Music

Mighty Kate at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Mighty Kate headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. I believe this set was scheduled for last month, on a day when we couldn’t have made it. Thank you powers that be for rescheduling. I would have been there just for Mighty Kate, no doubt, but the fact that the set before Kate was Rebecca Haviland guaranteed we’d be there early, with seats front-and-center.

MightyKate

I’ve seen Kate (Katy Pfaffl) perform twice before. The first was at Rockwood 2 where I discovered her (long write-up, buried under The Big Apple Singers post). The second was at War Horse, where she is the on-stage musical star of this Tony award-winning show!

At intermission at War Horse, we bought Mighty Kate’s self-titled debut CD. It’s wonderful! You can hear the first cut streaming automatically if you click on her name above. It’s also the song she opened the show with last night. She has a wide range of styles, from jazz to cabaret to pop. Her voice fits all of those genres really well.

She is a superb multi-instrumentalist. I’ve seen her play the grand piano, acoustic guitar and violin. The first time I saw her, I thought she was strongest on the piano. While that still might be true, I was completely taken with her finger-picking on the acoustic guitar last night on the three or four songs that she performed on guitar. No violin last night, but that’s her primary instrument in War Horse, so I can assure you she’s quite good on that as well.

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I really like Mighty Kate as a songwriter as well (there’s the trifecta for you, voice, instruments, songwriting).

Is there more? Sure, she employed the same core band that she had last time at Rockwood, which is a good thing, because both of them are extremely good:

Rich Mercurio on drums. Rich was fantastic (again). The last time, somehow, I missed that link to his MySpace page. I feel somewhat badly that I found it this time, because you can’t really learn anything interesting about Rich there. So, I’ll do what I did when I couldn’t find a link, and quote a site that talks about Rich:

Manhattan based producer/musician/songwriter, has produced and written for various record and television projects. Rich has recorded and/or performed with artists including Enrique Iglesias, Jewel, Chris Whitley, Vitamin C, Jonatha Brooke, Michael Bolton, and Ronan Tynan. Appearances include The Tonight Show, The Late Show and Late Night with Conan O’Brian. He can currently be seen in the broadway production, Martin Short, Fame Becomes Me

Not too shabby, right?

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Richard Hammond on electric and upright bass. Another special performance. Rich was masterful on both the upright and the electric. Last time I encouraged people to click through and read about Rich(ard). Do it again, even if you listened to me last time!

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Kate was surrounded by an embarrassment of Riches. Winking smile

She dismissed them for one number, performing solo at the grand piano. No worries, she can hold the room’s attention all by her lonesome.

Kate had two special guests.

Jody Shelton joined for three (or four?) numbers. He sings beautifully and their harmonies were wonderful. They are in the process of recording an EP together for an as-yet-unnamed duo project. I look forward to that! They performed two songs from that upcoming EP, just the two of them on stage, with Kate playing acoustic guitar. Jody joined with the rest of the band for one or two of Kate’s numbers as well.

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Last but not least, Kate invited her husband up on stage (though she never mentioned that he’s her husband).

Scott Chasolen is a top pianist who performs his own music with the Scott Chasolen Trio. He joined Kate for the last two numbers. The first was with the full band, where Kate sang from center stage and Scott took over the piano duties (perfectly). The second was the only cover song of the night, where Scott played piano and Kate sang a Don Hathaway / Roberta Flack number. Gorgeous, showing off Kate’s amazing voice.

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Given Kate’s busy schedule with War Horse, it will likely be a while before she returns to Rockwood, though I’m hoping I’m wrong about that. Smile

Here’s last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Rebecca Haviland headlined Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. We’ve seen Rebecca on Stage 2 many times, but always supporting other people. We’ve seen her headlining Rockwood 1 many times, but this was a first at Stage 2. Given her full band sound, having the expansiveness of Stage 2 was extremely welcome.

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Rebecca and the band took full advantage and filled the room with luscious bluesy rock goodness. It was smokier than usual (actually, more slightly-gruff rocker chick like). It worked well.

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Rebecca played the majority of the upcoming CD. As often as we’ve seen her perform most of these songs live, I admit that I simply can’t wait to have recorded versions so that I can listen whenever I want (which is more often than I see her perform). It’s getting closer. I’ll circle back to that after giving the proper shout-outs to the amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and background vocals. I’ve raved about Todd a couple of times before, so me add to that list one more time. He took a couple of fantastic leads on the keyboards. If I heard correctly, Todd leaves today (or shortly) for rehearsals with Crosby, Stills and Nash, who he tours with every year. He’s the real deal and it’s awesome that he adds his talent to an already amazing band on Rebecca’s numbers, when he’s in town.

