Greg Mayo

The Stone Lonesome at Rockwood Music Hall

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The Stone Lonesome headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. I had it on the calendar for a while, but I was sure we couldn’t make it. In fact, last Monday, I saw Zach Jones (1/2 of The Stone Lonesome) when he drummed for The Vanity Belles and I told him we wouldn’t be able to make this show. Read to the bottom to see what changed.

I’ve been aware of The Stone Lonesome for a while, entirely due to our love of Zach Jones.  The first time we saw Zach was July 2011, and here’s one of the things I wrote about him that night:

The link from his name above is to a group he is in with Emily Long called The Stone Lonesome. They have an album out that Zach sings a bunch on as well and I am really impressed with his voice (listen to the second song, Bridge to Nowhere). I’m sure we’ll be hearing about him a lot and hopefully seeing him a lot as well.

Notice the link on “They have an album”. You can stream it for free to judge for yourself, or buy it for a whopping $5 (or more!).

I would describe them as sometimes traditional country, sometimes new country (more of a rock-tinged country), sometimes closer to just rock. To cover that in a bigger umbrella, let’s just call it Alt-Country. Yup, that feels right to me. Lois and I both really love Country music (go ahead, judge, you’re wrong). There’s not much of it in NYC, so The Stone Lonesome is a wonderful breath of fresh air (as are The Vanity Belles).

Emily Long is the other half of The Stone Lonesome. She has a number of projects, including the one linked to her name, which is her Rock persona. She has a wonderful voice that takes on a number of qualities/character, depending on what emotion she’s sharing with the audience. On roughly half of the numbers she reminded us of classic Cyndi Lauper. She’s also quite theatrical in her delivery, projecting her emotions, taking you on a visual journey.

EmilyLong

Zach sings with a purity that I would describe as sweet (and I don’t mean that in a unmanly way). On a number of songs (in particular the above-noted Bridge to Nowhere), he reminds me of John Denver at his best. In The Stone Lonesome Zach plays rhythm acoustic guitar, quite nicely. In other bands, he’s typically the drummer, one of the best we’ve ever seen.

ZachJones

I don’t know what proportion they each write of the songs (or whether every one is a co-write), so I’ll give them equal credit here. The songs are great (verify the claim, please). Each of them sings lead (typically on different songs, rather than handing it off from verse to verse). In all songs, they blend fantastically for enough harmony to satisfy us.

Last night, they were supported by three of our favorite musicians, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and background vocals. Two nights after fake-complaining that I didn’t get to see Greg play guitar, I got my wish fulfilled. Greg is awesome no matter what genre he’s playing and he was totally true to the Alt-Country sound yesterday. He was highlighted a number of times. Thanks Zach and Emily for that! Smile

GregMayo

Tony Maceli on electric bass. We love Tony and it was a complete surprise to see him there. He stopped tweeting last September (apparently, 114 lifetime tweets was the perfect number). Of course Tony did a terrific job.

TonyMaceli

Ryan Vaughn on drums, cajon, percussion and washboard. Yes, washboard. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone break out the washboard. By the crowd’s reaction, I’d say it had been a while for most of them as well and they seemed as pleased as I was to get another taste.

RyanVaughnWashboard

More importantly, Ryan is always a creative drummer/percussionist. He removed one of the toms and replaced the seat with his signature (amazingly beat up) cajon. He’s one of the best cajon players you’ll see, but rather than restrict himself to the cajon, he paired it with the floor tom and cymbal and occasionally the snare as well. When he wasn’t playing the cajon, he used the kick drum instead. A superb job all around.

RyanVaughnCajon

Here’s a shot of everyone (except for Ryan):

TheStoneLonesome

They closed the show by giving the band a break. Zach unplugged his guitar and they each stepped away from their mic. In a 100% unplugged manner, they blew us away and brought a hush to the full house at Rockwood. Awesome job and quite a shift from the rest of the set.

We bought this giant CD at the show. It was black (unusual) and didn’t fit in our CD player, so perhaps they ripped us off. They called it a vinyl edition, perhaps that’s code for doesn’t work. Winking smile (OK, that was a really bad attempt at a joke, sorry.)

The records are numbered, so perhaps one day we’ll be rich off this collector’s piece! Zach’s father hand-drew each cover (I don’t know how well it will come across in the photo, but it looks great in real life). We think that each numbered record comes with a unique story in the included liner notes. Basically, a loving, thoughtful way to package an album that is good enough not to require these (much appreciated!) adornments.

WordsAndWhiskeyFrontCoverWordsAndWhiskeyBackCover

WordsAndWhiskeyLinerNotes

I have a turntable, but I never use it. I have a USB-turntable that I bought specifically to rip my ancient, large record collection. Unfortunately, I was wholly unsatisfied with the fidelity (and process) and stopped after one album. So, I knew I wouldn’t rip this either. We bought it to support them (and force them to sign it). I also bought the digital version so that I wouldn’t have think about ripping this. Smile

Now, how did we attend a show we were sure we couldn’t? On Monday, our schedule for the week seemed set in stone. Starting on Thursday, everything went into a tailspin (but in the best possible way) and we got to reevaluate. We still feel badly about not attending the shows we were originally planning to on Saturday, but both of us were buzzing the whole way home thinking about how happy we were that we ended up seeing The Stone Lonesome.

Thanks Zach, Emily (and Greg, Tony and Ryan) for making it a very special set!

The Big Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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The Big Apple Singers typically book really late shows at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. Actually, they’re really early, as in midnight. That was the case last night. We planned to attend nonetheless, because it’s simply been way too long since we’ve seen Greg Mayo (one of the four members of the band) perform.

It ended up being the culmination of a truly epic night of music for us. This was the fifth consecutive set (split between Rockwood’s two stages), beginning at 8pm with Barnaby Bright.

This was the only set that we stood for, and even though I prefer sitting, I was actually glad to stand. The Big Apple Singers bring such energy that it’s nearly impossible not to move in some way, which is easier when you’re standing. It also made it easier to stay awake. Winking smile

The Big Apple Singers mix originals (there were three or four last night) with big-time covers (mostly from The Band). They are all incredible musicians and it’s impossible not to get sucked in to the spirit (I dare you, come on down, resistance is futile!).

