Greg Mayo is a member of a number of bands. Some are long-standing (e.g., his own Greg Mayo Band), some are formed spontaneously (e.g., the Red Delicious Apples). The Red Delicious Apples were slated to play their first-ever gig last night at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, at 11:30pm. That’s late for us, but whenever we make the effort to see Greg, it ends up being worth it.
We decided mid-week that we’d make it work. We even told our friends that we’d definitely be there. One of them emailed me late on Thursday night that Rockwood was listing the show at 12:30am. Ugh, that was going to be way harder to stay awake for. It seemed to me that there were three possible strategies:
- Remind myself that old people get up really early, and that 12:30am was like getting up really early on Sunday, rather than staying up really late on Saturday for an 11:30pm show!
- Nap (for an extended time)
- Do something fun that energizes us, earlier, so that we’re not sitting around staring at the clock until midnight
A really smart person would do all three. We were really smart yesterday.
We napped in the afternoon. We had company from 8pm until nearly midnight that was a blast (I think everyone was surprised when they realized the time). I even had time to check my email and Twitter before we got in a cab. The cabbie warned us that Second Avenue would be jammed. I found it a bit hard to believe at 12:20am, but he was right. We walked into Rockwood at 12:45, but the Red Delicious Apples (RDA) were just setting up. One of our friends was there to greet us as well. Perfect!
Evan Watson formed The Big Apple Singers (TBAS), which includes Greg Mayo. Evan has been touring all summer with Def Leppard and Heart. No one felt right performing under the TBAS name without Evan being a part of it, so TBAS was put on hiatus and other Apple-based groups were formed.
Greg is in all of them. The first was The Crab Apple Singers and they were awesome. The name changes if any of the band members change (so fans can rely on who they will see when they hear which Apple band is playing). With a new drummer and new bass player, the band was again renamed to the RDA.
What’s the draw? Four outstanding musicians, each of whom could hold your attention by themselves. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, they’re having a better time on stage than the rest of us. The good news is that the party is not exclusionary. We’re all invited to lose ourselves with them.
They play classic covers, taking turns (not in strict rotation) singing lead (all four of them). Last night’s selection was eclectic enough to have a few songs that I didn’t recognize, though I enjoyed every one of them.
Greg Mayo on lead electric guitar and vocals. Greg kicked off the show at exactly 12:50am. His vocals were clear and strong and his guitar play is always mind-boggling, last night included. What’s most amazing is that he nearly always finishes off more strongly than he starts, and he starts at such a high level that it’s hard to imagine him elevating from there.
Adam Minkoff on electric bass and vocals. When Adam is the headliner, his sets nearly always start at (or past) midnight, so we never get to see them. Here’s what I wrote about him the last time we saw him (earlier, because he was part of a large benefit concert):
What an absolute treat getting to see/hear him sing lead last night. He’s wonderful, and I will now need to nap on nights when he’s performing late, so I can stay up (at least once). I’ve already written a couple of times about how good he is on the bass. Last night was my first taste of him playing lead electric guitar.
Am I a prophet or what? Nap? Check! Stay up late? Check! Adam great on the bass? Check! Adam singing incredibly well? Double Check! He has a voice that’s built for Rock (and other genre’s as well).
Zach Jones on the drums and vocals. Zach is a near-the-top-of-the-list favorite drummer, in such a short time. Both of us can’t get enough of him. While I primarily push my limits to make any Greg Mayo show, I’d push it to see Zach as well. In addition to mesmerizing on the drums, he too did a great job singing lead on a number of songs.
He used a shaker on one song, eventually ending up with it in his mouth while he drummed with both sticks!
Patrick Firth on keyboards (electronic and grand piano) and vocals. Pat always delights on the keys with last night being right up there. His vocals were extremely strong as well, rounding out the fact that it simply didn’t matter which of the four was taking the lead.
Lois captured some of the heat coming off the grand piano and keyboards when Pat was dazzling us.
Greg called out two birthdays from the stage. The first was Terry, someone who attends way more shows at Rockwood than we do (how is that even possible?). The waitress brought her a cupcake to celebrate.
Then he noted that it was John Lennon’s birthday and proceeded to play Ticket to Ride in his honor. It was awesome and the people in the audience were in obvious ecstasy.
RDA was prepared to stop when a normal set should have been over (roughly 45 minutes). Given that they were the last band up and that the crowd was totally into every note (including a bunch of people dancing with abandon), Rockwood allowed them to push on.
After each extra number, they looked at each other (and for permission from the sound guy) and played just one more. Before playing the real final number, Greg announced that after he sings this one, he wouldn’t have anything left in the tank, so this was really going to be it.
He topped off the night with Born on the Bayou, singing his heart (and throat) out, and knocking us all on our a**es with his guitar. In total, they were on stage for 70 minutes.
Before running out, I went up to Greg and said: “Sorry we couldn’t make it out tonight.” He was very quick in his response: “At least you considered making the effort!”.
Given that we’re rarely out at 2am (Saturday or otherwise), we were shocked to not be able to find a cab. There were hundreds of them, all occupied, and every block had dozens of people hailing cabs. After about 10 minutes Lois hailed a livery car and we were home at 2:20am.