Rockwood Music Hall

Mighty Kate at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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

MightyKate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not too shabby, right?

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

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Kate was surrounded by an embarrassment of Riches. Winking smile

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

Kate had two special guests.

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

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

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

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

Here’s last night’s set list:

SetList

Rebecca Haviland at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here was last night’s set list:

SetList

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

Family

Abby Payne at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

AbbyPayne

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

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

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

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

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

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Supporting Abby, left-to-right:

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

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

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

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

Here’s the set list:

SetList

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZachJonesSinging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the set list:

SetList

The Stone Lonesome at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Apple Singers at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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

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

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

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

The core band consists of:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Big Apple Singers called up two separate guests.

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

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

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

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

Here’s a shot of Manish and Rebecca Haviland:

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

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

Patryk Larney at Rockwood Music Hall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the set list:

SetList

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

Carley Tanchon at Rockwood Music Hall

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Carley Tanchon headlined Rockwood Music Hall last night. We’ve seen Carley perform three full sets, plus two shows as a background vocalist. Two of the full sets were solo acoustic and one was a full band CD Release show. Last night was a full band show, giving me an even chance to rate Carley both ways.

The voting is in (the wait wasn’t that long, right?). Carley handles herself extremely well solo. She can easily hold my attention for the entire set. Still, I have to say that she really comes alive when she’s channeling her Rocker Chick, supported by a full band. She’s such a natural rocker.

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Carley has a stunning voice (true in her acoustic sets as well), but you can feel her need to belt it out, which just feels so much more right when supported by a band. She plays the guitar well (both acoustic and electric, opting for the electric with the full band). She writes catchy songs.

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If we’re having fun being in the audience, I can only imagine how much fun it is to play with her on stage. That’s why she doesn’t seem to have any problem attracting top talent to join her. That included a new face for us as well.

Left-to-right on stage:

Andrea Longato on electric guitar. Andrea took quite a number of incredible leads. He’s a major talent. Carley’s music (including her cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Rihanna) lends itself to spicy rock guitar leads and Andrea delivered. We hadn’t heard of him before, but we’ll be on the lookout going forward.

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Ethan Mentzer on electric bass and light vocals (can’t find a good individual link, but Ethan is all over every mention of The Click Five). We’ve seen Ethan play bass twice before, once at the previous Carley Tanchon CD Release. So, I knew I’d enjoy his bass play, and I was correct. He also sang some harmony, the only band member who did.

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Nicky D’Agostino on drums. We’ve seen Nicky play drums twice before, with Carley and with Jesse Ruben. He was excellent at both of those shows, but I was more impressed last night, perhaps because we were up so close and personal. The only issue (I won’t say complaint) is a general Rockwood 1 thing, Nicky was quite loud (I did say we were really close to the drums, right?). In any event, he was really interesting and kept the energy at maximum level for everyone else to live up to!

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We found out after the set that Carley was sick. Amazing performance for someone who wasn’t at the top of her game. What a trooper for powering through!

To continue my theme from the previous two posts, I’ll mention that we nearly missed this show. I only found out that Carley was playing last night earlier in the week. By then, we already had dinner plans that weren’t going to end until nearly 11pm. Because of that, I didn’t put Carley in the calendar.

When we successfully moved our dinner plans, I had forgotten that Carley was playing. When I checked the Rockwood site to see who was on at 9pm (to determine whether we’d stay after Barnaby Bright, before returning for Patryk Larney at 11pm), no one was listed at 10pm at Rockwood, so I had no reminder about Carley. This was a potential disaster in the making.

Then, while I was checking out the two acts at 9pm at both stages, I liked Rebecca Pidgeon enough to decide to stick around Rockwood 1. By the time I double-checked the Rockwood site, Carley was once again listed at 10pm, which cemented my decision to catch Rebecca at 9pm.

All’s well that ends well! Smile

Rebecca Pidgeon at Rockwood Music Hall

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Rebecca Pidgeon headlined Rockwood Music Hall last night. I admit (sheepishly, after the fact) that I never heard of Rebecca Pidgeon. How we ended up at her set will be revealed after I tell you how fantastic she (and it) was.

Rebecca has a phenomenal voice. She can sing softly (thankfully, the really crowded audience was pin-drop quiet), or deliver more power. Nuance or straight-forward. She writes lovely songs and also delivers interesting takes on the few covers she performed.

RebeccaPidgeonSinging

She plays the acoustic guitar very nicely.

Rebecca is disarmingly charming. She introduced nearly every song with a short, almost always humorous bit, often in the form of a question to the audience, followed by her take. Extremely natural delivery.

She could have handled the set solo, I have no doubt. She brought along an incredible guitarist to spice up the set.

Tim Young (couldn’t find a good individual link to him) played electric guitar and sang some harmony with Rebecca. He was exceptional on the guitar, throwing in a lot of jazzy/bluesy riffs, dancing in and around Rebecca’s singing and playing. When he sang, he did a wonderful job of harmonizing.

TimYoung

Here is their (wonderful) set list:

SetList

On to how we attended this set, and how I’m embarrassed not to have known who Rebecca Pidgeon is.

