Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Fleshtones at the Bowery Electric

In 1976, two twenty-somethings rented a house in Queens, New York, and found some musical instruments in the basement. That was reason enough to learn to play music and form a rock and roll band. They rehearsed while hosting frequent parties in that basement until the Fleshtones publicly debuted at CBGB's on May 19, 1976, and rather quickly became a headliner on the local circuit. The Fleshtones became among the first bands to perform at several iconic music clubs, including Irving Plaza and Danceteria in Manhattan, Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the original 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. The band was also one of the last bands to play Windows on the World on top of the World Trade Center. In between, the Fleshtones had many adventures, including opening for James Brown and Chuck Berry, backing actor Ian McKellen as he recited a sonnet on Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes, and helping to inaugurate the first Wigstock drag queen street festival. The Fleshtones survived many musical trends and remains the only band from the CBGBs days that never broke up. Since 1990, original vocalist Peter Zaremba and guitarist Keith Streng have been joined by drummer Bill Milhizer and bassist Ken Fox. The Fleshtones' 19th and most recent studio album is 2016's The Band Drinks for Free.

Forty-three years after the band first played on the Bowery, the Fleshtones returned to headline at the Bowery Electric, one block north of the band's old CBGB's stomping grounds. Not much has changed with the band's musical style over that time period, except that the band is playing better than ever. The Fleshtones stuck to its patented garage rock formula of high-energy, nearly manic express-rock, with Zaremba and especially Streng charging into the audience frequently to electrify the crowd. To establish a light-hearted attitude early on, the musicians did a few silly antics like twirling in circles and then encouraging audience members to do the same. Beyond that, it was all about a rowdy rock and roll party, and few bands do this better than the Fleshtones.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Tommy London at the Gramercy Theatre

Tommy London was born in Queens, New York, and spent his youth in a suburb outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Staying home sick from school, he explored his father's rock and soul records from the 1960s and played them repeatedly. Later he was influenced by the MTV bands. About 10 years ago in New York City he formed the Dirty Pearls and started playing the rock and roll circuit. His buddy Lady Gaga name-checked the band when she sang "Dirty Pearls in a patch for all the Rivington rebels." With the Dirty Pearls on hiatus, London began hosting two SiriusXM radio shows, Hair Nation and Ozzy’s Boneyard, and recording and performing under his own name. His debut solo album, Emotional Fuse, will be released tentatively in late 2019.

Tommy London headlined the Gramercy Theatre tonight with a release party for the video of "Make You Love Me." After debuting the video, London performed a full set with his band, guitarist and Dirty Pearls partner Matt Hogan, bassist James Cruz, and drummer John Weber. Most of the set was new music, interspersed with three Dirty Pearls songs and two covers; London's friend, Jason Cadic, who directed the video and also served as a support artist on the bill, joined London for the encore of Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"). London's performance was faithful to the sound he honed in dirty Pearls. The songs were fist-pumping rock and roll tunes riding on pop hooks and lots of melodic guitar leads. London was a fine singer and his exuberant stage presence went a long way in making the songs come to life. Time will tell if London, already a local favorite, can get his music heard by rockers outside of the metropolitan area.

Tommy London's next area show will be his birthday bash at Mercury Lounge on May 15.

Jasin Cadic + the End at the Gramercy Theatre

Jasin Cadic
New Jersey-born Jasin Cadic has been the lead singer in several industrial and hard rock bands, including Handful of DustStarkiller and Panzie. In late 2018, Cadic began to crystallize a concept he had in the back of his head for many years. Instead of performing with yet another hard rock or industrial band, he formed a band very unlike the others, which would play diverse arrangements with piano, horns and a female background vocalist. Jasin Cadic + the End consists of vocalist Cadic, guitarists Andee Black Sugar and Kelsey Warren, pianist Drew Blood, bassist Steve Perlmutter, drummer Jordan Cannata, vocalist Emma Craig, trombonist Seth Weaver, trumpet player Christian Mehler, and saxophonist Kushal Talele.

