Rosary Beard – the sparkling, yet meditative instrumental guitar duo of Matthew Loiacano (aka Matthew Carefully) and Hunter Sagehorn (of Alta Mira) – unveiled their debut CD, “Halfmoon Fever,” with a pre-release party and performance at the Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany last Friday evening.
“We are thrilled, excited and nervous as a school-boy/girl to inform you of the upcoming release of our new full-length album on February 14,” reports Philip Price of Winterpills. The follow-up to their 2010 “Tuxedo of Ashes” EP, the band’s upcoming 13-song album is titled “All My Lovely Goners” and will be released on the Signature Sounds label. In addition to CD and digital download formats, the band is also planning a vinyl release of the album in April.
Over the course of the past two decades, the Steamer No. 10 Theatre has become one of Albany’s prime destinations for children’s entertainment. But every once in a while the intimate little theater plays host to some fine grown-up entertainment, too.
In celebration of the theater’s 20th anniversary, guest producer Michael Eck is presenting a new Electic Performance Series at the theater, a slate of six exciting evening concerts aimed at adult audiences and featuring some of the area’s finest musicians both past and present. Among the upcoming performers are Hamell on Trial, Sean Rowe, the Star Spangled Washboard Band, Val Haynes & Todd Nelson, Rosanne Raneri, Bryan Thomas, Rosary Beard, Winterpills and Frank Jaklitsch.
I’m not sure how it happened, but despite the fact that Erin McKeown has been recording for more than a decade, and has made numerous stops in Nippertown over the years, I’d never actually seen her in concert.
I made up for that oversight last Thursday at The Linda in Albany, and I’m still asking myself, “Well, what took ya so long?”
“A 45 single ‘Snoopy vs. the Red Baron’ by the Royal Guardsmen.”
In support of their new album, “Tuxedo of Ashes,” vocalist-guitarist Philip Price performs with his bandmate vocalist-keyboardist Flora Reed in a downsized duo version of the winterpills at The Linda in Albany at 8pm on Thursday.
Winterpills might think of this six-song EP as “a palette cleanser,” as they declare in their press release, but “Tuxedo of Ashes” is certainly no throw-away, stop-gap measure.
It’s a homegrown, hand-hewn batch of quiet but dramatic songs full of heart-tugging melancholy. It all begins with the lilting folk hymn of “Are You Sleeping (Cinnamon, Cardamom, Lithium)?,” dedicated to the gone-too-talents of Vic Chesnutt, Mark Linkous, Alex Chilton and Andy Hummell. The vocal harmonies of Philip Price and Flora Reed swirl amid the guitars, mellotron and cymbal swells, creating a gentle, but decidedly psychedelic sound.
“Mine is pretty embarrassing – Jack Wagner’s ‘All I Need.’ He was my favorite on ‘General Hospital’ and had a Top 10 hit with that song…”
Vocalist-keyboardist Flora Reed performs in the downsized duo version of winterpills (with vocalist-guitarist Philip Price) at 8pm on Thursday at The Linda in Albany, opening for Erin McKeown. Tix are $20.
What do you when you’re a band on the road rolling into a new town, and the members of the band nearly outnumber the members of the audience? It happens all of the time, of course. It’s just that nobody likes to talk about it.
Off on a tangent –
I remember being as sad and embarrassed as hell when I went to Valentine’s to see Jeff Buckley’s Nippertown debut back in June, 1994. There were no more than two dozen people in the audience. Despite the lack of an audience, Buckley and his band delivered a totally mesmerizing performance.
Chatting with him at the downstairs bar afterward, I apologized for the lack of a crowd. He signed a photo for me that’s still hanging on my home office wall, inscribed, “Thank you for the write-up, Greg. The crowd is just right. No foolin’. Sincerely, Jeff Buckley.”
Back to the story at hand –
Northampton’s Winterpills approached a similar-sized crowd at Valentine’s on Thursday with a similar attitude, despite the fact that they’d played the Palace Theatre as the opening act for Cake just a few months earlier. They delivered a marvelous performance at Valentine’s, even after attendance dropped into the single digits and stayed there.
Winterpills were undaunted. Part marvelous Americana folk quintet, part swirling dream-pop band, part flat-out rockers, they charged ahead with a deliciously well-rounded 70-minute show that ranged from finger-picking folk ballads (Flora Reed’s exquisite delivery of “Burning Hearts”) to pure-pop delight (the almost Association-esque vocal fuguing of “Cranky”) to the full bore rockin’ of “Threshing Machine.”
But in order to amuse themselves, the band was working with a secret game plan, which vocalist-guitarist Philip Price revealed before their third song. “We’ve decided to change our setlist tonight and play all of our songs alphabetically,’ he said. “We’ve finished the A’s and we’re venturing into the B’s.”
No joke. Winterpills paraded through the alphabet song-by-song.
Here’s the setlist:
And Then (Miracle Legion cover)
Want the Want
We’ll Bring You Down
You Don’t Love Me Yet
Matthew Loiacono joined in on backing vocals for “Beesting,” as well as the rest of the show.
Matthew also served up a tantalizing nine-song solo set, his first public performance utilizing a sampler. He had a solid grip on his new technology, though. From the opening volley of “I Would Keep You” (from his new album of musical miniatures, “Penny Riddle”) through to his closer, “Only Memory” (from his previous album, “Kentucky”), he showcased a broad range of dynamics, building elements of funk, prog-rock and unadorned feedback into his mandolin workouts.
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