Kenny Shaw

Patryk Larney and Guests at Rockwood Music Hall

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Patryk Larney is the most recent singer/songwriter who has completed this pattern:

  1. See a glimpse of a performance
  2. See a bit more
  3. See a full set
  4. Fall in love

PatrykLarney

We saw him do one cover song at the Leave a Lasting Mark Benefit show and loved it. A few nights ago we saw him perform two originals and a cover at Backscratch XV. Another winning performance.

Last night he performed a full set at Rockwood Music Hall and there was no way we were going to miss it. At Backscratch, he had Ben Morgan accompany him on piano. I didn’t now what to expect last night when I locked it in our calendar. Then the tweets started:

thevanitybelles The Vanity Belles

Singin tonight Aug 31st w/ @patryklarney for his show & ROCKWOOD 9pm! Come down & hang…this show will be full of surprises I’m sure 😉

BriArden Bri Arden

Singing tonight w/ Mr. @patrykLarney at Rockwood 1 & as many awesome people as he can pack on that stage! Come on out 🙂

collazo Brian Collazo

NYC!! Good tunes & good people tonight at Rockwood Music Hall. Patryk Larney hits @ 9pm. I’ll be helping out on one tune. Come hang!

Seriously? We would have come out to see any one of those (The Vanity Belles, Bri Arden or Brian Collazzo of Live Society) on their own. It turns out, not all surprises were revealed via Twitter. Well, some weren’t really surprises, except to us, since we hadn’t seen Patryk in his own show before.

When we walked into Rockwood, the first person I saw was Kenny Shaw. I never know whether I just missed someone or am about to catch them, so I asked. Indeed, Kenny was sitting in with Patryk. Cool! The very next person I saw, Chris Anderson, was sitting in as well. Then I spotted Ben Morgan sitting behind the piano. Completing the band superfecta was Oscar Bautista on electric guitar. What a lineup!

Patryk and the band opened the show with a fun song called Filler. It’s about a song he never quite wrote, and promptly forgot. It’s nonsense, delivered whimsically, with good music. An upbeat way to kick off the show.

From then on, each song had at least one very special guest singing with Patryk. I’ll cover them all, but first a few more words on Patryk and his band.

So, we now know something we only suspected after Monday night’s Backscratch. Patryk is an excellent songwriter. We already knew he has a wonderful voice and that he plays the guitar well. In addition to songwriting, let’s add amazing stage presence to his list of talents/skills.

Tomorrow, there will be an absolutely extraordinary collection of music released digitally, to benefit the mind-numbing devastation of Schoharie Country in upstate NY. There are over 40 artists contributing a song each to this benefit release. Patryk Larney is one of those artists.

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

Oscar Bautista on electric guitar. After seeing Oscar perform a full set supporting Bri Arden, he quickly climbed into my top five list of local guitar players. Last night he easily held that position, in particular on the first number, Filler, where Patryk highlighted him quite a bit. Even in his background riffs, supporting the remaining songs, he was incredibly interesting.

OscarBautista

Ben Morgan on grand piano and harmony. Another terrific job by Ben on both piano and vocals. He also did the introduction, so he has a bit of MC in him as well. Smile

BenMorgan

Chris Anderson on electric bass. Always a treat to see Chris play. We’ll be seeing him quite a bit of him in the next 10 days, including this Saturday at Rockwood at 10pm, Tuesday at Bowery Ballroom, and later in the week in VA. Very happy about that!

ChrisAndersonPatrykLarneyChrisAndersonPlotting

Kenny Shaw on drums. Another superb performance. Patryk plays a wide variety of styles and Kenny kept each shift fresh and interesting. We’ll be seeing Kenny again at 10pm on Saturday, but that’s probably the last time until October. Sad about that…

KennyShaw

The new brand-new songs that Patryk played at Backscratch (Fine, Fine, Fine and Gotta Get Out) were played with full band and guest singers this time. They worked even better (which is to say they worked really well just with Ben on Monday). Fine, Fine, Fine is not on the set list (we all wanted more than he originally intended to give us). Here is the set list, but the only two songs that were played in the order they appear here are the first and last, Filler and Clingy (longer title: Clingy in my Brain):

SetList

I suspect that I will mess up a song or two in terms of pairing them with the correct guest. Forgive me (I do this from memory only) and I’ll update (happily) if anyone points out my error (and can prove it with video evidence and a sworn affidavit!). Winking smile

The first guest called up was Carrie Welling (1/2 of The Vanity Belles). She sang TV Feeds with Patryk. If I understood Patryk after the show, this is the song that will be on the Benefit collection released tomorrow. I really like it, so I’m happy I’ll have a recorded version shortly! Carrie was wonderful individually, and singing harmony with Patrick.

CarrieWellingOscarBautistaCarrieWellingPatrykLarneyChrisAnderson

Bri Arden was up next. They sang Genesis. It would be hard for me to heap more praise on Bri than I already have, but let’s try. She did a great job singing harmony, but finished up the song by taking over and hitting notes so high (and with power) that I hadn’t heard her attempt yet. The streak continues.

