Greg Mayo

Amy Rivard at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

Amy Rivard headlined Rockwood Music Hall yesterday. For us, this marked a big shift in her career (perhaps not so from her perspective).


I’ll describe the show in a bit, but I want to step back and explain what I mean above, mostly for myself. If you already know about Amy’s previous careers/accomplishments, skip ahead.

We first saw Amy perform on 9/21/2009 at a Livestrong Benefit. She rushed over from Madison Square Garden where she sang the National Anthem at the Rangers game (not the first time she sang at MSG!). I spent four paragraphs gushing about Amy in that post (about 40% of the way down). Here’s the first one, so you don’t have to wade through the original:

Amy Rivard sang, accompanied by Alex Berger on the keyboards. Before I begin, let me take a deep breath, and say Oh My God! Seriously, Amy has such an extraordinary voice. Alex was worried that Amy might be late, because she was singing the National Anthem at the NY Rangers game at Madison Square Garden last night. Holy cow, I can only imagine how awesome that must have been!

Singing the National Anthem, both US and Canadian (Amy is Canadian, but don’t hold that against her) Winking smile is one one of Amy’s specialties. Madison Square Garden is a small venue for Amy. We watched her sing it live (in HD) from a NASCAR event (over 100,000 people, perhaps twice that?). Still, that isn’t what occupies most of Amy’s professional life.

She was a member of both Celtic Woman (one of the most extraordinary musical experiences) and Riverdance. She performed at Tokyo Disney for over a year. The point? Amy can sing.

That’s not all. Amy is downright funny. Not just in her ability to deliver a line, but to conceive and write it as well. An entirely separate aspect of Amy’s career has been the creation of Candy Canadiana, a lovable character Amy created to promote Canada in a lighthearted way. I particularly like the two-part episode, How to Make Maple Syrup. Smile

Combine the three talents (Singing, Acting, Comedy) and you can easily understand why the second I saw Amy, I thought she should be a lead on Broadway. More specifically, in that first blog, I wrote:

Amy has a Broadway style and quality voice. In fact, I would love to see her in Wicked!

Since that first night we’ve seen Amy perform twice. Once at Waltz-Astoria, again accompanied by Alex Berger and at The Metropolitan Room doing a Cabaret Show.

In 2005 Amy put out a CD titled Cashmere of Jazz numbers (covers plus a few originals). We bought that too. If you like Jazz singing and instrumentation, you’ll love this CD!

I have been (and continue to be) impressed with Amy’s voice. I hired Amy to sing on a project that I did just for fun (a Tonight Show Tribute). That was recorded on my laptop, in my living room, in under two hours, so please don’t judge the sonic quality.

You now know everything that I knew about Amy, going into yesterday’s show. More recently, Amy has been shifting gears into a singer/songwriter direction. We’ve seen a few recent YouTube videos but still didn’t know what to expect yesterday. For one, when I asked Amy what type of music we’d be hearing, she said “I don’t know, you be the judge”. Smile The bigger difference is that on the videos of the shows we missed, Amy was accompanied by either a piano or acoustic guitar, for a bigger focus on her voice.


Yesterday she had a full band (entirely comprised of some of my favorite musicians!), so it was bound to be dramatically different for that reason alone. It was. That still leaves the songs and the performance, so let’s finally get to that.

Amy’s voice came across wonderfully (no surprise). Her songs had a wider range of styles than I expected. For example, Shout it Out delivers quite a rock feel, I Got Your Back is cabaret, The Three Divas is jazzy, etc. For the most part, the songs are up-tempo (even the mellow ones) which gave the band some bones to chew on.

Removing Amy from the equation for a second (as a performer, these are still songs she wrote), I enjoyed the sound of practically every number, so they’re very easy to listen to. The lyrics are more inconsistent (for my taste). I think the numbers that are very personal for Amy need more work. In my opinion, she was likely too emotional when she wrote them, and could use more detachment (even though she’ll be delivering the same message, ultimately).

I was more impressed/interested in the ones where Amy was writing about something/someone else (e.g., The Three Divas). In any event, I believe Amy would accelerate her lyrical journey if she were to team up with a few different co-writers to get varying perspectives on techniques and processes of songwriting.

Back to Amy as a performer. We’ve already covered Amy’s voice, with one exception. Amy has been singing jazz/cabaret/showtunes for so long, that I can’t tell whether that’s so deeply ingrained that it’s the only style she’s comfortable with, or whether she prefers it to all other styles.

I believe (again, just an opinion) that Amy is trying to write songs that would appeal to a broader audience than cabaret lovers. If so, she could be held back a bit since she brings a cabaret-style voice to those numbers (even a drop to the rock-styled Shout it Out). There are so many sets (every day) at Rockwood, that it’s possible there are audiences that go there just to hear that kind of music. We tend to hit up more folk/pop/rock shows and Amy’s voice doesn’t fit most of what we see there.

On to the band, left-to-right on stage, then back for more about Amy and the specifics of the show:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and grand piano. If you only found this post because of Amy then you have no idea how big a fan I am of everything Greg does. You can spend a few days reading everything I’ve written about him. Greg played electric guitar until the last two songs (beautifully) when he switched to the grand piano.


