Rockwood Music Hall

Jeff Taylor and Dumpster Hunter at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Jeff Taylor and his band Dumpster Hunter headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night.

JeffTaylor

Quick aside. The link to Dumpster Hunter currently redirects to the same site as Jeff Taylor’s link. In the future, it might not, so I decided to give both links. That leads me to say that I don’t really know if there are any official members in Dumpster Hunter other than Jeff, though I suspect at least one of the other people on stage is a permanent member.

I have heard about Jeff Taylor for the past couple of years, in the most glowing of terms, from both fellow music fans and musicians for whom I have enormous respect. So, I was particularly happy to catch this set, as it was sandwiched between two others that I was intending to see anyway.

From what I understand, most previous Jeff Taylor NYC shows have been solo affairs, which is what all my friends were raving about. Dumpster Hunter sounds like a reasonably new endeavor to deliver a full band sound around Jeff’s creations.

Jeff has an excellent voice, but he’s not a traditional vocalist. In addition to singing, he also produces a number of different sounds (including melodic yelling, for example). He whistles on a song or two as well.

He sang without playing an instrument for roughly the first half of the show, then picked up the electric guitar for the second half.

I would describe last night’s set as Dream-State Rock/Pop. Jeff had extremely high reverb on practically every song, so that every note he sang lingered for a long time. It was executed very well.

Jeff was supported by three band members, left-to-right on stage:

Steve Wall on electric guitar, electronic keyboards and vocals. If I had to guess, Steve is a permanent member of Dumpster Hunter. He traveled to CA with Jeff for some shows out there. Steve added to the dream-state with his play on the electronic keyboards, but spent more time on the electric guitar, which I had trouble distinguishing. His harmonies with Jeff were very good.

SteveWall

Mark Guiliana on drums. Excellent on every number. The drums were an integral part of the experience and Mark was right there on every strike.

MarkGuiliana

Chris Morrissey on electric bass. This was my second time seeing Chris. The first time he was supporting Vicci Martinez (before her fame on NBC’s The Voice). Here’s what I wrote about him that night:

Chris Morrissey on electric bass. Given the tempo and power of Vicci’s set, the bass player is key in keeping it all together. I was extremely impressed with Chris’ play, even though there were no flashy leads. As Vicci herself said of her band, they are all P-R-O-F-E-S-S-I-O-N-A-L-S.

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Last night he took quite a number of blazing leads, as Jeff’s music called for it significantly more than Vicci’s did. So, I continue to be really impressed by Chris and look forward to seeing him again!

JeffTaylorMarkGuiianaChrisMorrissey

I only had complimentary things to say above, so I understand why my friends recommended Jeff. I also noticed that many people in the crowd were in trance-like states enjoying the music. Still, while I appreciated each person’s talent, and I enjoyed the set in general, the music didn’t grab me in any particular way.

It’s possible that I need to experience Jeff solo to get it, but I don’t know if/when he’ll be playing solo.

For those that love him (and I was wildly outnumbered last night), Jeff noted that Dumpster Hunter’s CD Release show will be back at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2, on May 5th (Cinco De Mayo), at 10pm. It’s a ticketed show, so grab them now if you’re interested. Mark Guiliana’s band, Beat Music, will be opening.

P.S. I doubt this affected my reaction too much, but the setup time was longer than most 4-piece bands take, which may have made me more antsy than normal.

The Vanity Belles at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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The Vanity Belles are a couple of hard-working ladies. Roughly 28 hours before headlining a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night, they were in Charlotte to sing the National Anthem at The Bobcats NBA game:

I’m sure they blew away the large crowd there, but those fans only got to hear one song. We got a full set, with their regular (awesome) band, so we win. Smile

I’ve written about the Belles a lot in the past three months, so rather than repeat all of that, if you’re new to them (or me), please read this post.

As with that show, everything clicked last night. Their voices were great, the band was great, their set selection was great.

TheVanityBellesCarrieWelling

JessiRaeWaltzJessiRaeWaltzSinging

One of the hallmarks of The Vanity Belles (TVB) show is getting baked goods by Jessi Rae Waltz. Given their hectic schedule the day before, she couldn’t pull off her usual magic. Not to worry.

Patryk Larney came up on stage early in the set and read a poem that he wrote about saving the day. Rebecca Haviland held up his fold-out carboard teleprompter. His treat? Hershey’s Kisses, connected in barbell form (a kiss on each end). Patryk used one as a prop to act out the poem. Extremely well done! (Rebecca might have been auditioning to replace Vanna White on The Wheel of Fortune.) Smile

PatrykLarneyBoxOfTreatsPatrykLarneyActingOutPoem

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The Belles often produce a custom video to promote an upcoming show. They did one for last night, around the theme of the opening number, Superman:

The Vanity Belles promote their Rockwood Music Hall show

Sitting one table over from us was none other than the star himself, Superman.

Superman

As is their custom, the Belles picked up their instruments for one song, Bottle. This time, Jessi introduced it and explained where the inspiration came from. Then they nailed it, with Jessi on the electronic keyboards and Carrie on acoustic guitar.

JessiRaeWaltzKeyboardsCarrieWellingGuitar

TVB recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign. Their new CD will be released in a few months. One of the reward levels was getting them to arrange and record a cover song of your choice. I think that included playing it at a show as well. The person who chose that reward picked Africa by Toto as the song. The Belles did a wonderful version, accompanied by two acoustic guitars.

Great job all around Ladies. On to the always amazing band, left-to-right on stage:

Patrick Firth on double-decker electronic keyboards and background vocals. Patrick never disappoints (as you will see if you read two posts from now, as yet unwritten).