BriArdenOscarBautistaBriArden

Mike Larney (no relation, just kidding, Patryk’s brother) joined him to sing Maria. Mike did an excellent job (my guess is that he knows Patryk’s songs as well as anyone else). In fact, he did such a good job that Patryk invited him back up for the finale, Clingy in my Brain. That song has a lot of very tricky Rap-style lyrics, and like I said, Mike knew them cold.

MikeLarney

Brian Collazo joined Patryk to sing City in the Fall. Patryk chose very wisely here. He introduced the song saying every singer/songwriter that moves to the city feels compelled to write a song about it. He was determined not to do that. He ended writing a song named: City in the Fall… during the Fall… while he was living in the City. Winking smile

BrianCollazo

The two of them sang Motown-style, full of falsettos. At around the 3:30 mark, they decided to simply riff off of each other’s voice, with Brian following Patryk’s lead. Nicely done boys! Patryk was kind enough to give me permission to share the mp3 from last night’s performance with all of you. Since it was a live recording, you might have to crank the volume a bit (the song starts very softly).

The voices are obvious, as are the drums. If you listen closely, you can hear Oscar Bautista do some really cool things on the guitar (it was much more obvious live) and the bass and piano can be picked out as well. Enjoy!

Download City in the Fall, by Patryk Larney, featuring Brian Collazo

The Vanity Belles came up to sing Oak Tree Tavern. I already mentioned that Carrie Welling was 1/2 of The Vanity Belles. The other half is the equally capable Jessi Rae Waltz. Oak Tree Tavern isn’t really about a tavern (shhh). The song will appear (along with the other new ones) on an upcoming CD by Patryk (we’ll be contributing to the Kickstarter campaign when Patryk launches it).

JessiRaeWaltzTheVanityBelles

A slightly different version of the same song will appear on the upcoming Vanity Belles CD (Update: Patryk is their manager producer and he co-produced their upcoming CD with Chris Cubeta, and if I heard correctly, I believe Carrie and Jessi co-wrote the song with him).

Needless to say, the song and their collective performance was outstanding. Each of the ladies took a lead. Each sang harmony with Patryk, and all three sang harmony together. All permutations were great!

TheVanityBellesPatrykLarney

Next was the biggest surprise of the evening, because it was unplanned. Patryk looked around the room and asked if there was any singer that he hadn’t called up yet? Both Lois and I pointed to Rebecca Haviland who was sitting immediately to Lois’ right. Patryk didn’t need any further encouragement to insist that she come up.

RebeccaHaviland

He proceeded to tell her that she was about to sing along to a song she’d never heard. He played the song Monday night, so we knew it. He taught her the chorus in front of us. When he asked her to give it try (before the actual song started), she busted out a perfect harmony instead of just singing along like he expected. This was gonna be good.

OscarBautistaRebeccaHavilandBenMorganPatrykLarney

Yup, I was right. Rebecca nailed the harmony each and every time, getting a bit fancier as the song continued. It’s a deep song that tells the age-old tale of the grass is always greener from a different perspective.

As I mentioned above, Mike came back to close the show on Clingy.

MikeLarneyPatrykLarney

Let’s recap: Patryk Larney, with an amazing band, performing a collection of excellent originals. Great, right? Right. Now add some of the best singers on the scene: Carrie Welling, Bri Arden, Brian Collazo, Jessi Rae Waltz, Rebecca Haviland and Patryk’s brother Mike, and you have some truly awesome sauce.

OK, I’m ready for the next round, just let me know when and where to show up. Smile

Greg Mayo Band at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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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.

GregMayoSinging

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 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Mayo

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).

GregMayoPiano

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

GregMayoKeyboards

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.

RebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandErikWhite

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.

KennyShaw

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.

JohnLiottaJoshReed

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!

JoshReed

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

DanVoss

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.

ChrisAnderson

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.

ErikWhite

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:

SetList

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

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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).

MartinRivas

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).

MartinRivasSinging

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.

RebeccaHaviland

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).

SetList

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!

PatrickFirthPatrickFirthMartinRivas

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

KennyShawMartinRivasKennyShaw

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

BrianKilleenMartinRivasBrianKilleen

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.

GregMayoMartinRivasGregMayo

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

GregMayoVoguing

John Liotta played saxophone on Get Yourself Together.

JohnLiotta

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

Derek James at Rockwood Music Hall

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Derek James has magical powers (at least over me). I am a very happy person, nearly 100% of the time. So, lifting my spirits seems like a silly thing to say, since they’re always pretty high (metaphorically speaking). Yet, every time I see Derek James perform (last night, at Rockwood Music Hall, was the fifth time), he does indeed lift my spirits even higher (and I was coming in with a wonderful frozen margarita high, so he had some work to do!). Winking smile

DerekJamesGuitar

Derek’s band is called The Lovely Fools. Sometimes shows are billed as Derek James and sometimes as Derek James and The Lovely Fools. As I noted in my last post, The Lovely Fools aren’t always the same set of folks, though I associate the canonical version of The Lovely Fools as Roy Gurel on guitar and Assaf Spector on bass. Both were at the last show, but neither was there last night.

