Rebecca Haviland

Patryk Larney and Guests at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

PatrykLarney

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

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

thevanitybelles The Vanity Belles

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

BriArden Bri Arden

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

collazo Brian Collazo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OscarBautista

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

BenMorgan

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

ChrisAndersonPatrykLarneyChrisAndersonPlotting

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

KennyShaw

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

SetList

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

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

CarrieWellingOscarBautistaCarrieWellingPatrykLarneyChrisAnderson

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

BriArdenOscarBautistaBriArden

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

MikeLarney

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

BrianCollazo

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

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

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

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

JessiRaeWaltzTheVanityBelles

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

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

TheVanityBellesPatrykLarney

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

RebeccaHaviland

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

OscarBautistaRebeccaHavilandBenMorganPatrykLarney

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

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

MikeLarneyPatrykLarney

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

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

Greg Mayo Band at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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If you read this space, you know how often we see Greg Mayo perform. Even so, it’s not nearly enough, but we take what we can get. One of the reasons we see Greg so often is that he plays with a number of different bands (and a number of configurations under his personal moniker).

One of those bands is the Greg Mayo Band. Amazingly, it’s been a little over six months since we last saw them play. That’s just crazy, given how good they are. Of all the bands we see in NYC, Greg likes this one to dress up. Given that nearly everyone on stage played or guested on an earlier set that evening, it was fun to see them change from jeans to suits and ties from one minute to the next.

GregMayoSinging

All Greg Mayo Band shows are really events, with last night being no exception. There was a rowdy crowd (in the good sense) rocking out (you don’t say souling out, right?) from 11:15pm to nearly 12:30am (on a pre-hurricane Thursday night!?!). Even though every show is an event, last night was sure to be even more special (and indeed it was). Earlier in the day, Greg tweeted the following:

Happy 60th, dad. Tonight is for you. Enjoy the show http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Mayo

The link above is to the mobile version of the page, if you’re reading this on big screen, here’s a better link to study up on how amazing Bob Mayo was.

During the show last night (well into it, so I’m telling this out of order), Greg stopped playing for a minute to mention that it would have been his dad’s 60th birthday. He played a song that he said was the first one his dad taught him to play on the piano (I think he said he was in 7th grade).

GregMayoPiano

That Bob Mayo inspired and/or taught his son to follow in his footsteps (Greg is an amazing guitarist and pianist, just like Bob was) is yet another gift Bob gave to us all!

Greg played the keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and sang lead. He was outstanding. I would say he was inspired, but the truth is that he never gives a sub-par performance, so I’m not sure how to measure his inspiration. Smile

GregMayoKeyboards

There were a few substitutions from the normal band configuration (or at least from the last few times we’ve seen them). Everyone was excellent, so no suffering of quality for the changes.

Left-to-right on stage:

Rebecca Haviland on vocals and tambourine. Another in a long string of wow performances. I feel like a broken record, since I wrote about Rebecca in my two previous posts. That said, on those she was a special guest. Here, she is a full-fledged member of the Greg Mayo Band, so she got to sing a lot more.

RebeccaHavilandSingingRebeccaHavilandErikWhite

Kenny Shaw on drums. Another exceptional performance. Kenny was great on every number (these are very high-energy songs), but was phenomenal on one number in particular, Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening. It was by no means the only highlight. Greg gave Kenny a couple of shout-outs turning over the focus to Kenny.

KennyShaw

This was my third consecutive set seeing Kenny last night. All were amazing, but this one topped the others, even though he had been playing for two hours before this one even began.

John Liotta on baritone saxophone. Another excellent performance by John. He took a couple of leads and nailed each one.

JohnLiottaJoshReed

Josh Reed on trumpet. This was our first time seeing Josh. He was great. He was the first of the brass section to take a long lead (I think in the very first song) and he blew everyone in the large crowd away!

JoshReed

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

DanVoss

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. One of our favorite bass players, didn’t disappoint (has he ever?). He was hidden from my view most of the set, but he was never hidden from my ears. Chris’ bass lines were crisp and interesting and very easy to pick out.

ChrisAnderson

Erik White on electric guitar and vocals. Erik was the founding guitar player in the Greg Mayo Band, but left the group a while ago. Paul Maddison (the current guitarist) was away, and given that Erik was playing with Brothers McCann two sets earlier, he was the perfect choice to sit in.

ErikWhite

Erik was superb on the guitar (it would be hard to imagine Greg having an ordinary guitarist in the band, given his personal skills). He also sang lead (and harmony). He was the guitar and vocal force on Paul Simon’s Late in the Evening (mentioned above when I praised Kenny’s drum play). Everyone made that song incredible, but Erik and Kenny in particular.

