Dropkick Murphys at the Paramount
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
Dropkick Murphys with the Interrupters and Blood Or Whiskey
The Paramount Huntington, NY March 12, 2017
Over 20 years ago, in Quincy, MA the founding members of the Dropkick Murphys decided to have a jam session in the basement of a barbership. What started out as an opportunity to have some fun and play a little music has, since 1996, evolved into a movement. The Dropkick Murphys have taken their love of traditional Irish music and combined it with an Hardcore Punk ethos to create their signature Celtic Punk sound.
Though there has been some turn-over among the members, the current band features original member Ken Casey on bass and lead vocals; vocalist Al Barr; Tim Brennan on guitar and accordion; James Lynch on guitar; Scruffy Wallace on bagpipes and tin whistle; drummer Matt Kelly and multi-instrumentalist Jeff DaRosa. During the course of its career the band has released eight studio albums and three live albums. It has toured relentlessly delivering passionate, lively, rousing and elecrtic performances to sold-out venues the world-over.
On a cool Sunday evening is mid-March the Dropkick Murphys and its rabid fanbase packed Huntington, NY's the Paramount. The raucous crowd was in rare form, having been primed by the town's celebration of St. Patrick's Day when it held its annual parade earlier that afternoon.
The evening began when Blood Or Whiskey, from Dublin, Ireland, took the stage and further excited the already amped audience with a short set of their own brand of Celtic Punk with an undertone of fun Ska Punk. Following Blood Or Whiskey, the Interrupters stormed the stage. The Los Angeles-based Ska Punk band is comprised of the brothers Bivona–Kevin (vocals/guitar) and twins Justin (bass) and Jesse (drums)--and lead vocalist Aimee Interrupter (Aimee Allen). Its high-powered set featured "A Friend Like Me," the anthemic "By My Side," "Take Back The Power" (a song made famous by its use in a T-Mobile commercial), "White Noise," "This Is The New Sound" as well as two standout tracks, "She Got Arrested" and "Jenny Drinks," from 2016's Hellcat/Epitaph Records release Say It Out Loud.
After a short intermission the Dropkick Murphys appeared on the stage and led the faithful through a powerful and tight set that included "The Boys Are Back" and "Prisoner's Song" from 2013's Signed and Sealed in Blood (Born & Bred Records), the ballad "Forever," a rocking version "Out of Our Heads," the catchy "Going Out in Style" from the album of the same name (Born & Bred Records, 2011) the traditional Irish drinking song "The Irish Rover" an excellent cover of the Cars' "Just What I Needed" and "Worker's Song." Other highlights included the set-opener "The Lonesome Boatman," "4-15-13" "You'll Never Walk Alone" and "First Class Loser" all from the band's latest CD, Eleven Short Stories Of Pain & Glory (Born & Bred Records, 2017).
Following "Prisoner's Song" the band addressed the crowd, offering a cheerful, "Good evening Long Island. It's good to be back in civilization for Christ's sake." While the band played, the audience worked itself into a frenzy. The sold-out crowd in the packed-to-the-gills venue was drenched in beer, decked-out in green and rocking to the beat. From the first chord, they sang along with the band. The timid and less adventurous and while fist pumping or played air guitar. The better lubricated and more devil-may-care members of the crowd surfed the mosh-pit. Some even slam-danced.
When the main set ended, the audience was drenched in a mixture of sweat and alcohol. The band which had spent the evening feeding off the energy from the crowd delivered an amazing encore set that included "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya" from The Meanest of Times (Born & Bred, 2007), the fan favorite "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" and "Until the Next Time."
In keeping with the "feeding off the fans" theme of the evening, the real highlight was the band ending the show by inviting all the female audience members onto the stage. On this evening, the Paramount was the home to a huge blow-out St. Patrick's Day party and its hosts were the seven members of the South Boston bad boys known as the Dropkick Murphys.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
David Duchovny at the Paramount
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
The Paramount Huntington, NY February 23, 2017
While it is true that David Duchovny is best known as an actor and for his roles as FBI Agent Fox Mulder on the FOX television series The X-Files and as writer Hank Moody on the Showtime television series Californication, Duchovny is much more than that. He is a renaissance man. In addition to acting, he is an accomplished writer, producer, director, novelist, and singer-songwriter.
