Kenny Shaw

Hurrah! A Bolt of Light! at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Hurrah! A Bolt of Light! headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. It was their final residency show. They’ve played every Friday in May 2012 at 10pm on Stage 2. I’ve heard about them for quite a while now but this was my first time seeing them play.

I’d describe them as non-stop, hard-charging, loud (but balanced) rock. A number of people broke out dancing during many numbers and those that didn’t were certainly bobbing, swaying, tapping, stomping and generally unable to simply stand still.

Wil Farr is the front-man, singing on every number and playing electric guitar. He has a very good voice, but in classic hard rock fashion, it often feels like he’s screaming at the audience. He played mostly rhythm guitar last night (Hurrah also has a lead guitarist) but he did take one sweet lead.

WilFarrSinging

I’ve seen Wil perform with Abby Payne as well. He’s also producing her upcoming CD. This is the first time I’ve seen him front and center.

Rebecca Haviland on vocals. If anyone is responsible for us going out to see Hurrah (yes, I’ve shortened it), it’s Rebecca. Basically, we’ll go see anything she’s in. Her voice is always great. She and Wil really get into each song and display a passion that is also classically rock.

RebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandClappingWilFarrRebeccaHaviland

Jacob Pleakis on grand piano, electronic keyboards and vocals. Jacob is one of two people in Hurrah that I’ve never seen before. He was quite good on the keys and quite passionate on the vocals as well.

JacobPleakisKeyboardsJacobPleakisPiano

JacobPleakisWilFarrRebeccaHaviland

Kenny Shaw on drums. If you’ve read this space before, you don’t have any questions as to my opinion of Kenny. Hurrah’s music is particularly hard-charging and Kenny was working equally hard (but making it look and sound easy!). Absolutely fantastic drumming. The fact that he was in constant motion the entire set before made it all the more impressive.

KennyShaw

Doug Drewes on electric bass. Doug is the other member who I’ve never seen before. He too was quite good on the bass (no surprise given the rest of the talent in the band).

DougDrewes

Dave Freedman on electric guitar. I just heaped a lot of praise on Dave a few weeks back when we saw him perform with The Thang Band at Lagond Music School. He was even better last night in this set, where he takes more frequent leads. He even spoke a bit into the mic and I think he sang a bit as well. I wasn’t sure before that he ever opened his mouth. It seemed he was satisfied to let his guitar do the talking. Smile

DaveFreedman

Hurrah themed each of the weekly residency shows, mixing their originals with those of a specific band. Last night was The Pixies.

HurrahInTheZone

Jay Stolar headlined the set before them and toward the end of their set they called him up to sing with them. After the song was over, they invited anyone who appeared in Jay’s to join. Kenny was already on stage, but four more members stepped up to the plate.

WilFarrRebeccaHavilandJayStolar

Jay Stolar stayed on stage to sing. Jason Wexler joined Jacob at the keyboards. Rob Pawlings played the cowbell. I still can’t believe that I could actually hear every strike of the cowbell with 11 people on stage all making some kind of noise, but I could, and I liked it!

JasonWexlerJacobPleakisRobPawlingsCowbell

Seth Faulk and Jim Perry each grabbed tambourines and help keep the lively beat. It was controlled mayhem. Smile

BothBandsOnStage

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Summary: the crowd loved it, and I appreciated the driving rhythm and individual talents. It just isn’t the type of music that I want to listen to for long stretches, so I’m not sure I’ll be catching future shows. They won’t miss me, they have quite a following!

Jay Stolar EP Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Jay Stolar released a new EP (The Acoustic EP). Numbered CDs were available for sale at his headlining show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.

JayStolarSingingGuitar

If you read my last post about Jay then you know that we weren’t going to miss this show (and there was strong competition for our attention down in Philly!). We made the correct decision, as I can summarize the show/performance in one word: Wow!

Seriously, among the many things Jay has going for him, the top three are:

  1. Extraordinary voice
  2. Unreal stage presence
  3. A band that can keep up with him (at every position!)

I couldn’t help thinking how lucky we are (were) to experience them (Jay and the band) in such an intimate (yet mobbed!) spot like Rockwood 2. I have no doubt that Jay has the energy to fill Madison Square Garden to every fan’s satisfaction. I hope to get the chance to verify that claim some day.

In addition to playing all four of the EP songs, Jay mixed up his classic Soul/Rock/Pop genres to keep every song fresh throughout the set.

I’ve mentioned before that Jay could thrill on his own. He likely couldn’t do that at MSG though. He certainly could with his 4-part harmony and kick-a** band. Left-to-right on stage:

Jason Wexler on grand piano and vocals. We’re big fans of Jason’s and our fandom grows each time we see him (we had seen him guest with Jeff Litman the night before). He was atypical last night in playing only the grand (no electronic keyboards) with such a big sounding band. That’s perfectly fine with me, his piano skills are exceptional.

JasonWexlerPiano

In addition to singing a ton of background vocals throughout, Jay gave Jason a really long lead during When I’m Acting Crazy. Holy moly Batman, Jason slayed it (and everyone in the room).

Jay took over the piano duties on one number and Jason stepped to center stage and played the accordion.

JayStolarJasonWexler

Grace McLean on vocals. Fantastic, but no surprise (other than I didn’t know Grace would be singing with him). I recently saw her for the first time at one of Sam Teichman’s Leave a Lasting Mark benefits and was instantly taken with her voice (and performance). I may as well repeat what I said about her that night:

Grace McLean was the final newcomer to us. Grace performed perhaps the second most famous song (to me at least), Chain of Fools. Let’s see if I can be succinct in describing her: Wow! (OK, that was succinct, but not sufficient, how about: Holy Wow, Unreal!, yes, that’s better).

GraceMcLeanSingingJayStolarGraceMcLean

In a small-world story, Grace’s upcoming EP was mastered by my good friend (and expert Masterer) Larry Lachmann. I discovered that just days after seeing Grace for the first time.

JayStolarGraceMcLeanWailingJayStolarGraceMcLeanReachingForTheSky

Seth Faulk on drums, percussion and vocals. Seth completed the vocal superfecta. In addition to adding his wonderful voice to the mix, Seth was one of two drummers/percussionists, another touch that makes Jay’s shows so special (I think 10 drummers might be too many, but less than that is all a plus for me, as long as they’re good, and these guys are more than good!).

SethFaulk

Here’s Seth as part of the 4-part power harmonies:

PowerVocals

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny is always great. Having him coordinate with Seth cranks it up a notch and is a sonic joy. Kenny and Seth are a large component of why I feel that Jay could fill MSG with sound. Let’s get on that one folks, please!

KennyShawKennyShawDrums

Rob Pawlings on electric bass. I’ve written about Rob a number of times lately and they’ve all been raves. No difference last night, another amazing performance.

