Kyle Patrick

Nate Campany at Rockwood Music Hall

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I’ve wanted to see Nate Campany perform a set for a very long time now. When he listed a show at Rockwood Music Hall at 9pm (last night), I was excited, until I checked my calendar. I had 5.5 straight hours booked right next door at Stage 2. At 9pm, Kyle Patrick was up so I had to choose between them.

As much as I wanted to see Kyle Patrick (he was on my list as well!), I admit that it wasn’t that tough a choice for me (check the title, I went to see Nate!). Winking smile

I’ve only seen Nate perform a few songs. My desire to see him wasn’t because he blew me away during those songs. Rather, he is an extraordinary songwriter. Nearly every performer that I love has co-written at least one song with Nate, often one of my favorite songs by each artist.

Watching Nate on stage was like hanging out with a friend who happened to be standing up while I was sitting down. In other words, rather than listening to a performance, I felt like I was wrapped in the warmth of a circle of friends passing around a guitar (which just so happened to wind up in Nate’s hands every time). Smile

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After practically each song (including right after the first one), Nate paused and said “At this point in the set, are there any questions?”. Apparently (recall, I haven’t seen him perform a full set), he’s a real history buff, and it’s known that he encourages people to show up and ask questions about history, or Cleveland, or Rockwood, etc.

A quick aside for some context. Before seeing Nate, I attended two sets next door. The first was Karly Jurgensen (covered here), followed by Jesse Ruben (covered here). There were a few Swedes in the audience enjoying Karly’s set (while she hails from Nebraska, Karly is probably of Swedish descent). Two of them moved over to Rockwood 1 (like I did), to catch Nate’s set. That’s likely because Nate is a star in Sweden as well, co-writing a number of hits for stars over there.

Back to our story. When Nate asked questions, one of the Swedes said something and Nate broke out a number of phrases in Swedish, to the delight of the Swedes, and the amazement of the rest of us. During the last (and longest), he rubbed his beard. He looked at the rest of us and said “I’m not sure I said that correctly”. Before he got to translate, one of the Swedes called out:

Would you like to rub my beard?

Of course, everyone laughed. The mood remained as light the rest of the set and the banter with the Swedes continued for a bit, without ever feeling tiresome.

Twice, Nate called up Luke White, lead singer of the white-hot rock band Atomic Tom. He sang harmony with Nate.

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During one solo number, Nate lost the words. He told us that he was so caught up in the moment. I believe him, there were many such moments. What was interesting to me is that the woman to my right (which was really behind me since I turned toward the stage) was singing along with Nate, super quietly, but perfectly. It’s almost like she was trying to get him back on track, without anyone (including Nate!) knowing it (sending good thoughts). I might have been the only one close enough to know she was singing.

A little later in the set, Nate coaxed her to join him on the stage. It took a lot of coaxing, but she eventually went up.

Jennifer Dees (Jenn) is Nate’s wife (I didn’t know that until I looked it up). They sang together (beautifully) and of course, it made sense that she would know the words to every one of Nate’s songs.

JennDeesNateCampany

A bit later, during another opportunity to ask Nate a question, I leaned over to her and asked if she knew if he sang “Are You Listening” at home. She didn’t know but she encouraged me to ask, so I did.

Here was the ensuing dialog:

Me: Do you practice Are You Listening enough to play it?

Nate: I don’t know that song.

Me: You co-wrote it!

Nate: Really?

Me: With Alex Wong.

Nate: Ah, I don’t know it by that name.

Me: Right, you probably called it the Yeah, Yeah, Yeah song!

Nate: We did, until we found out that (he names a specific artist) has a song by that name.

Nate: Well, I can’t play it anyway.

It will be on Alex Wong’s upcoming solo CD, and I am completely obsessed with the song. Just another example of Nate’s magic sauce/touch when co-writing with others. In fact, we were sitting next to a singer/songwriter at Rockwood 2 during the earlier sets. When I told her that I was going to miss Kyle for Nate, she said “Nate co-wrote one of the songs on my CD”. Like I told you, he’s everywhere!

A number of times during the set, Nate told us that Kyle is one of his best friends and how strange it was that they were scheduled opposite each other. At one point, someone yelled out “Play a more upbeat song!”. Nate replied “You’re in the wrong place. If you want upbeat, go next door to hear Kyle Patrick’s set!”.

Toward the end of Nate’s set, his phone buzzed (it was sitting on the piano behind him). He answered it. It was Kyle Patrick calling from next door. Nate held the phone close enough to the microphone for us to basically hear what was going on. Each of the crowds shouted out to the other, which could easily be heard through the phones and mic’s.