PatrickFirth

Oscar Bautista on electric and acoustic guitars. Oscar thrills at every show. Last night, when taking a lead, he gave a hand motion to the others to take it down a bit. They all complied immediately. He worked the guitar soulfully, building up to a crescendo as the rest of the band followed. One of the songs that he played acoustic guitar on was the Toto cover.

OscarBautista

Zach Jones on drums and background vocals. Another of our favorites (have I mentioned how much I love this band?). TVB has so many driving songs and Zach keeps the action moving at just the right pace.

ZachJones

Chris Anderson on electric bass and vocals. It’s been 72 hours since we’d seen Chris perform (at a house concert in VA), so we were due. Thankfully, since he’s another that always delivers!

ChrisAnderson

Cameron Mitchell on electric and acoustic guitars and vocals. Cameron plays rhythm guitar to Oscar’s lead (for the most part) and does it extremely well. He’s also co-written with the Belles. Typically, Cameron is on acoustic when Oscar is on electric and vice versa. Last night they mixed it up a bit. Cameron opened the show on electric (with Oscar also on electric) and Cameron joined Oscar on acoustic for the Toto cover.

CameronMitchellElectricGuitarCameronMitchellAcousticGuitar

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Last year, we used to consistently be out of town for TVB shows. I’m glad to say we’re in a nice zone at the moment, catching them in a variety of configurations and venues. Keep it up ladies and we’ll keep coming out to see ya. Smile

PatrickFirthCarrieWellingOscarBautistaJessiRaeWaltz

Bryan Dunn CD Release at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Bryan Dunn headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. It was his official CD Release show for Sweetheart of the Music Hall. Three weeks ago I did something I rarely do, I reviewed a CD. It happened to be Brian’s CD.

BryanDunn

Before you read another word about the show, go buy the CD (if you don’t trust me blindly, you can stream it at that link for free, but then buy it).

If you read my review, I hope you took two things from it:

  • Bryan is a masterful lyricist
  • He delivers unfooled-around-with rock

I’d like to add something that I didn’t really mention in the review (and should have!). Bryan has an excellent voice. I don’t know why, but last night I realized that it strikes me as extremely reminiscent of Paul McCartney (someone slap me if it reminds them more of John Lennon, but the point is that it brings me back to some of my earliest memories of loving The Beatles).

BryanDunnSinging

(Off topic: Bryan’s previous CD, Vicious Waltz is also fantastic, I’ve enjoyed it many times, and am listening to it again now as I type!)

All of the above was totally evident last night. The rock was hard-charging and driving throughout. Even the zombies couldn’t resist a little hip swaying (something they typically have trouble doing). Reproducing the sound/feel of this CD on stage is no small feat, but Bryan, along with an incredible band (including a number of special guests) were more than up to the task.

Bryan played both electric and acoustic guitars and generally thrilled the crowd on vocals and mainly unfinished sentences in between songs.

BryanDunnAcousticBryanDunnElectric

The set was absolutely fantastic, we were both still buzzing about it this morning. I’m going to cover each of the core band members first, then the special guests, then a summary of how we discovered Bryan to begin with.

But wait, one not-so-quick aside before doing what I just said I would do. Bryan opened the show with the title cut, Sweetheart of the Music Hall. If you followed my instructions above, and bought the CD before reading this, then you know that there’s a wonderful trumpet lead on that number.

Before playing the song, Bryan called out for Tony Maceli a few times (ending with: “Going once, going twice, gone…”) before starting the song. Someone called out from the audience to say that Tony just texted him to say he was almost there, but the song had just started.

Most of you know that when I write about Tony, it’s almost always about his amazing bass play (both electric and upright). But, if you are addicted to this space and read everything I write, then you know that I’ve also written a couple of times that he’s played the trumpet and even guitar.

Tony was supposed to play the trumpet on Sweetheart of the Music Hall. Obviously, he didn’t. Tony walked in right at the end of the second song, peeked at the set list on stage and noticed that he missed his song.

Do you want to know what my definition of class is? It’s Tony Maceli. Instead of sulking, he watched the entire set, applauded loudly for each number and performer, and put money in the tip jar when it came around (in fact, he was the first to toss money in).

TonyMaceli

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

Joe Brent on mandolin and acoustic guitar (perhaps more, but I was in a bad vantage point to see him for much of the set). Joe came up on the second number and played on all but one after that. Joe plays on the CD too, so it was great to hear that sound live as well. The mandolin is one of the reasons I said that some of the songs have a Country Rock tinge. Joe’s great (as I find myself repeating a lot lately) and I really enjoyed his play last night.

JoeBrentJoeBrentGuitar

On one number he sat at the electronic keyboards and I thought I was about to hear him on yet another instrument. But, I think he was just resting for a minute. Ah, just looked through Lois’ photos, and it does indeed looked like I missed Joe doing something on the keyboards!

JoeBrentKeyboards

Ah, no I see from the photos that Joe also played the banjo. Thank goodness Lois documented all of this for me!

JoeBrentBanjo

Wait, what’s this? A Guitolin? Manduitar? Who knows. It’s very cute though. Winking smile

ManduitarCloseup

Ryan Vaughn on percussion and drums. Ryan is always great and was at the top of his game last night. He was the primary percussionist last night. That included a floor tom and cymbals as part of his bag of tricks, so it was quite a full sound. In the middle of the set, he moved over the to the full drum kit and ripped it to pieces (that’s a good thing, he didn’t take a knife to the drum kit).

RyanVaughnPercussionRyanVaughnBodylessDjembe

Drew McKeon on drums and percussion. Drew was the primary drummer last night and he was fantastic (my first time seeing him). When Ryan switched to the drums, Drew took over Ryan’s percussion station and was just as good on that. The two of them created the driving beats that I mentioned above, forcing every cell in your body to want to shake it a baby (sorry, couldn’t resist another Beatles reference).