Amy’s big finale was I Got Your Back. I’m not a fan of the song (sorry), except for the fact that Greg took a killer piano solo. That part made me very happy to hear the song.


Chris Anderson on electric bass. Chris was really terrific. The songs were mostly up-tempo and Chris kept the bottom full and constantly dancing.


Ryan Vaughn on drums. Like Chris, Ryan was a critical part of keeping everything gliding along at a nice clip.


The point is that Greg, Chris and Ryan brought a different quality to the same songs that I saw on YouTube with only a single accompanist. I am pretty sure they only had a single rehearsal. That showed a very few times, but otherwise is just another in a long series of examples of how professional each of these guys is.

Back to the show. Amy invited a friend of hers, the very talented Jason E. Bernard to dance on one of her numbers. Amy met Jason when they were in Riverdance together. Amy cleared his performance with the bartender. They removed one of the tables to give Jason room to maneuver on the floor, not the stage (he was sitting at the bar like any other audience member).


One verse into Hopes and Dreams, we heard tapping and looked over and saw Jason tap dancing and acting out the story line in dance. The best laid plans…

Unfortunately, Amy never discussed it with the sound engineer, who actually runs each set. He sits perched in the rafters. He thought (understandably) that someone in the audience was distracting the rest of us from the show, and he swooped down the ladder and stopped Jason from dancing.

Amy and the band were incredibly professional. They never lost their place, even though their faces told a very different story. After the song, Amy apologized to the sound guy, taking full responsibility for the snafu. When her set was over, she asked him if they could do Hopes and Dreams again, with Jason dancing this time, and of course, he said yes.


So, we got to hear the song twice, this time watching Jason dance. All’s well that ends well. Smile

I mentioned that Amy is very funny, and indeed throughout the set, she was just that. A number of times Amy was very quick on her feet bantering with the audience or with Greg and the guys. At some (most?) of her shows, Amy likes to give things away. She asked some questions early on (trivia style) and tossed a couple of T-Shirts into the audience for the correct answers.

One was tossed with no one answering correctly, so it was a generic toss. It hit one of the monitors in the ceiling and was diverted straight to me. Smile There were some other goodies handed out.

All in all a fun show that kicked off a very long day/night of music out for us in good fashion. We saw three additional sets/shows yesterday, each of which will follow this with their own posts. Whew!

Amy knows that we try to post set lists whenever we can. She anticipated that we’d ask for one and customized it for us in advance. Smile


Sierra Noble at The Living Room

Send to Kindle

Sierra Noble played The Living Room last night. Eight days earlier we we saw Sierra at Rockwood (covered here). If you told me that we would see an identical performance we would have attended, happily. Just as happily, that wasn’t the case.


Sierra had a different setup (no drummer, one less guitarist and a very special female vocalist). The sound system at The Living Room is nearly always great.

Without a drummer and the extra guitar, even though there was a large overlap in the set lists, the shows had an extremely different feel to them (each equally gorgeous). It’s also interesting how changing the order of the songs ends up producing a different feel/flow to a set, even if the band was identical.

Sierra played the first few songs on acoustic guitar, then played both fiddle and guitar for the remainder of the set. Her voice was fantastic (as it always is), if a bit smokier than usual (her vocals so remind me of Alison Krauss, having nothing to do with the fact that both are fiddlers).


I knew that Sierra co-wrote Human After All with Michael Logen from the first time she played it, but I thought that was the only song they worked on together. Last night she said that they’ve written three. One of the others is Happy Here, which she also played last week, but I might have missed her saying who she co-wrote it with then. They’re clearly a great team.

Sierra closed the show with the same fiddle tune, Dabe, that she closed the Rockwood show with. But, it was quite different (both were awesome) without the drum. More importantly, Sierra took really long solos and stretched the song out to show off her fiddle skills.


A few minutes into the tune a few people started clapping along. In seconds, that turned into nearly everyone clapping. They clapped the beat (replacing the drum) throughout the very long song. I was mightily impressed by their timing and stamina, but all that did was make Sierra’s fiddle play all the more spectacular (it’s like the crowd’s clapping was rocket fuel for her).

I mentioned to Sierra after the show that there must be something in the water in Winnipeg which gives fiddlers extra special powers. Two of my other favorite fiddlers hail from there, Tania Elizabeth (of The Duhks) and Jeremy Penner (of The Wailin’ Jennys).

It’s only been 15 hours, and we saw two other incredible sets after Sierra’s show, but I’m already anticipating seeing her again. We bought a physical copy of her EP last night so we could get it signed. We already own a digital download (purchased on Amazon) and love it!

I mentioned to another musician friend that he should come to the show. If he hadn’t tweeted publicly, I wouldn’t be outing him here:

BergerAlex Alex Berger

Just saw @SierraNoble for the 1st time. Blown away.

Nothing more needs to be said.

Except, of course, about the talented people who supported Sierra making the show all the more special. Left-to-right on the stage:

Chris Anderson on upright bass and vocals. Chris’ upright bass filled in the bottom so well that the drums really weren’t missed (even though the drums were a very special part of last week’s set). In addition to singing background vocals on a few numbers, Chris was the primary harmonizer on Human After All.


Chris didn’t take any verses by himself (like Martin Rivas did last week), but he sang on every chorus and on the bridge and nailed it. Great job, Sierra and Chris sounded terrific together.


