Kenny Shaw

Abby Payne at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

AbbyPayne

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

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

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

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

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

AbbyPaynePiano.

Supporting Abby, left-to-right:

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

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

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

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

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Patryk Larney at Rockwood Music Hall

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Patryk Larney was on at 11pm last night at Rockwood Music Hall. A bit later than we like to be out, but there are a number of people who we’d make the effort for and Patryk is most definitely on that list. Add every single one of his band members and the decision becomes a no-brainer.

PatrykLarney

Before telling you how great the set was (it was, so I just blew the big surprise), let me tell you a bit about Patryk and what he’s currently up to.

He’s been making music for a while and doing a fine job of it. He’s also been managing (he manages the amazing The Vanity Belles, perhaps others). He also produces (he was co-producer on the upcoming Belles CD). He’s also held a very cool job at Apple for the past six years.

Very recently he decided to take the plunge and become a full time musician (I’m going to count managing other musicians as part of doing this “full time”).

The first thing he’s doing is putting out a CD called Circus of Idols. You can help him make it by pledging money (and getting rewards!) at his PledgeMusic Page. We did. If you trust my taste in music (and seriously, have I ever given you a reason not to?), then you should too. Smile

OK, now that we got the e-Commerce out of the way, let’s get down to the show. Oh yeah, I already told you, it was great!

Patryk put together a great set list. Delivered his vocals crisply and passionately. Played the guitar beautifully and added the ukulele on one song. He topped it off by putting together a band comprised of people we love to listen to, no matter who they’re backing.

Carrie Welling (1/2 of The Vanity Belles) joined as a special guest on all but the first number. If you haven’t read my posts exclaiming how awesome her voice is, then you better already know it from first hand knowledge or another source. Otherwise, you’re simply missing out on the experience!

CarrieWelling

Carrie was absolutely wonderful in singing harmony (and a bit of lead) with Patryk. I’ve said it before, but I’m always impressed when someone who is used to belting it out as a bona-fide headliner, understands how to shift gears when they’re supporting someone else. Carrie was flawless in supporting Patryk.

Ben Morgan on grand piano and vocals. We saw Ben earlier this week supporting The Vanity Belles. As impressive as he was then (and always is), I am partial to the sound of a grand piano over electronic keyboards, so last night was a real treat. Patryk gave him a couple of long-ish leads, which Ben nailed!

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Patryk announced that Ben will have his own show sometime soon. I’ll need to look out for it, or hope that Ben/Patryk/Anyone makes sure I know about it as far in advance as possible.

Chris Anderson on electric bass. Is there anything I can say about Chris that I haven’t said before? Probably so. I don’t think I’ve used the term Buttery Smooth about Chris before (not that he hasn’t been). But, when I ran into Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood 2 after this set was over, that’s exactly how I described Chris’ play. Absolutely delightful!

ChrisAnderson

Kenny Shaw on drums. Another person who I have probably heaped as much praise upon as is possible. Add last night to the list of reasons I do that. He plays with a number of bands who are so different from each other you can’t imagine, and Kenny fits in perfectly with every one of them. We’ve had a longer than usual drought of seeing Kenny play, so it was good to correct that.

KennyShawStudying

On a number of songs, Patryk took advantage of the fact that Seth Faulk was in the house (in fact, sitting right behind me). Patryk asked Seth to lead the rest of us in different clapping patterns (none vanilla). Of course, Seth keeps perfect time. I was close enough to be able to follow his lead easily. Winking smile

SethFaulkClapping

Here’s the set list:

SetList

This was our fourth set in a row. Even though I was tired, everything was so good that I didn’t notice that and just lost myself in the music. The three previous sets were all incredible and this one fit right in with that feeling.

Rebecca Haviland at Arlene’s Grocery

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Have I mentioned how much we love Rebecca Haviland before? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then welcome to this space, clearly you’re a first-timer. Winking smile

It’s been roughly six weeks since we’ve seen Rebecca perform. That’s bad enough, but she had a few shows in between that we couldn’t attend, including one co-bill with Sierra Noble. The last time we saw Rebecca was also at Arlene’s Grocery (the site of last night’s show). Given how good Howard (the sound engineer at Arlene’s) is and how hard he works to balance their sound, I was happy to return there.

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Rebecca and the band were awesome and Howard played his part in it as well. They performed most (all?) of the songs off of her upcoming CD (Rebecca announced that it was currently being mixed, so we’re getting closer folks). Here’s the set list:

SetList

We attend shows by the same artist many times for a number of reasons, some of which I recently articulated. One of the reasons is also the serendipitous surprises that occur on occasion (more often than you might guess, if you’re open to spotting them).

We both feel blessed that in addition to loving a lot of the music currently being played by many of the NYC indie artists, we genuinely love many of the people themselves (headliners, side-people, fans, venue staff, videographers, producers, significant others, etc.). I can’t say I expected that bonus when we first immersed ourselves in the scene here, in April 2009.

