Patrick Firth

Red Delicious Apples at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Greg Mayo is a member of a number of bands. Some are long-standing (e.g., his own Greg Mayo Band), some are formed spontaneously (e.g., the Red Delicious Apples). The Red Delicious Apples were slated to play their first-ever gig last night at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, at 11:30pm. That’s late for us, but whenever we make the effort to see Greg, it ends up being worth it.

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We decided mid-week that we’d make it work. We even told our friends that we’d definitely be there. One of them emailed me late on Thursday night that Rockwood was listing the show at 12:30am. Ugh, that was going to be way harder to stay awake for. It seemed to me that there were three possible strategies:

  1. Remind myself that old people get up really early, and that 12:30am was like getting up really early on Sunday, rather than staying up really late on Saturday for an 11:30pm show! Winking smile
  2. Nap (for an extended time)
  3. Do something fun that energizes us, earlier, so that we’re not sitting around staring at the clock until midnight

A really smart person would do all three. We were really smart yesterday. Smile

We napped in the afternoon. We had company from 8pm until nearly midnight that was a blast (I think everyone was surprised when they realized the time). I even had time to check my email and Twitter before we got in a cab. The cabbie warned us that Second Avenue would be jammed. I found it a bit hard to believe at 12:20am, but he was right. We walked into Rockwood at 12:45, but the Red Delicious Apples (RDA) were just setting up. One of our friends was there to greet us as well. Perfect!

Evan Watson formed The Big Apple Singers (TBAS), which includes Greg Mayo. Evan has been touring all summer with Def Leppard and Heart. No one felt right performing under the TBAS name without Evan being a part of it, so TBAS was put on hiatus and other Apple-based groups were formed.

Greg is in all of them. The first was The Crab Apple Singers and they were awesome. The name changes if any of the band members change (so fans can rely on who they will see when they hear which Apple band is playing). With a new drummer and new bass player, the band was again renamed to the RDA.

What’s the draw? Four outstanding musicians, each of whom could hold your attention by themselves. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, they’re having a better time on stage than the rest of us. The good news is that the party is not exclusionary. We’re all invited to lose ourselves with them.

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They play classic covers, taking turns (not in strict rotation) singing lead (all four of them). Last night’s selection was eclectic enough to have a few songs that I didn’t recognize, though I enjoyed every one of them.

Greg Mayo on lead electric guitar and vocals. Greg kicked off the show at exactly 12:50am. His vocals were clear and strong and his guitar play is always mind-boggling, last night included. What’s most amazing is that he nearly always finishes off more strongly than he starts, and he starts at such a high level that it’s hard to imagine him elevating from there.

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Adam Minkoff on electric bass and vocals. When Adam is the headliner, his sets nearly always start at (or past) midnight, so we never get to see them. Here’s what I wrote about him the last time we saw him (earlier, because he was part of a large benefit concert):

What an absolute treat getting to see/hear him sing lead last night. He’s wonderful, and I will now need to nap on nights when he’s performing late, so I can stay up (at least once). I’ve already written a couple of times about how good he is on the bass. Last night was my first taste of him playing lead electric guitar.

Am I a prophet or what? Nap? Check! Stay up late? Check! Adam great on the bass? Check! Adam singing incredibly well? Double Check! He has a voice that’s built for Rock (and other genre’s as well).

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Zach Jones on the drums and vocals. Zach is a near-the-top-of-the-list favorite drummer, in such a short time. Both of us can’t get enough of him. While I primarily push my limits to make any Greg Mayo show, I’d push it to see Zach as well. In addition to mesmerizing on the drums, he too did a great job singing lead on a number of songs.

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He used a shaker on one song, eventually ending up with it in his mouth while he drummed with both sticks!

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Patrick Firth on keyboards (electronic and grand piano) and vocals. Pat always delights on the keys with last night being right up there. His vocals were extremely strong as well, rounding out the fact that it simply didn’t matter which of the four was taking the lead.

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Lois captured some of the heat coming off the grand piano and keyboards when Pat was dazzling us.

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Greg called out two birthdays from the stage. The first was Terry, someone who attends way more shows at Rockwood than we do (how is that even possible?). The waitress brought her a cupcake to celebrate.

Then he noted that it was John Lennon’s birthday and proceeded to play Ticket to Ride in his honor. It was awesome and the people in the audience were in obvious ecstasy.

RDA was prepared to stop when a normal set should have been over (roughly 45 minutes). Given that they were the last band up and that the crowd was totally into every note (including a bunch of people dancing with abandon), Rockwood allowed them to push on.

After each extra number, they looked at each other (and for permission from the sound guy) and played just one more. Before playing the real final number, Greg announced that after he sings this one, he wouldn’t have anything left in the tank, so this was really going to be it.

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He topped off the night with Born on the Bayou, singing his heart (and throat) out, and knocking us all on our a**es with his guitar. In total, they were on stage for 70 minutes.

Before running out, I went up to Greg and said: “Sorry we couldn’t make it out tonight.” He was very quick in his response: “At least you considered making the effort!”. Winking smile

Given that we’re rarely out at 2am (Saturday or otherwise), we were shocked to not be able to find a cab. There were hundreds of them, all occupied, and every block had dozens of people hailing cabs. After about 10 minutes Lois hailed a livery car and we were home at 2:20am.

Worth it!

Greg Mayo FUNTIME at Rockwood Music Hall

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We just got back to town on Wednesday (a day earlier than expected) and I spotted Greg Mayo listed at Rockwood Music Hall at 11pm on Friday night (last night). Needless to say, all other plans now revolved around that show.

On September 3rd, we saw Rebecca Haviland play at Rockwood. Greg was in her band that night. Here’s a paragraph I wrote in my post about that show:

My lovely bride, knowing how huge a Greg Mayo fan I am, surreptitiously arranged with Greg to purchase all of his CDs for me. Right before the show, he delivered four of them (handing them to me, and saying they were from Lois). Smile Still one more to go. One of the CD’s was actually Bergers with Mayo, with the Mayo in that one being Greg’s Dad, Bob. What an amazing gift, I can’t wait to get lost in all of them. Thanks Lois and Greg!

I’ve since gotten to listen to all those CDs, and I love each and every one of them, so thanks again to Lois and Greg. One of the songs on the Bergers with Mayo CD (with Mayo being Bob Mayo, Greg’s dad) is Bob’s song I Never Forget a Face. I got chills listening to it. In August, we missed a rare solo show by Greg (why does work interfere with my personal interests sometimes?). Someone posted a video of Greg singing I Never Forget a Face. If I recall correctly, the claim was that this was the first time Greg played that song in public:

Greg Mayo playing I Never Forget a Face, by his dad, Bob Mayo

I hadn’t scanned the track listings when I started listening to the Bergers with Mayo CD, so I had no idea I’d be hearing this song, and I instantly recognized it, just from having watched (listened to) Greg’s video, once!

I’ve mentioned a number of times that Greg plays in a number of configurations. The above solo show was one. The Greg Mayo Band is another. Greg Mayo FUNTIME is a third. Last night was a FUNTIME show (you did read the title of this post, right?). Last night Greg explained the scientific underpinnings of the FUNTIME moniker. He said that it was expected that we would all have a FUN TIME at the show.

It’s crazy how certain difficult concepts can be broken down into their constituent parts by the right teacher. Armed with that knowledge, I did indeed have a superbly fun time, as did every single person in Rockwood, as far as I could tell.

The FUNTIME shows are mostly rock covers, performed by outstanding musicians, who are all having a dangerously good time on stage. Thankfully, they allow us to enjoy that good time with them. Most of the covers last night were new to the FUNTIME lineup. One exception was Take Me to the Pilot (always welcome, even if it’s been done before).

Greg has never disappointed me, ever. Last night was another exceptional performance, but many of the leads were longer (thanks!) and mind-numbingly fast/tasty (thanks for that too!). In a few songs, he took more than one solo and the crowd ate it up. They closed the show with Heard it Through the Grapevine. He took three separate really long solos in that one, leaving me (and I suspect others) dazed at his talent.

