Jesse Terry at Rockwood Music Hall

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Jesse Terry headlined Rockwood Music Hall last night. Amazingly, it’s been just over seven months since we’ve seen Jesse perform. I was sick the last time he played Rockwood. Sad smile

JesseTerryGuitar

Since that time, Jesse has completed a new CD called Empty Seat on a Plane. It’s not officially released yet, but we have a digital copy, because we were smart enough to contribute to his successful PledgeMusic campaign (if you want the goodies early, you gotta help get them made!). According to Twitter, Jesse is in his car as I type, driving in NJ, to pick up the physical copies of the CD, so we’re getting closer.

In the eight previous times that we’ve seen Jesse, all but one have basically been solo shows (occasionally having someone sing harmony with him). He’s never disappointed as a solo artist, because his voice is fantastic (very pure) and he accompanies himself beautifully on the acoustic guitar (I particularly love his finger picking).

The exception occurred last time, when he paired up with Greg Mayo who accompanied him on both the piano and acoustic guitar for most of Jesse’s set at The Bitter End.

This time, Jesse had a core trio, adding percussion. He also had a guest vocalist on two numbers. While I will be very happy to see him solo any time, it’s clear that Jesse has created a very nice blend with this trio (perhaps inspired by recording the new CD with many studio musicians). The most important thing to note is that Jesse has remained 100% true to his personal sound. The trio supports and enhances him (subtly), it doesn’t change the core beauty of his music.

Jesse performed songs off the new CD, some off his debut CD (The Runner) and one of our favorites, Natural (which he finger-picked, solo). Jesse is a superb songwriter, but there are many great songwriters who will never write a song as good as Natural. Jesse has another one that’s in that league, Noise. I expect more of that caliber from him, since he continues to write at a furious pace.

The other members of the trio, left-to-right:

Jeremy Goldsmith on acoustic guitar and harmony. We just discovered Jeremy the night before, at the Full Vinyl mega-show next door at Rockwood 2. That night, Jeremy was on electric guitar. It turns out he’s equally good on the acoustic. He complemented Jesse with sweet leads throughout the set, and even harmonized on the guitar with some of Jesse vocals!

JeremyGoldsmithJeremyGoldsmithGuitar

Jeremy also sang some harmony, absolutely beautifully. More would have been just fine as well. Smile

James Williams on cajon and percussion. On his Facebook page, he lists his name as James Dwntwn Williams. Extremely impressive play on the cajon, shakers, tambourines (plural, he even switched between two of them in the middle of a song), bells strapped to his ankle, etc.

JamesWilliamsJamesWilliamsCajon

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

JamesWilliamsFirecracker

There were a couple of hysterical impromptu moments between James and the guest singer, and James and Jesse. It would lose everything in translation, so I’ll leave it there. Basically, one of the reasons to go to live shows is to experience these types of moments. You laugh hard and naturally, and it cleanses many of the ills of being human.

Michele Riganese sang harmony on two numbers. Wonderful voice that blended with Jesse perfectly. She is a singer/songwriter on her own and plays around town, so we’ll likely get to see her perform her own material in the not-too-distant future.

MicheleRiganeseJesseTerryJamesWilliamsMicheleRiganese

Here’s the set list. Jesse noted that he rarely has one, and I believe him. He seemed to get uncomfortable having to stick to it, so don’t rely on this as the gospel order of what was played. Winking smile

SetList

Jesse’s back at Rockwood 1 on April 19th, at 6pm. Come on down and discover him for yourself. It turns out that both Jeremy and James are touring that week, so it will be a complete surprise to see who Jesse taps to join him that night. Whoever it is, I’m excited to hear them, because I know it will be special. Smile

You might think the following photo is of Jesse’s younger sister. You’d be wrong, it’s his mom!

Patty

Bryan Dunn was in the audience and we got to buy his new (still unreleased) CD. His CD Release show is at Rockwood 2, 7pm on April 6th. We’ll be there. Lois already listened to the CD and was blown away. I’ll be getting to it over the weekend.

HadarBryanDunn

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!

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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!

