Friday, 26 January 2018 15:31

Performance Announcements

Return of the Dead

Dead & Company, featuring Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, John Mayer and Bob Weir with Oteil Burbridge & Jeff Chimenti will stage a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on June 11. Tickets are $149.50, $99.50, $75.50, lawn - $45, and are available online at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com or Charge By Phone at 1-800-745-3000.

      

SPAC to Host Quintet of Country Music Concerts

Promoter Live Nation has announced five country music concerts that will be staged at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this summer, and sales of a “2018 Country Megaticket” that will allow fans to attend all five shows.

The concerts include: Keith Urban with Kelsea Ballerini on June 27; Rascal Flatts on July 7; Jason Aldean with Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina on July 15; Dierks Bentley with Brothers Osborne and Lanco on Aug. 5, and Luke Bryan with Jon Pardi and Morgan Wallen on Aug. 19.

The Megaticket sale begins Friday, Jan. 26 and goes through Feb. 24, and is as follows: Gold: $695 – Secure the same reserved seat to all five shows in sections 1-7 or 15-18 plus get one premier parking pass per show, per pair. Silver: $450 – secure the same reserved seat to all five shows in sections 8-14 or 19-30; Lawn:  $159 – spend an evening on the lawn with a ticket to all five shows. Tickets available at Megaticket.com. Shows will go on sale individually at later dates. Ticket subject to service charges.

 

Kuinka Performs at Caffe Lena Saturday          

Pacific Northwest band Kuinka performs at Caffe Lena 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27 in advance of a 17-city tour through the western states. The dynamic string band’s new EP, “Stay Up Late,” will be released June 2. Tickets to the local show are $18 general admission, $16 members and $9 students and kids.

 

Funkadelic George Clinton Coming to the Mountaintop for 3-Day Fest

George Clinton, Sturgill Simpson, Alt-J, and Jack Johnson lead a musical cast of dozens slated to perform at this year’s three-day Mountain Jam concert, June 15-17, on Hunter Mountain.  

Mountain Jam will also feature yoga events, an Awareness Village with exhibits from not-for-profit organizations and a children's activity tent (those under 10 are admitted for free with a paid adult). Other activities include a Sky Ride offering scenic views of the Catskill Mouintains and North America's longest, highest zipline.

A three-day general admission pass is $184; a three-day pass with campground access is $219. For more information, go to: http://mountainjam.com/.  

 

Avant Folk Duo Bringing Sound and Verse to Saratoga and Schenectady

Billed as an “avantgarde folk duo,” and sporting impeccable influences that run the gamut from Laurie Anderson and Meredith Monk to Patti Smith, Anna & Elizabeth will be stage a show at Taylor Music Center at Union College on Feb. 23 and at Caffe Lena on April 20. The duo will performs new music from their upcoming Smithsonian Folkways debut, “The Invisible Comes to Us,” which is out March 30. Tickets for the Caffe Lena show are $22 general admission/ $ 20 members, and $11 students and kids.  

 

The Championship Tour at SPAC

Kendrick Lamar with special guests: Schoolboy Q, Sza, Jay Rock, Ab-Soul, Isaiah Rashad, Sir, Lance Skiiwalker and Zacari, will perform at SPAC June 9. Tickets are $125, $89.50, $49.50, $39.50, lawn $35 and available online at LiveNation.com, Ticketmaster.com or Charge By Phone at 1-800-745-3000.

 

Sawyer Fredericks to Perform Sunday on Live TV Fundraiser

ALBANY - Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks will perform live during the #518Gives televised fundraiser to benefit the Center for Disability Services on Sunday, Jan. 28.

Fredericks is scheduled to appear at 5:40 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the broadcast airs from noon to 7 p.m. from the Radisson Hotel Albany, 205 Wolf Road, in Colonie. The all live, all local show airs on WXXA/FOX23 (cable channel 8, or check listings). All proceeds support the Center and its divisions, Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center, Life Quality Solutions Incubator, Prospect Center in Queensbury and St. Margaret’s Center in Albany.

