Posts Tagged ‘Fred Rudofsky’

Music in the Present Tense

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Booker T. Jones

Booker T. Jones

By Fred Rudofsky

He pauses, sets aside the marker that he’s been using to sign autographs for a small group of fans, some new and some old. His wife of 30 years is by his side, smiling with love and pride and displaying a variety of CDs and prized 180 gram vinyl reissues. His son, a terrific guitarist, is loading up gear 30 feet away. A cool rain pours steadily, while a round of pre-scheduled fireworks bursts in various shades down the river at an empty Jennings Landing. One cannot be thankful enough for the aegis of the I-787 overpass on this evening. Summer’s almost gone.

I mention recently watching a vintage concert clip of the Genius of Soul c. 1961.

Ray Charles! That man is the reason I got into music!” he exclaims with immediate reverence. He pauses again. He’s a Hammond B-3 master of several decades. He is a fan forever.

Booker T. Jones, who had just headlined the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival and paid tribute to the “beautiful spirits” of Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and the Beatles throughout an electrifying 90-minute set, scans his memory.

I imagine Jones is hearing echoes of his idol’s glorious string of 45s on Atlantic Records, the summit collaborations with Quincy Jones, the bold albums that took a 90-degree turn to embrace and innovate sounds in country and western. Imagine hearing “Georgia On My Mind” the day it came out. How great to be young at that time.

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LIVE: J.D. McPherson @ The Hangar, 8/31/15

Monday, September 28th, 2015
J.D. McPherson

J.D. McPherson

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Ed Conway

The city of Troy has witnessed some memorable rock and roll shows in the past three years – the Fleshtones, Los Straitjackets, the Lawn Sausages, the Catbirds and the Split Squad certainly come to mind. J.D. McPherson, however, may have raised the bar for indelible rockin’ to one-for-the-ages.

The last time he played Troy, McPherson and his remarkable band packed the Ale House. It was a sure sign that a bigger venue had to be in order.

On a steamy Monday night, a long of ticket-holders made their way into The Hangar – for the uninitiated, it’s a slice of roadhouse heaven just across the street from The Ale House with superb sound no matter where you sit or stand. Rising above a patch of desiccated sunflowers, a giant sign outside proclaimed the show was sold out.

I barely had enough room to clutch a cold beverage, take notes and forget that the beautiful blonde I’d asked out to the show said she couldn’t make it – whatever. (Somehow, mid-show, I would make it up to the stage front; within minutes, a beautiful brunette squirmed through the crowd, danced with me for several songs, and then was gone. Who was she?). It was that kind of night.

The Mickey James Trio opened the show and had the crowd howling approval immediately. Mickey James, the teenage son of McPherson’s powerhouse drummer, Jason Smay, sported a black T.K. Smith t-shirt, confident vocals and astounding chops on guitar. Seriously, this kid’s rhythm and lead style brought to mind such greats as Dave Gonzalez and Eddie Angel. With his dad smiling behind the kit and Graham Tichy playing some mighty fine Danelectro bass, James covered a lot of ground in his 45-minute set: Chan Romero, Howlin’ Wolf, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Link Wray and Freddie King to name a few). Singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, who had emailed me a few days before, was right: don’t miss this kid.

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LIVE: Willie Nile @ The Linda, 5/16/15

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Review by Fred Rudofsky

His songs have a deep sense of history and fervent hope for the future, but something else also is for certain: Willie Nile inhabits the world of live performance like no other. He’s dialed into the now, as his welcome return to The Linda showed on a recent Saturday night.

Old fans, some from as far away as Toronto, and the newly converted got the full depth of Nile’s canon of work, which dates back some 30-plus years. Joined his talented band of brothers – bassist Johnny Pisano, drummer Alex Alexander and guitarist Matt Hogan – Nile brought energy and passion, as well as candid stories and about many of the songs, throughout a two-hour set.

“Hear You Breathe,” from his 2010 masterwork The Innocent Ones, blended romance and a propulsive rhythm, a fine showcase for Nile and Pisano’s harmonies. The Penny Lane-like images of “Live on Bleecker Street,” punctuated by Nile’s left leg kicks, kept the mood uptempo. “You make me feel like I’m at home!” shouted Nile to the appreciative audience before dedicating an anthemic “Innocent Ones” to the people of earthquake-stricken Nepal. “Heaven Help the Lonely” from 1991’s Places I’ve Never Been got a good number in the crowd up and dancing, with Hogan channeling a blend of Richard Lloyd and The Edge in a series of chiming, melodic solos on his black Telecaster. Setting aside his Stratocaster for a weathered acoustic, Nile sent out his delicate ode to love, “She’s Got My Heart,” to his three granddaughters.