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I kept thinking he has to be unconscious, because if he had to think about what he was playing, his fingers wouldn’t be able to keep up. But, today, it hit me! Greg’s fingers used to be constrained by the speed of light (as all matter was). With the discovery that certain neutrinos have been clocked faster than the speed of light, Greg has been freed to prove that his fingers too, can accomplish that! Smile

As is the case with all of the FUNTIME shows, Greg was surrounded by an extraordinary group of musicians. There was one change to the normal lineup and one very special guest. I’ll mention the two regulars first, then the guests.

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. Patrick sang Take Me to the Pilot on the lead and harmonized on many others. Of course he tore up the keyboards as well.

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Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. Brian participated in fantastic 4-part harmony on the first number, but then relinquished his mic for most of the set to the special guest. His bass playing is always top notch.

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Zach Jones on drums and vocals. Zach was sitting in for Greg’s usual drummer, Kenny Shaw. I’ve mentioned that it appears that we stalk Kenny, as we see him more frequently (at least in 2011) than any other drummer. Perhaps he finally got nervous and avoided us. More likely, he’s touring with The Thang Band at the moment (at least I hope it’s the latter!).

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We’ve only seen Zach a few times, but he was an instant favorite and cemented that with his performance with Ian Axel when they opened for Five for Fighting. He’s an absolutely incredible drummer (exhibited over and over last night) and he has a really good voice too. He sang lead on the opening number, Walls by Tom Petty.

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I never spoke to Zach before, but after the show I told him how awesome I think he is. He’s part of a duo with Emily Long called The Stone Lonesome. I asked him when they were playing and he said sometime in November. He also told me that in addition to their more country sound (you can listen to that here), they are also performing rock sets (don’t know if they go by a different name for those).

A few songs into the set, Greg invited up none other than Martin Rivas to sing a song. Once up there, neither Greg nor the crowd would let Martin escape. Greg forced Martin to sing lead and harmony on every song (at times alternating lead with Greg). Martin claimed (after the show) to have lost his voice singing so hard, but at least he made it all the way to the end sounding great!

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In an early comic moment, Martin knocked over a music stand holding the lyrics to all the songs for the evening, including the one he was singing (his first number). It ended up being fine, as he knocked it over exactly at the moment that Greg started taking a long solo. Even though dozens of sheets of paper were spread out on the stage, Martin was able to take his time and collect them calmly while Greg thrilled us. He had a few more close calls with the stand and the look on his face each time he avoided the same fate was priceless. Smile

Another fantastic set by Greg Mayo. We’ll see him again this Wednesday (October 5th), supporting Sierra Noble at Rockwood 1, at 9pm. Immediately after that is Martin Rivas at 10pm (same place). When Martin heard Greg telling me that he was playing with Sierra, Martin invited Greg to play a few with him at 10pm as well, so I’ll be getting a double dose of Greg this week. I’ll be smiling from now until then.

I mentioned in my earlier post that we bumped into friends at The Cupping Room Café when we stopped in to see Matt Simons, Chris Ayer and Ryan Vaughn. They shared a cab with us to catch Greg’s set. They are the two on the left and we met a third friend right outside Rockwood, while getting drenched.

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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).

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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).

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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.

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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!

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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

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

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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.

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

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John Liotta played saxophone on Get Yourself Together.

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

The Crab Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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If you ask who the Crab Apple Singers are, I won’t fault you for not knowing, since last night was their first-ever performance. It’s a spinoff of a group called The Big Apple Singers. The founder of TBAS, Evan Watson is on an extended tour with Def Leppard. The rest of the group was itching to play, and I’m certainly not the only audience member that was itching to hear them.

Here is my post on the last TBAS show. Since Evan Watson plays electric guitar for TBAS, some changes were required to constitute The Crab Apple Singers (TCAS).

Greg Mayo moved from keyboards to electric guitar.

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Patrick Firth replaced Evan, but really he replaced Greg at the keyboards (grand piano and electronic).

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Chris Anderson was slated to play electric bass (he’s the primary bass player in TBAS, and therefore in TCAS as well). He had a late conflict and he too was replaced.

Brian Killeen played electric bass. As good as Chris is, there’s no drop-off with Brian, so we’ll call that an even trade.

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Josh Dion is the only member of TBAS who fulfilled the same role, drummer, in TCAS.

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All four members sang lead and harmony. All four did that as well as you could hope.

My friends, if you weren’t there, you missed a heck of a set. Every one of them was on fire on their instrument (guitar, keyboards, bass and drums). The leads were sizzling and the drums were mind-boggling.

People literally got out of their seats and started to dance. Once they started, they didn’t stop. Many cameras switched their focus to capture the joy of the dancers, but all ears were on the band.

I’ve been praising Greg Mayo and Patrick Firth a bunch this week, so let me just tell you that there was no letdown from their previously praise-worthy performances. They were both absolutely amazing.

Brian Killeen traded his bass for Greg’s guitar on one song. Brian sang lead on Cinnamon Girl (with Josh Dion singing co-lead). He took a wailing lead late in the song, showing that he’s no slouch on the electric guitar. Very nicely done Brian!

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Greg tore it up on the bass, so the switch didn’t cost the audience enjoyment on either instrument.

I love drummers. There are good ones, great ones, and exciting ones. Josh is in the exciting category. Keep in mind that this category subsumes the great category as well, the excitement doesn’t come at the cost of greatness. That Josh’s singing produces the same type of excitement, separate from his drumming, is even more mind-boggling.

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Looking at the faces in the crowd while Josh is ripping up the drums made me feel like I was in an old-time revival meeting. People were seeing the light.

Robbie Gil came up to close he show. He sang Feeling Alright and the band killed it supporting him. Dave Mason closes every one of his shows with his money song, and he’d have been proud to hear Robbie sing it with TCAS backing him up. What a way to end an epic (nearly six hour!) night of music.

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Here’s the set list, but there were changes. At least you can get a good sense of the type of songs they select:

SetList

I missed most of Robbie Gil’s set, the one immediately before TCAS, because I was next door seeing Bri Arden. Lois stayed and watched Robbie’s set. She had a mutual friend text me that Greg Mayo was playing guitar on Robbie’s set. I replied that I knew, but was happily committed to seeing Bri nonetheless.

Then she told me (and showed me a photo) that Greg played the lap steel guitar during one number in Robbie’s set. That was the only (momentary) twinge I had about my decision. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep showing up at Greg’s sets until he whips out the lap steel again. Smile

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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

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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!

Brian Killeen Birthday Bash at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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What do you do after driving 5.5 hours to return home from a 10-day business trip? If you’re most people, you catch up with what happened while you were on the road, then collapse for an evening of relaxation. If you’re crazy kids like us, you do that, add a catnap and after relaxing, head out to an 11pm show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2.

What could get us out at that hour on such a day? A number of the musicians in NYC celebrate their birthdays with shows. Last night was Brian Killeen’s turn. Considering that he’s a sought-after bass player who plays with a number of bands, there were quite a number of musicians that wanted to play with him. When I saw the tweet-stream of names that would be appearing, it was a combination of my local all-star list, coupled with a few new people I’ve been wanting to check out for a while. Perfect!

Apologies for the quality of a number of photos (and the lack of some others completely). The lighting was all over the map and many shots just came out poorly. Sad smile

Brian played on every song and sang harmony on a bunch. In a new twist (for me), Brian played the lead guitar on one song (later in the set) and did a very nice job! He also sang lead on that number (co-lead actually), which has become less of a novelty more recently.

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Greg Mayo was on stage for all but two songs, earning him a close second in the Iron Man competition with Brian. Greg opened the show on the keyboards (grand piano and electronic). He switched to the electric guitar on the next song. On both he sang lead (very strongly), getting the large crowd completely riled up on Born on the Bayou (complete set list posted at the bottom). On the one song that Brian played lead guitar (Greg’s), Greg played Brian’s electric bass (it only seemed fitting).

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John Schmitt took center stage with his acoustic guitar. His voice was incredible (it always is) in belting out his two numbers. I’m always impressed when someone can handle solo singer/songwriter mellow (John is masterful) and can just as easily stand up to a full rock band and sound as good.

