RIP: John Caldwell, 1946-2016

February 22nd, 2016, 10:30 am by Greg


By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Sara Ayers

He was a seriously funny guy…

A proud member of the Usual Gang of Idiots at Mad magazine, Ballston Lake cartoonist-illustrator John Caldwell died early Sunday morning (February 21) following a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69 years old.

A Cohoes native who graduated from Hudson Valley Community College and later attended NYC’s Parsons School of Design, Caldwell was a definite outside-the-box thinker when it came to the art world and his cartoons, which appeared everywhere from Playboy to Women’s World; from Rolling Stone to The National Enquirer; and from The New Yorker to The National Lampoon to The Wall Street Journal. His unique take on funny transcended the usual low art vs. high art boundaries.

As a syndicated cartoonist his singular single-panel gems were published in daily newspapers around the country, including The Albany Times Union. He also published a half dozen books, including “Running A Muck: A Bunch of Zany” Cartoons (Writer’s Digest Books, 1978); “Mug Shots: A Splendid Collection of Cartoons” (Fantaco, 1980); “The Book of Ultimates” (McGraw-Hill, 1983); “Caldwell” (Fawcett Columbine, 1988); “Fax This Book: Over 100 Sit-Up-and-Take-Notice Cover Sheets for Better Business” (Workman, 1990).

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RIP: Dick Quinn, Super Music Fan, 1947-2015

November 30th, 2015, 12:00 pm by Greg

Review and concert photographs by Ed Conway

My apologies to Billy Eli, a fine Austin-based singer-songwriter, as this was supposed to be a quick review of his show a couple of weeks ago. Instead, I am writing about a friend who was a true friend to many musicians, both locally and around the country, but I think Billy would understand, as he was one of those friends. Billy’s show was the last time I saw Dick Quinn and may have been the last show Dick saw (it’s hard to tell as he always had a habit of showing up despite not feeling well). Dick had been sick for many years, but would go out to as many as seven shows a week. He checked himself out of the hospital to attend a show on more than one occasion – it’s hard to tell as he didn’t always talk much about his health.

Dick Quinn

Dick Quinn

His dedication to the music scene was greatly appreciated by all who knew and loved Dick and was reciprocated by venues and bands alike. Dick had a permanently reserved table at the Ale House in Troy, as well as a parking spot outside the door so that he had a place to plug in his ever present oxygen machine and limit the distance he had to walk. There wasn’t always a sign, but patrons knew this and respected it. At any given show, Dick would talk about many things related to music and common friends, but not in a gossiping manner.

More often than not, he would wave someone over and with a devilish grin tell them a joke or two, often times not repeatable in mixed company. These jokes became his trademark, but it wasn’t necessarily the joke, but the delivery that made them funny. He had a comic’s timing. As an indication of the respect he had from local musicians, they all got together not once, but twice to play a gig just for him – not a benefit or paid concert, a show just for him. So many bands had signed up, there wasn’t time to put them all on the bill. Bands such as the Chandler Travis Three-O traveled from Cape Cod, just to take part. The last one took place just a few weeks ago (sadly, I was out of town and couldn’t go both times).

Another of his favorites, a band from down the Hudson Valley called the Five Points Band asked Dick to be in their music video of “Old Man River.” Check it out as he can be seen walking up the stairs in the opening scene.

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RIP: Bill Keith, 1939-2015

October 27th, 2015, 2:00 pm by Greg
Bill Keith (photo: Clair Keith)

Bill Keith (photo: Clair Keith)

We are deeply saddened to report that bluegrass/newgrass banjo pioneer Bill Keith died on Friday (October 23) at his Bearsville home. The cause was complications of cancer. Keith was 75.

Early in his musical career, Keith introduced a radical concept to the five-string banjo by seeking to play linear melodies much as the fiddle does while still employing the three-finger technique that Earl Scruggs had pioneered. But where Scruggs’ method had allowed the banjo to mix a vocal melody into a banjo roll, Keith accurately played more complicated fiddle tunes and other melodies note-for-note on the banjo. His technique has become widely known as Keith-style picking.

