Interview: Buffy Sainte-Marie Disobeys All the Rules…

January 4th, 2012, 1:00 pm by Greg

Interview and story by Don Wilcock

Smithsonian Magazine called “folksinger” Buffy Sainte-Marie a few years ago to apologize. Apologize for what, she couldn’t imagine. “They did a story about Vietnam servicemen who had peace slogans and comments carved onto their rifle butts and into their bunks, and one of them had carved a verse of ‘Universal Soldier’ that the Smithsonian Magazine did not recognize (as one of my songs), and they attributed it to this soldier writing this brilliant lyric.”

Buffy giggles.

“And they said, ‘Would you like me to send you the letters?’ And they sent me all these packages of wonderful letters of people who had written in, servicemen who were there clarifying the fact that I had written the song. They [Smithsonian Magazine] printed a retraction, and they told me they had more mail on that story than on any story they’d ever had before.”

“Universal Soldier,” written in the early ’60s, ran totally counter to the prevailing style of folk music of the time. First of all, it was a contemporary commentary on the importance of every man and every woman taking responsibility for society’s war-like nature.

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Five Firsts: Karen Savoca

April 7th, 2010, 4:21 pm by Greg

Karen Savoca

NAME: Karen Savoca
INSTRUMENT: Percussion, Piano, Guitar

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … “Life” by Sly & the Family Stone. I bought it because I was drawn to the cover, but it forever changed the way I hear music.

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LIVE: Richie Havens @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 3/6/10

March 8th, 2010, 11:45 am by Greg

More than 40 years after his career-making performance at Woodstock, Richie Havens still walks the walk and talks the talk. On Saturday night, his performance at the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady was peppered with plenty of ’60s lingo. “It’s so far out,” he said. “That’s how heavy it is.” And, “The vibe was on.”

Looking and sounding more like some spiritual guru than a pop star, Havens spoke in a hushed, intimate whisper that went way beyond “laid-back.” And he talked alot, opening the show with a ten-minute reminiscence about his early days on the Greenwich Village folk scene.

But on Saturday night, it also seemed as though perhaps Havens was lulled by his own voice. He seemed unfocused, several times forgetting the lyrics in mid-song, even during Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm,” a song that I’m sure Havens has sung hundreds – if not thousands – of times.

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AutoBio Openers: Richie Havens

March 5th, 2010, 12:35 pm by Greg

The opening of Richie Havens’ autobiography, “They Can’t Hide Us Anymore” (Avon Books, 1999):

“August 15, 1969.

I was in New York City and I could feel the swell of energy 100 miles away. Nobody seemed to care that the Woodstock Festival was no longer going to take place anywhere near Woodstock. The only thing that mattered was that it was going to happen. Today.

I left the city at five-thirty in the morning on the day I supposed to play – the first day – and drove straight to the Howard Johnson Hotel in White Lake, New York, without a hitch. We were only a few miles away from the farm and all the bands had been told to come there first.

I was lucky to get up the road so smoothly. By seven-thirty in the morning, I was sitting in the lobby with my band. I wasn’t worried. I was fifth in the order and wasn’t scheduled to go on for hours. But at two in the afternoon, I was half-asleep when news came that there was no music; still no way to get through.

From the edge of the hotel parking lot I could see traffic stopped cold on the approach road. I could tell right there that the crowd was much larger than anyone was saying…”

Richie Havens will perform at the Eighth Step @ Proctors in Schenectady at 7:30pm on Saturday. Mustard’s Retreat opens the show. Tix are $28, $35.

11/5: Today’s Tips: Thursday

November 5th, 2009, 8:01 am by Greg

VISUAL ART/LECTURE: G.C. Haymes talk and opening reception for “Collected Works” @ The Yates Gallery, Siena College, Loudonville: No, we’re not above a little shameless self-promotion. Nippertown writer showcases his visual art side with an exhibition curated by Sergio Sericolo. Artist talk/interview with arts critic Timothy Cahill at 4pm; opening reception 4:30-6pm. Free.

MUSIC: Terra Naomi with Jon Sandler @ Valentine’s Music Hall, Albany: Local girl makes good. Singer-songwriter wins the first-ever YouTube Award for Best Music Video. Signs major label deal with Island Records. Plays in front of like 80,000 people in London’s Wembley Stadium as part of worldwide Live Earth festival. Records album for Island – hates it. Leaves Island Records. October 20, 2009: New EP, “You For Me,” available on iTunes. Naomi lands at Valentine’s for a homecoming concert. Now yer up to date… 8pm. $10.

OPEN MIC: The Eighth Step Open Mic Night @ Proctors’ Robb Alley, Schenectady: Hosted by singer-songwriter Cathy Winter, the Eighth Step’s open mic night takes place on the first Thursday of each month at Proctors’ Robb Alley (across from the Muddy Cup). Come on down and strut your stuff, and sit back and listen to new emerging talent. 7pm. Free.

MUSIC: Maria Muldaur @ the Colony Cafe, Woodstock: Long before she was riding the hit parade with “Midnight at the Oasis,” the lovely Maria Muldaur was making funky acoustic music with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band and the Even Dozen Jug Band. On her new album, “Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy,” she revisits her roots with guest performances by her former bandmates John Sebastian, David Grisman and the late great jugmeister Fritz Richmond. (She’ll also be at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on Friday, November 6.) 8pm.

LIVE: Patty Larkin & Lucy Kaplansky @ the Eighth Step, 10/2/09

October 5th, 2009, 3:45 pm by Greg

Lucy Kaplansky and Patty Larkin

Lucy Kaplansky and Patty Larkin

It was quite the double-bill at the Eighth Step at Proctors’ GE Theatre on Friday night.

Certainly Patty Larkin and Lucy Kaplansky are both headliners in their own right. Put them together on the same show, and you’ve got your own little mini folk fest.

Both performers delivered fine solo sets in Schenectady on Friday evening. But you know what happens when you get two singer-songwriters together on stage, don’t you? That’s right – they head straight for the Rolling Stones songbook. In this case, a duet on “Ruby Tuesday.”

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Patty Larkin and Lucy Kaplansky

Patty Larkin and Lucy Kaplansky

LIVE: Dougie MacLean @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 9/18/09

September 22nd, 2009, 4:04 pm by Greg


Scotland’s most famous folk singing troubadour, Dougie MacLean started his North American tour with a stop at the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady, where a nearly sold-out crowd of fans in the G.E. Theatre greeted him with open arms on Friday night.

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The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCartoonist John CaldwellCaffe LenaHolly & EvanAdvertise on Nippertown!Mohawk Hudson Humane SocietyArtist Charles Haymes