Tag Archives: music

Mums the word – Mumford and Sons at the Times Union Center

Confession: three concerts in three nights nearly broke me. By the time Sunday morning rolled around last weekend, I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t stop smiling. What a great few nights this little city of ours showed visitors, local music fans and me! Here’s how this early March Bucket List concert went down…

After hearing from friends about the impressive wait lines they had encountered at the City Beer Hall on Elton John night, I made sure that I called in a favor we arrived before 5:00 for dinner pre-show. Cozy and warm by the fire, our party of 5 ordered an array of food, including burgers and two chicken sandwich variations along with drinks. Despite the fact that the inside of this place was absolutely jammed, the kitchen and front of the house staff were on their game and absolutely humming with professional competence. Food and drink were without exception excellent and I highly recommend this place whether its pre or post show or any other occasion when you want quality ingredients well prepared. I’m still thinking about that burger!

While the girls continued socializing I grabbed my crowd photos for the TU, which was a blast. It was an awesome crowd and there was no shortage of folks willing to pose for me, including a fair number of my friends. This was Mumford and Sons first Albany show and there were lots of excited people, including me. I had been shut out when they last came around for a sold out concert at SPAC and I was still kicking myself for missing that show. By the time the lights went down, I was comfortable in my seat and ready to enjoy some music.

And, boy, did I! Marcus Mumford was absolutely mesmerizing singing his pipes out and playing whatever instrument he happened to land in front of as he ran around the stage. There appeared to nothing he couldn’t play and somehow, the sound mix was remarkably good, something I’ve never thought before at this particular arena. At one point during their set, I couldn’t stop myself from texting a friend with this message: I am so happy.

I will not miss this band again. Maybe you’ll go next time too?

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Steve Earle and Shannon McNally at The Egg

There are two things that people say about Albany* that make me crazy, ok, maybe three, and on the top of the list is “there’s nothing to do.” As someone working really hard to pace themselves, I’m going to tell you right now that that’s crazy talk – there is so much activity in Albany these days, that it’s a struggle to not overextend one’s self by trying to go to every single cool thing happening. Truth.

Late winter isn’t known as the most hospitable time of the year in upstate New York, but we’ve gotten really lucky in Albany and have welcomed some terrific performers to the area already this year. Thursday night I had the chance to see a musician, Steve Earle, whom I’ve been interested to see ever since reading a biography about him. This bonafide American low-key legend rolls through town every so often and friends who were unable to make use of their tickets, were generous enough to make their seats available. And, they were great seats!

Shannon McNally opened the evening with a set of the perfect length, perhaps 40 minutes. She was charming with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a voice that shone particularly well when she and Steve harmonized together. While it didn’t seem that McNally had been to our Egg before, she’s obviously been performing for years and played a set that was really easy to enjoy. I’m still chuckling over a remark she made while gently touching upon life and politics. She quoted her grandfather with the following:

In a hundred years, all new people.

Exactly.

As for the headliner, Steve Earle did not disappoint. The “tools” of his trade, 6 various stringed instruments, were arranged around him like a womb and he played each of them with incredible technical skill and respect. His prowess reminded me of Richard Thompson, in a way. But, when I hear Thompson I can’t help but look for the other guitar player who surely most be playing simultaneously, because one guitar player can’t possibly create that much sound. When it came to Earle, though, my eyes were seeking the additional musicians who had to be contributing to the sound with instruments beyond this one single guitar. He just made so much music! Genius comes in many flavors, friends.

If you haven’t seen Steve Earle, or Richard Thompson, you need to get on that. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be rewarded next time either of them swing through Albany. And don’t miss Shannon McNally – she’s got her own special magic, too.

*(In case you’re interested in the other two things rounding out my list – “there’s no parking” and “the taxes are too high.”)

