Buddy Mondlock at Rockwood Music Hall

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Buddy Mondlock headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. I am slightly embarrassed that I had never heard of Buddy. I was intending to see him anyway, because I was at Rockwood to see the set before and the set after him.

BuddyMondlock

The set before was Jesse Terry, and Jesse sent a message earlier in the day that he was going to hang around to see Buddy because he has been a fan for a long time. Cool, now I didn’t need to worry about whether that hour would be good or bad. Smile

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After the fact I feel even sillier having worried about Buddy’s set. It was fantastic.

Buddy’s music is classified as Country & Folk on Gracenote (the database used by iTunes and others). That’s accurate, but the Country part fits more from Buddy’s sensibilities. I would characterize the live performance as nearly 100% Folk, delivered as classically and beautifully as you could imagine.

I kept thinking Peter, Paul and Mary throughout the set. Not that the songs had even the remotest similarity, nor the vocals. The feeling, of soft, yet somehow still lush music, that just relaxes you and transports you to a meditative state.

Buddy is clearly an amazing songwriter (the reason for my embarrassment is that his songs have been cut by some pretty big stars). He’s actually recorded with Art Garfunkel and been on TV with Peter, Paul and Mary (which I learned after feeling the similarity noted above).

Buddy sings super softly. He’s well aware of that. He asked the sound guy (Armando) to crank his vocals to compensate. It all worked out well, because the audience was deadly quiet (not even a whisper, thank you, other people). That softness adds to the meditative quality I mentioned.

ArmandoRockwoodSoundEngineer

He plays the guitar so beautifully. I will guesstimate that he finger-picked 45%, strummed 45% and flat-picked 10%. All were perfectly suited to the song and vocals.

I have no doubt that Buddy could have performed solo and held my attention completely, he’s that talented. But he chose to enhance his sound with a partner and it was an excellent choice.

Mike Lindauer on acoustic bass and harmony. Mike played a 5-string fretless acoustic bass. So mellow, so good, so appropriate. He sang beautifully on most numbers. Wonderfully matched with Buddy.

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The minute Mike pulled the bass out of the case I was mesmerized. It’s one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever seen, certainly the most beautiful bass. Buddy mentioned it on stage as well, saying the he’s sure some of us would want to talk to Mike about the bass after the show. He was reading my mind.

MikeLindauer

That’s exactly what I did. Mike told me that it was custom, hand-built by Rick Turner of Renaissance Guitars. Wow, Rick does amazing work.

After the show we bought two of Buddy’s CDs: Poetic Justice and The Edge of the World. Buddy signed one for us. I listened to both today and loved them equally. Practically every song from last night’s set was on one or the other CD. I often like live performances more than the CDs. That wasn’t the case for Buddy. His music comes across great live, but just as good on CD!

BuddyMondlockCDs

Buddy announced that he’s working on a new CD. Cool, I look forward to getting my hands on it. What a treat to have accidentally discovered him!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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

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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

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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

Jay Stolar at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SethFaulkSinging

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

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

KennyShaw

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

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

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

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

SetList

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

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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.

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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

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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!)

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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

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

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Rob Jost on electric bass. Another winning performance.

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

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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!

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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!

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

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Paul Amorese on drums. Another tremendous performance!

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

A few group shots:

BrianCollazoMartinRivasCaseySheaBrianCollazoMartinRivasRebeccaHaviland

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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

Jeff Taylor and Dumpster Hunter at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Jeff Taylor and his band Dumpster Hunter headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night.

JeffTaylor

Quick aside. The link to Dumpster Hunter currently redirects to the same site as Jeff Taylor’s link. In the future, it might not, so I decided to give both links. That leads me to say that I don’t really know if there are any official members in Dumpster Hunter other than Jeff, though I suspect at least one of the other people on stage is a permanent member.

I have heard about Jeff Taylor for the past couple of years, in the most glowing of terms, from both fellow music fans and musicians for whom I have enormous respect. So, I was particularly happy to catch this set, as it was sandwiched between two others that I was intending to see anyway.

From what I understand, most previous Jeff Taylor NYC shows have been solo affairs, which is what all my friends were raving about. Dumpster Hunter sounds like a reasonably new endeavor to deliver a full band sound around Jeff’s creations.

Jeff has an excellent voice, but he’s not a traditional vocalist. In addition to singing, he also produces a number of different sounds (including melodic yelling, for example). He whistles on a song or two as well.

