Posts Tagged ‘Kirsten Ferguson’

LIVE: Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, 6/26/15 (Day One)

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
Wilco

Wilco

Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

“I think this is about as perfect as it gets. This night and you guys,” said frontman Jeff Tweedy during Wilco’s headlining set on the opening night of Solid Sound, the three-day festival that he and his band curate every other summer at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams.

It was a perfect night. The Berkshire Mountains surrounding Joe’s Field, where the headlining acts played, looked lush and green. The reflective water tower on the field’s northern edge – now a familiar landmark for repeat Solid Sound attendees – shone like a beacon. And young kids were everywhere – making it seem like a place where the future of rock and roll could possibly be bright as well.

There was also a historical significance to the night. Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court issued their long-awaited ruling on marriage equality, making same-sex marriage legal across all 50 states.

“I was thinking, it’s so much nicer singing this song now that everyone can get married,” Tweedy said to great cheers midway through “Hesitating Beauty,” an old-fashioned ode to love and marriage from Wilco’s “Mermaid Avenue” collaboration with Billy Bragg set to words by Woody Guthrie.

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LIVE: Alan Cumming @ Universal Preservation Hall, 6/18/15

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

cumming2

Story by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Richard Lovrich

“My name is Alan Cumming, and I’m here to sing you some sappy songs,” said the Scottish-American actor at the start of his cabaret performance at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.

Cumming had just ripped off his grey suit coat, revealing that his black button-down underneath was really a muscle shirt missing sleeves, making some in the audience laugh.

You didn’t quite know what you would get from the raffish performer – known mostly for his Tony Award-winning role as the pan-sexual emcee on Broadway in “Cabaret” and his role as Eli Gold on CBS-TV’s award-winning dramatic series “The Good Wife.” During the course of his 80-minute Saratoga performance – a deft mix of song and storytelling – that unpredictability and range was part of his charm.

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LIVE: The Feelies @ BSP Lounge, 4/24/15

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015
Glenn Mercer and Stan Demeski

Glenn Mercer and Stan Demeski

Review by Ross Marvin
Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

There’s this stereotype of music nerds that we horde away our favorite music, arrogantly holding the knowledge of secret unknown bands over the unenlightened, the ignorant, the square. I’ll confess to the fact that I probably am a rock snob, but I’m not a selfish snob. One of my great joys is sharing the music I love with as many people as possible. And while the art of the mix tape may be beyond its half-life here in 2015, introducing my friends to a fantastic live band like the Feelies is always an exercise in altruistic pleasure.

This time, my old college roommates met me at the BSP Lounge in Kingston, driving up from Brooklyn for the sold-out show. Neither of them had heard of the Feelies, and when they asked me what to expect, I simply told them to trust me — it would be the best $20 show they would see all year.

They looked at me cross-eyed when the band took the stage. There was lead guitarist Glenn Mercer with his long skinny face and Dylan shades; rhythm guitarist Bill Million in his pleated khakis; bassist Brenda Sauter with her muted “thank you” at the microphone; and percussionists Stanley Demeski and Dave Weckerman, looking more like they were heading to the university chemistry lab than the stage. It was hard for my buddies to figure out what they were in for. They started downing the $3 PBR cans at an alarming rate. I’d dragged these guys to some pretty strange scenes before, nights where I take in strange avant-garde sounds while they awkwardly count minutes until the after-party and self-medicate until they get there.

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LIVE: Winterpills / the Suitcase Junket @ Caffe Lena, 2/20/15

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
Winterpills with Matthew Loiacono

Winterpills with Matthew Loiacono

Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

For one of the best albums of 2014, Winterpills paired down to the acoustic duo of Flora Reed and Philip Price on Echolalia, a sparkling collection of cover tunes originally by the likes of everyone from Buddy Holly to Nick Drake to Sharon Van Etten.

Last month at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, the twosome proved to be just as captivating as they are in full-band mode, whether showcasing material from the new album (Lisa Germano’s “From a Shell” was particularly impressive) or dipping into their back catalog for gems like their show-closing “Feather Blue.”

They also got a bit of vocal help from Saratoga’s own Matthew Loiacano (of Rosary Beard) on one selection.

