Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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Rebecca Haviland headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We try to catch every Rebecca show. March has been a good month, with this being the third time we’ve caught one of her full sets. We also got to see her sing with the Greg Mayo Band.

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Even though we’ve seen three sets, all three venues are very different from each other and the band setup was different each time. The set list even got shaken up a bit last night. One example: Rebecca didn’t play If You (unbeknownst to her, I’ve already forgiven her). Winking smile

RebeccaHavilandSinging

At Rockwood 2, she had a full band on every number, including electronic keyboards. At Watercolor Café they played just a duo (Rebecca and Chris Anderson). Last night, the majority was a trio (add in a drummer) and then two special guest on the grand piano.

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When the volume is right at Rockwood 1, it can be one of the best rooms to hear people, and last night was fantastic. I loved every second of the set. Both Rebecca and Chris were in a zone, vocally, musically, but most of all, they were in a flow, that you could feel coming off the stage.

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Kenny Shaw rounded out the trio. I just recently commented that Kenny was hiding from us. I guess my come out, come out, wherever you are chant, worked! It was great to have Kenny in the driver’s seat for setting the rhythms. Great job, as always!

KennyShawKennyShawDrums

Greg Mayo was the first special guest. He played four consecutive songs on the grand piano. Rebecca gave him two long piano leads which Greg destroyed. On one of the songs, Greg was featured on harmony vocals with Rebecca and the two of them were great together. On the rest, Greg joined Chris for harmony background vocals. Always a treat to catch Greg (always!).

GregMayoSingingRebeccaHavilandGregMayoChrisAnderson

Evan Watson was in the audience, I believe just there to enjoy Rebecca’s set. Evan was headlining next door at Rockwood 2, at 12:30am, and Rebecca and Chris were going to be part of his band (Greg Mayo too). Rebecca asked Evan if he would come up to sing with her.

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The only free mic was at the grand piano so Evan sat there. In addition to singing amazingly with her and alone (he took a full verse on the lead), Evan noodled on the piano as well. If I heard him correctly, it was the first time he played the piano at a public show.

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The song was Dig My Grave. Excellent.

RebeccaHavilandEvanWatsonSinging

Evan deserves a different kind of shout-out. Meatloaf just released a new CD this month. The second song is called Giving Tree. It was written by Evan! When Meatloaf performed on the Tonight Show the night the CD was released, that’s the song he chose to sing. Absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to Evan (and to Meatloaf for recognizing and promoting talent!).

A terrific set. Already scanning Rockwood’s site for another opportunity to see Rebecca Haviland and Chris Anderson!

Julia Haltigan at Rockwood Music Hall

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Julia Haltigan headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. It was the last show of a month-long residency at Rockwood 1. In April, she’ll be moving to Rockwood 2. I couldn’t make the earlier shows this month, but I was determined to catch her again after enjoying her set last October, and her song at the Full Vinyl show a few weeks ago.

JuliaHaltigan

Not that you will believe me, or care, but what I’m about to do is not out of laziness at all. I just re-read my previous post about Julia, and with a few exceptions, every word applied directly to last night’s show. So, if you want to know about Julia, and/or her fantastic band, or the specific feel of the previous show, or of last night’s show, read that post in its entirety.

I will note a few differences here (very few) and put in photos of last night’s show (to prove to you that we were indeed there). Winking smile

First and foremost, I nit-picked a bit about Sam Feldman’s guitar play at the previous show. No nits last night, literally. I don’t know if he wasn’t feeling well last time, or was off for any other reason, but he was excellent on every number last night. As I noted in the previous post, his guitar is a very critical part of Julia’s sound, so his elevated play was most welcome!

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Julia closed with the same cover, and again, Sam was spectacular on the acoustic guitar (the only time he wasn’t on the electric during the set).

SamFeldmanAcoustic1

I didn’t note it last time, so perhaps it wasn’t as evident (I do tend to be pedantic), but Julia has superb stage presence. She’s very comfortable during and between songs.

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She had her hair done for the show. She noted it (and I do as well) because the woman who styled it was in the audience, and Julia highly recommended her services. Nice shout-out. I didn’t lock in the name, because I’m unlikely to need her services (unless she has a secret to regrow my giant bald spot), but anyone who would like to leave her name in the comments is encouraged to do so! Smile

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These two are repeats, but they deserve the shout outs:

Joe Ancowitz was excellent on the trumpet and the vocals. The brass adds a very nice character to Julia’s songs.

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Steve Williams is great on the drums (all three times we’ve seen him).

SteveWilliams

Some more photos:

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Julia is firmly on my list of people to keep seeing, so if you show up to a future show, you’re likely to see me there too. Smile

Here was Julia’s cheat sheet (perhaps not a literal set list):

SetListCheatSheet

Ian and Chad in a Secret Show at Rockwood Music Hall

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What happens when Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino drop their last names? Awesomeness!

