Matt Simons

Jay Stolar EP Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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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

Matt Simons at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Matt Simons headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. It was a last-minute surprise and such a lovely one at that. We were planning on attending the 8:30 set (the subject of the next post) which was originally scheduled to be the first one of the night. Once we heard that they added a set at 7:30 for Matt, our entire evening was set.

MattSimonsPiano

It’s a rare treat to see Matt solo at Rockwood 2. The grand piano there is fantastic and Matt tickled those ivories to perfection. His voice was spot on as well, as was his set selection (including 2.5 covers, which complemented his originals wonderfully).

MattSimonsSinging

I was surprised to catch myself toe-tapping (and even quietly foot-stomping) a number of times. The point is that even though it was understated, Matt’s piano play had a rich rhythm to it that filled the room and made me move (apparently involuntarily). Beautifully done.

Here’s the set list:

Miss You More
Fire and Rain
Emotionally Involved
Jolene
Let Me Go On
Already Over You/Rolling In The Deep
With You
Gone

I’m not going to try and stretch this out to my typically long post because I’ve already said all you need to know, which is that if you weren’t there, you missed a chance to hear a solo singer/songwriter captivate his audience completely.

MattSimonsTerryMattSimonsHadar

Matt was also a special guest on one song in the following set so we got an extra dose of goodness from him a bit later on.

On June 9th at 10pm, Matt Simons is having a CD Release show at Rockwood 1. It’s doubtful that this will be a solo show (though I bet there’s at least one solo number). If you miss that one, I might have to refer you for some professional help. Smile

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

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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.

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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

Jesse Terry at Rockwood Music Hall

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Jesse Terry headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. Most of the times that we’ve seen Jesse he’s performed solo. The last two times he’s been refining a group sound.

JesseTerry

First he connected with Greg Mayo for a duo show, where Greg played piano on some numbers and guitar on others, singing some harmony with Jesse. Next, Jesse had a trio with Jeremy Goldsmith on guitar and harmony.

Last night Jesse used the same percussionist as the previous time (I’ll get to the band in the minute) and replaced Jeremy with a piano player (I believe Jeremy was unavailable, but I think Jesse purposely wanted to go for a piano sound).

I used the term refined above, because I think that Jesse has improved the sound each time and I’m not convinced he needs to tinker with it any further!

Jesse was excellent last night. His vocals are always great, as is his guitar play, but I think he was in a comfort zone with the band as well. Most of the songs were off of his upcoming CD, Empty Seat on a Plane, which will be released in July. There will be a CD Release Show at Rockwood on July 11th, 8pm, be there!

JesseTerryGuitar

Let’s get to the band. That will also allow me to say a few more things about Jesse’s performance in context. Left-to-right:

Matt Simons on grand piano and vocals. There were two things about Matt’s performance that elevated Jesse’s set: 1) the piano complements Jesse’s already excellent guitar skills better than another guitar (which was great too) and 2) Matt sang substantially more harmony, and was incredible on every song (as he always is).

MattSimons

A month ago we saw Jeff Litman on the same stage. I wrote the following:

The test came right away. Jeff opened the show with my favorite song of his, Maine. Let me digress and define what I consider to be a perfect song. If I can put a song on 24×7 repeat, for a year, and honestly not beg for mercy to hear something else, then it’s a perfect song, even if it’s not technically perfect in all respects. Maine is a perfect song. Got it?

Jesse Terry is a great songwriter in general, but he too has written at least a couple of perfect songs (using my definition), perhaps more. Early in the set he played one of them, Noise. His finger picking on that song is extraordinary and last night he was flawless. He started it off solo (which is how he’s performed it most of the times we’ve heard it). After one verse, the band came in.

Aside from the piano and percussion complementing Jesse’s guitar and vocals, Matt Simons’ harmony took an already perfect song and lifted it up even higher. Matt’s vocals were so good on every song that I call this one out mostly to make the point that this song basically couldn’t get any better, and yet it did!

Late in the set when Matt came in on the vocals I turned to Lois and said: “Oh man, they sound exactly like Simon and Garfunkel!”. Not the song, Jesse definitely has his own distinct sound, but their voices blended as seamlessly and beautifully.

Matt was wonderful on the piano as well, so Jesse was right to want to try a piano player when Jeremy Goldsmith was unavailable.