Greg Mayo on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals. I mentioned this in last week’s writeup, supporting Sierra brings out an entirely different performance from Greg (from his typical headlining guitar style). In a word, his play was fantastic, without ever stepping on Sierra even for a second.


Greg also provided the primary harmony on most of the numbers. Absolutely wonderful. Greg’s string of never disappointing me continues. He’s the Cal Ripken Jr. of musicians (at least for me). Smile

Rebecca Haviland was a very special guest vocalist, singing harmony on roughly 40% of the numbers. If you’ve read this space, you know what I think of Rebecca’s voice. Having it blend with Sierra’s, aaaaaaaaah.


During one number, all four sang together, beautiful is an understatement.


Here’s the set list:


Sierra is next appearing this Monday night (Oct 17th) at City Winery as part of a singer/songwriter circle (along with quite a number of other amazing singer/songwriters!). Unfortunately, we’ll be missing that for another pair of great singer/songwriters. CMJ week is hell when trying to choose who to see.

The week after, she’s at The Bitter End on Tuesday, Oct 25th, at 9pm. We’ll be there. I give you permission to go see her at City Winery, but I insist you come to The Bitter End either way. Winking smile

Red Delicious Apples at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Greg Mayo is a member of a number of bands. Some are long-standing (e.g., his own Greg Mayo Band), some are formed spontaneously (e.g., the Red Delicious Apples). The Red Delicious Apples were slated to play their first-ever gig last night at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, at 11:30pm. That’s late for us, but whenever we make the effort to see Greg, it ends up being worth it.


We decided mid-week that we’d make it work. We even told our friends that we’d definitely be there. One of them emailed me late on Thursday night that Rockwood was listing the show at 12:30am. Ugh, that was going to be way harder to stay awake for. It seemed to me that there were three possible strategies:

  1. Remind myself that old people get up really early, and that 12:30am was like getting up really early on Sunday, rather than staying up really late on Saturday for an 11:30pm show! Winking smile
  2. Nap (for an extended time)
  3. Do something fun that energizes us, earlier, so that we’re not sitting around staring at the clock until midnight

A really smart person would do all three. We were really smart yesterday. Smile

We napped in the afternoon. We had company from 8pm until nearly midnight that was a blast (I think everyone was surprised when they realized the time). I even had time to check my email and Twitter before we got in a cab. The cabbie warned us that Second Avenue would be jammed. I found it a bit hard to believe at 12:20am, but he was right. We walked into Rockwood at 12:45, but the Red Delicious Apples (RDA) were just setting up. One of our friends was there to greet us as well. Perfect!

Evan Watson formed The Big Apple Singers (TBAS), which includes Greg Mayo. Evan has been touring all summer with Def Leppard and Heart. No one felt right performing under the TBAS name without Evan being a part of it, so TBAS was put on hiatus and other Apple-based groups were formed.

Greg is in all of them. The first was The Crab Apple Singers and they were awesome. The name changes if any of the band members change (so fans can rely on who they will see when they hear which Apple band is playing). With a new drummer and new bass player, the band was again renamed to the RDA.

What’s the draw? Four outstanding musicians, each of whom could hold your attention by themselves. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, they’re having a better time on stage than the rest of us. The good news is that the party is not exclusionary. We’re all invited to lose ourselves with them.


They play classic covers, taking turns (not in strict rotation) singing lead (all four of them). Last night’s selection was eclectic enough to have a few songs that I didn’t recognize, though I enjoyed every one of them.

Greg Mayo on lead electric guitar and vocals. Greg kicked off the show at exactly 12:50am. His vocals were clear and strong and his guitar play is always mind-boggling, last night included. What’s most amazing is that he nearly always finishes off more strongly than he starts, and he starts at such a high level that it’s hard to imagine him elevating from there.


Adam Minkoff on electric bass and vocals. When Adam is the headliner, his sets nearly always start at (or past) midnight, so we never get to see them. Here’s what I wrote about him the last time we saw him (earlier, because he was part of a large benefit concert):

What an absolute treat getting to see/hear him sing lead last night. He’s wonderful, and I will now need to nap on nights when he’s performing late, so I can stay up (at least once). I’ve already written a couple of times about how good he is on the bass. Last night was my first taste of him playing lead electric guitar.

Am I a prophet or what? Nap? Check! Stay up late? Check! Adam great on the bass? Check! Adam singing incredibly well? Double Check! He has a voice that’s built for Rock (and other genre’s as well).


Zach Jones on the drums and vocals. Zach is a near-the-top-of-the-list favorite drummer, in such a short time. Both of us can’t get enough of him. While I primarily push my limits to make any Greg Mayo show, I’d push it to see Zach as well. In addition to mesmerizing on the drums, he too did a great job singing lead on a number of songs.


He used a shaker on one song, eventually ending up with it in his mouth while he drummed with both sticks!


Patrick Firth on keyboards (electronic and grand piano) and vocals. Pat always delights on the keys with last night being right up there. His vocals were extremely strong as well, rounding out the fact that it simply didn’t matter which of the four was taking the lead.


Lois captured some of the heat coming off the grand piano and keyboards when Pat was dazzling us.