A month after assembling the 10-piece band, Jasin Cadic + the End debuted at the Gramercy Theatre, opening for Cadic's friend Tommy London. No new material was yet written for Cadic's performance. Instead, the set was comprised of songs from Cadic's previous bands, including Starkiller's "You Are a Witness" and "As the Sky Is Falling" as well as Panzie's "Clown," along with a collection of covers, including David Bowie's "Fame," Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning," and Rage against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire." Unlike Panzie, this performance required no corpse make-up, costumes or stage props, but at times Cadic's persona and the strength of Cadic's caustic vocal delivery recalled his trademark harrowing dynamic. Pastiche background videos and Cadic's own lighting set-up added to the jittery tension. Other songs, like the cover of Placebo's "Broken Promise," lent Cadic to melodic crooning, as the large band provided thick and full accompaniment. Jasin Cadic + the End is young, and its musical identity will define itself in time, but this was an ambitious and successful start to Cadic's new musical investment.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Screamin' Rebel Angels at Mercury Lounge

Brian Hack & Laura Palmer
As a teenager, Laura Palmer published a punk rock fanzine, Rebel Angel. As a result, she was nicknamed Laura Rebel Angel. She started in the music business first as a dj, and then booked and promoted rockabilly, punk and rock and roll bands in New York City clubs under the name Rebel Angel Productions. The bands heard that she sang well and played guitar, and started coaxing her to join them on stage. In 2011, she ultimately formed the concept for Screamin' Rebel Angels in Brooklyn. Screamin' Rebel Angels' second album, Heel Grinder, was released on January 24, 2019.

Screamin' Rebel Angels performed a record-release concert tonight at Mercury Lounge, showcasing how Palmer has evolved beyond her rockabilly bass. Perhaps the broader influences were always in the mix, but the band's performances of the newer songs established Screamin' Rebel Angels as a rock and roll revival band, more akin to Little Richard than to Carl Perkins. An undercurrent of twang permeated the set, but most of the music was powered by Palmer's gritty vocals and her appetite for hard and fast rock and roll. Animated by guitarist Brian "Bobo" Hack's speedy finger picking along with bassist Daniel Pena and drummer Aaron Latos' pounding rhythms, vintage sounds turned into savage sounds, rocking the audience into dance mode. Screamin' Rebel Angels performed roots rock and roll better than just about any other revival band on the local club circuit; the band is ready for a national breakout.

The Hipp Pipps at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric

Kevin Shaw & Matt Langone
In a suburban town outside Boston, Massachusetts, an adolescent Matt Langone saw the Beatles perform on television on the Ed Sullivan Show. This event inspired him to learn to play guitar and within a few years he played the New England circuit with the Peytons and the Trademarks. Since relocating to the New York area, he has played lead guitar in the Cynz, the Waldos, and the Trash Mavericks, and presently sings and plays guitar in the Hipp Pipps. Bassist Kevin Shaw (formerly of the BMTs) and drummer Frankie Pipps complete the band. The Hipp Pipps play the local rock band circuit, but each member moonlights in other bands; Langone in Gotham Rockets, Shaw in the Wraycyclers, and Pipps in the Pipptones. The Hipp Pipps released a self-titled album in 2015.

Matt Langone's wife, Zoe Stark, presents a monthly concert series at the Map Room at the Bowery Electric, and on many months the headliner is the Hipp Pipps. Named after one of the band's songs, the new year's opening event was called Rock 'n' Roll Party, and indeed that defined the evening. Langone and Shaw sang lead on high energy party songs, with Langone squinting as he ripped on his guitar, Shaw bopping across the tiny stage to the rhythm of his bass, and Pipps battering his drum kit. The Hipp Pipps covered Chuck Berry and Eddie Cochran, but all the original songs sounded like they could have been transplanted from that era as well. This was as pure a rock 'n' roll party as one can have in 2019.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Robert Gordon + His All-Star Band at Hill Country Barbecue Market

In 1956, Elvis Presley released "Heartbreak Hotel," his first single on a major record label. That song on the radio inspired Robert Gordon, a nine-year-old in Bethesda, Maryland, to pursue a career as a rock and roll musician. At his brother's request, a 15-year-old Gordon sang at summer camp, marking his public debut as a singer. In his late teens he sang in several local bands, and at age 17 recorded with a group called the Confidentials, which after several lineup changes became the Newports. Gordon married at age 19 and fathered two sons, and in 1970 the family moved to New York City, where he opened a clothing store. Business and family took up most of his time, but after a divorce in the mid-1970s Gordon joined the burgeoning punk rock scene singing in Tuff Darts. Tuff Darts became popular locally and appeared ready for a more mainstream audience, until Gordon suddenly quit the band to start a solo career singing rockabilly. Over the years, he teamed with stellar guitar icons Link WrayChris Spedding and Danny Gatton. Gordon's 10th and most studio album is 2014's I'm Coming Home.