DrewMcKeonDrumsDrewMcKeon

I’ve written a number of times about wanting multiple drummers on stage at the same time (like The Allman Brothers Band perfects) and last night was a completely satisfactory version of that!

RyanVaughnDrewMcKeon

Jim McNamara on upright bass. This was our third time seeing Jim on bass (the first time was our first Bryan Dunn sighting) and he has impressed every time. I would like to see more of him, so I’ll have to see what I have to do to make that happen.

JimMcNamara

Jeremy Goldsmith on lead electric guitar and vocals. Like with Jim, this was our third time seeing Jeremy. While he was great both previous times, I have to say that neither showcased his skills like last night’s set did. A quick digression first.

JeremyGoldsmith

Bryan Dunn is quite the guitarist himself. In fact, half of the times that we’ve seen Bryan, were as the lead guitarist for Jeff Litman, where has been excellent each time. Whenever I see someone who is a great guitarist pick someone else to be the guitar player for them, I know I’m going to see someone special on the guitar, as the guy doing the picking clearly knows what sound he wants and who can deliver it.

JeremyGoldsmithGuitar

Back to Jeremy. Holy cow, he was great on every number, but on a few he let loose with leads that were faster than greased lightning, but still clear as a bell and smooth. I was surprised that my ears could keep up with his fingers.

JeremyGoldsmithJimMcNamaraRyanVaughn

Jeremy sang quite a big of background vocals, extremely well, including three-part harmony with the guests. He was already firmly on my list of people to see whenever I could, but he jumped up a few spots last night. Smile

JimMcNamaraJeremyGoldsmith

Now the special guests, in the order they appeared (song-wise, not position on stage):

Misty Boyce played keyboards on two numbers, including opening the show on Sweetheart of the Music Hall. I don’t know her own music at all, but I’m a huge fan from the previous guest appearances I’ve seen (most recently, at Tony Maceli’s Full Vinyl show). I’m going to do whatever is in my power to correct my lack of knowledge of her own music next Sunday night, 4/15, when she has a set at Rockwood 1 at 10pm. She’s part of a set tonight at 8pm, but I don’t believe I will be there, nor do I know if that’s her music either.

MistyBoyce

Abby Ahmad sang with Bryan on at least three numbers. I’ve been writing about Abby a lot recently. She’s a great singer and songwriter as well (fronting at least two bands that I’m aware of). She has the power to keep up with last night’s sound and was well matched with Bryan. For all the times that I’ve written about her, I hadn’t met her until Lois introduced herself last night and then grabbed me to say hi too. Smile

AbbyAhmadBryanDunnAbbyAhmadSinging

Andy Mac on vocals and tambourine. Andy did a great job of singing harmony with Bryan on one number, then was invited back for the finale with lots of others. Ryan Vaughn handed Andy a tambourine to keep him amused. He did a wonderful job of keeping us entertained on it as well.

AndyMacAndyMacTambourine

Chris Cubeta joined to play the harmonium on one number (I told you this was straight up rock, right? so of course there had to be a harmonium Winking smile ). Chris produced this CD, which I’ve already told you is a masterpiece. I’ve only seen Chris perform once before, also at Tony’s Full Vinyl show.

ChrisCubetaChrisCubetaHarmoniumHarmonium

Mark Marshall joined for the finale, grabbing Bryan’s electric guitar, while Bryan played the acoustic. I’ve mentioned a number of times how good Mark is on the electric. Last night, right after Jeremy totally blew my mind (for the final time, during the finale), Mark took an awesome lead as well. Considering that was on someone else’s guitar, it was all the more impressive.

MarkMarshall

DJ Brik Mason joined for the last number as well. He sang harmony in the beginning, but then Bryan turned it over to Brik for a full-on rap. After rapping, he urged the crowd on after each verse, in a rap-like bridge. It fit in perfectly with the song and kept the energy way up for an already high-energy show.

BrikMasonJoeBrentBryanDunnMarkMarshallBrikMasonRapping

BrikMasonUrgingCrowdBrikMasonBryanDunnDrewMcKeonMarkMarshallAndyMac

One more shot of the finale:

AbbyAhmadJimMcNamaraJeremyGoldsmithChrisCubeta

Well, the finale wasn’t the final song, of course, Bryan had to take an encore. The previously mentioned people left the stage, but Misty returned to the keyboards to help Bryan close out the show, along with the core band.

To repeat, the CD is great, the show delivered that feeling better than we could have expected. What a night.

Here’s the set list:

SetList

Unfortunately for you, if you’re one of those people who have to read all the way to the end, this post isn’t quite over yet.

Lois and I have a huge overlap in the music we love, but we also have tastes that diverge. For most people/groups, one of us is typically a bigger fan (sometimes very slightly). In Bryan’s case, we’re equally fanatic. As I’ve mentioned in two previous posts, Lois listened to the new CD before I did, and was bugging me by calling out lyrics non-stop while I was blogging about Jesse Terry’s show (which was where we bought the CD from Bryan).

She chided me for not including one particular lyric in my CD review. Thankfully, I can appease her now by inserting it here. When she listened to 6 Black Horses (probably her favorite song on the CD), she quoted from the song:

The poet and the pauper, it’s all the same to him
Spend hours in the raging while the lights are growing dim

Lois was struck by the ode to Dylan Thomas. There’s also a reference to The Parting Glass in that song. So struck, that she reached out to Bryan to ask if it was purposeful. It was indeed!

Circling back to the beginning. I’ve mentioned many times that we often serendipitously discover someone because we show up to an earlier set in order to grab a seat, or catch a set between two that we came out for.

Such was the case two years and two weeks ago, when we came early and caught Bryan doing a full set. We were both really impressed. Since then we’ve seen Bryan do a few of his own songs here and there, at a Backscratch and at a few benefits, but mostly, we’ve seen him support Jeff Litman.

