Lagond Music School

Ray Ferrer and Lagond Music School Partner for Fundraiser

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I haven’t blogged in 10 months. Lois asked me to write about our experience last night, so my self-imposed silence is now broken.

Last night we attended a fundraiser at the Lagond Music School. I’ve written about the school a number of times. Every time we have an interaction with anyone associated with the school, we leave more impressed than the time before. That’s saying a lot.

Rosanne Lana (Executive Director) and Charlie Lagond (Musical Director) run the school. Last night, Rosanne related the following story to the crowd (I’m paraphrasing):

I saw this painting by Ray Ferrer (she points to a specific work) and fell in love with it. I took his card, which had a photo of that work on it and every time I stared at the card, I fell more in love with the painting.

I finally called Ray and asked if he would consider doing a single piece for the Lagond Music School. He and his wife came by and spent an afternoon learning about what we do here. Afterward, Ray offered to cover an entire wall with paintings, an installation just for the Lagond Music School.

You are all looking at the wall now. After it was up for a while, Ray made an extraordinary offer. He said that if we held a fundraiser to sell the art, we could keep 100% of the proceeds for the school programs.

That would be extraordinary enough, but not enough for Ray! Ray said that for every painting that was sold, he would replace it with another one, so the wall at the school would remain permanently populated.

 

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(You can click on any photo to see a larger version of it in a new tab/window.)

That’s extremely generous. Having met Ray last night, I am not surprised. We rarely buy art, but we were moved to buy some pieces last night both to help Lagond and to be able to appreciate and share Ray’s work.

Ray Ferrer (links to his Blog) works with an exacto knife and spray paint. Here’s a YouTube video of his process.

One of the works that we discussed took him over 20 hours of cutting and spraying!

You can find him on your favorite social network:

Ray Ferrer on Facebook

Ray Ferrer on Twitter

Ray Ferrer on See Me

Ray Ferrer on Google Plus

RayFerrerHadar

Here are three photos that cover the majority of the installation at Lagond:

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RayFerrerDisplay2

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The evening began with a reception, giving people a chance to look over the art and decide which piece(s) they were interested in. During that time, one of the many Lagond student bands played an incredible Jazz set in the background.

I believe that this particular band is called The All Stars (a name, well deserved):

TheAllStarsPianist TheAllStarsBassist TheAllStarsDrummerGuitarist

Later we all moved into the performance space and were treated to a set by The Speakers. This is a band made up of Special Needs kids. To see them put on a professional set and wow the crowd is an experience no one should miss.

TheSpeakersSingerGuitarist TheSpeakersDrummer TheSpeakersBassist TheSpeakers

To be 100% accurate, there is typically one extra person in The Speakers who is not special needs, to help coordinate. The first time we saw them, it was Greg Mayo. Greg is their primary teacher at Lagond (and one of the two people responsible for us discovering Lagond to begin with, the other being Chris Anderson).

Last night, it was someone from The All Stars (the piano player), who played both keyboards and saxophone with The Speakers (he’s in the middle in the last photo above). One of their teachers, Rusty Cloud, also sat in with them on one song, playing the keyboards. Unfortunately, the one photo we have of him came out too dark.

The lead singer and guitarist was also the Ambassador of last night’s festivities. He gave an amazing speech before The Speakers set, explaining how the Lagond Music School essentially gave him the opportunity to live a happy, fulfilled life. He introduced himself as “an Autistic”.

The evening also featured a new partnership with YAI Network. YAI sends some of their students to Lagond and the director noted that they all come back beaming about their experience there. YAI is moving into new facilities toward the end of May, and the students will be featured in another Lagond show at that time.

A personal icing on the cake. One of the teachers at Lagond, Steven Salcedo was there last night, running sound for the main show. We met Steven a while ago when he was playing saxophone with the Greg Mayo Band. In addition to being an exceptional saxophone player, Steven is one of the nicest people we know. Both Lois and I look forward to seeing him whenever we can.

StevenSalcedoHadar

If I had to break my self-imposed silence, I’m glad it was for something as joyous and heartwarming as the music and spirit of the Lagond Music School, coupled with the incredible art of Ray Ferrer.

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Lagond Music School and their Student Performers

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Last night we attended a show at Lagond Music School. I have implored my readers once in the past to contribute to the school, and I’ll do so again, now that I’ve seen first hand what their students are capable of. If you click on the link above, you’ll spot a yellow Donate button right in the middle. Click it and donate, you’ll feel better.

There were two headlining acts, each of which is fronted by one of the teachers at Lagond. I love both bands, independent of their connection to Lagond, so attending this show was a no-brainer for me. I’ve already posted about each of those sets. Here’s the one about the Greg Mayo Band. Here’s the one about The Thang Band.

Before either of those sets began, we got to see two different groups of students perform, each with one of their teachers in the band. The first was un-named (or at least unannounced). While people were entering and milling about, they were being entertained by a Jazz Quintet in the background.

JazzQuintet

Their teacher was at the keyboards and was subtly (and effectively) coordinating each number (who was to take a lead, how long, etc.). There were two guitar players, a drummer, a bass player, along with the keyboards. All of them were quite good. In addition to playing the notes correctly, they had a feel for the music (jazz can be tricky, not just technically).

GuitarsAndDrumBassPlayer

Charlie Lagond (who the school is named after) is an accomplished musician and teacher. Along with his wife Rosanne, they run the school. I was chatting with him while the group was playing. He told me that in addition to regular music lessons, Lagond Music School (LMS) prepares their students to perform. This was an opportunity for this group to learn how to play background music in a cocktail party atmosphere.

While they pulled off that task wonderfully, perhaps they were a bit too good. Quite a number of people (us included) were drawn away from their conversations to directly listen (very quietly) to the music itself.

Shortly before the real show began, Charlie sat in with the quintet (instantly turning it into a sextet). This was the first time I heard Charlie take a saxophone solo and he was awesome. Thankfully, it was long too, so I got to savor it.

CharlieLagondSaxophone

We all moved into the next room, dubbed The Haven (LMS is on Haven Street). Another band of students called The Speakers was set to kick off the first of three sets. Their teacher participant was none other than Greg Mayo, so this was sure to be a delight on a number of levels.

GregMayo

There were four students playing with Greg, but there was nothing even remotely similar to the earlier jazz quintet. The four of them played electric guitar, drums, trumpet and saxophone (the sax player switched to electric guitar later in the set). The guitarist sang lead and harmony with Greg.

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They put the audience in the right mood for the next two sets. Nice job fellas and kudos to LMS and the teachers for getting both bands well prepared for their big night!

Here’s the set list for The Speakers:

SetList

The Thang Band at Lagond Music School

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

GregMayoSinging

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

GregMayoLeatherJacket

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.

RebeccaHavilandRebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandTambourineHotShades

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!

GregMayoRebeccaHavilandJohnLiottaGregMayoRebeccaHavilandJohnLiottaHavingFun

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

JoshReed

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!

SaxophoneDuel

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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