Late in the set John ended up sitting at our table. A few of the people behind me gushed uncontrollably “You are awesome!”. They are/were correct, he is/was. I told them that he has his own Birthday set next Friday (7/29) at 10pm at The Living Room. Come test the veracity of my statement and celebrate with John.

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Dorie Colangelo sang and played John Schmitt’s acoustic guitar. I’ve never seen Dorie before, but Lois caught the last song of her set seven months ago. Here’s what I wrote in the post about that night:

We got there 10 minutes before Alex’s set. I stood outside (brrr) and caught up on some comms on my Droid. Lois went in and heard the last song of the set before Alex, Dorie Colangelo. Lois was extremely impressed by Dorie.

When I walked in, she was telling Dorie how wonderful her voice was. She asked if Dorie had any CDs/EPs and Dorie handed her one (she didn’t want money for it). Lois insisted. She asked me for money. Since I wasn’t privy to the conversation, I handed her a $5, thinking it was the standard fee for most EPs. When I loaded it up this morning, I saw that it was an 11-song CD. I’ll slip Dorie some more money the next time we see her. Given Lois’ reaction, I’m sure there will be a next time. Smile

Oops! I wish I had re-read that post before last night. Of course, I forgot that I wanted to give Dorie some extra money. Next time (and this time I mean it).

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As for last night, Dorie’s voice was wonderful. Her guitar-playing was fine. Unfortunately, the songs were way slower than the rest of the set and the shift didn’t feel natural to me. Ironically, I did like her really slow (earthy/sexy) version of I’m So Excited. Still, it seemed to break a mood (just a bit). I’m still as interested in catching Dorie doing her own stuff as I was before last night (perhaps more).

Since she was playing John’s guitar, the strap was way too loose for her comfort. Between her two songs, John came to the stage to adjust the strap, which worked out much better for Dorie during I’m So Excited.

Patrick Firth left his normal spot at the grand piano (he played a ton of electronic keyboards as well) and took center stage with his acoustic guitar. He sang the first original of the night, a song off his upcoming album called Boomerang (that’s the song title, I don’t know what the CD will be called).

Update: Read the comment below from Brian Killeen himself. I got it totally wrong! Every performer did an original. You can see my response about Greg’s opening number below Brian’s comment. Thanks again Brian, I like to be accurate when possible. 🙂

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Martin Rivas came on stage to support Patrick Firth the song before and stayed to perform a couple as well. He kicked it off with his own North. Not only was it superbly delivered, but I felt like it was my birthday as well. After Greg Mayo took a short but very sweet guitar solo, Martin turned to him and motioned that he should continue. He took a much longer, killer solo. Thanks Martin for making Greg give me an early birthday present too. Smile

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Wes Hutchinson was up next, singing and playing acoustic guitar. While he was standing off stage, I mentioned to Lois that he looked so familiar that I was sure we’ve seen him before, but the name was escaping me. Ha! When he got on stage he mentioned that he had just chopped off his hair. That’s it! I’ve seen him twice recently, both times in support of Chelsea Lee, and both times I was extremely impressed with Wes.

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Last night Wes was excellent again, this time singing lead (our first time experiencing that). There will be more Wes in our lives, I’m sure (as there was a bit later in the show as well).

Emily Zuzik sang and played electric guitar. Emily was high on my list of people to see. I nearly got to see her a couple of Friday’s ago. I already know I can’t make her next two NYC shows, so this was such a big bonus that she was part of this celebration. It shouldn’t have been a surprise, since Brian Killeen is part of her band. The other members of her band were all part of this show (independent of Emily), so it was preordained that she be there too.

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She opened with Want to Go Out Tonight, the first cut on her new CD, The Wild Joys of Living. Wonderful delivery of a fun, upbeat song. Emily has a great voice. Wes Hutchinson moved over to electric guitar (he too borrowed Mayo’s, making Emily’s two songs the only ones that Greg wasn’t on stage).

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For her second number, Emily performed a gutty version of Psycho Killer. Her voice was completely different, showing that she controls it, rather than the other way around. A total blast.

After the show, I introduced myself to Emily. She told me that she couldn’t hear herself sing. I assured her that it sounded awesome in the audience and I assure those of you who weren’t there as well. Smile

When you see the set list below, you’ll see that the next performer is listed as Me! If you’re not paying attention, the Me! is Brian Killeen. He actually wasn’t formally introduced as being the next lead performer. Instead, Josh Dion was brought up and began the song as if he were leading it.

This is the song that I previously noted Brian took over lead guitar duties on as well as singing lead. Josh did a bunch of lead singing on the song as well, so it was really co-leads. Brian did a terrific job.

BrianKilleenSingingElectricGuitar

Josh killed it on both of his numbers. The second was an original called Feel. I might be one of the few people in the audience who hadn’t heard it before. Even though Josh plays a lot, it’s interesting to me that he’s also a legend in this community for his previous band, The Josh Dion Band. I know a number of musicians who I respect who speak about Josh Dion Band shows in awe, claiming that to this day, they are still the best live shows they’ve seen.

JoshDion

Here’s a YouTube video of Josh performing Feel in 2007. He looks nothing like that now, but he sounds just as good, singing and playing the drums (and he’s excellent on the keyboards as well). Brian Killeen is in the video, as is Patrick Firth on the keyboards, so you’re getting some of the experience I had last night.

Josh Dion performing Feel

Robbie Gil was up to close the show. He sang two numbers, playing acoustic guitar on the first and just singing on the second. Saying just singing with regard to Robbie is probably a crime in 37 states. The man has a passion that will pull you onto to the stage with him and he certainly left us energized, even though it was after 1am.

RobbieGil

Don’t believe everything you read. The set list shows Robbie’s second song as Baba O’Riley. It was The Who’s Teenage Wasteland. Awesome! Smile Patrick Firth on the keys was spectacular as was Zach Jones on the drums (I introduce Zach below!). Robbie also wailed on the harmonica during this song.

PatrickFirthPiano

The Set List:

SetList

As I got up to leave, Martin Rivas returned to the stage and said that we couldn’t let it end this way. While we had sung a wishy washy Happy Birthday to Brian mid-set (I think when Wes was up), Martin wanted a more proper version. He, Robbie, Greg Mayo, Patrick Firth and Zach Jones sang an awesome rendition of Happy Birthday by The Beatles. Martin was right, a much more fitting way to end the night!

Don’t run away just yet. There were a few more core band members that deserve mentions, including two people we’d never seen before.

Ryan Vaughn performed much of the drumming for the night. He was superb throughout.

RyanVaughnSettingUp

Andy Stack played electric guitar during the first two songs (Greg Mayo’s numbers). He was really good. He was the primary lead guitarist on the first number when Greg was on keyboards. But in Born on the Bayou, he traded leads with Greg in classic Rock fashion (wonderfully) and they teamed up for simultaneous leads after the duel. I did mention up above that Greg got the crowd completely riled up during this song. Andy was part of the reason. Andy also sang harmony on both numbers.

AndyStackB

Zach Jones played drums for Greg Mayo, Robbie Gil, and I think one other, making it seven songs in total. He also played some percussion on another song. He sang into the mic on both of Greg’s songs, and mouthed a lot of the other lyrics. I was very impressed with his drumming. I’ll be seeing him again next week and I’m already looking forward to that show (for many other reasons as well).

ZachJones

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.

We went to bed at 2am, certainly not something we want to get used to, but it was worth it (at least last night it was!). Smile

Backscratch XIV at Rockwood Music Hall

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We’ve only been to one Backscratch before, but we’ll do our best to never miss one going forward. Last night was #14, but I decided to show off my mad Roman Numeral skills in the title. Winking smile This one was back at Rockwood Music Hall (not the original venue). I covered the last one and explained the concept thusly:

Here’s the concept: gather a bunch of musicians. Each plays three songs. Traditionally (or so the legend goes) each played one original song, one well-known cover and one cover of another of the evening’s musicians, which they were each assigned at random! Now, it’s often two originals followed by the backscratch.