The Center is celebrating 76 years of service to the community in 2018 and offers opportunities for achievement, hope and innovation to people with disabilities and their families. Text 518Gives to 41444 to donate or give online at www.cfdsny.org. Call 518-459-7070 to make a pledge that day to benefit the Center. For more information, search #518Gives, or go to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @cfdsny.

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 11 January 2018 19:10

Neighbors: Bill Cole

Who: Bill Cole.

Where: Phila Street.

How long have you had a woodwind shop? 

Forty years. I started out in Watervliet and about 15 years I moved up to Saratoga Springs.

How did you get into the business?

A teacher encouraged me to go to school for music. I was drawn to one program specifically that taught band instrument repair. Music instrument technology trained you how to fix instruments: woodwinds, brass and strings. When I got out I started my own shop, temporarily. Forty years later, here I am.  

It's a niche market, isn’t it?

Even within my field I have a niche. Most music stores go after the big school accounts, and although I’m very happy to work on school instruments, I’m really targeting the pro horns. So, I get customers from across the country. It’s a special market and one I enjoy.

Have you ever had a brush with fame?

Over and over again. I have a book, about 300 pages, I hope to write it someday of all the things that have happened over 40 years. You’re standing right here next to Garth Hudson’s saxophone; he’s a friend of mine and we’ve had a lot of correspondence with Garth and The Band. Dave Matthews Band – we work on Jeff Coffin’s instrument when he comes to town. Chicago. Jethro Tull. Those are the big guys, but the real honor is working for the professional musician who’s playing (locally at jazz clubs) – because you know their passion for playing is so important. To be a part of that is great.

Do you play?

I don’t play professionally. Both my son and I play when we fix the instruments, but our job is to fix them; their job is to play them.   

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An engineer or an architect. To this day I look at the buildings that are going up and I just marvel at them. I’ve always had a passion for that. 

What are some of the best things Saratoga Springs has to offer?

When I have customers who come into town for the first time and looking for some direction about what to do, I tell them go to SPAC, have a picnic, and on the way back go to Congress Park and visit the museum; they’re going to get some nature, they’re going to get some history and then all you have to do is walk down the street and see the beautiful buildings that have been built, the beautiful buildings that have been restored. Saratoga just has something for everybody.

Who would portray you in a movie about your life?

I would say Johnny Depp, ha. He would have to shave his head and gain some weight – but I think he could nail it. Plus, he’s one of my favorite actors.   

Published in Neighborhood Buzz

In 2018, U2 will kick off their two-month North American tour in Oklahoma on May 2 and conclude with shows in New York City - at Madison Square Garden June 25, and New Jersey – at the Prudential Center on June 29. Other major artists slated to stage shows in the U.S. this year – although to date none have been scheduled to take place in the immediate Capital Region – include: Jeff Lynne’s ELO; Maroon 5; Foo Fighters; a Pixies and Weezer co-headlining tour; Taylor Swift; Kenny Chesney; Zac Brown Band; Shakira, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, and Jackson Browne – to name a few. Whether any of these shows will land locally remains to be seen.  

Concerts currently scheduled to take place in the region in 2018:

Mt. Joy, Jan. 15 @ Hart Theater, Empire State Plaza

Walk The Moon, Jan. 17 @ Upstate Concert Hall

Henry Rollins, Jan. 20 @ The Egg

James Taylor, Jan. 26 @ Times Union Center

Get The Led Out – American Led Zeppelin (tribute), Feb. 3 @Palace Theatre

G3: John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Phil Collen, Feb. 10 @ Palace Theatre

Three Dog Night, Feb. 11 @ Hart Theatre

Celebrating David Bowie w/ Bernard Fowler, Adrian Belew, Carmine Rojas, Earl Slick and others, Feb. 12 @ The Egg

Next Women of Country w/Sara Evans, RaeLynn, Kalie Shorr, Feb. 15 @ Palace Theatre

Dropkick Murphys, Agnostic Front, Bim Skala Bim, Feb. 25 @ Capital Repertory Theatre

Montgomery Gentry, March 2, @Upstate Concert Hall

Wyclef Jean, March 2 @ Putnam Den.

Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles, March 2 @ Proctors

Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, March 8 @Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

Five for Fighting, March 18, Swyer Theatre

Dixie Dregs, March 21 @ The Egg

Monster Energy Outbreak Tour w/ Jstjr, Kayzo, DJ Gammer, Dubloadz, March 28 @ Upstate Concert Hall

Robin Trower, March 28 @ Hart Theatre

Daughtry, April 7 @ Palace Theatre

They Might Be Giants, April 22 @ The Egg

Dweezil Zappa, April 24 @ The Egg

Alan Jackson, April 28, Times Union Center

Aztec Two-Step, April 28 @ Caffe Lena

Leo Kottke, April 29 @ Swyer Theatre

Yanni, May 13 @ Proctors

Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Foreigner, Whitesnake, June 16 @ SPAC

Saratoga Jazz Festival, June 23-24 @ SPAC

Charlie Puth, Hailee Steinfeld, July 22 @ SPAC

 

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Bolstered by now-classic performances of the songs “Maggie May,” “Mandolin Wind,” the album’s title track, and a moving rendition of Tim Hardin’s “Reason to Believe,” Rod Stewart’s 1971 solo album “Every Picture Tells a Story” will receive the Rochmon treatment at Caffe Lena on Tuesday, Nov. 21. 

Rochmon Record Club gathers once a month under the guidance of music savant Chuck Vosganian, who selects one ground-breaking rock or pop album to dig deep and wide in creating an entertaining, illuminating program of anecdotes, biographical, technical information and photos.

Stewart, accompanied by Ronnie Wood, was ascending to the height of his powers with “Every Picture Tells a Story”- an album cranky rock scribe Robert Christgau graded with an A-plus with extra credit for Rod the Mod’s ability of being “tawdry enough to revel in stellar pop-and-flash” while able to “refine the rock sensibility without processing the life out of it.”      

Doors at 6:30 p.m., presentation begins at 7, and a $5 donation is suggested.  Donations go to the restoration funds of Caffe’ Lena and Universal Preservation Hall.  

Published in Entertainment

ALBANY – Saratoga Springs native Ashley Bathgate – whose cello stylings have garnered acclaim by everyone from the New York Times (an “eloquent new music interpreter,”) to the Washington Post (“a glorious cellist’), returns to the region for a performance at The Egg, at the Empire State Plaza on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Last seen in these parts coaxing ethereal tones from the strings of her cello and slicing the air with resonating vibrations in a 2016 performance at the Tang Museum, Bathgate – a 2002 graduate of Saratoga Springs High School - will perform an entirely new series of reflections inspired by the Unaccompanied Cello Suites of J.S. Bach. The work incorporates extended performance techniques, live electronics, and external media resulting in a radical deconstruction and re-imagination of the original music.

Concert showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.  Students are $14 at the door – and special group rates are also available.  For more information on the concert, group sales and a special lecture/demonstration call:  THE EGG BOX OFFICE: 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

In addition to the concert, Bathgate will be conducting a cello technique demonstration and master class at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at The Egg, where she will provide insight into her approach to playing the cello – both in the traditional manner as well as how she utilizes electronics that comprise “Bach Unwound.”  This event is free and open to the public.

Published in Entertainment

Friday, Aug. 25 – matchbox twenty, Counting Crows at SPAC.

Saturday, Aug. 26 – Luke Bryan at SPAC.

Aug. 27 - Caffè Lena at SPAC: Let's Be Leonard (1 p.m.); Sweet Megg & The Wayfarers (2:30 p.m.); Soul Inscribed (4 p.m.) – Gazebo Stage at SPAC, free.  