During the past two years, Duchovny has released two books through the Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint: 2015's Holy Cow: A Modern-Day Dairy Tale, a zany madcap adventure whose hero is a bovine, and Bucky F*cking Dent: A Novel centering on the bonds between fathers and sons and the fierce rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. He also released his first album, Hell or Highwater (Thinksay, 2015). Duchovny's debut CD is a compelling mixture of folk rock, pop, alternative rock and country.
On a pleasant and unusually warm night in late February, Duchovny and his band touched down at Huntington, NY's The Paramount for a highly anticipated evening of entertainment with a surprise. The evening's performance represented one of only eleven stops on the short tour. The venue was filled with fans with various agendas. Some were fans of his music. Some, as evidenced by their X-Files t-shirts were fans of his work on the sci-fi TV series. And finally, some were there out of curiosity.
The evening began with a short solo warm-up set by Colin Lee (who is also the producer of Duchovny's CD and a member of his band) that featured well-written and arranged originals as well as a stripped-down cover of Bruce Springsteen’s "Dancing In the Dark." Next up was Brooklyn, NY's The Elevator Party, a four piece group whose short, sturdy and very funky performance set the tone for the rest of the evening.
After a short intermission, Duchovny took the stage. He was greeted with whistles, cheers and rousing applause. He appeared relaxed in his jeans, Grateful Dead t-shirt and sports jacket. Following the opening tune, "Let It Rain," Duchovny addressed the crowd. He simply said, "What's up Long Island. Let's call this home tonight." His set included nice renditons of "Stars," 3000," "Passenger" and "The Things." from his album. He also offered up rocking versions of "Someone Else's Girl" and "If Less is More, More is Less." The highlight of the main set was the powerful cover of David Bowie's "Stay." Another musical highlight was the new song "Roman Coin."However, the evening's biggest highlight occurred when Duchovny jumped off the stage and greeted his public. During this audience excursion, shocked but happy audience members got to shake the man's hand and dance with him while his band played on. The main set ended with strong versions of Hell or Highwater's "Unsaid, Undone" and "When The Time Comes."
It was on the encores that Duchovny really shined. The singer along with his band members returned wearing "Pussy Hats," the pink knitted beanies with cat ears made popular at the January 21, 2017 Women's March On Washington following Donald Trump's Presidential Inauguration. Duchovny and the band treated the audience to two "classic" covers. The first was a spot-on rendition of the Band's "The Weight." the last was an even more ambitious cover--Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane." The crowd ate it up. What better way to end a concert than to have the audience sing along with the band. The tried and true extremely well-known covers accomplished that and more. Not only did Duchovny's diehard fans join in the celebration, but those who questioned his musical chops couldn't help but join in the musical celebration.
Duchovny's performance was well-suited to his material. Had the lead singer of his band not been the famous actor, the evening would have been classified as a good show featuring an up-and-coming group. That's not a bad thing. That's pretty damn good. Any new group would be thrilled with that categorization. Because it was David Duchovny, some audience member began the evening with questions and before hearing a note were prepared to be harsh critics. Thankfully, the performance quieted the naysayers. At times, though the music took a backseat to Duchovny's star power. Many audience members spent most of the evening trying to get closer to the stage to take cellphone photos and or video of Duchovny. In addition, many girls in the audience spent a good portion of the night shrieking and staring at the performer. It wasn't as insane and intense as the Beatles' initial U.S. performances, but a similar, though slightly less out-of-hand case could be made.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
"Shear Madness" at the Davenport Theatre
Article By Mike Perciaccante
Davenport Theatre - January 30, 2017
Shear Madness, the interactive murder mystery is the longest running play in American theater history. It has been running in Washington, DC and other cities like San Francisco, Milwaukee, Boston, Kansas City, Chicago and Philadelphia since Jimmy Carter was in the White House--that's over 40 years. It has been running in New York, first at New World Stages, and now at the Davenport Theatre since 2015.
Set in the Shear Madness hair and beauty salon (in this case on New York City's West 45th Street), the play features Tony Whitcomb, the over-the-top gay salon owner, his big-haired, gum-popping stylist, Barbara DeMarco and a number of customers who come and go. At each performance, the play which was adapted from a 1963 play by German avant-garde playwright Paul Pörtner, gives its audience the opportunity to solve the killing of the hair salon's unseen but certainly heard and spoken-about upstairs tenant--the famous concert pianist Isabel Czerny. After her body is discovered, the scripted farce turns into a comical whodunnit as the audience is given the opportunity to question and query the cast and, finally, vote for the character that they feel is the murderer. The outcome can vary with each performance.
