Producer Malcolm Burns, looking like he stepped out of The Red Dog Saloon circa 1965, added a totally different, unique, and wild element with his organ playing, using his feet, elbows, hands, and whatever else he could hit the keys with, to create the cool sounds he was getting out of what sounded like a cheesy Farfisa or Vox Continental. However, I didn’t get a close enough look at it for a positive ID! His wife, Sandrine, provided beautiful background vocals for The Duke’s growly, Leonard Cohen-like voice!
The Burn Family was gone for the second set, which signaled a return to the guitar oriented sound of the band. I am a guitar guy, so it was nice to have the focus back on guitar sounds, but Malcolm Burn is such a major talent, that in the overall scheme of things, he and Sandrine bring too much to the table to be ignored, and I hope they become permanent members soon! That said, it was refreshing to hear Matt Cullen’s surf-raga rock guitar take over, with help, as always from Jane Scarpantoni’s Jimi Hendrix-like cello playing, and The Man himself – Duke McVinnie! Don’t want the rhythm section to feel left out, so let me say that drummer Manuel Quintana, percussionist Tom Goss, and bassist Colin Almquist (of Voodelic), all played at the same high level of inventiveness, creativity, and musical chops, as everyone else in the band!
I’m gonna go out on a limb here, and say that The Duke McVinnie Band is the most unusual combo in the Hudson Valley, and probably beyond! The way they combine the myriad different elements of McVinnie’s music to form one exotic, esoteric sound, makes them different from any other band I’ve seen in a long time! And please don’t think these guys are some sort of neo-classical, Woodstock folky, mellow acoustic band. No, everyone’s plugged in, and they rock! In their own way! Let me just say this, you will not be bored!
If you yearn for something different, something that will lift you out of your blues-rock, singer-songwriter comfort zone, well then, you gotta check these guys out. If you can’t dig what The Duke McVinnie Band is layin’ down, you’re probably dead! www.dukemcvinnie.com, and here’s a link to a You Tube performance from a year ago. They’ve gotten even better since then. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlP-g4F-gZE
In other important news, The Man in Black, Johnny Cash, will soon be honored by the United States government with his very own postage stamp! Coming soon, as a “Forever” stamp, that will be one stamp that I, and I’m sure many others, will line up to buy. How cool would it be to send your mail with Johnny Cash in the corner of the envelope! Whoever opens that letter will do whatever you request! LOL.
The ninth annual Mountain Jam will take place June 6-9 at Hunter Mountain. Line up will be the same as the other 8 Mountain Jams! No, just kidding! I’m pleased to say that Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead is the headliner, and there are a lot of new and exciting bands scheduled this year! Put it on your calendar now!
I’m pleased to report that last week’s mid-Winter live music drought is officially over! There were more overall events this week then at any time since I started writing this column! And quite a few of those have found their way into my weekly picks. Here we go!
Wednesday, February 6 – Local luminary and international woman of mystery, GENYA RAVAN will be making an extremely rare appearance at Iridium in Manhattan! This is a must see if you’re anywhere near mid-town. Genya was the driving force behind Ten Wheel Drive, produced The Dead Boys, and started the first female band to play their own instruments, Goldie and The Gingerbreads! Further downtown, the foremost proponent of John Fahey style trance-raga guitar, LEO KOTTKE, is at City Winery, and up in Albany, one of the best young bands I’ve seen, Ramble and Mountain Jam veterans, GRACE POTTER AND THE NOCTURNALS, are at The Egg, one of the best venues to see and hear music, anywhere!
Thursday, February 7 – Another one of my favorite young bands, BLACKBERRY SMOKE, returns to Irving Plaza in Manhattan. I saw them here last summer, courtesy of Shore Fire Media, they were awesome, and I wish I could go again! I probably can’t, so why don’t you, and tell me how it was? BTW, Blackberry Smoke will also be at the first ever Hunter Mountain Country Festival this summer, along with Willie Nelson and a dozen modern country hat bands! Strange bedfellows indeed! Also tonight, Former MC5 guitarist, WAYNE KRAMER, one of Rolling Stone’s “Hundred Greatest Guitarists of All Time”, is at Bowery Electric, Asbury Park RnB singer, SOUTHSIDE JOHNNY and his new band, THE POOR FOOLS, are at City Winery, and music legend AL KOOPER begins a two night engagement at BB King’s, all in Manhattan!