Aug. 30 – Sting at SPAC.

Sept. 2 – Zac Brown Band at SPAC.

Sept. 12 – Boz Scaggs at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

Sept. 15 to 17 – Fresh Grass at Mass Moca featuring Bill Frisell, the Suitcase Junket, The Mammals and others.

Sept. 16 – Irish 2000 Festival at Saratoga County Fairgrounds featuring Hair of the Dog, The McKrells, and others.

Sept. 19 - The Rochmon Record Club presents the classic 1976 album “Hotel California” by the Eagles at Caffe’ Lena.  

Sept. 23 – Roger Waters at the Times Union Center, Albany.

Oct. 8 – Psychedelic Furs at Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park.

Oct. 8 – Stephen Stills, Judy Collins at The Egg, Albany.

Oct. 13 – Lisa Fischer at The Egg, Albany.

Oct. 28 – Loudon Wainwright III at the Swyer Theatre, Albany.

Oct. 29 – Renaissance at The Egg, Albany.

Nov. 4 – Cowboy Junkies at the Swyer Theatre, Albany.

Nov. 8-9 – King Crimson at the Swyer Theatre, Albany.

Nov. 14 – The Beach Boys at Proctors, Schenectady.

Nov. 17 – David Crosby at The Egg, Albany.

Nov. 18 – Ashley Bathgate at the Swyer Theatre, Albany.

Dec. 1 – Richard Thompson at the Swyer Theatre, Albany.

Dec. 27 – Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Times Union Center, Albany.

*Note: not all shows listed have officially been confirmed. 

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 10 August 2017 18:20

SPAC Puts Audience On Stage

SARATOGA SPRINGS – A few months into her tenure at the helm of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Elizabeth Sobol explored the venue’s historic stage, the jigsaw pieces of a unique concept formulating in her mind. 

“One day I was standing out in the amphitheater and looked up at this massive stage while thinking about this crazy idea,” recalled SPAC’s president and CEO.  “I wondered: How many people can we seat up there? As it turns out, it’s 300.”

Earlier this week, the fruition of that “crazy idea” went on full display when the venue hosted the first of four SPAC On Stage events, which spins the performers’ podium 180 degrees and places audience members at the back of the stage to face the musicians. A panoramic of the setting sun. the great lawn of SPAC and the columned architecture of the Hall of Springs lazily recline in the distance. 

The four-part series will be staged consecutive Monday nights in August. The grand experiment kicked off Aug. 7 and by all measures of sound and vision was a major success. 

“We’re making SPAC history tonight!” Sobol told the audience assembled for the series premiere featuring The Hot Sardines. The ensemble, which boasts triple-horns, sassy vocals and a rhythm section that channels the vintage essence of New York speakeasies, Parisian cabarets and New Orleans jazz halls alike, proved to be a perfect choice. 

“Tonight, we’re doing this for the first time together, so let’s let our hair down and have a ton of fun,” Sobol announced, the foundation of a rollicking piano punctuated by the brassy horns of The Hot Sardines.

“Tonight, you can take photographs,” Sobol instructed. “Tonight, you can dance.” Some couples did just that, swooning to the sounds of classic jazz interpretations. 

The visuals are splendid, with no seat more than a few meters from the stage, and however it was done, the sound on this night is perfect: each musical intonation easily observed, and the volume boosted at an enjoyable level.

The experience is both intimate and surreal. The lawn and amphitheater, absent of patrons, is eerily quiet, and even the venue’s security detail collectively wear perplexed looks. Audience members are directed to their seats via an ascending staircase at stage left, warmly greeted as if entering a gallant eatery, and are directed to their pre-numbered seats by walking across the historic stage where everyone from Jim Morrison to Mikhail Baryshnikov have strutted their stuff.

The U-shape seating configuration cradles the stage, with a half-dozen or so rows flanking the band podium on either side and a bleacher-type fixture housing seats that climbs at its center.