We love them, because they’re wonderful people independent of their involvement in music. That sometimes happens in a vacuum, but rarely. Usually, there are some pretty amazing parents behind them, having figured out some magic to turn out these young adults (young by our standards, for sure).

Last night we got to meet two sets of those parents, Rebecca’s (including her brother and his girlfriend) and Kenny Shaw’s. It didn’t take 30 seconds to see why Rebecca and Kenny turned out the way they did. Good job Havilands and Shaws! Smile

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KennyShawParents

Rebecca was accompanied by the same band she had last time out at Arlene’s, which (technically) had one fill-in for her more typical setup. For two reasons, I’m going to cover them from right-to-left, rather my usual left-to-right order:

Chris Anderson on electric bass (two actually, though not at the same time) and vocals. Chris is Rebecca’s primary writing partner on most of the numbers on the new CD (hence my desire to cover him first). He also sings harmony on every number. Independent of that, he’s a great bass player and that’s evident at every show (including last night).

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Kenny Shaw on drums. While Rebecca is considered a Rock person, most of her numbers are very soulful, bluesy ones, which call for less than straight-up drumming. But, she’s also an all-out rocker on occasion, calling for highly energetic and fast drumming. Kenny delivers both styles, equally well, seamlessly switching between them whenever appropriate. For a specific example, on It’s Not Wrong, Kenny really tore it up, switching into high gear.

KennyShaw

Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and vocals. Last time at Arlene’s was our first time hearing Todd. He impressed then, but was even better last night (he’s probably just getting more comfy with the material). He plays keyboards for Stephen Stills and Crosby, Stills and Nash, so you don’t need me to tell you how good he is (other than to tell you how well he fits with Rebecca’s music and band).

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While Todd was excellent on every number, the last two included a number of leads on his part, all absolutely terrific. He sang harmony (making it 3-part) on a few songs as well.

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Another winning performance from Rebecca and her band.

You can catch her this coming Saturday (Jan 14th) at Rockwood Music Hall, 9pm. If our dinner ends early enough, we’ll be there, but whether we make it or not, you should go! Smile

Patryk Larney at Rockwood Music Hall

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I so thoroughly enjoyed my first Patryk Larney show (also at Rockwood Music Hall) that I was looking forward to seeing him again. Having an 11pm start time isn’t conducive, so I didn’t think we’d make it out last night. When our plans changed for the evening due to the set before Patryk (covered here), I was happy to push it an extra hour.

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Before heading out, I saw these back-to-back tweets:

patryklarney Patryk Larney

Also tonight I will have a listening Holiday gift for everyone that comes. I open the show with an epic sound gift. for real. do not miss.

my opening guest will floor you. like nothing you have ever heard. A world touring musician. i can not mention here for safety reasons..ha!

What could it be, who could it be?

When his guest stepped on the stage, I recognized him. I’ve seen him exactly once before, almost two years ago to the day (12/18/2009). He was a special surprise guest that night too.

Kenny Muhammad is known as the human orchestra. One of his specialties is being a human beat box. You would swear that someone was playing a full drum kit when he’s working his magic. I can assure you that while Patryk had a drummer (we’ll get to him shortly), he didn’t touch the drums during both songs that Kenny performed.

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Jessi Rae Waltz (of The Vanity Belles) was called up for the second song of the set and Patryk asked Kenny to stick around for that too, even though they hadn’t rehearsed it. The number is called Filler. It’s a fun/playful song about nothing. While some of the lyrics are amusing, the real reason to listen to it is Patryk and Jessi’s voices, which are fantastic. All of the musicians are wonderful, and Kenny just kills the beats (in particular at the 2:25 minute mark and again at the end).

JessiRaeWaltz

If you’re going to watch the video I strongly recommend using headphones that handle bass well. If you listen with them on, you can hear Kenny clearly throughout, but really pick up all the nuances when he’s center stage:

Patryk Larney, Kenny Muhammad and Jessi Rae Waltz perform Filler

Carrie Welling, the other half of The Vanity Belles joined for the next number (and Kenny Muhammad was done for the night), with Jessi staying on stage. Independent of Patryk, you simply have to check out The Vanity Belles, they’re extraordinary. Throw in Patryk’s wonderful voice and the sound is amazing.

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Carrie stayed and Jessi left. Patryk and Carrie sang City in the Fall. It was absolutely gorgeous. At the last show, Brian Collazo from Live Society sang it with Patryk. Their version was much more playful, showing off their soul chops. This was a more serious rendition of a beautiful song.

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Patryk sings with passion (without ever screaming) and has a very wide vocal range:

PatrykLarneySinging

Update: I can’t believe I left this out. Patryk performed an incredible version of Auld Lang Syne, in an Irish accent. He finger picked it soulfully and you could have heard a pin drop. Very moving.

