Remember the days when Broadway musicals spawned pop hits instead of the other way around?
Back in 1967, “Hair” was one of the first “rock musicals,” but it was also one of the last Broadway musicals to send a handful of its songs up the pop charts. The Fifth Dimension tackled a medley of “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In,” and turned it into a No. 1 smash hit and Grammy Award-winning Record of the Year. The Cowsills’ somewhat abridged rendition of the musical’s title song shot up to No. 2 on the pop charts in 1969. And that same year, the mono-monikered Oliver landed a No. 3 hit with “Good Morning Starshine,” while Three Dog Night scored their big breakthrough No. 4 hit with the ballad “Easy to Be Hard.”
And it’s a damn good thing that there are a batch of hit songs in “Hair” because the current touring production – which opened its six-day run at Proctors in Schenectady on Tuesday night – has virtually no plot or storyline at all. It’s basically just one song after another – a concert production with a few lines of dialogue thrown in here and there just to give the singer-dancers a moment to catch their collective breath.
OK, Cooley’s multimedia performance art masterwork “Animalia” was originally presented at RPI in Troy back in March, ’08, and was later re-invented on the mainstage at Proctors in Schenectady in September, ’08. Now, thanks to artist Bart Woodstrup, “Animalia” has been animated – or perhaps re-animated – as you can see in the above video.
Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany and Proctors in Schenectady are teaming up in an effort to sustain the survival of both high-profile performing arts organizations in these tough economic times.
In a joint letter to stakeholders, president of Capital Rep’s Board of Trustees Jim Morrill and resident of Proctors Board of Directors Rick Carlstrom announced that the two Capital Region arts groups have entered into a management services agreement aimed at increasing efficiencies, reducing duplication, improving Capital Rep’s financial prospects and increasing its artistic opportunities – while enabling Proctors to continue to develop a more regional vision.
The first Top 10 hit by the Grass Roots back in 1967:
Rob Grill and his current incarnation of the Grass Roots will step into the spotlight at Proctors in Schenectady on Saturday night, sharing the Sixties Spectacular bill with Peter Noone (of Herman’s Hermits), Davy Jones (of the Monkees) and new local band American Cafe (led by the Bluz House Rockers’ Trish Anderson). Now if only Noone would resurrect some of those tunes from his really cool ’70s band, the Tremblers…
Showtime is 7:30pm on Saturday and tickets are $34.75, $42.75 and $49.75.
The opening of Richie Havens’ autobiography, “They Can’t Hide Us Anymore” (Avon Books, 1999):
“August 15, 1969.
I was in New York City and I could feel the swell of energy 100 miles away. Nobody seemed to care that the Woodstock Festival was no longer going to take place anywhere near Woodstock. The only thing that mattered was that it was going to happen. Today.
I left the city at five-thirty in the morning on the day I supposed to play – the first day – and drove straight to the Howard Johnson Hotel in White Lake, New York, without a hitch. We were only a few miles away from the farm and all the bands had been told to come there first.
I was lucky to get up the road so smoothly. By seven-thirty in the morning, I was sitting in the lobby with my band. I wasn’t worried. I was fifth in the order and wasn’t scheduled to go on for hours. But at two in the afternoon, I was half-asleep when news came that there was no music; still no way to get through.
From the edge of the hotel parking lot I could see traffic stopped cold on the approach road. I could tell right there that the crowd was much larger than anyone was saying…”
Albany native Stefon Harris received a wonderful holiday homecoming gift last night, when it was revealed that the jazz vibraphone phenom had garnered a Grammy nomination in the Best Contemporary Jazz Album category for his album, “Urbanus.” Recorded with his group Blackout and produced by Harris, the album is the 36-year-old vibesman’s first for the Concord Jazz label.
Harris faces some stiff competition for the award, however, as Julian Lage’s “Sounding Point,” Philippe Saisse’s “At World’s Edge,” Mike Stern’s “Big Neighborhood” and the late Joe Zawinul & the Zawinul Syndicate’s “75,” are the other nominees in the category.
Harris and his band Blackout are in town to perform on the “Melodies of Christmas” program at Proctors in Schenectady. The concert opens at 7pm tonight (Thursday, December 3) and continues at 7pm Friday and Saturday, before concluding with a matinee at 3pm Sunday. The concert is being filmed and will be broadcast on WRGB-TV (Ch. 6) during the holidays.