Last night was a fantastic set, full of toe-tapping, head-bobbing, foot stomping and feel-gooding (Jr.?). Winking smile So, these Lovely Fools are very lovely too (I’ll note the differences below when I tell you who they were). First, the set list:

SetList

The biggest highlight between the shows was that the volume levels on all instruments (including the drums) was perfect. In the last post I lamented that perhaps Rockwood 1 shouldn’t host these types of shows. I noted exceptions to that (so it can be done) and it was awesome to have Derek himself reverse the feeling I previously had.

The biggest disappointment was once again having Derek’s voice be way too low to hear the words. I was right up at the stage, so I probably had the worst of it, sitting under the speakers. I hope the people further back got to enjoy his vocals (and hear the words clearly).

Most guitarists don’t plan for disasters. They foolishly bring guitars with six strings. When one breaks, there are certain notes they simply can’t play. Derek James is a genius. He brought a guitar that had a whopping 12 strings on it. When one of them broke during the set, he was able to play with nearly twice as many strings as those other guitarists do, and still hit every note. Winking smile

Even if all of his strings broke, he could have seamlessly moved over to full-time Kazoo playing. Smile

DerekJamesKazoo

Last night marked the beginning of a month-long, weekly (every Thursday) residency at Rockwood. The first three at Rockwood 1, the last at Rockwood 2, a ticketed CD Release show. Check him (them) out!

The minute I walked into Rockwood, I saw Jerry Fuentes on stage. I asked him whether he just played the set before Derek. He said he was playing with Derek. Sweet, I really enjoyed Jerry’s guitar play when we caught his headlining set back in January.

JerryFuentes

Roy Gurel (the normal guitar-playing-fool) is really amazing. The one disappointing show featured a very skilled guitarist. Unfortunately, playing with Derek James requires a lot more than skill, it requires style. Seriously, there is so much fun (much of it delivered in a nuanced way), that if you’re going to share the stage with him, you better both be infected by the mood and also be capable of spreading it (like a virulent virus).

Jerry Fuentes has the skills (I already knew that), but thankfully, he totally has the style. His leads were fun and tasty. He can Fool me any time he wants.

JerryFuentesDerekJames

Mike Tuccillo on electric bass. Filling Assaf’s (Assie) shoes is no small feat, on the bass in general, and specifically as a Fool. I’ve seen Mike play twice before (at the Soul Revue Benefit and as part of Jerry’s band in the set linked to above), so I wasn’t worried about his bass play. Like Jerry above, Mike fit in really well with the sound.

MikeTuccillo

Kenny Shaw was on drums again (like he was the last time we saw Derek). He was fantastic. The beats in Derek’s songs are so integral to the irresistible desire to shake-your-thang, that the drummer’s role is critical. Every time he hits it, he’s tapping on something deep in your psyche (if he’s doing it correctly). Thanks Kenny (my psyche thanks you too!).

KennyShaw

After the show, Kenny asked me if he was too loud (I was sitting with my back directly in front of the kick drum). I was thrilled to answer No. It really was perfect.

So, with Jerry and Mike doing such a good job, are they perfect replacements for Roy and Assie? No, but I have zero complaints. It’s not so much a difference in skill levels, but rather than Roy and Assie can perform these numbers in their sleep. It’s most noticeable in the reduced harmonies (Jerry sang more than Mike did). Roy and Assie also move in unison (with and without Derek), again, almost unconsciously.

If Jerry and Mike continue to be the main Lovelies, they might get there, but even if they don’t, I promise to never be disappointed if they are the ones on stage when I show up to see Derek perform!

Greg Mayo at Rockwood Music Hall

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In my last post, about Rebecca Haviland, I mentioned that we would never miss one of her shows at Rockwood Music Hall if we could physically make it. The same holds true for Greg Mayo. That each had sets on the same night, and played on each other’s set, was diabetic icing on the already sweet cake.

GregMayo

Greg plays in a number of bands, including the Greg Mayo Band. This was not that, even though it was Greg Mayo headlining. One of Greg’s incarnations is meant for jamming, to originals and covers, with people he enjoys jamming with. Last night, he affectionately labeled it “Greg Mayo’s Fun Times Band”.

It’s basically a musical party, in your ears, for your eyes, for your soul and to enjoy socially with other music lovers. Last night lived up to that description, as did the time before, as will the next time. Just show up, you’ll understand.

Greg played a couple of his own songs (fabulous). The covers were all fantastic, with Greg sharing the lead vocals with two of his band members.

If you read the post about Rebecca, then you know that Greg played keyboards on her set. During his set, he switched to electric guitar. I love all things Greg (guitar, keyboards, vocals, bass), but readers of this space know that if I were forced to choose, I’d pick his play on the guitar (probably electric, but if he quibbled and chose acoustic, I’d still be in heaven).

GregMayoGuitar

If you were there last night, then you wouldn’t ask me why, he was fully in his element. On the last number, he took such a long lead (not solo, the band was accompanying him), that it was dizzying in the most giddy sense of the word. It was past midnight, but my blood was pumping as if it was noon.

