Manish Gosalia

The Vanity Belles at Arlene’s Grocery Final Residency Show

Send to Kindle

The Vanity Belles (Carrie Welling and Jessi Rae Waltz) finished up their month-long residency at Arlene’s Grocery with a bang! It was crowded (mobbed actually), it was rockin’, it was awesome. If you missed it, I feel sorry for you (seriously).

TheVanityBelles

This was the last of four consecutive Monday performances throughout February. We missed the first two (darned work/travel nonsense), so I can’t tell you anything about them. We did catch last week’s show. For the geeks among you, let’s display the link this way:

#include last_weeks_show

Not that this wasn’t completely fresh (it was), even though there was an 88.89% overlap in the set lists. The differences were large enough to make this a very different show than last week (including something as simple as completely varying the order of the set list!).

There was a different guest, the regular keyboard player was back, and the Belles themselves seemed to be feeding off of the frenzied crowd. Or, perhaps it was the $5 Country Cosmos (created especially by Arlene’s for this one night) that fueled them (and many others).

If you don’t understand the drink name above, the Belle’s self-titled genre is Cosmo-Country. So, take a Cosmopolitan (the drink), twist it a bit to be sassy like the Belles, and you have a Country Cosmo. Smile

There was one song swap from last week’s set list (independent of the complete change in song order). Last night they played Till I’m Me. This is a very recent song which they wrote and recorded live in order to get it on their upcoming CD (after the real studio recording had already been wrapped up). Wow, awesome song. I’m very glad that I’ll have it when the CD comes out. Oops! When I Was With You was the new song, Till I’m Me was new for this set, but is already on last year’s EP.

CarrieWellingJessiRaeWaltz

The ladies each played an instrument on Bottle, as they did last week. Once again, they crushed the song.

CarrieWellingGuitarJessiRaeWaltzKeyboards

There was only one change to the core band, though both of last week’s guests played instruments as well. I’ll save the very special guest for after I say a few words about each core band member, left-to-right on stage:

Patrick Firth, the normal keyboard player for the Belles, was back in the saddle. He’s always great, whatever group he plays with. I was a few feet from the keyboards last night, so in addition to hearing Patrick’s fine play, I got to watch him work, close up.

PatrickFirth

When he relinquished the keyboards on Bottle, so that Jessi could take over, Patrick stood near the drums and played the tambourine.

PatrickFirthZachJones

Oscar Bautista on electric and acoustic guitars, and mandolin. Oscar is always superb on the guitar. Last week I described his long solo as having a jam band feel. Last night it may have started out that way, but it took on more of a rock god type lead, and Oscar obviously realized the crowd felt that way. He stepped out from the back and finished up the lead front and center stage. It was a huge crowd-pleaser.

OscarBautistaGuitarLeadOscarBautistaAcousticGuitar

On one number, Oscar played the mandolin. Considering I love the mandolin, and love Oscar’s play, this was a real treat for me.

OscarBautistaMandolin

Zach Jones on drums. If you’ve read this space recently, then you know I’ve been raving about Zach a lot lately (in fact, my most recent post was all about his band The Stone Lonesome). Of course his drumming was amazing last night (it always is). He even played the snare with his bare hands during one song, bringing out a bongo-like sound.

ZachJonesPatrickFirthOscarBautistaZachJones

Chris Anderson on electric bass. As with Zach, I’ve been raving about Chris a lot recently. Unlike Zach, I’ve been raving about Chris for years (I only first heard Zach last July). Chris impresses every time, that is all.

ChrisAnderson

Cameron Mitchell on acoustic and electric guitars. Just like last week, Cameron took on the rhythm guitar duties to complement Oscar’s lead and mandolin play. Once again, a wonderful job!

CameronMitchellCameronMitchellElectricGuitarCameronMitchellAcousticGuitar

Brian Collazo (lead singer from Live Society) was the special guest last night. We could listen to Brian sing all night, every night. Amazingly (and achingly), it’s been five months since we’ve seen him sing, when he guested with the Belle’s Manager (I’ll get to him in a minute). It’s been eight months since we’ve seen a full Live Society show (also at Arlene’s), and we’ve been trying hard (with near misses along the way) to get to one.

BrianCollazo

Brian sang on No Regrets (amazingly) and on Recently (which Rebecca Haviland sang with the Belles last week). It only made us want to see Brian and Live Society all-the-more.

JessiRaeWaltzChrisAndersonBrianCollazo

Patryk Larney has his own musical career (check him out, fall in love, and donate to his current Pledge Music campaign!). In addition to that, he manages the Belles. One of the 1,873 jobs that managing them entails, is being The Bucket Man at their shows. The Belles prepare treats for their audiences, and wrap them in The Vanity Belles goodie bags (genius, and delicious). He carried around a bucket filled the goodie bags last week and last night, handing them out to greedily awaiting fans.

