September, 2010:

Derek James at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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We first saw Derek James and The Lovely Fools at Flux Studios in July. We went to see Ian Axel and left as big fans of Derek James as well, an unexpected side-effect of chasing Ian wherever he plays. I wrote about that night in this post.

Derek has played a number of shows since then that we were unable to attend. Last night he was scheduled to play Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 (one of our favorite venues) at 10:30pm. While a little late for us old folk, it was better than his recent 11:30pm and midnight shows there. 🙂

Since we had come back early to see Delta Rae anyway, we were determined to see Derek last night. Unfortunately, after running around all morning in the heat, Lois wasn’t feeling well last night. Feeling a bit guilty (through no fault of Lois, who encouraged me to go), I decided to abandon her at 10pm and head down to Rockwood to see the show myself.

Here’s how I described Derek’s music in my last post:

It’s probably easy (for some) to describe Derek’s style, but I am having trouble finding the right words. It’s some kind of blend of up-tempo bluesy/rock, tinged with some cajun-infused country, all delivered with gusto. There’s a super-charged energy that had me swaying throughout the set, even though it was sleepy time for us.

I’d like to update and simplify that. Derek James’ music is fun, through and through! You would have thought I had restless leg syndrome if you saw might right leg bouncing up and down non-stop throughout their set!

Derek played the guitar, ukulele, kazoo and sang, all wonderfully. He even threw in a slide-whistle for 5 seconds at the end.

DerekJamesGuitar DerekJamesUkulele2

I couldn’t help recalling the following when Derek picked up the ukulele (an instrument we really love). I follow a lot of musicians on Twitter. One of them is the awesome Matt Nathanson. Just a week ago, on August 27th, Matt tweeted the following:

i’m calling for a ukulele moratorium. please. god. #wegetityouarebookishandcute #killme

I’m sure it was all in good fun. The next day, he had a very cute exchange with the band Guster:

the moratorium started yesterday, so ur good. plus, u guys r sexy. #soitsdifferent RT @guster uh oh. #ukeeverywhereonthenewrecord #goddammit

Derek and Ian, keep the uke in the shows, please! 🙂

DerekJamesUkulele1

There were two big differences last night from the show at Flux Studios. The Flux show was acoustic (except for the electric bass). Last night the lead guitar was electric and a full drum set was added to the mix. That didn’t change the quality of the experience, but it was quite different nonetheless.

Roy Gurel (again, no good individual link) is the lead guitarist and backup vocals as well. Last night was electric, Flux was acoustic. He’s an amazing guitarist, and I’d go out to see him without Derek as well. He seemed to have to work harder on the acoustic than he did last night, but both efforts were fantastic.

RoyGurel

Derek mentioned that they really wanted to get on the Rockwood calendar for last night because Roy is heading back to Israel for a while (hopefully not too long for us music fans’ sake!). This was really a sendoff for Roy, and it was a might fine one!

I’m going to miss Roy at future shows, but I bet that any number of top-notch guitar players would jump at the chance to play with Derek and Assie.

Assaf Spector (Assie) on the electric bass and backup vocals (and Kazoo on one number). He’s absolutely wonderful on the bass, his vocals are solid, and he’s simply fun to watch (like Chris Anderson at an Ian show, but totally different at the same time).

AssafSpector

Jamie Alegre on drums (no good individual link). He was a real treat as an addition to the Flux sound. In addition to being spot on throughout the set, he was highlighted during the last two numbers quite a bit, holding down a 1940’s style big band beat. It was a ton of fun to watch him (there’s that fun word again).

JamieAlegre

I was so glad that I decided to go and just as sad that Lois missed it, since she’s just as big a Derek James fan as I am. It was very good that she didn’t push herself to go though. The person that was on before Derek continued to play well past Derek’s announced starting time. I don’t know if he started late, or if he just wanted to deliver more to his fans (they were screaming for him to keep playing). Either way, Rockwood didn’t stop him (which was unusual).

So, with 20 minutes to set up after the stage was cleared, Derek didn’t start playing until 11:10pm (40 minutes late). That was the only hitch in an otherwise wonderful night out. I was home by 12:15am and my leg was still restless. 🙂

P.S. Lois normally takes all of the photos in this blog. She handed me her camera as I left yesterday, so any complaints about the quality of the photos is entirely my fault in this one!

Delta Rae at Arlene’s Grocery

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We weren’t supposed to be back in NYC until tomorrow (Thursday). Friends of ours from Thailand were in the states and are leaving tonight. We decided to come home early and have lunch with them today to see them off (that didn’t work out in the end!).

Once we committed to that, we left even earlier (yesterday morning), so that we could be back in NYC in time to catch Delta Rae at Arlene’s Grocery.

We’ve seen Delta Rae once before, at Rockwood Music Hall and I covered that evening in this post. I mentioned that I would love to hear them play with a band. Ask and ye shall receive. Delta Rae played at Rockwood again this past Saturday, another acoustic set, but at Arlene’s Grocery, the set was billed as full band.

DeltaRae

We picked a good day to come back early. As we pulled in front of our building, the thermometer in the car read 105 degrees:

105Degrees

Delta Rae performed an excellent set last night. It was extremely well-received by the audience (including us). Having a full band meant adding a drum set and electric bass. That was enough to make the difference I was interested in hearing, but they could also stand a good lead electric guitar, and possibly even a fiddle or mandolin on a few numbers.

The four members of Delta Rae have wonderful voices individually, that blend in magical ways collectively. Given the power and emotion that they produce while singing, it’s a very good thing that each can hold their own singing lead, as it gives a slight rest to the others when they pass the proverbial baton around from song to song.

BrittanyHolljesElizabethHopkins EricHolljesKeyboards IanHolljes

Mike McKee on drums (no good individual link for him, sorry). He was really good on every song, I thoroughly enjoyed his play! Photo isn’t good either.

MikeMcKee

Mark McKee on electric bass. Very solid throughout. As much as I really liked the drums, the bass is what really created the bigger sound (big bottom) for Delta Rae, to differentiate from their acoustic set.

MarkMcKee

While I liked the bigger sound, there’s always a tradeoff. They play a song (Morning Comes) where the ladies clap between lines in a way that adds a very nice touch to the song. They did it last night, but you couldn’t hear the clapping at all over the bass and drums. Of course, I could see them, and fill in the sound in my mind, but it wasn’t the same thing.

We still got a taste of the acoustic side with their Gospel number, Bottom of the River, delivered largely a cappella (the drummer did enhance their normal foot-stomping). They also did the Fleetwood Mac cover The Chain with Ian on acoustic guitar. That’s the only song where the McKee boys left the stage. Here’s a YouTube version of the song performed in Eric’s bathroom! 🙂

They closed the show with a song that they pitched to Kelly Clarkson. She liked it but it didn’t fit her current album so they’re free to use it themselves again. That said, when we left, Lois told me that Lady Antebellum would be nuts not to want to cut that song immediately. So, if you’re listening Hillary Scott, Lois thinks you would fall in love with this song. Grab it while you can, before Delta Rae scores with it directly!

We support the artists we like. We already have two copies of their EP (get it!) so Lois bought a Delta Rae T-Shirt after the show.

Thanks for coming back to NYC a second time in one week (they played in MD in between!), and bringing along the McKee brothers to let me experience the full band sound so quickly.

Already looking forward to our next Delta Rae encounter!

We chatted briefly with Eric and Ian before the show and I noticed Ian was carrying around a tired-looking set list. Here’s a photo of it, though it was from a previous show and they tweaked the set last night from this one:

SetList

ElizabethHopkinsIanHolljesBrittanyHolljes EricHolljes