Backscratch was conceived by Martin Rivas and Craig Meyer, the same geniuses that brought Campfires to the world. Since Martin is touring in the UK and Europe at the moment, and Craig is probably on the road with Rachel Platten, neither was there. No matter, the MC duties were performed by Christina Morelli of NYC Art Scene fame.

We would have gone even if none of the musicians was known to us. That wasn’t the case last night, as only two of the nine performers were strangers to us. A number of them are counted among our favorites!

Jeff Litman opened the show because his band’s equipment was already on stage from his birthday set. He performed the more traditional 3-song set. He opened with a solo acoustic cover, Never Going Back Again, by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. What a way to kick off Backscratch XIV!

JeffLitman

Jeff’s band (Bryan Dunn, Matt Basile and Elliot Jacobson) joined him for the next two numbers. The first was his original, Everything You’re Not (from his current CD, Postscript). Jeff closed his trio with a cover of Valerie Mize (his backscratch), Promises, from her Auspices EP.

I’m not going to be able to name every song from every artist, since I do this from memory (and I don’t know all of their songs well enough anyway). Where I think I know/remember, I’ll say so.

Jesse Terry was up next, solo with an acoustic guitar. Jesse is one of our favorites, so we knew we’d enjoy his numbers. I was more curious to hear what his backscratch would be (they are assigned randomly). Jesse opened with Pearl Diver, a very new song (which we’ve heard before, since we do our best to show up whenever and wherever Jesse performs). Next up was Scared of Nothing, another Jesse original. His voice was incredible on both numbers.

JesseTerry

For his backscratch, Jesse drew Live Society. If you read anything I write, you likely know how much I love Live Society. Given how amazing Jesse’s voice is, and how well he handles the guitar, I admit to being extremely excited about this. He performed No One, which isn’t on their current EP. It was fantastic (both the song, and Jesse’s interpretation), so I’m seriously hoping it will be on Live Society’s forthcoming CD!

I played a critical role during the performance (which you might someday get to see on YouTube, since the entire evening was filmed by Sam Teichman). There was quite a breeze inside Rockwood and the sheet music (most of the backscratchers require some cheat sheet) was flapping off the music stand. I bravely reached up and held the corner of Jesse’s sheet for the entire song, saving the day! Winking smile

Please allow me a digression here (or skip ahead, I might not even be able to tell). I used the word interpretation above for a few reasons. First, there’s the obvious one (in this case), where Jesse is a solo artist trying to reproduce a song performed by a band that crushes three-part harmony, and is accompanied by guitar, keyboards, bass and drums (usually).

Second, the backscratch is often a song that was learned quickly, at times even on the day of the show, so it’s not likely to be a studied copy. But the most important thing is that it’s often a true artistic interpretation, in the sense of paying homage to the original artist by delivering it to them in your style (for most cases, the original artist is hearing it live then and there).

Jesse delivered No One in his own style. I absolutely would have believed it was one of his songs if he had introduced it as such. After singing it, he met Live Society for the first time. How cool is that, practically and conceptually?

LiveSocietyJesseTerry

Unfortunately, Jesse had to leave shortly after performing. He had an early trip this morning, heading to Greenland, just shy of the North Pole (of all places). He’ll be serenading our troops there for the next week or so. He didn’t get to hear the backscratch that covered him (we’ll get to that later).

Valerie Mize was up next. She performed two originals with her band (Antar Goodwin on electric bass and Tomo Kanno on drums). She opened with Downtown Train. She followed that with a new number. She played electric guitar on both, finger picking (beautifully) for the most part, and strumming without a pick the rest of the time. She has a beautiful voice.

ValerieMizeSinging

We’ve seen Valerie only once before, at the Soul Benefit where she sang backup. Here’s what I wrote about her performance that night:

For most numbers, there were three or four backup singers on stage. All but one sang lead as well, so I’ll mention them in a second. The only backup singer who didn’t sing lead on at least one song was Valerie Mize. She did a wonderful job. I’m sure if there was more time, she too would have taken a turn at the center mic and wow’ed us.

I’d never seen Antar or Tomo before. Both did a very good job and are well-matched with Valerie.

AntarGoodwinTomoKonno

For her backscratch, Valerie dismissed the band and moved to the grand piano. She sang Ophelia by John Schmitt. He too is one of our favorites, as is that specific song (title cut from his current CD). Valerie played the piano beautifully and sang a very soulful version of Ophelia.

ValerieMizePiano

Patrick Firth was up next. We’ve seen Patrick many times, but last night was a first on two scores. We’d never seen him perform an original and we’d never seen him play anything other than keyboards. Instead of heading for the grand piano in the corner, Patrick (his friends seem to call him Pat, but that feels presumptuous on my part) sat on a stool, center stage, and sang an original accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. Very nicely done!

PatrickFirthGuitar

I already knew he had a nice voice (you can read about it in this post). Now I know that he can write and sing his own stuff (that night was covers) and play the guitar as well.

Patrick then moved to the piano and performed a brand new song that he wrote over the post three days (finishing it yesterday!). He plays with the Big Apple Circus and wrote it while in CT, on breaks, between shows.

PatrickFirthPiano

For his backscratch, Patrick played Grow by Nick Howard. What a fantastic job. We had just seen Nick perform a full set earlier that night (with a full band), next door at Rockwood 2 (covered here). He played that song with the full band. Patrick’s rendition was very different and equally beautiful.

Unfortunately, Nick hadn’t made it over to Rockwood 1 yet, so he missed hearing Patrick nail his song.

John Schmitt was up next. That alone would be reason enough for celebration. But, in a complete surprise for me, John brought up Greg Mayo to play guitar with him. John opened with Two Souls.

JohnSchmitt

Greg played some amazing guitar solos (surprise!) and sang a few words (way too few) of harmony (very nicely). He played Patrick Firth’s guitar.

GregMayo

Next John played Going Back (a fantastic new song of his, that isn’t on the Ophelia CD). Typically, he has a female voice singing harmony with him. Greg basically filled that role with guitar leads. Holy moly, it was awesome.

John is currently raising money to record that song professionally. We contributed early. Even though we did (quite happily), we noted to each other that the raw version John has up on his donation page is quite beautiful. We worried (privately) whether people would wonder why he needs/wants another version. Having heard how different it can sound by just adding another guitar (admittedly, one played by Greg Mayo!), made us just contribute a second time. We no longer doubt John Schmitt’s wisdom. Smile

Greg then left the stage and tried to take Patrick’s guitar with him. John kept it, asking Patrick if he could use it for his backscratch (John had broken a string earlier, and had to use a different one in its place. I’ll spare you the groaners about a broken G-string.) Winking smile

Patrick agreed to let John use the guitar, until John admitted that his backscratch was none other than Patrick. At that point Patrick said: “Then NO!”. Of course, he was kidding, but it was funny nonetheless.

I don’t know the name of the song, but it was great. So, Patrick can indeed write, and we already knew that John can deliver. A great combo!

Lara Ewen was up next, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar. I had never heard of Lara, so I didn’t recognize the two originals that she played. They were both nice and I like her voice.

LaraEwen

For her backscratch, she drew Jesse Terry. She was quite funny in pointing out that most people give excuses like “I had to miss your performance because I was at the North Pole, but that in Jesse’s case, it was the truth!”. Winking smile She added that she was happy about that, because she was reasonably sure she was going to butcher his number.

She chose The Runner (the title cut from Jesse’s CD). She was correct in knowing that she hadn’t quite nailed the song, but I certainly wouldn’t say she butchered it, just that certain parts caused her some grief. Winking smile

Benjamin Wagner was up next, also accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. Benjamin was the only other performer I hadn’t heard of before. In this case, it turned out to be a little less mysterious. He has a full-time job and a one-year-old, which has slowed down his live performances dramatically.

BenjaminWagner

Of all the performers, he was the chattiest. While I found his style entertaining and the content interesting and well-delivered, he was also the only one who cursed (and quite a bit at that). I’m no prude, but it was still jarring in contrast to the rest of the show.

He has a very good voice and plays the guitar well enough. That said, neither of his two originals (Giving Up the Ghost and Dear Elizabeth) grabbed me.