The core band consists of:

Evan Watson on electric guitar and vocals. Evan is an excellent guitar player. If I understand correctly, he formed The Big Apple Singers. Thanks Evan! He’s quite the showman when he’s singing lead, or playing lead guitar. On the other hand, he’s one of the most generous people when it’s someone else’s turn to shine (as I’ve noted a number of times before). He kneels to ensure the crowd can see the drummer during a solo, etc. Evan also played the mandolin on one number.

EvanWatsonGuitarEvanWatsonMandolin

Greg Mayo on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. It was no small irony to me that I sat through five sets of music, each of which had an excellent guitar player, and yet I didn’t get to hear my favorite of all of them, Greg Mayo. On the other hand, he was so awesome on the keyboards, that it didn’t matter in the least!

GregMayoPiano

Greg also used a small black tube to control the sound of the electronic keyboards by making sounds with his mouth. Totally cool and executed to perfection.

GregMayoKeyboards

Josh Dion on drums and vocals. Aside from being a mind-bogglingly great drummer and being an outstanding vocalist, Josh Dion is flat out exciting. If you’re not mesmerized by his performance, check your pulse, literally!

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Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Two sets in a row with Chris playing bass? Yes please! Very different performances. The set before called for more subtlety, this one for all-out rock. Both delivered on the money.

ChrisAndersonSinging

The Big Apple Singers called up two separate guests.

Zach Jones, also an extraordinary drummer, was invited up to play some electric guitar. Cool! I didn’t know they were going to call him up. Right before the set began, I bumped into Zach and noted that many of my favorite drummers were in the room (Josh Dion, Zach Jones, Kenny Shaw and Seth Faulk). Zach pointed out another drummer as well. I told him that I ant to see them all on stage together, doing something like The Allman Brothers Band does. A boy can dream, right?

ZachJonesChrisAnderson

Rebecca Haviland came up to sing one song with Evan. They fed off of each other, building the energy and having a (contagious) blast on stage. If you don’t know Rebecca’s voice and music (she co-writes with Chris Anderson), do yourself a huge favor and correct that oversight right now!

EvanWatsonRebeccaHaviland

Manish Gosalia was in the audience for four of the five sets that we attended. Whenever I see Manish at a show, I know two things for certain:

  1. It will be a great show, he has exquisite taste in which bands he likes
  2. There will be exceptional photographs (and sometimes videos) of the show, on his Flickr page. He’s a phenomenal photographer!

Here’s a shot of Manish and Rebecca Haviland:

ManishGosaliaRebeccaHaviland

During the set, Patryk Larney walked over (he headlined the set we attended right before this one) and said: “We’re watching history being made!”. My answer? “Every single time they play!” Smile

We got home shortly before 1:30am. What a night out. After missing five weeks of this NYC music scene, we dove into the deep end without a tank. An exhilarating night out. Amazingly, we skipped another set that I have no doubt would have continued the epic evening. Jay Stolar was up at 1am. It was simply past my ability to fight exhaustion.

Sierra Noble and Michael Sackler-Berner at Joe’s Pub

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Sierra Noble was opening for Michael Sackler-Berner at Joe’s Pub last night. We weren’t supposed to be in NYC. After missing Sierra last week, when she played a co-bill with Rebecca Haviland, we decided that we had to get our priorities straight. We cut our trip short and returned in time to attend with two friends. Smile

Joe’s Pub was our favorite venue in NYC for nearly four years. For a number of reasons, we ended up not attending a single show there for 20 months! Now that they’ve remodeled the inside and switched to assigned seats (tables), we’ve been back three times in seven weeks. I’m sure we’ll continue to attend regularly.

Sierra played a full set (which was so welcome, because sometimes openers get short-shrift) and was fantastic on every number. As always, she switched between acoustic guitar and fiddle, impressing on both. Of course, her vocals (even though she was fighting a cold) were amazing.

SierraNobleSierraNobleGuitar

All that said, she’s simply a great songwriter (and she picks great people to co-write with as well), so even if her cold had been worse, listening to her (and her band) play those songs would have been worth the trip. Here’s the set list:

SierraNobleSetList

Speaking of her band, let’s give them the credit they are due, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric and acoustic guitar and vocals. If this isn’t your first time here, then you know that Greg Mayo is my favorite local guitar player. If it is your first time, now you know that too! Smile

GregMayo

When Sierra was on acoustic guitar, Greg was on electric. When she was on fiddle he was on acoustic. He sang a lot of harmony and was as good as he ever is.

Seth Faulk on drums and vocals. Seth was masterful on the drums, which for most of the set were on the very subtle side (lots of brushes, with some mallets thrown in for good measure). He got to let loose on the last number, DABE, which is a collection of fiddle tunes that are highly energetic.

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Seth has a wonderful voice (I’ve written about that a number of times) and he sang even more than Greg did. Most of the time it was three part harmony with Sierra and Greg and it was luscious.

GregMayoSierraNobleSethFaulk3PartHarmony

Brian Killeen on upright bass. Brian was filling in for Chris Anderson who is on vacation. Since Brian is independently one of our favorite bass players (as is Chris), I wasn’t nervous as to whether Brian would sound good, even though he’s not familiar with Sierra’s catalog. I was right, no need to worry.

BrianKilleen

The biggest difference was that Chris sings a bunch with Sierra and Brian doesn’t know the material well enough to fill in there.

That led to another highlight of the set.

Martin Rivas was invited up to sing the duet Human After All (that Chris has been singing with Sierra at the last few shows). Martin has such a great voice and knows the song well. Sierra and Martin nailed it.

MartinRivasSierraNobleMartinRivas

Sierra co-wrote Human After All with Michael Logen. When I first saw Michael Logen perform, he did that song solo. After the show I went up to him to ask whether it had been on TV. I told him I was sure I heard it before and fell in love with it instantly. He said it had come close to being placed, but sadly, was never on TV.

Then I remembered that I had heard it just the week before, when Sierra played it at a Backscratch. She sang it with Martin that night as well. It turns out that I was prescient. Human After All was just recently featured on Parenthood, on NBC, in season 3 episode 11.

Sierra asked Martin to stay and sing background on the next two numbers as well, creating lovely four-part harmony with Greg and Seth. #winning

SierraNoble4PartHarmony

In fact, on I Can See, Sierra asked the audience to sing along. It sounded really good from where I was sitting. I hope it did to her on stage as well. Smile

We had never heard of Michael Sackler-Berner (MSB) before, but were looking forward to serendipitously discovering him.