It’s not quite official, but it’s not embargoed either, but the artist formerly known as Ian Axel will soon be known as Ian and Chad. Click that link to see how Ian describes the name change. Basically, it more accurately reflects the contributions that Chad was making all along and is making on stage even more than he used to.

IanAndChad

So, why a secret show? I would assume there are many reasons, but the most obvious are:

  • Rockwood Music Hall is pretty small, and if Ian and Chad had announced the show, many people would have been locked out. Instead, they simply didn’t know to show up. Without any tweets or Facebook updates (that I saw), the place was crowded.
  • With one exception, none of the songs they played have been recorded yet. This gives them an opportunity test things out. Even the one already released song was done very differently.
  • You get to figure out who your leaks are, so you know who not to trust with this kind of information in the future! Winking smile

They opened the show with a new song called Cheer Up. If you watch the video below (of that song), you’ll know what we saw. Ian actually brought that old Casio on stage for this one song and this was the NYC debut of Chad killing it on the triangle:

Ian and Chad perform Cheer Up

After that, Ian moved to the grand piano for all but two songs.

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Right after announcing that all of the songs performed would be unrecorded ones, Ian added: “Except for this one.”

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That turned out to be their most famous number, This is the New Year. I noted above that even here there was a huge twist. Huge indeed (if you’re the groupies that we are, and notice every nuance). Before I get to the twist, let’s have a bit of history about that song.

When they released it, they put up an Official video on YouTube. That garnered over 300,000 plays. Then they signed with a record label who insisted that the video be taken down and put up again on Vevo (a collaboration between YouTube and the music industry). The same video (ever-so-slightly different soundtrack) garnered well over 1,000,000 hits on Vevo (so over 1.3MM between them).

Then they left their record label (very recently) and the video was taken down from Vevo. They had to put it back on YouTube, with the play count zeroed out. Let’s see if we can all get it back up over 1,000,000 again (it certainly deserves to be seen that many times!).

Continuing with the history lesson. Also recently, Ian and Chad held a contest where people submitted their version of that video. Their friends (who are professional videographers and editors) sliced and diced all of the submissions into an incredible montage of fans celebrating this awesome song.

Finally, to celebrate their newfound freedom, Ian and Chad are offering up their CD (the entire thing, not just the song This is the New Year) for the whopping price of Pay Whatever You Want! I strongly suggest $130, to reflect that value of $10/song, though you might wish to pay less, I’ll forgive you. Winking smile Grab it here!

OK, now we can finally return to last night’s performance of that song. Whew.

They created a mirror image of the song, by switching vocal roles. Chad sang all of the parts that Ian normally does (including opening the song) and Ian sang all of Chad’s parts.

It was totally cool, and each did an incredible job. That is until the soft bridge where Ian nearly whispers: “I pass it back to you”.

Chad didn’t start to sing it, because his brain was expecting Ian to. He realized it halfway through the sentence (and the surrounding silence), laughed, and picked it up exactly where he should have been.

In addition to the debut of the triangle in the opener, Chad debuted a solo song on the acoustic guitar. He finger-picked a gut-wrenching love song, beautifully. So, we’ve now seen him play a trumpet, keyboards, guitar and a triangle. What will he break out next?

ChadVaccarinoGuitar

Ian and Chad then invited up a special guest.

Mike Campbell joined for two numbers. He sang and played acoustic guitar on both. On the first, Shorty Don’t Wait (or simply Shorty to most fans), Ian came out from behind the piano to play the ukulele. They were fantastic. Every time they play the song, it seems to me that Mike tries to top the previous little bridge guitar lead. Last night’s was definitely fast and tasty.

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Ian returned to the piano to play another song that the three of them co-wrote, Amory. Three part harmony washed over the audience. Gorgeous!

Ian played a song solo on the piano, which was inspired by his love for his parents. When he introduced it, he said it would have been more difficult to sing if his parents were there. Someone in the back of the crowd yelled: “We are!”, which got Ian (and the rest of us) laughing. Beautiful song!

Ian and Chad performed at least three other songs together. Very early in the set they did Rockstar, a song I could listen to 1000 times in a row and still ask “Can you play it again?”. Toward the end of the set they played You’ll Be OK (another incredible song).

They closed the show with one of our favorite songs (not just of theirs, but in general). It’s a song that goes by many names (Homeward Bound, The More We Love, I Really Want It), none of which are official, since they haven’t named it yet.

In that song there is a piano bridge that always dazzles every audience that hears it. That was true last night too, but because Rockwood is small, the crowd was big, and you could hear a pin drop while he was playing it (meaning, everyone was appropriately silent), the collective (reflexive) whoop when Ian finished was amazing (like a group exhalation after surviving a straight drop on the world’s tallest roller coaster).

What a show, shared with a ton of friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in a while. Just chatting with them for a few minutes before and after the show was worth going out for, but the show itself was the cake, they were the icing.