Martin Rivas and Brothers McCann were called up (twice, but I think the Brothers were a no-show the second time) to sing. Fantastic. (Note: Greg did not make them change into suits.) Winking smile

The crowd kept cheering after Greg said goodnight, so he was forced to stick around for an encore. Smile Here’s the set list:

SetList

A truly amazing night. Given that I was up from 4am, on four hours of sleep, it would have been a miracle just to stay awake that late, except that this music is so energizing, I had no trouble. Of course, I crashed when I got back to the apartment, but it was worth it.

Martin Rivas at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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We see Martin Rivas whenever we can. One of the reasons is that he always finds a way to shake things up, even when he’s performing with the same (awesome) band. Recently that has meant Martin introducing a slew of new songs (he’s prepping to record a new CD with the incredible Alex Wong producing, later this year).

MartinRivas

In addition to new songs, Martin often themes his shows somehow (not always announcing the theme, you just quickly figure it out). Last night he picked a cool one. We’ll get to that shortly.

We really like his new material. Coupled with our love of Alex Wong as a producer, the anticipation for the new CD is building. We’ll have to tamp it down a bit. Martin announced that he likely won’t be recording until late this year or early next year, which means the CD won’t be out until Spring (my guess, not Martin’s words).

MartinRivasSinging

Martin started out with the full band (I’ll cover them shortly). After a couple of numbers, he called up Rebecca Haviland to sing with him. I just highlighted how well Rebecca handles soul vocals in the post before this one (where she guested with Brothers McCann). This was an extraordinary continuation.

RebeccaHaviland

For those of you who don’t know, Rebecca is a songwriter and headliner in her own right. She’s in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to record a full-length CD. I have the EP with four of those songs and I can’t wait to get the full album. So, folks, help Rebecca, yourselves, and of course most of all, me, by contributing here. Smile

When Rebecca left the stage, so did the band. Martin morphed into the surprise theme of the night. He played four songs in a row duet-style, each with one member of the band. So fresh, so cool, each song so well done. On the set list, you can see the initials of each band member next to the song they performed with Martin (if you don’t immediately know who they are, you will when I cover each individually).

SetList

Those songs were all on the mellower side. When the four duets were over, the band came back and kept raising the temperature. I Need a Riff was raucous and had the crowd hopping.

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

Patrick Firth on keyboards (grand piano and electronic) and vocals. Patrick was his usual outstanding self. Excellent piano play!

PatrickFirthPatrickFirthMartinRivas

Kenny Shaw on drums. This was the second of three consecutive sets that I saw Kenny play last night (all absolutely awesome!). I am not sure whether he was stalking me, or I was stalking him, but either way, it worked for me! Smile

KennyShawMartinRivasKennyShaw

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

BrianKilleenMartinRivasBrianKilleen

Greg Mayo on electric guitar and vocals. Always a treat to see Greg on the guitar. While all of his leads were tasty, he saved the real magic until the last few numbers, starting with North, where he just killed it.

GregMayoMartinRivasGregMayo

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

GregMayoVoguing

John Liotta played saxophone on Get Yourself Together.

JohnLiotta

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

Brothers McCann at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Brothers McCann played Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, last night at 9pm. I missed that show. I don’t usually post about shows I miss, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. As we did earlier this month, Lois and I split up (just temporarily, calm down folks!). I went to see Derek James at Rockwood 1 at 9pm and Lois went to see Brothers McCann next door (neither of us had seen them before).

Lois was so impressed that she wanted me to include a section on them in one of my other posts from last night (we each saw three sets). I chose to make this shorter post all about them for two reasons:

  1. I caught the last two full songs in their set (Derek’s set ended a bit earlier)
  2. Lois bought their CD and I listened to it this morning (it’s really good!)

When I walked in, Lois told me how she scooped me again, because Greg Mayo produced their CD and was playing a bit with them as well. She knows that I’m the (unofficial, self-appointed) President of the Greg Mayo Fan Club, so she was trying to get under my skin for missing this (competitive much, Lois?). Winking smile

The universe looks out for me. In order to soften the blow, Brothers McCann called up none other than Rebecca Haviland to sing with them. I have gushed about Rebecca often, and will do so again in the next two posts from the sets following this one. Her voice fits most genres and Brothers McCann flavor of soul is most definitely one of them.

MikeMcCannRebeccaHaviland

It didn’t need to get better, but it did…

As if to further appease me, to close the show, Brothers McCann called Greg up to play electronic keyboards, with Pat McCann still playing the grand piano (Greg stood to the right of Pat). Of course, Greg was amazing, but more importantly, so was the song, the Brothers and their entire band!

