LIVE: Giacomo Smith & Friends @ Universal Preservation Hall, 8/22/15

September 24th, 2015, 3:00 pm by Greg


Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

The party atmosphere of summer track season in Saratoga was carried into the Universal Preservation Hall by Giacomo Smith & Friends during their second annual concert there.

This Victorian Church-turned-performance space was turned into a dance hall as clarinetist Smith and his band played dance music from many past jazz eras, ranging from the Dixieland of New Orleans to Kansas City swing, Parisian Gypsy jazz to the early bebop of Dizzy Gillespie.

The audience was encouraged to swing dance, and dance they did, as many tunes had the audience on their feet and movin’.

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LIVE: Alan Cumming @ Universal Preservation Hall, 6/18/15

June 25th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg


Story by Kirsten Ferguson
Photographs by Richard Lovrich

“My name is Alan Cumming, and I’m here to sing you some sappy songs,” said the Scottish-American actor at the start of his cabaret performance at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs.

Cumming had just ripped off his grey suit coat, revealing that his black button-down underneath was really a muscle shirt missing sleeves, making some in the audience laugh.

You didn’t quite know what you would get from the raffish performer – known mostly for his Tony Award-winning role as the pan-sexual emcee on Broadway in “Cabaret” and his role as Eli Gold on CBS-TV’s award-winning dramatic series “The Good Wife.” During the course of his 80-minute Saratoga performance – a deft mix of song and storytelling – that unpredictability and range was part of his charm.

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The Orchard Project Brings Alan Cumming, Theresa Rebeck, Gate Theatre & More to Saratoga [Berkshire on Stage]

May 11th, 2015, 1:00 pm by Sara
Alan Cumming

Alan Cumming

The Exchange has announced the artists and companies who will participate in its 2015 Orchard Project summer residency program in Saratoga Springs. They include Alan Cumming, Theresa Rebeck, Bridget Everett, Marcus Gardley, Stew, Ping Chong, John Glover, the UK’s Gate Theatre and others, a total of 22 artists and ensembles (listed below). These artists were selected from a competitive field of nearly 500 applicants to develop their big, new ideas at the Orchard Project. This will be the eighth summer — and the first summer in Saratoga Springs — for the Orchard Project, a laboratory program where theater artists and companies come to innovate, develop and refine new shows. Past productions developed at the Orchard Project have gone on to be performed around the globe for over 500,000 people and to win awards from TONYs to Obies to Oliviers.

We couldn’t be more excited to turn Saratoga into a creative springboard for pathbreaking new work that will go on to stages across the country and the world. We can’t wait to see what the Orchard Project’s 100-plus writers, directors, actors, singers, dancers and puppeteers create this summer.” – Ari Edelson, founder and artistic director of the Orchard Project

The Exchange also announced the launch of its first-ever Orchard Project Presents season, a series of public performances that will take place at Saratoga Springs’ Universal Preservation Hall — a recently restored 1871 church — as well as at venues around Saratoga Springs. The Orchard Project Presents series will invite the public to experience world class new work as it is being developed. The series will feature events every week in June, including Sneak Peek Productions (early stage, cutting-edge workshops and productions), Cabarets and Concerts (special events with top musical talent) and an Open Studio Week (featuring innovative shadow puppeteers). Orchard Project Presents will begin the month with an immersive production of “Church of the Passionate Cat” by Austin’s Underbelly Theater and conclude with an intimate concert with TONY Award winning actor, singer and writer Alan Cumming. The full line-up is listed below.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

LIVE: The Brubeck Brothers Quartet @ Universal Preservation Hall, 8/1/14

August 12th, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet (photo by Corey Aldrich)

Review by J Hunter
Photograph by Corey Aldrich

I have an ironclad rule: NEVER go into downtown Saratoga Springs when the Flat Track is open. However, ironclad rules are made to be sold for scrap and melted down – particularly when I’m offered the chance to check out both the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and one of the most striking concert spaces the Spa City has ever seen.

A Victorian Gothic church built in 1871, Universal Preservation Hall has been under various stages of rehab since the start of this century. The main hall needs to be seen to be believed: We’re talking a real cathedral ceiling, with flying buttresses that will take your breath away and a huge slab of gorgeous exposed brick where the church organ used to be. There’s plenty more work to do (HVAC still needs to be installed – something that became patently obvious as the evening went on), but given the commitment and energy of the board members and volunteers I met on this evening, there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to get done.

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LIVE: John Sebastian @ Universal Preservation Hall, 7/29/11

August 3rd, 2011, 2:00 pm by Greg
John Sebastian

John Sebastian

“You didn’t have to be so nice, I would have liked you anyway…”

John Sebastian is so damned ingratiating in concert that he can make you forget that his once golden voice now possesses merely a shadow of its former glory. Confidant and so relaxed that you’d think he was simply doing some casual picking in your living room, the former frontman for the Lovin’ Spoonful ambled across the stage at the beautiful and funky Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs on Friday night, plugged in his electric guitar and launched into one of those jaunty blues gems from Mississippi John Hurt, “I’m Satisfied.”

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LIVE: Lisa Loeb @ Universal Preservation Hall, 7/27/11

July 29th, 2011, 12:00 pm by Greg
Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb’s visit to the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs on Wednesday was a musical double-header – an afternoon show for the kids and an evening show for the adult fans of this Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter.

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John Sebastian, What Do You Listen to When You Clean the House?

July 26th, 2011, 3:15 pm by Greg
John Sebastian

John Sebastian

“Currently, it’s an oddball compilation that (cartoonist) R. Crumb put together with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and Gus Cannon and so forth. It’s just an incredible assembly of things I wasn’t really familiar with.”

Veteran singer-songwriter, monster harmonica player former Lovin’ Spoonful bandleader and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian takes the stage for a concert at the Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs at 8pm on Friday. Tix are $48.

Max Weinberg Splits with Conan O’Brien

September 28th, 2010, 11:01 am by Greg

Max Weinberg

Max Weinberg

After 17 years of leading the band for late night stalwart Conan O’Brien on both “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” and his short-lived stint on “The Tonight Show,” drummer Max Weinberg won’t be following O’Brien to TBS, where the late talk show host is slated to debut his new show, “Conan,” on Monday, November 8.

Weinberg’s departure was by mutual agreement, and in a statement, O’Brien said, “Max has been a huge part of my life for the past 17 years, and he is an incredible band leader and musician. I hope he can find time to stop by the new show, sit in with the band, and pretend to find my monologue funny.”

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