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Filed under Albany, art, concerts, Events, friends, Local, Music, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter

19 Things I’m loving

The Super Bowl was already weeks ago (Remember? The Patriots won. Again.) but there’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since the big game…why would celebrities, like really rich and successful public figures, appear in advertisements or commercials about products which they weren’t enthusiastic about truly using? All of those actors and sports figures in the big budget commercials, do you think they need the money? How much money would you want to be paid for promoting and intrinsically endorsing something you genuinely appreciate and use? Would you want more money if it was item or service that you didn’t actually avail yourself of?

if you know me, you know I don’t value money very much. I appreciate it and understand working to have enough,* but I certainly don’t believe the accumulation of it is my life’s work. And, while I’d happily consider accepting money from companies whose products I truly use, I’m just about equally pleased to just share the following list with you of things I’m really loving right now. Here goes…

 

  • New Max Mara framed eyeglasses.
  • My Waterpik, although I wish the cord was retractable.
  • Concert and airplane tickets
  • The Bleecker Salad at Dove and Deer
  • An Unlimited Subscription for Rent the Runway
  • Walks/Runs/Skis with Jeter at Albany Muni
  • My clunkiest Frye’s
  • Aaron’s 11:15 class on Saturdays at the Latham Hot Yoga Spot.
  • Aldi’s for produce and baking supplies.
  • Kat von D’s Studded Lipstick in Double Dare.
  • Van Morrison’s Poetic Champions Compose – I forgot how much I love this record.
  • Hot bubble baths. I can not get enough of my tub these days!
  • Midnight blue velvet skinnies from Gap bought on super sale for $12.
  • The lushness of my plants.
  • Wednesday night date night.
  • CBD roll-on applied to my sore muscles.
  • A true sense of owning my happiness.
  • Spending time with someone who makes me laugh.
  • Feeling comfortable in my skin.

What would be on your list?

*however you define “enough.”

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Keeping Christ in Christmas

As in “Jesus Christ, are you kidding me?” Let’s talk for a moment about babies and Christians and Christmas songs and greetings and how the upcoming holiday has become a battleground instead of a celebration and why reasonable human beings are allowing that to happen.

To begin, babies. Big confession here…I don’t find babies to be very interesting. When I say I didn’t even like my own babies all that much until I had my third, I am being completely honest. My lack of enthusiasm for infants, however, doesn’t prevent me from feeling incredibly sad for children who are separated from their families or born into situations which fail to provide opportunity or stability. You know, like Jesus – and all the children who continue to live in tents apart from their families in a state of imprisonment. How people who claim the mantle of “Christian” can fail to see the parallels between their savior and those babies is truly one of the wonders of Christmas to me.

“Baby, It’s Cold Out” is not a date rape song in my head or heart. They’re flirting, he’s cajoling her to stay and she’s finding lame ass excuses blaming everyone but herself for not being able to stay. That’s my read at least and I’m entitled to it. I refuse to feel icky about this song, but you can feel free to rail against it if you must. I’m not buying in to that craziness and I’m not taking that song off my holiday season playlist.

The phrase “Merry Christmas” should be received by non-Christmas celebrants in the same way “Happy Hump Day is. Maybe neither are your holiday, but it’s ok to acknowledge that they’re both important days to those who choose to celebrate. If someone wishes you the “wrong” sentiment, do you really get offended by their greeting? Isn’t there so much more to take offense from in our world? You know, like children in cages? As for me, I’m just going to keep saying “Merry Christmas.”

Migrants and other seekers of asylum and the chance for a better life, should be more compassionately dealt with, particularly by those who like to claim religion as their justification for how they approach the world. Please don’t talk to me about the miracle of a savior’s birth in a manger if you’re unwilling to recognize the efforts being made by contemporary families to achieve a similarly blessed life for their own child(ren).

I’m all about remembering the reason for the season, but, Jesus Christ, can’t we do a better job honoring him?

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WEXT – Jukebox Heroes!

If you’re of a certain age, the following may tweak a memory for you…

“Standing in the rain, with his head hung low
Couldn’t get a ticket, it was a sold out show…”

I didn’t say Foreigner, circa 1981, would necessarily elicit a good memory, but I do know some folks who hold their 80s mix tapes in high regard and I imagine that track made it on to more than a couple of them.  Anyway, I heard that song on the radio recently and those lyrics totally expressed my situation perfectly – it was indeed, a sold out show.

Last summer I attended a show at SPAC specifically to see the Marcus King Band. Unfortunately, they were an early act on a day that included an afternoon on the water, pre-show. Needless to say, we arrived late to the concert and missed almost their entire set. Bummer.

When I found out the band was playing Cohoes Music Hall Thanksgiving Day Weekend, I jumped on it. Apparently, my leap was too late and I was dismayed, (and annoyed) to find the show sold out. Refusing to settle for being shut out, I sent Exit 97.7 WEXT a message asking if they had a line on any tickets, or a ticket. I’d go solo to this show for sure.