After the murder is discovered, the police detectives (who were also customers), Nick O'Brien (Patrick Noonan) and his partner, Mikey Thomas (Jonathan Randell Silver) begin to investigate the crime and question (with the help of the audience) the suspects. The suspects are: Tony (Jordan Ahnquist), who had a tumultuous relationship with Isabel; Barbara (Priscilla Flowers), who it is discovered was to inherit Isabel's estate; Mrs. Shubert (Lisa McMillan), a client of the salon who just happens to be a wealthy socialite with something to hide; and Eddie Lawrence (Gil Brady), a well-dressed and shady customer who has bought antiques from Isabel and is secretly involved with Barbara.
The play features plenty of goofy, silly and topical jokes. Some of the best involved poking fun at President Trump, the Kardashians, the Astoria section of Queens, Mayor DiBlasio, the hapless New York Jets, as well as Perez and Paris Hilton (proving that the play is a living breathing organism that adapts to the current day as well as the state of the country and city). And...some of the humor harkens back to the days of vaudeville--when referring to both luggage and Mrs. Shubert as "old bags," a suspect claiming to know his "constipational rights" and referring to another suspect as a "genital liar."
After the murder is discovered at the end of the first act, O'Brien takes over. He asks the audience, the witnesses, for help in solving the crime, stating that he'll spend the intermission at the rear of the theater and "if you folks want, please come over and pass along any information you might want to share." He also tells the crowd that when he returns to the stage, they will have a chance to ask questions and help him and Mikey reconstruct the day's events.
When the second act begins, the house lights go up and O'Brien takes center stage. Along with Mikey, he begins questioning the suspects. The audience members are encouraged to ask questions, help O'Brien and Mikey with filling-in the gaps, the order of the day's events and statements made that may or may not have been made by the suspects. As the investigation unfolds, it becomes more and more apparent that each suspect had something to gain from Isabel's demise. At the end of the questioning, the audience votes and names the killer.
The play is a laugh-'til-your-sides-hurt experience. It is fun-for-the-whole-family entertainment. Nothing said or done is overly risqué and although there are a number of double entendre jokes, the majority will go right over the younger audience members' heads.
The performances are top-notch. Each and every member of the cast has off-the-chart improvisational skills. This is evident when they respond to the audience's claims and allegations without a pause. Noonan, as O'Brien, shows his chops as an accomplished comedian. He gets laughs with words and his physical movements and reactions. He also holds the entire production together as he interacts with the audience, skillfully controlling the insanity and unpredictability of the crowd. But it is Ahnquist as Tony who steals the show. He is an excellent actor, playing his part with flamboyance and style while ad-libbing his way through the performance. These unscripted quips ad to the fun and never cause the show to stray from its purpose. He is very capable and adept at going off-book to make his fellow cast members laugh at the absurdity of the situation.
Shear Madness is an amazing way spend an afternoon or evening. The two-hour performance will delight murder mystery fans and comedy fans alike. Fans of the former will laugh hysterically while trying to figure out who is the murderer. Fans of the latter will try to figure out who is the murder while laughing hysterically.
The Davenport Theatre is located at 345 West 45th Street in New York City. Shear Madness has eight performances weekly--on Monday at 7pm, Thursday at 2pm & 7pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm & 8pm and Sunday at 3pm & 7:30pm. Tickets, which range from $89.50 to $125, are available through Telecharge either online at telecharge.com or by phone (212-239-6200 or 800-432-7250) or at the Davenport Theatre box office. Group sales purchases can be made at shearmadness.com
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
Gogol Bordello at The Space at Westbury
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
Gogol Bordello The Space at Westbury Westbury, NY December 29, 2016
Gogol Bordello is a collective of mad-men. The band members can and will do just about anything to enhance the group's performance. A Gogol Bordello show is a happening. It is as much a spectacle as it is about music. That is not to say that this group of eight are not world-class musicians. They are. They are also showmen of the highest order. At any given show at virtually anytime, frontman, Eugene Hütz is likely to pop open a bottle of wine throw bouquets of flowers to audience members via a huge slingshot, twist himself around the legs and/or torso of another band member to play the accordion, or take it upon himself to lead and teach a course in samba dancing. In a previous life Hütz may very well have been the master of ceremonies at a circus. It is almost as if her is now reliving that life as the ringmaster of a circus of very musical gypsies.