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Kenny Shaw on drums. Consecutive days, consecutive praise for Kenny’s play. I was actually taken by the fact that the day before, supporting the jazzier numbers of Abby Payne, Kenny was averaging faster fills than with the rockier Rebecca ones. In fact, it made me concentrate to realize how deliberate Kenny’s beats were. There were some really fast fills as well, but for the most part, it was about keeping the timing perfect for the others. Very well done!

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Chris Anderson on electric bass and harmony. In addition to always delivering on the bass, Chris is Rebecca’s partner in crime, co-writing the majority of the songs on the upcoming CD. He also sings a bunch of harmony with her, beautifully. Toward the end of the set, he took a long bass solo. Awesome!

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I got a shout-out before they played If You. Rebecca mentioned that it was my favorite song (it is) and Chris added “of all time” (well, I can’t contradict Chris publicly…). Winking smile The audience did a fantastic job of singing along with me. Smile

Coming back the new CD. The mixes are done. That leaves mastering. It turns out that I have a friend who has been a top mastering engineer forever (I’ve known him for 37+ years and the only thing I still hold against him after all this time is that he forced me to listen to Steely Dan a bunch, way back then…).

Larry Lachmann is a master masterer (sorry). I’ve mentioned him to a few of the local musicians who were looking for mastering work, but only one, Rebecca Haviland, followed up with him, and after hearing his work on one of her tracks, selected him to master the upcoming CD. I’m proud and delighted to have played the smallest part in making this connection.

I highly encourage any other musicians reading this to put Larry on your list of people to check out for your next project. You can message him on Facebook (linked to his name), or you can email him: larrylachmann1 at gmail dot com (I’m rooting for you to be able to figure out how to solve the previous puzzle). Winking smile

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We got there super early, partially so that I could introduce Larry to Rebecca and Chris (they’ve communicated a bunch via email, but this was their first face-to-face meeting). Because we were there early, we got to hear a bit of sound check. After they were done, Todd and Kenny stayed on stage and jammed for a bit doing really fast and tasty jazz pieces. It was absolutely incredible. I feel a future set in the making…

Here was last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland will be appearing at Rockwood 1, on March 30th, at 9pm. Be there!

Family

Abby Payne at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

AbbyPayne

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

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

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

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

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

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Supporting Abby, left-to-right:

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

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

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

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

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Zach Jones Salutes Davey Jones and The Monkees at Rockwood Music Hall

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It’s always sad when people die young. When it brings us together to remember them, their accomplishments, and the joy they brought to many, there’s at least a silver lining. Davy Jones of The Monkees passed away last week, at the young age of 66.

Zach Jones, a staple (and shining light) in the NYC indie music scene, is a life-long Monkees fan. We found out last night that he attended his first Monkees concert while still in the womb (I guess he snuck in without paying). When he heard about Davy’s passing, he contacted Rockwood Music Hall and arranged for a slot at 5pm last night to pay tribute to Davy and The Monkees.

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In addition to assembling the usual suspects of top-notch musicians to join him, he got another Dave Jones to join as well.

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Dave Jones is Zach’s father. It’s too popular a name for me to easily be able to find good links to him, so I’ll just summarize what I think I learned last night. Dave had a band while Zach was growing up. As you already learned above, Dave and his wife (who was also there last night) attended a Monkees concert while Zach’s mom was pregnant, so their love of The Monkees goes back even further than Zach’s.

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Dave sings and plays the acoustic guitar very well. He sang lead on half the numbers and harmony on the rest. He also told a number of stories about Davy and his love of him and The Monkees. He has excellent stage presence. I’m sure I would enjoy seeing him perform separate from this tribute.

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Zach sang lead on the remaining songs while playing the drums to Monkees perfection. Zach kicked it off with the classic TV intro Hey Hey We’re The Monkees (Here we come, walking down the street…).

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

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and light vocals. Greg was great, nailing a number of very short, but amazingly familiar riffs. On one number he took a long and very fast lead, paying tribute to Michael Nesmith (who we were told didn’t actually play that lead when he was on TV). Greg had to leave right before the last number, because he was supporting Chrissi Poland who was opening for Pat Benatar and Neal Giraldo at Tarrytown Music Hall.