Also performing on the 30th anniversary edition of “Melodies of Christmas” will be the Empire State Orchestra & Youth Choral, the McKrells with Sara Milonovich, the duo of Randy Crafton & Amy Platt and the Orlando School of Dance.
But Harris isn’t the only musician with Nippertown ties to garner a nomination for the 2010 Grammy Awards, which will be announced on Sunday, January 31.
Woodstock’s own Levon Helm – former drummer with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers the Band – snagged a nomination in the first-time ever Best Americana Album category for his latest CD, “Electric Dirt.”
Saratoga Springs native David Hyde Pierce picked up a Grammy nomination in the Best Spoken Word Album for Children category for his recording of “The Phantom Tollbooth.”
And in the classical music department, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus teamed up with conductor James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra to a record a live performance of Ravel’s “Daphnis et Chloe,” which earned a hat-trick’s worth of Grammy nominations on Wednesday. The recording – the debut album on the orchestra’s new indie recording label, BSO CLassics – earned noms as Best Engineered Classical Album, Best Orchestral Recording and Best Classical Album.
Go here for a complete list of nominees in all 109 Grammy Award categories.
(left) Radical: Biggest Yee-Haw (right) Marcus Kwame Anderson: Lady Day
Photographer Debra Lockrow, the proprietor of ArtCentric Gift Gallery on Fourth Street in Troy, moved into her store six months ago, when most of the area buildings were empty and shuttered. While the neighborhood has slowly been gathering steam (Xs to Os vegan bakery just opened on the corner), the long-vacant Proctor’s Theater has been a sad eyesore in the middle of the block as RPI, the current owner, figures out what to do with it.
Rather than simply bemoan this, Lockrow obtained permission from RPI to to slap a coat of primer on the boarded up windows and then invited seven local artists to create paintings to mount on the front of the building. The results are breathtaking. The artists, Marcus Kwame Anderson, Kate Glasheen, James “Kyote” Staley, Radical, Kim Schaller, John Cummings, Jr. and Kristine Domenichini, have created rich and vibrant works in a wildly divergent range of styles that brighten and energize the block.
You can see the other paintings on the ArtCentric website, or better yet, head on over to see them in person.
Here are a few newly announced shows that you might want to add to your personal concert calendar:
Up in Saratoga Springs, Caffe Lena has a bountiful harvest of concerts on tap in October, highlighted by jazz master Mose Allison (Sunday, October 4), guitar virtuoso Peppino D’Agostino (Friday, October 9), the double-bill of Bread & Bones with Hungrytown (Friday, October 16) and singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis (Sunday, October 25). But the big show of the month promises to be a very special “Celebration of the Life of Lena Spencer” on Sunday, October 11, hosted by Addie & Olin-Unleashed! and featuring performances by Terri Huxtable & Liz Hood, Frank Orsini & Peter Davis, Linda Schrade & David Kiphuth, Greg Clarke and George Ward.
Popmeister Pete Yorn – whose duet album with Scarlett Johansson, “Break Up,” was recently released on Atco Records – makes a tour stop at The Egg on Wednesday, November 4.
The University at Albany has a pair of notable concerts on its back-to-school schedule this fall. Jazz trumpeter Wallace Roney brings his quintet into the UAlbany Campus Center Ballroom on Friday, September 25. And there’s a big double-bill with Girl Talk and Reel Big Fish slated for Thursday, November 5 on campus, but unfortunately that one’s a students-only affair.
Davy Jones (left) and Peter Noone
In this corner, it’s British cutie Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. And in this corner, it’s cuddly toy Davy Jones of the Monkees. yes, it’s a Trans-Atlantic Battle of the ’60s Teen Heart-Throbs at the Sixties Spectacular concert on the Mainstage at Proctors in Schenectady on Saturday, March 27. Rounding out the bill are the Grassroots featuring Rob Grill and American Cafe led by Trish Anderson.
Tribute band the Pink Floyd Experience returns to the Palace Theatre in Albany on Saturday, February 20.
And straight outta the wilds of Duluth, Minnesota comes the bluegrass ‘n’ more band Trampled by Turtles. They’ll land at the Ale House in Troy on Saturday, October 17.
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