He inserted his backscratch in between them. He drew Lara Ewen and chose One Day. Wow, I really liked it a lot, both the song and his performance of it. So, I know Lara is capable of writing songs that will grab me, and I know that Benjamin is capable of delivering a song in a manner that will engage me as well. Neither pulled that off with their own originals, but the sample size was two in each case, so let’s toss that out and start again, the next time I see either of them.

Benjamin blogs regularly and he posted his thoughts about last night’s show.

Nick Howard was up next (and had arrived by then). He played solo acoustic, quite a contrast to his earlier full-band set at Rockwood 2. One of the two originals that he played was Grow, which he had performed in the earlier set. It’s the same song that Patrick Firth had covered for his backscratch, but Nick was unaware, since he hadn’t made it in yet.

NickHoward

That made three performances of Grow in one night for us. All were quite different from each other (even though Nick himself performed two of them!). All three were very well done.

Nick’s other original was Falling for You, which he had also performed with the full band in the earlier set. Once again, his solo performance was different and beautiful. As I noted in the earlier post, he had to work harder to get his voice heard over the full band. In the solo set, his voice was just right.

For his backscratch, Nick drew Benjamin Wagner. I don’t recall the song, but I remember thinking it was nice and that Nick did a good job with it.

Last, but certainly not least, was Live Society. They were without their guitarist (John Kaiteris), keyboard player (varies) and drummer (Erik Perez). The three singers, Brian Collazo, Jason Vargas and Kevin Collazo were joined by their regular bass player, Anthony Candullo. Anthony also played acoustic guitar on one number.

BrianCollazoGuitarAnthonyCandulloGuitar

Two special guests joined them: Patrick Firth on grand piano and Greg Mayo on acoustic guitar.

Live Society reverted to the classic format, one famous cover, one original and one backscratch, mirroring the opener (Jeff Litman) as the only acts who did that last night. That was more than fitting, as they asked the crowd if any of us had done the calculus to guess who their backscratch was? Even you who weren’t there should be able to figure it out. I’ll give you a minute while I get to their other two songs.

GregMayoLiveSociety

They opened with their original Better Man. Gorgeous! They followed that with I Second that Emotion by Smokey Robinson. Jason Vargas took the lead for a good portion of the song. It was fantastic.

JasonVargas

For their backscratch, they drew Jeff Litman (please don’t tell me you haven’t figured it out yet). They performed Open Arms. Frist, the bottom line: Wow! Now, some details.

Jeff’s version is wonderful, but it’s straight up power Pop. Live Society owned their version, which was about as Mowtown/R&B as you could hope and it couldn’t have worked better.

All three of them traded singing lead. Yes, you read that correctly. If you’ve followed my other ravings about Live Society, then you know that I have started a campaign to get them to have Kevin sing some lead. He did, and he was terrific! I had to tease him/them after the show, pointing out that it took a backscratch to get Kevin to take a lead. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a trend. All three of them can sing, including Kevin!

KevinCollazo

What a way to end a spectacular evening.

Backscratch was listed as 9-11pm on the Rockwood schedule. Before the show started, the sound guy told Christina that the previous show had run over and he would appreciate her trying to keep it moving at a rapid pace. Ha!

Last night’s show ran over by only an hour. No one dawdled. Let’s do the math: nine artists each performing three songs, averaging four minutes = 108 minutes. That’s nearly the full two hours, without accounting for time between songs, banter, and oh yeah, changeover between acts (sometimes including moving equipment around). The fact that it’s not scheduled for three hours is the joke, not that it ran over.

Update: A number of people commented to me via email and Twitter that the site correctly listed it as three hours, albeit confusingly. That’s correct, in the sense that there was no artist listed at 11pm. But, the show was listed as 9-11pm, which was explained to me as meaning that 11pm was considered a continuing start time. Wow, not the clearest communication. Anyway, I’ll still knock Rockwood for not making that part clear, but Christina Morelli did indeed deliver an on-time performance! 🙂

It was late, obviously, but I can’t imagine having missed it. Smile

Martin Rivas and Robbie Gil at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Martin Rivas was bringing his current Saturday Night residency at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 to a close last night (he’ll be touring Europe much of the summer). That would be reason enough to go see him (the last full-band show in NYC until late August or early September). But I’ll give you a better reason (even though you’re too late to act on it if you weren’t there), it was Martin’s Birthday!

In typical Martin style (his heart is bigger than any three of us mere mortals combined), he threw a party for the rest of us, rather than the other way around!

MartinRivas

Martin performed a set full of his original crowd favorites plus a few covers. Let’s give him none of the credit for that though. One of his birthday surprises was the set list itself. Martin didn’t get to peek at it until nearly show time. His band decided what songs Martin would have to play. Extremely cool idea on their part, well executed by everyone (Martin included). Since they are big fans of Martin as well, they were effectively making this a fan-driven set list.

MartinRivasBirthdaySetList

They had another surprise for him, which affected the entire set as well. They got him stinkin’ drunk (on top shelf hooch) before the show. I’ve never seen Martin wasted before, since he always has a long drive home after the shows. He announced (with another drink in hand!) that this was the first Rockwood show that he was going to be driven home from. Since his wife was in the audience, I presume that she was his designated driver. Perhaps the band also chipped in for a Limo (I can fantasize on Martin’s behalf, can’t I?). Smile

Martin was in excellent voice (which was a relief, since he’s been sick recently).

MartinRivasSinging

His guitar play was spot on as well (including an extremely tasty lead on an acoustic guitar, late in the set). During one song he popped a string. He played through the rest of the song without missing a beat (I saw the string fly away from the guitar when it happened).

When the song was over, he bestowed the honor of restringing it to Greg Mayo. It turned into a little bit on stage though, as it was the G string that popped. If you’re not following me, and some of the ensuing guffaws in the audience, that’s fine, as this is a PG-13 rated blog. Winking smile

A minute later, Greg emerged from the green room and informed Martin that he couldn’t repair it. I think I heard him say that the peg (the part that holds the string on the body of the guitar) came flying out as well. They took a quick look in front of Martin, didn’t spot it, and Martin decided to play the rest of the set without a guitar (no worries, there were two guitarists on stage with him throughout).

Greg being the clever guy that he is would have none of that. He returned a minute later with Robbie Gil’s guitar (Robbie headlined the set before, which I’ll cover later in this post). The tasty lead I mentioned above was performed on Robbie’s guitar, so thanks Greg for thinking of that, and Robbie for being willing to part with it (it was unbelievably worn/scratched, so it has to be one of Robbie’s favorites).

Martin got the crowd singing a few times (only once by asking us to). Even when people weren’t singing out loud, I saw so many people mouthing every word that Martin was singing. Most of his sets are like that, but there was definitely a special feeling in the air last night (I wonder why…).

Martin always has The Spirit in him. Since last night he also had the Spirits in him, he did something we often wish more performers would do on behalf of their fans/audience. He tried (with mixed success) a number of times to quiet the inevitable talkers. For the most part, he did it in the most loving way imaginable (seriously, he simply appealed to the talkers to listen quietly for one special song, then resume their talk about Stock Portfolios and Second Homes in the Hamptons!). Smile

One particularly annoying woman in the far corner yelled out “Hey, it’s SATURDAY NIGHT” (at the top of her lungs). Martin had a different kind of spirited response for her. The cheers and applause let him know that he was speaking for all us (well, I guess most of us). Here’s a Twitter exchange from a few minutes ago (as I am writing this) between Tony Maceli and Martin:

@martinrivas do you recall asking a young lady at Rockwood to ‘be quiet’ in a very un-Martin like way, followed by rousing applause?