James Williams on cajon and percussion. James played with Jesse at the last show and was fantastic. That was true again last night. I don’t know if he introduced new tricks, if not, at least I noticed them last night. One example: it was the first time I noticed any cajon player striking two different sides at the same time (in this case, the front and back), generating different sounds.

JamesWilliams

At the last show I joked:

He had something that looked like a giant firecracker on stage. I don’t think he used it. At least I’m still here to tell the tale, if he did… Winking smile

I realize now that he did use it at that show, but somehow, I missed it. Last night, he used it late in the show and it was one of the most amazing instruments I’ve heard. Basically, it produces the sound of a large cymbal, but without the actual sound of the stick hitting the cymbal. It’s closer to the sound you get when a drummer uses two soft-headed mallets on either side of the cymbal and is hitting it really fast from the top and bottom. Awesome.

JamesWilliamsFirecrackerCymbal

He had bells strapped onto his ankles and he had a tambourine under his right foot (so he could create the sound of a cymbal strike anytime he wanted).

BellsOnAnkle

For some songs he put a Swan Percussion Knock Box under his left foot for a full kick drum sound (they are competitors with PorchBoard which I have written about a number of times).

You have to love it when a musician gets exactly the sound he wants from a particular instrument such that when the instrument is falling apart he won’t replace it. James’ other tambourine fits the bill. It sounded perfect last night, but hardly looks perfect. Winking smile

BrokenTambourine

Here is the set list:

SetList

The three of them were totally in sync. I’m very excited for the upcoming CD Release Show and hope to see you there (yes, I’m looking right at you!). Smile

JesseTerryMattSimonsJamesWilliams

As usual, we were not there alone. Here are some of our friends and other musicians who enjoyed the set with us:

JessTerryPeter

BrianCollazoCaitlinCarleyTanchon

BrianCollazoChrisAyer

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

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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

Chris Ayer, Matt Simons and Adam Barnes at Rockwood Music Hall

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Chris Ayer, Matt Simons and Adam Barnes have toured together in the UK and Europe a couple of times. March saw Adam crossing the pond to tour the US with Chris and Matt (by now you should have figured out that Adam is the Brit of the three). Last night they headlined a two-hour set at Rockwood Music Hall to close out their month-long tour.

In typical fashion, I’ll cover them in the reverse order that they appeared on stage. Each of them called the others up to sing on at least one song.

It’s been five months since we’ve seen Chris Ayer perform. That’s practically crazy talk, but at least the drought is now over.

Chris opened the show with a new song called Turnip. He noted that no one seems to like the title, but that’s what it is. Regardless of the title, the song is fantastic, so let’s allow Chris to call it whatever he wants.

ChrisAyer

I don’t think it had anything to do with our five-month deprivation, but everything aligned last night in a way that we both felt Chris delivered a flawless performance.

His guitar play was stellar (which isn’t unusual, I’m just noting the various components of flawlessness). His voice was great. He chose a wonderful set list. When he invited Matt and Adam up (separately and together), the harmonies were heavenly.

ChrisAyerFingerPicking

Matt joined for a few songs in a row, playing the grand piano and singing their patented gorgeous harmonies.

Adam joined for two numbers. On the first, they sang stunning three-part harmony. For the second, on the first verse/chorus, Adam sang harmony with Chris (while Matt sat patiently at the piano), and that two-part harmony was awesome too. Then Matt joined for the remainder of the song, again, incredible.

Chris announced that he was going to close the show with his signature performed-in-the-crowd version of Roy G Biv. All three of them descended into the audience and Chris had most people singing along with him. Always a treat to see/hear that song, whether it’s in the audience or on stage.

RoyGBiv1RoyGBiv2

RoyGBiv3

When the song was over, Chris was done. But, there was still more than enough time for him to play another, and the crowd simply wouldn’t have it any other way. He was forced (quite literally) to plug back in and do an encore. A number of songs were called out. Lois asked for Wintertime, I asked for Snakeskin Heart. I heard at least five other song titles yelled out.

Chris was amused, but asked us whether it would be OK if he sang Hiding Place. No one objected. Winking smile

It’s a great song, and he nailed it, so it was a very fitting encore.

Here’s the set list (in traditional style), and you can fill in Hiding Place in your mind:

ChrisAyerSetListChrisAyerSetListFlipped

Matt Simons played a set at the piano. I think that all but one of his songs was off of his upcoming CD, Pieces, which will be released in June.