I really like his voice a lot and he plays the guitar quite nicely (mostly electric, but he switched to acoustic a couple of times). With the exception of a couple of very mellow folky songs (which I liked as well), most of the numbers were very high energy accompanied by a full band.

MichaelSackler-BernerAcousticGuitarMichaelSackler-BernerElectricGuitar

I had trouble concentrating on the lyrics (not really sure why), but the few times I was able to zone in, I was impressed with his imagery and phrasing. It will require more serious listening to determine whether this is true across a majority of his songs.

MichaelSackler-BernerSinging

MSB closed the show by inviting Sierra up (with her fiddle). He dismissed the band and played the acoustic guitar. They sang together (beautifully) and each sang verses on the lead. What a terrific way to end the evening!

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His band was very good and tight. Left-to-right on stage:

Ben Stivers on keyboards (electronic and grand piano). He was quite good on both, including standing for the entire first number while playing the grand piano.

BenStivers

Henry Geller on electric guitar. I can’t find a good individual link, but I’m betting he’s the guitarist profiled in Rough Waters. He was very good.

HenryGeller

Liberty DeVitto on drums. He was great. Very hard hitter, very energetic, tight as a drum (OK, I couldn’t resist). Winking smile

LibertyDeVittoDrums

MSB mentioned on stage that he saw Liberty play when he (MSB) was 11-years old and fell in love with him. Later, DeVitto joked that he was just 14 at the time. If you clicked through to the link above, then you know that Liberty was Billy Joel’s drummer for 30 years! I’m betting that MSB saw a Billy Joel concert at the Nassau Coliseum when he was 11.

Paul Frazier on electric bass and vocals. He was fantastic on the bass (even though he was handicapped by being a lefty, like Paul McCartney). Winking smile He was also the only member of the band to sing harmony with MSB, very nicely! Very impressive performance.

PaulFrazier

Here’s MSB’s set list:

MichaelSackler-BernerSetList

We spotted Liberty as he was heading out and got to tell him how wonderful his play was and snap this picture as well:

LibertyDeVitto

Right after taking that picture, we headed out and got to say hello to Sierra, Seth and Greg. Brian had already left to get the car.

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Totally worth having come back early, including enjoying our friends’ company before and after the show. The last two times we were at Joe’s Pub, they couldn’t make me my favorite Chocolate Martini. After they completed the remodel, they hadn’t stocked up on Chocolate Liqueur yet.

They finally remedied that situation and I got to enjoy it for the first time in nearly two years. Trust me, if you’re ever at Joe’s Pub, order the Chocolate Martini. Both of our friends tried it as well (first timers) and I am pretty sure they enjoyed it. Smile

RachelIris

A Holiday Benefit #5 at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Last week I scanned the Rockwood Music Hall website for this week’s shows. There was a show listed for last night simply labeled: “A Holiday Benefit”. The performers were a mixture of our favorite who’s who, plus a couple of groups we have wanted to see for a while, but scheduling has gotten in the way.

I snagged two tickets and excitedly waited for the week to pass. It turns out that this was the fifth (and unfortunately last) installment of this particular annual Holiday Benefit. It is organized by Benjamin Wagner (with some others who helped co-found it). The money raised is for 826NYC. Great cause, great people involved in raising the money and great musicians all around.

Bottom line: my expectations were very high. I was blown away beyond those expectations on two levels: most of the people we know brought their A+ games and we discovered some people that became instant favorites!

There were 16 acts (individuals and groups), some accompanied by a house band. Each act performed two numbers. The entire atmosphere at Rockwood was that of a party filled with loved ones. In fact, some of the musicians noted (on Twitter, and probably elsewhere) that it was more like an Office Party for them, given how many musicians were performing and in the audience. We were thrilled to participate in said party.

In addition to the ticket price going to the charity, this was also an official CD Release Party. Physical CDs were on sale for $10. $20 got you the physical CD of A Holiday Benefit #5 plus downloads of the previous four albums. Of course we did that. We kicked in more money later to purchase CDs by some of the performers, signed, with the proceeds going to 826NYC as well.

At the end, the encore involved inviting all of the performers back on stage together to sing one last song. It was hard to count accurately, as people kept jumping on stage (even some who didn’t perform earlier), but I’m 99% sure that at one point there were at least 26 people on stage at the same time. If that’s correct, that’s a new record for a show I’ve attended (sorry Sam Teichman, you have your work cut out for you now!). Winking smile

There’s no way to review a show like this without spending an entire day writing (something I don’t have the time to do today, nor the inclination). In fact, it’s sort of beside the point. What I’ll do instead is similar to what I did for the Haiti Benefit nearly two years ago. I’ll list the acts in the order they appeared, and mention who supported them. When first mentioning a support person, I might say a few extra words.

Mary Bragg (#1). Mary was new to us. Great voice. On her second number she also played acoustic guitar. She was accompanied by two very talented people, who I think played only with her. I’ll list them next.

MaryBragg

Mike Cassedy on electronic keyboards. Excellent. Mary gave him a couple of leads and he was great.

MikeCassedy

Jimmy Sullivan on electric bass (no good individual link). He too was excellent. He made the electric bass sound exactly like a very jazzy upright on one of the numbers. He was smooth.

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Casey Shea (#2) on electric guitar and vocals. Casey was wonderful. In addition to singing and playing well, he was very funny. He had two female backup singers, each of which was a lead performer later in the show, so I’ll save their names for their proper spots.

CaseyShea

Casey brought up Sean White to read a poem to end one of his songs. It continued the comic nature of an otherwise horrifyingly sad song (my house burned down on Christmas).

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Paula Valstein (#3). We’ve seen Paula once before, at the Haiti Benefit. She played solo at the electronic keyboards. Great voice, excellent piano play. Definitely someone we need to check out more (one of our friends has been telling that to me for a while). Paula was also one of Casey Shea’s backup singers.

PaulaValstein

Astoria Boulevard (#4). Wow! I can’t believe I never heard them (or of them) before. Three guys who sing heavenly three-part harmony. They’re funny and natural on stage as well. They opened the first number a cappella and knocked me back a few steps with how awesome they were.

AstoriaBoulevard

Guitar, ukulele, harmonica and kazoos were played too. They were supported by the default house band (the next two people listed).