RobPawlings

Paul Maddison on electric guitar. When I last saw Paul, on May 12th, I wrote that I would finally introduce myself to him at the next show. I can’t say I totally followed through, but we did shake hands, so I’m making progress. He’s getting married on Sunday (tomorrow), so I didn’t want to break his concentration. Winking smile

RobPawlingsPaulMaddison

On a more serious note, Paul is an excellent guitarist and Jay gave him one long lead with a bunch of other tasty licks. Wonderful!

PaulMaddisonGuitar

That takes care of the core band. There were three additional guests.

Wil Farr came up to sing with Jay on a song they co-wrote. Very well done. Wil was the front-man for the band that was up next, so I’ll be writing more about him shortly.

WilFarrJayStolarWilFarr

Matt Simons joined for one song on the sax (I believe it was When I’m Acting Crazy). We had seen Matt perform a solo set on the grand piano right before this one. Now he switched to the sax and when he was let loose, he destroyed the room. That he ended up taking such a great solo in the same song that Jason did on the piano, made a great song all the more amazing.

MattSimons

Jim Perry on drums/percussion. Jim joined for two of the final numbers. I think I heard Jay say that Jim co-wrote one of those songs with him, but don’t hold me to that. For the first number, Seth gave up his kit (Seth stood and played a tambourine and shakers while singing). On the second number, Jim took over Kenny’s kit and Kenny played the tambourine between Seth and Jim. Jim did an excellent job in both spots.

JimPerryKennyShawJimPerryDrums

SethFaulkSinging

Here’s the set list:

SetList

An absolutely incredible show. When do we all get together to do it again? Smile

AlexBergerAyelet

The Thang Band at Lagond Music School

Send to Kindle

The Thang Band headlined a set at Lagond Music School last night, closing out a fantastic show. I already posted about the set before them, Greg Mayo Band. I have seen The Thang Band once before and was really looking forward to seeing them again. I was nervous and excited for Lois to see them.

I wrote an incredibly long description of The Thang when I first saw them. I was tempted to reproduce it in its entirety here, but 1/3 of it doesn’t apply (because it wasn’t the same audience and they toned down their act a drop because this performance was at a school after all…). You can read the full description for yourself about 1/2 way down this one-year-old post.

Basically, The Thang are top musicians, irreverently performing for their pleasure. The rest of us are given permission to enjoy it with them (in fact, we’re encouraged). The irreverence touches everything they do, including the innuendo-laden tongue-in-cheek lyrics and the dramatic acting (presentation) of some of those lyrics. It’s a thing of beauty (or is it a thang of beauty?), if you can let go of societal norms for a little while. Winking smile

Even in a slightly toned down show, there is something that simply can’t be contained: Energy. Their shows are upbeat, joyous spectacles.

They went through three wardrobe changes. Each was layered, so it was only a matter of removing a layer of clothing. The photos will tell the story, but you have to come to a show to experience the deep dialog that is coupled with each change. Winking smile

TheThangBand

I normally mention band members from a left-to-right perspective, but that feels wrong with this band, so I will simply cover them in the order that I feel like at the moment.

Paul Maddison is one of three front men, but I declare him to be slightly more forward than the others. He plays the guitar (obviously), but that actually takes a back seat to both his vocals and his overall showmanship. Paul is like the conductor (of an orchestra, not a train). In addition to interacting heavily with every band member, he’s constantly drawing the audience in.

PaulMaddisonGuitar

That last phrase is literal as well as figurative. He beckoned (more like insisted, strongly) that people come right up to the stage and bunch up and become part of the show. They did. If they were reluctant to begin with, that feeling faded right away as everyone was swept up in the show.

PaulMaddisonSinging

I have never taken the time to introduce myself to Paul. Last night, during the opener, he was standing right next to me. For whatever reason, I still didn’t introduce myself. That’s just stupid (on my part), since he brings me a lot of joy and he deserves to know it directly from me. I will correct that next time, pinky swear!

PaulMaddisonMuscleShirt

Dan Golden on keyboards, harmonica and vocals. He’s nearly equal to Paul in front man duties and as I noted the last time, definitely up to that enormous challenge. He’s excellent on both keys and vocals. On occasion he even steps away from the keyboard and sings (or talks/raps) directly to the audience (something Paul does a ton).

DanGoldenHarmonicaDanGoldenCamouflageDanGoldenMuscleShirt

DanGoldenFancyKeyboardsPlayDanGoldenPaulMaddisonFrocks

DanGoldenPaulMaddison

Rob Pawlings (a.k.a Bobby Bananas) on electric bass and vocals. I wrote about Rob in my earlier post about Greg Mayo Band, where he filled in for Chris Anderson. In this set, he cranked the bass up a notch (hard to do, as in some of the Mayo songs he was really wailing) but here he added quite a bit of vocals, including a fair amount of lead.

RobPawlingsFrockRobPawlingsMuscleShirt

In one number, parodying any typical big-name rock band, he would have slammed his bass on the stage and jumped on it (for the full effect), except that it’s unlikely that any of them can afford to smash (and replace!) their beloved instruments. So, he went through the motion, but instead very gently laid the bass down on the stage and gestured at it as if he were hurting it. Winking smile

As opposed to my inexplicable lack of introducing myself to Paul, I went out of my way to find Rob before the show and introduce myself. I’ve become a big fan of his, in particular when I saw him play with Abby Payne (also filling in for Chris Anderson that night). This was the fifth set that I’ve seen Rob play (including the one right before with Greg Mayo).

RobPawlingsSinging

Dave Freedman on electric guitar. Dave is the quietest one in The Thang. He doesn’t sing or talk, but his guitar play speaks volumes. Paul is good enough to play lead in this band (or any other!), but by having Dave there to fulfill that role (brilliantly), Paul is really freed to run the show. Wait, because of Dave, Paul is a freed man. Hmmm, perhaps it’s all an illusion, and there is no Dave Freed Man. Winking smile

DaveFreedman

Last but certainly not least!

Kenny Shaw on drums, cowbell, shakers, conducting and even light vocals. I mentioned in the previous post that I would heap a bunch more praise on Kenny. Of course he was great in the Greg Mayo Band set. The Thang is non-stop upbeat rock. The drummer (Kenny, in case you’re not paying attention) is in constant motion. He’s so fluid, fast and tasty that it’s a thing of beauty to behold.

KennyShawKennyShawCamouflage

On one number, Kenny came out from behind the drums, Dan left his keyboard, and everyone but Dave sang a cappella with their arms around each other. Yes, that includes Kenny, pushing out some sounds through his larynx. Late in the song he whipped out a shaker (in the shape of an egg), which got a lot of hoots because it was the only instrument used on that tune. (Well, I think Dave gave them some very light-touch guitar accompaniment as well.)

TheThangACappella1TheThangACappella2

KennyShawEggShaker

Toward the end of the number, he broke away from the others (Paul, Dan and Rob) and conducted the end of the song by moving his arm up and down, so that they knew whether to raise or lower their voices. Nicely done by all of them.