He sang without playing an instrument for roughly the first half of the show, then picked up the electric guitar for the second half.

I would describe last night’s set as Dream-State Rock/Pop. Jeff had extremely high reverb on practically every song, so that every note he sang lingered for a long time. It was executed very well.

Jeff was supported by three band members, left-to-right on stage:

Steve Wall on electric guitar, electronic keyboards and vocals. If I had to guess, Steve is a permanent member of Dumpster Hunter. He traveled to CA with Jeff for some shows out there. Steve added to the dream-state with his play on the electronic keyboards, but spent more time on the electric guitar, which I had trouble distinguishing. His harmonies with Jeff were very good.

SteveWall

Mark Guiliana on drums. Excellent on every number. The drums were an integral part of the experience and Mark was right there on every strike.

MarkGuiliana

Chris Morrissey on electric bass. This was my second time seeing Chris. The first time he was supporting Vicci Martinez (before her fame on NBC’s The Voice). Here’s what I wrote about him that night:

Chris Morrissey on electric bass. Given the tempo and power of Vicci’s set, the bass player is key in keeping it all together. I was extremely impressed with Chris’ play, even though there were no flashy leads. As Vicci herself said of her band, they are all P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L-S.

ChrisMorrissey

Last night he took quite a number of blazing leads, as Jeff’s music called for it significantly more than Vicci’s did. So, I continue to be really impressed by Chris and look forward to seeing him again!

JeffTaylorMarkGuiianaChrisMorrissey

I only had complimentary things to say above, so I understand why my friends recommended Jeff. I also noticed that many people in the crowd were in trance-like states enjoying the music. Still, while I appreciated each person’s talent, and I enjoyed the set in general, the music didn’t grab me in any particular way.

It’s possible that I need to experience Jeff solo to get it, but I don’t know if/when he’ll be playing solo.

For those that love him (and I was wildly outnumbered last night), Jeff noted that Dumpster Hunter’s CD Release show will be back at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, on May 5th (Cinco De Mayo), at 10pm. It’s a ticketed show, so grab them now if you’re interested. Mark Guiliana’s band, Beat Music, will be opening.

P.S. I doubt this affected my reaction too much, but the setup time was longer than most 4-piece bands take, which may have made me more antsy than normal.

The Vanity Belles at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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The Vanity Belles are a couple of hard-working ladies. Roughly 28 hours before headlining a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night, they were in Charlotte to sing the National Anthem at The Bobcats NBA game:

I’m sure they blew away the large crowd there, but those fans only got to hear one song. We got a full set, with their regular (awesome) band, so we win. Smile

I’ve written about the Belles a lot in the past three months, so rather than repeat all of that, if you’re new to them (or me), please read this post.

As with that show, everything clicked last night. Their voices were great, the band was great, their set selection was great.

TheVanityBellesCarrieWelling

JessiRaeWaltzJessiRaeWaltzSinging

One of the hallmarks of The Vanity Belles (TVB) show is getting baked goods by Jessi Rae Waltz. Given their hectic schedule the day before, she couldn’t pull off her usual magic. Not to worry.

Patryk Larney came up on stage early in the set and read a poem that he wrote about saving the day. Rebecca Haviland held up his fold-out carboard teleprompter. His treat? Hershey’s Kisses, connected in barbell form (a kiss on each end). Patryk used one as a prop to act out the poem. Extremely well done! (Rebecca might have been auditioning to replace Vanna White on The Wheel of Fortune.) Smile

PatrykLarneyBoxOfTreatsPatrykLarneyActingOutPoem

RebeccaHavilandHersheysKissesBarbells

The Belles often produce a custom video to promote an upcoming show. They did one for last night, around the theme of the opening number, Superman:

The Vanity Belles promote their Rockwood Music Hall show

Sitting one table over from us was none other than the star himself, Superman.

Superman

As is their custom, the Belles picked up their instruments for one song, Bottle. This time, Jessi introduced it and explained where the inspiration came from. Then they nailed it, with Jessi on the electronic keyboards and Carrie on acoustic guitar.

JessiRaeWaltzKeyboardsCarrieWellingGuitar

TVB recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. Their new CD will be released in a few months. One of the reward levels was getting them to arrange and record a cover song of your choice. I think that included playing it at a show as well. The person who chose that reward picked Africa by Toto as the song. The Belles did a wonderful version, accompanied by two acoustic guitars.