Greg called out two birthdays from the stage. The first was Terry, someone who attends way more shows at Rockwood than we do (how is that even possible?). The waitress brought her a cupcake to celebrate.

Then he noted that it was John Lennon’s birthday and proceeded to play Ticket to Ride in his honor. It was awesome and the people in the audience were in obvious ecstasy.

RDA was prepared to stop when a normal set should have been over (roughly 45 minutes). Given that they were the last band up and that the crowd was totally into every note (including a bunch of people dancing with abandon), Rockwood allowed them to push on.

After each extra number, they looked at each other (and for permission from the sound guy) and played just one more. Before playing the real final number, Greg announced that after he sings this one, he wouldn’t have anything left in the tank, so this was really going to be it.


He topped off the night with Born on the Bayou, singing his heart (and throat) out, and knocking us all on our a**es with his guitar. In total, they were on stage for 70 minutes.

Before running out, I went up to Greg and said: “Sorry we couldn’t make it out tonight.” He was very quick in his response: “At least you considered making the effort!”. Winking smile

Given that we’re rarely out at 2am (Saturday or otherwise), we were shocked to not be able to find a cab. There were hundreds of them, all occupied, and every block had dozens of people hailing cabs. After about 10 minutes Lois hailed a livery car and we were home at 2:20am.

Worth it!

Sierra Noble at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

It’s been three months since we last saw Sierra Noble perform. That’s a bit too long so I’m glad the dry spell is over. I had last night marked on the calendar for a long time (Rockwood Music Hall). Finding out a few days ago that a number of my favorite people/performers would be supporting Sierra was icing on the cake.

Sierra opened the set by saying that she intended to tell a story with the music. That story was a condensed biography of this young phenom’s life (sort of a live Wikipedia show). She hails from Winnipeg and started her musical career at the age of 12 (so says her actual Wikipedia page, see what I did there?). At 15-years-old, she released a CD of fiddle tunes (I have it, it’s wonderful!).


She started the set last night with a traditional fiddle tune.

Next she talked about how she was cajoled (nearly forced) into singing and songwriting. She explained that a number of her fiddle heroes went in that direction as well (unsuccessfully), making her extremely reluctant to follow that path. Thankfully, her friend(s) persisted and eventually got her to relent.

Her very first effort yielded the co-written tune Possibility. It inspired her EP Possibilities (released in 2008) showing off her amazing singing and songwriting talents. She played that song next. For that she switched to an acoustic guitar. She switched between the guitar and the fiddle a number of times throughout the set.


That was part of a Nashville period for her and yielded the next few songs of the set. The musical journey continued until she brought it full circle, ending with another hard-driving fiddle tune (Sierra just played a number of shows and festivals in Winnipeg before coming to NYC for a nice stretch).

That she is only 21 is mind-boggling. Thinking about how much musical greatness we’ll see from her over the years makes me a bit giddy.

We’ll get to the band in a minute, but half way through the set she brought up Martin Rivas as a special guest. Martin sang harmony and wielded shakers a bit as well. On Human After All (a song co-written with Michael Logen) Martin sang lead as well as harmony, kicking off the first verse. Their voices blend beautifully.


On to the band, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and harmony. Greg’s play was appropriately subtler last night than when he’s the main attraction. It was also just as good. On one number he made his guitar sound exactly like a peddle steel, without using a slide. Later, he used a slide as well, getting a different sound.


He sang a bit of harmony, beautifully, on a number of songs.

Come to Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on Saturday (10/8/2011) at 11:30pm (yes, past my bedtime, but well worth staying up) to see Greg in all his guitar glory with a new incarnation called The Red Delicious Apples.

Ariel Posen on acoustic guitar. Ariel is a well-known guitarist in Winnipeg. He played mostly rhythm last night, but occasionally took short tasty leads showing off his skills. For one brief moment he and Greg did a little guitar duet. I look forward to seeing more of Ariel should he choose to hang around NYC.


Chris Anderson on upright bass and background vocals. Chris was wonderful (as usual).


Craig Meyer on drums. It’s been too long (four months) since we’ve seen Craig play a full set. His wonderful play last night drove that point home. While he was excellent on every number, he was the driving force behind the finale, keeping a very lively beat for Sierra to show off her fiddle skills.


Joining Sierra on stage for one number:

Ian Schaefer  on trumpet. A gorgeous, subtle performance, with the cup muting the sound.


Sir Chuck Hancock on saxophone. Sierra noted that Sir Chuck was a last minute surprise. That implied to me that he didn’t rehearse with them. You couldn’t have guessed that from his perfect play dancing around between the verses.


Later on, Sir Chuck played a bit from the audience (he was standing directly behind me, with the sax right at my left ear). It too was perfect, and amazingly, not even slightly too loud for me. I can only hope that Sierra heard his little magic on stage and enjoyed it as much as I did.


No need to start the clock ticking on another Sierra Noble drought just yet. We’ll be seeing her again a week from today (10/13/11) at The Living Room, 7pm. Be there, trust me.

Here is the set list from last night, a winner!


Greg Mayo FUNTIME at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

We just got back to town on Wednesday (a day earlier than expected) and I spotted Greg Mayo listed at Rockwood Music Hall at 11pm on Friday night (last night). Needless to say, all other plans now revolved around that show.

