LIVE: Syd Straw @ WAMC-FM’s The Linda, 10/5/13

October 23rd, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg
Syd Straw

Syd Straw

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

During “Actress,” the closing song on Syd Straw’s latest album Pink Velour, she sings, “I saw my name up on the marquee. They spelled it wrong, but it still looked good to me. I’m having that kind of career.”

That kind of career, indeed. The fact that her “latest” album was released five years ago might partially explain that kind of career. Well, that and the fact that she’s only released a grand total of three albums over the course of her 24-year solo career. Clearly, Syd Straw doesn’t play by the typical musical industry rules.

And she doesn’t deliver any kind of typical concert, either. At The Linda – where the marquee did spell out her name correctly – she admitted early on that she was trying not to talk too much. But she just couldn’t help herself on that count, and when she sang the lyrics, “I will, like a brook, babble on,” during “Papier Mache,” old fans knew what she meant and new fans were about to find out.

Between songs she chatted about putting on too much make-up, Miley Cyrus, why she likes to read The New Yorker, pandas, Fiona Apple’s run-in with a heckler and lots more. “It only seems like 17 minutes between songs,” she said, only half-joking. But that’s part of her charm. Well, that and the fact that she frequently chatted with her dog, Carol Burnett, who laid down calmly at her feet onstage for the majority of the show. And in the middle of her show, Straw broke into an a cappella rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” from the musical “Grease” and sang the whole song.

“I forget. Is this a show, or are we just having lunch?” she asked at one point.

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FIVE FIRSTS: Ryan Dunham of the Red Haired Strangers

October 16th, 2009, 2:33 pm by Greg

(photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

(photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

NAME: Ryan Dunham
BAND AFFILIATION: Red Haired Strangers

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … “Outlandos d’Amour” by the Police

2. THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER SAW WAS … Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jeff Beck at RPI

3. THE FIRST MUSICAL INSTRUMENT I EVER OWNED OR PLAYED WAS … The first instrument I ever played was the piano in the basement that my parents got as a wedding gift. Occasionally, the front plate would fall off and hit you in the knees. I guess it was a good introduction to the world of music. It taught you to always be ready for the unexpected. The first instrument I ever owned was a Special 20 harmonica by Hohner.

4. THE FIRST SONG I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC WAS … “Sweet Jane” at the Battle of the Bands at the local bowling alley. We lost to a band called Aztec. Goes to show you can never go wrong with naming yourself after fierce warriors from long ago.

5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS …. The Blue Dolphin Kids

Ryan Dunham leads the Red Haired Strangers into Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 7pm Sunday to celebrate the release of the band’s new CD, “Hilltown Sessions.”

Wildwood Flower: Songs of the Original Carter Family

May 5th, 2009, 4:24 pm by Greg

In early August of 1927, Alvin Pleasant Delaney Carter, his wife Sara and his sister-in-law Maybelle made the bumpy trip on rutted roads from their home in Maces Springs, Virginia to Bristol, Tennessee American music would never be the same.

The Carter Family recorded half-a-dozen songs in Bristol for Mr. Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company, at a series of makeshift recording sessions sometimes called “the Big Bang of Country Music.”

Now, the Gospel Train – featuring Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck – honor the rich musical legacy of A.P., Sara and Maybelle with a special concert, “Wildwood Flower: Songs of the Original Carter Family,” at Caffe Lena at 7pm Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10. The date also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Maybelle.

Along with her daughters June, Helen and Anita, Mother Maybelle continued the Carter Family musical tradition into the 1970s, while performing with famous fans like Mike Seeger, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and, of course, Maybelle’s son-in-law Johnny Cash.

The Gospel Train's lineup for the Carter Family show: Joe Gumpper, Michael Eck, Tom Lindsay, Ryan Dunham, and Ashley Pond (photo by D. Lockrow/ART Photography).

The Gospel Train's lineup for the Carter Family show: Joe Gumpper, Michael Eck, Tom Lindsay, Ryan Dunham, and Ashley Pond (photo by D. Lockrow/ART Photography).

Joining the Gospel Train for the show at Caffe Lena will be three very special guests. Albany singer-songwriter Ashley Pond, who is still riding high on the reviews of her debut album, “Dala,” will sing classics like “Wildwood Flower” and “Single Girl, Married Girl.” And harmonica ace Ryan Dunham and fiddler Joe Gumpper – both from the roots-rock band Red Haired Strangers – will bring an additional musical flair to the evening, especially on such American standards as “Worried Man Blues,” “Keep On The Sunny Side” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.”

The Carters were a prime influence on important artists like Cash and his forebears, Hank Williams and Woody Guthrie. Their music – a combination of mountain folk songs, parlor ballads and original compositions – continues to hold sway even today, and its strains can be heard in the sounds of Emmylou Harris, Dave Alvin, The White Stripes and Bruce Springsteen.

In recognition of the Mother’s Day holiday, and in an effort to make mom’s life a little easier, Caffe Lena has also partnered with the legendary Hattie’s restaurant to present a special Mother’s Day buffet in conjunction with the show. The meal, just right for a Sunday country supper, will feature Hattie’s famous fried chicken, red beans and rice, cornbread and coleslaw. The buffet, available for an additional $15 charge, begins at 6pm.

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