Maria Muldaur with The Campbell Brothers Band (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Stanley Johnson and Richard Brody
Rain, and the threat of additional rain, may have diminished the turnout, but nothing could dampen the joyful sounds of Maria Muldaur together with the Campbell Brothers on a recent summer Sunday night in Schenectady’s Central Park.
Muldaur, whose career began at roughly the same time and place as Bob Dylan’s, has been prolific and eclectic. The Campbell Brothers, based in Rochester, have carried the sacred steel tradition into the 21st century, oddly to the dismay of some of their church brethren, with several fine recordings and tours with the Slide Brothers and Robert Randolph & the Family Band. Recently Muldaur and the Campbell Brothers joined forces for a collaboration they’re calling “Spirit & the Blues,” and their free concert at the Music Haven was their public performance debut, but one would never know that based on quality of the over dozen songs performed at the Music Haven stage.
“I’m just trying to hold the fort,” Bettye LaVette told us before she began a smoky take on Ray Charles’ “They Call it Love.” Hold the fort? LaVette commanded it all through her opening set of the Sisters in Soul show at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. The 63-year old soul singer doesn’t just sing songs – she inhabits them, with a towering vocal attack and an animated stage presence that makes Tina Turner seem introverted: LaVette wrung every last gram of passion out of Pete Townshend’s “Love, Reign O’er Me”, turned Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow”” into a deep dark blues, and she took the message in George Harrison’s “Isn’t It a Pity” far beyond where the ex-Beatle left it.
We here at Nippertown.com are very excited about this concert, and we’re giving away a pair of tix for the show. Just go here for details. We’ll be picking a winner later today, so enter now.
And we were going to write this big, long story about what an incredible soul singer Ms. LaVette is. We were going to rave about previous performances of her’s that we’ve seen at the Iron Horse Music Hall and the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival. But then we realized that we didn’t have to. All we really need to do is give you the opportunity to hear her sing. So here you go, Bettye LaVette singing the Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” at the Kennedy Center Honors:
We’ll see you at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Sunday!
Here’s a charming little vaudeville routine as performed by the Gallus Brothers (Devin Champlin and Lucas Hicks), who were half of Maria Muldaur’s Garden of Joy Jug Band when they rolled through town recently making stops at the Colony Cafe in Woodstock and the Van Dyck in Schenectady.
From the start, these guys blew the hat right off of my head. And I mean that in the very best way possible.
Opening with W.C. Handy’s nugget “Memphis Blues,” they were ragged, but oh-so-right. Kit Stovepipe on lead vocals and resonator guitar. Devin Champlin on tenor banjo. And the mighty mighty Lucas Hicks on all things percussive.
The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall has announced a dozen performances for its 2009-2010 concert season. It’s got everything from bluegrass (Rhonda Vincent & the Rage) to Celtic sounds (Altan) to swing (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s tribute to the great Cab Calloway).
Best of the batch? No question about it – knockout soul singer Bettye LaVette teams up with piano pounder Marcia Ball and Maria Muldaur for the “Sisters in Soul” concert on Sunday, March 14.
Here’s the line-up of shows:
Saturday, October 24: Robert Earl Keen, Bruce Robison and Todd Snider
Friday, October 30: Rhonda Vincent & the Rage
Sunday, November 1: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall
Friday, November 6: 1964 The Tribute
Friday, November 20: Frank Sinatra, Jr.: “Sinatra Sings Sinatra”
Friday, December 11: “Scrooge,” In Concert
Sunday, December 20: The Vienna Choir Boys
Friday, February 12: Jim Brickman
Saturday, February 20: Tommy Emmanuel
Friday, March 12: Altan
Sunday, March 14: “Sisters in Soul” featuring Marcia Ball, Bettye LaVette and Maria Muldaur
Friday, March 19: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: A Tribute to Cab Calloway
Tickets are available to Music Hall members now, and they’ll go on sale to the general public on Thursday, August 6.
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