Rebecca came up to sing a few songs with Greg (singing a bit of lead, but mostly harmony). On one number she decided to come back up and just play the tambourine. Given the energy and speed that many of these numbers demand, and the length, that was no small task as she kept up her very energetic tambourine play throughout the song.

RebeccaHavilandGregMayoPatrickFirth

The rest of the stellar band, left-to-right on stage:

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic). In addition to incredible keyboard play throughout (including some thrilling leads), Patrick opened the set singing lead vocals on Take Me to the Pilot. He sang a bunch of harmony and I think lead on one other song.

PatrickFirthSettingUpPatrickFirthSinging

Chris Anderson on electric bass. Chris killed it on the bass, letting loose many times (Greg’s set choices and his guitar play invite wide open bass playing). He sang lead on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and harmony on a bunch of others. Excellent!

ChrisAndersonChrisAndersonSinging

Kenny Shaw on drums. Like Chris, Kenny killed it.  I was less than two feet from the drums, and while this set was significantly louder than Rebecca’s (where I praised Kenny for not blowing my head off), it was still entirely within reason, so again, my thanks go out to Kenny for playing wonderfully, without making me deaf in my right ear. Smile

KennyShawSettingUp

Here’s a shot of Greg playing lead, while Patrick and Chris sing some background vocals:

GregMayoPatrickFirthChrisAnderson

Greg had a number of very good friends there who were more than a bit supportive. They added color to the set. Since this was a musical party, it was very welcome.

Here is last night’s set list, which they were using as a coaster for some whiskey glasses. Consider this an honest-to-goodness Rock-N-Roll set list, just for having the appropriate condensation stains:

SetList

If you’re in NYC tonight and want a different take on last night’s fun, come to Rockwood 2 at 11:15pm. You’ll experience a brand new incarnation called The Crab Apple Singers. Greg Mayo on guitar, Patrick Firth on keyboards, Chris Anderson on bass and Josh Dion on drums. In other words, swap the drummer and it will be the same lineup as last night.

But, the set list will be different (though I wouldn’t bet against The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down being on there!) and Josh Dion is reason enough to come on down!

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall? Count us in, whenever it’s physically possible. Last night it was and we were there. Smile

RebeccaHaviland

Rebecca has a spectacular voice. She writes great songs. She has an amazing band. Everything else I write will be mere details. You now know what you need to know!

RebeccaHavilandSinging

Rebecca loves Led Zeppelin. No small irony then that her voice would be perfect for singing lead with them. When they reconstitute the band, especially if Robert Plant won’t participate, they should consider replacing him with her. They might even want to consider working in her opening number from last night.

While Rebecca writes wonderful original material (more on that shortly), she does a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog that shares lyrics, but little else with the original. It’s a slow, bluesy rock number, that gets under your skin and refuses to leave (in the good sense). Led Zeppelin could open with that, and close the show with their version (also perfect), creating fitting bookends to their world-wide tour, featuring Rebecca Haviland. Smile

The rest of Rebecca’s set were originals, a number of them co-written with her bass player, Chris Anderson (one of our favorites!). Chris sings harmony on many of the new songs.

ChrisAnderson

Later in the set Rebecca introduced a brand new song (written a week ago), Vultures. We were drawn in instantly!

I love all her new material, but lately, I’m particularly obsessed with If You. I can’t help singing the chorus (Wo, wo oh oh oh) out loud, it just feels so right. Thankfully, Rebecca isn’t averse to the audience doing that. In fact, last night she asked the band not to play on that number, so that we (the audience) could hear ourselves sing. How cool was that? Totally cool, because I (and a lot of other people) sang our little hearts out. Smile

Greg Mayo plays the piano and electronic keyboards in Rebecca’s band. He sings harmony on some of the numbers too. On How Can I, Rebecca called out Greg’s vocals in advance and the two of them harmonized beautifully throughout the song. Of course, the keyboard play was terrific on all the numbers.

GregMayoSinging

Kenny Shaw played the drums, wonderfully. He didn’t blow me out, even though I was less than two feet from the kit. Thanks Kenny! Smile

KennyShawSettingUp

Most (all?) of the songs from last night’s set will be on an upcoming full-length CD. Rebecca is currently in the beginning stages of a Kickstarter campaign. She’s just over 50% raised (with only a single tweet that I recall seeing). Let’s get her over the top quickly, and even beyond her goal. I need to have this CD in my hands, so if you’re not going to do it for Rebecca, do it for me, please? Smile

The only positive outcome of a delay is that instead of being in the studio, Rebecca found the time to write Vultures. Now to ensure that it makes it onto the CD…

Here is the set list from last night:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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We attended a Leave a Lasting Mark benefit show on Thursday. Rebecca Haviland was one of the many performers that night. She performed a version of Carolina On My Mind that captivated the audience. You can read about it here.

Even though we had a jam-packed 48 hours in between, I admit that I was still distracted a number of times, anticipating Rebecca performing a full set at Rockwood Music Hall.