KennyShawConducting

Martin Rivas was a guest on the previous set. He missed this one because he was performing at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 while this show was going on. He tweeted two short videos of Kenny Shaw with a halo of lights over his head (from the previous set!). Here’s a still that makes Kenny look more like an alien:

KennyShawAlien

Late in the set Paul called up two very special guests. Both are/were students at Lagond. I’m not going to link to them because I have no idea how they intend to promote themselves, but each was easy for me to find if you care to check them out yourself.

Alex Silverstein on electric guitar. Paul admonished the rest of the students in the room to get back to their practice, given what they were about to hear out of Alex. One might assume that Paul was simply complimenting a student (encouraging him), but no, no no no, he was giving the rest of the guitarists in the room fair warning that Alex is the real deal and they better get on the stick.

AlexSilverstein

I don’t even want to tell you how young he is (it would make both of us cry!), but trust me, he’s still a kid (who knows if his voice has broken yet). Let me assure you, he doesn’t play guitar like a kid. He’s got the skills and the feel for the music. Bobby Bananas (Rob Pawlings) gave him a lesson in theatrics during one song, which Alex followed perfectly. He’s the complete package.

AlexSilversteinLeadGuitarAlexSilversteinSolo

Kevin Myers on drums. Kenny stepped to the side and played the cowbell and shakers while Kevin took over the drum kit. Those are some big shoes to fill, especially during the same set that Kenny just tore it up. And yet, another holy cow, Kevin was up to the task (and more). He really was fantastic on both numbers (very long ones).

KevinMyers

There was another benefit to having Kevin behind the drums (aside from his incredible play). It freed Kenny up to play a cowbell solo, seriously! In addition to the solo itself being awesome (Kenny didn’t just hit the outside of the cowbell in various spots at various tempos, he also rapidly beat up the inside of the cowbell with a drumstick.

It would have been amazing at that, but I would also swear that at one point, the sound guy quickly alternated between the left and right speakers, to that every other strike of the cowbell came from a different speaker, creating a phenomenal stereo effect (like there were dueling cowbells). If I’m wrong about that, then it’s time to get my hearing checked (which very well may be the case)…

Steven Salcedo was called up to play a long sax solo in one of the last songs. Paul personally walked the microphone down from the rear of the stage so that Steven could serenade us up close. Thanks Paul. Getting another taste of Steven’s play (he was a highlight during the previous Mayo Band set) was a nice way to top off an extraordinary evening.

StevenSalcedoDanGoldenStevenSalcedoDaveFreedman

StevenSalcedoDaveFreedmanKennyShawDanGoldenKevinMyers

And, what show is complete without someone doing push ups on stage?

PaulMaddisonPushUps

Now all I have to do is start training to stay up real late, as most Thang Band shows start at midnight or later. That made last night an extra special treat. Smile

Greg Mayo Band at Lagond Music School

Send to Kindle

Greg Mayo Band headlined a set at Lagond Music School last night. This is one of three posts from last night. I’ll spend more time talking about Lagond Music School (LMS) in the final one.

Greg is a teacher at LMS (lucky kids!). LMS puts on shows on a regular basis. I don’t know if this was a special one, but this is the tenth anniversary year of LMS. Any show that Greg is part of is special to us. Smile

This was a classic Greg Mayo Band (GMB) show, with one exception and one substitution. The exception was that Rebecca Haviland (who normally sings harmony and some lead vocals) had a previous commitment and couldn’t attend. We’ll get to the substitution below.

Otherwise, the sound was perfectly faithful as was the extraordinary energy that is present at every GMB show. Greg played with the opener as well (covered in the third post, not yet written) so he was fully warmed up vocally and digits (fingers).

GregMayoKeyboards

If this was your first GMB show, you might have thought that Greg was particularly loose and connected with the audience, because a number of his students were there. You’d be wrong. He’s equally comfy on any stage (large or small) and always has a connection with the audience. He feels the music (or rather he exudes the music) and as a result, so do you.

GregMayoSinging

Martin Rivas had a gig earlier in the day up in Westchester and he headed over after that to enjoy the show in the audience with the rest of us. Greg probably would have called Martin up to sing anyway, but with Rebecca unavailable, that became mandatory. Martin sang on one song during the set and was called up again for the encore (the only cover song). What a nice treat (and surprise) for us.

MartinRivas

The rest of the exceptional band, left-to-right on stage:

John Liotta on baritone saxophone (once again, no good individual link). John regularly brings up the bottom of the brass section, doing a great job last night.

JohnLiotta

Josh Reed on trumpet. Josh also teaches at Lagond and is a regular member of GMB. He took a mind-blowing solo during one song and was excellent on the rest.

JoshReed

Steven Salcedo on tenor saxophone. Steven also teaches at Lagond (and if I have my facts straight, was previously a student there!). He’s one of a number of sax players who rotates with GMB and I promise to be thrilled any time that he’s in the lineup. He’s a very special person and musician.

StevenSalcedo

Here’s a shot of the brass section, behind Greg at the keyboards:

GregMayoBandBrassSection

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny is such an integral part of the GMB sound and is so intimate/familiar with it. Great job. I’ll heap even more praise on him in the next post though.

KennyShaw

Rob Pawlings on electric bass. Rob was the one substitution. Chris Anderson normally plays bass for GMB. While I will never be happy about Chris Anderson being replaced, ever, if it has to happen, feel free to make it Rob Pawlings any time! The biggest difference in their performances with GMB is that Chris sings a lot and Rob (who sings well!) doesn’t know the numbers well enough to sing along. Otherwise, his bass play was spectacular. Stay tuned for more on Rob in the next post.

RobPawlings

Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals as well as being a teacher at LMS. Paul was excellent on guitar (much more on him in the next post). He always sings with GMB, but had to carry a bit more of the weight last night, actually taking one of Rebecca’s parts in one song. He’s always a blast to watch on stage as well.

PaulMaddisonRobPawlingsPaulMaddison

Greg called up a very special guest late in the set.

Charlie Lagond joined the great brass section on two numbers, playing his saxophone. What a treat (more on him in the final post about the school and the students).

CharlieLagondCharlieLagondGregMayoBandBrassSection

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Greg and Martin had to scoot once the set was over. A little over an hour after they were done here, they were on stage at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, supporting Robbie Gil in a set devoted to some of the greatest The Who songs. My heart ached to miss that, but there was no way we were walking out on the next set at LMS, covered in the next post.

GregMayoMartinRivas

I’ve been sick for two weeks, finally nearly back to normal. This was our first musical event in over two weeks. We missed quite a number of shows that were tough to pass on, but this was a very nice way to break the ice.

Greg Mayo Band Levon Helm Tribute at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Greg Mayo Band headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. The show was on opposite two others that I would gladly have attended, but a week ago I decided that one can’t have enough Greg Mayo in their lives, so with apologies to the others, I was going to see Greg.