Amazingly, it took two years to see him play a full set again. At least the wait was more than worth it!

And, the obligatory (in the best sense!) photos of people we shared the spirit with:

MalloryChrisKellyTonyMaceliTerry

PartialCrowdShot

SamTeichman

Chris Ayer, Matt Simons and Adam Barnes at Rockwood Music Hall

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Chris Ayer, Matt Simons and Adam Barnes have toured together in the UK and Europe a couple of times. March saw Adam crossing the pond to tour the US with Chris and Matt (by now you should have figured out that Adam is the Brit of the three). Last night they headlined a two-hour set at Rockwood Music Hall to close out their month-long tour.

In typical fashion, I’ll cover them in the reverse order that they appeared on stage. Each of them called the others up to sing on at least one song.

It’s been five months since we’ve seen Chris Ayer perform. That’s practically crazy talk, but at least the drought is now over.

Chris opened the show with a new song called Turnip. He noted that no one seems to like the title, but that’s what it is. Regardless of the title, the song is fantastic, so let’s allow Chris to call it whatever he wants.

ChrisAyer

I don’t think it had anything to do with our five-month deprivation, but everything aligned last night in a way that we both felt Chris delivered a flawless performance.

His guitar play was stellar (which isn’t unusual, I’m just noting the various components of flawlessness). His voice was great. He chose a wonderful set list. When he invited Matt and Adam up (separately and together), the harmonies were heavenly.

ChrisAyerFingerPicking

Matt joined for a few songs in a row, playing the grand piano and singing their patented gorgeous harmonies.

Adam joined for two numbers. On the first, they sang stunning three-part harmony. For the second, on the first verse/chorus, Adam sang harmony with Chris (while Matt sat patiently at the piano), and that two-part harmony was awesome too. Then Matt joined for the remainder of the song, again, incredible.

Chris announced that he was going to close the show with his signature performed-in-the-crowd version of Roy G Biv. All three of them descended into the audience and Chris had most people singing along with him. Always a treat to see/hear that song, whether it’s in the audience or on stage.

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RoyGBiv3

When the song was over, Chris was done. But, there was still more than enough time for him to play another, and the crowd simply wouldn’t have it any other way. He was forced (quite literally) to plug back in and do an encore. A number of songs were called out. Lois asked for Wintertime, I asked for Snakeskin Heart. I heard at least five other song titles yelled out.

Chris was amused, but asked us whether it would be OK if he sang Hiding Place. No one objected. Winking smile

It’s a great song, and he nailed it, so it was a very fitting encore.

Here’s the set list (in traditional style), and you can fill in Hiding Place in your mind:

ChrisAyerSetListChrisAyerSetListFlipped

Matt Simons played a set at the piano. I think that all but one of his songs was off of his upcoming CD, Pieces, which will be released in June.

MattSimons

Matt recently released a single off that CD, Gone, which he played last night. You can buy it for a buck and/or pre-order the full CD for digital download or a physical copy.

Matt typically mixes it up between the grand piano and the electronic keyboards. Last night he played the piano only. I nearly always prefer the spacious sound of a piano, so I was very happy. Matt’s play was excellent on his set and on Chris’. His vocals were great too.

MattSimonsPianoMattSimonsSinging

Even though the CD won’t be released until June, Matt had copies of it at the show. They are labeled Promotional Copies, Not for Resale. As Matt pointed out, they don’t say Not for Sale, just not for resale. Winking smile

So, you could buy one at the show. We bought two, so I could put the second one up for sale on EBay and accomplish two things: 1) Get $500 for the CD, because it’s not yet available to those who want it! and 2) flaunt the law and see if I can get away with it! Winking smile

I already mentioned that all three were on stage during each other’s sets, so I will redundantly report that Chris and Adam sang with Matt, beautifully.

Chris also joined Matt for a song that Chris played guitar and Matt sang lead, without playing the piano. They sang harmony on the chorus. It was gorgeous, with the mellowness of the guitar, coupled with Matt’s vocals.

The one older song was also performed with Chris: I’m Already Over You. Excellent!

Kicking the whole thing off was the one person we hadn’t seen yet, Adam Barnes.

Adam has an excellent voice and plays the guitar nicely (a few songs finger-picked, the rest, rhythm).

His songs are very slow and soulful (at least this set was) and he delivers the lyrics with a deliberate passion, so the pacing becomes a critical part of the feel of the song.

AdamBarnesSinging

Adam broke out the harmonica on one song and shared a bit of TMI about mustache hairs and the potential hazards thereof. Winking smile

AdamBarnesHarmonica

As with the others, he first invited Chris up to sing harmony with him, then Matt joined so that the three could dazzle us together. This was proof that no matter who the songwriter, Adam, Matt or Chris, each is capable of writing songs that support this type of harmony.

We grabbed some Adam Barnes stickers after the show. Who knows where you’ll see one. Smile His guitar is an advertisement for Chris Ayer though. Winking smile

AdamBarnesGuitarStickersAdamBarnesGuitarStickersCloseup

We were both so happy to be able to make it out to this show.

While I mentioned how amazing the performances were, the evening itself was not without a hiccup. Right before one of Matt’s songs, he asked for a glass of water. The waitress brought it over to him. As she left the stage, the woman across the table from me moved a bit hastily to let her get by. In the process, she knocked over her full glass of red wine all over me (shirt and jeans). C’est la vie. At least, whenever I need a quick hit, I’ll probably be able to squeeze a few drops out of those jeans.

As is typical at Rockwood, we got to share the experience with a bunch of our friends, some of whom Lois captured. The two ladies had birthdays on consecutive days. Matt gave a shout-out from the stage to the one whose birthday it was yesterday. Smile

IrisRachelSamTeichmanTerry

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall

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Rebecca Haviland headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We try to catch every Rebecca show. March has been a good month, with this being the third time we’ve caught one of her full sets. We also got to see her sing with the Greg Mayo Band.