MattSimons

Matt recently released a single off that CD, Gone, which he played last night. You can buy it for a buck and/or pre-order the full CD for digital download or a physical copy.

Matt typically mixes it up between the grand piano and the electronic keyboards. Last night he played the piano only. I nearly always prefer the spacious sound of a piano, so I was very happy. Matt’s play was excellent on his set and on Chris’. His vocals were great too.

MattSimonsPianoMattSimonsSinging

Even though the CD won’t be released until June, Matt had copies of it at the show. They are labeled Promotional Copies, Not for Resale. As Matt pointed out, they don’t say Not for Sale, just not for resale. Winking smile

So, you could buy one at the show. We bought two, so I could put the second one up for sale on EBay and accomplish two things: 1) Get $500 for the CD, because it’s not yet available to those who want it! and 2) flaunt the law and see if I can get away with it! Winking smile

I already mentioned that all three were on stage during each other’s sets, so I will redundantly report that Chris and Adam sang with Matt, beautifully.

Chris also joined Matt for a song that Chris played guitar and Matt sang lead, without playing the piano. They sang harmony on the chorus. It was gorgeous, with the mellowness of the guitar, coupled with Matt’s vocals.

The one older song was also performed with Chris: I’m Already Over You. Excellent!

Kicking the whole thing off was the one person we hadn’t seen yet, Adam Barnes.

Adam has an excellent voice and plays the guitar nicely (a few songs finger-picked, the rest, rhythm).

His songs are very slow and soulful (at least this set was) and he delivers the lyrics with a deliberate passion, so the pacing becomes a critical part of the feel of the song.

AdamBarnesSinging

Adam broke out the harmonica on one song and shared a bit of TMI about mustache hairs and the potential hazards thereof. Winking smile

AdamBarnesHarmonica

As with the others, he first invited Chris up to sing harmony with him, then Matt joined so that the three could dazzle us together. This was proof that no matter who the songwriter, Adam, Matt or Chris, each is capable of writing songs that support this type of harmony.

We grabbed some Adam Barnes stickers after the show. Who knows where you’ll see one. Smile His guitar is an advertisement for Chris Ayer though. Winking smile

AdamBarnesGuitarStickersAdamBarnesGuitarStickersCloseup

We were both so happy to be able to make it out to this show.

While I mentioned how amazing the performances were, the evening itself was not without a hiccup. Right before one of Matt’s songs, he asked for a glass of water. The waitress brought it over to him. As she left the stage, the woman across the table from me moved a bit hastily to let her get by. In the process, she knocked over her full glass of red wine all over me (shirt and jeans). C’est la vie. At least, whenever I need a quick hit, I’ll probably be able to squeeze a few drops out of those jeans.

As is typical at Rockwood, we got to share the experience with a bunch of our friends, some of whom Lois captured. The two ladies had birthdays on consecutive days. Matt gave a shout-out from the stage to the one whose birthday it was yesterday. Smile

IrisRachelSamTeichmanTerry

Tony Maceli Full Vinyl Tribute to Talking Heads and Alanis Morissette at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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That title is a mouthful. Just typing it out has taken the wind out of me. But, it’s descriptive and accurate, so I’m going with it.

Note: There are no photos in this post yet. We’re running to Rockwood now for a 6pm show and I barely finished the words. Tomorrow morning I’ll add in a ton of photos and tweet the link out again, for those that might want to revisit the post to see it in its correct glory! I’ll delete this paragraph when I update the post with the photos.

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

It was such a massive (fast moving) show, that I would be doing an injustice to multiple people if I tried to cover it the way I do normal sets. Most importantly, I’d be doing myself the massive injustice of sitting here and typing for the next few days. In other words, it isn’t going to happen.

I’ll give a high-level description, call out a few people (which is no slight on anyone that doesn’t get a separate shout-out), then do my best to at least give a link to every person who was on stage. There’s little doubt that I’ll miss someone, or not be able to identify someone (or their site). No omission is intentional, and whenever someone (cough, cough, Tony?) corrects me (public corrections are fine), I’ll update the post to reflect it.

The format last night was Talking Heads first (lead singers were all boys, with one very notable exception). To close out the Talking Heads portion, all lead singers return to the stage at the same time and each sings a piece of the finale, the uber-famous Psycho Killer. Each individual number had numerous band members swapping in and out on each song.