Ryan Vaughn on drums. Ryan was fantastic playing with roughly half of the acts last night. Ryan also joined for Mary Bragg’s second number, so I should have listed him earlier.

RyanVaughn

Tony Maceli on electric bass. Tony was his usual excellent self whenever he was on stage, which was a bit less than Ryan, but still the primary bass player for the evening.

TonyMaceli

Dave Pittenger (#5). We’ve never seen him, but I’ve heard of him many times. Mostly because he’s producing Live Society’s new CD (or at least I think it’s him). Dave invited two special guests up, Bess Rogers and Chris Kuffner to kick off his first number. Dave and Bess flubbed Baby It’s Cold Outside a bit, but turned it into a very good natured thing.

ChrisKuffnerDavePittengerBessRogers

Chris played the electric guitar in an understated but fascinating manner. When they had to restart, he signaled to Ryan and Tony to join in, filling out the sound.

Dave then performed a second number accompanying himself on the electric guitar (with Ryan and Tony playing).

DavePittenger

Misty Boyce (#6). Misty kicked off her numbers on the guitar (I didn’t know she played the guitar), with the second number on the keyboards. Her voice is fantastic. In addition to playing the keyboards really well accompanying herself, she also played them with a couple of other acts, super tasty every time. I’ve been wanting to see her perform her own set for a while and this only increased that desire. She was the second backup singer supporting Casey Shea.

MistyBoyceGuitarMistyBoyceKeyboards

Nick Africano (#7). We hadn’t seen Nick before. (That’s a total lie, Nick played with Misty during her first number, so we saw him before he took center stage!). He played the guitar beautifully (subtle slide leads). When he took over, Misty played the keyboards and she called up Bess Rogers, Paula Valstein and Charlene Kaye to sing backup. Very nicely done. We will be on the lookout for Nick in the future.

NickAfricano

Greg Mayo Band (#8). OK, it was technically the Greg Mayo Band, without the brass section. They also weren’t wearing suits, so I’m not sure how official this appearance was. That said, they were incredible, so I have no complaints! They had a guest vocalist and percussionist join them, but since each was a headliner as well, I’ll mention them later.

GregMayoKeyboards

Here are the people that were in the Greg Mayo Band setup last night (left-to-right on stage, not including the guests):

Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals. Wonderful.

PaulMaddison

Rebecca Haviland on vocals. Spectacular.

RebeccaHaviland

Kenny Shaw on drums. Excellent.

KennyShaw

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Superb.

ChrisAndersonSinging

The Vanity Belles (#9). We’ve seen them sing backup with other groups. We’ve seen them perform on TV twice. Unbelievably, this was the first time we saw them perform as The Vanity Belles, live. We’re proud supporters of the ladies through their recent (successful) Kickstarter, so this was one of the extra special reasons why I wanted to attend. Of course, they were fantastic. Whew! Winking smile

TheVanityBelles

Patrick Firth played electronic keyboards for them. Joining him to round out the band were: Greg Mayo on guitar and Chris Anderson on electric bass. The drummer was already on stage before with the Greg Mayo band (as the guest percussionist) but I still haven’t mentioned his name (soon, don’t panic!).

PatrickFirth

Oscar Bautista played electric guitar as part of The Vanity Belles band. He is always great, so I wanted him to have a paragraph for himself. Smile Another reason to give Oscar his own section? He broke out the mandolin last night, one of my favorite instruments. Sweet!

OscarBautistaOscarBautistaMandolin

Next up was another group I’ve wanted to see for a long time.

The Stone Lonesome (#10). This is duo of Zach Jones (finally got to mention him) and Emily Long. We’ve seen Zach drum many times (including earlier last night, and he was the guest percussionist with the Greg Mayo Band as well). He’s an awesome drummer. I also knew that he sings well, and that was proven when he was front-and-center with Emily last night. What I didn’t know was that he also plays the guitar. Emily sings really well too and the two of them sound great together.

TheStoneLonesome

GregMayoZachJonesEmilyLong

Brian Killeen supported them on electric bass, a perennial favorite of ours. He was joined by Ryan Vaughn on drums and Greg Mayo on electric guitar. Zach let Greg take a number of fantastic leads. The entire night was amazing, but I would have left happy just for the guitar solos that Greg took during The Stone Lonesome songs!

BrianKilleen

Martin Rivas (#11). Martin had previously sung as a guest with the Greg Mayo Band, wonderfully. He now took center stage and wowed everyone with two of his own songs (one a Christmas number, the other off of his new CD, due out in May, 2012). He was supported (incredibly) by Patrick Firth, Greg Mayo, Chris Kuffner, Zach Jones and Brian Killeen.

MartinRivas

A few items were raffled off during the evening. One of them was a jar of Martin Rivas’ world-famous spaghetti sauce (or is it more properly referred to as tomato sauce?!?). Anyway, we won it (see the proof here and again in a couple of the photos at the very bottom!). Can’t wait to savor it!

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Chrissi Poland (#12). We’ve only seen Chrissi singing backup with others. We knew she had an extraordinary voice but I have to say that I still didn’t understand the full effect of it until last night. Another wow. We won’t be attending, but if you want to catch her headlining a show, with Martin Rivas opening, head to Highline Ballroom this Sunday night (Dec 18th, 2011). You won’t be disappointed!

ChrissiPolandGuitar

On her first number, she played guitar and was accompanied by Patrick Firth, Greg Mayo, Rebecca Haviland, Martin Rivas, Ryan Vaughn and Brian Killeen.

She then put the guitar down and blew everyone away accompanied by the same band, minus the backup singers (Rebecca and Martin). Her voice and stage presence had us eating out of her hand.

ChrissiPolandSinging

Caleb Hawley (#13). Caleb is one of my favorites and I’m always disappointed when I can’t make it to one of his shows (which happens more frequently than I care to admit, including the night before!). At least I got a taste last night to hold me over until his next full show.

CalebHawley

Caleb was supported by Patrick Firth, Ryan Vaughn, Zach Jones and Brian Killeen. There was dancing in the audience (not atypical of any Caleb performance), but I won’t post the pictures, since those people didn’t sign any waivers. Winking smile

Benjamin Wagner (#14). Benjamin was our host throughout the show, introducing each act as they were coming on stage. Now it was his turn to shine and shine he did. He has a wonderful voice and he wielded it for our delight. He was joined by a stellar band. I’ll mention all but two of them, since they were the next two headliners and hadn’t yet made an appearance.