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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

Jerry Fuentes and Derek James at Rockwood Music Hall

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Jerry Fuentes headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall. We’ve seen Jerry headline only once, over a year ago, so this was a show I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Jerry’s finalizing a new CD as I type this. In fact, if you agree with me that Jerry’s talent should be shared with a wider audience, you can help by pledging on his PledgeMusic campaign.

What’s Jerry’s secret sauce? Amazing guitar player, excellent voice, unreal energy on stage, catchy songs. Not bad, right?

Jerry played the entire set (or rather the part that I was able to attend, more on that below) on an acoustic guitar. This was the first time I’ve seen him handle one, and it was putty in his hands. Not all lead electric guitarists can make similar magic happen on an acoustic, Jerry can.

JerryFuentes

He played songs from his upcoming CD. I’ve already pledged, so I’m tapping my fingers waiting for it to arrive.

I mentioned above that I’ve only seen Jerry headline once. That doesn’t mean that I’ve only seen him play once. He’s been the lead guitarist for another favorite of mine twice, each time delivering the goods.

Derek James is that person, and Jerry returned the favor by inviting Derek to join him, turning it into a duo show, but still Jerry’s songs.

DerekJames

Derek sang harmony (wonderfully), played the guitar (12-string acoustic) and a synth. I overheard someone in the audience saying the synth was preloaded with Chad Vaccarino’s voice, and only because I heard that, did I believe it to be true when Derek played it. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

DerekJamesSetup

I’m Derek James’ self-anointed #1 fan (whether he, or any of his other fans like it!), so it’s always a special treat to go to someone else’s show and get a taste of Derek in the process.

As much as I was enjoying the set, I had posted on the event page in advance that I wouldn’t be able to stay until the end. That’s because there was a blow-out show next door that I wanted to attend. Given the nature of the show, missing a single song meant missing one local superstar or another (and I wouldn’t know who in advance). To make matters worse, Jerry’s set started 30 minutes late.

I still got four full songs in (all excellent) before I got the text that the show next door had begun (thanks to my unpaid spy).

The super extra good news? Jerry and Derek came next door after their set and sang the lead on one of the songs in the blow-out show, with Jerry back on electric guitar. Jerry also accompanied others on the electric on a few additional numbers. Sweet!

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

Mighty Kate at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Mighty Kate headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. I believe this set was scheduled for last month, on a day when we couldn’t have made it. Thank you powers that be for rescheduling. I would have been there just for Mighty Kate, no doubt, but the fact that the set before Kate was Rebecca Haviland guaranteed we’d be there early, with seats front-and-center.

MightyKate

I’ve seen Kate (Katy Pfaffl) perform twice before. The first was at Rockwood 2 where I discovered her (long write-up, buried under The Big Apple Singers post). The second was at War Horse, where she is the on-stage musical star of this Tony award-winning show!

At intermission at War Horse, we bought Mighty Kate’s self-titled debut CD. It’s wonderful! You can hear the first cut streaming automatically if you click on her name above. It’s also the song she opened the show with last night. She has a wide range of styles, from jazz to cabaret to pop. Her voice fits all of those genres really well.

She is a superb multi-instrumentalist. I’ve seen her play the grand piano, acoustic guitar and violin. The first time I saw her, I thought she was strongest on the piano. While that still might be true, I was completely taken with her finger-picking on the acoustic guitar last night on the three or four songs that she performed on guitar. No violin last night, but that’s her primary instrument in War Horse, so I can assure you she’s quite good on that as well.

MightyKatePianoMightyKateGuitarRichMercurio

I really like Mighty Kate as a songwriter as well (there’s the trifecta for you, voice, instruments, songwriting).

Is there more? Sure, she employed the same core band that she had last time at Rockwood, which is a good thing, because both of them are extremely good:

Rich Mercurio on drums. Rich was fantastic (again). The last time, somehow, I missed that link to his MySpace page. I feel somewhat badly that I found it this time, because you can’t really learn anything interesting about Rich there. So, I’ll do what I did when I couldn’t find a link, and quote a site that talks about Rich:

Manhattan based producer/musician/songwriter, has produced and written for various record and television projects. Rich has recorded and/or performed with artists including Enrique Iglesias, Jewel, Chris Whitley, Vitamin C, Jonatha Brooke, Michael Bolton, and Ronan Tynan. Appearances include The Tonight Show, The Late Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brian. He can currently be seen in the broadway production, Martin Short, Fame Becomes Me

Not too shabby, right?