Great job all around Ladies. On to the always amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Patrick Firth on double-decker electronic keyboards and background vocals. Patrick never disappoints (as you will see if you read two posts from now, as yet unwritten).

PatrickFirth

Oscar Bautista on electric and acoustic guitars. Oscar thrills at every show. Last night, when taking a lead, he gave a hand motion to the others to take it down a bit. They all complied immediately. He worked the guitar soulfully, building up to a crescendo as the rest of the band followed. One of the songs that he played acoustic guitar on was the Toto cover.

OscarBautista

Zach Jones on drums and background vocals. Another of our favorites (have I mentioned how much I love this band?). TVB has so many driving songs and Zach keeps the action moving at just the right pace.

ZachJones

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. It’s been 72 hours since we’d seen Chris perform (at a house concert in VA), so we were due. Thankfully, since he’s another that always delivers!

ChrisAnderson

Cameron Mitchell on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals. Cameron plays rhythm guitar to Oscar’s lead (for the most part) and does it extremely well. He’s also co-written with the Belles. Typically, Cameron is on acoustic when Oscar is on electric and vice versa. Last night they mixed it up a bit. Cameron opened the show on electric (with Oscar also on electric) and Cameron joined Oscar on acoustic for the Toto cover.

CameronMitchellElectricGuitarCameronMitchellAcousticGuitar

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Last year, we used to consistently be out of town for TVB shows. I’m glad to say we’re in a nice zone at the moment, catching them in a variety of configurations and venues. Keep it up ladies and we’ll keep coming out to see ya. Smile

PatrickFirthCarrieWellingOscarBautistaJessiRaeWaltz

Chris Ayer, Rebecca Haviland and Chris Anderson at a House Concert

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Two weeks ago I announced that we were no longer involved with Zope Corporation. That was supposed to mean not driving up and down I95 every month. Apparently, our love of music and friends didn’t get the message. Winking smile

Lindsie Davis runs regular house concerts. We’ve been lucky to have attended three of them (including last night). In addition to loving every one of the shows, we’ve become good friends with Lindsie, which in the long run (even the short run) is more valuable to us.

Update: Lindsie just forwarded three photos that she took. We’re in two of them. I’ll post the first here, then the others down below.

LindsieLoisRebeccaHaviland

Before we knew we’d be out of Zope, we were discussing coming to Lindsie’s next show, which she was trying to put together but hadn’t set a date yet. By the time the date was set, we were already out, but we decided to make the trip, and turn it into a going away party as well. I’ll cover the party aspect briefly after capturing my thoughts about the show itself.

Rebecca Haviland and Chris Anderson opened the show. They have now named their group Rebecca Haviland and Whiskey Heart (I guess that makes Chris’ name: Whiskey Heart). It works for me, but I’m probably just going to call him Whiskey from now on. Winking smile

RebeccaHavilandAndWhiskeyHeart

We see them perform a bunch, recently in a variety of configurations, but I have to admit that I was still taken by surprise last night (a most pleasant surprise). On March 21st, we saw them perform as a duo (for the first time) at Watercolor Café. The big difference last night was no vocal microphones.

Rebecca and Chris each had their instruments (electric guitar and electric bass respectively) plugged into amps. But, they had them dialed softly (perfectly). That Rebecca’s amazing voice could easily be heard above the amps was not a surprise. That Chris sang loud enough to be so perfectly balanced with Rebecca was the giant surprise. They sounded better together vocally than at any previous show. That means that Chris will have to sing louder, or the sound guy will need to crank him more, at future full band shows.

ChrisAnderson

The acoustics were perfect and every song was fantastic. After missing If You at the last show, they performed it last night. Even though it was new to probably 95% of the people in the room (it was a very well attended show!), this was the best crowd participation in singing the Oh, oh oh oh oh part (along with me, of course). Really great!

RebeccaHaviland

Whenever Rebecca was tuning, she was quite funny telling us stories and informing us that this was her first-ever house concert performance! I’m willing to bet that it won’t be her last. I have a strong suspicion that she had every bit the blast that we in the audience did. Chris Anderson is an old pro at this. In fact, he was at all of the previous house concerts that we attended at Lindsie’s.