RebeccaHaviland

Even though we’ve seen three sets, all three venues are very different from each other and the band setup was different each time. The set list even got shaken up a bit last night. One example: Rebecca didn’t play If You (unbeknownst to her, I’ve already forgiven her). Winking smile

RebeccaHavilandSinging

At Rockwood 2, she had a full band on every number, including electronic keyboards. At Watercolor Café they played just a duo (Rebecca and Chris Anderson). Last night, the majority was a trio (add in a drummer) and then two special guest on the grand piano.

ChrisAnderson

When the volume is right at Rockwood 1, it can be one of the best rooms to hear people, and last night was fantastic. I loved every second of the set. Both Rebecca and Chris were in a zone, vocally, musically, but most of all, they were in a flow, that you could feel coming off the stage.

RebeccaHavilandGuitarChrisAndersonBass

Kenny Shaw rounded out the trio. I just recently commented that Kenny was hiding from us. I guess my come out, come out, wherever you are chant, worked! It was great to have Kenny in the driver’s seat for setting the rhythms. Great job, as always!

KennyShawKennyShawDrums

Greg Mayo was the first special guest. He played four consecutive songs on the grand piano. Rebecca gave him two long piano leads which Greg destroyed. On one of the songs, Greg was featured on harmony vocals with Rebecca and the two of them were great together. On the rest, Greg joined Chris for harmony background vocals. Always a treat to catch Greg (always!).

GregMayoSingingRebeccaHavilandGregMayoChrisAnderson

Evan Watson was in the audience, I believe just there to enjoy Rebecca’s set. Evan was headlining next door at Rockwood 2, at 12:30am, and Rebecca and Chris were going to be part of his band (Greg Mayo too). Rebecca asked Evan if he would come up to sing with her.

EvanWatson

The only free mic was at the grand piano so Evan sat there. In addition to singing amazingly with her and alone (he took a full verse on the lead), Evan noodled on the piano as well. If I heard him correctly, it was the first time he played the piano at a public show.

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The song was Dig My Grave. Excellent.

RebeccaHavilandEvanWatsonSinging

Evan deserves a different kind of shout-out. Meatloaf just released a new CD this month. The second song is called Giving Tree. It was written by Evan! When Meatloaf performed on the Tonight Show the night the CD was released, that’s the song he chose to sing. Absolutely fantastic. Congratulations to Evan (and to Meatloaf for recognizing and promoting talent!).

A terrific set. Already scanning Rockwood’s site for another opportunity to see Rebecca Haviland and Chris Anderson!

Julia Haltigan at Rockwood Music Hall

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Julia Haltigan headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. It was the last show of a month-long residency at Rockwood 1. In April, she’ll be moving to Rockwood 2. I couldn’t make the earlier shows this month, but I was determined to catch her again after enjoying her set last October, and her song at the Full Vinyl show a few weeks ago.

JuliaHaltigan

Not that you will believe me, or care, but what I’m about to do is not out of laziness at all. I just re-read my previous post about Julia, and with a few exceptions, every word applied directly to last night’s show. So, if you want to know about Julia, and/or her fantastic band, or the specific feel of the previous show, or of last night’s show, read that post in its entirety.

I will note a few differences here (very few) and put in photos of last night’s show (to prove to you that we were indeed there). Winking smile

First and foremost, I nit-picked a bit about Sam Feldman’s guitar play at the previous show. No nits last night, literally. I don’t know if he wasn’t feeling well last time, or was off for any other reason, but he was excellent on every number last night. As I noted in the previous post, his guitar is a very critical part of Julia’s sound, so his elevated play was most welcome!

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Julia closed with the same cover, and again, Sam was spectacular on the acoustic guitar (the only time he wasn’t on the electric during the set).

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I didn’t note it last time, so perhaps it wasn’t as evident (I do tend to be pedantic), but Julia has superb stage presence. She’s very comfortable during and between songs.

JoeAncowitzJuliaHaltigan

She had her hair done for the show. She noted it (and I do as well) because the woman who styled it was in the audience, and Julia highly recommended her services. Nice shout-out. I didn’t lock in the name, because I’m unlikely to need her services (unless she has a secret to regrow my giant bald spot), but anyone who would like to leave her name in the comments is encouraged to do so! Smile

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These two are repeats, but they deserve the shout outs:

Joe Ancowitz was excellent on the trumpet and the vocals. The brass adds a very nice character to Julia’s songs.

JoeAncowitzSingingJoeAncowitzTrumpet

Steve Williams is great on the drums (all three times we’ve seen him).

SteveWilliams

Some more photos:

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EmmetHaltiganMandolinEmmetHaltiganHarmonica

JoeAncowitzJuliaHaltiganBennettMillerHarmony

Julia is firmly on my list of people to keep seeing, so if you show up to a future show, you’re likely to see me there too. Smile

Here was Julia’s cheat sheet (perhaps not a literal set list):

SetListCheatSheet

Ian and Chad in a Secret Show at Rockwood Music Hall

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What happens when Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino drop their last names? Awesomeness!

It’s not quite official, but it’s not embargoed either, but the artist formerly known as Ian Axel will soon be known as Ian and Chad. Click that link to see how Ian describes the name change. Basically, it more accurately reflects the contributions that Chad was making all along and is making on stage even more than he used to.

