Posts Tagged ‘Fred Rudofsky’

LIVE: Kim Lenz & the Jaguars @ the Ale House, 5/19/14

Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Kim Lenz

Kim Lenz

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Ed Conway

It may have been a Monday night in Troy, but it sure sounded like a Saturday night was brewing when Kim Lenz & the Jaguars played a raucously fun 80-minute set of rockabilly tunes at the Ale House.

Backed by four exceptional musicians, Lenz made quite an impression in her Nippertown debut. If Poison Ivy and Lux Interior of the Cramps had had a daughter, and raised her on Sun Records platters and bordertown honky tonk 45s, and perhaps named Janis Martin the girl’s godmother, she would have grown up to be Lenz. With her fiery red hair and vintage dress and high heels, the LA-based singer had everybody’s attention as she strolled out into the audience to say hello.

With a road-tested acoustic guitar in hand, Lenz opened with a “Saturday Jump” that featured guitarists Ramon Espinoza and Joel Morin trading some scorching solos over a swinging rhythm by Santos de Leon on drums and Shorty Poole on upright bass. Her vocal prowess was undeniable, as was her sense of humor. “Thanks for being part of that sound check!” cracked Lenz after taking a sip of red wine.

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LIVE: Willie Nile @ The Linda, 5/17/14

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Willie Nile

Willie Nile

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Willie Nile loves Albany, and Albany loves Willie Nile. When you hear the radio broadcast that was taped at The Linda recently on a Saturday night, it will be obvious that there is a growing mutual admiration society here in Nippertown.

In previous visits to the WAMC-FM performing arts studio, Nile had played with one or two other musicians, but as he pointed out after an evocative solo piano opener (“Streets of New York”), “This is the first time I’ve had my full band here!” In walked Johnny Pisano (bass), Alex Alexander (drums) and Matt Hogan (lead guitar). Nile grabbed his weathered Strat, stomped his boots and the band played a rollicking “This Is Our Time” from American Ride, one of the best albums of 2013 according to music critics, including yours truly. Another recent song, “Life on Bleecker Street,” featured a killer opening bass riff by Pisano and an abundance of images of a day in the famed New York neighborhood.

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LIVE: Neko Case @ The Egg, 5/7/14 (Take Two)

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Neko Case

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Had it really been six years?

Discounting an April 2010 show in which she and her band had backed Jakob Dylan, Anti- recording artist Neko Case marked her return as a headliner to The Egg for the first time since 2008. Nothing could faze Case, not even occasional tuning issues with various guitars that she, Jon Rauhouse and Eric Bachmann had to sort out prior to a few songs, nor the absence of long-time bassist Tom V. Ray, who was ill (two members of the Dodos, the opening band, deputized for him on a few songs). Exuding confidence, playful charm and self-deprecating wit, Case had the nearly full house audience in a seductive reverie with her spectacular voice and a trove of remarkable songs that explored memory, identity, loss and the natural world.

The iconic moray-eeled album cover to 2013′s Grammy-nominated The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You provided the backdrop to the stage, and a ping of sonar samples foreshadowed the night’s plunge into the subconsciousness as the band took the stage. With Kelly Hogan to her left supplying the best harmonies this side of Emmylou Harris (be sure to check out Hogan’s 2012 solo album I Like to Keep Myself in Pain), Case opened with “Where Did I Leave That Fire,” a deeply introspective track from the recent album, marked by a candid refrain of “I wanted so badly not to be me” that made one lean in a little closer to the stage.

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LIVE: Experience Hendrix @ the Palace Theatre, 3/28/14

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Review by Fred Rudofsky

It was the best of concerts and the worst of concerts. Yes, I’m celebrating and exploiting the genius of Charles Dickens in my lead, but that is far less egregious than what too often took place during a sold-out Friday night concert at Albany’s Palace Theatre that paid tribute to the genius of Jimi Hendrix. Call it a paradoxical experience.

