Cherish the Ladies - CHIRP, Ballard Park Ridgefield - July 18, 2017
This was the fourth time I’d seen this Irish trad supergroup, who never fail to deliver the goods; I finally got around to the sketching. Joannie Madden, the ringleader, is just about the ultimate MC, with a breezy manner of sneaking in praise for accomplishment in introducing her colleagues, and an engaging sense of humor. Plus she’s from the Bronx. Tunes included some original compositions, so it’s not all historical stuff. The act also included not one but two world-class step dancers and a guest singer (O’Riordan) who’s still in college.
Bardekova Ensemble - Woodlawn Cemetery Chapel - July 16, 2017
Woodlawn Cemetery celebrates its (underground) inhabitants with occasional concerts featuring music by composers “residing” there. This one had some Duke, but also some more standard wind ensemble repertory (I’m pretty sure Mozart is not a Woodlawn inhabitant).
Chandler Travis Philharmonic – Kate Gould Park Bandstand, Chatham – July 12, 2017
Anyone who thinks they can categorize Travis’s music is delusional. The selection of blurbs on his web site each sum up his wacky indescribability in different ways, all of them true. My favorite: “The world would be a better place if Travis would only visit more often”. And he has assembled a crew of players who buy into the vision, presenting it with self-assured chops. The size of his ensemble varies according to the nature of the gig; for this one we got the mid-size sextet. Most of the gig was up on the bandstand, but they also descended to walk into the crowd for a few “al fresco” numbers. I loved the song about being a bass drum pedal, with vocal sound effects by basso Boak.
Crabgrass Bluegrass Band - Main Street, Orleans - July 11, 2017
CGBG seems to be the go-to bluegrass band of Cape Cod. There are no unintentional rough edges to ‘em, though they live up to the offhandedness and casual proficiency that by nature prevails throughout the genre. Their repertoire includes all sorts of obscure gems, each with a little story to go with it (I think no originals, though).
John Salerno Band – Orleans Village Green - July 11, 2017
Salerno’s outfit is old school jazz, mining the society/easy listening vein, but his veterans know how to inject sufficient verve into the various chestnuts (nothing was unfamiliar to me) to keep it interesting. And hey, there’s a reason those songs are/were so popular; it’s nice to hear them presented by players who breathe them as second nature. Salerno’s association with drummer Vitali goes back decades. Ted Kennedy used to call Salerno whenever he breezed into Hyannis, to come entertain at the compound, including singing some old Irish tunes with momma Rose.
Derek Gripper - Lincoln Center Rubenstein Atrium - June 22, 2017
Solo guitarist (nylon strings) Gripper is South African, and has dedicated himself to showcasing both folk songs of his country (continent, actually) and works by its modern composers. Some of the latter need to be transposed from original instrumentation into guitar, a whole other can of worms – he seems to have staked out this unique turf to follow wherever it leads, and to my ears he does ‘em justice. He’s also assimilated plenty from the standard classical canon, blowing the socks off some Bach (who composed not a note for guitar).
Ramsey Lewis - BAM Metrotech - June 8, 2017
Jazz instrumentalist Lewis from Chicago had a few top 10 hits in the 1960′s. Of course, he had some career going before that, but once he hit it big on the pop charts, the sustain pedal on his career was to the floor, momentum carrying on until today. His stuff is fusion groove-oriented, so towards the end of the gig my focus was divided and I was ready ready to get those autographs and go.
Henry Johnson & Joshua Ramos
Charles R. Heath
Busking Rome - April 2017
Part of the reason for the delay in new material on this site is due to the twin blessings of intense genealogical research in advance of (as well as subsequent to) a trip to the ancestral Sicilian homeland. But first there was an obligatory three days in Rome, seemingly an eternal busker’s paradise. (Vatican also seems to be a beggar’s paradise, but that’s another story). The winding vicolos connecting this and that plaza, the ubiquitous al fresco dining, are conducive to wandering musicians, with a heavy emphasis on accordion and “Funiculi Funicula”. At least the jazz trio was rooted in one place long enough to allow me to settle into a groove; I was the wanderer for that one. I don’t know if the Sneaker Painter is technically a busker, but he had to get put somewhere. Verrocchi is apparently a screen actor in Italy; here he seems to be doing some stuff on the side (the image being added to the sneakers is of Frida Kahlo), at a place called “Acid Drop”; hmmmm…
Jazz Trio - Piazza Sant'Egidio
Jim Campilongo Trio – Greenwich Library Cole Auditorium - March 19, 2017
Three in a row for Greenwich Library, hats off! Campilongo is the “Master of the Telecaster”. He’s wonky into his guitar specs, and he knows what sounds he wants and which precise hardware configuration will deliver. As testimony to this outcome, Fender has a signature model of his axe in production. And the foot pedal/effects he played through: zero, no crutches. I’m still not sure how he got the tremolo effect without the whammy bar, but am beyond caring. Aside from Dion doing vocals on the cover of Cream’s “Politician”, this was an all-instrumental set. The jazz-oriented and hillbilly hiccup music was at a moderate volume, but the rock stuff was LOUD. Poor planning had the leader’s portrait spilling onto the facing page, so the two pieces reassembled in a slapdash manner. Campilongo was Sharpie-less at the merch signing table afterwards, so I left him mine to use and keep, as me & Toots departed for supper.
Ringrose & Freeman - Greenwich Library Cole Auditorium - March 12, 2017
Sometimes we just gotta drag ourselves out of home and make the effort. For this, in honor of St.Paddy’s, there was a delightful reward of expertly performed trad Irish music, a nice assortment (we’re glad there were two “friends” along), touching enough to get me teary emotional a few times – especially the parts about the journey and loss (“Wild Mountain Thyme”, the closer, in particular got to me). Ringrose took care of the humor department with a couple of wry jokes of the genre. Of course, concert not long enough for me to get the paintings to where I wanted them, but I resisted any post-retouching.
Jeanne Freeman & Mary Gardner
Dan Ringrose and Loretta Egan Murphy