@whosthebass did I do that?! Awesome!!!!! Hope it wasn’t too rude

Ah, reliving that moment this morning was sweet. Thanks Tony and Martin for making that happen. Smile

One last incident before we get back to the music (actually, the amazing band and guest!). Someone (I’d give them credit if I knew who) brought a lot of cupcakes (fancy ones from what I saw) to celebrate Martin’s birthday. One was passed to Martin on stage and we all sang Happy Birthday to him. Well, we started to, in a rag-tag disarrayed fashion. Martin made us all stop and said:

If you’re going to do this, then at least do it right. Ready? 1… 2… 3…

MartinRivasCoordinatingHappyBirthdaySong

That’s all it took to get us all on the right page. Thanks for that as well Martin. But that’s not the incident, I needed to relate that part so that you’d know there were a lot of cupcakes in the room. Winking smile

MartinRivasHappyBirthdayCupcake

One moron (yes, I spent hours considering the exact right word to describe this person) thought it would be funny to toss a cupcake on the stage. Of course, it landed icing side down on top of the electronic keyboard (somehow finding the most damageable thing it could on stage). It took time and effort to clean it off before the next song could start. Well done moron (sorry, it deserved repeating).

The band was amazing musically, but they were also the driving force in lifting Martin’s spirit even higher than usual (who knew that was even possible?). In combination with Martin, they turned an awesome show in a giant party as well (who doesn’t like a party?).

Left-to-right on the stage, followed by a very special guest appearance:

Patrick Firth on electronic keyboards and vocals. I’ve written about Patrick many times, but this was our third night in a row seeing him tickle the ivories brilliantly (each night with a different band!), so there’s a lot of ink about Patrick on the home page at the moment. It was his keyboards (the top one of the double-decker setup) that had the pleasure of hosting the upside-down cupcake.

PatrickFirthKeyboards

Ryan Vaughn on percussion. Ryan did a fantastic job (as he does whenever he sits in on Martin’s full-band shows) banging on everything in sight. Not only did he play his own toys (cowbells, tambourine, shakers, etc.), but a couple of times he got up and shared the drumming duties (two drummers playing the same drum set at the same time). Awesome! Ryan was the person who diligently cleaned Patrick’s keyboard after the cupcake fiasco.

RyanVaughnPercussion

Chris Kuffner on electric guitar and vocals. Chris shared the leads with the other guitarist, Greg Mayo. In addition to each being excellent in their own right, they feed off of and complement each other. I’ll have a bit more to say about Chris’ vocals in a minute. This was also the second time we’ve seen Chris this week. He was part of Ian Axel’s band on Tuesday and rocked out that night as well.

ChrisKuffnerGuitarLeadChrisJuffnerSinging

Craig Meyer on drums. Craig is always superb on the drums. Last night was no exception. In fact, if it’s possible, he rose to the occasion of wanting/needing to make this night a bit more special. After all, he’s Martin’s Baby Brother (if you haven’t been to one of Martin’s show, don’t bother looking up which one of them changed their last name, it’s Martin’s homage to how much he loves and respects Craig as a person and as his primary drumming partner!). This was our second time seeing Craig at Rockwood 2 this week.

CraigMeyerDrumsCraigMeyerTambourine

Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. Another excellent performance by Brian. As with Patrick Firth, this was our third consecutive night enjoying Brian’s play (they were in the same bands each night).

BrianKilleen

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and vocals. Since we saw Greg headlining a set that ended just 22 hours before Martin hit the stage, I’ll point you to that post to read my thoughts on this extraordinary musician. For the people at my table last night (you know who you are!), the looks we exchanged every time Greg took a lead will remain etched in my memory forever! I’ll have something to add when I cover Robbie Gil, since Greg (along with Patrick Firth and Ryan Vaughn) also played in that set.

GregMayoJamming

There weren’t any really slow songs last night, so it’s not surprising that this band kept such a steady level of energy that had practically everyone in the crowd swaying, dancing, bobbing, tapping, clapping, etc., throughout every song. The possible exception was the woman that Martin needed to slap down (sorry, I couldn’t resist one last cheap shot).

Bess Rogers was called up as a special guest. This is the song where Martin pleaded with people to be quiet (before his exchange with the woman, he was speaking to a different set of women at the bar). Martin knew why quiet would be necessary for the full enjoyment of what we were about to experience (we had no clue, or at least I didn’t).

Martin started singing, accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar, with Chris Kuffner  playing the electric, softly. Both Bess and Chris sang soft harmonies, not even that often. I admit (why do I always bare my soul here?) that I wondered for a second why Martin bothered to call Bess up. It seemed like he was wasting an opportunity to share her talent with the crowd.

Then the moment came. Both Martin and Chris stopped playing their guitars. Martin, Bess and Chris continued a capella in stunning three-part harmony. It was so breath-taking, even the talkers stopped (like seeing the burning bush, even non-believers have to at least wonder). Suddenly, Bess’ role in celebrating Martin’s birthday became crystal clear. Thanks!

ChrisKuffnerMartinRivasBessRogers

Bess and Martin are touring together (I assume with Chris as well). Folks, even if they just play this one three-minute song and leave the stage, get out to see them if/when they hit your town. With a little luck, they might stick around and dazzle you a bit more than that. Winking smile

At one point late in the show, Seth Faulk jumped on stage to join in the percussion merriment. A little later, Adam Christgau followed his lead and turned the merriment into a bit more percussion mayhem. Smile

GregMayoSethFaulkAdamChristgauClapping

Martin closed out the show with North. Such a soulful song to underscore the evening. He brought out a dancer (Whitney G-Bowley of GIG) to add a visual dimension to the song.

ChrisKuffnerMartinRivasWhitneyG-Bowley

When I say “closed the show”, of course, I mean pre-encore. For the encore, Martin brought out two additional special guests, Robbie Gil and Casey Shea (who was headlining the next set). Along with the full band, they performed Stand By Me, which included having the crowd sing the chorus (with them and separately!) a number of times. The party atmosphere was at its height!

What a spectacular way to end the show (rather than close the show). Winking smile

Since we were there for the set before Martin’s, I had time during the break between them to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, find and introduce myself to Christina Morelli. While she’s talented in many ways, I came to discover her through her passion for covering and promoting the NYC Art Scene. Subscribe there and follow her on Twitter.

Aside from her own excellent writing, she gives a voice, platform and exposure to many talented NYC-based artists. She also does interesting video interviews in collaboration with the effervescent Sam Teichman (whom you can also follow on Twitter). Want to know why you should follow Sam on Twitter? Consider this tweet from last night (sent during Martin’s set!):

Music is my religion. Rockwood Music Hall is my favorite place of worship. @martinrivas can be my spiritual leader anytime. So inspiring.

On to Robbie Gil! We’ve only seen Robbie perform one song, as a guest at a Big Apple Singers show. He was excellent. In fact, the song he led that night was the highlight of the set for me. Here’s an out-of-context quote from that post (but you can read the entire thing to really understand what I was saying):

Robbie kicked off another The Band song but insisted that each of the other band members sing at least one verse (that’s the song that Chris took a lead on). Robbie’s voice was wonderful as was his spirit on the stage. It’s the one exception I noted above to nearing the feeling I had on Wednesday.

We’ve missed Robbie Gil’s full sets three times now. The first one (mentioned in the above-linked post) was simply because I chose to see Derek James perform next door (and I’m choosing to see Derek James again this Wed, 8pm, Rockwood 1). The next two times I tried to see Robbie, the place was so crowded that the bouncer wouldn’t let me in. One of those nights was bitterly cold (and windy to boot), but I stood outside and suffered so that I could at least enjoy Martin’s set (they often follow each other). How could I not keep trying to see someone who was obviously so popular?

Well, I guess I have to thank New Yorkers need (or is it just desire?) to escape the city on holiday weekends. Third time’s the charm, as we got in to see Robbie. It was a large crowd, but not at capacity, like it was in my previous attempts.

Robbie is a soulful, gravelly-voiced singer (which is why he killed it when singing The Band song with The Big Apple Singers) that seems to drain every ounce of energy in his body on every song. Miraculously, he has some secret recharging source that gets him ready for the next song in the few seconds he has between them.

He played both grand piano (which he opened the show with) and acoustic guitar, very well. He also sang a bit without an instrument (but always with the band, with one exception I’ll note below).

RobbieGilPiano

Robbie performed a number of originals, mixed with covers, all well. Given the amount of passion he puts into every note, it’s sometimes hard to hear the words clearly, so I don’t have enough of a sense of him as a lyricist yet (with the same exception noted above).