Robert Gordon does not write music, but rather interprets rockabilly standards and obscurities with his rich baritone. Billed as Robert Gordon + His All-Star Band tonight at Hill Country Barbecue Market, Gordon's band consisted of three well-known session players: guitarist Chris Spedding, bassist Rob Stoner, and drummer Thommy Price. Spedding led the trio through several songs before Gordon appeared on stage, with the audience as attentive to Spedding as later to Gordon. With no new recording to promote, Gordon's performance was very similar to his concerts of recent years, even with his slightly altered "all-star" lineup. As usual, Gordon had at his feet a large hand-written set list, but after a few songs paid it little attention, instead taking requests from the audience and band members, singing songs that the audience has heard him sing in the past. Spedding seemed to play more extended solos than at last summer's concert at the same venue, and showcased his masterful ability to pick rockabilly runs rapidly and smoothly. Gordon and his band did a fine job mining a treasury of rockabilly songs; one can only hope that he will introduce new material at future concerts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams at City Winery

Larry Campbell was born in New York City and in the 1970s and 1980s played guitar, mandolin, and anything with strings in local bands and in four Broadway productions. Teresa Williams grew up on a cotton farm in Peckerwood Point, Tennessee; as a young adult, she moved to New York City, where she sang and played guitar in bands including Southern Comfort and Swing Fever. Campbell and Williams met when he was hired to play pedal steel guitar for her at a New York gig. They married in 1988 but their separate careers kept them musically apart, as he backed Bob Dylan and others and she backed Emmylou Harris and performed her own music. Whenever they were home, however, they joined Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble band in Woodstock, New York. Committed to working together, the duo known as Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams released albums in 2015 and 2018.

At City Winery tonight, Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams remained faithful to country roots music, adding resonator and steel guitar player Cindy Cashdollar to the ensemble for most of the set. Campbell played guitar, mandolin and fiddle, and Campbell and Williams' vocals harmonized with substantial twang. Sweet, lilting vocals alternated with speedy fingerpicking throughout the set. Appalachian-styled country and bluegrass dominated, but the set's inspirations also drew from Memphis soul, Chicago blues, and Delta honky tonk. When the temperature seemed right for rock and roll, bassist Jesse Murphy of Brazilian Girls and drummer Justin Guip, who also performs in Hot Tuna, delivered a driving tempo, and Campbell wailed on his guitar. Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams proved equally skillful in playing casual back porch music and energizing booty-shaking songs.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Alejandro Escovedo at City Winery

Alejandro Escovedo was born in San Antonio, Texas, but his start in music was in San Francisco, California, playing guitar in the first-wave punk rock group the Nuns from 1975 until the band split in 1979. Escovedo co-founded cowpunk band Rank and File in New York City in 1980, then relocated with the band to Austin, Texas, where in 1983 Escovedo also formed the guitar-rocking True Believers with his brother Javier Escovedo, formerly of the Zeros. Both Rank and File and the True Believers split in 1987, leading Alejandro Escovedo to work in a record store while indulging his hard rock tastes with a side project called Buick MacKane and leading the Alejandro Escovedo Orchestra from 1987-90. He finally launched a solo career in 1992. Escovedo's 13th solo album, a concept album called The Crossing, was released on September 14, 2018.