KylePatrickCallingNateCampany

Then Kyle told Nate he was about to play Good as Gold, a big hit that Nate wrote (co-wrote? I don’t know). Nate looked at us and said “Hey, that’s going to be a lot better than whatever I would play over here. Let’s all go next door and check out Kyle! I’m serious!”

He walked off the stage and out the door, and most of our audience followed him. About 2/3’s of them made it in, but Rockwood 2 was near capacity and some from our side got turned away. I was against the far wall (furthest spot from the door), so I never got up.

Even though I didn’t get up, I had eyes and ears over at Rockwood 2. For the first time ever, Lois and I split up. She remained in Rockwood 2 all night, which included Kyle’s set, so she experienced the other side of the phone call, and the march of the Rockwood 1 folks into Rockwood 2. She caught a shot of Nate standing immediately behind her chair. Kyle apparently stood on the table in front of her, serenading Nate. She was right between them. Smile

KylePatrickNateCampanyListeningToKylePatrick

Eventually, Nate and the others returned. He got back on stage and said Goodnight. The crowd chanted for one more song. I honestly don’t remember if he gave it to them or not. I do remember that he was hysterical in noting that when he picked up the guitar, they stopped chanting, so he put it back down, causing the chanting to begin again. In the end, I think he did grace us with one final song.

Lois enjoyed Kyle’s set, so I know I missed a show I too would have enjoyed, but I made the right choice for me. Thanks Nate (and Jenn) for leaving me with no regrets!

Jesse Ruben at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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I’ve seen Jesse Ruben do a full set at Rockwood Music Hall once before. Lois was sick that night. I had nothing but compliments for Jesse and you can read about it in the second half of this post. Last night he played Stage 2 and had a full band.

Everything I said about Jesse in the above-linked post was true last night, but it was a significantly better set. The full band was a nice enhancement and the set was more energetic (either because of the band or because of Jesse’s choice of songs). His stage presence was exceptional (as it was the first time).

JesseRuben

What impressed me most was his songwriting. I said that the last time too, but I’m sure I heard new songs and if the older ones held up on second listen, that’s impressive too.

For the most part, Jesse played rhythm because he had a high-quality band behind him. On one song, he called up two special guests and sang with them without the band. He finger-picked beautifully, so he can play the guitar nicely as well!

The guests were Kyle Patrick and Karly Jurgensen. It was convenient to call them up, since Karly had the set before Jesse’s (covered here) and Kyle had the set afterward. They sang gorgeous harmony (no surprise), but Jesse was the huge star in the song, called Advice (I believe). It’s an amazing song, his guitar play was excellent, and he sang most of it without harmony either.

JesseRubenKylePatrickKarlyJurgensen

Twice he put down the guitar and sang his heart out at the mic. The first time was a cover of Joe Cocker’s The Letter. Really well done. Here’s Jesse singing with more than a bit of passion:

JesseRubenSinging

Supporting Jesse, left-to-right on the stage:

Greg Barbone on grand piano. We’ve seen Greg on a couple of sets, both on the same night. We were highly impressed with his play. That was true again last night on Jesse’s set.

GregBarbone

Nicky D’Agostino on drums. We’ve seen Nicky once before as well, and he was excellent last night, as he was the first time, supporting Carley Tanchon.

NickyDAgostino

Kyle McCammon on electric bass. Kyle played the set before with Karly, which was much more jazz oriented. He was really good on this set too, showing versatility in genre and style. He was also significantly more animated on stage during this high-energy pop/rock set. Jesse said that this was the first time Kyle played with him. That might be true, but I admit to thinking he was joking.

KyleMcCammon

Will Hensley on electric guitar. We just saw Will for the first time on July 31st at the Blues Brothers Benefit. He sounded good, but I noted that he was covered up (visually) and I couldn’t easily match what I thought was the guitar lead to Will’s hands. Last night, playing for Jesse, Will totally blew me away. He was amazing on traditional leads, and excellent with the slide as well.

WillHensley

I will be thrilled to see Will play with anyone, just for his skill, until I find out he is willing to play with a dud headliner. Winking smile

Likewise, I’ll be very happy to see Jesse Ruben again.