PsychoKillerFinale

Michelle Cassilas was the sole female lead singer during this part of the evening. She’s the head of the band Ursa Minor, writing their songs, singing lead vocals and playing guitar. She can certainly rock it out, so having her in the boys portion of the evening was just fine.

Here’s the set list for the Talking Heads portion. The order wasn’t strictly maintained because a few people (Jerry Fuentes and Derek James in particular) were still playing their set next door when it would have been their turn:

SetList1

Under each song you’ll see the band members that were slated to play (at least their last names). The first name listed was the primary lead singer for that song.

One male singer couldn’t make it due to illness (if Tony said who it was, I missed it). A last minute substitute was recruited, the amazing Robbie Gil. He’s not listed on the set list, because I think Tony already knew about the illness before he printed the sheets. I might be remembering this incorrectly, but I think that Robbie sang Burning Down the House, which has Greg Mayo listed as lead singer (which would have been a second lead for Mayo).

Tony Maceli opened the show. I missed most of his song because I was next door watching Jerry Fuentes and Derek James (I already posted about that show). A friend texted me when this show began and I waited until Jerry and Derek finished their current song to scoot over. I caught the last full verse of Tony singing.

TonyMaceliSinging

I then heard Tony sing a full verse during Psycho Killer. Folks, I’ve heard Tony sing before (rarely) and I praised him. Those previous times were nothing compared to last night. He really opened up his vocals and did a fantastic job. Perhaps he decided to put on these shows just to give himself a vehicle to sing for the rest of us. If that’s the case, I approve. Smile

On to the second half of the show. This time, the ladies were in control and the subject matter was Alanis Morissette. The format was the same, including all of the lads joining for the finale, Ironic, but you’ll notice that three of the woman sang two different songs on the lead. Here’s the set list for the ladies:

SetList2

I was never a Talking Heads fan, though songs like Psycho Killer are burned in my memory (was anything else played on the radio when that first came out?). Watching these people playing those 11 songs did not change that. For the most part, those songs don’t do it for me at all. But, watching these people play those songs (or practically anything), was truly thrilling. I don’t say that just because I love most of them (as people as well as musicians), but because the performance was simply that good. I still wouldn’t want to listen to any of it at home, without the energy in the room.

The Alanis Morissette portion, totally different story. Even though my eyes were droopy and I was yawning,  the second half was amazing, each song. It wasn’t that the women performed it any better than the men (they didn’t, both groups nailed their parts). It’s just that Alanis Morissette is a dramatically better songwriter for my taste.

Here’s the photo of the ladies’ finale:

IronicFinale

We left Rockwood at 2am (sheesh). Not for one second did I consider leaving early.

Before listing out as many people as I can find, I want to write out some incredibly subjective, almost silly thoughts. Not because I want to (or believe I can) sway anyone’s opinion. I just want to remember exactly how I felt and this is the best way. One more caveat. There wasn’t a single weak performance last night (seriously, I’m not sparing anyone’s feelings, you just have to trust me on that). So, by calling out anyone, it would be a major mistake on your part to assume that there was a vast difference between the people I’m mentioning and the people I’m not.

Last time, the following observations are entirely my personal opinions. I’m not casting them as facts. If these people delivered a level-10 performance, then the worst of the rest delivered a 9, with the average being 9.5+.

Josh Dion was the most thrilling male performer. When his song was done, I turned to anyone in my vicinity and said “Josh can only be described by one word: Excitement”.

JoshDion

Misty Boyce was mind-boggling in her lead, but she was also the primary harmony vocalist with both the males and females. She also played keyboards and melodica. I’ve seen Misty sing background with Bess Rogers before, and I’ve wanted to see her own sets (and came really close twice, including earlier this week), but this was my first time seeing her take center stage. She grabbed it and didn’t let go until we were all reduced to a puddle.

MistyBoyce

When her song was over, my friend leaned over and said: “Hard to imagine that she isn’t going to blow up one of these days!” (my friends and I are obviously gangsta, holla, in case you mistook that for being a bad thing!). Winking smile

Finally, let’s try to get everyone’s full name (with links if I can find them). I’ll do the male leads first, then the female leads, then the band members. And…… GO:

Tony Maceli, already covered. He also played bass on many of the songs, always his forte.