Alejandro Escovedo is best known for playing roots rock and Americana, but his most recent album, a fictional rock opera about a pair of punk-loving youth in America, has brought out his punk rock, hard rock and alternative country sides. The plot follows two immigrant youth as they discover that their new life in Texas was not the America they envisioned. On this night, the first of three headlining nights at City Winery, Alejandro performed nine of the album's 17 tracks, and the styles of music shifted frequently to match the narrative of the story. His backup band, a combo from Italy called Don Antonio which had backed him on European tours two years ago, masterfully introduced a uniquely cinematic approach to the music. Don Antonio consisted of guitarist Antonio Gramentieri, keyboardist Nicola Peruch, bassist Denis Valentini, drummer Matteo Monti, and a brass duo of Franz Valtieri and Gianni Perinelli. Early in the set, while a stage crew was adjusting Gramentieri's amplifier, Escovedo detoured by playing unrehearsed renditions of "Rebel Kind" and "Sister Lost Soul." On this night, Jesse Malin, Derek Cruz and Richard Barone joined Escovedo and Don Antonio for the encores. Overall, this might not have been the Alejandro Escovedo concert that fans had come to expect, but it was not so foreign either. Escovedo's signature songwriting style and in-concert passion anchored the show with the familiar while embracing the new album's more ambitious excursion.

Setlist:
  1. Andare
  2. Footsteps in the Shadows
  3. Texas Is My Mother
  4. Teenage Luggage
  5. Castanets
  6. Outlaw for You
  7. Rebel Kind (True Believers cover)
  8. Sister Lost Soul
  9. Waiting for Me
  10. Something Blue
  11. Flying (>) MC Overload
  12. Sensitive Boys
  13. Fury and Fire
  14. Cherry Blossom Rain
  15. Another Girl, Another Planet (The Only Ones cover)
  16. Always a Friend [with snippets of "The Tracks of My Tears" (Smokey Robinson cover) & "Lively Up Yourself" (Bob Marley cover)]
Encore:
  1. Sally Was a Cop
  2. Happy Birthday to You (Mildred J. Hill & Patty Hill cover, sung in Italian for Derek Cruz)
  3. Broken Radio (Jesse Malin cover, with Jesse Malin and Derek Cruz)
  4. Rock & Roll (The Velvet Underground cover) (with Jesse Malin and Derek Cruz)
  5. All the Young Dudes (David Bowie cover) (with Richard Barone)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Revivalists at the Beacon Theatre

David Shaw
Transplanted from Hamilton, Ohio, David Shaw sought a music career by moving to New Orleans, Louisiana. One day in 2007, guitarist Zack Feinberg rode his bicycle past Shaw's porch and heard him singing a song called "Purple Heart." The two conversed and started playing rock and roll songs together. They became the nucleus of the Revivalists and soon started attracting local musicians to weekly jam sessions at a local club. The band's popularity grew in 2017 with the song "Wish I Knew You." The band presently consists of Shaw, Feinberg, pedal steel player Ed Williams, keyboardist Michael Girardot, saxophonist Rob Ingraham, bassist George Gekas, drummer Andrew Campanelli, and percussionist Paulet "PJ" Howard. The Revivalist's fourth studio album, Take Good Care, was released on November 9, 2018.

The Revivalists' first of two nights headlining the Beacon Theatre consisted heavily of songs from the band's two most recent albums, and concluded with a cover of the Allman Brothers Band's "Whipping Post." Breezy melodies drove many of the songs, with Shaw singing soulfully as he paced the stage and reached out many times to the fans in the front rows. Shaw was the Revivalists' charismatic focal point, but behind him, the band drove the lively songs with bluesy lead guitar riffs, swaggering keyboards, thumping percussion and boisterous horns. These musicians released the chemical combustion within the songs with smooth and vibrant instrumental breaks. The Revivalists proved that a band's live performances amount to more than a hit single or two.

