Take It From the Top: Wynton Marsalis’ “Jazz A-B-Z”

March 15th, 2012, 2:30 pm by Greg
Wynton Marsalis: Jazz A-B-Z

“Armstrong. Armstrong almighty. An ad-libbing acrobat. American ambassador of affirmation. Adventurous author of ambrosial aires. Absolute architect of the Jazz Age. Almighty Armstrong attacks the trumpet with abandon! Armstrong’s amazing artistry astonishes audiences of all ages.”

– the opening lines of Wynton Marsalis’ 2005 children’s book, “Jazz A-B-Z”

Jazz trumpeter-composer Wynton Marsalis will join the 15-piece Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra in concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy at 7:30pm on Monday (March 19). Tix are $49, $69 & $79; students $22.


Take It From the Top, Kids Dept.: Olivia Newton-John’s “A Pig Tale”

December 7th, 2011, 11:00 am by Greg

“Now here’s a strange pig tale
that’s written in rhyme
of Ziggy, Pop Iggy, and
Once upon a time.”

– the opening lines of Olivia Newton-John’s 1993 children’s book, “A Pig Tale”

Grammy Award-winning singer Olivia Newton-John steps into the spotlight at the Palace Theatre in Albany at 8pm on Saturday (December 10). Tix are $39.50, $49.50 and $59.50.

Take It From the Top: Wesley’s Stace’s “Misfortune”

October 12th, 2011, 11:05 am by Greg
Wesley Stace: Misfortune

“By now, Pharaoh had reached his destination. A dirty young man of no more than fifteen years, he stood at the door of a crooked house in an alley, out of breath, gasping for air and wondering what to do. On one foot, he wore an oversized woman’s boot he’d found while scavenging for nails at low tide. On the other was a tattered derby tided together with string that bit viciously into his instep, though he barely noticed. On his head flopped a ragged cloth, with little shape or apparent purpose, and in between his top and his toes, his costume comprised a patchwork of tears and mends in at least three materials from many more pieces of previously worn clothing.”

– the opening lines of Wesley Stace’s 2005 novel, “Misfortune”

Singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding (aka Wesley Stace) will perform at The Egg in Albany at 8pm on Friday, opening the show for fellow songwriter-novelist Josh Ritter. Tix are $34.50.

Take It From the Top: Josh Ritter’s “Bright’s Passage”

Take It From the Top: Vincent Zandri’s “Godchild”

June 10th, 2011, 10:14 am by Greg

Vincent Zandri: Godchild

“The Land Rover headlights drill through the early morning desert darkness, two fiery eyes burning on the silent horizon barely an hour before the sun rises over Monterrey.

Four A.M.

The appointed time.

She’d been waiting for them, per instructions from her L.A. contact. The Halogen signal promised just last night in Houston when finally, over caviar, Dom and cocaine, she signed on to do the deal.”

– the opening lines of Vincent Zandri’s 2000 novel, “Godchild”

Writer-drummer Vincent Zandri will be behind the drum kit for his pentultimate performance with the Blisterz at 8pm on Saturday at Dublin’s in Troy. Sharing the stage will be Hijinx and Public Noise Concern. Admission is $5.

Take It From the Top: Vincent Zandri’s “As Catch Can”

Take It From the Top: Mike Doughty

November 17th, 2009, 1:07 pm by Greg

slanky“He lives in absolute terror of a saxophone he has kept under his bed for four years. He played it since his mouth learned to blow, then put it under the bed four years ago because he had grown bored of it and moved on to affairs with lovelier instruments; a clarinet for two months, a flute for awhile, the drums. He went back to the saxophone and couldn’t face it unashamed, so he put it under the bed and learned to play sociology, the jewel of all musical instruments.”

(Mike Doughty‘s “Whose Music?” from “Slanky: Poems,” 1996)

Mike Doughty performs the Question Jar Show at Revolution Hall in Troy on Wednesday (November 18).

Take It From the Top: Shawn Colvin

October 27th, 2009, 1:33 pm by Greg

songswithoutrhyme“we had to call the police again on the mexican bachelors next door. it’s kind of a thrill to call the police on somebody, and my husband and i agreed that we weren’t being reckless because we had asked them twice already to turn the music down and it was 2 a.m. and the last time this happened the baby woke up. we live in an apartment complex and although each unit has a front door, most of the residents use their garages to enter their apartments. we knew, therefore, that the mexicans drove a mercedes and a lexus, a detail that made an impression on my husband, who appreciates fine automobiles. we could also see that the inside of their garage was plastered with absolut vodka ads and pinups of naked women. so we knew the mexican bachelors were young, upscale, and liked to party, and that was fine, but enough was enough.”

(Shawn Colvin’s “Bonefields” from “Songs Without Rhyme: Prose By Celebrated Songwriters,” 2001)

At the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock on Sunday, November 1, Shawn Colvin plays a benefit concert for Sky Lake Lodge, a Shambhala Buddhist meditation center in Rosendale. Dean Batstone opens the show.

8/24: Take It From the Top: Vincent Zandri

August 24th, 2009, 12:49 pm by Greg


Nineteen ninety-seven was the year the Green Haven Prison went insane. The winter hadn’t produced a single snowstorm that lasted for more than an hour before turning to rain and slush, and what should have been covered with a velvety-smooth blanket of white went on being gray and lifeless and pitiful, as if God Himself saw to it that the twenty-five hundred inmates and corrections officers living and working inside nine concrete cell blocks never once forgot where they were and why they were put there in the first place.”

– from Vincent Zandri’s novel “As Catch Can,” 1999

Writer-drummer Vincent Zandri and his bandmates in the Blisterz are hosting and headlining the semi-regular “punk rock night” at Jillian’s in Albany on Wednesday, August 26. Also performing will be Wipe Out Marshall and Catching Cadence.

Take It From The Top: Graham Parker

July 29th, 2009, 11:01 am by Sara

carpfishing“The news came as quite a shock to me. I’d just gone down to the Indian store on Westbourne Grove to pick up a pint of milk and some bread for toast when the headline on the Daily Mirror displayed in a rack of papers across the road outside the newsagents caught my eye: MICK JAGGER DEAD, it screamed across the rain-soaked street.”

(Graham Parker’s “Me and the Stones” from “Carp Fishing on Valium and Other Tales of the Stranger Road Traveled,” 2000)

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