10 days later, I got a message back apologizing for the delayed response and inquiring if I was still in need of a miracle of sorts. Upon receiving my response confirming my situation, they were able to assist in my getting into the show. The Fantastic Show, I should say.  This band, and the opening duo Ida Mae, rocked the remaining paint off the ceiling of that spectacular, but sadly neglected, venue. Can’t somebody help this space to rise up and live up to its former glory?

How about this? Giving Tuesday is O.D. official on November 27th, 2018, but you can feel free to donate any time you’d like to organizations which you find important to support. If you’re looking for ideas, consider an independent radio station, like WEXT 97.7 or a historic property like the Cohoes Music Hall. Both would appreciate any assistance you could provide, I’m sure. Music makes you feel good – helping to support it feels even better.

Ida Mae

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Grooving with The Suffers

I don’t know what you did Wednesday night, but I doubt you more fun than I did. It was one of those wonderful Albany nights that come along, with unpredictable frequency, when everything flowed. It was just a great night.

A big part of the enjoyable evening was a concert at The Egg. A band from Houston, called The Suffers, were playing and we had tickets for the 7:30 show. I had heard their music on WEXT 97.7 and liked their sound, but we weren’t sure what to expect not being overly familiar with the band.* Promptly at 7:30, the 8 member band walked onto the stage in the Egg’s smaller theater, and immediately heated up the underpopulated room.

The lead singer, the ripe Kam Franklin, acknowledged the size of the crowd and promised a great show, which she ultimately delivered. Her vibe is absolutely juicy with laughter, terrific banter and a voice that is rich with range and tone. While there were glimpses, to me, of Tina Turner and Brittany Howard, Kam is completely her own unique ray of light and was simply a joy to watch.

The tight 90-minute set was fun, sexy and completely captivating. The audience was appreciative and many took advantage of the available elbow room and danced in and out of their seats. It didn’t matter how many people were present. Those of us there, knew we were the lucky ones to be able to say we were at The Suffers first Albany show. You should make a point to be at their next one.

 

*Once again 97.7 WEXT feeds me new music.

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Celebrate yourself – like a grand dame

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From one grand dame to another…

It’s Wednesday and I’m almost recovered from a fairly epic weekend. I understand that people sometimes have complicated feelings about birthdays, or maybe more specifically aging, but my philosophy is that each one is to be honored and celebrated. You know that Pink Floyd lyric about “shorter of breath and one day closer to death,” right? Well, the way I see it, each birthday that passes is one less that I get to commemorate and I don’t want to waste a single one.

Here’s a recap for you to maybe take inspiration from –

● A hair appointment after work. A little pampering is the perfect way to fill the gap between school and dinner, I think. Maybe you do something similar?

● Dinner at a favorite spot with a favorite person – or two, as the case may be. When our cozy table for two was crashed by a third, it just made the evening more festive. Perfect doesn’t always appear exactly as what we may have planned.

Lark Fest – at least on the early side when I was there, was a fun time. I love when the street is closed to traffic and wandering around checking out booths and eating yummy food is always a win-win.

● Taking a run to work off the eggplant and red wine from the previous night and to prep for the evening of…

● Dancing at June Farms’ 80s Dance Party. What a blast! This has quickly become one of my favorite places to spend time, especially when I’m lucky enough to be with good friends, which has been the case every single time I’ve been there.

● A Sunday morning 5K expanded to a 7+ mile run with the Luna B*tches. It was a beautiful morning to participate in a great local race.

● Some time spent with the New York Times and my youngest son before heading to…

● Saratoga Springs and the Outlaw Festival with two of my oldest friends. I haven’t seen SPAC full like that in a long time and wish I had a chance to connect with all of the folks I knew were there, but it just wasn’t possible.

● My favorite pastry and coffee combo on Monday morning before the drive south.

● An afternoon massage to work out that knot in my right piriformus/IT band.

● Dinner on New Scotland Avenue with my son to take advantage of their Restaurant Week.

● A hot bath & bed.

Was it indulgent? Yes. Did I feel special? Absolutely. Is this something that is possible every single year? No way, but in a month that also includes 2 funerals and a wake, I won’t apologize for how I spent my weekend. Life is short, friends. There’s only so much time to work on becoming a legend to your future grandchildren. You’d better get busy!

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