Setlist:
  1. It Was A Sin
  2. Oh No
  3. Change
  4. You and I
  5. Stand Up
  6. Keep Going
  7. Monster
  8. Criminal
  9. Future
  10. Fade Away
  11. Got Love
  12. Celebration
Encore:
  1. Otherside of Paradise
  2. You Said It All
  3. Wish I Knew You
Encore 2:
  1. Whipping Post (The Allman Brothers Band cover)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Puss n Boots at Coney Island Baby

Norah Jones is from Texas, Sasha Dobson is from California, and Catherine Popper is from North Carolina, but their paths crossed in Brooklyn, New York, and together they became Puss n Boots in 2008. The trio formed when multi-Grammy winning Jones began playing Brooklyn venues to practice guitar with the help of Dobson, who similarly was primarily a singer seeking to improve her guitar and drum skills. They were then joined by Popper, who played bass in several New York bands but wanted to learn to play the pedal steel. The trio began performing before audiences comprised of friends. When the three musicians felt they sounded like a band, they recorded Puss n Boots' debut album, No Fools, No Fun, which was released in 2014.

Puss n Boots was fairly dormant since 2016, but came together for a surprise pop up show at Coney Island Baby tonight. The two sets of music were an eclectic lot, featuring several songs with the alternative country sound of the debut album, but also a helping of indie rock songs that were far removed from the band's original sound. There was less country harmonizing than in previous years, as the set touched lightly on soul, funk, rock and other sounds. The trajectory seemed to be that this time around, the trio was growing a bit more experimental in order to see how much they could stretch and twist their revisited collaboration. Puss n Boots is still a band in the making, but is rapidly coalescing into a solid alternative pop unit.

Puss n Boots will perform at the Loft at City Winery on February 18 & 25, 2019.

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt at the Penthouse

Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are siblings from Fort Plain, a small rural town near Albany, New York. Jocelyn started playing piano in fourth grade after receiving her first electric keyboard, and Chris began guitar lessons a few months later. Their first public performance was at a local benefit talent show when Jocelyn was 12 and Chris was 11, where they performed Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven." In middle school, they formed a band, the Dependents, and performed original songs at local talent shows, festivals, and fairs. While in high school, Jocelyn worked as a ski instructor and Chris as a snowboard instructor, and music remained a side project. Post college, they remained committed to making their own music; as a result, Jocelyn declined casting offers from NBC's The Voice  and FOX's The Four. Jocelyn & Chris Arndt's third full-length studio album, The Fun in the Fight, will be released on February 22, 2019.

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt pre-tour concert tonight at the Penthouse at the Standard Hotel was intentionally low-key. Working without their full band set-up, Jocelyn sang and played a small keyboard and Chris played acoustic and electric guitar, accompanied by a bassist and percussionist. Jocelyn crooned soulful pop melodies to retro grooves and a soft rock soundscape. Her powerful voice was bold, with an aching lilt ideal for inhabiting broken-heart songs. A bit on the husky side, this voice demonstrated exceptional depth, tone, and range, and Jocelyn controlled and balanced all these dynamics well. The band closed with the Captain and Tennille's 1975 hit, "Love Will Keep Us Together," perhaps not the coolest song to bring into the repertoire, but a song that showed that the duo also performs bouncy pop songs capably well.

Jocelyn & Chris Arndt will perform at Rockwood Music Hall, Stage 2, on February 20, 2019.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Greensky Bluegrass at the Beacon Theatre

Banjoist Michael Arlen Bont, guitarist Dave Bruzza, and mandolin player Paul Hoffman were newcomers to the bluegrass scene in 2000 when they formed Greensky Bluegrass in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The band began by playing living rooms and open mic nights across America's midwest. By 2005, the band was touring nationally. In 2006, Greensky Bluegrass won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition, earning the band a spot on the main stage of the 2007 festival, which in turn led to a series of annual appearances. Bassist Mike Devol joined the band in 2004 and dobro player Anders Beck in 2007, completing the present quintet. Greensky Bluegrass will released its seventh studio album, All for Money, on January 18, 2019.

The light show and the high volume was designed for a rock concert. For the most part, however, the Greensky Bluegrass concert tonight at the Beacon Theatre was indeed a bluegrass performance, but with a musical vision so broad that the set included hoedown adaptations of Pink Floyd, Paul Simon and Allman Brothers Band songs. Throughout the two sets, the five musicians brought the acoustic stomp of a string band, foregoing a drummer and yet aggressively rocking a full-throttle energetic performance. The mellower songs, fewer in number, became acoustic think pieces. No one member dominated the spotlight; all songs pivoted on a free-soaring array of solos, extending songs like "Leap Year" beyond 15 minutes. Songs from the new album kept this spirit alive, assuring the audience that the band remained committed to its thickly padded bluegrass core but continued exploring beyond the traditional framework that previously defined bluegrass. The musicians' combined ingenuity and creativity will make Greensky Bluegrass the hybrid band for bluegrass fans to experience live for years to come.