JasonHadarChrisAndersonRebeccaHavilandLindsie

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LinaHadar

Gabrielle Sterbenz at Rockwood Music Hall

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Gabrielle Sterbenz headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We hadn’t heard of Gabrielle prior to the show and weren’t planning on attending. We decided to show up to her set to try to get seats for the next set. Luckily, we did, because it was quite crowded with Gabrielle’s fans.

More importantly, we enjoyed the entire set, so we’re notching this discovery in the serendipity column.

Gabrielle accompanied herself on the acoustic guitar on every number, occasionally finger picking, mostly rhythm. She has a wonderful voice. Her songs were mostly folk, mixed with some jazz and other genres as well. The songs ranged from serious, to seriously playful. One of the songs, The Breakup, had me chuckling throughout.

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She stood for all but one song.

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Elizabeth Brown (I couldn’t find a good link) accompanied Gabrielle on all but one number. She played electric bass on the majority and sang harmony whether she was playing the bass or not.

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She was fine on the bass (very straightforward bass lines), but really shone on the vocals. The two of them sounded great together on every song.

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One of the songs that Gabrielle sang lead on was written by Elizabeth (Gabrielle called her Liz, and on Twitter she calls herself Lizzie, so I say it’s OK to call her anything you want, other than late to dinner). Winking smile

I liked the sound of the lone bass with the acoustic guitar. The volumes were set just right so that the bass never overpowered the guitar or the vocals.

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I notice on Gabrielle’s Facebook page that she also plays in a larger band configuration on occasion. That larger band includes Rich Hinman, a top guitar and pedal steel player. We’ll have to look out for one of those shows as well.

To close out the show (or so she thought), Gabrielle called up a special guest.

Dani Elliott came up to sing with Gabrielle and Elizabeth (creating gorgeous three-part harmony). They sang Those Memories, made famous by a different set of females, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt. These ladies did those ladies proud.

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They were trying to get off the stage when the majority of the room started calling out for one more song!

Gabrielle finger-picked and Elizabeth sang harmony (no bass) to Simon and Garfunkel’s Kathy’s Song. Absolutely beautiful.

Here’s the set list, which doesn’t include the unplanned encore:

SetList

Starting a new life, Post Zope Corporation

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Starting a new chapter is a common expression. Lois and I have had a different expression to describe the transformations we’ve experienced as a couple and as individuals, over the 30 years that we’re together. We say we’ve lived many lives. We’re about to start a new life (to us, not just a new chapter in an existing one).

In 1997 I contacted Digital Creations, a small Python shop in Fredericksburg, VA, to ask if they were looking for an investment. I was looking to put some personal money into an innovative software company. We hit it off, but I was new and naïve about angel investing and they were overly-cautious and the deal never happened.

I fully credit my involvement with that initial failure for giving me the taste for technology venture capital. A couple of months after our deal disintegrated, I made my first investment. That turned into me founding a venture capital firm. I never lost my interest or desire to be involved with Digital Creations. I approached them again in 1998. Digital Creations ended up being the fourth investment in my new VC firm.

In 2001, we renamed the company Zope Corporation, to reflect the success that our product, Zope, had in the market. Most of the people reading this will probably have never heard of Digital Creations.

Also in 2001, the company repurchased the shares of two venture capital firms that invested in late 2000. That left the company with limited financial resources in a very difficult time. Lois and I dedicated ourselves to operational roles to help rebuild the company. We believed that we were making a one-year commitment to working at/with/for the company. Here we are, nearly 11 years later.

Back in 2001, it was my idea to make the offer to buy out the other VCs. This time, my old playbook was employed by rest of the management team, who felt that they were in a position to make me a similar offer. After working out myriad details, a deal was struck. The transaction closed yesterday afternoon.

Lois and I are no longer involved with Zope Corporation, after it was the central part of our working lives in our most recent past life.

We wish them continued success in everything they do, as a company and as individuals who we have known and loved for a very long time.

A natural question is “What will you do in your next life?”. The honest answer is I have no idea. After all, I’m a newborn again. I have some time before I’m expected (or able) to walk. Come talk to me when I’m crawling and we’ll see if a plan has formed.

The CEO Artist Concert Series at Rockwood Music Hall

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Christina Morelli is the Energizer Bunny of the NYC Arts Scene. I originally discovered Christina through her work covering the local scene on that site. Since then, she’s broadened her horizons and kicked off an additional venture, The CEO Artist. In addition to having a NYC home base, The CEO Artist (TCA) will have a UK component as well (at the very least).

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TCA is cooking up a variety of very innovative ideas to help artists broaden their fan base and make a living. I’ll save some of those for a future post, since this one is specifically meant to cover last night’s event.

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TCA had its inaugural Concert Series last night at Rockwood Music Hall. It was a showcase of four of TCA’s current artists, plus an MC who performed as well. The proceeds from the evening were donated (100%) to 2NDFLOOR, a hotline for NJ Youth in need of someone to talk to.

Christina was up first, mapping out the schedule and inviting up the MC.