SPAC on Stage takes place Mondays at 8 p.m. in August. Time for Three will perform Monday, Aug. 14, Black Violin on Aug. 21 (tickets for this show are sold out), and three-time Grammy nominated Afro-Cuban music group Tiempo Libre will conclude the series on Aug. 28.

“When the notion of SPAC on Stage was born, there were bands that I wanted to bring in that I thought would do this so perfectly,” Sobol said. “We’re almost sold out of the whole series and 22 percent of our ticket buyers for this series have never been to SPAC before, so that’s huge. I wanted to introduce a type of music we weren’t really touching on at SPAC and this was the way to do it. You’re bringing the audience out of the amphitheater and onto the stage to be with the artists.” Sobol said audiences can expect the series to be revisited in future seasons.

Time for Three will be showcasing a lot of their new material during their SPAC appearance Aug. 14. 

“Inviting the audience on stage to get that close to us is going to be awesome,” said Time for Three founding member Nick Kendall. “I think it plays into the unexpected characteristics of Time for Three. You’ll really get to witness the interplay between the three of us. So much of (our sound) seems like it’s being created in the moment and by being a lot closer you’ll be able to see that interplay that sometimes is missed at a big concert hall or a stadium.

“We have played at SPAC before with the orchestra, so iIt’s going to be really cool to turn that on its head, and bring the audience on stage.”

Time for Three and its three classically trained musicians — violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang, and double-bassist Ranaan Meyer defy traditional genre classification. The trio performs music from Bach to Brahms and beyond, playing originals and their own arrangements of everything from bluegrass and folk tunes to mash-ups of hits by the Beatles, Brittany Spears, Kanye West, Katy Perry, and others. The group has performed at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall, to the ABC TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

The variety of venues well suits the SPAC on Stage series as well as the ensemble’s performance chops. “It reflects the energy of our band. We love the surprise nature of it. We’re just as comfortable playing on street corners as we are in concert halls,” said Kendall, adding that the group’s three co-creators inspire a fusion of sound that creates a larger symphonic fourth. 

“At the root of my desire in music is the appetite to create,” Kendall said. “There’s such a reciprocal energy, especially with my bandmates when we perform; I’ll go out, spark an energy and if the energy comes back – well, that’s what I live for, whether it’s with another musician or with the audience.”

Monday night the energy created in that magical place between audience and band will be given a whole new sea of possibilities in which to flourish.

 

39- spac stage.jpg

Audience filing in to the U-shaped seating configuration during first of four SPAC on Stage performances Aug. 7, 2017. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

Published in Entertainment

SARATOGA SPRINGS – What was the first song you heard that opened up a whole new world of possibilities? What was the most memorable concert you attended that remains a fond memory to this day?

Come a share an evening of stories celebrating the history of rock and roll in Saratoga and beyond in a free public forum from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 9 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.

Ever since 1956, when Elvis first shook his hips into the living rooms of America, rock and roll has had a powerful impact in shaping our world.

Where you there the night Phish played at a small club on Caroline Street in 1990? How about that summer night in 1984 when Bruce Springsteen stopped the rain? Were you among the 30,000-plus who saw The Who at SPAC, or in the crowd of 40,000 who partied to the sounds of the Grateful Dead at the venue in 1985? The Allman Brothers at Skidmore College? U2 at the Saratoga Casino?

The Jean Stamm Memorial Event will be held at the H. Dutcher Community Room of the Saratoga Springs Public Library at 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs and will be followed by an open mic featuring any audience members willing to share their own special moments.

The free event will be moderated by journalist Thomas Dimopoulos and will feature George Demers, Joe Deuel, Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Greg Haymes, Robert Millis, Larry Wies and other guests.

Published in Entertainment

Rod Stewart

Why We Like Him: With his trademark raspy voice and exemplary musical lineage, Rod Stewart is one of the top-selling singers of the 20th century. Of particular note: his run with the Jeff Beck Group in the 1960s and his stint with The Faces, as well as his solo albums, through the mid-1970s.