Alex Wong and Jesse Ruben at Rockwood Music Hall

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I haven’t been to Rockwood Music Hall (the original, Stage 1) in quite a while. In fact, I had to look it up (I knew there was a reason that I bother to blog!). It was 7/29/2010 to see Delta Rae. I’ve been to Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 a bunch of times since then, so Rockwood is still getting the majority of my NYC music business. Winking smile

Alex Wong is reason enough to show up wherever he is. He’s an extraordinarily talented individual (note, I didn’t just say musician). He’s a singer/songwriter, songwriting collaborator, multi-instrument musician, amazing producer and all around nice guy.

AlexWongGuitar

While Alex was reason enough to come out, he had a number of guests announced (not all played) and I have long wanted to see the person who was on at 9pm before Alex.

First the bottom line, then some color commentary. Last night’s set was fantastic.

Alex played 2/3’s of the set solo, mostly on the acoustic guitar. He played two songs at the grand piano. He opened solo with The Same Old Things.

AlexWongSinging

Melissa Tong on the violin joined Alex for the next number, one of my favorites, Brooklyn Blurs, which they knocked out of the park. I’ve said it so many times, Melissa is an incredible musician, we can’t get enough of her. I look forward to seeing her play with a symphony, her specialty.

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David Fallo on the viola joined both Alex and Melissa. David is a star (as are all of the musicians who play with Alex). In addition to sitting in on these types of shows, David is currently part of the orchestra in the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. That’s no shabby gig!

AlexWongMelissaTongDavidFallo

The three of them played a fun and energetic version of Motion Sickness. Alex divided the audience in half. I was in the Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na section (yes, those were the exact number of Na’s we sang at a clip, over and over). Smile

Martin Rivas on acoustic guitar and harmony joined Alex for another favorite of mine, A Girl Like You, from Alex’s previous group, The Animators. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. Martin is an excellent guitar player who always defers to his plethora of guest star guitar players in his own sets. When playing with Alex, he’s the guest and therefore featured on the guitar. Such a wonderful thing to hear. Do more of it in your sets too Martin!

MartinRivasMartinRivasAlexWong

Alex finished the show by playing three consecutive new songs, all co-written with other wonderful singer/songwriters. If you weren’t there last night, you wouldn’t know that I just lied to you. Alex announced on Facebook that he would play three new songs in a row, but he actually threw in an existing song after the first new one, before completing the new trilogy.

The first new song was a Christmas song co-written with Rachel Platten. Alex told a long story about the derivation of the song. It was his first Christmas in NYC (2004), which wasn’t supposed to be a Christmas in NYC. The story was incredible, funny and touching. Alex doesn’t usually talk this much on stage. I vote that he talk more, it was a very nice addition to the set.

The second new song was played on the piano. It was co-written with Paul Freeman. Alex is producing Paul’s new CD. A very moving song.

AlexWongPiano

Finally, also on the piano, Alex played a song he co-wrote with Nate Campany. Nate was supposed to be there to sing harmony with Alex, but he didn’t show up (I saw him tweet today, so there’s no reason for concern). Excellent song. I told Alex after the show that when he produces it, he needs to have a full choir singing the “Yeah, yeah, yeah” part. I heard it as clear as a bell in my head even though Alex was singing alone.

Alex offered that I produce it instead. I told him I’ll happily produce those three words, he can work his usual magic on the rest. Winking smile

Jesse Ruben played the set before Alex. I have wanted to see Jesse for a long time. He tours with some other people that I like and I like his MySpace stuff (linked to his name). Not only didn’t Jesse disappoint me, he surprised me in a number of positive ways.

JesseRuben

Jesse is a very good songwriter (wide range of topics). He sings extremely well. He plays the acoustic guitar solidly, mostly rhythm, but beautiful finger picking on a song I’ll cover in a minute.

The biggest surprise was Jesse’s general stage presence, in particular his wit. There was a ton of laughter throughout the set. It came both from his stories and from his very quick responses to things that audience members shouted out.

JesseRubenTalking

Jesse introduced practically every song with a story. It was extremely well delivered and enhanced my enjoyment of each song.

Kyle Patrick joined Jesse for two songs. We’ve seen Kyle once before at the Livestrong fundraiser. I thoroughly enjoyed his 2-song set that night and I have tried hard to arrange my schedule to catch Kyle again, unsuccessfully. He sang lead on one of the songs last night harmony on another. There was a good bit of na-na-na-na on the song that Kyle sang lead, with much of the audience joining in.

KylePatrick

Karly Jurgensen toured with Kyle and Jesse all summer. Jesse invited her up to perform one of her songs, accompanied by Jesse and Kyle. Karly has a wonderful voice and plays the piano solidly. The song was beautiful, a slower bluesy number. Jesse and Kyle harmonized during the chorus. Very nicely done.