What comes across most is his joy on stage, which he spreads like a warm blanket on a cold day over the audience. Pairing his sets with Martin’s is brilliant, both for the genre similarities (that will make an audience for one happily stick around for the other) and for the spiritual well-being projecting from the stage from each of them.

Robbie was accompanied by a full band on nearly every number. Three of the four band members played with Martin as well: Patrick Firth, Ryan Vaughn and Greg Mayo.

Patrick Firth played both electronic keyboards and grand piano (the grand piano was lifted off the stage for Martin’s set). As good as Patrick is on the electronic keyboards, I am even more taken by his play on the grand piano (it’s simply purer).

RobbieGilPatrickFirth

While singing one number, Robbie Gil stepped over to the far left corner of the stage and started playing four-handed piano with Patrick (he remained standing while playing!). We’ve seen this before (The Paper Raincoat’s Right Angles comes to mind), but with no disrespect to other piano players, this was the best I can recall. Awesome!

RobbieGilPatrickFirthBothPlayingPiano

Ryan Vaughn played the full drum set. I’ve heard nothing but praise for his drumming from so many people, but previous to this set I’ve only seen him play percussion to Craig Meyer’s drums. I can now confirm that those rumors of his skill were not exaggerated. He’s a wonderful drummer! Sorry about the red eye in the photo.

RyanVaughnDrums

I don’t have anything new to say about Greg Mayo’s guitar play (it was equally awesome in both sets), other than to note that he took much longer leads during Robbie’s set, partially because he wasn’t sharing the duties with Chris Kuffner.

GregMayoLeadGuitar

I’ll note two critical things:

  1. Robbie kneeled down a number of times when Greg was taking a solo, so that people on the opposite side of the stage could enjoy it visually as well as aurally. This was precisely the same type of classy move I praised Evan Watson for (in the same post linked above where we first saw Robbie sing!).RobbieGilKneeling
  2. Robbie heaped so much praise on Greg (repeatedly), that I felt certain he was actively campaigning for my position as President of the Greg Mayo Fan Club. BACK OFF ROBBIE, the job is taken! Winking smile

Lois ended up sitting right next to Robbie’s dad. Toward the end of the set Robbie gave him a shout out and the crowd enthusiastically gave him an ovation.

RobbieGilWithHisDadLookingOn

Nick Morrison on electric bass (the only additional band member, but I can’t find a good link to him). Very well done! Now I can finally get to the exception. Robbie dismissed all but Nick from the stage. He took to the piano and sang a new original number named I Believe. Nick accompanied him quietly and beautifully on the bass. Since it was a quiet song, we could hear the words clearly. Both Lois and I thought it was a really good song, so hearing more of his material is warranted.

NickMorrison

Robbie called up Martin Rivas to close his set and they sang Feeling Alright by Dave Mason. Of course, as with Martin’s Stand By Me, the crowd joined in for much of the song, included a few choruses of just the audience singing.

RobbieGilMartinRivasNickMorrison

Lois has a way of bending the universe to her will (if you know her, you know I’m not exaggerating!). The night before, when we were at Greg Mayo’s midnight set, Lois whispered to me “Ask Greg to play anything by Dave Mason!” (that’s the gospel truth!). I said: “While he’s doing covers tonight, they’re not requests, we’ll have to take whatever he gives us!”.

Obviously, Lois wasn’t satisfied with my answer, so she took matters into her own hands and found a way to force Robbie to satisfy her desire to hear a Dave Mason song performed live. Be afraid people, be very afraid… Winking smile

What an absolutely spectacular night.

We had fully intended to stay for Casey Shea next, since so many people have told me I need to get to know his music. We did hear the first three songs (all good!), but we left for two reasons: 1) His set started 75 minutes later than expected (I was ready to collapse rather than get wound even tighter) and 2) The volume doubled the minute they started, to an uncomfortable level. We’ll catch a set of Casey’s soon enough, I’m sure.

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!

PatrickFirth

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.

KennyShaw

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?

Rebecca Haviland and American Idol Rejects Show at Rockwood Music Hall

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I’ve written about Rebecca Haviland quite a number of times, each time glowingly. That said, the most songs we ever saw her perform in a row were three, at a recent Backscratch show. We’ve wanted to catch a full set for a long time and nearly pulled it off twice. It finally happened last night at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1.

Rebecca played mostly originals, with two excellent covers thrown in for good measure. I was impressed with her set list, because it showed her voice off over a number of genres and volume levels.

RebeccaHavilandSinging

You shouldn’t have to ask, but for you insistent types, yes, Rebecca excelled at all of them, on every song.

She chose to play every number accompanying herself on electric guitar (very nicely). We’ve seen her play keyboards twice before and she impressed me mightily both times, so we still have that to look forward to in a future set.

RebeccaHavilandGuitar

Rebecca was accompanied by some of the best NY-based musicians (we count them among our favorites). I’ll cover them in a minute. Halfway through the set, she dismissed them all. She played a spanking brand new song, solo. It’s so new, that she decided to restart it a few seconds in, to get into the right rhythm.

It’s either called Pain and Pleasure, or Pleasure and Pain (though on the set list, it’s marked as “Sing”, which I doubt means that she needed to remember to use her voice, so I’m not really sure). Winking smile

Aside from really liking the song (and enjoying the intro Rebecca shared with us), I loved the fact that the guitar was so minimalist (almost dark/brooding), that this song was basically Rebecca, raw. The voice, lyrics and emotions, all delivered without any other distractions, other than a hauntingly simple guitar background.

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

Greg Mayo on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. 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. Last night’s keyboards were wonderful, including solos on both piano and organ. Greg’s harmonies were excellent on many of the choruses as well. We’ll save more Mayo Hype for when he’s front and center. Smile

GregMayo

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. Chris continues to impress more each time we see him (and that’s especially hard, since we seem to see him multiple times each week). I’ve mentioned recently that Chris has a good voice (something we didn’t discover until we saw the Big Apple Singers). Last night, in addition to quality bass play, Chris sang a lot of harmony with Rebecca (even more than Greg did). When the three of them sang together (on every chorus that Greg was singing), it was a complete delight.

ChrisAnderson

But, beyond playing the bass and singing, Rebecca mentioned that she writes some of her songs with Chris. I am guessing that would explain why Chris sang more harmonies with Rebecca than Greg did last night, considering that he likely knew the newer songs better.

Kenny Shaw on drums. This was the second night in a row seeing Kenny play the drums (the previous night was with The Thang Band over at Stage 2). What a contrast! (You’ll need to read this post to understand why). Aside from Kenny’s excellent play during Rebecca’s set, I got to tell him afterward how much I enjoyed The Thang experience.

KennyShawSettingUp

Kenny asked me whether I got a copy of their EP after the show. I said no. I turned away to say something To Chris Anderson and when I turned back, Kenny handed me the EP. I admit to not being quick on my feet. I took it, profusely thanking him, but my normal instinct would have been to pay for it. I don’t know whether they were charging for it the night before, but I’ll find out and make it right the next time I see Kenny. In any event, thanks!

After playing solo, Rebecca brought the band back out and sang a super-soulful, bluesy version of Black Dog by Led Zeppelin (she performed it at Backscratch as well). She then announced that she had two more songs.

After finishing the first, the house music and lights came on. Everyone was confused (band and audience alike). It took a minute to sort out, but the lights dimmed, the music went off, and Rebecca a flourish. Whew! It ended up feeling like an encore. Winking smile

An excellent set, delivered with an excellent band, by an exceptionally talented person. Thanks Rebecca!

RebeccaHavilandSetList

When the set was over, we headed next door to Stage 2 (like I did, sans-Lois, the night before).

Caleb Hawley (a mind-bogglingly talented individual) organized an American Idol Rejects Show. Aside from the kitsch factor, I can’t imagine missing an opportunity to see Caleb perform. There were other incentives to attend, covered below in the order they appeared.