As one might expect, Gogol Bordello is not your average, run-of-the-mill, typical band. The Gypsy Punk was formed in 1999 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and is known for theatrical stage shows and almost unending tours. The Eastern European-influenced music is loud and joyous. The band members act as though they learned their trade at the Theatre of the Absurd. But it is Gogol Bordello's performance, as a whole, that gets its devoted audience bopping, dancing and singing along.
Currently comprised of Hütz (on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and percussion), Sergey Ryabtsev (on violin and backing vocals), Pamela Racine (on percussion, backing vocals, dance and general performance), bassist Thomas "Tommy T" Gobena, Pedro Erazo (percussionist and MC), drummer Oliver Charles, guitarist Boris Pelekh and Pasha Newmer (on accordion and backing vocals), the band gave it's all on a cool Thursday night at Westbury, NY's The Space. Opening with "Art Of Life," and immediately got into character delivering a high-energy musical and performance art show.
The evening's performance was highlighted by powerful versions of: "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)" from the 2010 American Recordings CD Trans-Continental Hustle, which featured the audience m embers chanting along with Hütz; "I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again from Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike (Side One Dummy Records, 2005) "We Rise Again;" "60 Revolutions;" "Start Wearing Purple" "Think Locally, Fuck Globally;" "My Companjera" and "Alcohol."
The show, for those who had never seen the band was definitely a revelation. For the faithful, it was business as usual. Either way, crowd members were mesmerized and taken by the energy. They sweated, danced and lost themselves in the swirling rhythms as Hütz, sang, danced, strummed his guitar, drank from his wine bottle, cajoled and interacted with them as he led the band through the foot-stomping set. As the evening progressed, he made it his business to ensure that each and every band member was given the opportunity to showcase his or her chops. Though it appeared to be almost haphazard and Hütz sometimes seems to be a madman, the show ran like a well-oiled machine. The choreography was perfect, even when there was a bit of improvisation, Hütz managed to bring everyone--band members and fanatical fans--back on point.
At the end of the performance, the band members came to the center of the stage, joined hands and bowed--much like the cast of a Broadway production. As the crowd ambled out into the lobby, many stopped by the band's merchandise table where it became apparent that the Gogol Bordello machine was also comprised of marketing geniuses. Fans were seen purchasing CDs (both recently released and those released early in the band's career) vinyl versions of these albums, posters, caps and any number of different T-shirts.
A Gogol Bordello performance is a happening. It is a must-see. For those who couldn't, for whatever reason, attend the this show or another night on this tour, do not miss them next time they appear in your area.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
Peter Murphy at City Winery
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
Peter Murphy City Winery New York, NY December 11, 2016
"I left England a long time ago,” quipped Murphy, referring to Brexit. "But you fuckers voted for Trump? Are you fucking crazy?” Peter Murphy, the Godfather of Goth, may have been joking, but there was an edge to this statement uttered during the early portion of his performance at New York City's City Winery on a cold Sunday in early December.
The icon doesn't suffer fools lightly. He has been known to halt his performance when audience members behave badly. He has been known to storm off the stage when the staff at a venue behave in a way that he doesn't approve. It isn't clear whether Murphy was more disillusioned by the American voters or the President-elect. Either way, he expressed his shock and dissatisfaction.
Murphy is a musical icon. He is chameleon-like, shedding his creative skin regularly to reveal another layer in his musical oeuvre. Each time he shows the public a deeper layer it allows his fans an opportunity to explore along the latest flavor of his creativity. During the course of his career, the 59-year-old singer has worn many hats--the vocalist of Bauhaus, solo artist, collaborator with Mick Karn in Dali's Car, actor in 2010's The Twilight Saga: The Eclipse, portraying "Blown Away Guy" in the Maxell audio cassette ads in the UK and so many other endeavors.
In early 2016, Murphy, Emilio Zef China on bass and violin and John Andrews on guitar brought The Stripped Tour to the United States. The performances featured the three musicians playing re-imagined and straightforward takes on his solo and Bauhaus catalog along with a few well-chosen covers. Earlier this year, in April, Murphy played two packed shows at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. Those performances were thrilling as the singer gave the legions of fans who attended an Bauhaus and Murphy solo experience in an intimate setting that is sure to still resonate deep within their souls. In the Fall of 2016, the singer and his long-time sidemen took the show on the road, per se, playing in Europe.
