Scott Tofte

The Foggy Dudes at Red Lion

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The Foggy Dudes closed out the St. Patty’s weekend at Red Lion with three consecutive sets of traditional Irish music. Not fiddle/pipes stuff, rather, hardy sea shanty tunes.

TheFoggyDudes

Most of the numbers are very upbeat, often with hysterical lyrics (those seamen needed something to keep them awake). A few are more traditional protest songs, both slow (soulful) and upbeat.

We love Irish music (though in general, most of what we listen to is more Celtic, with lots of fiddle and flute parts), so we were happy to come out for this.

John Schmitt is the primary lead singer for the Dudes. We’re big fans of John’s own music, so when he announced this event we put it on the calendar. In addition to singing, John played the acoustic guitar (mostly) and switched to the banjitar (6-string banjo) on a few numbers.

JohnSchmittBanjitar

John and I traded a number of tweets about the show, because I had another one on the calendar for 10pm that night. When I told him I had to leave after the second set he tweeted the following:

John Schmitt ? @johnschmitt

@hadarvc great so we will play the most fun songs up front 😉

Ha! I’ll never know, though there were a ton of “fun songs” while we were there.

In addition to all of the Dudes playing instruments all four of them sing, often in 4-part harmony. Each sang lead on at least one song as well.

John posted before the show that he thought he had just enough voice left for this last show. The Dudes have been all over NYS performing during the big weekend. His voice did hold up (wonderfully), but there was one change that disappointed me mightily. On the second song, John asked the band to play one fret down because of the wear and tear on his voice. Man, I was really looking forward to hearing that song one fret up! Winking smile

JohnSchmittSinging

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

Carl Gallagher on banjo, electric guitar and vocals. No good individual link, so here’s his Tumblr page. In addition to playing the banjo on most numbers, Carl played lead electric guitar on two numbers (turning them into a bit more rock than traditional Irish, but I’m not complaining). Carl sang a lot and generally provided a bunch of merriment.

CarlGallagherBanjoCarlGallagherElectricGuitar

At one point John noted that Carl said he would keep the drinking to only one. Carl shot back instantly: “I only bought one tonight!”. I can’t attest to how many Carl bought, but I can attest that various people in the bar did indeed buy the band multiple drinks, but Carl more than the rest. Poor guy couldn’t insult his fans, right? Winking smile

Brandon Warren on electric bass, harmonica and vocals (sorry, I couldn’t find a good individual link). Brandon has the deepest voice of the bunch. In addition to adding color/flavor to the 4-part harmonies, he had a lot of one-line zingers throughout the sets, delivered in that booming bass voice. Very nicely done!

BrandonWarrenBass

Brandon is likely a professional harmonica player. Not only did he have a slew of them (defined at six or more that were visible), but they had their own very fancy carrying case.

BrandonWarrenHarmonica

The strange thing was that he looked like he could be Matt Simons older brother. It was strange because Matt happened to be in the audience, so I was compelled to keep looking back-and-forth to reverify my feeling. Yup, could be brothers. Smile

Scott Tofte on drums (modified kit) and vocals. Scott sat on a cajon which he used purely as a kick drum. This was the first time I’ve seen someone use an actual pedal, with a soft-mallet-head, to hit the cajon. Most other times, when using the cajon to deliver a kick drum sound, the heel of the shoe is used to strike the cajon directly. The pedal worked perfectly.

ScottTodteTinyDrumKit

Scott also had a baby snare drum (which he was masterful on) and two cymbals (one full size, one baby size). He also had a tambourine under his left foot. He played the tambourine only (in his hands) on one song where Carl sang lead. I really want to see Scott on a full drum kit, because he was great even with the incredible constraints of such a tiny kit.

ScottTodteBabySnare

This was only the second time I’ve seen Scott (Carl and Brandon were new to me last night). I saw Scott eleven days earlier, supporting John Schmitt during a show at Rockwood Music Hall. That night Scott wore a knit cap. I admit to having no idea that I was watching the same Scott until we walked out. Our friend Rachel said she was pretty sure it was the same guy. Color me surprised, oops.

The Dudes had their new, self-titled CD (seven songs) available for sale. We bought it and I’ve listened to it twice this morning and I really like it a lot! As we walked out last night, I teased John that he hadn’t played The Parting Glass. He told me it was going to be the last song of the last set. It turns out it’s the last song on the CD, so I got to listen to him singing it twice this morning despite his best efforts to keep that song from me! It’s the only song on the CD that John sings/plays solo.