RebeccaHavilandSinging

This was only the second full set that we’ve seen by Rebecca. The first one was five weeks ago. In that post I mis-identified one of her new songs as “Sing”. Looking more closely at the set list (and having Rebecca correct me), it’s called Sins. She didn’t play it last night, so I don’t know why I felt the need to correct that here. Winking smile

Rebecca is in the midst of a writing spree. We all are the beneficiaries of that. Well, all of us who see her perform live. Later today she should be launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new CD (I’ll update this post with the link once I get it). Once that gets funded (and it will!), the rest of you who don’t live in NYC or don’t come out for live music, can hear what I’m talking about.

While Rebecca sings a variety of styles (all equally well), at heart, she’s a blues rocker, and a darn good one. Last night’s set was mostly originals (I love every one of them) plus a few extraordinary covers. One of my favorites (it grabbed me the first time I heard it) is If You. The chorus has a recurring “Oh, oh oh oh oh”. At times Rebecca is singing that too, at other times she’s singing over that.

The last time we saw her, she invited the crowd to sing the “Oh, oh oh oh oh” part with her and we all did. Last night, without thinking about it, I started singing it (out loud) with her. I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the audience singing (as we weren’t explicitly invited this time). Even though I was self-conscious for a second, I admit to continuing to sing it each time the chorus repeated. Ha, that’s how I roll (occasionally, OK, rarely). Winking smile

We didn’t snag the set list (I’ll have to talk to my minions about that oversight!), so I can’t share all the song titles with you. In addition to If You, I’m sure Rebecca played Collide With Me and Direction (also new, unreleased) along with at least two other brand new ones.

The two other covers were her signature version of Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog and another Zeppelin number that she morphed into (and back out of) mid-song.

After singing two songs with the band, Rebecca dismissed them and fulfilled my secret wish. She played Carolina On My Mind. For those of us who had seen her perform it Thursday, there was a deep satisfaction in not having had to wait too long to hear it again. For the newbies, I can only assume that their minds were sufficiently blown. In my next post (there will be four today!) you’ll see that I need to use my extraordinary powers of mind control more often (I promise to use my powers for good only).

RebeccaHavilandSolo

Before bringing the band back, Rebecca brought back Chris Anderson. In addition to being Rebecca’s bass player (electric bass last night), Chris is also Rebecca’s primary writing partner on her current project. He’s also been singing background vocals a lot more, thanks to Rebecca prodding him. In addition to singing a lot of harmony last night, Chris also sang lead on one number, kicking off the first verse on his own.

ChrisAndersonSinging

We got to meet Chris’ parents, who came to hear him serenade his fans:

ChrisAndersonParents

After one (or possibly two) numbers performed by Rebecca and Chris alone, the rest of the band rejoined.

Greg Mayo on keyboards and background vocals. Fantastic, as always. I’ll have more to say about Greg in the next three posts.

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Kenny Shaw on drums. After seeing Kenny perform five times in one week, he decided to hide from us. Exactly one month later, we picked up his trail again. He was his usual solid self, complementing Rebecca really well. In particular, when Rebecca morphed into her second Zeppelin cover, Kenny was instrumental in supporting her.

KennyShaw

Sierra Noble was called up as a special guest to play the violin/fiddle on one number, taking a long solo. The sound complemented Rebecca perfectly (though a good violin solo complements a variety of music beautifully). My third post of the night will be about Sierra Noble’s own set, but the other two will mention her as well. Last night was a big ol’ party. Smile

RebeccaHavilandSierraNobleChrisAnderson

Before Thursday’s benefit, we reached out to Rebecca and asked her to bring all of her previous CDs for us to purchase. We got two of them at the show (a full CD: Three Thousand Miles and an EP: What I’m Sayin’). As I noted at the top, we had a very busy 48 hours, so I haven’t gotten to listen to either yet (hopefully later today).

Last night, Rebecca brought us the earliest one, Taking Advice From Strangers (from 2003-2004). I’m listening to that one now while typing this. Gorgeous. A bitt Jazzier than much of her current stuff, with as perfect a voice as you could hope for. Lovely lyrics, I’m drifting… a.w..a…y….

Here’s a suggestion for Rebecca: make one of your levels on Kickstarter include all of your past CDs (I suggest $50) so that your more recent fans can find out that your talent is deep, broad, wide, and consistent, for at least eight years, probably more! (Disclaimer: this advice is free, I am not a paid endorser.) Winking smile

Derek James and the Lovely Fool with New Band Members at Rockwood Music Hall

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Last night was my fourth time seeing Derek James and the Lovely Fools. Each setup was different (last night was no exception) and only one of them was disappointing (hint: not last night). The show was at Rockwood Music Hall.

There are many bands that create a party atmosphere. In many cases, it depends on the circumstances (the audience, venue, mood of the band, etc.).  Then there are bands where the music itself is a party! Derek James and the Lovely Fools are at the head of the class in that regard.

DerekJamesSmiling

In less than 10 notes (seriously), it’s nearly impossible to avoid: smiling, tapping your foot, bobbing your head and swaying your body. I dare you to show up when they play and prove me wrong!

