LIVE: The Duke Robillard Band @ the Van Dyck, 1/18/13 (Both Shows)

January 23rd, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Starving for a fine meal, craving a cold beverage, and yearning for music to soothe my Frankenstein-like monster soul, I sped down I-90 after a frantic work week to the Van Dyck in Schenectady.

“I’d like a ticket for each show, the 7 and the 9:30, please,” I asked the vendor.

“Just one? For both shows? You’re just by yourself?” she smiled awkwardly. I sensed her pity.

“Yes,” I replied. I had the loneliness-blues for sure, and my stomach was growling, too.

I’m glad I bought a ticket for both sets – the music was, as expected, first-rate, and seeing that the venerable club had sold out all its tables was gratifying. Grammy nominee Duke Robillard and his talented band (Bruce Bears on keyboards; Brad Hallen on acoustic and electric bass; and Mark Teixeira on drums) took the stage to strong applause and launched into an instrumental take of “High Heel Sneakers” that slinky and greasy at the same time, and followed that with a swinging shuffle, “Jump the Blues for You.”

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LIVE: The Duke Robillard Band @ the Van Dyck, 1/18/13 (Second Show)

January 22nd, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg

Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard

Review by J Hunter
Photograph by Rudy Lu

I’m with Duke Robillard: Putting blues in big halls is the wrong way to go. Sure, more people can check it out, but the over-all experience is diffused. To see this genre in its best light, you need a small club with a good sound system where the music (and the musicians) can get right in your face. The Van Dyck’s upstairs concert space fits that description like a glove. So when Robillard returned to the Electric City’s Stockade neighborhood, I had to be there.

And I wasn’t the only one: The 7 o’clock show was a total sell-out, and Van Dyck staff was packing General Admission customers into the bar at the back of the club when I took my seat for the late set. It was so busy, I didn’t even see the star of the show walk past me, smiling and exchanging words with well-wishers in the crowd. Robillard was all in black from his Homburg to his shoes as he stepped onstage without ceremony; Duke’s longtime backup band joined him one by one as he sat on a high bar stool and tuned one of his array of guitars, taking an occasional sip of red wine while the crowd continued its own conversations.

The scene probably sounds far too casual, given Robillard’s legendary status, but it actually speaks to how much of a fixture Duke has become at the Van Dyck. He’s a regular now, and we’re happy to have him. And when soundman/emcee Ace Parkhurst announced the band, rest assured that the crowd made a seriously appropriate noise. “The resident ghost is in the house,” Robillard told us, throwing a friendly grin at the SRO space up in the rafters. “So we’re gonna play something for her!” With that, Robillard counted his band into “Stoned” from his 2007 disc World Full of Blues.

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LIVE: Duke Robillard @ the Van Dyck, 4/15/11

April 20th, 2011, 3:30 pm by Greg
Duke Robillard and Mark Teixiera

Duke Robillard and Mark Teixiera

Whenever the deadline arrives for filing taxes, the blues often fill the air, but last Friday that was a welcome scenario given that Stony Plains Records artist Duke Robillard and his talented band had come back to Schenectady for two highly-anticipated shows at the venerable Van Dyck.

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LIVE: Duke Robillard @ the Van Dyck, 3/19/10

March 24th, 2010, 11:40 am by Greg

Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard

“Good evening,” Duke Robillard greeted the crowd at the Van Dyck Lounge last Friday night. Then he quickly added, “Or good afternoon, almost.”

Robillard wasn’t far wrong. Despite the 6:30pm start time and the tightly-closed curtains behind the stage, sunlight still streamed in from the windows high up in the loft area. Daylight Saving Time may make evening backyard cookouts fun, but it makes going to early club dates kind of weird. Nevertheless, the Van Dyck was nearly full when Robillard counted off “a tune I wrote for my dog,” the instrumental “Swingin’ with Lucy Mae.”

You always know what you’re going to get with Duke, because he’s been serving it up for over thirty years – blues with a feeling, hooked inexorably to a history decorated with names like T-Bone Walker and B.B. King. Robillard dedicated “I’m Gonna Get You Cold” to King because “I borrowed every lick from B.B. to make this song!” His confession only got laughs, because if there’s anyone who can bring that sweet, soulful noise the Mayor of Bluesville made famous, it’s Duke Robillard.

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Duke Robillard, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

June 1st, 2009, 3:21 pm by Greg

Photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk

“It was Duane Eddy’s ‘Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel.’ What a sound, that clean Gretsch tone. I still play licks that I stole from him off of that album.

“And I believe that the first single that I ever bought was ‘He’s a Rebel’ by the Crystals when I was about 14 years old.”
Duane Eddy: Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar-Will Travel

LIVE: Duke Robillard @ the Linda, 5/29

June 1st, 2009, 9:48 am by Greg

Duke Robillard and his five-piece band – including brilliant baritone/tenor saxman Doug James – bobbed and weaved Friday, May 29, in WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium knocking out one song after another from a broad stylistic range of the blues pantheon.

The show’s setlist was culled from recordings as diverse as Robillard’s jazz collaboration with Herb Ellis, the horn-driven Roomfull Of Blues and his many solo efforts (including his latest 2-CD set, “World Full Of Blues”).


From sustained notes to fluid runs, Robillard proved without a doubt to the adoring audience that he is one of the best – Ronnie Earl would be the other – blues-guitar practitioners who can traverse the subtleties of the blues canon from the finesse of John Hammond to the explosiveness of Buddy Guy.

(review and photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

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