On September 3rd, we saw Rebecca Haviland play at Rockwood. Greg was in her band that night. Here’s a paragraph I wrote in my post about that show:

My lovely bride, knowing how huge a Greg Mayo fan I am, surreptitiously arranged with Greg to purchase all of his CDs for me. Right before the show, he delivered four of them (handing them to me, and saying they were from Lois). Smile Still one more to go. One of the CD’s was actually Bergers with Mayo, with the Mayo in that one being Greg’s Dad, Bob. What an amazing gift, I can’t wait to get lost in all of them. Thanks Lois and Greg!

I’ve since gotten to listen to all those CDs, and I love each and every one of them, so thanks again to Lois and Greg. One of the songs on the Bergers with Mayo CD (with Mayo being Bob Mayo, Greg’s dad) is Bob’s song I Never Forget a Face. I got chills listening to it. In August, we missed a rare solo show by Greg (why does work interfere with my personal interests sometimes?). Someone posted a video of Greg singing I Never Forget a Face. If I recall correctly, the claim was that this was the first time Greg played that song in public:

Greg Mayo playing I Never Forget a Face, by his dad, Bob Mayo

I hadn’t scanned the track listings when I started listening to the Bergers with Mayo CD, so I had no idea I’d be hearing this song, and I instantly recognized it, just from having watched (listened to) Greg’s video, once!

I’ve mentioned a number of times that Greg plays in a number of configurations. The above solo show was one. The Greg Mayo Band is another. Greg Mayo FUNTIME is a third. Last night was a FUNTIME show (you did read the title of this post, right?). Last night Greg explained the scientific underpinnings of the FUNTIME moniker. He said that it was expected that we would all have a FUN TIME at the show.

It’s crazy how certain difficult concepts can be broken down into their constituent parts by the right teacher. Armed with that knowledge, I did indeed have a superbly fun time, as did every single person in Rockwood, as far as I could tell.

The FUNTIME shows are mostly rock covers, performed by outstanding musicians, who are all having a dangerously good time on stage. Thankfully, they allow us to enjoy that good time with them. Most of the covers last night were new to the FUNTIME lineup. One exception was Take Me to the Pilot (always welcome, even if it’s been done before).

Greg has never disappointed me, ever. Last night was another exceptional performance, but many of the leads were longer (thanks!) and mind-numbingly fast/tasty (thanks for that too!). In a few songs, he took more than one solo and the crowd ate it up. They closed the show with Heard it Through the Grapevine. He took three separate really long solos in that one, leaving me (and I suspect others) dazed at his talent.


I kept thinking he has to be unconscious, because if he had to think about what he was playing, his fingers wouldn’t be able to keep up. But, today, it hit me! Greg’s fingers used to be constrained by the speed of light (as all matter was). With the discovery that certain neutrinos have been clocked faster than the speed of light, Greg has been freed to prove that his fingers too, can accomplish that! Smile

As is the case with all of the FUNTIME shows, Greg was surrounded by an extraordinary group of musicians. There was one change to the normal lineup and one very special guest. I’ll mention the two regulars first, then the guests.

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. Patrick sang Take Me to the Pilot on the lead and harmonized on many others. Of course he tore up the keyboards as well.


Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. Brian participated in fantastic 4-part harmony on the first number, but then relinquished his mic for most of the set to the special guest. His bass playing is always top notch.


Zach Jones on drums and vocals. Zach was sitting in for Greg’s usual drummer, Kenny Shaw. I’ve mentioned that it appears that we stalk Kenny, as we see him more frequently (at least in 2011) than any other drummer. Perhaps he finally got nervous and avoided us. More likely, he’s touring with The Thang Band at the moment (at least I hope it’s the latter!).


We’ve only seen Zach a few times, but he was an instant favorite and cemented that with his performance with Ian Axel when they opened for Five for Fighting. He’s an absolutely incredible drummer (exhibited over and over last night) and he has a really good voice too. He sang lead on the opening number, Walls by Tom Petty.


I never spoke to Zach before, but after the show I told him how awesome I think he is. He’s part of a duo with Emily Long called The Stone Lonesome. I asked him when they were playing and he said sometime in November. He also told me that in addition to their more country sound (you can listen to that here), they are also performing rock sets (don’t know if they go by a different name for those).

A few songs into the set, Greg invited up none other than Martin Rivas to sing a song. Once up there, neither Greg nor the crowd would let Martin escape. Greg forced Martin to sing lead and harmony on every song (at times alternating lead with Greg). Martin claimed (after the show) to have lost his voice singing so hard, but at least he made it all the way to the end sounding great!


In an early comic moment, Martin knocked over a music stand holding the lyrics to all the songs for the evening, including the one he was singing (his first number). It ended up being fine, as he knocked it over exactly at the moment that Greg started taking a long solo. Even though dozens of sheets of paper were spread out on the stage, Martin was able to take his time and collect them calmly while Greg thrilled us. He had a few more close calls with the stand and the look on his face each time he avoided the same fate was priceless. Smile

Another fantastic set by Greg Mayo. We’ll see him again this Wednesday (October 5th), supporting Sierra Noble at Rockwood 1, at 9pm. Immediately after that is Martin Rivas at 10pm (same place). When Martin heard Greg telling me that he was playing with Sierra, Martin invited Greg to play a few with him at 10pm as well, so I’ll be getting a double dose of Greg this week. I’ll be smiling from now until then.