Derek will be releasing a new CD this fall. I am praying that at least 20% of this magic can be bottled, so that I can party at will just by turning on my iPod. I’m hopeful! I can wager a ton that even if it’s perfect, it can’t match a live show. There is so much visual fun going on that simply can’t be reproduced on a CD. So, get the CD when it’s available, but get yourself to a show as often as you can, it will never get tiresome (that’s another promise I can safely make).

I’ll run through the band and mention what was different this time, then wrap up with a few complaints (which only means it could have been better, not that it wasn’t great!).

Derek James on vocals, acoustic guitar and kazoo. What can I say, Derek is obviously Mayor of Funtown. A winning/impish smile, fast rhythm guitar, very tasty leads (usually in 100% unison with the bass, lead guitar or both!) and a southern twang on his vocals (I don’t think he talks like that) that can charm your pants off (well, if I wasn’t taken they could). Winking smile Derek didn’t play the ukulele last night. It wasn’t missing, but it was still somewhat missed.

DerekJamesGuitar

Roy Gurel on electric guitar and vocals.  Roy was in Israel for over six months. He was not at the last show, which largely accounted for the only disappointing effort. While Derek was Derek that night, the Lovely Fools were talented, but not so Lovely. Roy is an exceptional guitarist. The last time I saw him, I described him as my second favorite local guitarist behind Greg Mayo.

RoyGurelTuning

Last night Roy was wonderful, but not quite as good as he’s been in the past. I’m not complaining, but since I’m ranking people anyway (for my own memory) I’ll say that he’s now third, behind Greg and John Kaiteris of Live Society. Roy could work his way back up a notch, but I am doubtful (on his behalf) that he will be able to top Greg. Here’s hoping he takes up the challenge! Winking smile

RoyGurelLeadGuitar

Assaf Spector (Assie) on electric bass, vocals and kazoo. Assie also missed the last show, make a clean sweep of me missing the truly Lovely Fools. Last night Assie was spot on, in every respect, back to a typical Derek James show. In addition to his incredible bass playing, wonderful background vocals and all around fun attitude on stage, he added a kazoo to the mix. Derek always plays a kazoo, but having two of them played on stage at the same time added to the carnival atmosphere.

AssafSpectorDerekJamesAssafSpectorSingingHarmony

Now to the additions (re-read the title!):

Greg Mayo on keyboards (I only heard electronic/organ ones, but he was sitting at the grand piano, so some of the piano-ish sounds might have come from that). I don’t know if Greg sang, since he was blocked by Derek the entire set from where I was sitting. I admit to feeling a little guilty noting that Roy’s play slipped a drop while realizing that Greg was sitting two feet behind him. I hope I get over it. Winking smile

GregMayo

Greg took a few very tasty leads, but they were extremely short (more like quick riffs than real leads). I’m guessing/hoping that he’s new to the band, and if he plays with them more, they’ll work on arrangements (and visual cues to each other) to have him play a bigger role. This was the first time we’ve seen keyboards added to a Derek James set.

Kenny Shaw on drums. It seems that we see Kenny more often in the past few months than any other drummer. That’s fine, he’s great. But, as with Abby Payne’s set last week, if the band plays really loud (and they did), Kenny can match them, making the drums a bit too loud as well.

KennyShaw

The show was fantastic, so you can stop reading now if you don’t want some negativity in your lives.

I’m coming to the (very unfortunate) conclusion that Rockwood 1 is simply not a good place for a highly amplified set (though I admit that I’ve seen a number of shows where it wasn’t a problem, including last week’s Greg Mayo set). In addition to the electronic keyboards being amplified (obviously), there were three separate amps on stage (Roy’s electric guitar, Derek’s acoustic guitar and Assie’s bass). That’s what caused Kenny to strike the drums really hard.

It’s not entirely the sound guy’s fault, since the amps are controlled directly by the players. Someone in the audience called out that Derek needed to turn up his vocals. They may have tried, but it didn’t make a difference. Derek responded that it’s hard to tone down the volume when the band is 1/2 deaf. He added that even if Roy crawled inside his own amp, it wouldn’t be loud enough for Roy’s taste. Winking smile

That said, all of the vocals could be heard reasonably well (as instruments), but on the faster/louder numbers (the majority), the lyrics were really hard to make out (unless you know the song well). From a party point of view, no biggie, the party was just as much fun. From a “Derek might be singing something interesting” point of view, not so much…

So, no one instrument overwhelmed the others (the sound was nicely balanced), but together they were all too loud (not painfully so!).

Let’s finish by repeating the more important points: great show, great new additions to the band, awesome to have the original Lovely Fools back! Smile

Greg Mayo at Rockwood Music Hall

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We saw Greg Mayo perform at Rockwood Music Hall two nights ago, in support of Rebecca Haviland (covered here). Here are two things I said in that post:

Can I praise Greg more than I have in the past? It’s a difficult assignment, but I’ll be sure to work hard at it.

and

We’ll save more Mayo Hype for when he’s front and center. Smile

At the bottom of the post I mentioned that we also saw Greg jump on stage next door at the finale of the Idol Rejects Show. I bumped into him after the show and told him that while I was aware he had a show at midnight the next night (last night), we likely wouldn’t be able to force our bodies to stay up that late. Obviously, he understood.