RichMercurio

Richard Hammond on electric and upright bass. Another special performance. Rich was masterful on both the upright and the electric. Last time I encouraged people to click through and read about Rich(ard). Do it again, even if you listened to me last time!

RichardHammondElectricBassRichardHammondUprightBass

Kate was surrounded by an embarrassment of Riches. Winking smile

She dismissed them for one number, performing solo at the grand piano. No worries, she can hold the room’s attention all by her lonesome.

Kate had two special guests.

Jody Shelton joined for three (or four?) numbers. He sings beautifully and their harmonies were wonderful. They are in the process of recording an EP together for an as-yet-unnamed duo project. I look forward to that! They performed two songs from that upcoming EP, just the two of them on stage, with Kate playing acoustic guitar. Jody joined with the rest of the band for one or two of Kate’s numbers as well.

JodySheltonKatyPfaffleJodyShelton

Last but not least, Kate invited her husband up on stage (though she never mentioned that he’s her husband).

Scott Chasolen is a top pianist who performs his own music with the Scott Chasolen Trio. He joined Kate for the last two numbers. The first was with the full band, where Kate sang from center stage and Scott took over the piano duties (perfectly). The second was the only cover song of the night, where Scott played piano and Kate sang a Don Hathaway / Roberta Flack number. Gorgeous, showing off Kate’s amazing voice.

ScottChasolen

Given Kate’s busy schedule with War Horse, it will likely be a while before she returns to Rockwood, though I’m hoping I’m wrong about that. Smile

Here’s last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Rebecca Haviland headlined Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. We’ve seen Rebecca on Stage 2 many times, but always supporting other people. We’ve seen her headlining Rockwood 1 many times, but this was a first at Stage 2. Given her full band sound, having the expansiveness of Stage 2 was extremely welcome.

RebeccaHavilandSinging

Rebecca and the band took full advantage and filled the room with luscious bluesy rock goodness. It was smokier than usual (actually, more slightly-gruff rocker chick like). It worked well.

RebeccaHavilandGuitar

Rebecca played the majority of the upcoming CD. As often as we’ve seen her perform most of these songs live, I admit that I simply can’t wait to have recorded versions so that I can listen whenever I want (which is more often than I see her perform). It’s getting closer. I’ll circle back to that after giving the proper shout-outs to the amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and background vocals. I’ve raved about Todd a couple of times before, so me add to that list one more time. He took a couple of fantastic leads on the keyboards. If I heard correctly, Todd leaves today (or shortly) for rehearsals with Crosby, Stills and Nash, who he tours with every year. He’s the real deal and it’s awesome that he adds his talent to an already amazing band on Rebecca’s numbers, when he’s in town.

ToddCaldwellToddCaldwellKeyboards

Kenny Shaw on drums. Consecutive days, consecutive praise for Kenny’s play. I was actually taken by the fact that the day before, supporting the jazzier numbers of Abby Payne, Kenny was averaging faster fills than with the rockier Rebecca ones. In fact, it made me concentrate to realize how deliberate Kenny’s beats were. There were some really fast fills as well, but for the most part, it was about keeping the timing perfect for the others. Very well done!

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Chris Anderson on electric bass and harmony. In addition to always delivering on the bass, Chris is Rebecca’s partner in crime, co-writing the majority of the songs on the upcoming CD. He also sings a bunch of harmony with her, beautifully. Toward the end of the set, he took a long bass solo. Awesome!

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I got a shout-out before they played If You. Rebecca mentioned that it was my favorite song (it is) and Chris added “of all time” (well, I can’t contradict Chris publicly…). Winking smile The audience did a fantastic job of singing along with me. Smile

Coming back the new CD. The mixes are done. That leaves mastering. It turns out that I have a friend who has been a top mastering engineer forever (I’ve known him for 37+ years and the only thing I still hold against him after all this time is that he forced me to listen to Steely Dan a bunch, way back then…).