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LIVE: Hamell On Trial @ the Low Beat, 4/9/15

Monday, April 27th, 2015
Hamell On Trial

Hamell On Trial

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Ed Conway

Hamell on Trial, the one-man dynamo, brought his arsenal of brilliant songs, disarmingly funny jokes and stream of consciousness asides, to the Low Beat for a memorable set opening for Bloodshot Bill. It was a peaceful Thursday night riot few will ever forget.

Plugging his ’37 acoustic into an amplifier stack taller than he was, Hamell introduced himself by applying a one-two squeegee wipe to the audience’s occluded third eye with “A Little Concerned, That’s All” (a wild metaphysical ride, for certain) and the grotesque but all-too-true drug stories of “When You are Young,” set to an indelible Yiddish melody and sung off the microphone to draw the audience in. “I’m velcro for some weird really shit,” quipped Hamell, before he offered up, “Seven Seas,” a vivid ode to how he found his beloved guitar in a pawn shop.

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LIVE: Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds @ Club Helsinki, 1/16/15

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

Review and photographs by Fred Rudofsky
Additional photographs by Timothy Reidy

A chilly mid-January night in Hudson did not have a ghost of a chance of preventing a full house from throwing it down with Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds at Club Helsinki.

It was a Friday night of perpetual wow moments – grooves and solos so sneaky they could untie your shoe laces; and vocals so sultry that heatstroke was imminent. As for the songs, they ranged from deep soul and funk to holla-to-your-mama blues and hip-hop with a dash of reggae and New Orleans second line strut thrown in for good measure.

Based out of Brooklyn, the seven-piece band led by singer extraordinaire Arleigh “Sister Sparrow” Kincheloe hit it and didn’t quit for over two hours. Opening with “Crawdaddies” was a masterstroke, setting a tone that the party would not wait. Phil Rodriguez (trumpet) and Brian Graham (baritone sax) opened the tune, Jackson Kincheloe cranked up the blues harp, and Sister Sparrow was in full got-ya mode, dancing and singing with gusto. The place went nuts. Shifting gears to a slow, bluesy cadence, the band dug into “Don’t Be Jealous (Just Me and the Fellas)”, and the soul testifying had the crowd singing along. Three new songs from the forthcoming album – “Sugar,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “We Need a Love” – brought a dash of disco, some slide guitar-meets-harmonica blues, and Ann Peebles-styled soul testifying respectively.

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BEST OF 2014: Fred Rudofsky’s Top 21 Albums

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

happiest

By Fred Rudofsky

1.) Hamell on Trial: The Happiest Man in the World

2.) Ian McLagan & the Bump Band: United States

3.) Phil & Dave Alvin: Common Ground: Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy

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LIVE: Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue @ The Egg, 12/19/14

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets (photo by Ed Conway)

Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets (photo by Ed Conway)

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Ed Conway

Fittingly, the concert of 2014 – Nick Lowe’s Quality Holiday Revue – closed out a year filled with tremendous live music events in Nippertown. The sold-out night was tinged with a bittersweet vibe, though.

The gregarious spirit of Ian McLagan, who passed away on the eve of the tour earlier in the month, was present in conversations in The Egg’s lobby. (In October, McLagan told me after his remarkable set at The Linda about how much he was looking forward to a tour with his Yep Roc label mates: “Can you believe it? Nick Lowe! Los Straitjackets! Me! What a revue it’ll be! Albany’s in for a treat!”).

Minutes before the show, Eddie Angel lamented, “I never got a chance to meet Mac, but I loved his music and what he meant to so many bands.”

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LIVE: Peter Case @ the Low Beat, 9/12/14

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Peter Case

Peter Case

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Al Goldberg

Peter Case wowed a small but fervent crowd on a recent Friday night at the Low Beat in Albany, but you weren’t there. What gives?!

In a 100-minute performance, Case would have weened you from a pathetic addiction to an iPhone and/or reality television, cured your blues, and whet your thirst for the many robust beverages the intimate Low Beat offers that put your squeaky clean fridge-full of light beers to shame. You, however, chose a night in. (And it wasn’t even a school night, which is, by the way, the ultimate cliched cop-out for not going out to support live music). You should have sprinted over to this one, because, as Case put it so well in his opening song, “Who’s gonna walk your crooked mile?”

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