Friday, February 8 – AL KOOPER finishes up at BB King’s, guitarist extraordinaire, ALBERT LEE begins a three night run at Iridium, another awesome guitar player, TODD WOLFE, who played lead guitar for Sheryl Crow for five years before leaving to start his own Blues-Rock band (who are WAY better than Sheryl), at The Rodeo Bar, and up in Woodstock, NYC boogie woogie Rock n Roll band, LOW CUT CONNIE, who’ve been described as, “A cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and The Replacements” bring their Jack White and Rolling Stone magazine approved craziness to The Bearsville Theater! www.lowcutconnie.com. Oh, and, of course, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention that THE CHEATING HEARTS, the Alt-ered Country and Rock n Roll band featuring Jimmy Eppard, Just James, Chuck Cornelis, and Yours Truly, are back at Keegan Ales in Kingston for another 3 hour show with no cover! Come see what the fuss is all about!
Saturday, February 9 – Very special ROCKABILLY RUMBLE AT THE RAMBLE at Levon’s barn, featuring Jimmy Vivino, Lee Rocker (of The Stray Cats), Earl Slick (David Bowie’s guitar player, who also replaced Brian Setzer in The Stray Cats to create a new band called Phantom, Rocker, and Slick), Marshall Crenshaw, David Letterman Band drummer, Anton Fig, and Rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon, who’s kept the torch burning for Rockabilly for decades! This will be awesome! In the city, ALBERT LEE continues his second of three nights at Iridium, and IAN HUNTER, late of Mott The Hoople, is at City Winery.
Sunday, February 10 – Two shows, both in Manhattan, both the last of a two and three night run! ALBERT LEE at Iridium and IAN HUNTER at City Winery. Pick one and go! Sunday night’s a good night for live music!
Monday, February 11 – Remember the band Cinderella? They had a few hits in the 80’s and 90’s, and then disappeared. My friend sang back up with them, and she told me that their target audience for their first CD was 12 year old girls. Target audience for their second CD was 15 year old girls, and by the time they got up to their third CD, 17 year old girls! Well, their first two CD’s were kind of teeny bopperish, but by the time they did get up to their third release, they had transformed into a mighty fine, blues-metal pop Rock n Roll band! Check out their cover of Janis Joplin’s “Move Over”. Lead singer TOM KEIFER, who’s performing at The Highline Ballroom tonight, sounds eerily like Janis! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPijkUKZc6Q
Tuesday, February 12 – Wow! Busy night, especially for a Tuesday! I suppose that’s why every show tonight is in the city! We start with punk legends, THE DEAD KENNEDYS at The Gramercy Theater. RnB and Funk innovator, GEORGE CLINTON is at BB King’s, with THE P-FUNK ALL STARS. From Nashville, we have a fabulous Western Swing band, THE TIMEJUMPERS, who’s fiddle players both were guests on the last Brooklyn Cowboys CD, at City Winery. At The Rodeo Bar, Levon’s piano player, BRIAN MITCHELL. At Joe’s Pub, Americana Royal Couple, BRUCE ROBISON AND KELLY WILLIS. And wrapping up the night, local resident, MARCO BENEVENTO, of the very talented Benevento-Russo Band, will be performing a highly, highly recommended Tribute to James Booker, the late New Orleans piano genius, at The Brooklyn Bowl. There were no Picks of the Week this week. Due to the extremely high quality of every show, it was impossible to pick any over any other this week, but this show, due to the historical importance of James Booker as a musician, and the fact that this may be a one time event, surely make this as close as we can come this week to a pick of the week!
Thursday, February 14, Valentine’s Day – I wish there was more to recommend, musically, for Valentine’s Day. I guess y’all will have to settle for a romantic dinner for two, OR, you could take in ALBERT LEE at The Egg in Albany! Or both!
Don’t forget, if you lose your copy of The Townsman, this column is also on the Web at www.reservoirmusiccenter.com, www.brooklyncowboys.com, and www.hvmusic.com. All columns are archived on the Reservoir Music site.
And please don’t forget to check out my bi-weekly guest spot on John Madeo’s Little Delaware Jamboree radio show on WIOX, 91.3 FM, every other Monday night around 8:30. Next show is February 18. Also on the web and mobile devices at www.wioxradio.org.
Have a great week!