GregMayo

Then on Thursday (April 19th, 20120), Levon Helm passed away. Greg announced that Saturday’s show would now feature a tribute to Levon Helm and The Band. Had I chosen one of the other shows, I would have changed my plans to attend this for that reason alone.

LevonHelm

Greg split the show into two parts. The first was five songs written by him and performed by the full Greg Mayo Band (eight people, including a brass section). The second was the Levon Helm / The Band tribute, consisting of six songs with special guests joining on a few.

I was really glad that Greg chose to play some of his own material as well because one of our friends had never seen a Greg Mayo Band (GMB) show and he totally got how awesome they are (and Greg’s songs are!) before the first verse was over. I bet I’ll be seeing him at many future GMB shows. Smile

After playing It’s a Pity (typically the last song of a GMB set), the horn section left the stage and Greg gave a moving speech about Levon and what he meant to Greg, all of his musician friends and many others (including me!).

One of the first things he mentioned was that a few people had told him that everyone was doing tributes to Levon and perhaps he should consider not doing one. Greg had the perfect answer: “You can never have too many tributes to The Band, everyone should do one!”. Amen!

I’ll cover all of the band members below, but the spirit of the tribute deserves mention before the individuals who performed it perfectly.

In the GMB Greg plays the keyboards (last night he played the grand piano exclusively, amazingly, though he typically plays a bunch of electronic keyboards during these shows as well). Greg also plays a ton of guitar in many other bands. A few of those bands (including The Big Apple Singers and it’s various spin-offs and The Narwhals) specialize in songs by The Band. So I have personally witnessed Greg and his cohorts choosing to honor those songs over and over, ensuring that our youngins get exposed to these timeless classics.

GregMayoPiano

There’s another reason that the timing of Levon’s passing was so emotional for Greg. Over the New Year’s weekend, as a surprise gift for his recent birthday, a very special person in Greg’s life took him to one of Levon Helm’s Midnight Rambles. I’m sure it’s a night that Greg will remember for the rest of his life. The fact that it ended up being one of Levon’s last Rambles makes it all the more poignant.

Greg began the tribute portion by inviting up one guest.

Patrick Firth on electronic keyboards and vocals. Patrick joined for most of the The Band portion, including stepping away from the keyboards to sing lead on a verse at center stage. He was great on the keys, always an integral part of The Band songs.

PatrickFirthKeyboardsPatrickFirthSingingZachJonesMattSimonsPatrickFirthSingingZachJones

PatrickFirthRebeccaHavilandChrisAndersonPaulMaddison

Then Greg invited up a couple of guests to sing on a few of the songs.

Evan Watson kicked it off with the lead vocals on the first verse of Up on Cripple Creek. Evan fronts a number of bands, including The Big Apple Singers. He’s as well suited for singing any song by The Band as anyone I know. Evan returned later and took over the electric guitar for one song in addition to singing on others.

EvanWatsonSinging1EvanWatsonSinging2EvanWatsonGuitar

Zach Jones sang a verse on Up on Cripple Creek as well and joining everyone else for a few other songs.

ZachJonesZachJonesSingingZachJonesEvanWatson

Circling back to the band, but first, a few more words about Greg. He’s never disappointed me at any show, whether he’s the star or a sideman. Last night his voice was as good as I’ve ever heard it (I’m tempted to say he was inspired, but that would detract from the fact that his worst is better than most others’ best). His piano play was as good as it always is.

GregMayoPianoSinging

His mic stand failed on one song (I didn’t see how). Armando cut through the crowd with a replacement. While he was swapping one for the other, Greg took the mic and stood up to sing without playing the piano. Of course he was incredible. When the swap was done Greg didn’t replace the mic in the stand until the song was over. Instead, he sat down at the bench and alternated playing the piano with one hand, then the other, switching the mic into the non-playing hand. Great job of making awesome Lemonade from the lemons. Smile

GregMayoRebeccaHavilandJohnLiotta

The rest of the band, left-to-right on stage:

Rebecca Haviland on vocals and tambourine. Rebecca was on stage for every number in the set. She sang a lot with Greg during his numbers, including taking the lead on part of It’s a Pity. Then she joined on every The Band song, including singing a verse on the lead of at least one song. Superb!

RebeccaHavilandSingingGregMayoRebeccaHavilandSinging

John Liotta on baritone saxophone. John played on every GMB number, then returned for half of The Band ones. He took one long lead on a GMB song and wailed a bit with the rest of the brass section on The Band tunes as well. Excellent!

JohnLiottaJoJoh

Josh Reed on trumpet. He was on stage for the same songs as John Liotta (as was the next person, completing the brass section). Like John, Josh took a long lead on one GMB number. Excellent!

JoshReedJoshReedTrumpet

Matt Simons completed the brass section on tenor saxophone. Matt is awesome on the sax, but we don’t get to see him play it often enough, because his own original music (which I love!) is delivered on the keyboards. So, having him play at last night’s show was a very special treat for me.

MattSimonsMattSimonsSax

The brass section alone, then bracketed by Rebecca and Paul:

BrassSectionRebeccaHavilandBrassSectionPaulMaddison

Kenny Shaw on drums. I had to go three days between seeing Kenny playing the drums. Thankfully, the long drought ended with such a great set.

KennyShaw

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Chris is always great on the bass. He sang a bunch of background vocals on the GMB portion. In addition to singing a verse on the lead in a couple of The Band songs, Chris came to center stage to sing lead on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. Fantastic!

ChrisAndersonRebeccaHavilandChrisAndersonChrisAndersonSingingJoshReed

Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals. Paul sang a bunch on the GMB numbers. He wailed on the electric guitar more during The Band portion, but was extremely solid during the GMB set. He relinquished his guitar and spot on stage for the number that Evan played guitar.

PaulMaddisonPaulMaddison2MattSimonsPaulMaddisonSinging

Most of the audience sang along to The Band numbers, with quite a number of people singing along to the GMB ones as well. It was a set most worthy of losing one’s voice. Thanks Greg and everyone on stage (and in the audience) for such an incredible, memorable performance!

Here’s the set list:

GregMayoBandLevonHelmTributeSetList

A few extra shots, including one of Greg’s little mascot:

GregMayoMascotGregMayoRebeccaHaviland

Goodnight Levon and thanks for everything!

LevonHelmDrumming1LevonHelmDrumming2

Jay Stolar at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

Jay Stolar headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall. That, in itself, is not news. Jay headlines there every Thursday, but, at 1am, which we have yet to keep ourselves awake for. Yesterday, he kicked off the evening with the first set, at 6pm. For us, that’s as good as it gets.

JayStolar

For most people it’s not. Typically, even when someone awesome plays a 6pm show, the place is relatively empty. Not so for Jay. It was the best (biggest) crowd we’ve seen for an early show.