He had an incredible band supporting him, left-to-right on stage:

Ben Morgan on grand piano, vocals and melodica. We’ve seen Ben a number of times, including on TV supporting The Vanity Belles. He’s a superb piano player with an excellent voice. He also played MC twice, introducing Patryk and Kenny to kick off the show. He has a mild-mannered touch to his humor, which works very well.

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When he picked up the melodica, and blew into it directly (no hose), the place went nuts. So much so that he had to stand up and play it like he was a rockstar. Smile

BenMorganMelodica

Chris Anderson on electric bass. Chris was wonderful. It’s hard to say whether his bass play, or his beard, was more impressive. You can judge for yourself how impressive his beard is, but you’ll have to listen really carefully to the video above to pick out his play.

ChrisAnderson

Kenny Shaw on drums. Another great performance from Kenny, though he did get to totally slack off for the first two numbers while the other Kenny was beat-boxing up a storm. I guess that made this Kenny that much fresher than the rest of the band when he finally joined in. Winking smile

KennyShaw

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Most of the people that were there for the set before were here for this one as well. In fact, most of them were sticking around for the next set too! We badly wanted to as well. Nightmare River Band was new to us, but we’re fans of Seth Faulk so we really wanted to check them out. Unfortunately, it was past midnight, and we were fading really fast. Lois caught a great shot of Carrie Welling and Seth Faulk as we ran out:

CarrieWellingSethFaulk

We also ran into Jeff Litman. Mark your calendars (February 9th, 2012) to go see Jeff Litman’s CD Release show at The Bitter End. In fact, go earlier that evening to see Sam Teichman’s Leave a Lasting Mark benefit. This CD will be great and I’m sure the show will be too! We have a huge sad face, because we’re nearly sure we can’t be in the city that night. Sad smile

LindseyJeffLitman

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rebecca Haviland on vocals. Spectacular.

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Kenny Shaw on drums. Excellent.

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Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Superb.

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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!

BenjaminWagnerRivasSauceJarMartinRivasLoisSauce

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.

ChrisAbadMaryBraggBessRogersPaulaValsteinCharleneKayChrisKuffnerBenjaminWagner

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).

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KellySamTeichmanKellyKristenSauce

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

HolidayBenefitBounty

Rebecca Haviland at Arelene’s Grocery

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We missed a bunch of great shows last week due to the extended holiday weekend and the wonderful company that was up from Richmond to spend it with us.

Rebecca Haviland was appearing at Rockwood Music Hall on Friday night, and that’s the only show we had planned to abandon our company to go see. Unfortunately, our goddaughter baked one of her world-famous apple pies and got permission from Lois for me to have a slice (the answer is often hit-or-miss). Couple that with their latte machine (cherry, or cherry chocolate that night, amazing!) plus an awesome bottle of port, and well, somehow, we didn’t make it to Rockwood…

The saving grace is that we knew Rebecca was playing again, last night, at Arlene’s Grocery. While I prefer Rockwood over Arlene’s for most shows, I admit that I was more excited to see Rebecca at Arlene’s this time around. She’s a rocker, and Arlene’s is well-suited for rock shows (much more so than Rockwood 1).

RebeccaHavilandSinging

Even if we had seen her at Rockwood, it would have been worth coming out again, for the contrast in venues and the swap of two band members.

We never worry about whether Rebecca’s sets will be good, they always are, last night too. If there’s ever a concern, it’s about the sound. Arlene’s has a very good sound guy (Howard), but on occasion, it can get too loud. Last night the volumes were all balanced perfectly. In fact, Chris’ vocals were at a better level than any other show. More on Howard the sound guy a bit later.

In addition to Rebecca’s voice being extremely tasty throughout, on one number Howard cranked the reverb but had a long delay on it (unless Rebecca was controlling that through her pedal). It sounded like Rebecca had a background vocalist singing with her (rather than a trail or echo). It was an extremely cool sound, hearing Rebecca twice.

When Rebecca got to If You (possibly my favorite song of hers, but there’s no shortage of songs to love), she called out that if the audience didn’t know when to sing, they should follow me. Ha! Indeed, good advice, since I belt it out whenever I can (even at home, without the CD on, seriously!). Sorry Krista, I hope I wasn’t too loud, sitting right next to you. Winking smile

Let’s cover the band, right-to-left this time (not my normal direction), then return to Howard the sound guy:

Chris Anderson on electric bass (two of them, one an 8-string) and vocals. Another excellent performance on the bass, in particular, on Money, when Chris was wailing fantastic bass lines while Todd was ripping up the keyboards. More importantly, as mentioned above, Chris’ vocals were leveled perfectly and he sounded great singing with Rebecca on every number.