PatrykLarney

In an homage to the tireless Patryk, I’ve written the chorus to an as yet unwritten song called Bucket Man (sung to the tune of Elton’s Rocket Man):

And I think it’s not gonna be so long

Before these goodie bags are taken home

And ripped apart and eaten up with joy

Oh no no no, he’s a Bucket Man

Bucket Man, handing out the treats for everyone

Ben Morgan, last week’s keyboard player (filling in whenever Patrick Firth can’t make it), was in the audience enjoying himself as much as the rest of us were.

BenMorgan

Manish Gosalia once again documented everything in a way that only he does. I was right up against the stage, so I noticed (for the first time) that Manish also had a camera set up at the back of the stage which he controlled with a remote. A meticulous master, now captured from the other side of a lens as well:

HadarManishGosalia

Last week I mentioned someone named Jack. This time I’ll add a photo. Next time, who knows what I’ll reveal… Winking smile

Jack

Finally, the set list:

SetList

The Big Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

Send to Kindle

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

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

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

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

The core band consists of:

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

EvanWatsonGuitarEvanWatsonMandolin

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

GregMayoPiano

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

GregMayoKeyboards

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

JoshDionDrums

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

ChrisAndersonSinging

The Big Apple Singers called up two separate guests.

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

ZachJonesChrisAnderson

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

EvanWatsonRebeccaHaviland

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

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

Here’s a shot of Manish and Rebecca Haviland:

ManishGosaliaRebeccaHaviland

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

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

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

Send to Kindle

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall? We’re there. We’d go even if we knew it would be identical to the last show, but this time I knew there would be at least a small twist. One of her band members, Greg Mayo, was playing in Washington, DC, so something would be different. It turns out that her drummer Kenny Shaw wasn’t there either.

RebeccaHaviland

Rebecca didn’t replace Greg at the keyboards, nor his vocals, so the set was a bit more stripped down and raw. While I will welcome Greg back with open arms, I have to admit that there was a grittiness to having Rebecca’s electric guitar be the primary sound (along with her stunning voice) that was an interesting change of pace.

RebeccaHavilandGuitar

Rebecca just finished tracking (perhaps even mixing) a new CD, after a successful Kickstarter campaign. I believe that most of last night’s set will be on the CD. Another thing to look forward to in the coming months! Here’s the set list:

SetList

Rebecca got the crowd singing (pretty loudly) on If You (I never need an invitation for that one! In fact, it hurts me not to also sing on the lead-in, “If you want me to”, but I muzzle myself.).

She was supported by two outstanding musicians, with a very special surprise guest on one number.

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Chris co-wrote many of the songs with Rebecca. Their collaboration works perfectly in my opinion. Chris always sings a bunch on Rebecca’s sets, but with Greg Mayo out last night, it was always the two of them, rather than the occasional three-part harmony.

ChrisAnderson

Another effect of having Greg out was the lack of keyboard solos. Chris made up for one by kicking a** and taking numbers on a long and terrific bass solo. Even when Greg returns, I hope they keep that in the set!

ChrisAndersonBass

Dave Burnett on drums. Dave did a fantastic job throughout the set. I admit to be a little worried during the first number (Direction). Dave was great on that too, but a bit more hyper at times than Kenny Shaw’s style and it felt a little out of place to me. I never had that feeling again on the rest of the numbers. Dave is just flat out excellent.

DaveBurnett

Evan Watson came up to sing and play harmonica on Whiskey. His harmonica play was great. He took a verse on the lead and was absolutely wonderful.

Update: almost every time I second guess my memory, I put in incorrect information in the blog. it happened again this time. Because they joked about Whiskey, I said that Evan played on Whiskey, even though I was pretty sure he didn’t. Today, Manish Gosalia posted a video of the song Evan played on, Dig My Grave. Sorry folks, that’s what I remembered, but I overruled myself… 🙁

EvanWatsonHarmonica

In a fitting moment, Rebecca called for him to come up and she didn’t spot him right away. When she asked if he was still in the room, he called out that he was just getting a Whiskey at the bar. Winking smile

RebeccaHavilandEvanWatsonChrisAndersonWhiskey

Rebecca announced that she’d be back at Rockwood sometime in November and then again in December, though the specific dates haven’t been booked yet. If we’re in town, we’ll be there, no question about it.

Manish Gosalia is an exceptional photographer. As important, he has superb taste in music, as I find myself at many of the same shows he’s at. He has always put up a photo or two of each show, but lately I feel like he’s sharing more of them (which is a very good thing). He put up a slideshow of last night’s set. Enjoy!