ChrisAndersonRebeccaHaviland

After their set, Lindsie announced that there would be a 10-minute break to eat the amazing desserts and stretch the legs. Those rarely last only 10 minutes, so I was impressed that this one was officially ended (with blinking lights) at the 14-minute mark. Well done running a tight ship Lindsie!

PartOfTheZopeGang

Chris Ayer took to the stage (OK, the front of the room) and captivated everyone with his incredible songs, voice and guitar play.

ChrisAyer

Chris always gets a ton of requests for particular songs (many of them long out of his regular rotation). He told us about one guy in Europe who took to the Interwebz to hammer Chris when he didn’t get his desired song. That dude needs to chill (see, I’m still young at heart). Winking smile

Last night, Chris decided to finally perform two songs he’s been promising someone for a while now (two different people, if I understood, both of whom were at the show). One was Opening and the other was Warmer. Bravo! It’s such a treat to hear great songs that rarely get played live nowadays.

As with Rebecca, whenever Chris was tuning, he had us cracking up. Aside from his typical tuning, he complained that the capo the guy at The Guitar Center talked him into was a bad choice. I noticed it once, it doesn’t put equal pressure across the fret, so Chris had to play with it to tighten it, but also compensated by retuning the string it wouldn’t catch. That gave him plenty of time to make us laugh.

ChrisAyerTuning

While I could recite Rebecca’s set list by heart (but won’t), Chris provided his official set list for Lois to photograph:

ChrisAyerSetListChrisAyerSetListFlipped

Our host with the performers:

RebeccaHavilandChrisAndersonChrisAyerLindsie

Our host with us and Chris Anderson:

ChrisAndersonLoisHadarLindsie

It was a great show, well worth the long drive down (unreal traffic once we got into Friday afternoon Washington rush hour). Afterward, we headed to our friends’ house in Leesburg, where we spent the night (and where I’m now typing this). Shortly I’ll be off to watch the older son play baseball (he’ll be the starting pitcher) and then after lunch, the long trek home.

OurGreetingParty

Back to the party aspect of last night. We reached out to a bunch of current and former Zope employees and their families. 15 of us met for dinner at Portabellos in Arlington. Wow, such a great meal, excellent company and everyone in the restaurant was nice and treated us very well.

PortabellosDinnerParty

After the meal, 13 of us headed to the house concert. So, Zope was very well represented at the show. In a nice twist, one of the current Zope employees (Satchit) won the merch raffle, so he walked away with two of Chris Ayer’s CDs and two of Rebecca’s. Score!

SatchitRebeccaHavilandChrisAyerSatchit

An absolutely fantastic night, beginning to end. So glad we never hesitated to make this long drive to implant those memories.

AnneDonFamilyMembers

Bishop Shanahan High School (PA) Choral Ensemble Sings at Trinity Church (NYC)

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The following is a guest post by our very own Lois. Smile

Their voices soared in stunning harmonies, filling the Cathedral as worshippers and visitors gathered after the noon mass to hear the Bishop Shanahan High School (BSHS) Choral Ensemble.

BishopShanahanChoralEnsembleBishopShanahanChoralEnsembleTrinityChurch

BishopShanahanChoralEnsemble2

Under the direction of Chuck Keating, the School’s Music Director, the students sang nine songs, all but two in Latin. Most were a cappella (a few with light background piano).

ChuckKeatingPianist

There were three special additions: a flute solo, several songs conducted by a student and one highlighting a solo singer. About half-way into the performance, sections of the ensemble went back to their seats as the remaining students continued singing. Their voices were concentrated even deeper, yet as moving and inspiring in smaller parts, as with the whole group.

FloutistSoloSinger

SoloSingerStudentConductor

The performances were breathtaking, eliciting huge applause and appreciation from the audience. It is no understatement to call this an uplifting experience for those of us lucky enough to participate. The school’s motto is “Quae sursum sunt Quaerite” (“Seek the things that are above.”) The group delivered, raising our eyes and our hearts in unity.

ChoralEnsembleSinging

Here’s the program:

Program

The Choral Ensemble was recently chosen by B101, WBEB-FM as the best school musical group in Philadelphia (the station’s 2nd Annual Christmas Choir Contest in the grades 7-12 division.) Here’s the song they sang for the contest.

Trinity Church is a beautiful structure at the tip of the Island founded in 1697 “a sacred oasis amid the busy downtown streets”. The Church (and Trinity Choir) are well known throughout the world for their rich musical heritage and contributions. Trinity presents many free concerts every year.