Setlist
Set 1:
  1. Demons
  2. What You Need (with Guido Batista on vibraslap)
  3. Wings for Wheels (>) Time (Pink Floyd cover) (>) Breathe (Reprise) (Pink Floyd cover)
  4. Kerosene
  5. Ashes
  6. Leap Year
  7. Do It Alone
Set 2:
  1. All for Money
  2. Past My Prime
  3. More of Me
  4. Gumboots (Paul Simon cover)
  5. Steam Powered Aereo Plane (John Hartford cover, with lyric change “high above New York City”)
  6. Murder of Crows
  7. I'd Probably Kill You (with Billy Strings lyric change)
  8. Don't Lie (with Mountain Jam tease)
Encore:
  1. Midnight Rider (The Allman Brothers Band cover)

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Jesse Malin at Coney Island Baby

Raised in Whitestone, New York, Malin gravitated to New York's punk rock scene at age 12. From 1980 to 1984, Malin sang in a hardcore band, Heart Attack, playing CBGB's regularly even though the musicians were only 12 to 16 years old. Four years later, the band split. Malin worked as a gas station attendant, a health food store clerk, and a "man with a van." Malin returned to the stage with the glam-punk band D Generation from 1991 until 1999, and ultimately launched a solo career in 2001. His most recent studio albums, New York Before the War and Outsiders, both were released in 2015.

In October 2018, Malin performed a residency of four Tuesday nights at Coney Island Baby, a rock club he co-owns. He has returned for a residency of three Wednesday nights in January 2019, in which he plays his early solo albums in their entirety. Tonight, on the first of these nights, he and his band (guitarist Derek Cruz, keyboardist Rob Clores, bassist Catherine Popper, and drummer Randy Schrader) performed Malin's first solo album, 2002's The Fine Art of Self Destruction, plus 10 other songs over the course of two hours. Malin engagingly introduced most of the songs with an anecdote describing their origins and situating these insights in the cultural context of the time. Once the music started, however, Malin was a rocket-fueled performer, balancing pure rock and roll energy with heartfelt sensitivity. He ignited the songs by singing passionately, and the band provided the extra power to make the engines blast. The residency continues on January 16 and January 31.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Popa Chubby at the Loft at City Winery

In the Bronx, New York, a 13-year-old Ted Horowitz began playing drums until his parents told him they were too loud. His dad then took him to a Chuck Berry concert, at which point the youth committed himself to playing guitar. Inspired by classic rock and blues guitarists, he started playing in rock bands by age 15. Horowitz's first professional gigs, however, were in the downtown punk rock circuit as a guitarist in a horror-movie inspired show by performance artist Screaming Mad George. In his early twenties, Horowitz also backed punk rock poet Richard Hell. Returning to the blues, Horowitz took on the name Popa Chubby and started the Popa Chubby Band in 1990, which became almost the house band at blues club Manny’s Car Wash. Chubby gained national attention after winning the New Artist of the Year award in a blues talent search sponsored by a public radio station in Long Beach, California, which led to an opening spot at the Long Beach Blues Festival in 1992. Since 1994, Popa Chubby has released 26 studio albums, the most recent being 2017's Two Dogs; an anthology entitled Prime Cuts was released on September 21, 2018.