NOTE: I make these observations as a fervent admirer of Hendrix’s music and the inspiration he derived from a variety sources such as the blues, soul, folk and Native American culture. I have always viewed him as complete musician, not a wild, hedonistic guitarist like so many still do.

The Experience Hendrix show was the best concert in the sense that it was uplifting to see local support for the music and memory of one of the greatest musicians the world has known – and the song selections were also far more eclectic than what had been the case six years before when the tour touched down in Albany. Yet it was also felt like the worst given that the celebratory nature of the night felt contrived, even exploitative. I even found myself drawing up a wish list of musicians, not just guitarists, that I thought should have been included on the bill (Joanne Shaw Taylor, Cassandra Wilson, Buddy Miller, Trombone Shorty, Michael Hill, Cindy Blackman Santana, Gary Clark, Jr., Steve Winwood, Hamell on Trial – who saw Hendrix play Syracuse in 1968 – to name a few). At times throughout the nearly 3 1/2 hour event, I thought of one of Hendrix’s most prophetic lyrics: “But as far as I know, they may even try to wrap me up in cellophane and try and sell me…” How can anybody celebrate properly a musician, who casts such a long shadow?

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LIVE: Rocky Velvet @ the Ale House, 1/18/14

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

RockyVelvet2

Review and photographs by Fred Rudofsky

Allegedly, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in his career; compellingly, Rocky Velvet performed 37 songs in a night with – by their own admission – largely beer-induced rehearsals. The Bard remains a man of mystery; in contrast, the reunited quartet was as open as a slide guitar tuning, sharing jokes, exercising a hilarious feng shui moment and thanking their friends, literally, by name at a packed Ale House in Troy on a recent Saturday night.

Rockabilly, early blues and garage-rock informed two sets that left a throng of Ale House dancers sweating and thirsty and the local live music scene’s ultimate fan, Dick Quinn (name-checked by singer Ian Carlton to great applause) smiling and ecstatic. Ike Turner’s “You’ve Got to Lose” (performed as “You’ve Got to Move”), the Elvis Presley hit “Wear My Ring around Your Neck,” and “King Kong”, a primo cut from the band’s classic album It Came from Cropseyville, established that this was not going to be a sit-and-drink-a-beer kind of night. It made sense that the band dipped heavily into the Presley cannon – after all, his visage overlooks the small stage. “Just Because” got a light polka treatment, but it soon took off with two scorching solos from Graham Tichy, who was sporting a pink Fender Jazz Master. “Trouble,” full of Memphis swagger, got the crowd hooting and hollering. Todd Bradley, guest bassist on loan from the Hi-Risers, stepped to the microphone for an angsty “It’s Now or Never”; in the second set, he put a serious Fender bass groove to “One Night with You” and “King Creole.”

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BEST OF 2013: Fred Rudofsky’s Best Albums of 2013

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Reviews by Fred Rudofsky

In 2013, I saw a lot of music and I bought a lot of music – yes, I’m that 21st century Luddite who still believes in owning a physical copy of an album, on CD or LP. There are a few albums that I’m sure would have made my list that I just haven’t picked up yet, but here’s a baker’s dozen of where it stands as of today… and a list of other noteworthy titles to consider as well. (Note: archival, box set and/ or reissue albums will appear on another list):

The Holmes Brothers: Brotherhood1.) THE HOLMES BROTHERS: Brotherhood (Alligator Records)
Available in Europe, but oddly not in the USA til April 2014, this album is tremendous from start to finish, as all the albums in the Holmes Brothers’ catalog have been since 1989. Blues (“My Word is My Bond,” “Passing Through”), soul (“Soldier of Love,” “My Kind of Girl”), folk (a superb cover of Ted Hawkins’ “I Gave Up All I Had”) and gospel (“Amazing Grace”) – they can do it all, and their three-part harmonies have no rival. Wendell Holmes sings and plays guitar with swagger; Sherman Holmes sings with warmth and plays some of the coolest bass lines around; and Popsy Dixon hits falsetto notes as deftly as he plays the drums. Do what I did: buy the album online, and be sure to order a few copies for friends and family.

