute artist Harold Ford and his Nippertown all-star Cash Band rumbled through the long and glorious song catalog of the Man in Black in concert at The Egg in Albany.

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