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BEST OF 2014: Kirsten Ferguson’s Top 15 Concerts

Monday, January 12th, 2015
Paul McCartney @ The Times Union Center

Paul McCartney

Story and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson

1.) Paul McCartney @ the Times Union Center, Albany (July 5)
Best concert of the decade, maybe longer. I watched the entire concert again on YouTube several days later and cried when Paul sang “The Long and Winding Road” – and I don’t even like that song!

Wussy

Wussy

2.) Wussy with Bloodshot Bill @ the Low Beat, Albany (July 24)
The “best band in America” tag had started to stick by the time Wussy pulled into town from Cincinnati, hours late because a cop pulled them over along the way and confiscated their stash. Despite it all, they fired it up and even though I knew only a few of their songs, I loved every one, and I can’t disagree with the “best band” award at all.

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Home Bass 2: Tommy Stinson Headlines Habitat for Humanity Benefit Concert

Monday, December 15th, 2014
Tommy Stinson

Tommy Stinson @ Club Helsinki, 4/10/12

Photograph by Kirsten Ferguson

Tommy Stinson – founding member of legendary rock band the Replacements and a touring member of stadium-rockers Guns n’ Roses – will headline Home Bass 2: A Little Help for Our Friends, a benefit concert for Columbia County Habitat for Humanity at Club Helsinki in Hudson at 8pm on Saturday, January 3.

Stinson has tapped Happiness (featuring three of the five members of indie-rock group Deer Tick) to back him up for a set that will draw from his solo work, as well the repertoire of his former bands Bash & Pop and Perfect, and other projects.

Stinson is also curating the evening’s entertainment, which will feature performances by Rhett Miller, Elvis Perkins, Jesse Malin, Dust Bowl Faeries, Ruby Stinson and other surprise guests.

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LIVE: FreshGrass @ MASS MoCA, 9/19-21/14

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Emmylou Harris (photo by Kirsten Ferguson)

Emmylou Harris (photo by Kirsten Ferguson)

Photographs by Kirsten Ferguson, Bender Mellon

The fourth annual FreshGrass festival was a rousing success at MASS MoCA in North Adams last month. It’s truly amazing how quickly the festival has grown since its debut in 2011 when only a few hundred fans were in attendance.

Of course, much of its success has to do with the stellar line-up that graced the three main stages of the museum’s grounds. This year the three-day bluegrass and roots music festival featured a mind-bending amount of music, with more than 40 bands throughout the weekend, including Emmylou Harris, Railroad Earth, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Sam Bush, Hurray for the Riff Raff, the Infamous Stringdusters, Valerie June, the Duhks, Alison Brown, the David Grisman Sextet, Sam Amidon, Cricket Tell the Weather, the Novel Ideas, the Flying Garbanzos and many, many more.

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LIVE: Steely Dan @ SPAC, 8/31/14

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

SteelyDan2

Review by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Steely Dan dubbed their latest tour – which came to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on August 31 after travelling across North America for much of the summer – the “Jamalot Ever After Tour.” No real subtlety there – assuming that by “Jamalot” they meant their big band of wizard-proficient musicians and vocalists would stretch way out on jazzified, solo-filled versions of their songs, which were culled primarily from the group’s ‘70s studio recording heyday.

But “jam” also implies an element of spontaneity and, no, this was a carefully scripted affair, based on a fairly predictable formula and set list honed over the group’s last several tours – heavy on the (admittedly brilliant) tunes from the multi-platinum Aja (“Black Cow,” “Aja,” “Josie,” “Peg”) and FM staples like “Hey Nineteen,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” “My Old School” and “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number.”

Steely Dan masterminds Donald Fagen (keyboards and vocals) and Walter Becker (guitar) now embrace touring in a way they never did in their more studio-focused early days, but given their reputation as control freaks in love with extreme precision and technical proficiency, it’s no real surprise that they would approach their live show the way they do now – with a highly polished band of pros who showcase their jazz-pop prowess by taking solos throughout the night, lit under a rotating spotlight.

Concert-goers were still making their way to their seats as the 11-piece backing band – minus Fagen and Becker – opened with the Latin-flavored instrumental cover of Ray Bryant’s “Cubano Chant.” Then the two somewhat curmudgeonly looking lead guys arrived – Fagen taking his hunched seat behind the keyboard for “Black Cow” and “Aja,” the latter song featuring a Fagen keytar solo, a sax solo by Walt Weiskopf and a drum solo by Keith Carlock.

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