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Patrick Firth on grand piano, electronic keyboards and light vocals. Pat was excellent, taking the most leads, albeit mostly short ones. They were all tasty and Dave called him out a number of times, each to the delight of the crowd.

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Brian Killeen on electric bass. Keeping the bottom going is something Brian always does well. While he didn’t sing, he was definitely into the entire set and an integral part of the sound.

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The crowd wouldn’t let them off the stage when they were done. After a bit of discussion, they decided to repeat the last song, up one fret. Zach tried to convince Tony Maceli to take the tambourine (Tony was there to enjoy the show). Tony declined, but Zach’s sister Natalie Jones took up the challenge. She stood center stage and was quite fancy with the tambourine, showing that all members of the Jones family have the musician’s gene in them. Smile

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It’s no surprise to me that The Monkees music still holds up 46 years later. The only real surprise is that it started out in a completely manufactured way, before taking on a life of its own. Thanks Zach, Dave and company for bringing us all back to relive some wonderful memories!

ZachJonesKristen

Here’s the set list:

SetList

The Milk Carton Kids at Joe’s Pub

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The Milk Carton Kids (MCK) headlined Joe’s Pub last night. We bought tickets ages ago. We caught their first ever NYC show (after they officially formed MCK) almost five month ago. Sadly, we missed two NYC shows between then and last night.

TheMilkCartonKids

My post about that NYC debut show went into great detail describing the group, each of their individual styles, how we came to know them, what their business model is, etc. Rather than repeat all that, if you have interest in knowing more about them (and how great I think they are), please read that post.

I’ll add a few thoughts about last night’s show.

We love Joe’s Pub, in particular since the internal renovation (the exterior still has a ton of work left and the kitchen reno hasn’t even begun). The sound system was perfect (it usually is), so there was no distraction or straining to enjoy MCK.

Joey and Kenneth are always funny, with Joey typically doing much more of the talking. Last night, Kenneth piped up more often. It was an edgier, biting humor (I’m being polite) that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Joey’s responses/reactions to it were priceless, so in the end I was fine with it too. It will be interesting to see whether this was planned/calculated and will be repeated, or whether it was extemporaneous and fleeting (I’m hoping for the latter, even though I laughed).

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They were truly amazing last night (not a single complaint). That said, I believe the Rockwood show in October 2011 was technically better.

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Joey and Kenneth are very good friends with another top guitar player, NYC-based Adam Levy. In addition to giving guitar lessons, Adam tweets guitar tips on a regular basis. I doubt they changed their styles as a result of anything Adam tweeted publicly, but I was struck by the fact that they are the perfect poster boys for Adam’s advice. Specifically:

Don’t watch your hands.Nothing to see there.Look around-at audience, fellow musicians, the scenery.

As incredible as both are on the guitar (completely different styles), neither ever looks at their hands/guitar while they’re singing. They rarely look down when they’re just playing either.

I can’t find the set of tweets that covered this next tip, so I’ll paraphrase and butcher it, sorry:

If you play acoustic guitar, unless there’s a really good reason to (which there rarely is), don’t use pickups and an amplifier, use a microphone to amplify your guitar. It makes everything simpler, less things to travel with and less things that can go wrong.

MCK do exactly that. Four microphones on stage, two for their voices, two for their guitars. They can travel lightly (which in this business, means simplicity and money-savings). When Kenneth wants to tune his guitar, he steps a few feet back from the mic. He doesn’t need to dork with pedal boards, electronic tuners, signaling the sound guy that he’s about to unplug, etc.

If you’re interested in more of Adam’s tips/lessons, look here.

Here is the set list from last night:

SetList

MCK had an opener. It’s extremely rare for most of the clubs that we frequent to make any announcements (headliners or openers). At some point, one or more people are on stage, milling about. You hear a bunch of “check, check”, some tuning, but mostly, you hear the crowd carrying on, ignoring what’s happening on stage. Then the lights get a bit dimmer, and the person or group on stage either starts playing, or perhaps they say hello and introduce themselves.

In an even rarer event than the venue making an announcement, Joey Ryan (1/2 of the MCK) came out and gave a moving introduction of the opener. We know from past experience that Joey is a class act in every respect, so this wasn’t a surprise in terms of his behavior, but it was a surprise to have anyone mention the name of the opener before they hit the stage.