Candye Kane: Coming Out Swingin'2.) CANDYE KANE (FEATURING LAURA CHAVEZ): Coming Out Swingin’ (Vizztone)
The self-proclaimed “Toughest Girl Alive” (her five-year battle against pancreatic cancer is a profile in courage and an endorsement for the healing power of music) cuts a jubilant blues album live and direct to analog, with a fine group of musicians, most notably, Laura Chavez, a guitarist who deserves the press coverage that has been given lately to Gary Clark, Jr. and Joe Bonamassa. Kane’s vivacious and sanguine, delivering several originals (check out the title cut, “Rise Up!” and “Barbed Wire Mouth”) alongside choice covers of Benny Carter, Rick Estrin and Lala Guerrero. It’s a life-affirming album for any occasion.

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LIVE: Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express @ Club Helsinki, 8/10/13

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

Review by Fred Rudofsky

“It’s not like opening a can of Pringles,” quipped Chuck Prophet, toward the end of a high-octane, two-hour rock and roll set in Hudson on a recent Saturday night. “You never know what you’re going to get!” Indeed, it was a night of welcome surprises for the sell-out crowd, which got to see an inspired double-bill at Club Helsinki.

Sarah Borges, a Club Helsinki favorite dating back to the club’s original site in Great Barrington, opened with a well-received solo acoustic set. Decked out in a fetching red floral dress and her trademark cowboy boots, Borges dipped into several songs from her days fronting the Broken Singles, one of the best roots-rocking bands from Boston. She introduced “I’m Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song” as “an honest look at the hangover blues.” Featured on Borges’s 2005 Silver City album, this classic gospel blues by Thomas Dorsey offered a candid rumination on sin and salvation. “The Day We Met” from 2007′s Diamonds in the Dark brimmed with images of love and lust, and ended with a curtsey by Borges. Placing the capo a third of the way up the fretboard, Borges put a distinct Latin beat into “Me and Your Ghost,” and sang the highest notes with ease.

“I expect your rapt attention,” Borges told the audience, who needed no instruction, given the smoldering, insistent “Symphony” (from 2009′s The Stars Are Out) that followed. Played at a slower tempo than usual, “Daniel Lee” sounded like a John Prine song, full of longing and images of driving at night. “Travelin’ Man” may have seemed like an out of left field choice, but Borges owned Ricky Nelson’s tender ode to wanderlust with her compelling soprano. “Here’s a song about a bunch of hookers,” announced Borges, who played an uptempo “On the Corner.” A sustained, heartbreaking “Oh!” for a half minute by Borges acted as its own chorus in the middle of the song, and earned her major applause.

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LIVE: J.D. McPherson @ the Ale House, 7/24/13

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013
J.D. McPherson and his band

J.D. McPherson and his band

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Richard Brody

On a mid-July Wednesday night in Troy, the music was as hot as the wings and as cool as the over dozen beers offered on the menu. J.D. McPherson – only a few days after playing a memorable set at Green River Festival – brought his band of roots-rocking brothers to the Ale House to entertain a sell-out crowd for over two hours.

Those who could not manage to procure a ticket had to content themselves with listening from the sidewalk on River Street. Inside, the cramped conditions made getting a cold beverage a bit difficult, but that was no matter. McPherson, a native of southeastern Oklahoma, was greeted like a hometown hero by fans who may have caught his appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” heard him on WEXT-FM or picked up a copy of his 2012 debut album Signs & Signifiers on Rounder Records.

The word of mouth on McPherson has been growing exponentially. Before the show began at 8:30pm, several at the bar could be overheard exclaiming that they had come to the show because of recommendations by friends who had attended Bonnaroo in April.

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