Larry Lachmann is a master masterer (sorry). I’ve mentioned him to a few of the local musicians who were looking for mastering work, but only one, Rebecca Haviland, followed up with him, and after hearing his work on one of her tracks, selected him to master the upcoming CD. I’m proud and delighted to have played the smallest part in making this connection.

I highly encourage any other musicians reading this to put Larry on your list of people to check out for your next project. You can message him on Facebook (linked to his name), or you can email him: larrylachmann1 at gmail dot com (I’m rooting for you to be able to figure out how to solve the previous puzzle). Winking smile

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We got there super early, partially so that I could introduce Larry to Rebecca and Chris (they’ve communicated a bunch via email, but this was their first face-to-face meeting). Because we were there early, we got to hear a bit of sound check. After they were done, Todd and Kenny stayed on stage and jammed for a bit doing really fast and tasty jazz pieces. It was absolutely incredible. I feel a future set in the making…

Here was last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland will be appearing at Rockwood 1, on March 30th, at 9pm. Be there!

Family

Abby Payne at Rockwood Music Hall

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Abby Payne headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. I’ve been waiting a while to catch Abby again (schedules didn’t overlap). I’ve only seen one full set and while I enjoyed it, I had a few complaints about the technical side of the show (mostly volume).

I am so glad that I trusted my instinct that Abby is a talent that I should follow, because I was right! Smile

AbbyPayne

Last night Abby had only a trio (including herself) and that made all the difference. Let me repeat the three things I knew about Abby before yesterday:

  • She’s a superb keyboard player
  • She has a lovely voice
  • She writes catchy songs

What I didn’t know were whether the lyrics would grab me. They did! Abby has a really good flair for story telling. The volume in the last show made it hard to listen, last night, no issues!

Abby played only the grand piano, whereas the last time she was exclusively on electronic keyboards. For every keyboard player, I typically prefer the sound of the grand, when they are good at it, and Abby is very good!

Abby dismissed the band for two songs which she played back-to-back (taking no break between). She did a terrific job. While her band enhances her sound a lot, she can easily handle a solo show

AbbyPaynePiano.

Supporting Abby, left-to-right:

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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Kenny Shaw on drums. Once again, Kenny delivered a thrilling performance (not that he ever misses). Like with Rob above, the drums were such a critical part of the sound of the trio. Even the slower numbers had very driving beats which Kenny nailed.

KennyShawKennyShawDrums

We happened to sit at the same table with Kenny’s parents who made a long trek to see Kenny play in back-to-back shows (we had plans and couldn’t head over to see Hurrah a Bolt of Light at Mercury Lounge). I don’t think Kenny elevates his game just because his folks are there, because he’s always playing above the rim.  (Can I get a rim shot for that one?) Winking smile

I will happily continue to track Abby and look forward to catching another set soon!

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Zach Jones Salutes Davey Jones and The Monkees at Rockwood Music Hall

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It’s always sad when people die young. When it brings us together to remember them, their accomplishments, and the joy they brought to many, there’s at least a silver lining. Davy Jones of The Monkees passed away last week, at the young age of 66.

Zach Jones, a staple (and shining light) in the NYC indie music scene, is a life-long Monkees fan. We found out last night that he attended his first Monkees concert while still in the womb (I guess he snuck in without paying). When he heard about Davy’s passing, he contacted Rockwood Music Hall and arranged for a slot at 5pm last night to pay tribute to Davy and The Monkees.

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In addition to assembling the usual suspects of top-notch musicians to join him, he got another Dave Jones to join as well.

DaveJonesSinging

Dave Jones is Zach’s father. It’s too popular a name for me to easily be able to find good links to him, so I’ll just summarize what I think I learned last night. Dave had a band while Zach was growing up. As you already learned above, Dave and his wife (who was also there last night) attended a Monkees concert while Zach’s mom was pregnant, so their love of The Monkees goes back even further than Zach’s.

