Be Here Now: Black Francis @ Club Helsinki on Wednesday

October 14th, 2014, 12:00 pm by Greg

David Bowie declared that the Pixies made “just about the most compelling music of the entire ’80s.” Bono of U2 went one step further, calling the Pixies “one of America’s greatest bands ever.” And Thom Yorke of Radiohead proclaimed, “The Pixies changed my life.”

Indie-rock pioneers the Pixies – indie-rock pioneers and one of the most influential bands of the past quarter century – have been back in the spotlight again with a tour that wrapped up last weekend.

But there’s no rest for Pixies’ bandleader-singer-songwriter Black Francis (aka, Frank Black or Charles Thompson IV, which is his given name), who has immediately launched a solo mini tour that’s slated to make a stop at Club Helsinki in Hudson on Wednesday (October 15).

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LIVE: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Club Helsinki, 11/2/12

November 7th, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
Jon Spencer and his theremin

Jon Spencer and his theremin

Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

Hurricane Sandy and the storm’s bitter aftermath were on a lot of minds at Club Helsinki last Friday night, when punk-blues band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion — long-time residents of downtown Manhattan — played a frenzied set with Daddy Long Legs, a blues-garage trio from Brooklyn.

“It’s good to be here tonight. We just made it up by the skin of our teeth. It’s like the end of the world out there. It’s like Mad Max,” announced singer and blues harpist Daddy Long Legs as the group that bears the super-tall, long-legged frontman’s (assumed) name came onstage for its hard-rocking, honky-tonkin’ opening set.

Unfortunately, Daddy Long Legs’ esteemed record label, Norton — which released the band’s recent debut, Evil Eye on You — didn’t make it out of the storm unscathed. The Brooklyn warehouse of the long-running, vinyl-centric garage rock label was inundated with water, ruining much of its stock. (Vinyl rescue efforts continue this week at Norton; learn how to help here.)

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion donated 25 percent of its ticket and merch sales to the Red Cross and hurricane relief, and frontman Jon Spencer added some hurricane-related spiel to his trademark sung-spoken vocal riffs. “Fuck it, I’m a hurricane victim. I had no power, no heat,” unleashed Spencer at the start of the band’s explosive, especially loud and cathartic-seeming set.

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Five Firsts: Dave Wilson of Chatham County Line

August 15th, 2012, 10:00 am by Greg
Chatham County Line

Chatham County Line

NAME: Dave Wilson
BAND AFFILIATION: Chatham County Line
INSTRUMENT: Guitar, Harmonica, Voice

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … I did the six-records-for-a-penny offer when I got a CD player years ago. If I remember, I got the Who’s “Greatest Hits,” “George Thorogood Live,” and I seriously cannot remember any of the others. They kept sending me CDs though when I lost track of the warning slips they would send.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … R.E.M., Green Tour, Charlotte Colosseum

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … In fifth grade I started the saxophone when everyone got instruments for band. When I got in too much trouble in band come seventh grade, I talked my parents into getting me my first guitar. It was a Fender Stratocaster knock-off that I still have a few pieces of somewhere.

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Festival Fever: Hudson Valley Songfest7 @ Club Helsinki, 5/12/12

May 8th, 2012, 1:00 pm by Greg

Andy Pratt, Donna Lewis and Marc Black

Andy Pratt, Donna Lewis and Marc Black

Club Helsinki in Hudson is the home once again for the Hudson Valley Songfest7, an annual music conference and showcase produced by Columbia Arts Team. The all-day event will take place on Saturday (May 12), featuring of panels and seminars with music industry pros discussing the nature of the business, as well as creative issues of the day. Also featured are showcase performances by new and up-and-coming songwriters and performers, as well as a lunchtime performance by established hit songwriters. The fest will run from 9am-5pm on Saturday.

Subjects covered by the panelists include the basics of publishing and copyrights, music licensing, lyric writing, live performance skills, recording options and strategies, and many other topics. There will also be song critiques, where attendees can get feedback on their songs from the pros. In addition, music lawyers, publishers, producers and other pros active in the business offer their insights and expertise.

Among the professional musicians participating in the fest are Robbie Dupree (“Steal Away,” “Hot Rod Hearts”), Donna Lewis (#1 hit “I Love You Always Forever”), Tim Moore (“Second Avenue,” “Rock n Roll Love Letter”), Andy Pratt (“Avenging Annie”) and Marc Black (“Ooh I Love My Coffee,” “No Fracking Way”).

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