PatMcCannGregMayoGregMayo

I’ve added Brothers McCann to my must see list. Add them to yours as well! Here are photos that Lois took while I was next door:

MikeMcCannErikWhite

DanBissexEranShayshJohnLiottaErikWhite

Greg Mayo at Rockwood Music Hall

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

GregMayo

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

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

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

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

GregMayoGuitar

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

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

RebeccaHavilandGregMayoPatrickFirth

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

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

PatrickFirthSettingUpPatrickFirthSinging

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

ChrisAndersonChrisAndersonSinging

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

KennyShawSettingUp

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

GregMayoPatrickFirthChrisAnderson

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

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

SetList

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

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

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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

RebeccaHaviland

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

RebeccaHavilandSinging

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

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

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

ChrisAnderson

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

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

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

GregMayoSinging

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

KennyShawSettingUp

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

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

Here is the set list from last night:

SetList

Another Amazing Weekend

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This was our third consecutive weekend hosting out-of-town visitors. Since the last two were fantastic, the bar was set high for this one. Don’t worry, we cleared it.

When our friends (parents of our godchildren and our closest friends for nearly 30 years!) asked whether this weekend would be a good one for them to come up from VA, the automatic answer was of course! The only (minor) complication was our unmovable commitment to attending four sets of music on Saturday night.

I’ve already written about the music separately, but since this is a post about the entire weekend, I’ll link them here again. Rebecca Haviland: covered here. Matt Simons: covered here. Sierra Noble: covered here. Chris Ayer: covered here.

We had a small scare before everything got rolling. Our friends called from the airport to say that there was a mechanical problem on the plane. While it was (theoretically) simple to fix, they didn’t know how long it would take the mechanic to show up. There was a chance that they wouldn’t even get out that night (Friday, July 1st).

That’s exactly how the first of these three weekends began, with David and Rebecca (their son and daughter-in-law) not getting out until the next morning! This case turned out differently. Not 15 minutes later they called back to say they were boarding. I’m guessing the mechanic was on a smoke break. Winking smile

Shortly after they arrived at the apartment, nine of us (counting a 2-year-old as a full person) Winking smile walked up to the Peking Duck House for dinner. It’s been a while since we’ve been there (a minor crime against humanity). We had been talking about our need to correct that for the past two weeks, so this worked out perfectly.

PekingDuckHouseTable

The meal was perfect. I never doubted it would be, but I report it here for the record.

PekingDuckHouseFood

PekingDuckHouse

Given our music-filled night, we decided that Saturday would be a day of rest for us (conserving our energy). The parents, their daughter and son-in-law went to the Doughnut Plant (the site currently lists a Lower East Side address only, but there is one at 220 W. 23rd St. as well, which is where they went). Afterward, they walked the Highline Park.

They headed over to Broadway to see How to Succeed in Business. All four of them said it was terrific and they were sure both of us would love it. Something to add to the list. Smile

The six of us had a wonderful dinner at El Rio Grande (our favorite Mexican restaurant). In a complete shock, we bumped into a few good friends who were dining there outside. We were seated inside (our choice) on the other side of the window from them. Even though our chats with them were brief (before our meal and after theirs), it was a special delight.

After nearly falling asleep (due to the amazing frozen margaritas), I somehow gathered myself for the epic night of music and easily made it all the way through! I don’t know what the others did, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they didn’t fight the feeling of sleep and succumbed to it. Winking smile

On Sunday morning the four of them attended Church services at Redeemer. They spent some time at the Cooper Hewitt Museum then returned to the apartment to relax a bit. This week is both our and Laura and Chris’ anniversaries. We decided to celebrate at the Old Homestead steakhouse. All six of us couldn’t stop raving about the meal afterward. At least three (perhaps as many as five) counted this meal (and therefore this restaurant) as their favorite steakhouse meal (that includes Lois saying that her Lobster was the best she’s ever had).

OldHomesteadOldHomesteadTable

I loved my meal (thoroughly), but I admitted (out loud) that The Palm is still my favorite. I promise not to complain or hesitate to return to the Old Homestead though, should anyone suggest it again. Smile

After dinner, we all wanted (and needed) to walk off the calories (please don’t make me estimate the full damage). We walked the super-long block from the restaurant to the 14th Street entrance to the Highline Park. This was my first time seeing it in person. We walked from 14th St. until the end, currently 30th St. It’s spectacular. I highly recommend making the effort to get there, whether you’re a New Yorker or an out-of-towner here on a visit.