Caleb Hawley was officially designated the MC, but he was really more of a performer interspersed between the the others, closing out the show as well. Christina came on stage to introduce each artist, so I think she was more of the MC.

I am a huge advocate of ask and ye shall receive. We just saw Caleb headline a show at Rockwood 2, on Friday night. Toward the end of that post, I said the following:

Back to Caleb. I already said how much I enjoyed the set, but he still hasn’t recaptured the feeling (for me) that I had the first time I saw him. For most artists that I see, if they do both full band and solo shows, I typically prefer the full band ones. That’s even true when they are amazing solo performers.

Caleb is an exception to that rule, so far (but not the only exception). His full band show was fun and engaging throughout, but his personal artistry and wizardry is lost (or rather, watered down) in the fullness. He’s so good on the guitar, which is so much more obvious when no other instrument is playing (or when he has only a light-touch drummer supporting him, e.g., Craig Meyer). He has a great voice, which is also more obvious when there aren’t other instruments wailing. He is a great songwriter and it’s easier to concentrate on the lyrics when it’s just him.

See, on Friday, I was somehow begging to see Caleb solo, and just three days later, bingo!

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He opened the show by repeating something he had tweeted earlier in the day:

Caleb Hawley ? @iamcalebhawley

Lilith Fair + Me = Rockwood tonight at 7pm. @theCEOartist showcase w/ @chrissipoland @annakrantzmusic @BriArden and@megfarrellmusic

He said that he always wanted to play Lilith Fair, and this might be the closest he got, given that the four showcase artists were all female (in case you missed the reference). Winking smile

He opened with Bada Boom Bada Bling, a fun song to get everyone smiling and in the mood for more music.

Meaghan Farrell was the first showcase artist up after Caleb. This was my first time seeing Meghan. That said, I thought I had some sense of her because I had visited her site and watched the YouTube video embedded on the home page (at least as of this writing), of the studio version of Lost in My Life. I love the song and the performance. You can visit her site to see it, but I’m going to embed it here, in case she swaps it for another in the future.

Lost in My Life by Meaghan Farrell

I really didn’t know what to expect of the showcase format specifically, but I guess I was slightly surprised that it was completely stripped down.

MeaghanFarrell

Meaghan was accompanied by an acoustic guitarist. Her voice is incredible (judge for yourself in the video). I believe that it comes across a bit better with the full band than it does over a single acoustic guitar. She’s also a bit theatrical in her delivery (you can get a small sense of that in the video as well), which also comes across a bit better with a fuller sound.

She played two originals followed by a cover of Natural Woman (co-written by Carole King).

Gus Fafalios accompanied Meaghan on acoustic guitar. He’s amazing. I watched some video on the site linked to his name where he played electric guitar (even better than he was last night on the acoustic). Someone I need to keep my eye on!

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Chrissi Poland was up next. We still haven’t caught a full set of Chrissi’s, but she’s amazed me every time we’ve seen her sing, even for a few minutes. The most recent time was a jaw-dropping wow, three months ago at a Holiday Benefit show.

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She accompanied herself on an acoustic guitar to open her mini-set. Her voice was flawless. She played songs from an upcoming EP. She’s launching a PledgeMusic this week. So, you can be part of the making of this new EP.

Chrissi moved over to the grand piano to do another number. I enjoyed all three of her songs, but she’s quite good on the piano and the fullness of it matched her voice better as well. So, given a choice, I’d prefer to see her do more piano-based songs. I can independently attest to the fact that she slays it with a full band behind her.

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Christina had been on stage between the ladies, but now returned to introduce Nicole Romaine-Settembrino, the representative from 2NDFLOOR. Nicole came up and explained why the group was formed and let everyone know that there was more literature available for those interested in learning about the service.

NicoleRomaine-Settembrino

Bri Arden was introduced and came up with an acoustic guitar. In an unplanned moment, her normal bass player happened to walk into Rockwood with his bass, and he happened to have played that song with her once before, so she invited him up to play it with her again. Bri’s voice was spectacular (that’s been the case every time we’ve seen her). She jokes about her guitar play needing work. It’s true, but partially because she’s thinking about it too much. Just keep playing, it will come. Smile

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Justin Goldner was the above-mentioned bass player. You can read my raves about him in any previous post I’ve had about Bri.

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She moved over to the piano and played The Other Man. Bri is definitely more comfortable on the piano and as with Chrissi, her big voice benefits from the additional richness of the grand. Beautifully done.

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Completing the trifecta, Bri returned to center stage, this time without an instrument. She was joined by the next showcase artist, who accompanied Bri on the piano on a brand new song they co-wrote, What Do I Do. Bri was amazing. The piano play was excellent and the way-too-brief harmony was wonderful.

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Anna Krantz was the piano player on the last Bri song, but I saved her name to tout it as the final showcase artist. This was our first time seeing Anna perform, though we did briefly meet her a few months back at the bar at Rockwood 2.