Now, in December, as the tour winds down to the final handful of shows, Murphy and his cohorts have returned to the States touching down in Manhattan, at City Winery, for a one-night, two show (early and late) stand. The concert opened with a delicate and otherworldly version of "Cascade" from the 1995 Atlantic records album of the same name. Murphy's set featured fan favorites and select nuggets covering the whole of Murphy's career. Highlights of the early part of the first show included "Indigo Eyes," "Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem" and "Never Fall Out" and the David Bowie cover/tribute "The Belway Brothers." Following the Bowie song, Murphy solemnly said. "We send our love and prayers to Iman who lives in the city somewhere. This is a grieving period for all of us."
Murphy, sounded fantastic, spent the majority of the evening in a playful mood, interacting with audience members, quipping about the venue's wonderful cuisine, but pointing out the pleasures one could achieve by eating at home, and treating the crowd-members as though each was an old friend. As with any Peter Murphy performance, there was a theatrical air to the show. The tall, lean and lanky singer preened, struck poses and stalked the stage making certain that he spent a portion of the 80 minute set standing, sitting or visiting every inch of the platform. And, as always, his performance was so high-energy, it left the audience drained as though they had performed each songs along with Murphy, China and Andrews.
The show continued with "Strange Kind of Love," the Bauhaus tunes "King Volcano" and "Kingdom’s Coming" as well as a powerful version of "Never Fall Out" during which Murphy banged out the backbeat on a tom-tom. During each song he could be seen surveying the room and looking directly at many audience members. Murphy missed nothing--even if the action was outside the venue. At one point during the performance, the singer waved to the windows, offering, "There’s a lady watching from the street." He then pointed toward the windows facing Varick Street, chuckled and stated, "That song was for you. And it is free of charge. Fuck these prices!"
The main set ended with "Gaslit." As China and Andrews continued to play, Murphy waved good-bye and exited the stage. Next to leave was China and finally Andrews departed. After only a few seconds, the crowd had worked itself into a frenzy. When Murphy returned, he sat on a still center stage with his acoustic guitar. A fan screamed out a request for "All We Ever Wanted." Murphy surprised both the crowd and his backing musicians when he answered, "You got it!" The performance of the Bauhaus song was simple, beautiful and haunting. Another Bauhaus classic, "Hollow Hills" closed out the early show. Just before he left the stage, waved his good-byes and offered a simple, "I fucking love you. I'm done. See ya. You've had enough!"
The second show featured much of the same from songs to Murphy's quips. The only differences were the inclusion of "All Night Long," the Bauhaus song "Silent Hedges," (in lieu of "Never Fall Out"), the set closer, a fantastic cover of Dead Can Dance's "Severence" and a tour de force encore of the iconic "Bela Lugosi's Dead."
Though it can be said that Murphy hasn't changed since he came upon the scene in the late '70s, that isn't entirely true. He has evolved. He is much the same--delivering the goods--thrilling, moody, sometimes gloomy, melodic, mystical prose over hauntingly beautiful music. His fans, in much the same way, haven't changed either. They have been and still are drawn to this romantic, musical and expressive fusion like bees to honey. On this night during both performances, he delighted his devoted fans.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon. Early show 1. Cascade 2. Indigo Eyes 3. Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem 4. The Bewlay Brothers (David Bowie cover) 5. A Strange Kind of Love 6. King Volcano (Bauhaus song) 7. Kingdom's Coming (Bauhaus song) 8. Never Fall Out 9. Gaslit Encores: 10. All We Ever Wanted (Bauhaus song) 11. Hollow Hills (Bauhaus song) Late show 1. Cascade 2. All Night Long 3. Indigo Eyes 4. Marlene Dietrich's Favourite Poem 5. The Bewlay Brothers (David Bowie cover) 6. A Strange Kind of Love 7. King Volcano (Bauhaus song) 8. Kingdom's Coming (Bauhaus song) 9. Silent Hedges (Bauhaus song) 10. Gaslit 11. Severance (Dead Can Dance cover) Encore: 12. Bela Lugosi's Dead (Bauhaus song)
Fitz & The Tantrums with special guest Barns Courtney at the Paramount Theater Huntington, NY
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