Trevor Menear is a solo singer/songwriter, accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. I’m typically a big fan of this kind of music (having come of age to Bob Dylan) and I can see Trevor’s appeal in that regard. As good a job as he did, for whatever reason, I wasn’t particularly drawn to his songs.

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His guitar play was quite good when he wasn’t singing (during the bridges, or intro/closing), but was less polished (for the most part) while he was singing. That said, later in the set he switched to finger-picking on a couple of songs, and I shifted in my seat to pay more attention. He has skills.

I enjoyed his set, but I wouldn’t normally run out to see him again. Given how much Joey promoted him (at the end of the MCK set as well), he’s worth another listen (or two, or three), to see what I might be missing. Trevor is currently touring with MCK, so if  you’re about to see them, you’ll see him, and can form your own opinion.

After the set we got to say a quick hi to Joey. Lois snapped this photo of Joey with two of our other favorite musicians:

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Then we bumped into Philip Ettinger. I’ve written about Phil once before and mentioned him in another post. Phil is an actor that you all better keep an eye on, he’s going places, mark my words. Of course, we forced him to pose for this shot:

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Lois forced me to pose for one as well:

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Another fun evening out seeing great music. Back for more music starting Sunday at 5pm (Zach Jones at Rockwood 1), then Rebecca Haviland on Monday night at Rockwood 2 (7:30pm).

Abby Ahmad at The Living Room

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Abby Ahmad was at The Living Room last night. I only learned about the show a few days ago and immediately changed our plans (from doing nothing, we need some of those nights too every once in a while). Unfortunately, it was a 10pm start time, but you do what you have to do to see the people you want to see.

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I’ve only seen Abby once before, performing three songs at Backscratch XVII. Here’s what I wrote about her that night:

Abby Ahmad was up next. Another first for me. Great voice, very interesting guitar play. I really liked her songs as well. In other words, someone I intend to go see doing a full set soon (she’s playing Rockwood on Thursday at 11pm, but that might be too late for me that night).

I was happy to follow through on that intention.

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Again, Abby displayed an incredible voice. Again, her guitar play was quite interesting (she can definitely hold my interest as a solo artist). She’s also a very good songwriter. Again, she was accompanied by an excellent band. This time she even threw in two wonderful guests. Abby also played the piano on one number, very well.

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Still, the set didn’t leave me with the feeling I expected. Some of the issues were out of Abby’s control (perhaps most), some were not (or at least I perceived them as somewhat controllable).

Before mentioning a few of those frustrations, let me heap some serious praise on the core band and the two guests. Left-to-right on the stage:

Sean Dixon on drums (once again, no good individual link). This was the fourth time we’ve seen Sean. It was also his best performance, largely because it was a full set of mostly rock, so he got to open it up more than in previous shows. The first time we saw him I mentioned that he’s particularly good on the cymbals. That was true again last night.

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Adam Minkoff on electric bass and light background vocals. Adam is one of our favorite bass players. He’s a very good singer and electric guitarist as well, but that’s not what he plays in Abby’s band. He also played the floor tom in one song (as he did the first time we saw Abby), but I’ll get to that later.

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Mark Marshall on electric guitar. We’ve seen Mark a couple of times now and his guitar play always impresses (though it’s often unconventional). He was quite good last night as well, but he used a few too many effects for my taste (mostly in closing out numbers in a fuzzy fashion). Like Adam above, he played a floor tom on one number.

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Jason Crosby on grand piano. Jason joined Abby for two numbers. He took a couple of long leads and otherwise played amazingly. I’ll describe his play as wow, in order to be as accurate as I can be. When we walked out, Jason was standing at the bar. Lois walked over to him to tell him how awesome he was. I was much more articulate. I looked at him and said: “What she said!”.

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In case you didn’t bother clicking through to his MySpace page, let me paste his bio in here for you. Look at who he’s played with, and you’ll understand my wow above. Of course, we experienced the wow, without having a clue as to who he’s been chosen to play with/by:

Over the last decade, Jason has been a member of Robert Randolph and the Family Band and the Susan Tedeschi Band, among others. Over the last few years, Crosby has played with Carlos Santana, Pete Seeger, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and Dave Matthews in various configurations. His discography is equally as impressive with appearances on Anastasia’s multil-platinum hit “Freak of Nature” to Tedeschi’s Grammy Nominated “Wait for Me”, just to name a few. After 15 years of touring, Jason has recently returned to his native New York to write, record, and produce with many NYC artists, while keeping his overall focus on writing and recording his own music.