ChrisAndersonTuning

Chris asked for less of Rebecca’s vocals in his monitor, and Rebecca asked for more of Chris in hers. Chris was particularly impish last night (in general), and after that exchange, hilarity ensued.

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny wasn’t able to make Friday’s show, even though he’s Rebecca’s normal drummer. Always a treat to see him. Many of the numbers last night called for slower, but deeply rhythmical (jungle/swing) drumming. Absolutely wonderful.

KennyShawToddCaldwellKennyShaw

Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards. (The site linked to his name isn’t fully active yet, but hopefully it will be in the near future.) I’d never seen Todd before, and I’m very glad to have corrected that oversight. An incredible keyboard player who took a number of wonderful leads throughout the set. I already mentioned above that he ripped it up on Money.

ToddCaldwell

In 2007, Stephen Stills selected Todd to tour with him. In addition to holding on to that role, he was also invited to play with Crosby, Stills and Nash, another continuing role. Need I say more? I didn’t think so!

ToddCaldwellRebeccaHaviland

I’ve noted in other posts that Howard (the sound guy) is one of the hardest working people I’ve seen. His dedication is impressive. After working the stage to set everyone up, he comes out of the booth during the show to stand in the audience to hear it like we do. During one number, he thought that the electric guitar was a bit too bright. He left the room and came on stage from a side door. He moved a mic that was in front of the amp about four inches further away. That solved the problem perfectly.

He’s also a fan of Rebecca (which means he has good taste too). When her set was over, he asked them to play one more. Folks, it’s highly unusual for a sound guy to do that. They often allow the extra number, but rarely insist on it, like Howard did. Rebecca noted that it was almost time for the next band to go on, but Howard told her to play on!

Then he said something into his mic that cracked me up: “Don’t worry, once you start playing, I’ll turn off the sound.” Winking smile

So, the impromptu encore is not listed on the set list:

SetList

We were both pooped and a bit under the weather, so we bagged another show we were planning on seeing at Rockwood and most unfortunately a special birthday party that we had hoped to attend as well.

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

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

Erik White at Rockwood Music Hall

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Erik White headlined a show at Rockwood Music Hall yesterday. I’ve seen Erik three times before, always in the role of sideman. I had no idea what to expect. I would have gone anyway, on the strength of how I came to know about him to begin with, but when Chris Anderson told me that I would definitely enjoy the set, curiosity turned into anticipation.

Erik White was the original guitar player in The Greg Mayo Band. Greg is my favorite local guitarist, but in the band with his own name, he plays the keyboards exclusively. Considering Greg’s talent on the guitar, it’s simply not possible that he could have a weak guitar player in his band. Therefore, without even seeing Erik play, it was obvious that he’s a talented guitar player.

ErikWhiteGuitar

Erik is part of a band called The Brothers McCann. Lois caught of full set of theirs at Rockwood 2 recently. I was next door, but got over in time to catch the last three numbers. Yes, Erik was very good. That same night, he substituted for the current guitar player in The Greg Mayo Band, who was touring with another group. Yes again, Erik was very good.

The set yesterday was a trio. Erik finger-picked his electric guitar throughout. He sang beautifully. He opened the set with a cover (the only one), Ophelia by The Band. Chris sang harmony with him on that, but Erik sang solo on all of his originals.

Erik reminded us of Colin Hay in his vocals and even in some of his songwriting (lyrics and style). We love Colin Hay, so that’s a good thing. Winking smile

ErikWhiteSinging

I would describe most of the songs as jazzy (the trio setup might have biased that) with a country tinge overlaid. There was one number that was a soft, but unmistakable southern rock sound. I don’t have a set list, because Erik and Chris made it up as they went along.

Chris Anderson on upright bass (with and without bow). We’ve seen Chris so many times that even going back through my posts would make it hard to get an accurate count. He’s nailed every performance. That said, I think I can say with reasonably surety that this was his best performance yet.

ChrisAndersonUprightPlucking

In addition to the trio bringing Chris’ sound front-and-center, the jazzy guitar often called for the bass to be the lead/melody instrument, and Chris obliged perfectly. So glad I took Chris’ advice to attend this show, even though he never said a word about him being such a focal part of it.

ChrisAndersonUprightBow

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny was solely responsible for layering the country feel on top of the jazzy sounds. His drumming is always superb, and with only three of them playing, needed to be extra sharp yesterday. He was.

KennyShawDrumsKennyShaw

Unfortunately, Erik lives in Boston, so he doesn’t play in NYC as much as we’d like. We’ll keep an eye out for other opportunities to catch him.

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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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).

RebeccaHavilandGuitar

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!

RebeccaHavilandSinging

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.

GregMayoKeyboards

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

ChrisAnderson

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

KennyShaw

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.

KellySamTeichman