TonyMaceliBass

Greg Mayo, in addition to singing lead, Greg played electric and acoustic guitars on a majority of the numbers. He sang the most harmony by a male (even on the Alanis set). Even when he wasn’t singing in the mic, Greg was silently singing every word of every Alanis Morissette song. He’s clearly a big fan!

GregMayoSingingGregMayoElectricGuitarGregMayoAcousticGuitar

Scott Chasolen, in addition to singing lead, played the electronic keyboards on that song. He was great!

ScottChasolen

Jerry Fuentes, already discussed above, sang and played smoking lead guitar.

Derek James sang with Jerry Fuentes as part of Jerry’s number.

JerryFuentesDerekJamesMasonIngram

Michelle Casillas, also mentioned above. Great! (I’m going to stick with great, so no one reads into me trying to simply mix up my superlatives.)

MichelleCasillas

Chris Cubeta, I’ve heard about Chris for a while now, mostly as a producer (he produced the upcoming The Vanity Belles CD). This was my first time laying eyes on him and I was very impressed with his voice and guitar play. Misty Boyce sang harmony with him in near-lockstep. They sounded great together.

ChrisCubeta

Update:

Daniel Lanzetta was not listed on either set list, so I missed him the first time I posted this. When I added the photos, I realized my error. He joined Chris Cubeta and did the spoken parts of Once in a Lifetime (of which there are many).

DanielLanzetta

End Update.

Zach Jones, in addition to singing lead, also drummed for a good bit of each set. This is the first time we’ve ever seen Zach hatless. It turns out, that contrary to popular belief, he doesn’t get his superpowers from his hat, because he was great without it yesterday, both singing and drumming. Smile

ZachJonesSingingZachJonesDrumsZachJonesGuitar

Josh Dion. Already asked and answered! I’ll just mention that he was drumming while he was singing, but if you’ve heard of Josh Dion, then you probably guessed that already (you couldn’t have been sure, because he’s great on the keyboards too!).

JoshDionPaulAmorese

Robbie Gil, also mentioned above. Great!

RobbieGilSpencerCohen

Casey Shea not only was great (see, I’m not varying my adjectives in this section), but he also came off the stage, laid down on a table in front of it, and serenaded a woman within inches of her face. Let me think who that was… Oh yeah, it was Lois! Smile

CaseySheaCaseySheaJamieAlegreMattBasilePatrickFirthMistyBoyceCaseyShea

On to the female leads (remember, three of them sang twice, so their list will be shorter):

Jamie Rae, sang lead on two songs. She’s listed as Raeya on Tony’s set list. I think she recently started a new solo project under that moniker. Great!

JamieRae

Misty Boyce, I want to repeat what I said above, but I’ll restrain myself.

MistyBoyceMelodica

Lelia Broussard, sang lead on two songs. She also danced around a bunch and raised the already high energy level higher as a result. Great!

LeliaBroussard

Charlene Kaye, in addition to singing lead, also sang harmony with a few others. Great!

CharleneKaye

Emily Long, sang lead, and was one of the people that Charlene Kay sang with. The two of them are in a Guns N’ Roses cover band called Guns N’ Hoses. Emily was great!

EmilyLong

Mighty Kate (Katy Pfaffl), sang lead on one song. What a change-up from her own music which we saw just this past Monday (here’s my post raving about her). Great!

MightyKateMightyKateMistyBoyce

Julia Haltigan, sang lead on one song. She too was great! She was recently at Rockwood for her own set, and will be again next week, but beside that, she’s performing soon at The Kennedy Center in Washington. No biggie, I’m sure. Winking smile

JuliaHaltiganJuliaHaltiganSteveWilliams

Dallin Applebaum, sang lead on two songs. Great!

DallinApplebaumDallinApplebaumZachJones

Onward, to the unsung (get it?) folks who supported the above, in the most amazing fashion (I’m not going to repeat the ones who sang, but separately played an instrument on many other songs):

Patrick Firth on electronic keyboards and light vocals. He really wailed on the synth/organ sounds. Great!

PatrickFirth

Jeremy Goldsmith on electric guitar. We’re about to see him in a couple of hours, supporting Jesse Terry at Rockwood. I’m looking forward to seeing him again, because, wait for it, he was great last night! Smile

JeremyGoldsmith

Brian Killeen on electric bass. I had just seen Brian Killeen kill it on an earlier set supporting John Schmitt (post is here) and got to watch him do it again with this group. Great!