They have a wonderful youth music program which “emphasizes the social aspect of singing, brings together collaborative neighborhood partners, and teaches the importance of building bridges within our community.”

Why did I attend? A ‘few years’ back I worked with an amazing girl in her first job straight out of college. She proved over and over how much she could take on with grace and dedication: marriage, motherhood, burgeoning career – and still remain the kindest of people! We kept in touch over the years as each of our lives took their twists and turns. While we haven’t seen each other as much as we’d like, yesterday gave us the chance to correct that 🙂 finally in person, sharing this incredible experience….hopefully the first of many more to come.

AnneEileen

As Hadar & I have found, our lives are continually enhanced and blessed with the music – and musicians – who create the ‘joyful noise’ we all can share.

Ian and Chad at The Standard Hotel

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Ian and Chad is the new name for what used to be known as Ian Axel (which always featured Chad Vaccarino). Last night they headlined a show at The Standard Hotel (formerly known as The Cooper Square Hotel). They announced it as their first show of 2012. If you accept the notion of officially sanctioned shows then that’s true.

IanAndChad

On March 29th, they played a secret show (so it wasn’t real). We were there and I wrote about it. I thought that part of the reason for the secret show was to test some new material in public, before debuting it officially last night. As such, I assumed that I could save a lot of typing by pointing people at that post and saying “Read that, but imagine it in a more stunning setting.” To a large extent that was true, but the deviations surprised me.

IanAxelChadVaccarino

I’ll talk a bit about the venue and the promoter below, but first let’s dive into the performance.

Last names weren’t even mentioned. They introduced themselves separately, simply as Ian and Chad. They opened with the same sequence of three songs as they did at the secret show: 1) Cheer Up, 2) Rockstar, 3) This is the New Year. Again, they reversed which verses they sang in This is the New Year. Both did a great job with the other’s verses, but in the first surprise of the evening, the same spot that Chad came in late at the secret show (“I pass it back to you”), caused him a bit of trouble again last night. At both shows that ended up being a charming/disarming moment.

At the secret show, that was the only song performed that is on the current CD (same title, This is the New Year). Quick aside, you can download that entire CD and pay whatever you want!

This is where my big surprise came. After that song, Chad left the stage. I expected Ian to play the same brand-new song he played at Rockwood, a song about/for his parents, and his love of/for them.

Instead, he played Gone (also a song written for his parents). I wonder whether he’s simply not ready to play that song in front of his parents just yet (they were there last night, but not at the secret show). Still, in rebranding themselves Ian and Chad, he picked a song that was on the current Ian Axel CD. OK, no biggie.

IanAxelSinging

At the secret show, each played a single solo song. I expected Chad to come right back up (either solo, or for another song together). Instead, Ian played two more songs solo, Waltz and Say Something. Both are on the current CD (again, much to my surprise). Ian was amazing on all three solo numbers, so I’m not complaining, but it was totally unexpected (perhaps that’s a good thing!).

Chad did play his one solo song on the guitar. It’s gorgeous and I look forward to more of his efforts on the guitar and singing from his heart. I don’t know if the song has an official title, but I’d call it “I Don’t Want to Love Somebody Else”. Awesome.

ChadVaccarinoGuitar

Chad had a special seat for when he played the guitar. Winking smile

ChadSpecialSeat

Mike Campbell joined Ian and Chad for two numbers. Mike played acoustic guitar and sang harmony. Ian played the ukulele on both. The first was a song they all co-wrote, Amory. It would be hard to describe how incredible their harmony was and how absolutely pin-drop quiet the packed-in crowd was.

MikeCampbellMikeCampbellChadVaccarinoIanAxel

They followed that up with their signature Shorty Don’t Wait, which Chad crushed (as did Ian and Mike).

ChadVaccarinoSinging

Ian and Chad closed out the show with Homeward Bound/The More We Love/I Really Want It (no, not three songs, an untitled song, with any of those three titles fitting perfectly, so take your pick!). Winking smile

That brings me to a general observation. This was one of the most amazing crowds I’ve been a part of, both for Ian and Chad, and the opener, Elizabeth and the Catapult as well. Absolutely hushed silence during the songs, followed by thunderous (and long) applause, whoops, cat-calls, etc., the second every single song was over. Exactly as it should be for such spectacular performances.

