Best of 2012: Fred Rudofsky, Part III
A Music Maniac’s Images from 2012
Story by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Eric Gleason, Kirsten Ferguson
I probably should keep a diary about all the music events I attend, but I don’t. Luckily, I have a strong memory. Here are random yet indelible moments from my year of attending live music events:
Tedeschi Trucks Band opened their concert at the Palace Theatre with George Harrison’s 1970 classic “Wah-Wah.” It was an overwhelmingly ecstatic moment, over 10 musicians playing the song as if they were backing Harrison. Something tells me that George was watching from another realm, smiling.
The hero’s welcomes throughout the year were incredible. Los Straitjackets (featuring local legend Eddie Angel) packed the Ale House, with special guests Knyghts of Fuzz and Ritz Carlton, for two straight nights – mid-week! Scotty Mac & the Rockin’ Bonnevilles reunited for several powerful shows, with the one at Pauly’s Hotel in May taking the prize. The Figgs, celebrating 25 years, rocked a Valentine’s crowd in mid-summer. The J.B. Scott’s Reunion Party – well, you had to be there; it was one for the ages, seeing hundreds tap into something that was more than nostalgia.
Viva la raza! Los Lobos turned MASS MoCA into a wild dance party. Spines were realigned, and I swear I could speak Spanish for several days afterwards.
There was a hero’s farewell, a loving remembrance by musicians across generations and genres, for the late Pat Tiernan at Graney’s Stout. The kid who used to get kicked out of his high school cafeteria for playing guitar will be missed by so many. His talent and good will to all were rare indeed.
Seeing/hearing bands for the first time is always a gamble, but I was rolling sevens this year. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds shook Jillian’s to the rafters, inciting a “peaceful riot” as Rod Stewart would say, with lead singer Arleigh Kincheloe as beguiling as my imagination could ever dream up; Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real fried the minds of a Club Helsinki audience with an electric roar; Missing Cats hit the mark on a wide array of songs at Upstate Concert Hall; Walt Wilkins & the Mystiqueros brought deep Texas country to The Linda; four beautiful sisters from Colorado, calling themselves SHEL, wowed everybody with originals and a vibrant cover of “The Battle of Evermore” opening for Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at Club Helsinki; Lake Street Dive brought a bohemian vibe to their rock and roll at Green River Festival, while just down the hill in a packed tent Lost Bayou Ramblers merged Cajun and rock sounds with special guest Gordon Gano on a medley of Violent Femmes tunes.
Peter Wolf’s show at The Egg not only featured great songs, but incredible stories. When his memoir is published, it will make all others look like nothing.
Joe Louis Walker, blues great, told me stories about his friends/heroes (Mike Bloomfield and Hubert Sumlin, in particular) before mesmerizing a crowd at Pauly’s Hotel.
Alison Jacobs smiled profusely when her father introduced her and a band of blues all-stars at the J.B. Scott’s Reunion; boom, she then belted out songs like her heroes that she saw back in the day.
Kinky Friedman’s story of his father didn’t leave a dry eye at The Linda.
Chris Smither, also at The Linda, beamed as he told the story of adopting a daughter and what she had meant to him and his wife, and what she had taught him about how to view the cosmic questions of the universe.
Billy Joe Shaver covered the full spectrum of the human condition in song and story, and graciously told a sold-out Ale House that he loved us all. He meant it.
Hospitality lives. Just ask the Chandler Travis Three-O, who played a private backyard party in their pajamas in Brunswick on a sunny afternoon, with food and drink aplenty, fit for a king of the world.
This is not my beautiful house! Closing my eyes, I could have sworn that the Talking Heads had reunited. Start Making Sense made that thought seem plausible as they transformed Jillian’s into a funky dance party. My friend, Caitlin, rang in her 30th in burning-down-the-house style. I lost about five pounds dancing in the mayhem.
I high-fived Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars after their incredible show at the Upstate Concert Hall. Yes, the music was stellar, but I also had to give props for whoever had the genius to project the image of my all-time crush Sherilyn Fenn (dancing as Audrey Horne) from David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” on the screen behind the drums. “I’m that genius!” the grinning drummer replied.
Me: “So, you feel like getting up and dancing?” Beautiful woman: “No, I’m not one to get up and dance.” Five minutes passed, and the beautiful woman returned with beverages; a toast ensued. Two minutes later, frenetic, groovy dancing ensued, during Dr. John & the Lower 911’s “Mo’ Scocious” at the Palace Theatre. The power of funky good music has been affirmed. Stay thirsty, my friends…
My friend, Kirsten Thien, e-mailed me in early spring that yes, she would have a gig in Albany during the summer for the first time in ages. The day arrived, and she wowed the crowd at Alive at Five opening for Dickey Betts & Great Southern.
“Rocky Raccoon” got a surrealistic “Magical Mystery Tour”-styled makeover at Steamer No. 10 courtesy of the Star Spangled Washboard Band’s first gig in 15 years. Sorry, Sir Paul, but that trumps your momentary stint fronting Nirvana.
Shelby Lynne, with just an acoustic guitar, bared her soul and shared her resilience and Alabama wit at The Egg.
Under a summer sky at Green River Festival, I sang along with thousands and the Guthrie Family to “This Land Is Your Land.” I realized that song had been with me since about kindergarten. I laughed, smiled and cried.
Bootsy Collins brought the P-Funk Mothership – well not the actual one, but in spirit – to Alive at Five; he was like a funky inter-galactic preacher moving through the crowd during a jam, slapping hands and touching foreheads in the heat of June. I nearly got crushed in the mayhem.
The Revelations brought New York soul twice to Club Helsinki; each time, the dance floor filled up like a rain bucket.
Survivors never blink. Candye Kane thrilled a Pauly’s audience not only with her music, but her courageous stories of battling pancreatic cancer and gratitude for the chance to sing and share love through the blues. Hers was the best live music event for me in 2012. Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys rocked The Egg – to think that he nearly died a decade ago, and now he’s making some of the most vital music on the planet. Wow!
Hamell on Trial’s residency in October to test out some new songs at Valentine’s cast a spotlight on the creative process like no other. It was funny, haunting and mesmerizing – I cannot wait to hear the new songs in their finished form in 2013.
MORE OF NIPPERTOWN’S BEST OF 2012 LISTS
Fred Rudofsky, Part II
J Hunter, Part II
Various: Other Voices Round-up