KarlyJurgensenJesseRubenKarlyJurgensen

Back to the song that Jesse finger picked. If you know me, or read this blog regularly, then you know that Lois and I are obsessed with Wicked and The Wizard of Oz in general. Not that this is too small-worldish (given how huge Wicked and The Wizard of Oz are), but we always get signs from one or the other that connect us more deeply to things we already like.

Out of the blue, without even announcing a cover song, Jesse played If I Only Had a Heart. Absolutely gorgeous rendition. The only thing missing was not having Lois there to look at knowingly and hold hands with. That Jesse also chose that song to show off a bit of his guitar skills is the kind of thing I was talking about in the paragraph above. Smile

Rockwood was packed for Jesse’s set, dominated by people who were obviously huge Jesse Ruben fans. That always makes the sets more fun even though Jesse was new to me.

One of the people in the audience was Sam Teichman. Sam, Jesse and a bunch of other people in the audience are running in the NYC Marathon this Sunday, raising money for cancer care. Last Thursday, Sam was involved in putting together a charity concert at The Bitter End, called the “Born to Run” show, featuring Bruce Springsteen covers.

I would have loved to attend that show and a number of my friends did. I was already committed to a house concert featuring ambeR Rubarth and I too had an amazing evening.

Jesse mentioned that Sam was still raising money for the cause and that he was offering a DVD filled with music from 22 different artists that participated in the Born to Run show. Donations greater than $1 would get you the DVD. I was sitting across the table from Sam (whom I have met once before at a Rockwood 2 show) and I donated in exchange for the DVD right after Jesse’s set.

After Alex Wong’s set, I made a quick tour of Rockwood to say hi/bye to a number of friends. We’ve been away for a long time and it was really good to see everyone (performers and audience members alike). I wish Lois could have been with me, but she’s been sick ever since we returned. Today is day 12. Let’s hope it’s one of the last. This isn’t the type of streak anyone is proud of.

Given that Lois wasn’t in attendance, any complaints about photo quality land squarely on my shoulders.

Livestrong Cancer Fundraiser

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Music can uplift, connect, and at times, even heal. Last night, we got to experience all three facets, working in unison, and it was a beautiful thing!

While we have attended a large number of shows over the past six years, it was only recently (April 2009 to be exact) that we noticed (and were happily pulled into) the incredibly vibrant indie music scene in NYC.

It all began with The Paper Raincoat. Through them, we’ve heard about a number of other local artists, and visited venues we hadn’t been to before. Through ambeR Rubarth (one of the members of The Paper Raincoat) we met Alex Berger (at first, virtually, then in person, at a Paper Raincoat show at Rockwood Music Hall).

We missed getting to see Alex in two consecutive shows. He told me he was playing at a Livestrong Fundraiser for a friend of his, Shannon Black, who is a cancer survivor, raising money for Livestrong, preparing to run in the NYC Marathon. It was such a great cause that we had no hesitation in committing to attend.

First, before telling you about last night, click on Shannon’s name above, and find the link to donate to her fundraiser. You’ll feel a lot better about reading the rest of this post, and enjoying the show you missed, vicariously!

OK, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

There were 11 performers last night. Nine of them are listed on the page linked to Shannon’s name above (I’ll repeat them all here, but still, click on that page to donate!). With the exception of Alex doing a one-song encore, all but one of the other performers played two songs.

I’m trying to get the order of the performers correct, but since I didn’t write anything down, apologies if I accidentally swap any of them.

Alex Berger opened the show. He sang and played the electric keyboards. Wow! I’d be happy to just listen to Alex play the keyboards, he’s excellent! But, he also writes wonderful songs, and has a really good voice, so he’s the complete package, end to end. Shannon shamed him into adding one last song to close the show. Thanks Shannon, and thanks Alex, for that!

Alex Berger

Alex Berger

Libbie Schrader sang and played electric keyboards. She plays the keyboards very well, and has a very powerful voice. As Libbie described her style to us before the show started, she’s more of a Pop person (Rock/Pop really), so soloing in a small space with just keyboards, probably isn’t the best spot for her. She has a ton of talent, but probably better suited to a larger venue with more pieces in the band (which she usually has).

Lois didn’t get a good shot of Libbie on the stage, but she got a great one of Libbie and Alex before the show started!