BrianKilleen

Ben Zwerin on electric bass. Great!

BenZwerin

Paul Amorese on drums. Great!

PaulAmorese

Matt Simons on electronic keyboards and light vocals. I just saw Matt Simons on the same set with Brian Killeen, supporting John Schmitt. Great!

MattSimons

Mason Ingram on drums. I’ve seen Mason once before, supporting Alec Gross. He was impressive that night. The music was radically different last night, with Mason being equally impressive. Great!

MasonIngram

Steven Elliot on electric guitar. Great!

StevenElliot

Rob Jost on electric bass. Great!

RobJost

Robert DiPietro on drums. I’m pretty sure they called him Rob last night, but the link says Robert, so I’ll stick with that. Great!

RobDiPietro

Both Robs (Jost and DiPietro) are in Ursa Minor with Michelle Casillas and they supported her when she sang lead.

Matt Aranoff on electric bass. Great!

MattAranoff

Ryan Vaughn on drums. Great! I ran into Ryan at John Schmitt’s set and told him that I personally blamed him for keeping us up way past our bedtime. Meaning, we really like catching sets when Ryan is drumming.

RyanVaughn

Spencer Cohen on drums and cowbell. Yes, Spencer is a master percussionist, including playing a naked cowbell, center stage! Great!

SpencerCohenCowbell

John Kengla on electric bass. Great!

Update: I just looked through the photos and not only can’t I find one with John Kengla, the song he was supposed to play on, Heaven, sung by Zach Jones, has Tony Maceli playing on it. So, no photo, and he might not even have been there. Oops.

Rob Heath on drums. Great!

RobHeath

Dan Tirer on electric guitar. Also great, but I’ll add that this was my first time seeing him, and I was particularly impressed. In fact, Lois, who doesn’t pay as much attention to certain instruments as I do, turned to me and commented on how good she thought he was.

DanTirer

Matt Basile on electric bass. Matt always delivers, great!

MattBasile

Jamie Alegre on drums. Great!

JamieAlegre

Steve Williams on drums. I saw Steve once before, supporting Julia Haltigan. He was great that night and again last night!

SteveWilliams

Jeff Litman on acoustic guitar. Great!

JeffLitman

Wow, can’t believe I got through the list, with or without mistakes. Yay me! Smile

John Schmitt at Rockwood Music Hall

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John Schmitt headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We used to see John frequently. I knew it’s been a while (with a couple of near misses recently), but I was actually shocked when I looked it up and saw that it was seven months ago. That’s just crazy talk. Glad to have corrected that.

Let’s the get the important stuff out of the way first. Either someone stole John Schmitt’s beard, and a sizable portion of his girth, or we actually saw an impersonator last night (a pretty darn good one if so). Now we can get on with more mundane things, like the music…

JohnSchmitt

Since it’s been so long, let’s recap the three things that the real John Schmitt has in spades:

  • Great voice
  • Fantastic songwriter
  • Excellent guitar player

(that’s how I was able to judge the potential impersonator, since he possessed two of those qualities. Clearly, if he was stealing John’s songs, I don’t know if he himself is a good songwriter.) Winking smile

There were a number of firsts (for us) in last night’s set:

John introduced his brand new banjitar (that’s a six-string banjo, tuned like a guitar, that sounds like a banjo). It’s a great idea. Lots of excellent guitar players don’t have the time or inclination to study the banjo, but have a few songs that might benefit from that sound. That’s exactly what John did, to perfection.

John birthed two songs publicly (first live performance). Both songs were great. We look forward to hearing them more often and embedding them in our brains like we have the rest of his set list.

John played a solo cover of Cat Stevens’ How Can I Tell You. Wow! He was choked up introducing the song, because he’s currently in a long-distance relationship and singing this song is all too close to home.

John had a full band plus one guest. I knew it would be a full band show, but I admit to being surprised to see two of the members, as in super-delighted-happy surprised. Left-to-right on stage, followed by the guest:

Matt Simons on grand piano, electronic keyboards, and harmony. Surprise #1. We love Matt and we’ll be back at Rockwood on March 31st to see him perform his own stuff, but I didn’t know he’d be supporting John. In addition to being wonderful on the keys (as always), Matt sang a bunch of harmony with John, in particular on Going Back, since Lissa Farquhar (John’s regular singing partner) was very ill and couldn’t make it.