I’ve already written four posts today about 3.5 sets that we saw at Rockwood (6, 7, 8 and 1/2 of 9pm sets!). This is the fifth and last post of the day. After taking care of a small task at 9:30pm, we went home and collapsed (Lois fell asleep while I tinkered with my Droid).

Given the first quote above, I realized that I had set myself a difficult assignment and that I would be furthering the cause if I made the effort to go back out to see Greg at midnight. Since Lois is a light sleeper, when I just considered moving, she was up like a shot, insisting that she was joining me.

We arrived exactly at midnight. Greg and the band were just about done setting up. Perfect timing.

Greg introduced last night’s lineup as “Greg Mayo and his Cronies”. However, he noted that the name will likely change weekly, so don’t get used to it. Brian Killeen, the bass player, joked that previously, they were called “Greg Mayo and his Acquaintances”. Greg quipped back that eventually, they might be known as “Greg Mayo and his Family!”. Smile

The show was billed as a mix of originals and covers and they delivered just that. When I noticed that Patrick Firth was joining Greg, I assumed Patrick would be on the keyboards and Greg would on the electric guitar. This is what provided the added adrenaline I needed to get myself up and out.

However, earlier in the evening, when I mentioned exactly that to a friend of Greg’s, she told me that Patrick Firth might break out some new songs he was recording and that if he did, he’d likely play them on the guitar. Ah, I was back to not having a clue.

Luckily for me (and any other serious guitar fans), my original instinct turned out to be correct.

Greg Mayo played guitar for the entire set, and of course, sang a ton as well (lead and harmony). What made this beyond special for me is that I sat directly in front of Greg. When he was at the microphone, I was roughly 18 inches from the guitar. When he stepped back to take a lead, I was all of 24 inches away. I was in heaven.

GregMayoSinging

Unfortunately for Greg, I was able to study all of his secrets. I no longer need to come see him play. I can just whip out my own guitar (which I’ll have to buy first), and recreate his leads flawlessly, whenever I’m in the mood. Winking smile

Greg played at least two of his originals, taking incredible, long leads during each one. Of course the shorter leads during every song were just as tasty, but I could sense he just wanted to leave me hanging, wanting more. Smile

GregMayoGuitar

Patrick Firth on grand piano and electronic keyboards sang lead on two songs. The first was Take Me to the Pilot by Elton John. I’ve heard Patrick sing harmony on many of Martin Rivas’ sets, but this is the first time he took the lead. He has an excellent voice. More important, as I mentioned just the night before (in the post linked at the top), he kicked off the song with a spectacular piano solo. Between his solos and Greg’s, tiredness was no longer an issue. Getting my blood pressure down was the task at hand!

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The second time Patrick took the lead he sang The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band. While his voice was just as good, it’s not as suited to the gravelly, southern rock style that I’m more accustomed to hearing on this number (as done to perfection by The Big Apple Singers and The Narwhals, both bands that Greg Mayo is in). Also, Patrick lost the words a couple of times, which raised smiles on and off the stage. These shows are about sharing the experience, not about perfect recitals.

PatrickFirthSinging

In the same post above, I mentioned that we finally heard Brian Killeen (on electric bass) sing! Well, in addition to continuing that last night (singing backup), Greg asked Brian to sing a song on the lead. Hilarity ensued, having nothing to do with Brian’s voice.

BrianKilleen

First, he had the lyrics typed out and they couldn’t get the stand to work correctly. In fact, it came apart a few times. Finally, they decided to leave it in a stable position, too low for Brian to comfortably see. Then, the fans in the room kept the lyrics swaying back and forth (looking like they would fly off the stand). At one point, I held the paper steady, but by then, Brian had given up all hope of getting this done.

BrianKilleenLyricSheet

The song was still a ton of fun, it just basically was delivered with every third word instead of all of them. Winking smile

Kenny Shaw rounded out the band, playing the drums, to perfection.

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Such a great set, such a great time, so glad we went!

I was quite surprised at the size of the crowd. It was nice when we got there, but over the course of the next 15 minutes kept building. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been surprised. If I was willing to get out of bed, given how tired I was, why wouldn’t everyone else (most of whom are younger and more vigorous to begin with). After all, it was an opportunity to hear four exceptional musicians jam their hearts out, in as relaxed an atmosphere as you could hope for.

Closing the circle on a comment I made in post #3 today, the one about Abby Payne. I lamented that there is often an inconsistency in the sound engineering, even in the same room, with the same people at the controls, with different bands that have similar equipment.

Since Greg’s set occurred on the same night, I am sure the same guy was working the sound (tucked in the ceiling at Rockwood). There was one less electronic keyboard in Greg’s set, but otherwise, the same instruments. The drummer was even the same (this was the fifth set that included Kenny that we saw this week!).

Even though I was three feet from Greg’s amp, it was never too loud, even for a single note! This, even though his guitar was the main event (which it wasn’t for Abby’s set). Also, same drummer, same drum set, same loud music (no soft numbers in the Greg’s set). This time, Kenny didn’t need to be overwhelming to match the guitar. Granted, I was also further away from the drum, so that might have accounted for much of the difference.