If you read my previous post, then you know that we almost didn’t make it out last night. After rearranging our schedule, specifically to see Barnaby Bright at 8pm at Rockwood 2, our next committed set was 11pm (Patryk Larney) at Rockwood 1, so we had three choices:

  1. Stay and see the group who was on 9pm at Rockwood 2
  2. Catch Rebecca Pidgeon at Rockwood 1
  3. Go back to the apartment, relax for 90 minutes, and return to Rockwood 1 at 11pm

I listened to both Rebecca Pidgeon (directly on her site, under “Sample Tracks”) and to the group that was on opposite her at Rockwood 2. No contest!

Now to prove to you how little I knew about Rebecca (as in zero). Lois turned to me early in the set and asked me how old I thought Rebecca was. I said “anywhere between 26 and 34”.

It turns out, she’s 46, a mother of two, an accomplished actress (stage, movies and TV), a successful singer/songwriter (multiple CDs out, with a new one coming out in April 2012 on Decca Records) and oh yeah, she’s also married to David Mamet.

OK, take a look at this photo and tell me she looks even close to her age (click on the photo to see it full size):

RebeccaPidgeon

We’re now officially fans of her voice, music, style and grace on stage. Correct decision made! Smile

Barnaby Bright at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Barnaby Bright played Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. We’ve only seen Barnaby Bright (BB) once (just over a year ago), though we’ve seen Nathan and Becky Bliss (the husband and wife team that comprise BB) individually support John Schmitt and Allie Moss.

Nathan and Becky are each so talented on their own. Together, their talent is multiplied, not added.

BarnabyBright

Becky sings the leads. Last night she played the harmonium, grand piano and baritone ukulele, all very well. She also writes (or co-writes) a number of their songs. But if I have to highlight one thing, it’s Becky’s voice. Here’s what I wrote about her the first time we saw them:

Becky Bliss sang. Hmmm, that doesn’t do it justice either. Let me embarrass myself by sharing with you how I fumbled for words when I spoke to Becky after the show. Instead of saying something coherent, I said: “Your voice is frighteningly beautiful!”. Huh? Come on Hadar, you weren’t frightened even for a second, you were completely enveloped and mesmerized. Yeah, that’s what I should have said…

Let me say it correctly now, by repeating that last bit: Becky’s voice completely enveloped and mesmerized me, on every single number.

BeckyBlissBaritonUkuleleBeckyBlissPiano

Nathan’s talent is almost other-worldly. He’s an amazing guitarist, playing many styles. I don’t mean “genres” (of music), but rather guitar styles. He opened the show with a super-fast picking style that was very flamenco like, but the song wasn’t even close to flamenco. His fingers kept up the pace throughout, while Becky enchanted with her vocals and piano play.

NathanBliss

On others, he played the two-hands-on-the-frets style (like Kaki King, Andy McKee and many others have perfected). He also plays more traditional styles, wonderfully. He’s the first person I ever noticed playing a Porchboard (last year) and he played it again last night.

He didn’t touch them last night, but he’s masterful on the sax and clarinet as well. I’m sure he plays other instruments that I haven’t seen him on just yet.

He also sings very well, in particular when he harmonizes with Becky. Oh yeah, he writes most of their songs too. Sheesh, watching Nathan makes me feel both untalented and unproductive. I’m not bitter, just awed.

They are a few months from releasing their next CD. We are proud to have been a part of their successful Kickstarter project and can’t wait to hear the new material produced (they played a number of the new songs last night!).

Either one of them could captivate us on their own. As I said above, their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. They chose to sprinkle even more fairy dust on top of their goodness, by inviting a talented band to join them (they were bandless when we first saw them).

Joining them, left-to-right on stage:

Sean Dixon on drums. It’s easy to find mentions of Sean Dixon on Google, but this is the third time we’ve seen him, and therefore the third time I’ve searched, and I’ve yet to find a good individual link to him, apologies. We first saw Sean supporting Andy Mac. Then we saw him supporting Abby Ahmad and now Barnaby Bright. He was excellent in all three performances, no two of which were similar.

SeanDixon

Craig Akin on acoustic bass. Craig did a wonderful job of filling in the bottom. I didn’t have a good view of him, so I’m guessing when I say that he played on roughly half of the numbers.

CraigAkin

Brian Sanders on cello. Brian played on roughly 2/3’s of the numbers, all exceptionally. He was highlighted a few times, in particular on a number that was mostly just Becky (vocals and piano) and Brian. He was spectacular in that number. Becky introduced another song saying that they rarely play it, because it really needs the strings. Brian to the rescue, allowing them to perform it last night!

BrianSandersNathanBlissBrianSanders

Here’s the set list. They had troubles parking the van and started a few minutes late, so there’s at least one song toward the bottom that didn’t get played:

SetList

Now the backstory on how we nearly missed this amazing set!

The minute I heard about the show (over a month ago) it went on the calendar. I thought it would be immutable. Then our friends from Thailand called to say they’d be in town and could we do dinner at 8pm on Thursday. Exactly the time that Barnaby Bright was scheduled. I’ve been friends with the husband for nearly 50 years (later this year!), so I had no hesitation saying yes (though I did have regrets to miss BB yet again).

Late in the afternoon I spoke to my friend and found out that they could also get together on Saturday (I had assumed Thursday was their only free spot). We moved dinner and freed up our evening to drench ourselves in music, starting with BB. Smile

When I say drench, I mean it. We overdosed, staying at Rockwood (both stages) for five consecutive sets, getting home just before 1:30am. Each set will have its own post. Each set was amazing in its own way. Still basking…