Since his last appearance on the hallowed stage of Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs back in November of 2012, Geoff Muldaur has been busy with the 50th anniversary reunion tour of Jim Kweskin & the Jug Band. Once again teaming up with old bandmates Kweskin, banjoman Bill Keith and ex-wife Maria Muldaur, the tour made a stop at The Egg in Albany last August, where they were aided and abetted by members of the BBQ Orchestra and fanboy John Sebastian, which made for a mighty crowded stage at the Swyer Theatre.
“Gee, I don’t know. I’m sorry. It could have been some old ten-inch, but I think that the first things that I bought were 45s. But actually, I’m not even sure about that. My brother had this great record collection, but I was also into Fats Domino and things like that. That could have been my first album. But it’s just as likely that my first LPs were jazz things that I bought down at Sam Goody’s annex.
It’s a blur. There was just so much music. I do remember having those little books with 45s in them, and I’m not so sure that I didn’t buy ‘At My Front Door’ by the El Dorados on 78. How’s that? Now that’s old, isn’t it?”
An alum of both Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band and Paul Butterfield’s Better Days, the marvelous blues singer-guitarist Geoff Muldaur lands at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs for a solo performance. Lauren Sheehan opens the show. Tix are $20 in advance; $22 at the door.
First-time director Todd Kwait’s feature-length documentary, “Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost,” traces the history of jug band music from such 1920s pioneers as Gus Cannon and Cannon’s Jug Stompers to the ’60s revival spearheaded by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band to the contemporary Sankofa Strings (now known as the Carolina Chocolate Drops).
For the last several months, Caffe Lena has hosted a series of concerts in celebration of its 50 years of continuous operation in the second-floor converted loft on Phila Street in Saratoga Springs. The gala fundraiser on Friday, May 21 – a concert featuring Jim Kweskin and Geoff Muldaur – was the kick-off of the big anniversary weekend and yet another breakthrough for the Caffe in both a musical and, well, a fun, sense.
Being both an historic venue and a dry venue, the Caffe often has an earnest and respectful atmosphere: quiet conversation, coffee and tea, healthy snacks, maybe a “sinful” chocolate chip cookie.
In contrast, the Friday fundraiser was launched with an abundant reception in the adjacent theater. There was fine wine, boutique beer and plentiful finger food and designer pizza from local fine dining establishments. The tables in the Caffé were covered with crisp white linen tablecloths. Smartly dressed people were setting up and serving. About 45 minutes into it, the Caffe took on the mood and volume of a wedding reception – this was FUN! A local theater critic had red wine spilled on his white sport jacket – and he DIDN’T CARE! What’s going on here?
Photographer Joe Deuel hasn’t been documenting the performances at Caffe Lena for all of its 50 years, but he’s been there for a long, long time. And in honor of the Caffe’s 50th anniversary celebration this weekend, Nippertown.com is proud to be able to offer a photo a day this month from Deuel’s vast photographic archive.
Here’s one of Deuel’s photographs of Geoff Muldaur from 2005 – when an unannounced special guest John Sebastian dropped by to make some jug band magic on the stage:
Geoff Muldaur – a major folk-blues talent in his own right – reunites with jug band master Jim Kweskin, former leader of the seminal ’60s folk-revival band Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band, for a very special gala celebration at the Caffe at 7pm on Friday. Tix for the gala are $75, which includes hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine and dessert. We’ll be there. Please join us.
Usually music instruction videos are a little dry for anyone without an instrument in their hands and ambition to spare. Even if the film features a favorite performer, patience can be taxed as they break down not only a song, but also the bits of a song – sometimes going over a passage, a phrase or a lick half a dozen times to parse its construction and intent.
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