LIVE: David Greenberger and A Strong Dog @ Caffe Lena, 5/31/13

June 6th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
David Greenberger and A Strong Dog

David Greenberger and A Strong Dog

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Michael Hochanadel

It’s damned difficult to describe the art of David Greenberger, but I’m reminded of something that I was told some 30 or so years ago: “I don’t know what it is that he does, but he’s very good at it.”

Greenberger is a monologuist (for lack of a better description) who draws his material from a vast archive of his conversations with the elderly at assisted living or nursing homes, meal sites and community centers. It all began in 1979 with his marvelous (in the true sense of the word) handcrafted zine, The Duplex Planet, which featured transcriptions of his interviews, but over the years he’s also branched out into readings and recordings, often accompanied by live music.

A Strong Dog, his latest combo of musical cohorts, is a band of exceedingly versatile Local 518 veterans – guitarist-lap steel player Kevin Maul, drummer-guitarist Mitch Throop and drummer-banjo player-keyboardist Matthew Loiacono – and together with Greenberger they celebrated the release of their new CD, So Tough, with packed-to-the-max show at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs last week.

“I remember seeing a steam-driven steam-roller when I was four years old. That’s all I remember. Another thing I remember, too, is I ate some plaster or some plaster flour or sizing compound, and it made me awful sick. That’s all I remember when I was four years old. I can tell you more of what happened when I was five years old. My father, Louis Turner, made me a toy wooden robot figurine. And I had a girlfriend, Joyce Viola, and a wooden playhouse in the back yard. That’s all. I can tell you more from other ages, but that’s all I wanna tell you right now.”
– from “A Robot, a Girlfriend, and a Playhouse”

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Road Trip: Four Days on NRBQ Standard Time

May 2nd, 2012, 4:00 pm by Greg
NRBQ  photo by Michael Hochanadel

The expanded Terry Plays Monk and... Band at soundcheck

Story and photographs by Michael Hochanadel

“Terry, let me pull your coat.” Terry Adams sat beside me in the only coffee shop open in Brattleboro on Easter Sunday. I’d used jazz jargon advisedly: I’d been touring with NRBQ since Thursday in Burlington where Adams led both a special combo and NRBQ through “Terry Plays Monk and…” – a tribute to Thelonious Monk. As we waited for Billy Shaw to open Soundesign Studios where Adams and crew would record the Monk tunes they’d played at FlynnSpace in Burlington, I told Adams about the guy who sat next to me there. A greybeard about my age, he’d never heard of NRBQ: He’d come to hear Monk music. He’d seen Miles and ‘Trane live but never saw Monk play. After the show, he said it was the best live music he’d seen in 20 years.

NRBQ  photo by Michael Hochanadel

Terry Adams' cross-handed piano technique

THURSDAY, 4/5/12

I didn’t know I’d be taking the ferry across Lake Champlain on Thursday until my bossy GPS said, “Get on the ferry,” a fitting start to witness a crossing Adams made from rock to jazz. He actually started this pilgrimage at 14 on falling in love with Monk’s music, and he’s played Monk tunes with NRBQ for decades. But he raised expectations and the pressure on himself by announcing a whole set of Monk songs, lamenting on taking this mission that he wouldn’t sleep for six weeks.

Driving through the Adironacks, I’d gotten more and more excited. The landscape gleamed: Snow lingered on peaks and ridges while gaps in the clouds let light fall onto lakes and ponds like bright coins onto a burnished table. The music plan promised big: Adams would lead a special jazz combo, including my brother Jim, through a set of Monk tunes, then tackle more Monk music with NRBQ, mixing in NRBQ songs.

Adams had to scramble to pull it all together. He finished mixing the new live NRBQ album “We Travel the Spaceways” just before rehearsing the Monk combo for three days in Northampton. That’s where I delivered a pedal steel guitar on Palm Sunday for my brother Jim Hoke to play, borrowing the steel and an amp from Kevin Maul in Cohoes. Still, the players were tense at FlynnSpace in Burlington (the black-box theatre under the Flynn Center) during sound check and a last rehearsal.