HighlinePark

We collapsed when we got back to the apartment (well, at least Lois and I collapsed, the others may have gone dancing for all I know).

On Monday morning (the venerable July 4th), Chris and I went for a long walk. When we’re in the city, I typically take long walks for exercise. For me, that means somewhere between five and eight miles, depending on my mood and my schedule. I do it 2-3 times a week, if I have the time. Amazingly, blogging is often the cause of me not having the time to walk. The things we do for our readers… Winking smile

Few of you who read this know Chris. He served six years in the Navy and remains in amazing shape by regularly working out. My only hesitation in walking with him, ever, is that he can keep up a grueling pace forever. He can walk backward, faster than I walk forward, and keep it up seemingly forever as well. I negotiated through an intermediary (Laura) that he would drop the drill-sergeant routine this time.

When we got to the Brooklyn Bridge (typically as far as I’d walk), that marked the 3.9 mile point. That would be just under an eight mile walk if we turned around. Chris looked at me and asked if I’d walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I told him it had been over 30 years since I’d done that, but I was game. Instead, he suggested we just keep trucking further from the apartment. It had been a year since I’d done the loop I knew we were now committing to, but I (happily) agreed.

We continued south, past the Seaport, on to the Staten Island Ferry, where we headed north up the west side. At 34th Street we started the long trek over to the east side. When we arrived at the apartment, Chris was fresh as a daisy. I was a puddle of sweat who dreamt only of removing my sneakers from my feet. Total distance: 11.36 miles (I wear a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch that they all bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago). Total time was 3:14, but that included a stop in the World Financial Center to check out the progress at Ground Zero.

After a nice lunch out (Euro Diner if you’re keeping score) we veg’ed out all afternoon (I might have even slept a bit, shhh). All of that was to prepare for attending a July 4th party.

Up until three years ago, we used to host an annual 4th of July party on our deck. We had pretty good views of the Macy’s Fireworks when they had them on East River. This is the third year in a row that they were on the Hudson instead and we had no plans to fight the crowds to try and see them.

On Friday, we received an invitation to a party that claimed to have a spectacular view of the fireworks. Under normal circumstances, we would have said yes in a heartbeat, but we would have been adding four strangers to the party list, which felt wrong on our part. I politely declined, explaining why.

In a I’m not taking No for an answer reply, our host told us to bring our guests along. I only had one No in me, so this time I said Yes! We negotiated on what we could bring and settled on Sushi.

What a great plan, until we found out that our go-to Sushi restaurant was closed all weekend. Our backup Sushi place (also exceptional) was going to be closed on Monday as well. In a twist of fate (actually two twists), the first place was clearly marked as being closed all weekend. The backup place hadn’t updated their sign, so when Lois went in, she thought they’d be open on Monday.

Hiroshi Sushi is across the street from our apartment. I filled in our order before Lois walked over. When she started to say what time she wanted the order ready by, she found out that they were closed on Monday. As she was turning to leave, the person she was talking to called her back.

He told her that he remembered us from years earlier when we used to come in all the time with Lois’ mother to their former Japanese Restaurant (a few doors down, now closed for probably eight years!). He was our waiter many of those times. He asked Lois if he could call the owner (and head chef), who was also involved in the other restaurant, to ask if he’d come in just to prepare this order.

20 minutes later he called us and said that the owner would happily do this for us. Wow, we were so grateful. The order was ready to be picked up at exactly 5pm (as promised) and was fantastic (as evidenced by the oohs and aahs of the partiers). I couldn’t resist trying something called “peanut and avocado roll”. Yummy doesn’t even begin to describe it.

We also brought a white pizza (for those who might not like Sushi). I had the first two slices (and didn’t notice if anyone else did). Man, that was really good too. Finally, we brought a gigantic fresh fruit salad that was seemingly bottomless, but it got completely devoured (or so I heard), so it apparently had a bottom after all. That too was a big hit.

Fruit

On to the actual party (I have a tough time not talking or thinking about food though). Winking smile

When we first arrived at our friend’s apartment we were blown away by the view. But, he lives in a one bedroom (very high up) and we wondered how everyone would get to enjoy the fireworks while being crowded like sardines in the living room. Ah, I’m so naïve at times. That was never the plan.

There was a friend of our friend, who lived 15 floors down (still quite high!). He has a much larger apartment, but more importantly, a massive deck, facing the Hudson River. The two of them decided to combine their parties. In an additional act of generosity, the second host (the friend of our friend), allowed an entire party of his next door neighbors to attend the viewing of the fireworks on his deck, when they were done with their meal (and drinking) on their adjacent (but not facing the river!) deck.