TheFoggyDudesCD

You can stream the entire CD at their Bandcamp page and buy it for download there as well.

Sorry we missed the last set, but glad we caught the first two! A bunch of familiar faces in the audience, and we even got to introduce ourselves to Evan Watson finally, after enjoying his music a number of times at Rockwood. Woot!

Here’s the set list, and I see something suspiciously missing from it. The last song listed is not The Parting Glass. In fact, it’s not on the list at all. Perhaps John just wanted to make me feel guilty for leaving early. Winking smile

 

SetList

John Schmitt at Rockwood Music Hall

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John Schmitt headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall last night. We used to see John frequently. I knew it’s been a while (with a couple of near misses recently), but I was actually shocked when I looked it up and saw that it was seven months ago. That’s just crazy talk. Glad to have corrected that.

Let’s the get the important stuff out of the way first. Either someone stole John Schmitt’s beard, and a sizable portion of his girth, or we actually saw an impersonator last night (a pretty darn good one if so). Now we can get on with more mundane things, like the music…

JohnSchmitt

Since it’s been so long, let’s recap the three things that the real John Schmitt has in spades:

  • Great voice
  • Fantastic songwriter
  • Excellent guitar player

(that’s how I was able to judge the potential impersonator, since he possessed two of those qualities. Clearly, if he was stealing John’s songs, I don’t know if he himself is a good songwriter.) Winking smile

There were a number of firsts (for us) in last night’s set:

John introduced his brand new banjitar (that’s a six-string banjo, tuned like a guitar, that sounds like a banjo). It’s a great idea. Lots of excellent guitar players don’t have the time or inclination to study the banjo, but have a few songs that might benefit from that sound. That’s exactly what John did, to perfection.

John birthed two songs publicly (first live performance). Both songs were great. We look forward to hearing them more often and embedding them in our brains like we have the rest of his set list.

John played a solo cover of Cat Stevens’ How Can I Tell You. Wow! He was choked up introducing the song, because he’s currently in a long-distance relationship and singing this song is all too close to home.

John had a full band plus one guest. I knew it would be a full band show, but I admit to being surprised to see two of the members, as in super-delighted-happy surprised. Left-to-right on stage, followed by the guest:

Matt Simons on grand piano, electronic keyboards, and harmony. Surprise #1. We love Matt and we’ll be back at Rockwood on March 31st to see him perform his own stuff, but I didn’t know he’d be supporting John. In addition to being wonderful on the keys (as always), Matt sang a bunch of harmony with John, in particular on Going Back, since Lissa Farquhar (John’s regular singing partner) was very ill and couldn’t make it.

MattSimons

Quick commercial break (someone has to pay the bills here!). Winking smile

Matt just finished recording a new CD in Nashville. He told me last night that it won’t be available until June. But, in the meantime, he’s sharing bits of it with the world. On his Birthday, he tweeted the following:

Matt Simons ? @matt_simons

As promised, here’s some reverse birthday love! It’s link to download a free song from my new album! Hope you enjoy it!noisetrade.com/mattsimons

If I heard him correctly, next week he’ll be doing the same thing with a second song. I’ve already seen a few musicians tweet that they’ve heard the new CD and are in love with it. I can’t confirm or deny whether I’ve had a sneak peek at it, but if I did, I’m sure it’s fantastic. If I didn’t, then I completely trust the folks that said the same thing. Smile

MattSimonsJohnSchmitt

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Brian Killeen on electric bass. Brian was surprise #2, also an awesome one. Even though Brian (one of our favorite bassists) played with John the last time we saw him, that too was a fill in job for John’s regular bass player, Pasquale Chieffalo. Brian was great at that last show, but he was even better last night. Buttery smooth and constantly laying down sophisticated bass lines throughout.

BrianKilleen

Mike Sutton on drums (still can’t find a good individual link). Mike is John’s regular drummer and he’s done a great job at every show that we’ve seen him play. Clearly, he knows John’s music cold and it shows.

MikeSutton

Scott Tofte came up to sing harmony and shake some shakers on two numbers. Beautiful job. He had to consult the lyrics on his iPhone, because he joined John for one of the brand new songs.

ScottTofteScottTofteShakersJohnSmittBanjitar

Here’s the set list:

SetList

I couldn’t stop laughing throughout 7 Drunken Nights.

Lots of familiar faces in the audience, which Lois couldn’t help but document for our memories (and now yours). Smile

JohnSchmittChadVaccarinoLinaIanAxelLeivParton