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Concert Scene (and Unseen) Update

April 5th, 2012, 2:00 pm by Greg
Alejandro Escovado

Alejandro Escovedo (photo by Michael Hochanadel)

Singer John McCrea and his alt-rock combo Cake will be kicking off the summer concert season at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown at 8pm on Friday, June 15. Priced at $42.50, general admission advance tix are slated to go on sale at 10am on Friday (April 6). Overnight camping is also available for an additional $15. Rare Vos and rockin’? You can’t beat that…

Pete Francis (of Dispatch) leads his psychedelic trio the iis into Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany at 8pm on Friday, April 27. Advance tix are $15.

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Media Watch: Best Bets on Nippertown’s Fall Pop-Rock Scene

September 7th, 2011, 3:30 pm by Greg

Our colleague Michael Hochanadel at The Daily Gazette weighed in with his Top 10 pop and rock picks for the upcoming fall season, and you might be surprised at some of his selections.

And you might be really surprised to find that Valentine’s Music Hall in Albany is tied with The Egg as the host venue with the most picks on his list – three each.

So in case you missed it in Sunday’s newspaper, here are Hochandel’s Top 10 best bets for the autumn, in chronological order:

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Media Watch: A Little or a Lot?

November 5th, 2010, 1:23 pm by Greg

In their “The Week Ahead” post, wrote, “There’s not a whole lot lined up this week for music…”

In his Jukebox column in The Daily Gazette, Michael Hochanadel wrote, “This may be the busiest live-music week here all year…”

Hmmmm, I suppose it all depends on your point of view…

Alejandro Escovedo, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

September 27th, 2010, 3:01 pm by Greg

Alejandro Escovado

Alejandro Escovado (photo by Michael Hochanadel)

“The first album I ever bought was probably an Everly Brothers album. And I can’t remember which one, exactly. But it had to have been late-’50s, sometime around there.”

In support of his new album, “Street Songs of Love,” Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys rock the Swyer Theatre at The Egg in Albany at 7:30pm on Thursday. Hamell On Trial opens the show. Tix are $28.

(Related story: Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys concert review)

Live: Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys @ the Calvin Theatre, 7/20/10

July 26th, 2010, 5:01 pm by Greg

Alejandro Escovado

Alejandro Escovado

Alejandro Escovedo has been knocking out one great album after another since his solo debut in 1992 – and he made some mighty fine albums before that with such bands as Rank & File and the True Believers.

Sadly, he still hasn’t been able to break out of cult status and into mainstream success. The small crowd of discerning folks at the Calvin Theatre last week didn’t care. They already knew that talent is no guarantee of success in the music biz. And they already knew about Escovedo’s towering musical talent.

Escovedo and his lean, mean power-trio of a band, the Sensitive Boys, stepped out on stage swinging for the fences with an amped-up, bristling “Always a Friend.” They concentrated on the new album, “Street Songs of Love,” early on, cranking it up for serious, no-frills rockin’ on “This Bed’s Getting Crowded” and the roaring garage-rock nugget “Tender Heart.” Throughout the night, guitarist David Pulkingham was nothing short of amazing.

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LIVE: Exit Dome III @ the Exit Dome, 2/13/10

February 17th, 2010, 2:15 pm by Greg

Alta Mira

Alta Mira

Oh sure, the reunited Blotto was the headlining band at the third Exit Dome extravaganza at the WMHT-TV studios in North Greenbush last Saturday (see yesterday’s story), but they were by no means the only reason to be in attendance at the sold-out show.

Once again, the fine folks at WEXT-FM assembled a solid and wonderfully diverse line-up of Local 518 musical talent, showcasing the considerable skills and diversity of the homegrown Nippertown music scene.

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Caffe LenaThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanCartoonist John CaldwellJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysAdvertise on Nippertown!Ramblin Jug StompersMohawk Hudson Humane Society