LIVE: Don Byron & Friends @ Club Helsinki, 11/28/15
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu
If you wanted to wear off the effect of a tryptophan induced drowsiness following Thanksgiving, Club Helsinki in Hudson was the place to be where Don Byron & Friends celebrated the funky side of pop music by playing the music of Jr. Walker & the All Stars, James Brown, Marvin Gaye and others.
Byron is well known for exploring his virtuoso explorations of many styles of music including gospel, klezmer, the cartoon soundtracks of Raymond Scott, jazz of the ’20s & ’30s, movie soundtracks and the avant garde. His exploration of funk was no different than the others – put together a band of outstanding musicians and have fun playing with them!
Much of this music was from Don Byron’s 2006 CD Do the Boomerang, and veteran Hudson Valley/MYC musicians were recruited for the performance including Pete Levin (keyboards), Matt Finck (guitar), Scott Petito (bass), Zachary Alford (drums) and Dean Bowman (vocals).
The band opened with a slow-burning blues, “Cleo’s Mood,” and then moved rapidly through “Do the Boomerang,” Ray Charles’ “Should Have Been Me,” “Shake Mother’s Hand for Me” (announced gleefully by Byron as more gospel shit!), “Lovesick Blues” (featuring a fine slide guitar solo by Matt Finck), two James Brown tunes, as well as the Jr. Walker hits “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love From Me)” and “Shotgun,” featuring Byron on clarinet rather than the famous throaty tenor sax of the original and two Allen Toussaint compositions in a tribute to the great NOLA musician and composer.
For the last numbers, the crowd finally got up and danced, and the people who didn’t were rocking to the music in their seats.
This truly was a great way to get over the Thanksgiving torpor and get energized for the rest of the holiday season.
GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of the concert…