So, the sound was just right last night. As opposed to blame, I don’t know who to praise this time. Did the sound guy make the difference, or did these musicians realize that they didn’t need to set the amps and instruments on 10 and hope for the best?

Abby Payne at Rockwood Music Hall

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We’ve seen Abby Payne once before, briefly, at a Benefit Concert. I had only good things to say about her (in particular, her keyboard skills). Still, since she was one of a cast of thousands and sang lead on only one song, I admit that her name didn’t register with me as someone I needed to keep track of.

AbbyPayne

Aside from wanting to follow certain people (OK, I won’t quibble if you call it stalking), I don’t have too much fear that we’ll miss out on a number of talented locals, because our friends (musicians and fans alike) know our taste well enough that they bother to point out shows we might not be aware of. Thanks all, for that!

In this case, it was none other than Chris Anderson, who we’ve seen perform a number of times this week alone, who mentioned that we wouldn’t want to miss Abby Payne, when I told him we were coming to see Chris Ayer at 8pm at Rockwood. She was up the set before Chris Ayer. That was good enough for me.

I won’t (or rather can’t!) classify Abby’s style/genre, as the set was incredibly wide-ranging. I’ll describe my two favorite numbers in a minute (they were near-polar opposites), but she had a number of songs I’d describe as more dissonant/experimental as well.

As I said above, Abby plays the keyboards really well. She also has a lovely voice, but it has a thin, laser-like quality at the highs, which doesn’t work well when mic’ed too high, something I’ll get to at the end.

AbbyPayneSinging

The two songs that totally captivated me came back-to-back. The first was an up-beat Country-like number that had me tapping and swaying throughout. That was immediately followed by a super mellow song, with two members of her band sitting out. I’m saving one of the more special things in that song for when I get to the band, which I’ll do right now.

Left-to-right on the stage:

Wil Farr on electric guitar and vocals (I might not have heard the name correctly, but if I did, I can’t find a good link). Will was very good on both. Unfortunately, his guitar was way too loud on most of the songs (even worse during sound check when it was only him playing). We were on the opposite side (near the door) and it was still relatively painful, largely because the amp was facing us, at ear level. Update: I now know he spells his name with 1 L, so I updated and found the correct link!

WillFarrGuitarWillFarrSinging

JP Schlegelmilch on keyboards (grand piano and electronic). I couldn’t see whether he sang on any of the songs, as Abby was directly between us. JP did a very nice job, but I admit to being surprised that Abby had an extra keyboard player, since that’s her primary instrument on stage. To be fair, on the numbers when he played the electronic keyboard, he had more of an organ sound while her keyboard was set closer to a piano sound.

JPSchlegelmilch

Chris Anderson on electric bass, vocals and ukulele. Say what? Ukulele? Yes! On the mellow song (mentioned above), both Will and JP took a break. Chris picked up a ukulele and played it so sweetly (not even the hint of the typical Hawaiian sound people associate with the uke). I realize it’s a stringed instrument, so I’m not shocked that Chris can play it. That said, it was more of his feel for the instrument that impressed me.

ChrisAndersonUkulele

I’ve also noted a number of times that Chris is starting to sing more. That continued very nicely with Abby. He sang harmony a lot, often with Will as well.

ChrisAndersonSinging

I would love to see Chris whip out the ukulele some night when he’s on stage with Ian Axel and have a little throwdown. Winking smile

Kenny Shaw on the drums. This was the fourth set we’ve seen Kenny play this week. Wait, it was the fourth set for Chris Anderson this week too (three of them had both in the same set). I used to think that I was the only stalking these guys, but now I think perhaps they are feeding me subliminal messages in my sleep to show up wherever they are.

KennyShaw

So, Kenny was great again, in particular on the other song I loved, the Country-like one. On that number, he used brushes, but was hitting them hard, for a just right sound/feel to match the song.

I mention the brushes to contrast the rest of the set (on the louder numbers). Kenny needed to hit pretty hard to match the sound coming out of the guitar. He did. Unfortunately, we were sitting 12 inches from the drum set and our heads were getting blown off.

That leads me back to my earlier point about Abby’s vocals (in particular, the high notes). The entire set (with few exceptions) was simply too loud. This is Rockwood 1, an extremely small venue. It’s simply not suited to cranking every instrument. Obviously, I blame the sound guy, but still, the band should try and do something about it, or book a different room.

Abby had to push to be heard, and her high notes were cutting like a knife. Clear (meaning, she hits every note), but I bet it sounds unbelievably better on her CDs. In an ironic twist, here’s what I had to say about Abby from the Benefit Concert:

The only issue is that it took Abby a bit to crank up the volume on her voice, which was necessary because she (and all of them) were competing with tons of instruments and other vocalists.

My humble apologies to myself, if Abby read that last post and decided to crank up the volume every time to compensate. Winking smile

The part that frustrates me is that at other times, the same sound person at the same venue will get a similarly equipped band playing at a much more reasonable level. That’s why I have no idea who to really blame. You’ll see an example of this fact two posts from now (which will be my last one of the day).