Posts Tagged ‘Fred Rudofsky’

LIVE: Hamell On Trial @ the Low Beat, 9/6/14

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Review by Fred Rudofsky

Armed with a trove of songs, paintings for sale, and bawdy jokes (including a couple told by his son, Detroit) unlike those of anyone else on the planet, Hamell On Trial put on a dynamic Saturday night show at the Low Beat.

An extended break-neck rhythm pattern established the tension of a shaken universe in “A Little Concerned, That’s All,” a key song from Tough Love. Next, Hamell joked that he would be featuring a 45-minute interpretive dance number, but chose instead to sing off-microphone the bizarre yet true trio of drug-related tales of “When You Are Young,” set to an indelibly bouncy Yiddish folk melody. “Seven Seas,” a staple of his live show for many years, offered newcomers to Hamell On Trial a chance to hear the story of the vintage acoustic guitar he bought one day from Buzzy on Lark Street. Some of Hamell’s most beloved songs -”Blood of the Wolf,” “Hail,” “Inquiring Minds” and “Bill Hicks” (the latter by request, thank you) were written on it and featured in the set.

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LIVE: Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys @ the Music Haven, 8/3/14

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

Jeffery Broussard (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Rudy Lu and Stanley Johnson

A recent Sunday evening crowd with an affinity for roots music got a double-dose of the good stuff at the Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park.

Ramblin Jug Stompers, local heroes of traditional jug-band music, got the feet tapping and hands clapping with their fine opener, “Mountain Dew.” Mister Eck’s lively mandolin propelled “Jug Band Music,” coaxing percussionist Will Bill to sing (and even whisper) like a mercurial carnival barker. Bowtie and Mister Eck played five-string and four-string banjos (“a patented duel banjo attack,” mused the latter) for a spirited “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” which was followed by guitarist Cousin Clyde’s mournful “A Man of Constant Sorrow.”

A delicate, swinging instrumental, “Frypan Jack Enters into Heaven” (from Hobo Nickel) was a fine showcase for Bowtie’s banjo and Cousin Clyde’s synchrony. Will Bill put aside his various percussion instruments for some soulful country harmonica during “Blues in the Bottle,” a showcase as well for Mister Eck’s robust vocals and resonator ukelele playing. No doubt hearing the freight train to their next destination, RJS closed their set with tight harmonies on crowd-pleaser “Old Plank Road,” a touchstone of the band’s live performances since its formation in 2006.

Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys brought the exuberant sounds and rhythms of zydeco from Louisiana for over an hour and a half. With a toothpick lodged in the right corner of his mouth, Broussard sang with a hearty voice in English and French and played his blue, white and red accordion masterfully. The crowd’s lack of familiarity with many of the songs – very few titles were announced – did not matter given the energy levels on the faster ones and the glorious ache of romance on the slow waltzes and two-steps. People young and old began dancing; by the end of the show, the area in front of the stage was crowded with happy dancers. Good will and good times never sounded so natural.

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LIVE: The Split Squad @ River Street Pub, 8/3/14

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
The Split Squad

The Split Squad

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

Three men in horizontally striped shirts are referring to each other as “Jackson”; their instruments are buzzing with volumes atypical of a mellow mid-summer, mid-afternoon in the middle of Troy. It’s Sunday, it’s the Knyghts of Fuzz, and they are only just getting warmed up.

The River Street Pub has its AC set for polar, but the frenzied heat of the garage rock has been winning out since Ian Carlton (guitar), Frank Novko (bass) and Brian Goodman (drums) opened with the blues stomper “I’m Not Talking” and a full-tilt “Hide and Seek” that features all three on vocals. Goodman’s eyes bug out as he pounds the skins and sings his guts out during a cool cover of the Jefferson Airplane’s “3/5′s of a Mile in 10 Seconds” and the original composition “Genny.” Carlton’s a live wire on the Electric Prunes’ “Get Me to the World on Time,” singing and playing at a tempo that leaves him drenched in sweat and the growing crowd howling for more. Novko’s bass rumbles like a D & H freight train during his take on “Hey Sha Lo Ney”; Carlton breaks two strings in the process, “a first” he declares while retrieving his spare guitar.

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LIVE: Green River Festival @ Greenfield Community College, 7/12/14 (Day One)

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014
Trombone Shorty And New Orleans Avenue

Trombone Shorty And Orleans Avenue

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

This year marked the 28th anniversary of the Green River Festival. Held in mid-July at the picturesque grounds of the Greenfield Community College – a two-hour drive from Albany – it featured more than 30 bands drawn from an array of genres worldwide.

Whereas other outdoor music events generate false hype, book predictable bands and/or cater to the lowest common denominator – the semi-coherent twentysomething who views the world through a selfie lens – the Green River Festival remains an eclectic, cordial, downright fun and affordable two-day gathering ($70 for the weekend!) that you could take your kids or grandparents to without hesitation. It is also a place of progressive ideas – throughout the site there are vendors promoting the arts, education, grass-roots causes concerning the environment (easy to use recycling bins did abound), etc. Add an eclectic choice of foods, hot air balloon rides, rock climbing walls, second-line parades, and new this year a fine selection of craft beers, and it is obvious why the festival sold out quickly.

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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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