Heritage: Born of Scottish and English ancestry. Loves soccer. Knighted by Prince William at Buckingham Palace in 2016.

Set List: Twenty songs. Ten originals. Ten covers.

Visually: Sir Rod looks healthy up against the 72 years he has spent on earth: shirt unbuttoned to mid-chest, swatches of blonde zagging across his scalp, and a voice that mostly still manages fine and complemented on stage by a chorus of back-up singers. His shaggy-hair look also inspired more than a few fans to don Rod The Mod hair-wigs, although for the most part the wigs seemed less like the classic rooster-cut of the ‘70s and more like a Long Island housewife’s beehive hair-do that had been violated by a pair of sheep shears.   

Memorable songs performed: The Faces’ “Stay With Me” still maintained some of its original joy-filled intensity, and was supplemented by the kicking of several soccer balls into the crowd. Renditions of Tim Hardin’s “Reason To Believe” and Cat Stevens’ “The First Cut Is The Deepest” were emotionally moving during the evening’s five-song acoustic set. “Maggie May” and “Ooh La La” were not. 

Stewart name-checked blues legend Muddy Waters before performing the Hambone Willie Newbern song “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” – which dates back to at least 1929 - dedicated “Young Turks” to World War II servicemen, covered Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train,” and performed a duet with Cyndi Lauper on The Isley Brothers’ “This Old Heart of Mine.”

“You Wear It Well” brought the crowd to its feet, and “You’re In My Heart” had them swaying, arms waving and taking the lead on the choruses. 

Ill-advised:  The drum solo during “Forever Young,” featuring two drummers no less, making the most boring thing in rock doubly so. Another low moment occurred when the band, sans Rod, played “Proud Mary” Ike & Tina Turner style - likely meant to be a tribute, but mostly just looked like a foolish parody. Coincidentally, both segments were used to occupy time so that Rod could go backstage and change into another outfit.

Overall: Entertaining, but lacking the emotional passion that set him apart from his peers during the early 1970s when he reigned as king. All the sharp edges were removed from the guitars, the band – in their matching suits and neat styles – looked more like Rod’s wait staff than musical foils, and Rod himself seems destined to grab the title of rock’s version of Wayne Newton. Clearly, he misses Ron Wood, who left to join the Rolling Stones in 1975. It doesn’t look like the Stones are going to give him back any time soon.

Most annoyingly is the known talent that Stewart once promised before he began his descent into the maelstrom of mainstream mediocrity. It was what promptedmusic critic Greil Marcus to proclaim decades ago: “Rarely has a singer had as full and unique a talent as Rod Stewart; rarely has anyone betrayed his talent so completely.” Not much has changed.

 

Cyndi Lauper

CPG_8957 - Copy.jpg

Why We Like Her: Fun, talented, and charming.

Heritage: Born at Astoria General Hospital and grew up in Ozone Park - both neighborhoods in Queens whose surrounding environs also spawned Tony Bennett, Simon and Garfunkel, Marty Scorsese, three New York Dolls, all four of the Ramones, and Steinway Pianos.  

Set List: 11 songs, covering a span of recordings from 1983’s “She’s So Unusual,” to “Detour,” which was released in 2006. 

Visually: The show began with Lauper swinging around an oversized traveling trunk while teetering atop a pair of high heel shoes, her dancing form framed by massive video screens that depicted Betty Grable days and classic Horror film nights. During her singing of “She Bop,” perhaps most appropriately, she shucked off her oversized top hat and her shoes and performed the balance of the set in bare feet, alternating between song and stand-up shtick, including a joke of sorts about a Nashville hotel that merged Dolly Parton with the Dalai Lama. She also name-checked Captain Lou Albano.