BenjaminWagnerSinging

Misty Boyce on keyboards, Chrissi Poland singing backup, Ryan Vaughn and Tony Maceli. All, great!

For his second number, additional backup singers joined: Mary Bragg, Bess Rogers, Paula Valstein and Martin Rivas.

In true showman style, Benjamin left the stage and prostrated himself right in front of us! Smile

BenjaminWagnerOnTheFloor

Bryan Dunn (#15). Bryan also played guitar on Benjamin’s set. Bryan is wonderful all around. When Benjamin introduced him, he said “Bryan is normally a rocker, but he’s going to bring you down a bit with his first number.” Ha! I hope no one fell for that. It might have started out sounding like a ballad, but Bryan had everyone hopping in no time.

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Both his numbers were fantastic (and no, I wasn’t the least bit surprised!).

He was supported (wonderfully) by Misty Boyce, Ryan Vaughn and Tony Maceli. He also had another guitar player and vocalist, but since he was the next headliner, I’ll save his name for the very next line.

Chris Abad (#16). Another wow for me. He played guitar for Benjamin and Bryan Dunn and sang harmony with Bryan. His guitar play was awesome. It looked like he was playing one of Greg Mayo’s two electric guitars, so for a minute, I thought that perhaps Greg just has magical guitars and anyone could make them sound this good. I checked after the show, and the guitars are just look-a-likes, so apparently Chris is just really that good. Winking smile

ChrisAbad

He also sang at center stage when Bryan was done, and did a great job. He was supported by Misty Boyce, Bryan Dunn, Ryan Vaughn and Tony Maceli. If I heard correctly, Chris also produced at least one of Bryan’s CDs, perhaps the upcoming one as well. Talented guy, no doubt!

For his second number, he was joined by a slew of backup singers: Mary Bragg, Bess Rogers, Paula Valstein, Charlene Kaye, Chris Kuffner and Benjamin Wagner.

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Like I said above, the finale had a ton of people on stage. Here are some photos:

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One of the only performers who didn’t hop on stage was Kenny Shaw. When Martin tried to get him to come up, Kenny seemed to motion to Martin to come down instead. Martin took it as an invitation to have Kenny hold him in his arms. Kenny obliged! Smile

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We shared the evening a number of friends. In one of the photos you can even see our hard-won jar of sauce (I went with the cautious “sauce” with no modifier there).

RebeccaHavilandRobinChrisAndersonMom

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Here’s a shot of our bounty from the night:

HolidayBenefitBounty

Greg Mayo Band at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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What’s a Saturday night in NYC without a taste of Greg Mayo? Empty! Thankfully, NYC was full last night. Greg often plays with others on a Saturday, but it was his turn to shine in the spotlight with The Greg Mayo Band.

GregMayo

Given the time of year, it was no surprise that there were some substitutions. While we will welcome the regulars back with open arms (they are all exceptional), last night’s replacements were no slouches and the show was up there with the best we’ve seen!

The only missing piece was female vocals (Rebecca Haviland was performing in MD). That said, while Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 often gets the sound right (or at least really good), I can’t recall it ever being better than last night.

Greg is always an excellent vocalist, but last night was perhaps his best effort (possibly due entirely to the sound engineer getting everyone’s levels perfect).

GregMayoSinging

Greg was as masterful as ever on the grand piano and electronic keyboards. We typically sit/stand on that side of the stage for a Greg Mayo Band show, but last night we stood very close at a better angle to watch Greg play. Wow!

GregMayoKeyboard

I wondered whether there would be a good crowd, because Greg’s set was sandwiched between two paid shows. Logistically, that can be a headache. No worries, it was a large and very energetic/enthusiastic crowd.

It was impossible to stand still. Foot tapping, head bobbing, body swaying, full-on dancing. If you weren’t doing at least one of those, you weren’t at the same show.

Let’s get to the amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Jeff Richardi on baritone sax. Jeff was filling in for John Liotta, very ably. Jeff took a couple of leads, one was very long and tasty. He also kicked off a number of the songs with a funky bottom.

JeffRichardi

Josh Reed on trumpet. Josh tore it up on one long solo and was consistently excellent on the remaining fills, as always.

JoshReed

Jon Irabagon on tenor sax. Jon was filling in for Matt Simons. I am in love with Matt Simons sax play, but I still feel a bit silly labeling Jon as filling in. Here’s part of the first line of Jon’s bio:

winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition

Yes folks, we had a superstar in our midst. That’s what can happen at any time at a place like Rockwood. Jon hasn’t forgotten his friends as he’s moved up the ladder and when given an opportunity to sit in, happily took it. Happily for us as well!

JonIrabagon

Kenny Shaw on drums. It’s been nearly a month since we’ve seen Kenny hit the skins. Something was probably askew with the universe, as we’ve seen Kenny more often this year than any other drummer. He was on fire last night, so I guess he felt he had to make it up to us. OK Kenny, we’re back to even again. Until next time! (which I hope will be this Friday, 8pm, Rockwood 1, for Rebecca Haviland’s show) Smile

KennyShawKennyShawDrums

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Chris always delivers on the bass. He also sings background on every Greg Mayo Band show, but without Rebecca’s voice last night, Chris was way more prominent on the harmony with Greg. Given how good the sound levels were, he was crystal clear and really did a great job. Way to belt it out Chris!

ChrisAndersonChrisAndersonSinging

Paul Maddison on electric guitar and vocals. Paul was excellent throughout on both. During one number, Greg seemed to finish the song abruptly. A few people clapped, but it didn’t feel like the song was actually over. In fact, they took the few seconds of silence to morph it into a song by a band that Paul Maddison and Kenny Shaw are in, which Greg Mayo produces.

PaulMaddisonSinging

Paul sang two verses of Lipstick on My Booty, a staple of The Thang Band. I’ve seen one Thang Band show, and have been waiting (impatiently and excitedly) for another opportunity.

To prove that the original song wasn’t over, after singing the second verse of Lipstick, they morphed back into the original song and Greg finished it up big. A nice tease for The Thang Band.

Paul also sang a lot of background vocals on the other numbers, often with Chris Anderson as well.