CalebHawley

Caleb was on this season of American Idol, progressing a few rounds before finally being ousted (I don’t watch the show, so I can’t give a more technically accurate description). Winking smile

We saw him perform at a house concert in VA, that was over-subscribed and needed to be moved to a larger venue. To say that he blew us away would be an understatement. Since we knew/know nothing about American Idol, it had nothing to do with his new-found fame. Talent, that’s all he needed to win us over, instantly.

Caleb played all but one song on the electric guitar last night (the other was acoustic). At the house concert, he played an acoustic guitar. If you read about that night, you know I thought he was masterful on the acoustic. Let’s add an equal amount of praise for his skills on the electric. In addition to a bit of normal electric guitar play (using a pick to play fast leads), he also does his signature mixture of finger-picking, strumming and leads.

Caleb performed 1/2 a dozen songs (give or take), all accompanied by a full band (all of whom I’ll mention after I get to the remaining Idol Rejects). He was an excellent MC as well (note all of my previous comments on his stage presence). We’ll return to Caleb at the end, but he was also part of the house band (the guitar player, natch) for the rest of the guests.

Brian Collazo was a contestant on Season 2, so this wasn’t a Rejects from 2011 Idol show. Brian was nearly as equal a draw for me as Caleb was. As with Kenny Shaw above, I saw Brian perform the night before at Rockwood 2 (the set before Kenny’s), with his band, Live Society. If you clicked through to my coverage of Kenny’s set with The Thang, then you either read the beginning about Live Society, or you need to go back and read it now! Winking smile

BrianCollazo

Brian sang three songs and nailed every one of them. One was a Live Society number (that they played the night before on the same stage). As good as it was, and with top-notch musicians backing him last night, they couldn’t match how intimate the Live Society band (and backup singers) are with this number. Last night == Great. The night before == Awesome! Smile

CalebHawleyCraigMeyerBrianCollazoMartinRivasBrianKilleen

Devyn Rush was up next. She was on Idol this season, making it to Hollywood before having her dreams shattered. I don’t know if her situation is currently resolved, but in Googling her, I found this article that shows that chasing your dreams can have negative consequences besides not achieving them directly.

DevynRushSinging

This was the first time we’ve heard of Devyn, but not likely the last. She performed three songs, one at the center microphone and two at the piano. She sings really well and played the piano beautifully.

Lois was particularly impressed with her energy and stage presence. Reading the front page of her site (linked above) makes me feel that she’s an incredibly nice/good/kind-hearted person, so that the sweetness that comes across on stage is not an act.

While I was impressed with her performance in general, I’ll need to see her in a different setting to know what I really think of her. I wasn’t drawn to the particular song selection.

Devyn wrote a short blog entry about the show which you should definitely read! At the bottom of that post are links to three YouTube videos from last night. The first is when she sang at the mic, the second, of one of her two songs at the piano and the third was the finale with all of the guests on stage (I haven’t gotten to the next and last guest yet). If you watch the first two, you can make up your own mind about Devyn. Keep in mind that while the video quality is quite good (kudos to the videographer for having a very steady hand!), the sound quality is what you get from a hand-held and there’s a reasonable amount of crowd noise (I’ll say more on that at the end).

Jerome Bell was the next and last guest. Even though we don’t watch Idol, in a small-world coincidence, we’ve actually seen Jerome Bell perform two songs at Rockwood 2 before. He performed a set there on April 27th, 2011. We came to see Rosi Golan perform the next set and arrived early enough to catch the end of Jerome Bell’s. It was crowded beyond belief (Jerome has a lot of loyal fans, deservedly so).

JeromeBellSinging

Jerome performed a number of songs last night, including a Stevie Wonder cover (which he crushed) and his own hit, Collide, co-written with his Idol roommate Chris Medina while they were still in competition. That was one of the two songs we heard last time too. We enjoyed it as much last night as we did the previous time. You can purchase the song on iTunes, the link is in the article above.

In addition to the full band that everyone else employed, Jerome had his two regular backup singers join him on stage. After the show he named and thanked them, claiming that he always forgets to introduce them during the shows. He said their names clearly, and I thought I’d easily remember them (or be able to find them with a quick search), but, of course, neither happened. Sorry. They definitely added both flair and excellent harmonies to Jerome’s performance.

(I just watched the entire video embedded below, and right before the 7-minute mark, Jerome introduces them! Devin Snow and Steven Cutts [sp?]. Yay!)

JeromeBellStevenCuttsDevinSnow

Jerome is appearing tonight (Friday, May 27th, 2011) at 10pm at Rockwood 1.

On to the band (finally), left-to-right on the stage:

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic). Patrick is always excellent, last night was no exception. In fact, he took a couple of great solos (one was unexpected, when Caleb’s pedal board failed briefly and Patrick quickly stepped in).

PatrickFirth

Most electronic keyboard players keep a Mac (or another laptop, but it’s almost always a Mac) right beside the keyboards. In a post about Candy Dulfer, I joked that Thomas Bank was checking his email on his Macbook Pro during the show. He dropped me an email (seriously!) letting me know that wasn’t the case! Winking smile

We sat right behind the piano, so I could clearly see what was on the screen. Now I understand completely. The laptop program showed a keyboard on the screen. Apparently, if the keyboard player forgets what note to play, they can look over at the simulated keyboard on the laptop and cheat. Sort of like the old Player Piano days! Winking smile

PatrickFirthPiano

Craig Meyer on the drums. Always great, both listening to his excellent drumming and watching his never-ending smile, which will lift the spirits of even the most depressed person on earth (let’s find that person, so I can test my theory soon!).

CraigMeyer

Martin Rivas on tambourine, shaker and vocals. Martin was mostly a percussionist last night (singing harmony on one, or possibly two songs). I couldn’t resist joking with Martin after the show that I had no idea he was hiding his talent with the shaker until last night (I’ve seen him wield a tambourine before). At times, he even hit the tambourine with the shaker. How creative is that? Smile

MartinRivas

In significantly more important Martin Rivas news, his birthday is tomorrow (Saturday) and he’s throwing us (the world, not Lois and me) a party at Rockwood 2, 10pm. Come join us (this time I mean Lois and me) to hear him serenade us on his birthday!

Brian Killeen on electric bass and vocals. We’ve seen (and written about) Brian many times. He’s a consistently excellent bass player who hasn’t let us (or more importantly the people he supports) down. I learned something new about Brian last night. He can sing! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him open his mouth even to speak. He sang a bit of harmony on some of Caleb’s numbers.

BrianKilleen

For the finale, Caleb called Brian, Devyn and Jerome back up to reprise Jerome’s triumphant cover of Let’s Get it On by Marvin Gaye from his American Idol audition. The third video linked in Devyn’s blog is of this finale (all nine minutes of it!). I’m including it here, for those who didn’t bother to click through. Again, forget the audio quality, but enjoy the atmosphere and imagine it in high fidelity. It was a blast! The song actually begins at the 1:00 mark.

Finale of American Idol Rejects Show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

If you watched the whole thing, you may have a partial sense of how funny Caleb is. If you didn’t watch it, then you might be wondering about the thumbnail above, where Caleb’s shirt is off. You can skip directly to the 4-minute mark to see why he took it off and what those tattoos on his belly are. Winking smile

Greg Mayo also jumped on the stage during the finale. I was on the opposite side of the room, so I didn’t see whether he had an instrument, sang, or was up there just to lend some moral support. No matter what, Greg enhances anything he’s around, so thanks for jumping in, no matter what role you played! Smile

After the show, I made a beeline to the stage to introduce myself to Brian Collazo. I also got to meet his significant other (or should I say better half) that I mentioned in yesterday’s post (she was the blond that sat two to my left). Here are the three of us (Lois insisted we pose):

BrianCollazoHisGF-Hadar

I have a lot to say about the crowd but I think I’m going to turn it into a full, separate post, because I had some insights that have previously eluded me. If our current schedule holds, I might be able to get that post out on Tuesday. With some luck, perhaps I’ll work on it after blogging tomorrow about the shows we will see tonight:

Abby Payne and Chris Ayer, 7pm and 8pm at Rockwood 1. Come join us in kicking off the Memorial Day Weekend off with some awesome music tonight! Smile