LIVE: Popa Chubby @ the Van Dyck, 4/23/11

April 27th, 2011, 5:00 pm by Sara

Popa Chubby

“There’s no change in the weather,” Popa Chubby roared, nearly swallowing the mic during his opening number at the Van Dyck. “There’s no changes in me!”

Well, the classic Lynyrd Skynyrd lyric was half-right: Even by Capital Region standards, the weather’s about as changeable as a bi-polar grizzly bear. But the force of nature that started life in the Bronx as Ted Horowitz is still doing what he’s been doing for nearly 20 years, which is lashing audiences with some of the filthiest blues/rock guitar that ever smacked you in the face.

“Welcome to the late show!” Chubby bellowed before lighting into the Skynyrd classic “They Call Me the Breeze.” Popa’s take had a little more rockabilly than the original, but the final product was completely unvarnished and utterly nasty. After getting the almost-full house sufficiently hyped up, he pulled out the ultimate jilted-lover’s-revenge tune, “Hey Joe.” Any piece associated with Jimi Hendrix is a gutsy choice for any guitarist, but Chubby’s facility with the icon’s material is well-documented on the tremendous 3-disc set “Electric Chubbyland.”

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Yarn Brings “Schenectady” to Schenectady

December 7th, 2010, 4:00 pm by Greg

As a Schenectady native, songwriter Blake Christiana comes by his assessment of the city quite honestly, but it’s clear that he’s more comfortable looking at the city’s skyline in his rear-view mirror as he sings, “Schenectady / I been waiting for so long for you to comfort me / but this boy has moved on.”

Yes, Christiana and his band Yarn recorded their song “Schenectady,” for their third album, “Come On In,” which was released back in the spring. And now the alt-country band, which is based out of Brooklyn these days, has released a nifty little video for the song.

Just don’t expect the song to be embraced by the Schenectady Chamber of Commerce. The song is an honest – one might say “unflinching” – look at the Electric City. This ain’t no rah-rah-rah, hometown homage anthem.

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CD: Popa Chubby’s “The Fight Is On”

May 5th, 2010, 10:28 am by Greg

Poppa Chubby: The Fight Is On(Blind Pig Records, 2010):

The Chub Man is back, and he’s rockin’ harder than ever – as you can easily tell with a glance at the track listing, which includes “We Got Some Rocking to Do” and “Rock and Roll Is My Religion.”

There’s still some blues in Popa Chubby’s bruising brand of blues-rock (check out “Another Ten Years Gone” and “Wicked Wanda”), but it definitely takes a backseat to the rockin’. And just to drive the point home, Chubby wraps up the hour-long disc with a live, go-for-the-throat rendition of Motorhead’s signature “Ace of Spades.” Yeah, I don’t think John Lee done it this way.

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Five Firsts: Al Haugen

April 28th, 2010, 1:55 pm by Greg

Al Haugen
NAME: Al Haugen
BAND AFFILIATION: Al Haugen and Friends
INSTRUMENT: Accordion (jazz and continental)


2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … Hudson Valley Philharmonic



5. THE FIRST BAND I WAS EVER IN WAS … The Dutchess Ramblers (country and pop) at age 14

At 7pm on Friday, accordionist Al Haugen teams up with pianist Don Egry at the Van Dyck in Schenectady to pay tribute to two jazz greats who passed away this year. For the “Tribute to Art Van Damme and Oscar Peterson,” Haugen and Egry will also be joined by bassist Lou Pappas and drummer Bobby Halek. Tickets are $5 in advance; $7 at the door.

CD: Carrie Rodriguez’s “Love and Circumstance”

April 6th, 2010, 12:58 pm by Greg

(Ninth Street Opus, 2010)

“I’m a full-grown woman, and I’m looking for a big love,” Carrie Rodriguez sings on the opening track of her upcoming album (due out on Tuesday, April 13), and it’s no idle boast.

Rodriguez has come a long, long way since the days when she was Chip Taylor’s fiddling sidekick. She still plays some fiddle on “Love and Circumstance,” her third solo album, but she really makes her mark here as a singer – at once confident, passionate and relaxed.