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So, why a secret show? I would assume there are many reasons, but the most obvious are:

  • Rockwood Music Hall is pretty small, and if Ian and Chad had announced the show, many people would have been locked out. Instead, they simply didn’t know to show up. Without any tweets or Facebook updates (that I saw), the place was crowded.
  • With one exception, none of the songs they played have been recorded yet. This gives them an opportunity test things out. Even the one already released song was done very differently.
  • You get to figure out who your leaks are, so you know who not to trust with this kind of information in the future! Winking smile

They opened the show with a new song called Cheer Up. If you watch the video below (of that song), you’ll know what we saw. Ian actually brought that old Casio on stage for this one song and this was the NYC debut of Chad killing it on the triangle:

Ian and Chad perform Cheer Up

After that, Ian moved to the grand piano for all but two songs.

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Right after announcing that all of the songs performed would be unrecorded ones, Ian added: “Except for this one.”

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That turned out to be their most famous number, This is the New Year. I noted above that even here there was a huge twist. Huge indeed (if you’re the groupies that we are, and notice every nuance). Before I get to the twist, let’s have a bit of history about that song.

When they released it, they put up an Official video on YouTube. That garnered over 300,000 plays. Then they signed with a record label who insisted that the video be taken down and put up again on Vevo (a collaboration between YouTube and the music industry). The same video (ever-so-slightly different soundtrack) garnered well over 1,000,000 hits on Vevo (so over 1.3MM between them).

Then they left their record label (very recently) and the video was taken down from Vevo. They had to put it back on YouTube, with the play count zeroed out. Let’s see if we can all get it back up over 1,000,000 again (it certainly deserves to be seen that many times!).

Continuing with the history lesson. Also recently, Ian and Chad held a contest where people submitted their version of that video. Their friends (who are professional videographers and editors) sliced and diced all of the submissions into an incredible montage of fans celebrating this awesome song.

Finally, to celebrate their newfound freedom, Ian and Chad are offering up their CD (the entire thing, not just the song This is the New Year) for the whopping price of Pay Whatever You Want! I strongly suggest $130, to reflect that value of $10/song, though you might wish to pay less, I’ll forgive you. Winking smile Grab it here!

OK, now we can finally return to last night’s performance of that song. Whew.

They created a mirror image of the song, by switching vocal roles. Chad sang all of the parts that Ian normally does (including opening the song) and Ian sang all of Chad’s parts.

It was totally cool, and each did an incredible job. That is until the soft bridge where Ian nearly whispers: “I pass it back to you”.

Chad didn’t start to sing it, because his brain was expecting Ian to. He realized it halfway through the sentence (and the surrounding silence), laughed, and picked it up exactly where he should have been.

In addition to the debut of the triangle in the opener, Chad debuted a solo song on the acoustic guitar. He finger-picked a gut-wrenching love song, beautifully. So, we’ve now seen him play a trumpet, keyboards, guitar and a triangle. What will he break out next?

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Ian and Chad then invited up a special guest.

Mike Campbell joined for two numbers. He sang and played acoustic guitar on both. On the first, Shorty Don’t Wait (or simply Shorty to most fans), Ian came out from behind the piano to play the ukulele. They were fantastic. Every time they play the song, it seems to me that Mike tries to top the previous little bridge guitar lead. Last night’s was definitely fast and tasty.

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Ian returned to the piano to play another song that the three of them co-wrote, Amory. Three part harmony washed over the audience. Gorgeous!

Ian played a song solo on the piano, which was inspired by his love for his parents. When he introduced it, he said it would have been more difficult to sing if his parents were there. Someone in the back of the crowd yelled: “We are!”, which got Ian (and the rest of us) laughing. Beautiful song!

Ian and Chad performed at least three other songs together. Very early in the set they did Rockstar, a song I could listen to 1000 times in a row and still ask “Can you play it again?”. Toward the end of the set they played You’ll Be OK (another incredible song).

They closed the show with one of our favorite songs (not just of theirs, but in general). It’s a song that goes by many names (Homeward Bound, The More We Love, I Really Want It), none of which are official, since they haven’t named it yet.

In that song there is a piano bridge that always dazzles every audience that hears it. That was true last night too, but because Rockwood is small, the crowd was big, and you could hear a pin drop while he was playing it (meaning, everyone was appropriately silent), the collective (reflexive) whoop when Ian finished was amazing (like a group exhalation after surviving a straight drop on the world’s tallest roller coaster).

What a show, shared with a ton of friends, some of whom we haven’t seen in a while. Just chatting with them for a few minutes before and after the show was worth going out for, but the show itself was the cake, they were the icing.

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LinaHadar

Gabrielle Sterbenz at Rockwood Music Hall

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Gabrielle Sterbenz headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We hadn’t heard of Gabrielle prior to the show and weren’t planning on attending. We decided to show up to her set to try to get seats for the next set. Luckily, we did, because it was quite crowded with Gabrielle’s fans.

More importantly, we enjoyed the entire set, so we’re notching this discovery in the serendipity column.

Gabrielle accompanied herself on the acoustic guitar on every number, occasionally finger picking, mostly rhythm. She has a wonderful voice. Her songs were mostly folk, mixed with some jazz and other genres as well. The songs ranged from serious, to seriously playful. One of the songs, The Breakup, had me chuckling throughout.

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She stood for all but one song.

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Elizabeth Brown (I couldn’t find a good link) accompanied Gabrielle on all but one number. She played electric bass on the majority and sang harmony whether she was playing the bass or not.

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She was fine on the bass (very straightforward bass lines), but really shone on the vocals. The two of them sounded great together on every song.

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One of the songs that Gabrielle sang lead on was written by Elizabeth (Gabrielle called her Liz, and on Twitter she calls herself Lizzie, so I say it’s OK to call her anything you want, other than late to dinner). Winking smile

I liked the sound of the lone bass with the acoustic guitar. The volumes were set just right so that the bass never overpowered the guitar or the vocals.

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I notice on Gabrielle’s Facebook page that she also plays in a larger band configuration on occasion. That larger band includes Rich Hinman, a top guitar and pedal steel player. We’ll have to look out for one of those shows as well.