MattSimons

Quick commercial break (someone has to pay the bills here!). Winking smile

Matt just finished recording a new CD in Nashville. He told me last night that it won’t be available until June. But, in the meantime, he’s sharing bits of it with the world. On his Birthday, he tweeted the following:

Matt Simons ? @matt_simons

As promised, here’s some reverse birthday love! It’s link to download a free song from my new album! Hope you enjoy it!noisetrade.com/mattsimons

If I heard him correctly, next week he’ll be doing the same thing with a second song. I’ve already seen a few musicians tweet that they’ve heard the new CD and are in love with it. I can’t confirm or deny whether I’ve had a sneak peek at it, but if I did, I’m sure it’s fantastic. If I didn’t, then I completely trust the folks that said the same thing. Smile

MattSimonsJohnSchmitt

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Brian Killeen on electric bass. Brian was surprise #2, also an awesome one. Even though Brian (one of our favorite bassists) played with John the last time we saw him, that too was a fill in job for John’s regular bass player, Pasquale Chieffalo. Brian was great at that last show, but he was even better last night. Buttery smooth and constantly laying down sophisticated bass lines throughout.

BrianKilleen

Mike Sutton on drums (still can’t find a good individual link). Mike is John’s regular drummer and he’s done a great job at every show that we’ve seen him play. Clearly, he knows John’s music cold and it shows.

MikeSutton

Scott Tofte came up to sing harmony and shake some shakers on two numbers. Beautiful job. He had to consult the lyrics on his iPhone, because he joined John for one of the brand new songs.

ScottTofteScottTofteShakersJohnSmittBanjitar

Here’s the set list:

SetList

I couldn’t stop laughing throughout 7 Drunken Nights.

Lots of familiar faces in the audience, which Lois couldn’t help but document for our memories (and now yours). Smile

JohnSchmittChadVaccarinoLinaIanAxelLeivParton

Chris Ayer at Rockwood Music Hall

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Chris Ayer announced a show at Rockwood Music Hall with the following tweet:

chrisayer Chris Ayer

Show tonight in NYC! Rockwood 8p: playing brand new songs w/ @CAndersonbass @matt_simons & @adamchristgau that we’re recording today.excited

We already had it on the calendar for a while, but didn’t know it would be a full band show. In the end, it was close, but not exactly what Chris anticipated. The above was followed by this tweet:

adamchristgau Adam Christgau

Awesome… sick again. Looks like being 29 got off to a great start

So, after braving his cold in the studio all day, Adam simply couldn’t make it out for the show.

Chris is recording a new CD this week. We’re very excited for this, because Chris’ new songs (some of which he’s been playing for the past few months) are great and we look forward to professionally produced versions of them.

ChrisAyer

Chris opened last night’s show solo. In a nice twist for Rockwood, the large crowd was very quiet (necessary for a solo acoustic guitar performer). Thanks! Chris actually joked about it. When he first walked on stage he asked everyone how they’re doing. Perhaps one person quietly said “Great”. Chris said (I’m paraphrasing): “Ah, a quiet crowd, that’ll work!”. Winking smile

When he started playing Hiding Places (one of the new songs that I can’t wait to get a recorded version of) he was finger picking. A little way into the song he switched to using a pick. Seconds later, the thicker of the two middle strings broke.

If Chris were a normal guitar player, we could queue all the “He broke his G String” jokes! But, Chris is a lefty, so the third string from the top for him is the D (or perhaps I have it reversed and it is the G, and we do need to queue the jokes!). Winking smile

Either end string can often be ignored and the performer can power through the song, especially when there are other band members making music. Break one of the middle strings and it’s near impossible to make pleasant sounds.

Chris stopped and replaced the string, pretty quickly. He joked that this was the first time he injected an intermission in the middle of a song. Technically, it wasn’t an intermission, because he didn’t pick up where he left off, he started the song from the beginning (yay!). Smile

ChrisAyerStringChange

A couple of songs later Chris invited the others up to join him.

Matt Simons on grand piano and vocals. Matt actually did a bit more singing than playing the piano. Both were excellent, but their harmonies are exquisite. My fingers are crossed that there are a ton of them on the new CD.

MattSimons

Chris Anderson on electric bass. We’ve seen Chris Anderson play with Chris Ayer a number of times. Anderson typically plays the upright bass, though a few numbers have been on an electric. Last night they were all electric. It didn’t matter, with the exception of one song that demanded it, Chris was very subtle on the bass, suited perfectly with each song.

