Posts Tagged ‘Saratoga Springs’

LIVE: Alan Cumming @ Universal Preservation Hall, 6/18/15

Thursday, June 25th, 2015


Story by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Richard Lovrich

“My name is Alan Cumming, and I’m here to sing you some sappy songs,” said the Scottish-American actor at the start of his cabaret performance at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.

Cumming had just ripped off his grey suit coat, revealing that his black button-down underneath was really a muscle shirt missing sleeves, making some in the audience laugh.

You didn’t quite know what you would get from the raffish performer – known mostly for his Tony Award-winning role as the pan-sexual emcee on Broadway in “Cabaret” and his role as Eli Gold on CBS-TV’s award-winning dramatic series “The Good Wife.” During the course of his 80-minute Saratoga performance – a deft mix of song and storytelling – that unpredictability and range was part of his charm.



SPAC Is the Best…

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

At least according to the readers of USA Today

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs was voted the Best Outdoor Music Venue in the country in a recent online voting poll conducted by USA Today. Surprisingly enough, SPAC beat out the Number Two selection – Red Rocks in Colorado.

Next up on SPAC’s 2015 summer season of performances is the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company at 8pm on Wednesday (June 17), followed by Train with The Fray and Matt Nathanson at 7pm on Friday (June 19).

And here’s how it all shook out for the Top 10 Best Outdoor Music Venues in USA Today’s month-long balloting:


FEST: WILDWOODstock 2015 @ the Parting Glass on Sunday

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Jocelyn Arndt

Jocelyn Arndt

The eighth annual WILDWOODstock benefit festival will be taking place at the Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs on Sunday (June 7). The all-ages fest will feature seven bands performing throughout the day, beginning at 1pm with the Road Home.

The all-day benefit bash is a fundraiser for Wildwood Programs, a non-profit organization in Schenectady that provides comprehensive services for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders, complex learning disabilities and other developmental disabilities. Tickets are just $5 in advance; $10 at the door; FREE for kids age 12 and under.

Here’s the complete schedule for WILDWOODstock 2015:


LIVE: “Raise the Rafters” @ Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center, 5/16/15

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

We should be celebrating Caffe Lena every day, but, of course, we tend to take it for granted because it’s always there. OK, well not exactly “always” – but for 55 years. And for the past 20 of those years, it’s been the guiding hand of manager Sarah Craig that’s has been at the helm, steering the Caffe into the 21st century with a delicate balance of adventure and tradition.

So for “Raise the Rafters” – the dual anniversary concert celebration for Craig and the Caffe – Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center in Saratoga Springs hosted a half-dozen Caffe favorites from the past two decades. There was the jugband vaudeville of the Wiyos, the father-and-son Beaucoup Blue duo, the wry bluegrass of Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys, the fab fiddling Sara Milonovich & Greg Anderson, rollicking one-man band the Suitcase Junket and the husband-and-wife team of Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion – each playing a short, 20-minute sampler set.

Yes, it was a delightful sonic smorgasbord that somehow stretched from blues to ballads, from a reggae-tinged polka to a Cajun two-step, and tunes plucked from the songbags of folks from Woody Guthrie to Led Zeppelin.


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.


LIVE: Jean Rohe & the End of the World Show @ Caffe Lena, 5/10/15

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015


Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Jean Rohe (guitar, vocals); James Shipp (vibes, percussion); Liam Robinson (accordion, keyboards); Matt Aaronoff (bass); Jordan Peterson (drums)

Sarah Craig has been hitting them out of the park lately, both musically and with attendance records at Caffe Lena. The Mothers Day concert by Jean Rohe & the End of the World Show was more of a musical triumph then one of breaking attendance records, but this is an artist that Craig, the Caffe’s executive director, intends to bring back to the Caffe time and again in the future to build up a regional following for them.

That’s a smart move because the band – made up of Berklee School of Music and Purchase School of Music grads – is one of the finest ever to play the Caffe. Their ability to traverse the most subtle note to the hardest, is uncanny. The five-piece outfit shot out one song after another from Rohe’s newest, self-titled album with the most exquisite interwoven rhythms from India, the Middle East, Europe and, of course, the American roots-music pantheon, with Rohe’s lovely voice sailing in and around every note.


LIVE: Wild Adriatic @ Vapor, 4/18/15

Monday, May 18th, 2015
Wild Adriatic

Wild Adriatic

Photographs by Timothy Reidy

Led by frontman Travis Gray, Wild Adriatic hosted a wild CD release party for their new EP, Never Enough, last month at Vapor in Saratoga Springs. Sharing the stage for the Saratoga rock trio’s big bash was Vermont’s Gang of Thieves.

It was a double-barreled blast of rock ‘n’ roll fun, and it was free, too, thanks to the folks at WEQX-FM.


A FEW MINUTES WITH… Caffe Lena’s Sarah Craig

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
Sarah Craig

Sarah Craig

By Don Wilcock

“I remember I was going for a walk with my brother once in Greenwich Village,” says Sarah Craig, the Executive Director of Caffe Lena, “and we passed an iconic Greenwich Village folk venue, and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. There it is,’ and I thought that was really cool, until I examined it and realized that it basically offered some music, but really what it was was a t-shirt outlet for the once great institution. And I said, ‘I don’t ever want Caffe Lena to go down that road.’ My brother said, ‘There’s a lot of money to be made in it. You’re probably the last person who will hold the line against that.’ And I said, ‘I’m gonna stay forever.’

On Saturday (May 16), the venerable Saratoga Springs coffeehouse Caffe Lena presents a double celebration at Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center. It’s the 55th anniversary of America’s longest running coffeehouse and Craig’s 20th anniversary as executive director of the venue that has outlived its Greenwich Village and Harvard Square prototypes as a premier showcase for folk music. Perhaps more important than its tenure, under Craig’s leadership the Caffe has progressed beyond the scope of places like Café Wha and the Bitter End in Greenwich Village and Club 47 in Harvard Square to present an overview of “folk music” today that assures this vaunted venue will be credited with discovering as much new talent in 2015 as it did in 1960.


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