LIVE: The Bad Plus Joshua Redman @ Zankel Music Center, 10/23/15

November 12th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg
The Bad Plus Joshua Redman

The Bad Plus Joshua Redman

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

The stage set at the Zankel Music Center for tenor master Joshua Redman and jazz provocateurs The Bad Plus (aka The Bad Plus Joshua Redman) was pretty bare-bones: drums, stand-up bass, piano, a tall stool and big mic for Redman… and a mahogany lectern with a simple green-and-gold “Skidmore College” banner hanging from the top of the dais. Did this show come with a lecture? Was this going to be on the Final? As it happened, the podium hadn’t been left out after an afternoon symposium. Skidmore President Dr. Philip A. Glotzbach used it to welcome the SRO crowd to the fifth anniversary celebration of the opening of Zankel Music Center.

Honestly, I was shocked; aside from the fact that I hadn’t known this was a special night, it seems like Zankel has been around forever, even though I was there opening night when Redman and piano icon Brad Mehldau christened the stage with an amazing set of mind-blowing duets. The Bad Plus also played Zankel during that opening season, though I missed that show. Now, these two major forces were back here, together, and thanks to the Zankel NOT being the Corning Preserve, we were able to hear every riveting syllable of the new musical language they have created.

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Concerts Celebrate the Centennial of Songcatcher Alan Lomax

November 4th, 2015, 11:00 am by Greg
Alan Lomax (far left) recording with musicians for “American Patchwork”

Alan Lomax (far left) recording with musicians for “American Patchwork”

Folklorist, songfinder, author, radio personality, ethnomusicologist, oral historian, activist, filmmaker, concert producer, recording artist, scholar, archivist, lecturer — Alan Lomax was all of these things… and more.

Lomax was born in Texas in 1915, and with his father, John, and on his own, recorded a vast treasure trove of American folk music for the Library of Congress as well as a wide variety of record labels. Again, with his father and individually, Lomax published a series of highly influential printed collections, including “American Ballads and Folk Songs,” “Folk Song U.S.A.” and the seminal 1960 volume, “The Folk Songs of North America in the English Language.”

This month around Greater Nippertown, there are two big concerts scheduled to celebrate the centennial of Alan Lomax’s birth and his great musical legacy:

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First Night Saratoga Announces Bands for Big New Year’s Eve Celebration

October 27th, 2015, 12:00 pm by Greg


First Night Saratoga – the family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that takes place in Saratoga Springs – is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the organizers have planned a jam-packed evening of entertainment, fun and fireworks.

The Thursday, December 31 festivities begin with the First Night 5k roadrace at Skidmore College at 5:30pm, and wrap up with the the Saratoga Performing Arts Center 50th
Anniversary First Night Fireworks display. In between, you’ll find 30 venues throughout the city offering a night full of live music, dance, comedy, magic and even a few psychics to predict what’s in store for you in 2016.

Headlining the 20th anniversary bash will be veteran omni-popsters NRBQ led by madcap keyboardist and founding member Terry Adams. NRBQ is scheduled to play at the City Center’s Main Hall, along with Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys and Harold Ford’s The Spirit: A Tribute to Johnny Cash.

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LIVE: Howard Fishman Quintet @ Caffe Lena, 10/3/15

October 16th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg
Scott Barkan, Howard Fishman, Andrae Murchison and Andy Cotton

Scott Barkan, Howard Fishman, Andrae Murchison and Andy Cotton

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

The Basement Tapes are a series of recordings made in 1967 after Bob Dylan had gone on tour with what was to become the Band and was convalescing in Woodstock. The series of recordings are considered legendary and a turning point in the history of rock, as Dylan turned away from the increasingly serious and complex explorational tendencies of the music of the time to focus on the basic and traditional origins of the music that has now been labeled as Americana.

This was documented in a book by well known author Greil Marcus titled “The Old Weird America.”

The celebration of the music can either be celebrated reverentially and academically by reproducing the songs note for note, or simply in the spirit of good friends recording casual music. Howard Fishman and his band chose the latter during their recent two-night stand at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.

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LIVE: Lucius @ Skidmore College’s Tang Museum, 9/18/15

October 6th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

There certainly wasn’t much off-campus promotion for the Saratoga Springs debut of the captivating alt-pop band Lucius, but if you missed it, well, all I can say is that you just gotta stay tuned to

Just two days after a knock-out show at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, the Brooklyn-based indie popsters slipped quietly onto the Skidmore College campus for a free concert to help kick-off the new school semester.

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LIVE: MaryLeigh Roohan @ Caffe Lena, 9/6/15

October 5th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Photographs and video by Timothy Reidy

Singer-songwriter and Saratoga native MaryLeigh Roohan took the hallowed stage at Caffe Lena last month for a homecoming concert that served as the CD release party for her new five-song EP, Living Alone.

NOTE: MaryLeigh Roohan will be playing at the opening concert of the season at Mother’s Wine Emporium at RPI’s Student Union in Troy on Saturday (October 10) with fellow Saratogians Better By Morning. Showtime is 8pm; admission is free.

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LIVE: The Down Hill Strugglers @ Caffe Lena, 9/11/15

September 29th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Downhill Strugglers

The Down Hill Strugglers

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Joe Deuel

From Bob Dylan to Ani DiFranco to Sawyer Fredericks, Caffe Lena has acted as launching pad for singer-songwriters for more than a half century now. But another part of the Caffe’s mission is keeping alive the traditional folk music of the past and presenting it to contemporary audiences.

Earlier this month, Brooklyn-based trio the Down Hill Strugglers played two 35-minute sets at the coffeehouse, and there was nary an original, self-penned tune in the bunch. Instead, they served up a high-spirited evening of genuine old-timey music – fiddle tunes, rags, reels, spirituals, breakdowns with a ballad or two tossed in for good measure along the way. And along the way, they proved that old-timey music is timeless.

The band – featuring Eli Smith on banjo, Jackson Lynch on fiddle and Walker Shepard on guitar – draws obvious inspiration from Harry Smith’s classic “Anthology of American Folk Music” (the touchstone of the ’60s folk revival), the Holy Modal Rounders and especially the New Lost City Ramblers. In fact, the Ramblers’ John Cohen is one of their primary mentors. But the Down Hill Strugglers brought their own contemporary verve to such warhorses as the lively “Sally Ann” and “Turkey in the Straw,” which closed out their first set in fine twin-fiddle fashion.

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LIVE: The Zac Brown Band @ SPAC, 9/6/15

September 28th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Country music – or at least what passes for country music these days – dominated the 2015 summer at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center from opening show of the summer (Lady Antebellum on May 31) straight through to the end – the season-closing concert by the Zac Brown Band on Labor Day weekend.

Brown and the boys romped into SPAC in support of their new album Jekyll + Hyde, and just they had in 2012 and 2014, they attracted one of the largest crowds of the year, rockin’ and rollickin’ away the night.

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Jim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysCaffe LenaThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!Capital Repertory TheaterBerkshire On Stage