ChrisAnderson

Chris closed the show in what has become a tradition. Typically, he descends into the audience (with the band when there is one) and belts out an unplugged version of Roy G Biv. Considering how crowded it was in Rockwood, he varied by asking the audience first whether he should play on stage, or unplug and join them. He was enthusiastically welcomed into the audience (with the necessary parting of the sea) for the big finale.

ChrisAyerInTheAudienceMattSimonsChrisAyerInTheAudience

ChrisAyerRoyGBiv

Another excellent set by Chris, Matt and Chris. If you’re reading this in Europe, you can catch Chris Ayer and Matt Simons on their upcoming tour there in roughly 5 weeks.

Here’s the set list, our view and Chris’:

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We brought along our goddaughter and some friends, who had seen Chris play before in a 100% unplugged solo show.

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Another friend joined for his first Chris Ayer experience:

Jason

Greg Mayo Band Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 CMJ

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Greg Mayo Band headlined at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, one of the last sets to officially close out the week-long CMJ Festival (of course, there were a ton of other sets closing out the week in many other venues). But there was only one venue for us to be, namely the one Greg was playing at.

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Having just seen Greg shred the guitar minutes earlier when he was part of Robbie Gil’s band, we got to enjoy an extremely different set. Greg likes his band to dress up, so there was just enough of a break to reset the stage and give Greg time to put on a suit.

Greg Mayo Band is a big-band sound of rock/soul/R&B/funk. The performances are always stellar, with Greg killing it on the grand piano, electronic keyboards, and singing everyone (including himself) into a frenzy.

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Toward the end of the set Greg split the audience in two and we sang along to the chorus, in harmony. Greg made sure we knew exactly when to sing. Winking smile

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We were able to sit near the piano for every previous show. Last night there were no tables so we stood dead center, right in front of the horn section. That was a ton of fun (I love me some brass).

Lots of people on stage (eight, counting Greg), so let’s get to them:

Rebecca Haviland on vocals and tambourine. The girl’s got voice, pure and simple. She sang with Greg throughout, but took the reigns on lead vocals when they morphed a song into Long Train Running (and later morphed back into the original song). Rebecca blew us all away. I told Lois after the show that they would have to rename the group The Doobie Sisters in her honor!

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Rebecca will be headlining a set at Rockwood 1 this Friday (October 28th) at 10pm. Come at 8pm to enjoy Chris Ayer as well. Smile

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John Liotta on baritone sax. John was excellent throughout, as he always is, taking a long solo toward the end of the set.

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Josh Reed on trumpet. I was afraid Josh would be fired on the spot. While he had a jacket on, he was the only member of the band who didn’t have a tie on (including Rebecca!). Once he took a solo, and Greg praised him, I calmed down and realized he was safe (at least for the night). Winking smile

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Matt Simons on tenor sax. Seconds before Matt walked on stage I commented to Lois that the band was short one horn player (John and Josh were already on stage and it looked like the show was about to start). Thank goodness Matt was there. He destroys the sax, and one of his super fast solos was in the very first song.

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Matt wasn’t there for the last Greg Mayo Band show we attended. He was ably substituted for that night, but I am personally very happy whenever I can get even the slightest taste of Matt’s masterful sax play.

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Kenny Shaw on drums. I never doubt that I will love Kenny’s play. Considering he’s the drummer we’ve seen most often in 2011, there’s little chance I’ll be wrong about that. The set before had one of my favorite drummers, Zach Jones, so any contrast would be a little more obvious.

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No difference in quality. They have different personas and they were supporting different styles of music, but in the end, both deliver as good a performance as you could hope for, every time.

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Another musician that we see a ton of times, who has never disappointed. He co-writes and performs with Rebecca Haviland, so if you take my advice and show up this Friday, you’ll get to see him sing and play.

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Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals. Paul was solid throughout, but this set didn’t call for any particular leads on the guitar. He did play a critical role in the transition to Long Train Running (mentioned above), with the iconic guitar part that kicks off that song. All eyes were on Paul until Rebecca let loose.

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Another fantastic set by the Greg Mayo Band. I think Greg announced that they’ll be back at Rockwood 2 on November 19th. It’s not listed on the site yet, so please confirm before showing up. Here’s last night’s set list:

SetList