Nellie McKay Does Billy Tipton @ Club Helsinki [Berkshire on Stage]

January 20th, 2017, 11:00 am by Sara
Nellie McKay as “A Girl Named Bill.” (photo by Bob Boilen)

Nellie McKay as “A Girl Named Bill” (photo by Bob Boilen)

Cabaret-rock singer-songwriter Nellie McKay brings her uniquely eccentric blend of pop, rock, jazz and hip-hop to Club Helsinki in Hudson at 8pm on Sunday (January 22). This time out, McKay will be featuring songs from her musical biography, “A Girl Named Bill: The Life and Times of Billy Tipton,” a mid-20th century jazz musician and bandleader who lived his adult life as a man, although he was assigned female at birth. “A Girl Named Bill” was named one of the Best Concerts of 2014 by The New York Times.

The multi-talented Nellie McKay made her smash debut a decade ago with her groundbreaking double-CD, Get Away from Me, showcasing her eclectic musical reach and her dazzling lyrical wit (which extended to the album’s title, a subtle play on the breakthrough album by a somewhat similarly inclined pop-folk jazz singer named Norah Jones).

McKay has released six full-length albums, including Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day and My Weekly Reader, featuring music of the 1960s, produced by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick.

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LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (Second Show)
LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (First Show)
LIVE: Madeleine Peyroux/Nellie McKay @ The Egg, 10/2/11


LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (Second Show)

April 15th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

It is difficult to pigeonhole the music of Nellie McKay, who entertained – and I truly mean entertained – a close-to-sold-out audience in the second of her two shows at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on Saturday night.

Accompanied by bass player Alexi David and drummer Kenneth Salters, McKay mesmerized the audience with the most eclectic set of music I have yet to hear. Somehow, she weaved standards from the ’30s along with her originals and covers of songs from the ’60s British Invasion that perhaps us baby boomers consider standards. Her spirited delivery made it all make sense.

Her set list featured standards such as:

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LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (First Show)

April 14th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg

Nellie McKay

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu

For the first of her two shows on a recent Saturday evening, Nellie McKay descended the stairs at the Van Dyck, sat down at the keyboard and launched into a sparkling instrumental jazz-trio version of the old standard “Pennies from Heaven,” which morphed into “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” And for a moment, it felt as though we were transported back in time to the days of the venerable old Schenectady jazz club when folks like Dave McKenna and Marian McPartland would frequently tickle the ivories.

But just for a moment…

Seamlessly, the medley of jazz standards shifted into McKay’s “Toto Dies,” and she sang, “Hey man what’s happenin’ with you?/I watched that episode too/Maybe I’ll get some Chinese/I’ll have the dumplings/No MSG please…” From there, all bets were off. Backed by drummer Kenneth Salters and the sometimes too-busy basswork of Alexi David, McKay roamed through an almost impossibly vast songbook that stretched from jazz greats Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to the folk duo of Richard & Mimi Farina to the lightweight British Invasion pop band Herman’s Hermits.

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LIVE: Madeleine Peyroux/Nellie McKay @ The Egg, 10/2/11

October 5th, 2011, 5:00 pm by Greg
Madeleine Peyroux

Madeleine Peyroux

Apparently last Sunday’s double-bill concert at The Egg in Albany didn’t quite work out as hoped, ticket-sales-wise, so the show was downsized from the Hart Theatre to the Swyer Theatre, which was still no where near a sell-out.

While the smaller theater allowed for a more intimate performance from the audience’s point of view, it was rather over-crowded on the stage. The array of Madeleine Peyroux’s keyboardist Gary Versace included a grand piano, a Hammond B3 and a Leslie cabinet, a synth and a laptop. That’s an awful lot of keys to squeeze onto the tiny stage.

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