This was our first full set seeing Jay. Now that we’ve experienced it, I want to hit rewind and catch every one of his previous sets (including staying up for the 1am ones!). I don’t mean to sound surprised by Jay’s performance. We’ve seen him sing (at least one song) five times before, either at a benefit or as a guest. The longest stretch was at a Backscratch, where he sang three songs.

Here’s what I wrote when I saw him for the first time, in January 2011:

Jay Stolar (lead singer for Julius C) was up next, and he shared the stage with Chrissi Poland. He was also incredible. What a voice and what passion and energy on stage (very theatrical, in the best sense). I shouldn’t be surprised. For the past month, every time I ask a question of a friend in an audience (like: “Who’s that guitar player”?), the answer often comes back: “Oh, he’s in Julius C, you really need to check them out!”. Indeed, I do!

Ignore the Julius C part, they no longer exist. Since then, Jay was known as Jay and the Birds. I no longer see him use that moniker either. Now it’s just Jay Stolar, or Jay Stolar and Friends (for the 1am shows). No matter, Jay has enough talent to shorten it even further, to just J. Winking smile

JayStolarGuitar

So, it’s obvious that I knew before last night that Jay has an incredible voice. That’s been evident at every show. We also got a few tastes of his guitar play, so that wasn’t a surprise. Last night we found out two additional things. 1) He writes great songs and 2) he plays the piano quite nicely.

JayStolarSingingJayStolarPiano

I have absolutely no doubt that we would have loved the set if Jay came out solo, accompanying himself on the guitar and piano. Jay had more epicness in mind though. He had more than a full band supporting him, left-to-right on stage:

Catherine Brookman on vocals. She was fantastic on every number. Very powerful and crisp voice. She never sang lead on a full verse, but she took the lead on a number of bridges/choruses, where Jay was playing around (amazing us) with his voice, dancing around Catherine (and the others). Catherine has been on Broadway in the revival of Hair (and possible some others). I can definitely see her in that kind of role.

CatherinBrookmanSingingCatherinBrookmanJayStolarCatherinBrookmanPaulMaddisonJayStolar

Paul Maddison on electric guitar. I’ve always been impressed by Paul, but most of the times that I’ve seen him, the guitar hasn’t been highlighted (The Thang Band was one exception). Last night, Jay let Paul rip it a few times, and even when he wasn’t soloing, the lead guitar was an integral part of the sound. Excellent!

PaulMaddisonPaulMaddisonGuitar

Jason Wexler on grand piano, accordion and vocals. Wow. I’ve only had glowing praise for Jason on every show we’ve seen him (which is eight times including last night). Toward the end of the set, Jay stepped aside to let Jason take a long lead on the piano. Holy moly, it was so fast, so clean, so interesting. Basically, mind-boggling. When Jay took to the piano, Jason came center stage and played the accordion. He also sang harmony on practically every number. An all-around wow (to repeat myself).

JasonWexlerPianoJasonWexlerJayStolar

Rob Pawlings on electric bass. This was my third time seeing Rob. Last night’s performance was super solid, but not flashy. Obviously, he plays what’s most appropriate to the specific set. Here’s what I said about him the last time I saw him, when he supported Abby Payne:

Rob Pawlings on electric bass. Rob was absolutely incredible. I’ve seen Rob once before, as part of The Thang Band, where I also had only superlatives for his performance. Given that this was a trio, Rob carried a lot of weight and he never spilled a drop of water all the way up the hill. He sang a bit, but mostly too far from the mic to really be heard. I heard him sing with The Thang Band and praised him that night, so he should bother to step up to the mic next time he sings with Abby as well.

RobPawlingsRobPawlingsBassJayStolarRobPawlings

Seth Faulk on partial drum kit, cajon, percussion and vocals. Of course Seth was great on the drums, percussion and cajon, but I’ll admit publicly, that the biggest thrill was getting to hear him sing harmony on every song. I’ve written many times about how good Seth’s voice is, but it’s usually a taste here, a sip there. Last night it was every single song. It was almost always 4-part harmony (Jay, Catherine, Jason and Seth), but Seth’s voice was so easy to pick out and enjoy.

SethFaulkSinging

That Jay, who is such a great vocalist, shares the vocals with three others, is a thing to behold. Kudos to all four of them. In fact, there were a number of a cappella moments (or very near a cappella, with a very soft guitar, or extremely light touch drums) where the singing was a nearly religious experience.

SethFaulkSingingKennyShawBrushes

Kenny Shaw on drums. One of Kenny’s floor toms was split off for Seth, who sat to Kenny’s right. On Monday, I noted that it was unusual that we had gone two weeks without seeing Kenny play. Last night was only two days later, so things were back to normal. Whew. Winking smile

KennyShaw

I often write about my fantasy of having multiple drummers on stage at Rockwood. It’s happened occasionally (closer to rarely), so last night (in particular at Rockwood 1), it was a surprise and a major treat. Even though we were so close to the drum kit, even with two them hitting at the same time, not a single strike was too loud. Fantastic.

SethFaulkKennyShaw

Jay’s songs vary in feel and genre, keeping the set interesting throughout. Rock/Pop/Soul/R&B, even a bit of Gospel feel. Quiet, loud, full band, a cappella and everything in between.

When he was done, the crowd would have none of it. Practically everyone in the place was chanting for more. It wasn’t obvious to me that he would give in, but eventually he did. He gave the audience a choice of a new song, or a favorite that a number of people called out. The overwhelming response was for the new song.

Wow, what a finish and what a great song. It’s obviously not on the set list, since he really didn’t expect to be forced to sing it. Smile

SetList

Tony Maceli Full Vinyl Tribute to Yacht Rock at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Tony Maceli organized and hosted another Full Vinyl show last night at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. I opened my post about the previous show with the following:

Tony Maceli is one of the top bass players in the NYC indie music scene. Some months ago, he started organizing a regular mega-show called Full Vinyl. Last night was the first one we were able to attend, so I don’t know whether we’ve missed one or two. I also don’t know whether the format is always the same (or going to be). This show was at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.

TonyMaceli

Now I know. Last night was #4, so we missed two of them before hopping on the train. If we’re physically able, we’ll never miss another one. Last night’s show was simply fantastic, on every level.

It’s a touch ironic to say that. The theme was Yacht Rock. Not that the songs that fall under that heading aren’t awesome (they most definitely are, well nearly all of them are), but clearly, there’s a tongue-in-cheek phenomenon going on when kids (yes, the oldest musician on stage was a kid to us) select that music to highlight.

That said, whether they, or the large crowd at Rockwood were singing with any condescension, I certainly couldn’t tell. The party started instantly with Footloose, and never slowed down until the big finale. So many audience members were singing their hearts out to every song, so this wasn’t a trip down memory lane that left them in the dust.

An excursion before I dive into the show itself. At the last Full Vinyl show, Tony swore on stage, quite a bit.