Memorable songs performed: The set began a bit rough  – including one off-key tune which was halted and re-started for which a missing stage prop was blamed - but hit stride mid-way through the set and absolutely took off with the turbo-charged fury of “Money Changes Everything,” the joy-filled  “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – which also included pertinent social messages - a charming rendition of “Time After Time,” and an emotionally charged “Not My Father’s Son.”  “True Colors,” Lauper’s beautifully haunting ode to humanity, provided the show-closer.  

Throughout her set Lauper alternately whirled like a dervish, shared center stage with a dulcimer, and serenaded like a chanteuse.  “Have a beautiful summer,” she told the crowd as she exited the stage. “Take care of each other and remember: diversity makes us stronger.”   As one clearly moved row-mate inside the amphitheater expressed after Lauper’s finale: She really leaves it all up on that stage.

 

 

 

Published in Entertainment
Thursday, 06 July 2017 17:57

Hot Tuna Mesmerizes on Stage at SPAC

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Jorma Kaukonen stepped into the sunlight and rode an E chord for all it was worth: 

“Down in the mine,

circled ‘round the diamond,

Serpent of your expectations,

Sleeps a nervous dream…”

Electric Hot Tuna – these days a power trio led by longtime bandmates Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, and aided amply by the grounding beats of drummer Justin Gulp, came to Saratoga July 3 and staged a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in support of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and the Wood Brothers. 

Hot Tuna delivered a seven-song, 45-minute set that came full circle, commencing with “Serpent of Dreams” and concluding with “Hit Single #1” – adjacent vinyl tracks on the band’s 1975 album “America’s Choice.”

It was 49 years, nearly to the day, when Kaukonen and Casady graced the front cover of Life Magazine beneath the headline: “Music That’s Hooked The Whole Vibrating World.”  Perhaps best known for their respective roles in helping create the Jefferson Airplane’s signature sound – try imagining songs like “White Rabbit” sans Casady’s "Bolero" bass, or “Somebody To Love” and “Lather” without Kaukonen’s soaring guitaristry - the Hot Tuna duo has done well in creating their own legacy during the past 45-plus years, alternating between the moody electric wailing of Kaukonen’s wheezing guitar and elaborate acoustic fingerpickings, and Casady’s melody bass. Add to that hipping an entire generation of guitar players to the music of Robert Johnson and Jelly Roll Morton, Jimmy Reed and Rev. Gary Davis.

Much of that legacy was on full display at SPAC, where the band’s set began with a pair of acoustic numbers and took off in earnest when Kaukonen strapped on his electric Firebird that bent through the wave of a Wah-Wah flange and delivered a string-bending swoon of vintage psychedelia, blown in on a breeze from the west coast of America.

The three-piece ensemble allows ample space for each instrument to be well-defined by the human ear, and as Kaukonen displayed a mental fixation on his fretboard delivering his searing notes, Casady plunked, boomed, slid and slapped out the low tones on his Wine Red hollow-body bass, his undulating eyebrows rising and falling with the plonk of the beat.

“The last time I remember that Jack and I were here was in ’89 on the (Jefferson) Airplane reunion tour,” announced Kaukonen, a black Harley T-shirt clinging to his 76-year-old frame. Truth be told, the band had been here with The Further Festival in the late ‘90s and on a bill with the Allman Brothers in 2000, but no one seemed to mind the historical misstep inside the amphitheater and out on the summer lawn where fans of the music swooned and grooved, transported to some heavenly place in a world of song. 

Published in Entertainment
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  • COURT Temujin V. Bozeman, 60, of Saratoga Springs, was sentenced Feb. 7 to 1 year in jail, after pleading to felony DWI.  Mason A. Weber, 25, of Stillwater, pleaded Feb. 6 to felony burglary in Malta. Sentencing is scheduled for  April 10.  Sean D. Knight, 32, of the Bronx, pleaded Feb. 5 to felony DWAI, and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor. Sentencing scheduled April 9.  Justin P. Rock, 32, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded Feb. 2 to felony burglary. Sentencing scheduled April 13.  Donald P. Gilbert, 22, of Milton, was sentenced Feb. 2 to five years of…

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