To close out the show (or so she thought), Gabrielle called up a special guest.

Dani Elliott came up to sing with Gabrielle and Elizabeth (creating gorgeous three-part harmony). They sang Those Memories, made famous by a different set of females, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Linda Rondstadt. These ladies did those ladies proud.

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They were trying to get off the stage when the majority of the room started calling out for one more song!

Gabrielle finger-picked and Elizabeth sang harmony (no bass) to Simon and Garfunkel’s Kathy’s Song. Absolutely beautiful.

Here’s the set list, which doesn’t include the unplanned encore:

SetList

The CEO Artist Concert Series at Rockwood Music Hall

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Christina Morelli is the Energizer Bunny of the NYC Arts Scene. I originally discovered Christina through her work covering the local scene on that site. Since then, she’s broadened her horizons and kicked off an additional venture, The CEO Artist. In addition to having a NYC home base, The CEO Artist (TCA) will have a UK component as well (at the very least).

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TCA is cooking up a variety of very innovative ideas to help artists broaden their fan base and make a living. I’ll save some of those for a future post, since this one is specifically meant to cover last night’s event.

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TCA had its inaugural Concert Series last night at Rockwood Music Hall. It was a showcase of four of TCA’s current artists, plus an MC who performed as well. The proceeds from the evening were donated (100%) to 2NDFLOOR, a hotline for NJ Youth in need of someone to talk to.

Christina was up first, mapping out the schedule and inviting up the MC.

Caleb Hawley was officially designated the MC, but he was really more of a performer interspersed between the the others, closing out the show as well. Christina came on stage to introduce each artist, so I think she was more of the MC.

I am a huge advocate of ask and ye shall receive. We just saw Caleb headline a show at Rockwood 2, on Friday night. Toward the end of that post, I said the following:

Back to Caleb. I already said how much I enjoyed the set, but he still hasn’t recaptured the feeling (for me) that I had the first time I saw him. For most artists that I see, if they do both full band and solo shows, I typically prefer the full band ones. That’s even true when they are amazing solo performers.

Caleb is an exception to that rule, so far (but not the only exception). His full band show was fun and engaging throughout, but his personal artistry and wizardry is lost (or rather, watered down) in the fullness. He’s so good on the guitar, which is so much more obvious when no other instrument is playing (or when he has only a light-touch drummer supporting him, e.g., Craig Meyer). He has a great voice, which is also more obvious when there aren’t other instruments wailing. He is a great songwriter and it’s easier to concentrate on the lyrics when it’s just him.

See, on Friday, I was somehow begging to see Caleb solo, and just three days later, bingo!

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He opened the show by repeating something he had tweeted earlier in the day:

Caleb Hawley ? @iamcalebhawley

Lilith Fair + Me = Rockwood tonight at 7pm. @theCEOartist showcase w/ @chrissipoland @annakrantzmusic @BriArden and@megfarrellmusic

He said that he always wanted to play Lilith Fair, and this might be the closest he got, given that the four showcase artists were all female (in case you missed the reference). Winking smile

He opened with Bada Boom Bada Bling, a fun song to get everyone smiling and in the mood for more music.

Meaghan Farrell was the first showcase artist up after Caleb. This was my first time seeing Meghan. That said, I thought I had some sense of her because I had visited her site and watched the YouTube video embedded on the home page (at least as of this writing), of the studio version of Lost in My Life. I love the song and the performance. You can visit her site to see it, but I’m going to embed it here, in case she swaps it for another in the future.

Lost in My Life by Meaghan Farrell

I really didn’t know what to expect of the showcase format specifically, but I guess I was slightly surprised that it was completely stripped down.

MeaghanFarrell

Meaghan was accompanied by an acoustic guitarist. Her voice is incredible (judge for yourself in the video). I believe that it comes across a bit better with the full band than it does over a single acoustic guitar. She’s also a bit theatrical in her delivery (you can get a small sense of that in the video as well), which also comes across a bit better with a fuller sound.

She played two originals followed by a cover of Natural Woman (co-written by Carole King).

Gus Fafalios accompanied Meaghan on acoustic guitar. He’s amazing. I watched some video on the site linked to his name where he played electric guitar (even better than he was last night on the acoustic). Someone I need to keep my eye on!

GusFafalios

Chrissi Poland was up next. We still haven’t caught a full set of Chrissi’s, but she’s amazed me every time we’ve seen her sing, even for a few minutes. The most recent time was a jaw-dropping wow, three months ago at a Holiday Benefit show.

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She accompanied herself on an acoustic guitar to open her mini-set. Her voice was flawless. She played songs from an upcoming EP. She’s launching a PledgeMusic this week. So, you can be part of the making of this new EP.

Chrissi moved over to the grand piano to do another number. I enjoyed all three of her songs, but she’s quite good on the piano and the fullness of it matched her voice better as well. So, given a choice, I’d prefer to see her do more piano-based songs. I can independently attest to the fact that she slays it with a full band behind her.

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Christina had been on stage between the ladies, but now returned to introduce Nicole Romaine-Settembrino, the representative from 2NDFLOOR. Nicole came up and explained why the group was formed and let everyone know that there was more literature available for those interested in learning about the service.

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Bri Arden was introduced and came up with an acoustic guitar. In an unplanned moment, her normal bass player happened to walk into Rockwood with his bass, and he happened to have played that song with her once before, so she invited him up to play it with her again. Bri’s voice was spectacular (that’s been the case every time we’ve seen her). She jokes about her guitar play needing work. It’s true, but partially because she’s thinking about it too much. Just keep playing, it will come. Smile

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Justin Goldner was the above-mentioned bass player. You can read my raves about him in any previous post I’ve had about Bri.