Sometime after the show (days, weeks, I don’t remember exactly), we ran into Tony and got to chat for a while. He brought up the cursing and said that although he loves to curse, and does it all the time, even he felt that he was over-the-top at the show. We didn’t disagree. Winking smile

He had a very interesting suggestion. He offered that at the next show, he’d put a dollar into a tip jar every time he cursed. If he made it through any speech without cursing, we’d put a dollar in. At the end of the night, all of the money would be given to the Rockwood staff. (To be 100% accurate, he offered that he’d keep doubling his $1 each time he cursed.)

We agreed. At last night’s show, both sides happily remembered the wager and rules. We gave our waitress a $20 bill in exchange for $20 singles. We started out with an empty glass. We ended up with a large bucket (the normal Rockwood tip jar).

Tony expanded it to include any performer on stage who was game to toss a buck in if they cursed. Martin Rivas cursed just for the heck of it, and immediately tossed $1 in. Smile

Tony offered the audience the chance to participate if they wanted to toss money in to reward the lack of swearing. People did indeed come over to our table and toss money in! When an audience member at the table next to us cursed, she immediately felt self-conscious and reached into her purse and tossed $1 into the bucket. Cool!

Tony didn’t curse a single time during the show (proving that he can control it completely). Right before the finale, he came out with a number of singles in his hand. After letting out a few expletives, he tossed all of the singles in the bucket. Aside from the release, he clearly wanted to participate in the additional tips to the staff and this was the best way to accomplish that. Smile

When the show was over, Lois presented Erin (who happened to be our waitress the entire evening) with the bucket on behalf of all of the performers and audience members who chose to participate in the challenge. I don’t know how much others chucked in, but I just counted six singles left from our $20, so at least 14 times, we (or more properly Lois) thought that the performers behaved well enough to be rewarded (even if the reward was going to someone else).

Erin

I judge the experiment a complete success. It was Tony’s idea and he deserves full credit.

Something that deeply annoys/affects us is the often constant talking (at volumes that are not to be believed!) that goes on in the audience, even by obvious fans and friends of the performers. Lois thought that it might be interesting (albeit perhaps impossible!) if we had a challenge whereby talkers were shamed into putting $1 in the jar every time someone pointed them out. Somehow I doubt we’ll pull that one off as smoothly as we did the cursing challenge, but I would love to see it happen.

Back to the show…

Loosely following the format I established last time (ain’t precedent grand?), I’ll post the set list first, then the lead singers for each song, then the infinite (no hyperbole here!) band members immediately thereafter. Where someone was a singer and a band member, I’ll note that.

Tony decided to have fun with the set list, giving most people one or more nicknames for their first names. For most, he used their real last names, which made it a tad easier on me. Thankfully, I figured out who Michael McMinkoff was. Winking smile

SetListPage1SetListPage2

As with the first show, Tony Maceli kicked it off. I already told you that they shot out of the gate with a bang. Now you know who led the charge. In addition to playing a lot of bass, Tony played the trumpet on at least two numbers.

TonyMaceliBassTonyMaceliTrumpet

Zach Jones sang from behind the drums. He was great. He also drummed on a bunch of numbers (look for Jones throughout) and was awesome. I had to look around people to see who was drumming on the finale (Africa by Toto), because the drums were so rich and tasty. Surprise, it was Zach! (I say surprise in mock, obviously, since I think so highly of Zach’s play that I wasn’t surprised. But, every drummer last night was incredible, so it really could have been any one of them and I would have believed it!)

ZachJonesZachJonesSinging

Zach also stepped out from behind the drums to sing some background vocals.

Misty Boyce sang wonderfully. Not quite the barn-burner that caused me to describe the aftermath of her song at the last show as “we were all reduced to a puddle”. Misty also played the keyboards on some songs.

MistyBoyceSinging

Deena Goodman was exceptional. I’ve only seen Deena sing once before, at a Livestrong fundraiser, 2.5 years ago. I praised her mightily that night. She did a lot of charity work and then I heard she returned to get a graduate degree, so I wasn’t surprised not to see her performing. Perhaps she needs to rethink that!

DeenaGoodman

Adam Minkoff was amazing (hence earning the only double-nickname, since Tony believes he’s very faithful to Michael McDonald). Adam also played bass and I even saw him wield an electric guitar.

AdamMinkoffMartinRivasAdamMinkoffElectricGuitar

Julia Haltigan continues to impress every time we see her (which will continue to be frequent if she keeps up this level of performing). That said, she’s playing tonight, but I’ll be typing away at this while she’s doing that.

JuliaHaltiganSingingJuliaHaltigan

Charlene Kaye did a great job, also playing lead electric guitar for her own number! In addition to singing lead on Go Your Own Way, Charlene also sang backup on a number of songs.

CharleneKayeGuitarCharleneKayeRobDiPietro

Emily Long was wonderful on her number. Like most of the other lead singers, she returned to sing on the finale.

EmilyLongSingingCharleneKayeSethFaulkEmilyLong

Greg Mayo sang lead on Private Eyes. There was a delay in starting the song for a wardrobe change (calm down folks, this wasn’t a wardrobe malfunction). Greg left the stage while Tony explained that Greg needed to get a special jacket from the green room. Greg emerged wearing a leather jacket that was originally owned by Daryl Hall. I wrote about the jacket, and the song (Private Eyes) when Greg performed it at his last Greg Mayo Band show.

GregMayoSinging

He was great then, and again last night, but it was really cool to see him perform it on lead guitar last night, whereas he was behind the piano at his last show. Of course, Greg also played electric and acoustic guitar (amazingly, as he always does) on many other numbers.

GregMayoElectricGuitar

Casey Shea was once again wonderful. Once again (consecutive shows now), he descended into the audience to serenade a woman within inches of her face. This time, he sat down (last time he lay down on the table). It was the same woman though, Lois. So, to see whether she was his target, or just convenient, I’m going to have to have her sit in the balcony next time Casey sings. We’ll see if he climbs up there to sing to her. If so, I’ll know what the deal is. Winking smile

CaseyShea

Casey also sang backup on some other songs.

Brian Collazo (of Live Society) thrilled (as he always does) when he sang lead. He was also one of the primary backup singers on many songs, and he was oh-so-tasty on each and every one.

BrianCollazoSinging

Patrick Firth sang wonderfully while playing the keyboards. He was also the primary keyboard player on most of the numbers (though he did relinquish it occasionally). The relinquishing was perhaps reluctant. On one number, he hung around and played the top of the double-decker keyboards while his replacement played the bottom.

PatrickFirthPatrickFirthSingingMartinRivas

Morgan Paige didn’t sing lead, but she joined Patrick to sing on Sailing. Since I didn’t notice her on stage for any other numbers, I’m mentioning her here.

