Todd Caldwell

Burlap to Cashmere at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2

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Burlap to Cashmere headlined a set at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 last night. We only discovered them exactly one week earlier, when they played the Next Charity Concert Series at Paulies in Pleasantville, NY.

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Since that was my first time seeing them, it doesn’t make sense to repeat everything I said so recently, so if you don’t know them, please read last week’s post.

We were extremely excited to get a second helping of Burlap to Cashmere (B2C) so soon. There were some differences (as there usually are), and I’ll mention those. First, just a quick recap of the players, one of whom accounted for one of the differences.

Steven Delopoulos on acoustic guitar and lead vocals. In the last post I noted that his voice is very special. Last night it hit me, on many songs, there’s a Van Morrison quality to it that just hits my ears perfectly.

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John Philippidis on acoustic guitar and harmony. Another outstanding performance on both the guitar (he’s crazy good) and excellent vocals. That said, given our specific seats, right up at the stage but as far left as can be (I was actually looking at the keyboards from behind them!), John’s guitar was the only instrument that was severely under-mic’ed. It might have sounded loud and proud elsewhere in Rockwood, but not at my seat.

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On the other hand, we were just a few feet from him, and the neck of the guitar was in full view throughout (before the show, I was worried that we might be staring at his back), so I was easily able to match up the weak volume of the guitar with his flying fingers, enhancing the sound in my head. Smile

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Theodore Pagano on drums. Another stellar performance.

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Chris Anderson on electric and upright bass and background vocals. Even though I couldn’t see Chris from my seat, I could hear every single bass note on both the electric and the upright. Outstanding! Lois had an occasional view and also got up to get some photos of Chris.

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Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and background vocals. Todd has been the regular keyboard player for B2C for the past year and half. We didn’t get to see him last week because he was rehearsing for an upcoming tour with Crosby, Stills and Nash. He was back in the saddle last night, and all of one foot away from me. He was fantastic, as he’s been every time we’ve seen him supporting Rebecca Haviland. He’s more familiar and intimate with the B2C material and I found his performance to be an upgrade from the previous week.

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So, in recapping the players, I highlighted the two most significant differences: 1) Johnny’s guitar was way too low volume for me (and it’s one of the biggest highlights of a B2C set) and 2) Todd Caldwell was a wonderful upgrade to the entire set.

In general, the sound at Paulies was way better. That night the system was brought in by BNK Productions. I noted that it was a system built for a larger place than Paulies, but they didn’t blast us out, so the sound engineer knew what he was doing. They were kind enough to comment on the post (about The Callen Sisters, who opened for B2C that night), so I now know who they are.

It’s quite possible (even probable) that it was purely my vantage point that caused the sound dropoff. On the other hand, I could hear the bass and keyboards perfectly, every note, so I just don’t know.

Another difference was that we got to bring our godchildren along. When I posted last week, I heard from both of our goddaughters that they were each big fans of B2C before their long hiatus. It was fun to take one of them, with her husband, to see B2C all these years later. A few notes into one of the songs, before any of the vocals came on, she leaned over to me and said “That’s the title track from their first album, Anybody Out There”. Indeed, she was correct. Smile

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Finally, this was a shorter set than the week before. Rockwood 2 had an unusual lineup of back-to-back ticketed one-hour sets. Amazingly, they accomplished the turnover more cleanly than I would have guessed, but largely because the band that was on before B2C seemed to play an exceptionally short set (unless they started much earlier than the listed time).

I really enjoyed seeing B2C again, and sharing the experience with our godchildren, but given the guitar sound issues, and our particular vantage point (not seeing Chris at all, for example), made the set less magical than the week before. No matter, the next time they play anywhere that I can get to, you can bet we’ll be there!

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The set list was identical to last week, except that songs #1 and #10 are struck through, because of the shorter set. I wouldn’t swear that they got through 11 songs either, but this is the best I can do. Smile

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

Rebecca Haviland at Arlene’s Grocery

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Have I mentioned how much we love Rebecca Haviland before? If you don’t know the answer to that question, then welcome to this space, clearly you’re a first-timer. Winking smile

It’s been roughly six weeks since we’ve seen Rebecca perform. That’s bad enough, but she had a few shows in between that we couldn’t attend, including one co-bill with Sierra Noble. The last time we saw Rebecca was also at Arlene’s Grocery (the site of last night’s show). Given how good Howard (the sound engineer at Arlene’s) is and how hard he works to balance their sound, I was happy to return there.

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Rebecca and the band were awesome and Howard played his part in it as well. They performed most (all?) of the songs off of her upcoming CD (Rebecca announced that it was currently being mixed, so we’re getting closer folks). Here’s the set list:

SetList

We attend shows by the same artist many times for a number of reasons, some of which I recently articulated. One of the reasons is also the serendipitous surprises that occur on occasion (more often than you might guess, if you’re open to spotting them).

We both feel blessed that in addition to loving a lot of the music currently being played by many of the NYC indie artists, we genuinely love many of the people themselves (headliners, side-people, fans, venue staff, videographers, producers, significant others, etc.). I can’t say I expected that bonus when we first immersed ourselves in the scene here, in April 2009.

We love them, because they’re wonderful people independent of their involvement in music. That sometimes happens in a vacuum, but rarely. Usually, there are some pretty amazing parents behind them, having figured out some magic to turn out these young adults (young by our standards, for sure).

Last night we got to meet two sets of those parents, Rebecca’s (including her brother and his girlfriend) and Kenny Shaw’s. It didn’t take 30 seconds to see why Rebecca and Kenny turned out the way they did. Good job Havilands and Shaws! Smile

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Rebecca was accompanied by the same band she had last time out at Arlene’s, which (technically) had one fill-in for her more typical setup. For two reasons, I’m going to cover them from right-to-left, rather my usual left-to-right order:

Chris Anderson on electric bass (two actually, though not at the same time) and vocals. Chris is Rebecca’s primary writing partner on most of the numbers on the new CD (hence my desire to cover him first). He also sings harmony on every number. Independent of that, he’s a great bass player and that’s evident at every show (including last night).