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She opened with her new single, Rubble and the Dust. The video (quite clever if you ask me) is currently on her home page (linked to her name above). The song also starts playing immediately (as I type, you might get a different one) when you visit that page. She performed it on the acoustic guitar (I guess that Chrissi, Bri and Anna all wanted to make sure we knew they were multi-instrumentalists).

Anna has a fantastic voice. Like the others, she too moved over to the piano, where I’ve already noted she excellent.

AnnaKrantzPiano

She closed her mini-set with a song called Foundation (or The Foundation). Oh man, both Lois and I were blown away by it. This morning Lois wrote to our friend who introduced us at the bar to say that he was so right that we needed to see her perform.

After a few more words from Christina, Caleb returned to the stage for a playful number about hitting the gym to stay sexy for the girls. I had the sense that this was a cover that I didn’t recognize, but for all I know it’s just another Caleb original. Hard to stop smiling throughout the number.

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When he was done, he was unplugging and saying goodnight. It was on the early side and people were calling out for more. After a bit of looking around, they finished off the show with a bang.

Caleb picked up his guitar again, but this time, all four women (Meaghan, Chrissi, Bri and Anna) joined him on stage. They sang Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend. Fantastic!

ChrissiPolandBriArdenAnnaKrantzMeaghanFarrellChrissiPolandBriArdenAnnaKrantzMeaghanFarrellCalebHawley

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It turns out there was a unifying theme for the showcase. Christina Morelli is obviously a magnet for females with extraordinary voices. Keep following The CEO Artist to see what other goodies Christina unearths for us!

The show was filmed by Sam Teichman, so soon, you’ll be able to watch the performances for yourself. They’ll probably be listed (or at least linked to) on The CEO Artist site.

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We bolted really quickly. After the late nights we’ve had recently, both of us were really looking forward to being near a pillow on the early side. Apologies to anyone we didn’t say a proper goodbye to!

Greg Mayo FUNTIME at Rockwood Music Hall

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Greg Mayo had one of his FUNTIME sets last night at Rockwood Music Hall. This was the third consecutive set that he appeared in (second consecutive one that he headlined), all of which we attended (surprise!). Smile

GregMayo

A Greg Mayo FUNTIME set is a rocking good time (literally). Who knows what you’ll get, other than mostly (all) covers (last night had one original), themed in some way that is only explained at a given show. What you can be sure of is that the musicians will be amazing, and that you’ll find it very difficult to have nearly as good a time as they do.

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Last night’s theme? A musical game of tag! Each of the band members picked specific songs for other band members to sing lead on. Of course, they pick challenging songs for the sheer sport of it.

Greg Mayo played lead guitar and sang. His guitar play was as on fire as it always is, even though he had been playing practically non-stop for three hours before this set began (at 12:10am). That it came after an amazing set where he played piano and keyboards exclusively, and sang his heart out, was a delightful change of gears.

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Patrick Firth on grand piano, keyboards and vocals (and a surprise instrument that I’ll cover in another section!). No need to ask whether he was great on the keys (but if you did, and I just didn’t hear you, the answer is Yes). One of the songs he was assigned, came from the drummer, who made him sing Rosanna (by Toto). There are some pretty darn high parts tucked away in that song, which was the whole point of making Patrick sing it. Everyone had a blast, especially Patrick. Smile

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Brian Killeen on electric bass, lead electric guitar and vocals. Brian played his usual instrument, the electric bass, exceptionally (as he always does). He sang at least one song on the lead while still playing the bass.

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But, on one song, Greg, Patrick and Brian each rotated one position. Brian took Greg’s electric guitar. Greg sat down at the keyboards. Patrick Firth took up the electric bass (see, I said there was a surprise instrument for Patrick!). Brian couldn’t properly start the song without fully preparing for it. This involved a wardrobe change (not to be confused with a wardrobe malfunction!). Winking smile

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Brian stripped off his button-down shirt and played the song in his undershirt. He blasted out quite a number of tasty leads, a few of them were really fast! Even the slow ones were great. He sang wonderfully too.

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Brian is typically one of the more self-effacing members on stage, not doing anything to call attention to himself other than playing the bass well enough to call attention to himself. Once he took the shirt off, all bets were off as well. He became the prototypical rock star, and delivered completely! Smile

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Without missing a beat, Brian substituted a name from the song with Jay Stolar, who he spotted in the crowd.

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Zach Jones on drums and vocals. Zach was incredible on the drums. There were no slow numbers, so he was working it constantly. Of course he sang great too. I was about 12” from the kick and hanging tom. I was shocked, but every single time Zach struck the hanging tom I felt a rush of air sweep across my arm. Crazy, because the first couple of times I looked to see if someone was brushing against me.

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There was also an unannounced special guest!