Morgan Cohen (no good individual link). Interestingly, I can’t find a good individual link for her under her maiden name either, even though she achieved quite a bit of fame as Morgan McOwen. In 2009 she was a contestant on Season 8 of American Idol, getting the Golden Ticket to Hollywood. She joined Abby to sing harmony (gorgeously) on two numbers. She definitely has a great voice, so it’s easy to see even three years later how she made it to American Idol.

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Back to Abby and some of the issues with the set. This was a much fuller band with Abby playing electric guitar on half of the numbers. She was excellent on the guitar, but with everything so much louder, it was harder to hear (or rather concentrate on) much of her lyrics. That’s a shame, because I’ve already mentioned that I think she’s a very good songwriter.

Many of the songs were new (no issue there). They were way more rock than I expected (also not an issue, just caught me by surprise). In fact, on the first two numbers, if I closed my eyes, I could have guessed that Grace Slick was singing Jefferson Airplane songs (just ones I hadn’t heard before).

So, why was the set frustrating?

It was scheduled to begin at 10pm. The band before didn’t stop playing until 10:20 and then had to tear down. Abby and her band, but mostly Abby and Mark took a long time to set up. I would rather wait it out and get it right (obviously), but that doesn’t make it any more pleasant. Their set started at 10:40pm. Ouch.

Second, I am normally extremely impressed with the sound engineer (and system) at The Living Room. Last night was not their best, with volumes distorting at times and some of the sounds on the shrill side. That was exacerbated by the much louder rock set than the previous Rockwood numbers I had seen Abby play.

To add insult to injury, Mark’s amp acted up on him (I could still hear it, so I don’t think it completely blew out). That delayed a song quite a bit in the middle of the set. It wasn’t clear what they would do, until the next band scheduled offered up their amp. Day saved, but again, at the cost of discomfort and delay.

Abby joked that they are the “King, Queen and Court of technical difficulties” and that therefore this was just par for the course. I hope their luck improves.

Let’s end on a more positive note. The first time we saw Abby, I raved about her opening song (I didn’t know the name then). Adam didn’t play the bass, instead he drummed on a floor tom, with Sean Dixon using the rest of the drum kit. Last night they closed the show with that song (I think it’s Give It Up) and added even more of a flair with Mark Marshall also playing a floor tom, making for three drummers playing simultaneously. I loved it!

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I will definitely go see Abby again, as soon as possible. Ironically, she’s playing tonight at Rockwood 1, with Mark, in a new blues/rock group that they are calling Fife and Drom. The show starts at 10pm. We’ll be at Joe’s Pub earlier and won’t be able to make this one. Next time!

Here is the set list:

SetList

The Vanity Belles at Arlene’s Grocery Final Residency Show

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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 Stone Lonesome at Rockwood Music Hall

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The Stone Lonesome headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. I had it on the calendar for a while, but I was sure we couldn’t make it. In fact, last Monday, I saw Zach Jones (1/2 of The Stone Lonesome) when he drummed for The Vanity Belles and I told him we wouldn’t be able to make this show. Read to the bottom to see what changed.

I’ve been aware of The Stone Lonesome for a while, entirely due to our love of Zach Jones.  The first time we saw Zach was July 2011, and here’s one of the things I wrote about him that night:

The link from his name above is to a group he is in with Emily Long called The Stone Lonesome. They have an album out that Zach sings a bunch on as well and I am really impressed with his voice (listen to the second song, Bridge to Nowhere). I’m sure we’ll be hearing about him a lot and hopefully seeing him a lot as well.

Notice the link on “They have an album”. You can stream it for free to judge for yourself, or buy it for a whopping $5 (or more!).

I would describe them as sometimes traditional country, sometimes new country (more of a rock-tinged country), sometimes closer to just rock. To cover that in a bigger umbrella, let’s just call it Alt-Country. Yup, that feels right to me. Lois and I both really love Country music (go ahead, judge, you’re wrong). There’s not much of it in NYC, so The Stone Lonesome is a wonderful breath of fresh air (as are The Vanity Belles).

