LIVE: Buffy Sainte-Marie @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 5/23/15

June 22nd, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu

“I can tell you things I’ve done,
and I can sing you songs I’ve sung,
But there’s one thing I can’t give
for I and I alone can live
the years I’ve known,
the life I’ve grown.
Got a way I’m going,
and it’s my way…”

– Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “It’s My Way”

“It’s My Way” is the title track of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s 1964 debut album, and was certainly a bold statement for a young up-and-coming folk artist. Now, more than 50 years later, she revisited the anthem as the lead-off track on her new album, Power in the Blood, and as the opening volley at her recent concert at the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady.

And as a statement of purpose, it’s as apropos and as potent as ever for the Canadian Cree singer-songwriter. At age 74, she remains defiantly outspoken and staunchly independent songwriter and performer.

Her set list veered from the powerfully personal to the pointedly political. Her protest songs both old (“Universal Soldier” and a reggae-tinged rendition of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”) and newer (“Priests of the Golden Bull”) were deftly balanced with love songs (“Until It’s Time for You to Go” and the encore of her Academy Award-winning “Up Where We Belong”) and sing-along anthems (the hypnotic “We Are Circling” and the show-closing “Carry It On”).

With Sainte-Marie switching back and forth between guitar and keyboards, her music ran the stylistic gamut from loping country (“Farm in the Middle of Nowhere”) to the slinky soul of “Love Charms (Mojo Bijoux),” from the straight-up rockabilly of “Blue Sunday” to the rip-roaring pow-wow rock of “Cho Cho Fire” to the psychedelic swirl of “Little Wheel Spin and Spin.”

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LIVE: Tom Rush @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 5/15/15

May 28th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Tom Rush

Tom Rush

Review by Don Wilcock
Photographs by Mary Kozlowski

Tom Rush calls himself simply “a generalist,” a self-deprecating understatement that proved way insufficient in defining his sumptuous nearly three-hour, two-set concert at the Eighth Step at Proctors recently. His tour-de-force performance featured his own signature song “No Regrets” from early in his career as Boston’s best voice of the ’60s folk boom and his career-defining The Circle Game, which introduced Joni Mitchell’s songwriting to the world.

Criss-crossing genres, he re-invigorated Dobie Gray’s pop ode to the palliative properties of music on “Drift Away,” and encored with an energetic acoustic version of “Who Do You Love” that somehow managed to inject as much potency into that Bo Diddley rockin’ blues classic as Diddley himself did in the ’50s with his plugged-in rectangular guitar. Rush joked about songwriter Lee Clayton telling him he’d written the outlaw country number “Ladies Love Outlaws” especially for Tom and then postulated that Lee probably said the same thing to Waylon Jennings, who had a hit with it.

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LIVE: John McCutcheon @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 4/25/14

May 1st, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg
John McCutcheon

John McCutcheon

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The word “multi-instrumentalist” was coined for John McCutcheon. The truth of the matter is, if an instrument has got strings, McCutcheon surely knows how to play it. Not just play it, but play it well. Like dazzlingly well.

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For Pete’s Sake: More Pete Seeger Tribute Concerts

April 3rd, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg
Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

The Eighth Step at Proctors, Schenectady
8pm Friday (April 4), $15

The Eighth Step welcomes several long-time musician friends and others whose performing lives were intertwined with Pete Seeger’s. Several of the performers appeared frequently with Pete Seeger including singer-songwriter Dan Einbender (Grammy Award winner for the CD Pete Seeger & the Rivertown Kids), the honey-voiced Hudson Valley quintet Betty & the Baby Boomers (who will be joined by Celtic harpist Lynn Saoirse) and Albany’s own Ruth Pelham (the Queen of the Music Mobile). The evening will also feature short video clips of Pete Seeger and an exhibit of Seeger images by photographer Robert Corwin. Wanda Fischer (host and producer of WAMC-FM’s “Hudson River Sampler”) and Eighth Step director Margie Rosenkranz (former artistic director for Seeger’s Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival festival) will co-host the festivities.

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LIVE: Betty & the Baby Boomers @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 2/1/14

February 6th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
Betty and the Boomers

Betty and the Boomers

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Betty & the Baby Boomers, stalwarts of the Hudson Valley Folk Scene, once again brought their beautiful voices and harmonies to the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady to kick off the February concert calendar.

This visit was especially poignant as the four original members of the group – Paul Rubeo, Jean Valla-McAvoy, Betty Boomer and Steve Stanne – are closely associated with the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Inc., a special project founded by late Pete Seeger dedicated to cleaning up the Hudson River.

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Susan Werner, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

October 18th, 2013, 11:30 am by Greg
Susan Werner

Susan Werner

“My parents bought me a little kids’ record player when I was two or three years old, and my mother remembers me standing there playing record after record after record. I couldn’t stop playing the records. I just wanted to play records.

But honestly, I can’t really remember the first one that I bought.”

Singer-songwriter Susan Werner and her band will step into the spotlight at the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady at 7pm on Sunday (October 20). She’ll be showcasing songs from her new album, “Hayseed,” which celebrates the language, livelihood, characters and concerns of American farmers. Tickets are $26 in advance; $28 at the door; $35 Gold Circle.

Festival Fever: The Electric City UkeFest @ the Eighth Step at Proctors, 9/21/13

September 16th, 2013, 2:00 pm by Greg

It’s a tiny instrument, but it packs a whole lotta joy…

In recent years the small but mighty ukulele has enjoyed a huge and enthusiastic resurgence in popularity and inspired popular ukulele festivals from New York to Hawaii.

And close to home, the second annual Electric City Ukefest will be taking over the Eighth Step at Proctors in Schenectady on Saturday (September 21), bringing some of the top uke talents to Nippertown for a full day of workshops, demonstrations, jam sessions and an open mic, all leading up to the big gala Fleabag! ukulele concert in the evening.

ALL-FEST (includes all workshops & evening concert):
$35 in advance; $40 at the door
$20 students
Children under 12 free w/adult if attending Ukes R Us
FLEABAG (evening concert only): $15

Here’s the complete schedule for the 2013 Electric City UkeFest:

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The Eighth Step Announces Fall 2013 Season

June 4th, 2013, 12:00 pm by Greg
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie at the Eighth Step, January 2012

Photograph by Rudy Lu

The Eighth Step has moved around Nippertown quite a bit – from its original home at the United Presbyterian Church at the corner of Washington Park to a variety of other Albany locations to Cohoes – during its 45 years of presenting great folk music and more. But the venerable coffeehouse seems to have settled in at Proctors in Schenectady quite nicely, as evidenced by the sold-out Pete and Peggy Seeger concert they hosted last month.

And now the folks at the Eighth Step are ready to reveal a few of the concerts on tap for their 46th season.

Here’s a sneak peek at how things are starting to shape up for the fall of 2013:

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