Libbie Schrader and Alex Berger

Libbie Schrader and Alex Berger

Deena Goodman and Dov Rosenblatt were on together. Deena sang and Dov played guitar and sang. Both have exceptional voices, blending beautifully, and Dov is an excellent guitarist. The first song was co-written by them. The second song was recently written by Dov (stunningly beautiful!), and he taught the harmony to Deena right before the show started. Folks, while Deena stumbled once or twice (understandably), she really knocked the ball out of the park in terms of enhancing an already gorgeous song. Bravo!

Deena Goodman

Deena Goodman

Dov Rosenblatt

Dov Rosenblatt

Will Knox sang and played guitar. Will’s guitar picking was superb. His voice and songs matched. Absolutely wonderful performance. He has quite a humble persona for someone with this much talent.

Will Knox

Will Knox

Martin Rivas sang and played guitar. Alex introduced him as his personal favorite. I was impressed by Martin (Lois more so than me), but I’d need to listen to him a lot more to understand why Alex feels the way he does, even compared to a number of the other performers last night. Martin has a very strong voice, and perhaps I was distracted that the only time the sound guy (who donated the equipment and his time for the event!) didn’t get it perfect was on Martin’s voice, which was a little too loud.

Martin Rivas

Martin Rivas

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

Amy Rivard

Amy Rivard

Amy has a Broadway style and quality voice. In fact, I would love to see her in Wicked! (We’re going again tomorrow night, 8th time, so if she could arrange to get into the cast by then, I’d appreciate it!) 😉 Kristin Chenoweth is one of our all-time favorite performers (song, stage, TV, comedy, everything!).

Kristin is one of many who covered a song called Taylor the Latte Boy (here’s the YouTube video, watch it!). That’s the song Amy did last night. Amy nailed the song in every way. Not just the voice, but the mannerisms, etc. (though she’s not quite as accomplished in that regard as Kristin is). Of course, Alex accompanied her to perfection (even though he needed Shannon’s husband, Jason, to hold the sheet music for him, and turn the pages). 🙂

Alex Berger, Amy Rivard and Jason Black

Alex Berger, Amy Rivard and Jason Black

The only disappointment was that Amy played only one song, though at least she played it to perfection! We have to start stalking Amy for future performances!

Kyle Patrick sang and played guitar. Kyle wasn’t listed on the Facebook page. He is the lead singer for a group called The Click Five. Aside from making the girls swoon with his looks, Kyle is an incredible singer, and plays the guitar well too. After his first number, he said he was going to play a brand new one. It turns out that he played the new song from The Click Five, called I QUIT! I QUIT! I QUIT!

Kyle Patrick

Kyle Patrick

Great song (both when he did it solo, and by the full group). In the middle of the song, Kyle popped a guitar string. He was a trooper, and just kept playing (he really didn’t miss a beat!). However, Martin Rivas was even faster. He dashed to the side of the stage, got his guitar out of his bag, and handed it to Kyle in a smooth motion (looping the strap over Kyle’s head as he handed him the guitar and took away Kyle’s!). It was great, and showed a lot of class on Martin’s part!

The shot below looks blurry. It’s not, it is truly capturing the speed with which Martin was moving. 😉

Kyle Patrick and Martin Rivas

Kyle Patrick and Martin Rivas

Shira Goldberg sang and played the electric guitar (all others were acoustic). Shira semi-joked that she was asked (as was everyone else) to play uplifting or happy songs, but that she hadn’t yet written any. 🙂 She sings beautifully, and plays the guitar quite well, but she really wasn’t kidding, her songs are deep bluesy numbers, slow, sad tales. Very talented, but perhaps not perfectly suited to last nights venue or cause.

Shira Goldberg

Shira Goldberg

Lynette Belardo sang. Yes, sang, with zero accompaniment. That’s a very hard, and brave thing to do. Of course, if you have a voice like Lynette, you can pull it off, and she certainly did. Lovely. The first song was a spiritual (very appropriate for the evening). Obviously, a very talented woman, given that most of the credits I spotted on the Net were dancing related!

Lynette Belardo

Lynette Belardo

Michelle Citrin sang and played guitar. She was the other person who wasn’t listed on the Facebook page. Another amazing voice, accompanied by excellent guitar skills. The surprising thing is that she’s tiny, and yet, such a big powerful voice. She had the entire crowd (OK, not including me) belting out some Bob Marley verses with her on one of her numbers. Superb!

Michelle Citrin

Michelle Citrin

I already mentioned that Alex closed the show. We immediately said goodnight and headed home (it was late for us old fogies). We had a wonderful night, discovered another slew of amazing local musicians, and supported a good cause, and some very inspirational people. Very grateful to have had the opportunity to be a small part of last night!