Emily Long is the other half of The Stone Lonesome. She has a number of projects, including the one linked to her name, which is her Rock persona. She has a wonderful voice that takes on a number of qualities/character, depending on what emotion she’s sharing with the audience. On roughly half of the numbers she reminded us of classic Cyndi Lauper. She’s also quite theatrical in her delivery, projecting her emotions, taking you on a visual journey.

EmilyLong

Zach sings with a purity that I would describe as sweet (and I don’t mean that in a unmanly way). On a number of songs (in particular the above-noted Bridge to Nowhere), he reminds me of John Denver at his best. In The Stone Lonesome Zach plays rhythm acoustic guitar, quite nicely. In other bands, he’s typically the drummer, one of the best we’ve ever seen.

ZachJones

I don’t know what proportion they each write of the songs (or whether every one is a co-write), so I’ll give them equal credit here. The songs are great (verify the claim, please). Each of them sings lead (typically on different songs, rather than handing it off from verse to verse). In all songs, they blend fantastically for enough harmony to satisfy us.

Last night, they were supported by three of our favorite musicians, left-to-right on stage:

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and background vocals. Two nights after fake-complaining that I didn’t get to see Greg play guitar, I got my wish fulfilled. Greg is awesome no matter what genre he’s playing and he was totally true to the Alt-Country sound yesterday. He was highlighted a number of times. Thanks Zach and Emily for that! Smile

GregMayo

Tony Maceli on electric bass. We love Tony and it was a complete surprise to see him there. He stopped tweeting last September (apparently, 114 lifetime tweets was the perfect number). Of course Tony did a terrific job.

TonyMaceli

Ryan Vaughn on drums, cajon, percussion and washboard. Yes, washboard. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone break out the washboard. By the crowd’s reaction, I’d say it had been a while for most of them as well and they seemed as pleased as I was to get another taste.

RyanVaughnWashboard

More importantly, Ryan is always a creative drummer/percussionist. He removed one of the toms and replaced the seat with his signature (amazingly beat up) cajon. He’s one of the best cajon players you’ll see, but rather than restrict himself to the cajon, he paired it with the floor tom and cymbal and occasionally the snare as well. When he wasn’t playing the cajon, he used the kick drum instead. A superb job all around.

RyanVaughnCajon

Here’s a shot of everyone (except for Ryan):

TheStoneLonesome

They closed the show by giving the band a break. Zach unplugged his guitar and they each stepped away from their mic. In a 100% unplugged manner, they blew us away and brought a hush to the full house at Rockwood. Awesome job and quite a shift from the rest of the set.

We bought this giant CD at the show. It was black (unusual) and didn’t fit in our CD player, so perhaps they ripped us off. They called it a vinyl edition, perhaps that’s code for doesn’t work. Winking smile (OK, that was a really bad attempt at a joke, sorry.)

The records are numbered, so perhaps one day we’ll be rich off this collector’s piece! Zach’s father hand-drew each cover (I don’t know how well it will come across in the photo, but it looks great in real life). We think that each numbered record comes with a unique story in the included liner notes. Basically, a loving, thoughtful way to package an album that is good enough not to require these (much appreciated!) adornments.

WordsAndWhiskeyFrontCoverWordsAndWhiskeyBackCover

WordsAndWhiskeyLinerNotes

I have a turntable, but I never use it. I have a USB-turntable that I bought specifically to rip my ancient, large record collection. Unfortunately, I was wholly unsatisfied with the fidelity (and process) and stopped after one album. So, I knew I wouldn’t rip this either. We bought it to support them (and force them to sign it). I also bought the digital version so that I wouldn’t have think about ripping this. Smile

Now, how did we attend a show we were sure we couldn’t? On Monday, our schedule for the week seemed set in stone. Starting on Thursday, everything went into a tailspin (but in the best possible way) and we got to reevaluate. We still feel badly about not attending the shows we were originally planning to on Saturday, but both of us were buzzing the whole way home thinking about how happy we were that we ended up seeing The Stone Lonesome.

Thanks Zach, Emily (and Greg, Tony and Ryan) for making it a very special set!

The Big Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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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.

Patryk Larney at Rockwood Music Hall

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

PatrykLarney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CarrieWelling

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

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

BenMorgan

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

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

ChrisAnderson

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

KennyShawStudying

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

SethFaulkClapping

Here’s the set list:

SetList

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