While Rodriguez penned most of the songs on her sophomore album, 2008’s “She Ain’t Me,” this time around she pays tribute to her musical influences, digging into the rich songbags of Richard Thompson (“Waltzing’s for Dreamers”), Gillian Welch and David Rawlings (“I Made a Lover’s Prayer”), M. Ward (“Eyes on the Prize”) and Townes Van Zandt (“Rex’s Blues”).

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LIVE: Duke Robillard @ the Van Dyck, 3/19/10

March 24th, 2010, 11:40 am by Greg

Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard

“Good evening,” Duke Robillard greeted the crowd at the Van Dyck Lounge last Friday night. Then he quickly added, “Or good afternoon, almost.”

Robillard wasn’t far wrong. Despite the 6:30pm start time and the tightly-closed curtains behind the stage, sunlight still streamed in from the windows high up in the loft area. Daylight Saving Time may make evening backyard cookouts fun, but it makes going to early club dates kind of weird. Nevertheless, the Van Dyck was nearly full when Robillard counted off “a tune I wrote for my dog,” the instrumental “Swingin’ with Lucy Mae.”

You always know what you’re going to get with Duke, because he’s been serving it up for over thirty years – blues with a feeling, hooked inexorably to a history decorated with names like T-Bone Walker and B.B. King. Robillard dedicated “I’m Gonna Get You Cold” to King because “I borrowed every lick from B.B. to make this song!” His confession only got laughs, because if there’s anyone who can bring that sweet, soulful noise the Mayor of Bluesville made famous, it’s Duke Robillard.

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LIVE: The Johnny Cash Birthday Bash @ the Van Dyck, 2/27/10

March 1st, 2010, 4:02 pm by Greg

Cristo Lewis with Big Frank Novko

Cristo Lewis with Big Frank Novko

More than a dozen Nippertown musical acts joined forces at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on Saturday night to celebrate the life and music of Johnny Cash on the occasion of what would have been the Man in Black’s 78th birthday.

MotherJudge kicked off the festivities with a rousing rendition of “Hey, Porter,” backed by the evening’s house band featuring guitarist Johnny Hoffman, bassist Big Frank Novko (both of Big Frank & the Bargain Bingers) and drummer Dale Haskell (of Street Corner Holler).

Cash’s vast songbag runs the gamut of topics, and just about every aspect of Cash’s repertoire was touched upon on Saturday in front of a capacity crowd that spilled deep into the bar. There were songs were about drinking and cheating, God and America, trains and prison. And they all seemed stamped with that unique Cash touch.

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Flashback: Blotto Meets Journey, 1979

February 18th, 2010, 1:34 pm by Greg

Yeah, I know. After all of the hoopla last week regarding the Blotto reunion concert at the Exit Dome, you probably don’t want to hear about Blotto for another, well, say, 30 more years.

I don’t blame ya. Me, either.

But there is that funny Blotto story about jamming with some of the guys from Journey at 17 Maple Ave. in Saratoga Springs (now known as Mare). Tom Keyser alluded to it in his Preview cover story in The Times Union last week. And you can read the whole story as I wrote it about a decade ago.

But it just so happens that Steve Smith – who was the drummer in Journey back on that fateful night in 1979 – is headed into the Van Dyck in Schenectady for two shows (6 & 9:30pm) on Sunday evening with his current band, Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy.

The lineup of Smith’s band also features alto saxophonist Andy Fusco (Buddy Rich/Mel Lewis); tenor and soprano saxophonist Walt Weiskopf (Buddy Rich/Steely Dan); pianist Mark Soskin (Sonny Rollins/Herbie Mann); bassist Baron Browne (Vital Information/Billy Cobham).

“Part of our mission will be to perform music honoring great drummers of jazz history,” explains Smith. “We have charts dedicated to Philly Joe Jones and Art Blakey, and we’re developing new material for each tour. We also intend to carry on the tradition of many of the drummer-led jazz bands, which is to communicate with music lovers of all generations, strive for excellence and play non-compromising, burning, straight-ahead jazz.”

Sounds good to me. Maybe I’ll have to drop by on Sunday, and say hi to our old pal Steve.

The Cock'N'Bull RestaurantHolly & EvanCaffe LenaCartoonist John CaldwellJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysAdvertise on Nippertown!Berkshire On StageArtist Charles Haymes