I mentioned in my earlier post that we bumped into friends at The Cupping Room Café when we stopped in to see Matt Simons, Chris Ayer and Ryan Vaughn. They shared a cab with us to catch Greg’s set. They are the two on the left and we met a third friend right outside Rockwood, while getting drenched.


Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

Rebecca Haviland is near the top of our list as both a person and an artist. We would twist ourselves into a pretzel to get to one of her shows. Thankfully, last night required no such acrobatics, given that we were next door at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 for an earlier show (Chris Ayer and Matt Simons, both of whom came to see Rebecca’s show like we did).

We aren’t alone in our love of Rebecca’s music, as the place was jammed. On a holiday weekend in the summer in NYC? Give me a break. Typically the place is a ghost town. Obviously, the few New Yorkers that stayed in town made it a point to show up for the two shows we targeted as well. Smart.

Rebecca played an excellent set, including a brand new song. So new in fact, that the band had to sit it out (clearly, they didn’t have time to rehearse it in advance). Chris Anderson, Rebecca’s regular writing partner now (and bass player in her band) didn’t join either, even though he co-wrote it (or so I think she said). So, they haven’t arranged the vocals or bass part yet either. Of course, Rebecca can carry any song all by herself, even a cappella. This time she accompanied herself on the electric guitar (which she played on every song).


In addition to Chris co-writing many of Rebecca’s new songs, he’s singing harmony on most of them. With every performance, he’s getting more comfortable in that role. He’s opening it up (wonderfully) and seems to be having a good time with it. Keep it up Chris!

Rebecca played a number of songs off her upcoming CD (currently in the final three weeks of a Kickstarter campaign). After last night’s performance, we upped our contribution (we had the distinction of being first as well). That’s how badly I want to get my hands on this CD. If you like bluesy rock, delivered by one of the most interesting, gorgeous voices around, click on the link above and make sure it gets made!


My current favorite (it’s closer to an obsession) is If You, which she got many people in the crowd to sing along with. As always, I sang my heart out. The two young women next to me looked at me strangely (I didn’t care, but I did notice). I guess seeing an old man letting loose was shocking. I know I wasn’t off key (heaven forbid). Winking smile

She also played Collide With Me, which Lois is in love with (as am I), so she spread the love around (at least among our household). One of the rare times that we didn’t snag a set list or take a photo of it, so I can’t rattle off every song. Of course, she played her signature cover of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.

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

Greg Mayo on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and harmony. Greg was great (as always). When singing with Rebecca and Chris, the three-part harmony was wonderful. Greg took a couple of solos on the keyboards and was fast and tasty.


My lovely bride, knowing how huge a Greg Mayo fan I am, surreptitiously arranged with Greg to purchase all of his CDs for me. Right before the show, he delivered four of them (handing them to me, and saying they were from Lois). Smile Still one more to go. One of the CD’s was actually Bergers with Mayo, with the Mayo in that one being Greg’s Dad, Bob. What an amazing gift, I can’t wait to get lost in all of them. Thanks Lois and Greg!

Chris Anderson on electric bass and harmony. I already mentioned how well Chris did singing and co-writing. Might as well round it out and state (for the 100th time) that he’s a top bass player as well. He had a surprise for the audience (which Rebecca introduced). He bought a new toy and debuted it. An 8-string electric bass (isn’t that just a guitar with really fat strings?). Winking smile


Kenny Shaw on drums. There’s no doubt that we see more of Kenny than any other drummer, at least in 2011. That’s just fine with me, he’s that good. In the picture below, it looks like Kenny is using a clown cymbal. Smile


I am a drum-loving fool, so I always pay particular attention to the drummer. As much as I love it, it’s only this year that I’ve come to notice something I think of as discipline.

There are drummers that I loved (and still do), for their skills at being super fast and many times super interesting. This year, I’ve realized that a bit too often, they’re also sloppy. I’ve really come to appreciate drummers that are machine like in their precision, across styles and genres, while still being fast and interesting when called for. In other words, sometimes understated is exactly what is called for and necessary to support the song.

Another fantastic night out, surrounded by friends, immersed in music that we love.


Greg Mayo Band at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

If you read this space, you know how often we see Greg Mayo perform. Even so, it’s not nearly enough, but we take what we can get. One of the reasons we see Greg so often is that he plays with a number of different bands (and a number of configurations under his personal moniker).

One of those bands is the Greg Mayo Band. Amazingly, it’s been a little over six months since we last saw them play. That’s just crazy, given how good they are. Of all the bands we see in NYC, Greg likes this one to dress up. Given that nearly everyone on stage played or guested on an earlier set that evening, it was fun to see them change from jeans to suits and ties from one minute to the next.


All Greg Mayo Band shows are really events, with last night being no exception. There was a rowdy crowd (in the good sense) rocking out (you don’t say souling out, right?) from 11:15pm to nearly 12:30am (on a pre-hurricane Thursday night!?!). Even though every show is an event, last night was sure to be even more special (and indeed it was). Earlier in the day, Greg tweeted the following:

Happy 60th, dad. Tonight is for you. Enjoy the show

The link above is to the mobile version of the page, if you’re reading this on big screen, here’s a better link to study up on how amazing Bob Mayo was.

