(left) The Last Conspirators, (right) Charlie Smith (photo by Stanley Johnson)
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Stanley Johnson and Gene Sennes
“I have actually been invited,” I thought to myself, echoing the astonishment of Nick Carraway when he arrives at Gatsby’s West Egg mansion party in Fitzgerald’s novel. My magnanimous friend, Alison, had given me an advance ticket to the J.B. Scott’s Reunion Party. Pulling into the already crowded parking lot shortly after 7pm, I couldn’t help but realize that I would be likely one of the few revelers too young to have ever attended a show at the legendary venue that had closed 30 years ago, having drawn everybody from Count Basie and John Lee Hooker to the Cramps and Iggy Pop.
I had missed the Penny Knight Band, and the Last Conspirators were already playing full throttle as I entered the ballroom of Michael’s Banquet House, where a large crowd of people danced like it was 1979. The late Joe Strummer would have been proud; I imagined the punk rock warlord raising a Guinness to the band as they tore into originals like “Who Wants a Revolution Anyway” and “History,” the latter beginning with Tim Livingston’s declaration of “Drink to all our futures! Long live J.B. Scott’s!” and then closing out with his microphone stand getting bent in half.
Playing their first gig together in more than a quarter century – really, no foolin’ – the Penny Knight Band sounded as though they’ve never been away from the spotlight.
Knight was up front leading the band, leaving the drum duties to Tony Genevive, which was a bit of a disappointment. Not that Genevive wasn’t up to the task (he certainly was), but it was always a real treat to watch Knight wallop those drums.
NAME: Penny Knight
BAND AFFILIATION: Penny Knight Band
INSTRUMENT: Vocals, Drums, Percussion
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … A Patsy Cline album. My dad was a hillbilly from West Virginia. When I was a little girl, he would play his guitar, and I would sing Patsy songs. When we would go to visit family in West Virginia, he would show me off. I remember singing at the “after funeral” party for my Grandmother when I was 12 years old. That party lasted three days. Those hillbillies really knew how to celebrate someone’s life.
This week we’re digging deep into the vaults of “Real George’s Backroom,” Albany’s fabulous ’80s vintage cable television music show, for another blast from the past – the Penny Knight Band.
Led by singer-drummer Penny Knight, here the band kicks out a pair of tunes – “He’s a Faker” and “Jump Start My Heart” – that Real George captured live in 1984 at Easter Seals’ Parties in the Park. The free concerts were held in Albany’s West Capitol Park every Wednesday throughout the summer months:
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