I don’t need to describe the view or the fireworks to you. All of the photos above were taken by Lois, on her compact camera. She took a ton of photos last night too, but I don’t need to share them.

Our friend (Bob) from VA is a semi-professional photographer (with professional equipment). He set up his Nikon on a tripod and captured stunning photos. His daughter (Laura) is following in his footsteps. A few of her shots are included with his. Here’s a representative sample (I’m not compressing these photos, for those of you who want the full effect).

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Followed by the calm after the storm:

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Our friend (let’s call him Host #1) made two pitchers of exotic drinks. The first was green, looked like slime, and was called Key Lime Martini. The second was blue (and frothy) and had Blue Curacao, some coconut stuff and other secret ingredients. I tried the Key Lime first. It was amazing, but one sip was nearly lethal. I am putting my name on a list for when it’s time for me to go, this is the way I’d like to end it all. While I know at least two people who loved it, but purposely didn’t finish theirs (for fear of expiring), I was brave and downed my entire glass.

I later moved on to the Blue mixture. It tasted even better. So much so that I had a second glass (don’t tell Lois!). It didn’t feel as lethal, but for all I know, that’s part of it’s secret. I heard many people raving about this concoction (actually both). Our Host #1 can definitely fall back on Mixologist if his primary profession hits a brick wall. Wow!

Host #2 is a fascinating person who couldn’t have been kinder or more generous (as noted above). In fact, we met many friends of Host #1, each one was a complete delight to converse with. Without a doubt, we’ll be following up with a number of them!

We had to walk a number of blocks before finding the first of the two cabs that got us home and a bit further for the second one.

An absolutely incredible ending to an incredible weekend. I’m no longer annoyed that the fireworks have moved to the west side. I’ll need to be nice to Host #1 for the entire year, just in case Macy’s decides to do it there again next year. It will be hard to keep up the façade, but I’ll do my best. Winking smile

Thank you for including all six of us. It’s a night we’ll never forget!

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

RebeccaHavilandSinging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ChrisAndersonSinging

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

ChrisAndersonParents

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

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

GregMayo

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

KennyShaw

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

RebeccaHavilandSierraNobleChrisAnderson

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

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

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

Leave a Lasting Mark Benefit at The Bitter End

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Sam Teichman produces a monthly benefit concert. Each show benefits a specific charity. Each show has a specific theme and is epic in terms of the number of artists and their individual and combined talents. You can follow Sam on Twitter to get alerts about each show.

SamTeichman

Last night’s show benefitted Sean Casey Animal Rescue. The theme was the songs of James Taylor and Carole King. We’ll get to the myriad performers in a minute.

Poster

You should come to these shows for any one of the following reasons:

  • You are doing a good deed by supporting a variety of good causes (one per show)
  • You will hear great music because the themes are built around well-known artists
  • You will see/hear amazing performances by incredibly talented local musicians
  • Come more than once and see how quickly you feel like you’re part of a community
  • Discover talented musicians who you will want to follow in their own career
  • Marvel at the spectacle of shuffling as many as 15 performers on/off stage on each song, quickly and efficiently

In addition to coordinating (producing) the entire show, Sam is also the MC for the evening. He introduces every act and every performer (multiple times). He tirelessly promotes them and the recipient of the donations. It’s important to know that the musicians donate 100% of their time (including rehearsals). Every penny raised goes directly to the charity.

Sam has a crew of volunteers that film each show and the clips eventually make their way on to YouTube. You can see clips from past shows (among other shows that Sam has filmed) at his YouTube Channel. Sam also produces CDs of the shows. He solicits additional donations for a performance by offering free copies of CDs from past shows. You aren’t buying the CDs, you are being rewarded for your generosity by being able to take the CDs home for your enjoyment. Smile

There were some minor changes in the order of a few songs (to accommodate artists who were late or had to leave a bit early), but for the most part, these Set Lists are accurate (every image in every post can be clicked on for a larger version):

SetList1SetList2SetList3

For my sanity (and hopefully yours), I will cover only the main singers, in the order they appeared, then add all the amazing side-people (so as not to have to mention each multiple times). You can refer back to the set lists above to see which side-person supported which lead singer. It should be noted that nearly every side-person sang lead on one song as well, which will cut down on the extra side-people needed to be covered at the end.

I’ll add a (1st time) to any artists who we’ve never seen before.