During the show last night (well into it, so I’m telling this out of order), Greg stopped playing for a minute to mention that it would have been his dad’s 60th birthday. He played a song that he said was the first one his dad taught him to play on the piano (I think he said he was in 7th grade).


That Bob Mayo inspired and/or taught his son to follow in his footsteps (Greg is an amazing guitarist and pianist, just like Bob was) is yet another gift Bob gave to us all!

Greg played the keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and sang lead. He was outstanding. I would say he was inspired, but the truth is that he never gives a sub-par performance, so I’m not sure how to measure his inspiration. Smile


There were a few substitutions from the normal band configuration (or at least from the last few times we’ve seen them). Everyone was excellent, so no suffering of quality for the changes.

Left-to-right on stage:

Rebecca Haviland on vocals and tambourine. Another in a long string of wow performances. I feel like a broken record, since I wrote about Rebecca in my two previous posts. That said, on those she was a special guest. Here, she is a full-fledged member of the Greg Mayo Band, so she got to sing a lot more.


Kenny Shaw on drums. Another exceptional performance. Kenny was great on every number (these are very high-energy songs), but was phenomenal on one number in particular, Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening. It was by no means the only highlight. Greg gave Kenny a couple of shout-outs turning over the focus to Kenny.


This was my third consecutive set seeing Kenny last night. All were amazing, but this one topped the others, even though he had been playing for two hours before this one even began.

John Liotta on baritone saxophone. Another excellent performance by John. He took a couple of leads and nailed each one.


Josh Reed on trumpet. This was our first time seeing Josh. He was great. He was the first of the brass section to take a long lead (I think in the very first song) and he blew everyone in the large crowd away!


Dan Voss on saxophone. Another stellar performance. He really let loose with an amazing lead late in the show.


Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. One of our favorite bass players, didn’t disappoint (has he ever?). He was hidden from my view most of the set, but he was never hidden from my ears. Chris’ bass lines were crisp and interesting and very easy to pick out.


Erik White on electric guitar and vocals. Erik was the founding guitar player in the Greg Mayo Band, but left the group a while ago. Paul Maddison (the current guitarist) was away, and given that Erik was playing with Brothers McCann two sets earlier, he was the perfect choice to sit in.


Erik was superb on the guitar (it would be hard to imagine Greg having an ordinary guitarist in the band, given his personal skills). He also sang lead (and harmony). He was the guitar and vocal force on Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening (mentioned above when I praised Kenny’s drum play). Everyone made that song incredible, but Erik and Kenny in particular.

Martin Rivas and Brothers McCann were called up (twice, but I think the Brothers were a no-show the second time) to sing. Fantastic. (Note: Greg did not make them change into suits.) Winking smile

The crowd kept cheering after Greg said goodnight, so he was forced to stick around for an encore. Smile Here’s the set list:


A truly amazing night. Given that I was up from 4am, on four hours of sleep, it would have been a miracle just to stay awake that late, except that this music is so energizing, I had no trouble. Of course, I crashed when I got back to the apartment, but it was worth it.

Martin Rivas at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

We see Martin Rivas whenever we can. One of the reasons is that he always finds a way to shake things up, even when he’s performing with the same (awesome) band. Recently that has meant Martin introducing a slew of new songs (he’s prepping to record a new CD with the incredible Alex Wong producing, later this year).


In addition to new songs, Martin often themes his shows somehow (not always announcing the theme, you just quickly figure it out). Last night he picked a cool one. We’ll get to that shortly.

We really like his new material. Coupled with our love of Alex Wong as a producer, the anticipation for the new CD is building. We’ll have to tamp it down a bit. Martin announced that he likely won’t be recording until late this year or early next year, which means the CD won’t be out until Spring (my guess, not Martin’s words).


Martin started out with the full band (I’ll cover them shortly). After a couple of numbers, he called up Rebecca Haviland to sing with him. I just highlighted how well Rebecca handles soul vocals in the post before this one (where she guested with Brothers McCann). This was an extraordinary continuation.


For those of you who don’t know, Rebecca is a songwriter and headliner in her own right. She’s in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to record a full-length CD. I have the EP with four of those songs and I can’t wait to get the full album. So, folks, help Rebecca, yourselves, and of course most of all, me, by contributing here. Smile

When Rebecca left the stage, so did the band. Martin morphed into the surprise theme of the night. He played four songs in a row duet-style, each with one member of the band. So fresh, so cool, each song so well done. On the set list, you can see the initials of each band member next to the song they performed with Martin (if you don’t immediately know who they are, you will when I cover each individually).


Those songs were all on the mellower side. When the four duets were over, the band came back and kept raising the temperature. I Need a Riff was raucous and had the crowd hopping.

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

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. Patrick was his usual outstanding self. Excellent piano play!


Kenny Shaw on drums. This was the second of three consecutive sets that I saw Kenny play last night (all absolutely awesome!). I am not sure whether he was stalking me, or I was stalking him, but either way, it worked for me! Smile


Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. Another stellar performance by Brian, highlighted on his duet, Meet Your Father.