November 16, 2016 Following an impressive opening set by English singer-songwriter Barns Courtney who charmed the crowd with his 2015 debut single "Fire" (from the Lake Shore Records Burnt soundtrack) as well as "Glitter & Gold" and other songs from 2016's Hands EP (Virgin Records), the multi-generational audience at Huntington, NY's The Paramount, was treated to an awe-inspiring, dance-til-you-drop fifteen song main set of high octane songs by the Los Angeles-based neo-pop/funk/soul group Fitz and the Tantrums. High energy lead singers Michael Fitzpatrick (Fitz) and Noelle Scaggs danced and bopped throughout the entire performance as the laser light show and swirling music got the audience singing, swinging and dancing along. Backed by the four talented musicians who supplied a tight, funky Motown-inspired sax/keyboard/organ backbeat (Jeremy Ruzumna on keyboards, James King on saxophone and flute, bassist Joseph Karnes and drummer John Wicks), Fitz and Scaggs operated as though they were fitness instructors at a dancerobics class. The two singers flirted, danced, gyrated, bumped and grinded throughout the evening's performance -- all the while trading call and response vocals. Fitz and his cohorts initiated the evening's festivities with "Get Right Back," from the band's self-titled 2016 CD (Elektra Records) followed by a bouncy indie-rock flavored "Spark," from More Than Just a DreamSongs for a Break Up, Vol. 1 (Dangerbird Records, 2009) as well as its debut full-length CD Pickin' Up The Pieces (Dangerbird Records, 2010). The show continued as the band blasted its way through "Out of My League" (during which the audience sang along with Fitz), 'Run It," "Break The Walls," "Breakin' the Chains of Love," "Walking Target," the catchy "Fools Gold," "Roll Up," "Do What You Want," the Motown influenced "MoneyGrabber" and "Burn It Down." The hour-and-a-half set ended with an amazing performance of the up-tempo and rhythmic "L.O.V." that featured and extended jam outro. The encores began with an infectious version of the very catchy "Handclap." Fitz, Scaggs and the band then closed out the evening with an excellent version of the '60s influenced "6AM" and a stellar performance of the fun and lively "The Walker" and its signature whistling break. The sweat-drenched audience members were still buzzing about the amazing show as they crowded around the merchandise stand and eventually exited the venue into the cool November evening and toward New York Avenue, the parking lots and their cars.
Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon. Fitz & The Tantrums Set List 1. Get Right Back 2. Spark 3. Don't Gotta Work It Out 4. Out of My League 5. Run It 6. Break the Walls 7. Breakin' the Chains of Love 8. Walking Target 9. Complicated 10. Fools Gold 11. Roll Up 12. Do What You Want 13. MoneyGrabber 14. Burn It Down 15. L.O.V. Encores: 1. HandClap 2. 6AM 3. The Walker
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Boudin Bourbon & Beer Festival featuring Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Anderson East, Banditos and Lost Bayou Ramblers Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon Black Joe Louis & the Honeybears, Anderson East, Banditos and Lost Bayou Ramblers
Emeril Lagasse Foundation's Boudin Bourbon & Beer Festival
Champions Square New Orleans, LA November 4, 2016
The Emeril Lagasse Foundation celebrated its 12th annual fundraiser with the proceeds from the event's food, craft beer, high-end bourbon and music experience going to support children’s charities specifically culinary, nutrition and arts programs.
Champions Square, situated next to New Orleans' Mercedes Benz Superdome played host to the Foundation's gala where many of the country's best and most well-known chefs donated their time, their food and culinary expertise to Lagasse's foundation.
The mouthwatering food and beverage festival, specifically for Adults 21+, featured boudin (a cajun sausage commonly made from a pork and rice mix) inspired dishes from over 60 chefs (including Lagasse, Jacques Torres, John Currence, Stephen Stryjewski, Donald Link, John Folse, Isaac Toups and Frank Brightsen). The evening also Bourbon cocktails from Buffalo Trace, Benchmark, Sazerac Rye and W.L. Weller and craft beers from Abita as well as other edible delights, wines and spirits. Blues, soul and rock acts Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears, Anderson East, Banditos and Lost Bayou Ramblers provided the party's musical soundtrack. The original headliner Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings had to cancel due to Jones' heath issues.