MorganPaige

Josh Dion ripped it up again, vocally and on the drums. How anyone can watch him perform and not be mesmerized is beyond me. Of course, I shouldn’t assume that there’s anyone who isn’t mesmerized, so my hypothesis might just be incorrect.

JoshDionSingingBrianCollazoJoshDionTonyMaceli

Martin Rivas sang his way into our hearts. In addition to singing lead, Martin was on stage as much (perhaps a bit more) than Brian Collazo was, singing with everyone else. He played some tambourine too (as did a few others that I failed to note above).

MartinRivasMartinRivasSinging

That leaves the big finale, where most of the singers took a turn at the mic. In a small-world twist, two posts ago I mentioned that The Vanity Belles performed Africa by Toto during their set (which was on the same stage, a few hours earlier). Their acoustic version was fantastic. To end the night with a stage full of people, supported by a top band, performing the same song, was an interesting contrast. Both versions were amazing, even though they were totally different.

On to the band. I’ll mention them in the order that they appear on the set list. If you pay attention, many of them played on multiple songs. I won’t repeat anyone who is mentioned above.

Dan Tirer on electric and acoustic guitar. I’ve only seen him once before, at the last Full Vinyl show. Must… see… more… of… him… He’s so good!

DanTirer

Matt Simons on saxophone and electronic keyboards. At the last show, Matt played only the keyboards. That’s great, but if you really want to add some awesome sauce to the mix, make sure you catch Matt on the sax, he’s incredible. One one number, he was the only brass. On another, he and Tony played together, with Tony whipping out his trumpet. More, please!

MattSimonsSaxophoneMattSimonsKeyboardsMattSimonsTonyMaceliBrassSection

Andrea Longato on electric guitar. Holy smokes, what a nice surprise. I’ve only seen Andrea once before, when he played with Carley Tanchon in February. I was blown away that night and I’m happy to have gotten a taste again last night.

AndreaLongato

Matt Basile on electric bass. Another in a string of great NYC bass players who never disappoint.

MattBasile

Jamie Alegre on drums. Jamie always delivers. For me, that’s usually when he’s playing with Derek James. He was great at the last Full Vinyl show as well.

JamieAlegre

Steve Dawson on acoustic and electric guitar. I can’t say that I really made out his acoustic guitar (tough to hear it over all of the other instruments), but I can tell you that his spirit (demeanor) fit in perfectly. He was having a blast (like the rest of them were), as we all were too.

SteveDawsonElectricGuitarSteveDawsonAcousticGuitar

Rob Calder on electric bass. Excellent! My first time hearing Rob.

RobCalder

Spencer Cohen on drums. Spencer is fantastic, whether he’s on drums, percussion or cajon. Last night, it was the drums.

SpencerCohen

Scott Chasolen on electronic keyboards. He’s a great pianist, no further information required! I mentioned above that Patrick Firth hung around to play the keyboards with someone else. It was Scott. Smile

ScottChasolenPatrickFirthScottChasolen

Ignore the next name on the list, as Mark Marshall didn’t end up making it to the show…

Ben Zwerin on electric bass. Another stellar performance from Ben.

BenZwerin

Tommy Diehl on drums. My first time, won’t be my last. He did a great job.

TommyDiehlTommyDiehlDrums

Rebecca Haviland on electronic keyboards and vocals. Rebecca backed Charlene Kaye on Go Your Own Way, singing (great) and playing the keys (also great).

RebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandKeyboards

Rob Jost on electric bass. Another winning performance.

RyanVaughnRobJost

Robert DiPietro on drums. Again (as with the last Full Vinyl), a superior effort on the drums.

RobDiPietro

Ryan Vaughn on percussion and drums. Ryan is always one of the most masterful percussionists. In addition to playing on a number of songs, he was joined on percussion by Josh Dion for the finale, complementing the already-mentioned drumming of Zach Jones. Ahhhhhh.

RyanVaughnTambourine

Oscar Bautista on electric and acoustic guitar. I had already gotten to enjoy a full set of Oscar earlier, when he played with The Vanity Belles. When they were setting up for Full Vinyl, I saw Oscar and Greg Mayo on stage at the same time, tuning and sound-checking their guitars. What a lineup of guitarists, independent of the others who I have already oohed and ahhed about.

OscarBautistaAcousticGuitarOscarBautistaElectricGuitar

Seth Faulk on drums. Man, it’s been way too long since we’ve seen Seth play. Over three months to be precise. It’s not our fault. He was on an extended tour across the country and just recently returned.

SethFaulk

Chris Anderson on electric bass. As with Oscar, we enjoyed a full set of Chris’ play with The Vanity Belles earlier. You can never get enough Chris, so having more of him in the same evening was fine in my book!

ChrisAndersonSinging

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny wore sunglasses, so he might have been trying to hide from me. It’s been roughly two weeks since I’ve seen him play, which is an unusually long stretch for us to go without Kenny. Fantastic job on the drums!

KennyShaw

Tom Welsch on electric bass. Tom was superb. It was my first time seeing him.

TomWelsch

Paul Amorese on drums. Another tremendous performance!

PaulAmorese

I think that’s everyone. Someone will spank me (and I’ll gladly update this) if I missed anyone.

A few group shots:

BrianCollazoMartinRivasCaseySheaBrianCollazoMartinRivasRebeccaHaviland

PatrickFirthBrianCollazoZachJonesMartinRivas

We got home around 2am. I have to say, I was still really energized and was not at all hoping the show would end. On the other hand, I went to bed at 2:45 and woke up at 7am (and have been up since), so the candle can’t be burned at both ends every night, no matter how much fun it is at the time.

AmyDaveAdamChristgauKevinJason

HadarCaitlinBrianCollazoManishGosaliaKennyShaw

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

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.

RebeccaHaviland

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.

ChrisAnderson

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.

RebeccaHavilandGuitarChrisAndersonBass

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.

EvanWatson

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.

RebeccaHavilandEvanWatsonHarmony

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!

The Callen Sisters at Next Charity Concert at Paulies

Send to Kindle

The Callen Sisters opened the Next Charity Concert Series show last night at Paulies in Pleasantville, NY. I’ll start with the sisters, then talk about Next and Paulies.

TheCallenSisters

We went to see the headliner (covered in my next post), so The Callen Sisters were a pleasant surprise on a few levels.

It’s not often that you walk into a bar and see a harp sitting on stage (hmmm, could be the start of a good joke!). If you do, you might think you’re about to hear classical music, or perhaps you think you’re about to have your interview at the Pearly Gates. Winking smile

Either way, I expected a very mellow opening set. Instead, the majority of the songs actually had a rock feel to them, with the harp blending in as an interesting sound. Each of the sisters sing lead and a lot of lovely harmonies together.

Beth Callen was center stage, singing and playing rhythm electric guitar.

BethCallen

Jessa Callen sang and played the harp. For all but one song, she sang at the harp (duh), which meant that she was invisible to me. On one song, she stepped to center stage, took Beth’s mic in hand (leaving the stand behind) and sang lead. That was the only song with no harmony.

