Posts Tagged ‘Richard Brody’

LIVE: The Bruce Katz Band @ Athens River Park, 8/21/15

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Chris Vitarello

Chris Vitarello

Review by Jim Guldenstern
Photograph by Richard Brody

What do you get when you go to hear the Bruce Katz Band, and there is no Bruce Katz? You get an evening of great music. You get a picturesque summer night. You realize just how great Bruce Katz is.

We were welcomed to Athens’ River Park by the event’s promoter, Rick Surrano. He then informed us that Mr. Katz had been “summoned up to a greater power” which turned out to mean Butch Trucks was calling on him for a gig elsewhere. What would they do to fill the void?

Luckily they found an organist to play with them. Woodstock’s Jeremy Baum did yeoman’s work keeping up with the challenge. Boston-based Ralph Rosen was the kind of drummer I like. He was rock steady all night, and except for two great solos, you barely knew he was there. Chris Vitarello rounded out the trio. His guitar work was incredible all night long. And he had vocal chops as well. You could tell he was running the show.

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LIVE: Blue Oyster Cult & Blotto @ Alive at Five, 8/6/15

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
Eric Bloom, Richie Castellano and Buck Dharma (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Eric Bloom, Richie Castellano and Buck Dharma (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Photographs by Rudy Lu, Stanley Johnson, Ed Conway, Tim Reidy, Richard Brody

The Blot & Blue Tour, back together again for one night only!

Blotto and Blue Oyster Cult originally teamed up for a tour that took place back in February and March of 1983. They reunited for one of the largest Alive at Five concerts in Albany’s Corning Preserve in August of 1996.

Earlier this month, the two bands shared the stage again, this time at Jennings Landing, wrapping up the 2015 Alive at Five concert season in front of the largest crowd of the summer.

From “Godzilla” to “Goodbye, Mr. Bond,” from “Don’t Fear the Reaper” to “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard,” the evening jam packed with rockin’ riffs, some hearty laughs and too much fun.

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LIVE: Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, 6/27/15 (Day Two)

Monday, July 13th, 2015
Wilco's Glen Kotche

Wilco’s Glen Kotche

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Richard Brody

Somwehere in the middle of their headlining set on Saturday night, Wilco played “Sunken Treasure,” and bandleader Jeff Tweedy sang, “Music is my savior, and I was maimed by rock and roll/I was tamed by rock and roll/I got my name from rock and roll.” And the crowd out in Joe’s Field let out a mighty roar of appreciation.

Yes, Solid Sound was back at MASS MoCA. The fourth incarnation of the Wilco-curated festival – now a biennial affair – took over the sprawling MASS MoCA campus for three days, holding forth at four different performance locations, as well several of the museum’s galleries. And while rock and roll (in its broadest definition) was the focus, Saturday’s 12-hour line-up stretched from the hushed folk of Jessica Pratt (perhaps a bit too intimate for a festival setting) to the hip-hop of Shabazz Palaces, from the electro-funk of Cibo Matto to John Hodgman’s comedy revue.

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LIVE: Slaid Cleaves @ Caffe Lena, 5/15/15

Monday, June 1st, 2015
 Slaid Cleaves

Slaid Cleaves

Review by Richard Brody

Slaid Cleaves. The name rolls off your tongue and sounds like it must belong to a cowboy, perhaps from one of Louis D’Amour’s western novels. Cleaves might not be a cowboy, but at Caffe Lena, he came pretty darn close to creating the feeling of sitting around a campfire listening to a very talented storyteller spin his yarns, play his guitar and, when it fit, throw in some yodeling.

Cleaves should be a star, and as he wryly noted when he introduced “Broke Down,” “This is the song that took me from total obscurity to relative obscurity.” And like many of Cleaves’ songs, it focused on the hard scrabble lives of workers who are trying to get by while maintaining some sense of dignity despite a few poor decisions.

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LIVE: Hot Tuna @ The Egg, 12/7/14

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen

Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The shouts of “Jorma!” that came from the near-capacity crowd were an indication that there were few, if any, first time Hot Tuna fans in The Egg’s Hart Theatre. Accompanying Jorma Kaukonen and co-founding bass man Jack Casady was frequent Tuna member mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff, as well as a trio of the band’s Woodstock family – drummer Justin Guip, vocalist Teresa Williams and her husband/string master Larry Campbell on fiddle, pedal steel and guitar.

The band kicked off the show with one of their staples, Kaukonen’s “True Religion,” that was highlighted by Mitterhoff’s sweet mandolin solo and Campbell’s shimmering slide guitar that brought the song to its conclusion.