Greg Mayo on electric guitar and vocals. Always a treat to see Greg on the guitar. While all of his leads were tasty, he saved the real magic until the last few numbers, starting with North, where he just killed it.


Prior to seeing this photo, I didn’t know that Greg was also a master voguer. Winking smile


John Liotta played saxophone on Get Yourself Together.


It had been three months since Martin headlined Rockwood 2. Way too long. Welcome back Martin, welcome back!

Brothers McCann at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

Brothers McCann played Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, last night at 9pm. I missed that show. I don’t usually post about shows I miss, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. As we did earlier this month, Lois and I split up (just temporarily, calm down folks!). I went to see Derek James at Rockwood 1 at 9pm and Lois went to see Brothers McCann next door (neither of us had seen them before).

Lois was so impressed that she wanted me to include a section on them in one of my other posts from last night (we each saw three sets). I chose to make this shorter post all about them for two reasons:

  1. I caught the last two full songs in their set (Derek’s set ended a bit earlier)
  2. Lois bought their CD and I listened to it this morning (it’s really good!)

When I walked in, Lois told me how she scooped me again, because Greg Mayo produced their CD and was playing a bit with them as well. She knows that I’m the (unofficial, self-appointed) President of the Greg Mayo Fan Club, so she was trying to get under my skin for missing this (competitive much, Lois?). Winking smile

The universe looks out for me. In order to soften the blow, Brothers McCann called up none other than Rebecca Haviland to sing with them. I have gushed about Rebecca often, and will do so again in the next two posts from the sets following this one. Her voice fits most genres and Brothers McCann flavor of soul is most definitely one of them.


It didn’t need to get better, but it did…

As if to further appease me, to close the show, Brothers McCann called Greg up to play electronic keyboards, with Pat McCann still playing the grand piano (Greg stood to the right of Pat). Of course, Greg was amazing, but more importantly, so was the song, the Brothers and their entire band!


I’ve added Brothers McCann to my must see list. Add them to yours as well! Here are photos that Lois took while I was next door:



The Crab Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

If you ask who the Crab Apple Singers are, I won’t fault you for not knowing, since last night was their first-ever performance. It’s a spinoff of a group called The Big Apple Singers. The founder of TBAS, Evan Watson is on an extended tour with Def Leppard. The rest of the group was itching to play, and I’m certainly not the only audience member that was itching to hear them.

Here is my post on the last TBAS show. Since Evan Watson plays electric guitar for TBAS, some changes were required to constitute The Crab Apple Singers (TCAS).

Greg Mayo moved from keyboards to electric guitar.


Patrick Firth replaced Evan, but really he replaced Greg at the keyboards (grand piano and electronic).


Chris Anderson was slated to play electric bass (he’s the primary bass player in TBAS, and therefore in TCAS as well). He had a late conflict and he too was replaced.

Brian Killeen played electric bass. As good as Chris is, there’s no drop-off with Brian, so we’ll call that an even trade.


Josh Dion is the only member of TBAS who fulfilled the same role, drummer, in TCAS.


All four members sang lead and harmony. All four did that as well as you could hope.

My friends, if you weren’t there, you missed a heck of a set. Every one of them was on fire on their instrument (guitar, keyboards, bass and drums). The leads were sizzling and the drums were mind-boggling.

People literally got out of their seats and started to dance. Once they started, they didn’t stop. Many cameras switched their focus to capture the joy of the dancers, but all ears were on the band.

I’ve been praising Greg Mayo and Patrick Firth a bunch this week, so let me just tell you that there was no letdown from their previously praise-worthy performances. They were both absolutely amazing.

Brian Killeen traded his bass for Greg’s guitar on one song. Brian sang lead on Cinnamon Girl (with Josh Dion singing co-lead). He took a wailing lead late in the song, showing that he’s no slouch on the electric guitar. Very nicely done Brian!


Greg tore it up on the bass, so the switch didn’t cost the audience enjoyment on either instrument.

I love drummers. There are good ones, great ones, and exciting ones. Josh is in the exciting category. Keep in mind that this category subsumes the great category as well, the excitement doesn’t come at the cost of greatness. That Josh’s singing produces the same type of excitement, separate from his drumming, is even more mind-boggling.


Looking at the faces in the crowd while Josh is ripping up the drums made me feel like I was in an old-time revival meeting. People were seeing the light.

Robbie Gil came up to close he show. He sang Feeling Alright and the band killed it supporting him. Dave Mason closes every one of his shows with his money song, and he’d have been proud to hear Robbie sing it with TCAS backing him up. What a way to end an epic (nearly six hour!) night of music.


Here’s the set list, but there were changes. At least you can get a good sense of the type of songs they select:


I missed most of Robbie Gil’s set, the one immediately before TCAS, because I was next door seeing Bri Arden. Lois stayed and watched Robbie’s set. She had a mutual friend text me that Greg Mayo was playing guitar on Robbie’s set. I replied that I knew, but was happily committed to seeing Bri nonetheless.

Then she told me (and showed me a photo) that Greg played the lap steel guitar during one number in Robbie’s set. That was the only (momentary) twinge I had about my decision. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep showing up at Greg’s sets until he whips out the lap steel again. Smile