Robbie Gil was called up as a special guest star on two numbers. One in the middle of the set and again for the encore. Robbie has a very powerful voice, which reminds me of Joe Cocker. He fit in perfectly with Greg’s sound, and sang a verse on lead in each number, along with background for the rest of the song.

RobbieGilChrisAndersonPaulMaddisonRobbieGilSinging

Here’s the set list:

SetList

At one point, Greg introduced himself. After saying that he was Greg Mayo, he added: “Or when my mom is in the room, like now, Gregory is OK as well”. Smile

The audiences at Rockwood definitely like the human interest side of their artists (we certainly do), so everyone started looking around immediately. At first Greg said “Perhaps she doesn’t want attention called to her”. That didn’t stop people from trying to figure out who it was. So, eventually, he said “Mom, raise your hand”. She did and we were all satisfied and allowed Greg to back to singing. Smile

A great show which definitely made going out on a chilly Saturday night the right decision. I think Greg mentioned that the next Greg Mayo Band show was on December 17th, also at Rockwood 2, but the website doesn’t go out that far yet, so double check.

Some shots of the brass section and the rest of the band (can’t see Kenny or Greg in these angles). Last shot is of the encore, with Robbie Gil back on stage:

BrassSectionCloseupJeffRichardiJoshReedChrisAndersonJonIrabagonPaulMaddison

GregMayoBandEncore

Sierra Noble at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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I can’t tell you how happy I was to see Sierra Noble at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. We try to plan our musical calendar out at least a month in advance. While things come up occasionally, causing us to shift plans (not including health issues), we try hard to stick to our schedule.

SierraNobleGuitar

We returned to the city last Thursday with plans to have dinner with a couple we see often (at these shows), but had never had any quiet time with. Then I found out that Sierra had a show at The Living Room. I felt badly that I would miss it, but I wasn’t willing/interested in moving our dinner. Knowing that we already had the Rockwood show on the calendar for one week later made the decision a bit easier.

Yes, it’s true that we just saw Sierra three weeks ago at The Bitter End. Yes it’s true that we saw her two additional times in October before that. So I’ll allow myself to voice a question many of you may have? Why do we see some artists as often as we can?

Believe it or not, some artists actually ask me that directly, showing their humility (and normal insecurities). Let me begin answering with a set of related questions: are there CD’s that you play more than once? often? on repeat?

If you answered yes to the above (in particular to the last one), then I probably don’t need to explain anything to you. If you answer no, especially to the first, then you probably don’t go to live music much either.

If you do listen to CDs multiple times, as much pleasure as you derive from it, the music is identical, each and every time. Obviously, your mood might be different, other circumstances/ambience as well, making the experience different, but for the most part, you’re looking to enjoy something again, that you already know you enjoy.

In a live show, even with identical set lists and performers, no two shows are ever identical. Many aren’t even really similar (though reading about them and looking at the set list might make it seem so).

Here’s last night’s set list (note: Sierra didn’t get to the last song):

SetList

The overlap is significant with other recent shows (that’s not unusual). First, given how much we love the songs, that’s welcome. Second, even the addition of one song changes the flow. In this case, that song was Misty Morning, a Louisiana Fiddle Tune. Sierra’s play was wonderful, but the song also highlighted the rest of the band.

We attend live shows to connect with the artists on a level deeper than just the music. As many times as we’ve seen Sierra perform Possibility (a mere fraction of the times I hope/expect to see her play it!), and as many times as she’s introduced it (often with a slight addition/variation), last night Sierra told an even deeper truth about how the song came to be. I won’t repeat it, so you better come to a show if you want to know. Suffice it to say that I would have been happy to come to the show just for the additional background. Smile

Sierra also fiddled from a sitting position for the first time in our experience, during the first song:

SierraNobleSittingFiddling

Supporting Sierra, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on acoustic and electric guitar and harmony. Another stellar performance by the ever-wonderful Mr. Mayo. Greg and Sierra shared a single acoustic guitar (when she played it, Greg played electric, when she fiddled, he played the acoustic). Sierra mentioned that they usually have three acoustics on stage between them.

GregMayoAcousticGuitar

I asked whether the guitar that broke at the Bitter End was still broken. It turns out that it is. What I learned was that it was Bob Mayo’s guitar (Greg’s dad). Noting that, Sierra said that it could take all the time it needs to heal. True, but let’s hope it has a speedy recovery and Greg continues to make magic with it asap.

Seth Faulk on drums, percussion and harmony. We’ve seen Seth drum at a few of Sam Teichman’s benefit concerts. We’ve heard him sing on stage on one number with Alex Wong (recently) and I’ve heard him sing harmony from the audience a couple of times. So, I know how talented he is.

SethFaulk

That said, last night was the first time I’ve actually seen Seth play an entire set. He was excellent, playing the drums with sticks, brushes, mallets and adding shakers on the softer numbers. On a couple of songs, he was nearly whisper quiet with the brushes and mallets (totally appropriate). I already knew he has a wonderful voice and he proved that again on two numbers.

Chris Anderson on upright bass and harmony. I mentioned above that Sierra highlighted the band on Misty Morning. That applied the most to Chris, who lit up the upright during this number. He sang a lot, in particular on Human After All.

ChrisAndersonUprightBass

Rebecca Haviland on vocals. Rebecca came up as a special guest on three or four songs, singing harmony with Sierra, and often at least with one of the three guys (sometimes two of them). Rebecca is a star on her own and the ladies sing wonderfully together.

RebeccaHavilandSierraNobleChrisAndersonRebeccaHaviland

Another reason we love going out is getting to share these experiences with the many friends we’ve made who enjoy the music as much as we do. We got to sit with a couple of them last night.

HadarKristenSamTeichmanGregMayoKristen

We won’t be seeing Sierra again until 2012, hopefully that means January!

Sierra Noble at The Bitter End

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What do you do when one of your favorite performers has a show at one of your least favorite venues? You go, without hesitation. Smile

Sierra Noble easily qualifies as one of our favorites. The Bitter End easily qualifies as one of the least enjoyable venues we frequent semi-regularly.

Both turned out exactly as expected. Sierra (and band) put on a great show. The Bitter End didn’t disappoint in its disappointment. Let’s start with the good stuff.

Sierra Noble opened with a long traditional fiddle tune (a collection of styles that are popular in her hometown fiddle community, Winnipeg). This was an excellent choice as there was still a bunch of milling around from the previous show’s audience.