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Dave sings and plays the acoustic guitar very well. He sang lead on half the numbers and harmony on the rest. He also told a number of stories about Davy and his love of him and The Monkees. He has excellent stage presence. I’m sure I would enjoy seeing him perform separate from this tribute.

DaveJonesGuitar

Zach sang lead on the remaining songs while playing the drums to Monkees perfection. Zach kicked it off with the classic TV intro Hey Hey We’re The Monkees (Here we come, walking down the street…).

ZachJonesSinging

The amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and light vocals. Greg was great, nailing a number of very short, but amazingly familiar riffs. On one number he took a long and very fast lead, paying tribute to Michael Nesmith (who we were told didn’t actually play that lead when he was on TV). Greg had to leave right before the last number, because he was supporting Chrissi Poland who was opening for Pat Benatar and Neal Giraldo at Tarrytown Music Hall.

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Patrick Firth on grand piano, electronic keyboards and light vocals. Pat was excellent, taking the most leads, albeit mostly short ones. They were all tasty and Dave called him out a number of times, each to the delight of the crowd.

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Brian Killeen on electric bass. Keeping the bottom going is something Brian always does well. While he didn’t sing, he was definitely into the entire set and an integral part of the sound.

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The crowd wouldn’t let them off the stage when they were done. After a bit of discussion, they decided to repeat the last song, up one fret. Zach tried to convince Tony Maceli to take the tambourine (Tony was there to enjoy the show). Tony declined, but Zach’s sister Natalie Jones took up the challenge. She stood center stage and was quite fancy with the tambourine, showing that all members of the Jones family have the musician’s gene in them. Smile

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It’s no surprise to me that The Monkees music still holds up 46 years later. The only real surprise is that it started out in a completely manufactured way, before taking on a life of its own. Thanks Zach, Dave and company for bringing us all back to relive some wonderful memories!

ZachJonesKristen

Here’s the set list:

SetList

The Milk Carton Kids at Joe’s Pub

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The Milk Carton Kids (MCK) headlined Joe’s Pub last night. We bought tickets ages ago. We caught their first ever NYC show (after they officially formed MCK) almost five month ago. Sadly, we missed two NYC shows between then and last night.

TheMilkCartonKids

My post about that NYC debut show went into great detail describing the group, each of their individual styles, how we came to know them, what their business model is, etc. Rather than repeat all that, if you have interest in knowing more about them (and how great I think they are), please read that post.

I’ll add a few thoughts about last night’s show.

We love Joe’s Pub, in particular since the internal renovation (the exterior still has a ton of work left and the kitchen reno hasn’t even begun). The sound system was perfect (it usually is), so there was no distraction or straining to enjoy MCK.

Joey and Kenneth are always funny, with Joey typically doing much more of the talking. Last night, Kenneth piped up more often. It was an edgier, biting humor (I’m being polite) that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Joey’s responses/reactions to it were priceless, so in the end I was fine with it too. It will be interesting to see whether this was planned/calculated and will be repeated, or whether it was extemporaneous and fleeting (I’m hoping for the latter, even though I laughed).

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They were truly amazing last night (not a single complaint). That said, I believe the Rockwood show in October 2011 was technically better.

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Joey and Kenneth are very good friends with another top guitar player, NYC-based Adam Levy. In addition to giving guitar lessons, Adam tweets guitar tips on a regular basis. I doubt they changed their styles as a result of anything Adam tweeted publicly, but I was struck by the fact that they are the perfect poster boys for Adam’s advice. Specifically:

Don’t watch your hands.Nothing to see there.Look around-at audience, fellow musicians, the scenery.

As incredible as both are on the guitar (completely different styles), neither ever looks at their hands/guitar while they’re singing. They rarely look down when they’re just playing either.

I can’t find the set of tweets that covered this next tip, so I’ll paraphrase and butcher it, sorry:

If you play acoustic guitar, unless there’s a really good reason to (which there rarely is), don’t use pickups and an amplifier, use a microphone to amplify your guitar. It makes everything simpler, less things to travel with and less things that can go wrong.