Valerie Mize sang I Feel the Earth Move. We just saw Valerie perform at Backscratch XIV this past Monday. It was our first time hearing her sing lead and I knew it wouldn’t be our last. I didn’t know our next one would be this close, but I’m glad it was. Valerie opened the show with a bang! I Feel the Earth Move is a rich, earthy song. Valerie’s rich, earthy voice is perfectly suited for it.

ValerieMizeSethFaulk

Bri Arden sang Smackwater Jack. The first time I heard Bri was at our first Leave a Lasting Mark show, a Soul Revue Benefit. She blew me (and the rest of the audience) away with her rendition of Proud Mary, Tina Turner style. She was equally good on Smackwater Jack, but the song itself doesn’t call for the same heart palpitations that Proud Mary does.

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My next post will be all about Bri. She headlined a show at Rockwood Music Hall shortly after this benefit was over. She, and her amazing band, were all troopers for doing this benefit and then running over to do their own show. Bravo!

Keith Paine sang Mexico (1st time). He did a very nice job, so it likely won’t be our last time seeing him. This was the first time that the horn section showed up, which added to the vibe quite nicely. I’ll cover them at the bottom of the post.

KeithPaine

Jenna Marotta sang It’s Too Late (1st time). Sam introduced Jenna with a nice story. Jenna attended a previous benefit show to see a friend of hers perform. After the show, Jenna contacted Sam and asked for an opportunity to sing at one herself. Ask and ye shall receive. Jenna did a nice job. It took her a bit longer to warm up to the mic than the others. She has a lovely voice when she lets it out.

JennaMarotta

Rebecca Haviland sang Carolina On My Mind. Rebecca was the first to perform a song solo. She accompanied herself on electric guitar. I’ve written about Rebecca a number of times (all glowingly). One of her (many) talents is her absolutely extraordinary voice. While we’ve heard her voice soar (clearly) above a crowded stage of loud instruments, seeing her sing solo, accompanied by a quiet guitar, was a magical thing to behold.

RebeccaHaviland

Before singing, Rebecca mentioned that she was nervous to sing her take on such a classic song. I was expecting something wildly different than the original given Rebecca’s incredible take on Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog (nowhere similar to the original, other than sharing the same lyrics). While Rebecca’s Carolina On My Mind was definitely more soulful, it wasn’t a radical departure from the original. It was stunning, nonetheless.

Shira Goldberg was up next. Before I get to her performance, two digressions. Lois captured this photo of Rebecca and Shira before the show started. They were letting the crowd know that they had (fraternal) twin guitars:

RebeccaHavilandShiraGoldbergSisterGuitars

Before she sang, Shira wryly thanked Sam for placing her immediately after Rebecca. Winking smile It was a self-deprecating (and classy) way for Shira to pay a lovely compliment to Rebecca’s performance.

Shira sang Some Kind of Wonderful. She was, indeed, some kind of wonderful herself. We’d seen Shira only once before, at a Livestrong benefit (in 2009!). That night, she joked that she only knew depressing songs. Even though she didn’t feel it was appropriate to sing a depressing song at a cancer survivor’s benefit, she had no choice. Last night she joked that she should sing happier songs. At least she could pick one by someone else this time. Smile

ShiraGoldberg

Scott Stein sang Way Over Yonder. Sam had mentioned earlier that they weren’t pigeon-holing any of the performers into sticking to the appropriate gender (males singing James Taylor, etc.). As much as I enjoyed Scott’s singing with his group, The Ramblers (my most recent post about them can be read here), I’m not sure he was well-suited to this song, vocally.

ScottStein

No matter. Not only did Scott destroy on the piano, he was the primary piano sideman on most of the numbers. He was crazy amazing on every one. I wasn’t surprised, as he was unreal at The Ramblers show as well, but many of the songs last night have natural piano runs that are gorgeous (think: Carole King), so Scott got to constantly show his wares.

David Kantor sang Something in the Way She Moves (no good individual link, but read to the bottom to get a band link!, and 1st time). He did a fine job singing, but to me, it wasn’t really about his singing. In addition to singing lead on this song and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, David was the primary acoustic guitar sideman for the evening. Much of his play was phenomenal finger-picking that I could have listened to with no voices or other instruments, all night long!

DavidKantor

Later in the show, in what appeared to be a complete ad-lib, David put down his acoustic guitar mid-song, walked over to the electric bass (which was un-manned), signaled to the bassists on the sideline (asking permission to pick up one of their basses) and finished the song on the bass.

DavidKantorBass

When David was done, I did something I have never done before. I called Sam over and told him that the far left microphone (used by the backup singers) was way too low (it had been since the first song). Sam told Chris who was working the sound booth. Chris corrected the problem perfectly. Thanks Sam and Chris, it became critical just two songs later!