SierraNobleFiddle

When things settled down, Sierra changed to singer/songwriter mode and rattled off one winner after another, starting with Possibility. She switched back-and-forth between the fiddle and an acoustic guitar.

Her voice is gorgeous. Her lyrics are captivating. The music (melodies) enchanting. What more could you ask for? Nothing, that’s right.

SierraNobleSinging

But wait, there’s more. All of that would be more than enough if Sierra were performing solo (which she easily could). Given her talent, it’s easy for her to attract equally talented people to play with her on a regular basis. In NYC, she has just such a regular collection of musicians she can call her band.

Left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on guitar (electric and acoustic) and vocals. I’m not sure whether Greg’s acoustic guitar is rebelling against him personally, or if it prefers to enjoy Sierra’s sets from the back of the stage without having to work at the same time. At The Living Room show (the last time we saw Sierra), Greg popped a string the minute he picked up the guitar (he had popped one on the same guitar during sound check!). Last night, the strap holder flew out. In both cases, Greg switched to one of Sierra’s two acoustic guitars.

GregMayoAcousticGuitar

No matter, he was wonderful on Sierra’s guitar and played significantly more on his own electric, which he wields masterfully (read the dozens of posts I’ve written that mention Greg’s skills).

GregMayoElectricGuitar

Greg also sings a lot of harmony with Sierra, beautifully. All around A+.

GregMayoSierraNobleHarmony

Chris Anderson on upright bass and vocals. Chris was excellent on the bass, plucking and bowing. He also sang quite a bit, including providing the primary harmony on the gorgeous Human After All.

ChrisAnderson

Rebecca Haviland was a special guest vocalist on at least three songs. One one song, Rebecca sang harmony throughout. On the other two, she sang a bit of harmony during the verses, but completed fantastic four-part harmony with Sierra, Greg and Chris.

RebeccaHavilandSierraNobleRebeccaHavilandHarmony

Another Sierra Noble show in the books. Already looking forward to the next one.

After the show, I introduced myself to Carrie Welling of The Vanity Belles. I’m a proud contributor to their current Kickstarter campaign. Here’s what she tweeted during the show:

thevanitybelles The Vanity Belles

@SierraNoble @gregmayomusic @rebeccahaviland @CAndersonbass makin beautiful music here @BitterEndNYC tonight! Lovin’ it!

I couldn’t have said it better. Smile Lois bought another copy of Sierra’s EP, Possibilities, to give to our goddaughter.

Here’s the set list. Sierra didn’t get to play the last song, as The Bitter End was running a bit behind due to the show before Sierra’s.

SetList

That’s a good segue into three of my complaints about The Bitter End (I don’t want to turn this into a rant).

There is a cover charge (fine), but there is also a two drink minimum, per person, per set. That’s nuts. I’m not complaining about the money. In fact, I would have thrown more into a Rockwood tip jar for Sierra than the cover charge. If I sat through as many consecutive sets at The Bitter End as I do at Rockwood, I would worry that the Medical Examiner would declare my death an internal drowning.

The Bitter End is very long and narrow. The stage is smack in the middle, facing the narrow part. Very few people get a direct view of the stage. As in most venues where that’s the case, people on either side of the stage delude themselves into thinking no one can hear them, even though they are just as close to the stage.

The Bitter End didn’t list the start time of Sierra’s set. She tweeted 9pm. A friend warned us that she was unlikely to go on before 10pm. They were correct. Sierra started playing at 10:12pm. That’s a dilemma. We didn’t want to show up at 10 to find out she was on at 9. We showed up at 8:45 and endured 75 minutes that I would gladly have put to use differently.

I don’t blame Sierra for picking the more conservative start time. I blame The Bitter End for not posting any start time for her, even if they ended up slipping it dramatically.

Patrick Firth at Rockwood Music Hall

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Patrick Firth debuted as a headliner at Rockwood Music Hall last night. Those of us who see Patrick play sideman in a number of bands have been eagerly awaiting this night. That said, I had no idea what to expect. In the other bands, Patrick plays keyboards (piano and electronic) and sings background/harmony. I’ve heard him sing covers, so I know he has a good voice.

PatrickFirthPiano

In May, we learned that Patrick was working on a CD of original songs. Since then, we’ve seen him perform one of those songs, Boomerang, two different times. Each time Patrick played acoustic guitar (backed by a full band).

PatrickFirthGregMayo

I could never have guessed what I would end up seeing at the actual show. First, let me say a few words about Patrick and the songs themselves, then describe the surprise.

I enjoyed Boomerang the two times I heard it (now three) but if the entire CD was made up of similar songs, I don’t think it would excite me. Even though I still like the song, let me say definitively that every other song I heard last night was dramatically better (apologies to fans of Boomerang).

Patrick Firth is an excellent songwriter, both the music and lyrics. Many of the lyrics are sophisticated, without feeling forced. One out-of-context example:

My tears can’t douse the Sun

Clearly, an interesting image of a broken-hearted person. (If I misheard, and it’s “My tears can douse the Sun”, it works too!)

I already knew how good he is on the keyboards, but he also impressed on the guitar, in particular when he finger-picked an entire song.

I will own this CD (whenever it comes out), and it will get many plays.

A few days ago, Ryan Vaughn tweeted about rehearsing for the show:

ryandrummerboy Ryan M. Vaughn

Rehearsal for @mirthfulfirth ‘s Sunday show @ Rockwood at Astoria Soundworks w/ @zachjonesmusic @OscarBautista1 @gregmayomusic & @pbassnbeer

I assumed (incorrectly), that each of those people would rotate on/off for different songs. Why? Because two are top guitarists and two are top drummers. Rockwood 1 is small, so my assumption seemed natural.

Bzzzt! All of them were on stage for every song. Two of the best guitarists and two of the best drummers, supported by one of the best bass players. All of them supporting one of the better keyboard players (who happens to handle the acoustic guitar well). Wow!

Here’s what made it more special than simply listing out their instruments. Typically, when an album is produced, many sounds can be achieved that are hard to reproduce in a live show. Overdubs are the most obvious reason, but having a top session musician come in to lay down a very specific sound is another.

When you can have those top session musicians, in duplicate, you can create many of those textured sounds live. They did exactly that last night (including having a few pre-recorded sound effects playing on Patrick’s Macbook Pro as well). Patrick spent half of the show at the keyboards and the other on the acoustic guitar.