MCK do exactly that. Four microphones on stage, two for their voices, two for their guitars. They can travel lightly (which in this business, means simplicity and money-savings). When Kenneth wants to tune his guitar, he steps a few feet back from the mic. He doesn’t need to dork with pedal boards, electronic tuners, signaling the sound guy that he’s about to unplug, etc.

If you’re interested in more of Adam’s tips/lessons, look here.

Here is the set list from last night:

SetList

MCK had an opener. It’s extremely rare for most of the clubs that we frequent to make any announcements (headliners or openers). At some point, one or more people are on stage, milling about. You hear a bunch of “check, check”, some tuning, but mostly, you hear the crowd carrying on, ignoring what’s happening on stage. Then the lights get a bit dimmer, and the person or group on stage either starts playing, or perhaps they say hello and introduce themselves.

In an even rarer event than the venue making an announcement, Joey Ryan (1/2 of the MCK) came out and gave a moving introduction of the opener. We know from past experience that Joey is a class act in every respect, so this wasn’t a surprise in terms of his behavior, but it was a surprise to have anyone mention the name of the opener before they hit the stage.

Trevor Menear is a solo singer/songwriter, accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. I’m typically a big fan of this kind of music (having come of age to Bob Dylan) and I can see Trevor’s appeal in that regard. As good a job as he did, for whatever reason, I wasn’t particularly drawn to his songs.

TrevorMenear

His guitar play was quite good when he wasn’t singing (during the bridges, or intro/closing), but was less polished (for the most part) while he was singing. That said, later in the set he switched to finger-picking on a couple of songs, and I shifted in my seat to pay more attention. He has skills.

I enjoyed his set, but I wouldn’t normally run out to see him again. Given how much Joey promoted him (at the end of the MCK set as well), he’s worth another listen (or two, or three), to see what I might be missing. Trevor is currently touring with MCK, so if  you’re about to see them, you’ll see him, and can form your own opinion.

After the set we got to say a quick hi to Joey. Lois snapped this photo of Joey with two of our other favorite musicians:

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Then we bumped into Philip Ettinger. I’ve written about Phil once before and mentioned him in another post. Phil is an actor that you all better keep an eye on, he’s going places, mark my words. Of course, we forced him to pose for this shot:

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Lois forced me to pose for one as well:

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Another fun evening out seeing great music. Back for more music starting Sunday at 5pm (Zach Jones at Rockwood 1), then Rebecca Haviland on Monday night at Rockwood 2 (7:30pm).

Abby Ahmad at The Living Room

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Abby Ahmad was at The Living Room last night. I only learned about the show a few days ago and immediately changed our plans (from doing nothing, we need some of those nights too every once in a while). Unfortunately, it was a 10pm start time, but you do what you have to do to see the people you want to see.

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I’ve only seen Abby once before, performing three songs at Backscratch XVII. Here’s what I wrote about her that night:

Abby Ahmad was up next. Another first for me. Great voice, very interesting guitar play. I really liked her songs as well. In other words, someone I intend to go see doing a full set soon (she’s playing Rockwood on Thursday at 11pm, but that might be too late for me that night).

I was happy to follow through on that intention.

AbbyAhmadElectric

Again, Abby displayed an incredible voice. Again, her guitar play was quite interesting (she can definitely hold my interest as a solo artist). She’s also a very good songwriter. Again, she was accompanied by an excellent band. This time she even threw in two wonderful guests. Abby also played the piano on one number, very well.

AbbyAhmadPiano

Still, the set didn’t leave me with the feeling I expected. Some of the issues were out of Abby’s control (perhaps most), some were not (or at least I perceived them as somewhat controllable).

Before mentioning a few of those frustrations, let me heap some serious praise on the core band and the two guests. Left-to-right on the stage:

Sean Dixon on drums (once again, no good individual link). This was the fourth time we’ve seen Sean. It was also his best performance, largely because it was a full set of mostly rock, so he got to open it up more than in previous shows. The first time we saw him I mentioned that he’s particularly good on the cymbals. That was true again last night.

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Adam Minkoff on electric bass and light background vocals. Adam is one of our favorite bass players. He’s a very good singer and electric guitarist as well, but that’s not what he plays in Abby’s band. He also played the floor tom in one song (as he did the first time we saw Abby), but I’ll get to that later.