Back to the venue and the promoter. We’ve been to this venue once before, when it was called The Cooper Square Hotel. It was also to see Ian and Chad (though then they were called Ian Axel). That night, they were the openers.

The shows are held in the Penthouse, which I believe has more outdoor than indoor space. The wrap-around deck/terrace is one of the wonders of NYC. While it’s only 24 (or so) floors up, there are no other tall buildings around, so the view is quite sweeping, including the Empire State Building, MetLife and Chrysler Buildings, etc. The start time for the show allows for the full transition from bright sunlight, through twilight, to complete night-time scenes of NYC. That the music complements and exceeds the visuals makes the entire experience all the more amazing.

StandardHotelPenthouseDeckNYC-Skyline

Both shows that we attended are part of a series put on by Annie Ohayon, called the Annie O. Music Series. There used to be a page dedicated to that on the Cooper Square site. I’m sure The Standard will put one up when they get around to it.

AnnieOhayon

Anyway, Annie O. has great taste in music and will continue showcasing Ian and Chad (I believe the next show is on May 7th, same place, with Teddy Geiger opening). She’s already announced a few other acts later this month. Get on her mailing list and be prepared to be wowed by her musical choices and the venue she has partnered with.

Lois didn’t get to capture everyone that we knew who attended, but she caught a representative sample:

AliceRachelJonJasonRebeccaJon

JonHadarJasonKristaJason

LinaElyseTerryElyseTerry

HadarDougNellDoug

RachelChockyStacey

Elizabeth and the Catapult at The Standard Hotel

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Elizabeth and the Catapult opened a show at The Standard Hotel last night. Well, to be honest, there were no catapult in sight, so let’s also give credit to her as a solo artist, Elizabeth Ziman. She mentioned that last night was her first-ever solo show. A bit hard to believe, but I have no evidence to refute that, so let’s go with it.

ElizabethZimanPreShowPose

It’s a bit hard to believe that we’ve only seen Elizabeth and the Catapult (E&TC) once before. That was 2.5 years ago, when they co-billed with The Paper Raincoat for TPR’s CD Release show at Joe’s Pub. Here’s what I had to say about Elizabeth that night:

Elizabeth Ziman is the heart and soul of the group. She has an absolutely extraordinary voice, completely captivating. She plays the piano exceptionally well. She played accordion (well) on one number, and guitar on one other number. Still, even though her piano skills are top notch, it’s the voice, the voice, seriously, it’s the voice!

Every word I said then was true last night (except that she didn’t play an accordion). That said, without any other instruments supporting her, I might tone down the last sentence and tone up the piano skills to mesmerizing. The voice was a good as I remembered it (so I don’t mean to downgrade it), but the piano (actually an electronic keyboard) was an equal match.

ElizabethZiman

In the opening number, Elizabeth’s fingers were in a constant wave of motion up and down the keyboard throughout the song. This wasn’t just chords, nor constant lead (melody) either, but an actual wave (like you might see going on at a sports stadium). Fast, silky smooth and to repeat myself, mesmerizing.

Later in the set she played a piece where the piano was straight out of an extraordinary classical piano concerto, yet she was singing jazz-like vocals/melody over it. Wildly impressive piano play and a cool song to boot.

Sorry about the quality of this shot, it’s the only one we have of her playing the guitar:

ElizabethZimanGuitar

She opened the show with Thank You for Nothing. I loved the entire song, and all of the lyrics, but I promised myself I’d remember the following lines (and I did!):

Thank you for loving me
Thank you for leaving

I won’t be able to name the rest of the songs. Not only didn’t Elizabeth have a set list, she seemed to change her mind early on and decided to play a few new songs, including one on acoustic guitar. She also played a cover of a new Greg Laswell number (beautiful song, performed equally well). Elizabeth is opening for Greg on his upcoming tour (starting in about a month).

Like I said above, it’s a little surprising that it’s taken this long to catch another E&TC show, even though technically, we caught an E show last night. I won’t let that happen over the next 2.5 years…

As you can see in some of the photos, the space itself is quite magical. I’ll spend a few more words on that in the next post.

In addition to Lois capturing photos during her performance, Manish Gosalia was right to her left snapping away throughout the set. It seemed only fair for one photographer (with the toy camera) to capture the other one (the professional) with the performer. Smile

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