Posts Tagged ‘Schenectady’

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: Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys @ the Music Haven, 8/3/14

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

Jeffery Broussard (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Rudy Lu and Stanley Johnson

A recent Sunday evening crowd with an affinity for roots music got a double-dose of the good stuff at the Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park.

Ramblin Jug Stompers, local heroes of traditional jug-band music, got the feet tapping and hands clapping with their fine opener, “Mountain Dew.” Mister Eck’s lively mandolin propelled “Jug Band Music,” coaxing percussionist Will Bill to sing (and even whisper) like a mercurial carnival barker. Bowtie and Mister Eck played five-string and four-string banjos (“a patented duel banjo attack,” mused the latter) for a spirited “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” which was followed by guitarist Cousin Clyde’s mournful “A Man of Constant Sorrow.”

A delicate, swinging instrumental, “Frypan Jack Enters into Heaven” (from Hobo Nickel) was a fine showcase for Bowtie’s banjo and Cousin Clyde’s synchrony. Will Bill put aside his various percussion instruments for some soulful country harmonica during “Blues in the Bottle,” a showcase as well for Mister Eck’s robust vocals and resonator ukelele playing. No doubt hearing the freight train to their next destination, RJS closed their set with tight harmonies on crowd-pleaser “Old Plank Road,” a touchstone of the band’s live performances since its formation in 2006.

Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys brought the exuberant sounds and rhythms of zydeco from Louisiana for over an hour and a half. With a toothpick lodged in the right corner of his mouth, Broussard sang with a hearty voice in English and French and played his blue, white and red accordion masterfully. The crowd’s lack of familiarity with many of the songs – very few titles were announced – did not matter given the energy levels on the faster ones and the glorious ache of romance on the slow waltzes and two-steps. People young and old began dancing; by the end of the show, the area in front of the stage was crowded with happy dancers. Good will and good times never sounded so natural.

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THEATER: Cirque Eloize’s “iD” @ Proctors, 8/3/14

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

CirqueEloize_iD_Trampoline2012a

Review by Greg Haymes

Last year, the Montreal-based Cirque Eloize made their Proctors summer residency debut with “Cirkopolis,” a fusion of circus performance skills based around a somewhat bleak “Metropolis”-meets-”Brazil” theme, directed by Jeannot Painchaud.

This year they’re back with “iD” – also directed by Painchaud but with an entirely different troupe of performers – and it’s a decidedly more engaging, colorful, accessible and altogether thrilling display of circus skills based on a “West Side Story”-goes-hip-hop theme. And Sunday’s matinee performance was a real doozie.

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LIVE: Bria Skonberg @ the Van Dyck, 7/25/14

Friday, August 1st, 2014
Bria Skonberg

Bria Skonberg

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Dixieland jazz in the 21st century. Bria Skonberg and her quartet showed us an updated version of this revered form during their performance at the Van Dyck in Schenectady last weekend.

Hailing originally from Chilliwack, British Columbia and now headquartered in Brooklyn, trumpeter-vocalist Skonberg led her quartet through an hour-and-a-half set of standards, covers of late ’60s classics and original tunes.

After opening with Harold Arlen’s “Get Happy,” she followed with “Comes Love,” a tune associated with Billie Holiday, and Skonberg established herself as strongly within the jazz tradition. She followed with Joni Mitchell’s “ Big Yellow Taxi” (with scat-like singing of many of the lyrics) and John Lennon’s homage to his mother, “Julia.” “Six More Weeks” was a sultry original featuring Skonberg on vocals.

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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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LIVE: Eileen Ivers @ Proctors, 7/13/14

Friday, July 18th, 2014
Eileen Ivers

Eileen Ivers

Photographs by Stanley Johnson and Rudy Lu

Fab Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers has been a longtime favorite with Nippertown audiences, having played at such concert venues as the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and The Egg. So it was no surprise that a large crowd came out to see her play a free show, despite the fact that rain forced the concert to move from Central Park’s Music Haven to indoors at Proctors’ Main Stage.

While Ivers and her crack band – percussionist Tommy McDonnell, accordionist Buddy Connolly, guitarist Greg Anderson and bassist Lindsey Horner – certainly are rooted in Irish music, they also know how to hybridize with a deft touch (the Afro-Celtic mash-up “Paddy in Zululand”) and stretch out far beyond the Celtic music genre altogether, like their encore of the Allman Brothers Band’s “People Can You Feel It (Love Is In the Air).”

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LIVE: Mokoomba @ Music Haven at Central Park, 6/29/14

Friday, July 11th, 2014
Mokoomba

Mokoomba

Photographs by Stanley Johnson

With Mona Golub at the helm, the slogan for the Music Haven Concert Series is, “Traveling the world one concert at a time,” and the series kicked off its 25th anniversary season last month in Africa.

Not just any African band, either. Mokoomba hails from the isolated town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and their appearance in Schenectady’s Central Park was their first ever concert on American soil. And what a concert it was. led by vocalist Mathias Muzaza, Mokoomba was all-around terrific: great dancers, great singers and great players.

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New Release Rack: Gordon St’s “The Electric City”

Friday, June 20th, 2014

The Electric CityGordon St is gearing up for this weekend’s release of their sophomore EP, The Electric City, and the rockers are celebrating with a free concert at Freedom Park in Scotia at 7pm on Saturday (June 21).

Titled for the band’s Schenectady base of operations, The Electric City is a diverse collection of three original songs – “Motion of the Ocean,” “Such a Fool” and “Ripcord” – that showcase Gordon St’s talent at blending multiple rock genres, all underscored with a danceable beat.

“The songs are a bit more grown-up, but they don’t sacrifice the underlying aspect of fun that has always summed up what we’re going for,” explains singer-bassist Dan Noonan. In addition to Noonan, the band features guitarist Ritch Harrigan, drummer Dennis Fatato and keyboardist Mark Bertini.

The Electric City – the band’s follow-up to their 2012 debut, Telenovella – was recorded with engineer John Chiara at Albany Audio.

And if you can’t make it to Freedom Park on Saturday for the band’s CD release party, you’ll have another chance to catch Gordon St in action at 6:30pm on Friday, June 27 at Cafe NOLA in Schenectady.

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