Popa Chubby was an imposing figure at the Loft at City Winery. Fixed to his stool for the entire two-hour performance, Chubby's oversized frame was accented with a shaved head, tattooed arms, a long goatee, and a red bandana that barely tied around his thick neck. To the left of his neck, Chubby's guitar strap displayed a large upright middle finger at the audience. As he started to sing, his husky, soulful vocals were acutely commanding. Then he leaned back from the microphone, grimaced his jaw, closed his eyes, and wailed speedily and fluidly on the strings of his guitar. Original songs and cover songs received similar treatment, flying alternately from clean running guitar melodies to chunks of gritty wah-wah-laden chords. The trio of keyboardist Dave Keyes, bassist Paul Loranger, and drummer Tom Curiano tempered the blues boogie, keeping an eye out for cues from Chubby directing them to lighten or tighten the stride. Chubby's performance did not break new ground, but instead preserved and showcased a species of late-1960s blues rock not often heard anymore. Cubby accomplished this, like much of what he does, in a big and brash manner.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Red Wanting Blue at City Winery

Scott Terry
Born in West Milford, New Jersey, Scott Terry sang in choirs and a cappella groups while growing up in Moorestown, New Jersey. While attending university in 1995 in Athens, Ohio, he formed Red Wanting Blue (also known as RWB). Red Wanting Blue released two albums while the band members were students. After college, the musicians relocated in 1999 to Columbus, Ohio, and began recording and touring full time. Terry is the sole remaining original member of Red Wanting Blue. The band’s current lineup consists of Terry on vocals, ukulele and guitar,  Greg Rahm on guitar, Eric Hall on lap steel and guitar, Mark McCullough on bass, and Dean Anshutz on drums. Red Wanting Blue's 11th studio album, The Wanting, was released on April 27, 2018. Terry currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) held its annual conference in New York shortly after the start of the new year and hosted numerous showcases, some of which were open to the public. One such showcase featured Red Wanting Blue at City Winery. With five artists on the bill, the band performed a shorter set than usual, but nevertheless capably demonstrated the dynamics of a solid rocking heartland band. The band performed eight songs from its more recent catalogue, starting with the newer "High and Dry," in which Terry sang uplifting lyrics in a rich, deep voice: "I want to stand on my own two feet again / And when I mess up / That’s when I hope my friends will pick me up." Overall, the earthy feel-good songs highlighted Terry's rugged, passionate baritone, the band's light melodic arrangements, and a blue-collar sensibility that seemed to say "We are you, and you are we." Maybe that message was an appropriate reminder for the industry professionals attending the performance.

Setlist:
  1. High and Dry
  2. Walking Shoes
  3. I've Got a Feeling It Hurts
  4. Younger Years
  5. Hope on a Rope
  6. My Name Is Death
  7. Finger in the Air
  8. Hitchhiker's Lullaby

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jimmy & Immy (James Maddock with David Immerglück) at the 11th St. Bar

James Maddock, originally from Countesthorpe, England, sang and played guitar in Fire Next Time in the 1980s and in Wood in the 1990s before going solo and relocating to New York City in 2003. David Immerglück played mandolin, pedal steel guitar, and keyboards with bands in the San Francisco Bay area, including Polymorph, the Mod-L Society, the Ophelias, Camper Van Beethoven and the Monks of Doom in the 1980s and with John Hiatt and Counting Crows in the 1990s. Maddock and Immerglück began performing together as Jimmy & Immy in New York in 2008. The acoustic duo released live albums in 2012 and 2016.

The Jimmy & Immy show at the 11th St. Bar might have been only for those in the know. Both of the musicians have performed in much larger venues, so this informal concert was more like making music for friends in their living rooms. Sitting in chairs, conversing with each other and with audience members between songs, Maddock and  Immerglück did exactly what they enjoyed best. Maddock sang all his favorite songs and played acoustic guitar and harmonica, while Immerglück alternated between acoustic guitar and mandolin. They were accompanied by bassist Drew Mortali.
This set was much more low-key than Maddock's rocking full-band concerts at City Winery, for example. In this sparse setting, Maddock's gravelly voice gave deep texture to his beautiful lyrics, and Immerglück's contributions gracefully added color to the uncluttered arrangements. Like most shows at the 11th St. Bar, admission was free; towards the end of the nearly three-hour performance Maddock circulated the club's tip bucket so the musicians could get paid. They might have earned enough to take a taxi home, but the music they played was priceless.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The 15th Annual New Year's Hank-O-Rama at Coney Island Baby

The Lonesome Prairie Dogs presented the 15th annual New Year’s Hank-O-Rama, New York's longest running musical tribute to Hank Williams, at Coney Island Baby on January 1, 2019. The New York City-based band, led by guitarist/vocalist Steve Strunsky and bassist/vocalist Heidi Lieb, curates the Hank-O-Rama events annually on the anniversary of the country music maverick's death.

Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers interpreted Hank Williams songs for an opening set. After an intermission, the Lonesome Prairie Dogs performed two sets as the house band. Members of the Lonesome Prairie Dogs and local country music artists Travis Whitelaw, Shannon Brown, Monica Falcone, Jack Grace, Cliff Westfall, Tom Clark, Monica Passin, and Lindy Loo Hill sang Williams songs. The Lonesome Prairie Dogs consists of Strunsky, Lieb, lead guitarist Mike Dvorkin, pedal steel player Lenny Kaye, and drummer Jeff Somerstein. Fiddler Greg Holt joined for the evening as he has for the past several Hank-O-Ramas.

Born in Mount Olive, Alabama, Hiram King "Hank" Williams recorded 35 singles (five released posthumously) that reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Country & Western Best Sellers chart, including 11 that ranked number one (three posthumously). He died at age 29 in the back of his Cadillac en route to a New Year’s Day gig in Canton, Ohio, on January 1, 1953. Despite his short life and recording career, Williams is among the most celebrated and influential popular musicians of the 20th century, especially in regards to country music. Williams was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1961), the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1970), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987).

Sean Kershaw & the New Jack Ramblers setlist:
  1. Move It on Over (Hank Williams cover)
  2. Settin' the Woods on Fire (Hank Williams cover)
  3. Honky Tonkin' (Hank Williams cover)
  4. I Won’t Be Home No More (Hank Williams cover)
  5. Lonesome Whistle (Hank Williams cover)
  6. Tear in My Beer (Hank Williams cover)
  7. My Bucket’s Got a Hole in It (Hank Williams cover)
  8. Lovesick Blues (Hank Williams cover)
  9. I’m Satisfied with You (Hank Williams cover)

The Lonesome Prairie Dogs setlist
Set 1:
  1. Lost Highway (Leon Payne cover)
  2. Moanin' the Blues (Hank Williams cover)
  3. I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love With You) (Hank Williams cover)
  4. The Blues Come Around (Hank Williams cover)
  5. You Win Again (Hank Williams cover, with Travis Whitelaw)
  6. Pills I Took (Those Poor Bastards cover, with Shannon Brown and Travis Whitelaw)
  7. I Want to Live and Love (Hank Williams cover)
  8. Weary Blues From Waitin' (Hank Williams cover, with Monica Falcone)
  9. Cold Cold Heart (Hank Williams cover)
  10. I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive (Hank Williams cover, with Jack Grace)
  11. You're Gonna Change (Or I'm Gonna Leave) (Hank Williams cover, with Jack Grace)
  12. Alone and Forsaken (Hank Williams cover)
  13. Honky Tonk Blues (Hank Williams cover, with Cliff Westfall)
  14. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry (Hank Williams cover)
  15. Mind Your Own Business (Hank Williams cover)
Set 2:
  1. Long Gone Lonesome Blues (Hank Williams cover)
  2. Wedding Bells (Hank Williams cover, with Tom Clark)
  3. Your Cheatin' Heart (Hank Williams cover, with Tom Clark)
  4. Ramblin' Man (Hank Williams cover)
  5. Baby, We're Really in Love (Hank Williams cover, with Monica Passin)
  6. Cold, Cold Morning
  7. Jambalaya (On the Bayou) (Hank Williams cover)
  8. Luke The Drifter (Lenny Kaye cover, with Lenny Kaye)
  9. Kaw-Liga (Hank Williams cover, with Lindy Loo Hill)
  10. Hey Good Lookin' (Hank Williams cover, with Lenny L - karaoke raffle winner)
  11. Family Tradition (Hank Williams, Jr. cover)
  12. I Saw the Light (Hank Williams cover, with all performers)
The Lonesome Prairie Dogs
Lenny Kaye
Greg Holt
Travis Whitelaw
Shannon Brown & Travis Whitelaw
Monica Falcone
Jack Grace
Cliff Westfall
Lenny Kaye & Tom Clark
Monica Passin