NAME: Pete Curry
BAND AFFILIATION: Los Straitjackets
1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … The BIG Sounds of the Drags!
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk
Environment is important, and the environment for Jaimeo Brown’s appearance at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy was certainly different from that blazing-hot June day at SPAC when his group Transcendence knocked everyone’s socks off at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival Gazebo stage. On the plus side, this show was inside the Sanctuary’s cozy confines, so there was no danger of losing any of the power these three tremendous young musicians are able to harness; on the minus, it was cold and wet and trying to snow, which usually tends to pick off the more weather-averse concert-goer. Whether it was the viral marketing that went with this show or just the memory of the wild ride Transcendence took us on that summer, the place was almost packed at showtime.
It was great to hear emcee/booker Susan Brink confirm my recollection about how entranced the crowd had been at the Gazebo. “The entire audience was as one,” she told us during her glowing introduction. After Brown, altoist Jaleel Shaw and guitarist-loopmaster Chris Sholar had come on stage, Brown split time between thanking us profusely for braving the weather and explaining about how this music “celebrates community,” and how at its root is the Gee’s Bend, Alabama community where the field recordings that inspired Brown were created. “This music is homegrown,” he added. “And you are part of our community now!”
By Larry Murray
Christmas is warmer, more special when you celebrate it with a friend. And for many, Jim Brickman is a special person in their lives, having brought his unique music and personality to the stage for more than a decade. For those of us in the Berkshire and Albany area, his appearance at 7:30pm on Thursday (December 11) at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall will be writ large in our holiday calendar.
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Bender Melon
Okay, first, let’s posit that duet concerts are not like other concerts. You’ve got two people doing the work of four or five, in addition to getting their music across to the crowd. That it takes accomplished players to make it work goes without saying, but it goes farther than that: There needs to be a shared language, an understanding that tells one another who’s got the lead, who’s got the foundation, when things start and when things finish, and whose solo is it, anyway? It sounds complicated, but I’ve seen a bunch of duet shows, and the arrangement is pretty standard usually.
Pianist Myra Melford and clarinetist Ben Goldberg of Dialogue are decidedly not “usual.” You’re dealing with two accomplished musicians who think 10 steps ahead of most folks at any one time, and whose respective discographies include enough square pegs to make every round hole wave the white flag. The Box doesn’t even enter into the equation, let alone thinking outside of it. What happens when Melford and Goldberg get together is mercurial, to say the least, and the near-full house at the Sanctuary for Independent Media saw that in no uncertain terms. But again, it was more than just two extraordinary players having a musical conversation; it was two people conversing in a completely unique language that was incredibly beautiful, utterly impenetrable, and wholly beyond the “standard” set by many others.
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
As the runner-up on season 9 of “American Idol,” Toledo singer-songwriter Crystal Bowersox grabbed the national spotlight, and she’s been rolling along ever since.
With two albums to her credit since then, Bowersox made her headlining theater debut at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall in Troy two weeks ago, accompanied by bassist-vocalist Rachel Coates.
Singer-songwriter Caroline Glaser opened the concert.
Photographs by Timothy Reidy
Singer-songwriter-ringmaster Chandler Travis makes his home on Cape Cod, but Nippertown has become his home-away-from-home. Heck, he plays more Local 518 gigs than most local bands do.
On his latest stop, he brought his fab Catbirds to the Ale House in Troy, and as usual they ripped the place up with their unique, oh-so-sweet brand of rock ‘n’ roll. And once again the getting-a-little-less-reclusive Pete LaBonne was sharing the bill, both as the opening act in and joining the Catbirds in some delicious, five-piece musical mayhem.
The Catbirds have flown the Nippertown coop for now, but never fear, it’s never long before Travis returns in one of his many musical merauding incarnations or another. OH WAIT… the Chandler Travis Three-O will be returning to the Lion’s Den at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge for a free show at 9pm on Saturday (November 22). See, I told you it wouldn’t be long…
Interview and story by J Hunter
I was at a professional seminar the other day when I saw a PowerPoint slide that had me stunned for a moment: “There is no such thing as Multi-Tasking.” Okay, if we postulate that a human being isn’t an air-breathing octopus with eight arms that can build a better mousetrap AND write the Great American Novel while it’s making a hearty breakfast for its human/octopi-hybrid family, I guess that is technically true. But the human mind is a marvelous little machine with a ton of neurons firing every single second, and not all of them are focused on what you’re posting on Facebook or your teeth-gritting effort to not spill your coffee while walking over to your cubicle. In other words, there’s a lot going on underneath while you’re doing your best to get through your day.
Take, for example, clarinetist-composer Ben Goldberg, who’s become a musical icon in the Bay Area over the last couple of decades. To say Goldberg has multiple interests is like saying Lewis Hamilton likes to drive fast. I got turned on to Goldberg in 2009 through a semi-super group jazz disc called Go Home, which Goldberg used to launch his record label BAG Productions. But if you look over the various projects littered throughout his discography (the alt-folk outfits Tin Hat and Junk Genius, the New Klezmer Trio, Clarinet Thing, and two utterly opposite recordings he released simultaneously in 2013), and you get the impression Goldberg is playing 12-dimensional chess while the rest of us are playing checkers – badly!
Now, it is possible to play 12-dimensional chess by yourself… I imagine. But most games are more fun if you’ve got someone to play with. When it comes to that, Goldberg’s favorite partner for one-on-one games is next-level pianist Myra Melford. Both players have recorded duets with other artists (Melford most recently with Australian pianist Alister Spence), and both artists have truly unique projects on their respective resumes: Melford’s includes Alison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, the bands Snowy Egret and Trio M, and her own Be Bread Ensemble, which Goldberg joined in 2010.
But to listen to Goldberg and Melford play together – as they do on their latest collaboration Dialogue – is to listen to a kind of synchronicity that shouldn’t be possible for people who haven’t experienced the Vulcan Mind Meld. It’s akin to watching two people work together on building a stained-glass window, never talking to each other once, and the thing comes out dead-solid perfect. To hear that (and to see it on the concert video shot of Myra and Ben in 2013) is to hear two creative soul mates flying in intricate formation, performing acrobatic feats that the Blue Angels wouldn’t even consider attempting.
We get to see Melford and Goldberg perform the aforementioned musical magic at 7pm this Sunday (November 16) at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy. Ben was good enough to take a few minutes and talk about this project (among other things):