“My first long-player was The Submarine Officer by Jose Jimenez… followed in quick succession by Sandy Nelson’s Let There Be Drums, Drummin’ Up a Storm and Drums Are My Beat.
“But it’s really hard to say which artist had a bigger influence on me.”
With Conrad Choucroun off on paternity leave, drummer Bobby Lloyd Hicks of the legendary Skeletons has been recruited to man the drum throne when NRBQ romps and rolls into the Ale House in Troy on Thursday night (September 12). Tickets are $30.
They pulled the tables from the Ale House dining room so the packed house could fully get their groove on to NRBQ, bolstered by the Whole Wheat Horns – guest saxophonist Klem Klimek and trombonist Carl Quefurth – who squeezed into a corner by the ladies’ room. NRBQ founder Terry Adams led his revamped crew from behind the keyboard, often pausing to marvel at the synergy between drummer Chad Choucroun, guitarist Scott Ligon and bassist Casey McDonough, who replaced Pete Donnelly last September. (The Figgs bassist was too busy with other projects to steadily tour with the band, but he remains an “honorary member” of NRBQ and rejoined them for a gig in New Jersey three days after the Ale House show.)
NRBQ's Terry Adams @ The Linda in 2011 (photo by Fred Boak)
N is for “No shit? NRBQ at the Ale House?” R is for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is where NRBQ belongs. B is for Best Damn Chicken Wings in town at the Ale House. Q is for Quality, plain and simple…
You like twisting, convoluted backstories? Lucky you!
The saga of NRBQ (New Rhythm & Blues Quartet) should make for some interesting bedtime reading… the long and short of it is this: Terry Adams, one of the original founders of the group in the 1970s, is touring with the latest incarnation, which honestly might equally be called “Terry Adams and three handpicked, much younger guys,” or TATHMYG, for short.
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.
Terry Adams' cross-handed piano technique
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.
We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Tommy Ardolino, drummer with NRBQ and record collector supreme.
Ardolino and NRBQ have been frequent visitors to Nippertown over the decades, and it seemed only fitting that Tommy made his last Albany appearance with the band back in April at The Linda, as keyboardist Terry Adams launched the new incarnation of the band. (Read review/see photos) NRBQ’s current line-up features Conrad Choucroun on the drum throne, but for nearly half of the show at The Linda, Ardolino was playing right alongside him as special guest on a second drum kit.
And in typical NRBQ fashion, the band made way for Tommy to step up to the microphone for a guest lead vocal, as well. The song? A delightfully disastrous rendition of the Ruby & the Romantics ballad, “Our Day Will Come.”
Thanks for all the music, Tommy. We miss ya already.
Wow, what a weekend, nothing to do except sit back and listen to one great band after another.
Originally, I signed up for the Clang! Thang mainly because Chandler Travis and his different projects (Chandler Travis Philharmonic and the Catbirds) were scheduled to play, but I was also curious about the revamped NRBQ with Terry Adams. I had missed him both times he came to Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park with the Rock and Roll Quartet. With all performances in the East Windsor Clarion Inn’s ballroom, weather would certainly not be a problem (good thing too, because Friday and Saturday saw some soaking rains). Going in with an open mind about the other performers I had never heard of, I found I was in for a great surprise as each one was wonderful.
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