Jake Cohen sang How Sweet It Is (1st time). Jake was one of three primary drummers throughout the night. He was excellent on the drums and he did an excellent job on the vocals as well. He also had four background vocalists and a full band, making this a very rich sounding song.

JakeCohen

Justin Goldner sang Home Again (1st time). Justin did a very nice job singing and playing the piano on this number. That said, for the majority of the evening, he was one of three primary bass players. He was truly awesome on the bass. I noticed how good he was on the very first song. But when Bri sang Smackwater Jack, Justin was so good that I recall thinking I never realized how sophisticated some of the bass lines were (or could be) in Folk/Pop tunes of yesteryear.

JustinGoldnerKateFerberJustinGoldnerBass

Kate Ferber sang Natural Woman (1st time). I need to back up before I cover Kate’s performance on this song. Kate was singing backup with David Kantor. I could barely hear her, which is what prompted me to call Sam over after that song (I couldn’t hear Bri singing with Valerie, or Valerie singing with Bri either, on that mic). Kate is pictured above, singing backup with Justin. She is holding the same mic that I couldn’t hear earlier, but after Chris upped the volume.

That was very important, because even though Kate was singing background, for a good part of the song, it was more like a duet than just some light harmony. Her voice was excellent and it would have been a real shame to have lost it (again).

Kate came to center stage to sing Natural Woman. She was fantastic. Great voice, warmth and stage presence. All around excellent delivery of a great song.

KateFerber

Abby Bernstein sang Steamroller (1st time). When Sam introduced Abby, he said she was fresh off of opening for Bare Naked Ladies in front of 14,000 people. Abby corrected him that he was off by a zero, that it was actually 1,400. A few seconds later, she added “I meant 14,000,000!”. Good start. Quick wit is one of the most welcome traits in a stage performer. Smile

AbbyBernstein

Thankfully, humor is not Abby’s only weapon. She has an excellent voice along with excellent stage presence. She too delivered a fine performance.

Paul Tabachneck sang Will You Love Me Tomorrow (1st time). Wow. Great voice, great delivery, nice job on the acoustic guitar. He (or rather Sam) introduced this as Paul’s interpretation of Will You Love Me Tomorrow. I place it in the same category as Rebecca’s interpretation of Carolina On My Mind, meaning, not as far afield from the original as the introduction would have you believe.

PaulTabachneck

Andy Mac sang Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. We’ve seen Andy once before and he was very good, so I wasn’t surprised that he delivered again last night.

AndyMac

Kaylin Lee Clinton sang So Far Away (1st time). This was the first departure from the set lists shown above, due to a late arrival. Kaylin sang backup earlier (beautifully) so I was excited to see her step up to center stage. No disappointment! Kaylin delivered So Far Away (another great song), wonderfully. Excellent voice, great stage presence.

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Kaylin sang backup a few times. Here’s a shot of her with Shira (there’s another one below with Seth).

KaylinLeeClintonShiraGoldberg

Patryk Larney sang Sweet Baby James (1st time). I’ve seen so many tweets over the last year about Patryk that I felt like I almost knew him. Of course, I had absolutely no idea what he would sound like. Now I do and I’m a big fan. Excellent voice, good guitar play.

PatrykLarney

Jeremiah Birnbaum sang You’ve Got a Friend. I’m already a huge fan of Jeremiah’s (he’s Scott Stein’s partner-in-crime in The Ramblers). Jeremiah was the primary electric guitarist on most songs last night, but for You’ve Got a Friend, he dropped the guitar and took center stage with just a mic in hand. What an incredible delivery of an all-time great song. Excellent voice, but he also created an emotional atmosphere that sucked me in.

JeremiahBirnbaum

Chris Kelly sang Jelly Man Kelly (no good link, and 1st time). Chris was one of three primary bass players for the night. He did a fine job on the bass whenever he was up. For this song he took center stage and accompanied himself on the electric bass. Highly unusual to see a solo bass player singing. He pulled off this fun song that James Taylor played on Sesame Street!

ChristopherKelly

I can’t take it any longer. I have to admit that I lied when I said Chris(topher) performed solo. Off in the corner of the stage, at the grand piano, Sam Teichman accompanied Chris on the tambourine. Yes, our own Sam showed his musical/percussion chops. I guess the old saying “It’s good to be the boss” is certainly true! Winking smile

Caleb Hawley sang Fire and Rain. Caleb was late, necessitating the earlier shifts, but he made it in plenty of time. He was in a suit, so perhaps he came from an interview on Celebrity Apprentice. Winking smile

CalebHawley

Caleb is one of our favorites. He has a wonderful voice, plays guitar so well, in a style I’m not accustomed to hearing and in general, he’s just a ton of fun on stage. He performed one of my favorite songs as well. That said, he wasn’t himself last night. Perhaps rushing in threw him off, perhaps whatever kept him stopped him from rehearsing properly.