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Mark Marshall on electric guitar. We’ve seen Mark a couple of times now and his guitar play always impresses (though it’s often unconventional). He was quite good last night as well, but he used a few too many effects for my taste (mostly in closing out numbers in a fuzzy fashion). Like Adam above, he played a floor tom on one number.

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Jason Crosby on grand piano. Jason joined Abby for two numbers. He took a couple of long leads and otherwise played amazingly. I’ll describe his play as wow, in order to be as accurate as I can be. When we walked out, Jason was standing at the bar. Lois walked over to him to tell him how awesome he was. I was much more articulate. I looked at him and said: “What she said!”.

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In case you didn’t bother clicking through to his MySpace page, let me paste his bio in here for you. Look at who he’s played with, and you’ll understand my wow above. Of course, we experienced the wow, without having a clue as to who he’s been chosen to play with/by:

Over the last decade, Jason has been a member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the Susan Tedeschi Band, among others. Over the last few years, Crosby has played with Carlos Santana, Pete Seeger, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews in various configurations. His discography is equally as impressive with appearances on Anastasia’s multil-platinum hit “Freak of Nature” to Tedeschi’s Grammy Nominated “Wait for Me”, just to name a few. After 15 years of touring, Jason has recently returned to his native New York to write, record, and produce with many NYC artists, while keeping his overall focus on writing and recording his own music.

Morgan Cohen (no good individual link). Interestingly, I can’t find a good individual link for her under her maiden name either, even though she achieved quite a bit of fame as Morgan McOwen. In 2009 she was a contestant on Season 8 of American Idol, getting the Golden Ticket to Hollywood. She joined Abby to sing harmony (gorgeously) on two numbers. She definitely has a great voice, so it’s easy to see even three years later how she made it to American Idol.

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Back to Abby and some of the issues with the set. This was a much fuller band with Abby playing electric guitar on half of the numbers. She was excellent on the guitar, but with everything so much louder, it was harder to hear (or rather concentrate on) much of her lyrics. That’s a shame, because I’ve already mentioned that I think she’s a very good songwriter.

Many of the songs were new (no issue there). They were way more rock than I expected (also not an issue, just caught me by surprise). In fact, on the first two numbers, if I closed my eyes, I could have guessed that Grace Slick was singing Jefferson Airplane songs (just ones I hadn’t heard before).

So, why was the set frustrating?

It was scheduled to begin at 10pm. The band before didn’t stop playing until 10:20 and then had to tear down. Abby and her band, but mostly Abby and Mark took a long time to set up. I would rather wait it out and get it right (obviously), but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant. Their set started at 10:40pm. Ouch.

Second, I am normally extremely impressed with the sound engineer (and system) at The Living Room. Last night was not their best, with volumes distorting at times and some of the sounds on the shrill side. That was exacerbated by the much louder rock set than the previous Rockwood numbers I had seen Abby play.

To add insult to injury, Mark’s amp acted up on him (I could still hear it, so I don’t think it completely blew out). That delayed a song quite a bit in the middle of the set. It wasn’t clear what they would do, until the next band scheduled offered up their amp. Day saved, but again, at the cost of discomfort and delay.

Abby joked that they are the “King, Queen and Court of technical difficulties” and that therefore this was just par for the course. I hope their luck improves.

Let’s end on a more positive note. The first time we saw Abby, I raved about her opening song (I didn’t know the name then). Adam didn’t play the bass, instead he drummed on a floor tom, with Sean Dixon using the rest of the drum kit. Last night they closed the show with that song (I think it’s Give It Up) and added even more of a flair with Mark Marshall also playing a floor tom, making for three drummers playing simultaneously. I loved it!

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I will definitely go see Abby again, as soon as possible. Ironically, she’s playing tonight at Rockwood 1, with Mark, in a new blues/rock group that they are calling Fife and Drom. The show starts at 10pm. We’ll be at Joe’s Pub earlier and won’t be able to make this one. Next time!

Here is the set list:

SetList