JessaCallenHarpKennyShawJessaCallenBethCallenChrisAnderson

I enjoyed their set, but it wasn’t particularly special. That said, when I visited their site today, I streamed their current CD and enjoyed it. So, I encourage you to do the same and decide for yourself whether this is a group you want to follow, they may very well tickle your fancy.

They were supported by a great band, which accounted for some of the surprises mentioned up top. Left-to-right on stage:

Dan Castellani on electronic keyboards. In addition to being excellent on the keyboards, Dan arranged and produced their current CD, which as I mentioned above, is quite good. He’s clearly a very talented guy. We hadn’t heard about Dan before, but we know him now. In addition to the profile linked to his name, he owns Galactic Music and Audio.

DanCastellani

Kenny Shaw on drums. This was the biggest surprise for us. Having never heard of The Callen Sisters, we didn’t know who their band is. We see (and love) Kenny all the time. We just saw him last Sunday (with Abby Payne) and Monday (with Rebecca Haviland), so even when we’re not purposely stalking him, we end up stalking him (or was it purposeful? … mwuahaha). I already mentioned that it was mostly a rock-style set, so Kenny’s drums were driving the beat, perfectly.

KennyShawKennyShawDanCastellani

Chris Anderson on electric bass and light background vocals. The only reason we were at Paulies was due to Chris. He has been raving to me about the headliners for a long time (patience, the next post will be about them), and this was going to be our first opportunity to see them. I had no idea that Chris also played with The Callen Sisters. Score! All Chris all the time is just fine with us. Smile

ChrisAnderson

Here’s the set list:

SetList

The entire evening was brought to us by Chris Bro. Chris hosts a twice-weekly radio show called NEXT on The Peak, a radio station based in White Plains, NY. He also runs the All Things Next site, which includes a regular podcast. Last night’s show was part of a series called the Next Charity Concerts.

ChrisBro

The show took place at Paulies. We’ve never been there before, even though we live five miles away (how convenient!). It’s a very nice local bar. The sound system was huge (I’ve never seen gear like this at a local bar), bigger than many full-time music clubs we attend. I don’t know if it’s a permanent fixture at Paulies or whether it’s brought in specifically for this series.

In addition to a top sound system, the sound engineer had a sophisticated sound board, that he controlled remotely on his iPad. That made the overly long sound check (each group separately) at least entertaining to watch. Apparently, while it wasn’t used yesterday, the system is capable of enabling a musician’s iPhone to control their own monitor, so that they can set the sound levels without having to holler to the sound engineer. Pretty darn cool!

I’m sure we’ll be back to Paulies to see more shows, both Next Charity Concerts and others.

Update: Aaron Kershaw, a professional photographer, volunteers his time (and equipment) to shoot all of the Next Charity Concert shows. You can view the photos of all shows (watermarks included). You can republish the photos as long you don’t modify them in any way, including touching the watermarks. Here are The Callen Sisters photos.

P.S. We sat with some great folks who insisted on buying us drinks (thank you very much). I shocked them when I asked for a Chocolate Martini (perhaps my second favorite drink behind a well-done Frozen Margarita). I had to give a backup order in case the bartender didn’t know how to make one. Not to worry, the bartender at Paulies made me a perfect Chocolate Martini. Just another reason to return there. Smile

HadarGaryChocolateMartiniRobin

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Rebecca Haviland headlined Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. We’ve seen Rebecca on Stage 2 many times, but always supporting other people. We’ve seen her headlining Rockwood 1 many times, but this was a first at Stage 2. Given her full band sound, having the expansiveness of Stage 2 was extremely welcome.

RebeccaHavilandSinging

Rebecca and the band took full advantage and filled the room with luscious bluesy rock goodness. It was smokier than usual (actually, more slightly-gruff rocker chick like). It worked well.

RebeccaHavilandGuitar

Rebecca played the majority of the upcoming CD. As often as we’ve seen her perform most of these songs live, I admit that I simply can’t wait to have recorded versions so that I can listen whenever I want (which is more often than I see her perform). It’s getting closer. I’ll circle back to that after giving the proper shout-outs to the amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and background vocals. I’ve raved about Todd a couple of times before, so me add to that list one more time. He took a couple of fantastic leads on the keyboards. If I heard correctly, Todd leaves today (or shortly) for rehearsals with Crosby, Stills and Nash, who he tours with every year. He’s the real deal and it’s awesome that he adds his talent to an already amazing band on Rebecca’s numbers, when he’s in town.

ToddCaldwellToddCaldwellKeyboards

Kenny Shaw on drums. Consecutive days, consecutive praise for Kenny’s play. I was actually taken by the fact that the day before, supporting the jazzier numbers of Abby Payne, Kenny was averaging faster fills than with the rockier Rebecca ones. In fact, it made me concentrate to realize how deliberate Kenny’s beats were. There were some really fast fills as well, but for the most part, it was about keeping the timing perfect for the others. Very well done!

KennyShawRebeccaHavilandKennyShawChrisAnderson

Chris Anderson on electric bass and harmony. In addition to always delivering on the bass, Chris is Rebecca’s partner in crime, co-writing the majority of the songs on the upcoming CD. He also sings a bunch of harmony with her, beautifully. Toward the end of the set, he took a long bass solo. Awesome!

ChrisAndersonChrisAndersonBassSolo

I got a shout-out before they played If You. Rebecca mentioned that it was my favorite song (it is) and Chris added “of all time” (well, I can’t contradict Chris publicly…). Winking smile The audience did a fantastic job of singing along with me. Smile

Coming back the new CD. The mixes are done. That leaves mastering. It turns out that I have a friend who has been a top mastering engineer forever (I’ve known him for 37+ years and the only thing I still hold against him after all this time is that he forced me to listen to Steely Dan a bunch, way back then…).

Larry Lachmann is a master masterer (sorry). I’ve mentioned him to a few of the local musicians who were looking for mastering work, but only one, Rebecca Haviland, followed up with him, and after hearing his work on one of her tracks, selected him to master the upcoming CD. I’m proud and delighted to have played the smallest part in making this connection.

I highly encourage any other musicians reading this to put Larry on your list of people to check out for your next project. You can message him on Facebook (linked to his name), or you can email him: larrylachmann1 at gmail dot com (I’m rooting for you to be able to figure out how to solve the previous puzzle). Winking smile

KevinLarryLachmannHadar

We got there super early, partially so that I could introduce Larry to Rebecca and Chris (they’ve communicated a bunch via email, but this was their first face-to-face meeting). Because we were there early, we got to hear a bit of sound check. After they were done, Todd and Kenny stayed on stage and jammed for a bit doing really fast and tasty jazz pieces. It was absolutely incredible. I feel a future set in the making…

Here was last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland will be appearing at Rockwood 1, on March 30th, at 9pm. Be there!

Family