Back in 1963, Keith was tapped by Bill Monroe to become a member of the Blue Grass Boys, and while his tenure in the band was brief – only eight months – it was also highly influential.

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RIP: Tony Jenkins, 1956-2015

March 6th, 2015, 11:00 am by Greg
Tony Jenkins

Tony would often invite up young spectators to strum a chord and get a piece of the action.

Tony Jenkins – long-time Local 518 jazz guitarist and bandleader of the Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip – died suddenly on Sunday (March 1).

Remembering Tony Jenkins
By Matt Niedbalski

Being a young musician trying to play with older musicians can be a rather frightening experience. Intimidation is almost always a factor, plus just trying to impress the “old guys.” The first time I had the opportunity to play with Tony Jenkins was at Wallabee’s Jazz Bar in Glens Falls where he had his weekly Friday night residency. I was a mere 13 years old at the time and was just hoping things would go well. I can’t remember too many details from that night, but I do remember playing “Nostalgia in Times Square,” a tune by Charles Mingus. After the song ended, Tony reached over the cymbal with a big smile on his face and gave me a fist bump. Every time I’ve played with him since he would offer some gesture to express his gratitude, a smile, fist bump, high five or a “yeah brutha!” Tony loved his friends, and he loved playing this music we call jazz.

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RIP: Leonard Nimoy, Beloved Actor, Artist & Celebrity Who Lived Long and Prospered [Berkshire on Stage]

March 2nd, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara

Leonard Nimoy

By Larry Murray

Photographer Leonard Nimoy, whose exhibition “Secret Selves” was on display in 2010-11 at MASS MoCA in North Adams has died. He was 83. His most indelible role was as Mr. Spock, the totally logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek.” He also recreated the life of Vincent van Gogh writing the play “Vincent,” seen in these parts with Jim Briggs in the dual roles of the Theo and Vincent van Gogh (review).

Nimoy – who announced that he had the disease COPD last year – attributed it to years of smoking. Even though it was a habit he had given up three decades earlier, his wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed that the cause of death was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week. He died on Friday morning (February 27) at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

RIP: Joe Schuyler, 1943-2015 (Updated)

January 12th, 2015, 10:00 am by Greg
Joe Schuyler (photo by John Cromie)

Joe Schuyler (photo by John Cromie)

Acclaimed Delmar photographer Joseph Schuyler died on Sunday (January 11) after a battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

He exhibited his photographs throughout the Capital Region (Albany Institute of History & Art, the Schenectady Museum, Albany Center Gallery, Exposed Gallery of Photography, more) and beyond, from Brooklyn to Colorado. He was honored with two Kodak Golden Light Awards in portraiture and landscape, and his work was published in Rangefinder, American Photography, Zoom (International) and Photo District News, as well as countless other magazines, journals and books.

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RIP: Joe Cocker, 1944-2014

December 23rd, 2014, 9:59 am by Greg

Joe Cocker

Photographs by Timothy Raab

Ben Sisario’s obituary for Joe Cocker at The New York Times

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RIP: Guy Spataford, 1951-2014

November 4th, 2014, 1:00 pm by Greg
Guy Spataford

Guy Spataford

By Greg Haymes

Albany native and multi-media artist Guy Spataford passed away on Wednesday, October 29 after losing his battle with liver cancer. He was 63 years old.

Spataford originally made his name in the arts on the Local 518 music scene, as a composer-musician with the Empire State Institute for the Performing Arts at The Egg, and as a founding member of Albany’s premiere progressive rock band, od.

But music was only one of Spataford’s many creative talents. He was also an accomplished videographer and short film maker, and among his best known works was the 1986 film biography of the legendary Albany street character, “Michael the Archangel”.

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