Hot Tuna has always been about the country blues that howl about the sins of Saturday night and the gospel-flavored songs that ask for forgiveness in church on Sunday morning. Casady strutted, pogoed and drove the band on Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” His bass anchored and pushed both Kaukonen’s vocals and the guitar solos from Kaukonen and Campbell. As fine a guitarist as Kaukonen is, his voice would not fit in a church choir. Enter Williams, who brought the “amen” to Reverend Gary Davis’ “Children of Zion” that included great supporting solos from Mitterhoff’s mandolin, Kaukonen’s guitar and Campbell’s slide. They stayed in church for the next number, a roof-raising rendition of “Wade in the Water” that was once again led by Williams’ powerhouse vocals.

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LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ Club Helsinki, 8/15/14

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Review and photographs by Richard Brody

The sold-out, standing-room-only Club Helsinki crowd came expecting a great show. The Wood Brothers did not disappoint. They opened with “Sing About It” from their current album The Muse. The strolling bass line laid down by Chris Wood that began the song was quickly followed by the light touch of Oliver Wood’s acoustic guitar, and then Jano Rix’s melodica, and when the last instrumental note vanished into the night, the first vocal line was sung a cappella: “If you get too worried, what you ought to do is sing,” the second half of which was sung in three part gospel-like harmony. We were barely a minute into the show, and the band had displayed their ability to seamlessly integrate several musical styles that captured their essence.

Good songwriters need inspiration and the title track of The Muse is an homage to Oliver’s wife, who provides the space and support for the tunes to get created. But it was the birth of his child that helped him complete the song with the lines:

“And if I was thinkin’ I’d be thinkin’ thank God whoever you are
For the muse and the miracle right here in my arms.”

Yet the music was not all nice and tender. The band turned up the heat on a number of songs, most notably “Honey Jar,” a funk-influenced tune that began with some dizzyingly fast bass and drums that carried the song until it slid into a slower tempo blues bridge that transitioned back into the fast stuff and remained there until its crescendo finish. And then there was arguably the crowd’s favorite “Who the Devil” that began slowly with Chris’ bowed bass leading and building to a rocking instrumental break that provided numerous improvisational sparks led by Oliver’s electric guitar that was overtaken by Rix’s percussion and Chris’ thumping bass, and then slowly brought back to the song’s opening tempo by Chris’ bowed bass.

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LIVE: The Ghost Train Orchestra @ the Music Haven, 8/10/14

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
(photo by Stanley Johnson)

Ghost Train Orchestra’s Brian Carpenter (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Richard Brody

The motto of the Music Haven Concert Series in Schenectady’s Central Park has always been “Join us in traveling the world one concert at a time.” And the 2014 series did indeed travel from Africa to Ireland to Cuba to Chicago to Louisiana. But in wrapping up their 25th anniversary season with the Ghost Train Orchestra, the series took a slightly different tact, traveling not around the globe, but rather back in time.

The brainchild of Brian Carpenter – composer, arranger, trumpeter, vocalist – the GTO draws from the deep well of jazz by such early 20th century bandleaders as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, Charlie Johnson and others.

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LIVE: The James Cotton Band @ Music Haven at Proctors, 7/27/14

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Ted Henessey and Matt Mirabile (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Tom Holland and James Cotton (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Rudy Lu, Richard Brody

For a quarter of a century now, the Music Haven has presented what is unquestionably the Capital Region’s most ambitious and culturally diverse free annual summer concert series. The concerts don’t always attract the big, Alive at Five-sized crowds, but the series always attracts great musicians from all over the globe, and it consistently lives up to the motto of its mission – “Come travel the world with us, one concert at a time.”

Due to the threat of inclement weather last Sunday, the Music Haven’s concert featuring legendary blues harmonica master James Cotton was moved to the rain site – Proctors – and when the show is moved to a beautiful site like Proctors nothing is lost in the venue shift. Not even the audience, apparently, as nearly 1,400 people packed the downstairs of Proctors’ Main Stage theater for what proved to be a very special celebration. Not only was it the biggest Capital Region blues event of the summer, but it was also the Music Haven’s 25th anniversary gala party, and the bash was well attended by a plethora of local political dignitaries, as well as staunch music supporters.

In a brief, pre-concert ceremony on the Main Stage, former Schenectady mayor Karen Johnson was honored for her support of the Music Haven throughout the years, and in a surprise proclamation, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy honored Music Haven’s founder, visionary and producing artistic director Mona Golub with the Patroon Award, the city’s highest honor. “It’s been a labor of love for me, bringing such a diverse, cross-generational audience together,” said an audibly choked-up Golub, as she accepted the award.

The concert also served a heartfelt memorial to Albany bluesman Tom Healey, whose death the previous Monday shook the Local 518 blues community. Guitarslinger Matt Mirabile and his band, fronted by vocalist-harmonicat Ted Hennessy, tore through a seven-song opening set that ranged from such blues classics as Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “So Sad to Be Lonesome” to a funky, cowbell-fueled rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” and they dedicated their performance to Healey. The Music Haven folks also joined in the tribute, playing selections from the Tom Healey Band’s two albums – Pearl Street and Tough Dog – during the between-band intermission.

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