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

Greg Mayo on electric guitar, keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. This music calls for subtle (dare I even say supple) guitar play. On at least two songs, when Patrick was on acoustic guitar, Greg took over the keyboard duties. Greg sang the most harmony with Patrick as well (beautifully). Of course Greg was great on the guitar and keyboards.

GregMayo

Patrick mentioned that Greg has been engineering the new CD in his studio, causing them to spend hours on end together. No wonder Greg knows the lyrics so well. Smile

GregMayoPatrickFirthOscarBautista

Oscar Bautista on electric guitar. Oscar is an amazing guitarist. Having him play with Greg is something I never expected to see. I’ll admit to having had a fantasy of seeing them play some Allman Brothers (or Lynyrd Skynyrd) together. This wasn’t that, but it was equally interesting in a different way.

OscarBautista

Oscar used the slide to create very ethereal sounds while Greg played subtle leads. At other times, Greg played more of an organ sound while Oscar played some lead. When Greg was at the keyboards, we still had a top lead guitarist, etc. The point is they were able to produce all manner of guitar sounds, just like I’m sure we’ll hear on the actual CD.

PatrickFirthOscarBautista

Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. Brian always does a great job on the bass, last night included. He sang harmony with the others.

BrianKilleen

Zach Jones on drums and vocals. I always rave about Zach’s drumming, as recently as the night before when he supported Robbie Gil. Last night was even more special. When Zach sang, it was typically the third or fourth voice, making for some big sounding vocals. First, I have to mention another person, so I can write about them as a unit.

ZachJones

Ryan Vaughn (mentioned in the tweet above) also played drums and percussion. He had a slightly reduced kit (no kick drum). That Rockwood was able to fit 1.5 drum kits in the tiny space to the right of the stage was incredible.

RyanVaughn

I love drums. A number of my all-time favorite rock bands have multiple drummers (notably: The Allman Brother Band and The Grateful Dead). If the drummers are great, you simply can’t have too many of them. They won’t step on each other or drown anyone else out. They will create sounds that a single drummer would have trouble producing. The Allman Brothers have three full-time drummers/percussionists, and nearly always have a fourth guest drummer join for a song or two.

ZachJonesSingingRyanVaughnDrumming

Zach and Ryan are great drummers and were absolutely perfect together last night. I can’t stress enough how amazing that is. They are not in this band full time, therefore rehearsing and touring non-stop playing this material. We know from the tweet that they rehearsed together at least once. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that was the only time.

ZachJonesRyanVaughn

Yet, they were so tight, on every note. It was one drummer with four arms/hands.

One last word about the music. No two songs sounded alike. When the originals were over, the sound guy signaled to Patrick that he had time for one more.

Patrick closed the show back at the grand piano doing his signature cover, Take Me to the Pilot, ending the set on a very energetic note. Here’s the set list:

SetList

Patrick will never be able to debut again, but he won’t have to. He doesn’t need a do over. Smile

Greg Mayo Band Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 CMJ

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

GregMayoPiano

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

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

GregMayoSinging

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

GregMayoDirectingUsToSing

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

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

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

RebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandTambourine

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

RebeccaHaviland

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

JohnLiotta

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

JoshReed

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

MattSimons

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

MattSimonsSaxSolo

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

KennyShawDrumsKennyShaw

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

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

ChrisAndersonChrisAndersonBass

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

PaulMaddison

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

SetList

Robbie Gil at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 CMJ

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Robbie Gil headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 as one of many artists to wind down a spectacular week-long CMJ shows.

RobbieGil

Rockwood was jammed and they removed all of the tables near the stage (except for one row to create a barrier between the audience and the stage).

Robbie delivered his usual high-energy show which caused many people in the audience to dance (to the extent that they could without knocking over their neighbors).

Robbie sings with such passion, with a gravelly voice, accompanied by a loud, top-notch band, that it’s sometimes hard to understand the lyrics. All you had to do was look around the room and read the lips of dozens of people who were singing along to every word.

In addition to singing, Robbie played acoustic guitar and grand piano. He also sang a song with no instrument, accompanied by the band. Songs ranged from soulfully quiet (at least the beginning) to raucous rock ‘n roll.

RobbieGilSinging

Robbie had a great band, as he always does. Left-to-right on stage:

Update: thanks to the kind person who gave me the info on the keyboard player. 🙂

Chris Lopresto Keyboard player (on grand piano and electronic keyboards) and some background vocals. I’ve seen him before, but can’t remember his name at the moment (sorry). I’ll update and link when I get it. He played the keyboards really well. Rather than stacking the electronic one on top of the grand (like most do), he had the electronic keyboards on a stand behind Robbie, and he walked back-and-forth between them whenever he switched.

Chris LoprestoChris Lopresto Keyboards

On one of Robbie’s signature numbers has him leaving center stage to join the keyboard player Chris at the grand piano. They played together, giving the song a huge finish.

RobbieGilPianoDuet

Zach Jones on drums and background vocals. Zach always does a great job on the drums, no matter who he’s supporting. Robbie’s sets are so high energy that drumming for him can be a challenge. Zach exceeds any expectations.

ZachJones

Nick Morrison on electric bass and background vocals. We’ve seen Nick play with Robbie once before (but at the time I couldn’t find a good link to him). He did a great job that first night, and again last night.

NickMorrisonNickMorrisonBass

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and background vocals. What can I say about Greg that I haven’t said before. Nothing. He’s that good every time, so coming up with new ways to say it is hard. Robbie is obviously a huge Mayo fan because he gives Greg long leads. To close the show (during the encore), Robbie gave Greg a really long lead.

GregMayo

When Greg was done, Robbie signaled the band that he wanted to take another round. They wound down the song in slow fashion, while Greg took leads between each of the down beats, extending what was already a bone-crushing performance. Awesome!

ZachJonesNickMorrisonGregMayo

As he’s done before, Robbie understands how much the crowd enjoys watching Greg’s fingers fly up and down the frets. During one long lead, Robbie knelt down to give people on the opposite side of the stage a view of Greg. That turned into a series of maneuvers that included laying on his back. At all times, he continued playing the acoustic guitar. It was a hoot!

RobbieGilKneelingRobbieGilLayingDown

Here’s the set list:

SetList

The set right after Robbie was headlined by none other than Greg Mayo himself. Smile