Ryan Vaughn sat under the sound engineer’s booth, to the far right of the stage (right next to Zach). He was a percussionist extraordinaire on every number. He used shakers, maracas, tambourine and probably other things I wasn’t paying attention to. On at least one song, he used maracas in his right hand (two) and hit the hi-hat cymbal with a drum stick in his left. Zach was also hitting the same cymbal (opposite side) with his left hand, while working the remainder of the drum kit with his right. Awesome!

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We got home at 1:30am, completely wiped, but completely happy. When do we get to do it all over again? (No, seriously, when???)

Greg Mayo Band Hall and Oates Tribute at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Greg Mayo Band headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, in a tribute to Hall & Oates. Tributes of any great band are often really fun shows (nostalgia aside, the music has obviously stood the test of time). This one was more than just fun, it was also meaningful. Greg’s dad, Bob Mayo, toured with Hall & Oates for 10 years. Sadly, he passed away way too young, eight years ago.

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We’ve been to five Greg Mayo Band (GMB) shows prior to last night. The main reason why I write this blog is to remember specific details of the shows we attend. I just reread the post from the very first GMB show we attended (14 months ago) and was snapped back to that magical night instantly!

All five of the shows we attended were mostly Greg Mayo originals, with a few Soul/Funk covers thrown in because they just happened to be awesome songs. The last show, which we sadly missed, was a tribute to Peter Frampton (I believe). Bob Mayo toured with Frampton extensively, and was one of the big reasons that Frampton Comes Alive is still the best-selling live album in history.

Greg mostly alternated Hall & Oates tunes with his originals. Once or twice he threw in two of his in a row, and two of theirs in a row (just to keep us on our toes).

The Hall & Oates numbers were great, with a big portion of the crowd singing along (many dancing as well). But, I can tell you without the slightest exaggeration, that every Mayo number sounded equally awesome, with a couple of them topping the Hall & Oates ones in terms of crowd fever!

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In case you need proof of the dancing:

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Greg donned a leather jacket (that was a tad on the small side for him). He told us the story of how he came to posses it. It was originally purchased (and worn by) Daryl Hall (yes, of Hall & Oates fame). When Daryl tired of it, he gave it to Bob Mayo. It was too small for Bob, so he gave it to Greg’s mom. She eventually tucked it away in a closet never to wear it again. Greg stumbled on it one day and heard about the jacket’s travels when he asked her about it. A historied jacket makes it’s public appearance on exactly the correct night. Smile

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Please indulge me a commercial break, by not skipping ahead. If you can help, please do, if you can’t, at least read to be aware of what affects these musician’s lives.

Greg Mayo, along with four of the additional seven band members, teaches at Lagond Music School. It’s one of their primary sources of income (heaven knows it’s not from these indie gigs!). As important as it is for them to make a living (so that I can continue to see them perform), they are passing on their skill and love of music to the next generation of people that I will want to go see.

Lagond School of Music (LSM) came upon hard times in the past year, due to a cascading series of misfortunes tied to a fire in a deli below their school (don’t ask for the specifics, it’s truly a horror story). This year, they have had a number of fundraising efforts to try and get back to a steady state.

One of those efforts is actually being promoted by the teachers at LSM, including the five people on stage last night. That’s an IndieGoGo campaign. There are seven days left to help them out, with every dollar helping more than you can imagine. If you want to contribute, please click this link.

Don’t be concerned that they appear to be far from their goal. IndieGoGo allows them to keep whatever is raised, so your donation means something even if they don’t achieve their goal. Since this is only one of a number of initiatives, I’m happy to report that while they have a gap to close, they’re doing reasonably well across all fundraising.

End of commercial, but I will mention it again below, in the context of the individuals who teach there (to guilt you into contributing if you happen to really like that musician, but didn’t click above). Winking smile

Finally, the absolutely incredible band, left-to-right on stage:

Rebecca Haviland on vocals and tambourine (and hot shades). It feels funny to type something as simplistic as on vocals to describe Rebecca’s voice and her contribution to the Greg Mayo Band. On the other hand, if you read this space regularly (as recently as Thursday morning), then you might be bored with me going on and on about Rebecca.

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In addition to singing, on one of Greg’s numbers, Rebecca leaned over the piano and held one note on the keyboards, finally sliding halfway down to add a flourish to an amazingly great Greg solo!

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John Liotta on baritone sax (and muscle shirt). Still no good individual link (I guess he hasn’t been shamed into creating a site even though I chide him in these posts every time I see him perform). He was great, including a little duel with the tenor sax, which I’ll mention again two people down.

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Josh Reed on trumpet. Josh was great, taking one long trumpet solo that got the crowd hot and bothered. Josh is one of the teachers at LSM. When Lois and I visited the school, we bumped into Josh setting up one of the rooms for a class. We had seen him play before with GMB, but had no idea he taught at Lagond. That day he was sporting a full, bushy beard. Last night he had it trimmed way back. I wonder if his students would have recognized him. Winking smile

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Steven Salcedo on tenor sax (and John Oates impression). This was our first time experiencing Steven. He was extraordinary, taking more of the leads than the rest of the brass section.