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Kenny Shaw on drums. While Rebecca is considered a Rock person, most of her numbers are very soulful, bluesy ones, which call for less than straight-up drumming. But, she’s also an all-out rocker on occasion, calling for highly energetic and fast drumming. Kenny delivers both styles, equally well, seamlessly switching between them whenever appropriate. For a specific example, on It’s Not Wrong, Kenny really tore it up, switching into high gear.

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Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards and vocals. Last time at Arlene’s was our first time hearing Todd. He impressed then, but was even better last night (he’s probably just getting more comfy with the material). He plays keyboards for Stephen Stills and Crosby, Stills and Nash, so you don’t need me to tell you how good he is (other than to tell you how well he fits with Rebecca’s music and band).

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While Todd was excellent on every number, the last two included a number of leads on his part, all absolutely terrific. He sang harmony (making it 3-part) on a few songs as well.

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Another winning performance from Rebecca and her band.

You can catch her this coming Saturday (Jan 14th) at Rockwood Music Hall, 9pm. If our dinner ends early enough, we’ll be there, but whether we make it or not, you should go! Smile

Rebecca Haviland at Arelene’s Grocery

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We missed a bunch of great shows last week due to the extended holiday weekend and the wonderful company that was up from Richmond to spend it with us.

Rebecca Haviland was appearing at Rockwood Music Hall on Friday night, and that’s the only show we had planned to abandon our company to go see. Unfortunately, our goddaughter baked one of her world-famous apple pies and got permission from Lois for me to have a slice (the answer is often hit-or-miss). Couple that with their latte machine (cherry, or cherry chocolate that night, amazing!) plus an awesome bottle of port, and well, somehow, we didn’t make it to Rockwood…

The saving grace is that we knew Rebecca was playing again, last night, at Arlene’s Grocery. While I prefer Rockwood over Arlene’s for most shows, I admit that I was more excited to see Rebecca at Arlene’s this time around. She’s a rocker, and Arlene’s is well-suited for rock shows (much more so than Rockwood 1).

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Even if we had seen her at Rockwood, it would have been worth coming out again, for the contrast in venues and the swap of two band members.

We never worry about whether Rebecca’s sets will be good, they always are, last night too. If there’s ever a concern, it’s about the sound. Arlene’s has a very good sound guy (Howard), but on occasion, it can get too loud. Last night the volumes were all balanced perfectly. In fact, Chris’ vocals were at a better level than any other show. More on Howard the sound guy a bit later.

In addition to Rebecca’s voice being extremely tasty throughout, on one number Howard cranked the reverb but had a long delay on it (unless Rebecca was controlling that through her pedal). It sounded like Rebecca had a background vocalist singing with her (rather than a trail or echo). It was an extremely cool sound, hearing Rebecca twice.

When Rebecca got to If You (possibly my favorite song of hers, but there’s no shortage of songs to love), she called out that if the audience didn’t know when to sing, they should follow me. Ha! Indeed, good advice, since I belt it out whenever I can (even at home, without the CD on, seriously!). Sorry Krista, I hope I wasn’t too loud, sitting right next to you. Winking smile

Let’s cover the band, right-to-left this time (not my normal direction), then return to Howard the sound guy:

Chris Anderson on electric bass (two of them, one an 8-string) and vocals. Another excellent performance on the bass, in particular, on Money, when Chris was wailing fantastic bass lines while Todd was ripping up the keyboards. More importantly, as mentioned above, Chris’ vocals were leveled perfectly and he sounded great singing with Rebecca on every number.

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Chris asked for less of Rebecca’s vocals in his monitor, and Rebecca asked for more of Chris in hers. Chris was particularly impish last night (in general), and after that exchange, hilarity ensued.

Kenny Shaw on drums. Kenny wasn’t able to make Friday’s show, even though he’s Rebecca’s normal drummer. Always a treat to see him. Many of the numbers last night called for slower, but deeply rhythmical (jungle/swing) drumming. Absolutely wonderful.

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Todd Caldwell on electronic keyboards. (The site linked to his name isn’t fully active yet, but hopefully it will be in the near future.) I’d never seen Todd before, and I’m very glad to have corrected that oversight. An incredible keyboard player who took a number of wonderful leads throughout the set. I already mentioned above that he ripped it up on Money.

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In 2007, Stephen Stills selected Todd to tour with him. In addition to holding on to that role, he was also invited to play with Crosby, Stills and Nash, another continuing role. Need I say more? I didn’t think so!

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I’ve noted in other posts that Howard (the sound guy) is one of the hardest working people I’ve seen. His dedication is impressive. After working the stage to set everyone up, he comes out of the booth during the show to stand in the audience to hear it like we do. During one number, he thought that the electric guitar was a bit too bright. He left the room and came on stage from a side door. He moved a mic that was in front of the amp about four inches further away. That solved the problem perfectly.

He’s also a fan of Rebecca (which means he has good taste too). When her set was over, he asked them to play one more. Folks, it’s highly unusual for a sound guy to do that. They often allow the extra number, but rarely insist on it, like Howard did. Rebecca noted that it was almost time for the next band to go on, but Howard told her to play on!

Then he said something into his mic that cracked me up: “Don’t worry, once you start playing, I’ll turn off the sound.” Winking smile

So, the impromptu encore is not listed on the set list:

SetList

We were both pooped and a bit under the weather, so we bagged another show we were planning on seeing at Rockwood and most unfortunately a special birthday party that we had hoped to attend as well.