To be clear, Caleb at his worst is better than many solid performers’ best, but it’s a far cry from his own best.

In an understandable irony, Caleb was considered one of the bigger draws of the show. He was the only lead singer to be given two songs. The second was no better than the first. Oh well, there’s no way this affects my opinion of Caleb, nor stops me from jumping through hoops to see him again! Smile

Jeff Litman sang Country Road. Jeff did a great job on a great song. Still, Jeff and I need to stop meeting like this. This was the third set that Jeff sang in that we attended, just this week. The first was his own birthday bash. He then kicked off Backscratch XIV. In addition to singing lead and playing acoustic guitar on this number, Jeff was the third of the primary bass players last night. The first time we ever saw Jeff was when he played bass at the Soul Revue, so this seemed fitting to see him tear up the bass again.

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Give a person a finger and they demand a hand. As you can see in the picture above, Sam Teichman moved from the far corner (near the piano) to the middle of the stage, to continue showing off his tambourine mastery. Next time, center stage, singing lead. Got it Sam? Smile

Jeff’s song fittingly closed the show, with highlights by Chris Kelly on bass and Jeremiah Birnbaum on electric guitar.

JeffLitmanChristopherKellyJeremiahBirnbaum

That said, all of the side-people were excellent on every number, so let’s name the few that didn’t sing lead and add some photos for those that sang lead, but played larger roles supporting the others throughout the set.

Seth Faulk on drums, percussion and background vocals. Seth was great on all three. I’ve noted in another post that Seth sang harmony one night from the audience, standing right behind me and that his voice was really good. That was true last night again, but this time it was on stage at a microphone. I’d like to hear him sing lead as well.

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KaylinLeeClintonSethFaulkValerieMizeBriArdenKateFerberSethFaulk

Robert LaFalce on grand piano. Robert was a real trooper. One of the pianists that was scheduled to play is Matt Simons. Unfortunately, his car was broken into the night before (we keep hearing about traveling musicians getting their equipment stolen, it’s heart-breaking). Robbie filled in at the last minute and performed his parts perfectly. He was also charming the few times he opened his mouth. Smile

RobbieLaFalce

We saw Robbie only once before, at the Soul Revue, but he only played percussion that night. Another local multi-instrumentalist (they seem to be everywhere you look nowadays!). Winking smile

Matt Arbeiter on drums and percussion (no good link, and 1st time). Matt handled his drumming and percussion duties excellently.

MattArbeiterDrumsMattArbeiterPercussion

Ian Schaefer on trumpet. Ian was superb. Not quite as highlighted as the other member of the horn section, but integral nonetheless.

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Jonathan Kantor on saxophone. Jonathan was excellent on every number that he appeared in (which was many). He was highlighted a bit more than Ian (as noted above).

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Sam tried to calm the crowd down when he saw people rubbing their eyes. It turns out that David and Jonathan are twins and Sam assured people that they were not seeing double! Winking smile

I could tell the difference between them in two ways: 1) Their shirt colors were different and 2) They played different instruments! Smile

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Jonathan’s fiancée was in the audience. Big deal, right? Wrong! They are getting married this Sunday. He needed permission to play last night (naturally!). She said yes (by my count, that makes at least twice!). Winking smile

When we left, we bumped into the Kantor twins on the corner. First Lois shook each of their hands individually as she told them how awesome they were. Then I reached my hand out as both of them did, and we ended up in a perfectly natural three-handed shake, with my hand around both of theirs. Twins indeed! Smile

Congratulations Jonathan, best of luck on Sunday and the rest of your lives together.

In searching for David Kantor (and not finding a good individual link), I came across a band that both brothers are in, as are Kate Ferber and Justin Goldner (among others). The band is called Grand Central Sound. The very first YouTube video that I stumbled across made me realize what a connection we have to the twins (even though they don’t know it yet!).

Ten days ago I wrote about a Campfire event at Slane. During that set, Lois requested Into the Mystic by Van Morrison. Martin played it for her. Here’s a video of Grand Central Sound performing the same song (much richer sound due to the full band), with David Kantor singing lead (and giving me way more of a sense of his singing chops than he did last night!):

Grand Central Sound, featuring David Kantor singing Into the Mystic

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