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He was the dueler along with John Liotta. Each took leads, then started the classic battle of the saxes (hmmm, somehow, that sounds wrong). Awesome!

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I got to shake his hand and tell him how great he was when he walked into Rockwood 1 before the next set started. I also got to ask him how to spell his last name. Winking smile

When I Googled him this morning, I found out he too teaches at Lagond (or is at least associated with them in some way). Apparently, Greg can keep the band full of great musicians by drawing from nowhere other than Lagond, if he chooses to. Smile

Zach Jones on drums and vocals. Zach just headlined a set we attended on Stage 1, right before this, playing acoustic guitar. Now he was at his more typical drum kit, kicking a** and taking name*. He was filling in for the regular GMB drummer, Kenny Shaw. Kenny seems to be avoiding me this week. I don’t like that one bit, but if someone is going to replace Kenny, Zach would be at the top of my list, any day of the week.

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Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals (and a dapper outfit). Don’t be bored when I repeat (for the thousandth time) how excellent Chris is on the bass. Instead, let me distract you by saying that Chris also teaches at LSM. It was entirely due to Chris and Greg that we visited the school, were extremely impressed by what we saw and heard, and decided to contribute. Now it’s your turn. Smile

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Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals (and neon orange jacket goodness). Paul did his typically wonderful job on the electric guitar. And, drum roll please, Paul is also an instructor at LSM!

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Here’s a shot of Rebecca singing, with the full brass section wailing, along with Paul Maddison on guitar:

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Here’s the set list. The last entry, marked E: SH means, Encore: Sledgehammer, and man, it most definitely was!

SetList

Whatever superlative I use to describe how perfect this set was, would be an understatement. That the word perfect could be considered an understatement, is all you need to know. Get yourself to the April show (the exact date isn’t listed on the Rockwood site yet).

As usual, we didn’t enjoy this music alone:

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Stone Lonesome at Rockwood Music Hall

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The Stone Lonesome headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We saw them one month ago, also on a Saturday night at 9pm at Rockwood 1. I wrote a detailed post about that show, which described not just that set, but their music in general. I’m not being lazy, but rather than repeat that, I encourage you to read it if you’re not familiar with The Stone Lonesome and are interested in learning about them.

The show last night was reasonably faithful to the previous one, so I could (almost) just stop now (other than updating the photos), but there was one change in the band and I always have something to say (even if no one wants to hear it), just to remind myself in the future of what differentiated this show from others.

I ended that last post with:

Thanks Zach, Emily (and Greg, Tony and Ryan) for making it a very special set!

This is obviously a subjective remark, but I think that they are continuing to gel. It’s clear from the above that they didn’t need to improve to make me very happy, but the more often a group performs, the more comfort they have with each other, the audience, and the general flow (both during and between songs).

Zach mentioned that he and Emily were dressed nearly identically (as if The Stone Lonesome had some kind of official outfit). That seemed to be correct, until Emily pirouetted to show off the see-through lacy back of her black shirt. Zach gave in immediately. Since he didn’t spin around, I can’t be sure whether he did or did not have a lacy back. Winking smile Emily immediately covered it up, so we might never know…

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Emily wielded a tambourine. I can’t remember whether she did that last month (which is why I’m writing it down now, so I’ll remember!).

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For those that chose not to click through, The Stone Lonesome is made up of two people, Zach Jones and Emily Long. They could show up just the two of them and it would be a fine, albeit pretty mellow set. Instead, they surround themselves with top musicians who create a mix of modern and traditional alt-country sounds.

Last nights band, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and vocals. This was the first of three consecutive sets where we saw both Greg and Zach perform. The next two posts will detail the sets where Greg’s name was on the marquee, with Zach supporting him. Greg is always great on the guitar.

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In addition to taking on the country genre in his play (wonderfully), on one song that Emily was singing lead, I thought I heard some lovely harmony, but I noticed Zach’s lips weren’t moving, so I looked around and noticed Greg was creating a sound similar to a pedal steel guitar, which sounded just like a beautiful vocal harmony.

Zach mentioned that Greg had a new toy. Specifically, he pointed to the Whammy Bar on Greg’s guitar, which Greg employed a number of times (more often in the sound check, once Zach highlighted it). But, perhaps the entire guitar was new, and it just happened to have a Whammy Bar on it.

Does it look like Greg and Zach and having a good time yet?

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Brian Killeen on electric bass. Brian was the one change from last month’s set. Tony Maceli did a great job in February, but March was Brian’s month to shine on bass for The Stone Lonesome. Unlike Greg and Zach, Brian didn’t play on the middle set, but he was back for the final set with an even more front-and-center role, so look for that post later if you want to read a lot more about Brian!

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Ryan Vaughn on drums, cajon, percussion, washboard, whatever you can bang on or shake. Seriously, if you can make noise on it, Ryan can make that noise sound good! More on him two posts from now too.