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She moved over to the piano and played The Other Man. Bri is definitely more comfortable on the piano and as with Chrissi, her big voice benefits from the additional richness of the grand. Beautifully done.

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Completing the trifecta, Bri returned to center stage, this time without an instrument. She was joined by the next showcase artist, who accompanied Bri on the piano on a brand new song they co-wrote, What Do I Do. Bri was amazing. The piano play was excellent and the way-too-brief harmony was wonderful.

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Anna Krantz was the piano player on the last Bri song, but I saved her name to tout it as the final showcase artist. This was our first time seeing Anna perform, though we did briefly meet her a few months back at the bar at Rockwood 2.

AnnaKrantzGuitar

She opened with her new single, Rubble and the Dust. The video (quite clever if you ask me) is currently on her home page (linked to her name above). The song also starts playing immediately (as I type, you might get a different one) when you visit that page. She performed it on the acoustic guitar (I guess that Chrissi, Bri and Anna all wanted to make sure we knew they were multi-instrumentalists).

Anna has a fantastic voice. Like the others, she too moved over to the piano, where I’ve already noted she excellent.

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She closed her mini-set with a song called Foundation (or The Foundation). Oh man, both Lois and I were blown away by it. This morning Lois wrote to our friend who introduced us at the bar to say that he was so right that we needed to see her perform.

After a few more words from Christina, Caleb returned to the stage for a playful number about hitting the gym to stay sexy for the girls. I had the sense that this was a cover that I didn’t recognize, but for all I know it’s just another Caleb original. Hard to stop smiling throughout the number.

CalebHawleyGuitar

When he was done, he was unplugging and saying goodnight. It was on the early side and people were calling out for more. After a bit of looking around, they finished off the show with a bang.

Caleb picked up his guitar again, but this time, all four women (Meaghan, Chrissi, Bri and Anna) joined him on stage. They sang Carole King’s You’ve Got a Friend. Fantastic!

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It turns out there was a unifying theme for the showcase. Christina Morelli is obviously a magnet for females with extraordinary voices. Keep following The CEO Artist to see what other goodies Christina unearths for us!

The show was filmed by Sam Teichman, so soon, you’ll be able to watch the performances for yourself. They’ll probably be listed (or at least linked to) on The CEO Artist site.

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We bolted really quickly. After the late nights we’ve had recently, both of us were really looking forward to being near a pillow on the early side. Apologies to anyone we didn’t say a proper goodbye to!

Greg Mayo FUNTIME at Rockwood Music Hall

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Greg Mayo had one of his FUNTIME sets last night at Rockwood Music Hall. This was the third consecutive set that he appeared in (second consecutive one that he headlined), all of which we attended (surprise!). Smile

GregMayo

A Greg Mayo FUNTIME set is a rocking good time (literally). Who knows what you’ll get, other than mostly (all) covers (last night had one original), themed in some way that is only explained at a given show. What you can be sure of is that the musicians will be amazing, and that you’ll find it very difficult to have nearly as good a time as they do.

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Last night’s theme? A musical game of tag! Each of the band members picked specific songs for other band members to sing lead on. Of course, they pick challenging songs for the sheer sport of it.

Greg Mayo played lead guitar and sang. His guitar play was as on fire as it always is, even though he had been playing practically non-stop for three hours before this set began (at 12:10am). That it came after an amazing set where he played piano and keyboards exclusively, and sang his heart out, was a delightful change of gears.

GregMayoGuitar

Patrick Firth on grand piano, keyboards and vocals (and a surprise instrument that I’ll cover in another section!). No need to ask whether he was great on the keys (but if you did, and I just didn’t hear you, the answer is Yes). One of the songs he was assigned, came from the drummer, who made him sing Rosanna (by Toto). There are some pretty darn high parts tucked away in that song, which was the whole point of making Patrick sing it. Everyone had a blast, especially Patrick. Smile

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Brian Killeen on electric bass, lead electric guitar and vocals. Brian played his usual instrument, the electric bass, exceptionally (as he always does). He sang at least one song on the lead while still playing the bass.

BrianKilleenBass

But, on one song, Greg, Patrick and Brian each rotated one position. Brian took Greg’s electric guitar. Greg sat down at the keyboards. Patrick Firth took up the electric bass (see, I said there was a surprise instrument for Patrick!). Brian couldn’t properly start the song without fully preparing for it. This involved a wardrobe change (not to be confused with a wardrobe malfunction!). Winking smile

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Brian stripped off his button-down shirt and played the song in his undershirt. He blasted out quite a number of tasty leads, a few of them were really fast! Even the slow ones were great. He sang wonderfully too.

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Brian is typically one of the more self-effacing members on stage, not doing anything to call attention to himself other than playing the bass well enough to call attention to himself. Once he took the shirt off, all bets were off as well. He became the prototypical rock star, and delivered completely! Smile

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Without missing a beat, Brian substituted a name from the song with Jay Stolar, who he spotted in the crowd.

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Zach Jones on drums and vocals. Zach was incredible on the drums. There were no slow numbers, so he was working it constantly. Of course he sang great too. I was about 12” from the kick and hanging tom. I was shocked, but every single time Zach struck the hanging tom I felt a rush of air sweep across my arm. Crazy, because the first couple of times I looked to see if someone was brushing against me.

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There was also an unannounced special guest!

Ryan Vaughn sat under the sound engineer’s booth, to the far right of the stage (right next to Zach). He was a percussionist extraordinaire on every number. He used shakers, maracas, tambourine and probably other things I wasn’t paying attention to. On at least one song, he used maracas in his right hand (two) and hit the hi-hat cymbal with a drum stick in his left. Zach was also hitting the same cymbal (opposite side) with his left hand, while working the remainder of the drum kit with his right. Awesome!

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We got home at 1:30am, completely wiped, but completely happy. When do we get to do it all over again? (No, seriously, when???)