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I didn’t have the clearest view of Ryan, so I have to thank Sam Teichman for pointing out that Ryan was using two sticks in his right hand to get extra oomph out of the floor tom (including the rim) while beating the cajon with his left.

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It turns out, that Ryan is not Samson. This is the first time we saw Ryan clean shaven in forever. He was still just as good on everything, so he hasn’t been drawing his special percussion powers from the beard. Good to know! Winking smile

As with the prior month, Zach and Emily closed out the show by giving the band a break and hushing the crowd with a duet. Like I said above, they could easily do an entire set without the band, so getting a taste of the more mellow stuff was welcome. Another great set. Another great beginning to an amazing night of music.

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Caleb Hawley at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Caleb Hawley headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. Ever since we saw Caleb play a house concert in VA, I’ve wanted to see him as often as I can. That hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped, so when he returned to NYC for last night’s show, I wasn’t going to miss him again.

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When I first see someone, I tend to write a longer, more detailed (in the excruciating, please stop sense) post. That’s what I did for the house concert, but it was back in the days when I wrote a single post about the opener and the headliner together, something I rarely do now. Caleb was detailed lower down in the post, since we originally showed up primarily for the opener, Rachel Platten. If you want to know why I fell in love with Caleb Hawley, read that post.

We’ve seen Caleb a couple of times since then, never doing a full set of his own material. That’s a shame, because in addition to being an excellent performer, he’s an excellent songwriter.

One of the most impressive things about Caleb is how comfortable/natural he appears in front of any crowd. He might be quivering underneath, but there’s no hint of that. I’ve seen him take his shirt off (at another show) and unashamedly shake his less-than-six-pack-abs belly for our amusement. The more typical thing is his disarming smile and style, which just makes you want to keep your eyes on him.

That’s good, because while you’re keeping your eyes on him, you’re hearing an incredible voice and watching an absolutely exceptional guitar player.

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Last night was a joyously fun set, complete with very talented people supporting Caleb. It also featured Caleb playing electronic keyboards on the first few numbers, something he claimed he was nervous about (see above for why I don’t believe Caleb ever gets nervous). Winking smile

Let me praise the band, then circle back to some additional comments about Caleb. Left-to-right on stage:

Patrick Firth on electronic keyboards and heavy background vocals. Patrick is a perennial favorite of ours on the keyboards. We were seated a couple of feet from him, so we got to watch him work his magic directly. He also sang harmony on practically every number (perhaps every one), wonderfully.

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Evan Watson performed double duty. For half the set, he manned the drums (that was a first for me, seeing him play the drums). He was good enough to support Caleb, but he’d have to work hard to match most of the other local drummers. For the other half of the set, he was well into his comfort zone, lead electric guitar. Totally sweet! Occasionally, he leaned over to share (or take over) the mic in front of the bass player, to sing some background vocals. He also sang a bit when he was at the drums.

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Brian Killeen on electric bass and background vocals. Brian is always wonderful, but Caleb gave him a couple of long-ish leads, which Brian nailed, to the delight of the crowd. He also sang quite of bit of background vocals with Caleb and Patrick. Another winning performance.

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Here’s the set list:

SetList

Considering the name of the opening song, it was entirely appropriate that the entire band donned sunglasses to try and remain incognito while entertaining us:

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Back to Caleb. I already said how much I enjoyed the set, but he still hasn’t recaptured the feeling (for me) that I had the first time I saw him. For most artists that I see, if they do both full band and solo shows, I typically prefer the full band ones. That’s even true when they are amazing solo performers.

Caleb is an exception to that rule, so far (but not the only exception). His full band show was fun and engaging throughout, but his personal artistry and wizardry is lost (or rather, watered down) in the fullness. He’s so good on the guitar, which is so much more obvious when no other instrument is playing (or when he has only a light-touch drummer supporting him, e.g., Craig Meyer). He has a great voice, which is also more obvious when there aren’t other instruments wailing. He is a great songwriter and it’s easier to concentrate on the lyrics when it’s just him.

I can imagine that with a different set list and a different arrangement, I could feel the same way about a full band show (certainly, there’s no issue with who he picks to support him!). Basically, I guess it boils down to Caleb being too generous with wanting everyone to be (nearly) equal in a full band show. In my opinion, his sets need to be about Caleb, first and foremost, with everyone else being the super professional musicians that they always are, and just support him.

I’ll be seeing Caleb again this coming Monday, 7-9pm, next door (Rockwood 1), when he is the MC for The CEO Artist showcase (put on by Christina Morelli). I imagine he’s quite the MC, given what I told you above about his stage presence.

Caleb is a celebrity in NYC (independent of his run on American Idol last year), so we always get to see many friends at any show that he is part of. We could have spent the entire evening chatting and catching up. Instead, after a few quick hugs and hellos, Lois just took photos of our friends. Winking smile

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Bri Arden will be one of the performers at Monday’s showcase with Christina Morelli (and Chrissi Poland, hidden from view, who will also be performing on Monday):

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