Commencing promptly at 6pm, Champions Square was adorned with a number of large tents where the famous chef's plied their craft creating single serving boudin inspired treats for the crowd. A number of bars were set-up on the perimeters where alcoholic beverages and softdrinks were available to festival goers. A tent featuring a number of different bourbon cocktails was situated in the middle of the Square, with a living room area just outside its confines. This living room area also served as a prime spot (for those lucky enough to score seats) to watch the musical performances.
A beer garden and bourbon lounge flanked either end of the bourbon tent. Merchandise and beer bars as well as a fully stocked bar were placed on the outskirts of the area where the food tents were located. Strategically placed hydration stations featuring coolers filled to the brim with bottles water were found just outside the entrances to each tent. Off to the side, for those who took the time to fully explore the festival grounds, atop the staircase that leads to the Superdome entrance was the Pig Pen Saloon featuring dessert bars offering homemade ice cream, a coffee station and a chocolate station with bourbon-infused hot chocolate. In addition, this area was home to a small cigar lounge.
Over the years, the festival has become as much about the music as the food. The festival was scheduled as a four hour event (though as in the past, it ran slightly longer) and as such each band played a short set half-hour set. Lost Bayou Ramblers took the stage promptly at 6pm. Banditos appeared at 7 pm. At 8:15pm Anderson East graced the stage and Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears closed out the evening with its set which began at 8:35pm.
Lost Bayou Ramblers came together in 1999 when brothers Andre and Louis Michot took the traditional Cajun music they were raised with and added flourishes of blues, punk, psychedelica and good old fashioned rock 'n' roll. In addition Andre (accordion, lap steel) and Louis (fiddle, vocals),
Lost Bayou Ramblers feature Jonny Campos on guitar and vocals, bassist Bryan Webre and drummer Eric Heigle. Its latest CD, Gasa Gasa Live was released in 2014 on Bayou Perdu Records. The Michot brothers and the other Ramblers got things started with a short but spirited set that saw many of the attendees forego the food for a short while as they danced in front of the stage while the band played. Some dancers reveled in the indie-rock cajun pop that the band was playing, pogo-ing their way across the floor. Others eschewed the psychedelic and punkier elements of the band's sound to dance the traditional cajun and zydeco influenced steps that have been handed down for generations.
Banditos is a six-piece band. Its special brand of roots rock 'n' roll incorporates elements of pop, garage rock, electric boogie, folk, honky tonk, rockabilly, jazz, blues, soul and a touch of country. The group featured Corey Parsons on guitar and vocals, Stephen Pierce on banjo and vocals, vocalist Mary Beth Richardson, Randy Taylor Wade on drums and percussion, bassist Jeffery Daniel Vines and Jeffery David Salter on guitar and lap steel. Originally from Birmingham, AL, Banditos is currently based out of Nashville, TN. Its self-titled debut CD was released in 2015 on Bloodshot Records. Dressed liked the cast of Duck Dynasty had the Robertsons been hippies and exuding a laid-back cool vibe, Banditos delivered a strong set that was highlighted by Richardson's Janis Joplin meets Allison Mosshart-esque vocals. The band's Americana sound is sure to gain more exposure in the coming year. How could it not, especially when while watching them perform it was evident that the group is equally at home covering Waylon Jennings, singing its soulful and heartwrenching ballad "No Good," laying it on the line with the honky tonk, let-the-good-times-roll rockin' of "Still Sober (After All These Beers)" or the '50s influence slow love song "Old Ways."
Anderson East was born Michael Cameron Anderson in July of 1988. The soulful singer-songwriter has taken fused roots music, R&B, soul, rock and gospel into a signature sound. East is originally from Athens, AL, and is currently based in Nashville, TN. His major-label debut CD, Delilah, was released on the Elektra/Low Country Sound in 2015. East's stage presence is both electrifying, fun and refreshing. His strong and expressive voice resonated with the crowd much sounding like a younger more soulful Kid Rock with a touch of Sam Cooke. His blue-eyed soul music sounds like it could have been recorded in the 1970s by Van Morrison. Highlights of his set included the performance of his soulful hit single "Satisfy Me," "Quit You," the bouncy "Only You" and the radio staple "Devil In Me."
Black Joe Lewis was influenced by the blues music of Howlin' Wolf and the funk 'n' roll/soul of James Brown. He formed Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears in Austin, Texas in 2007. Lost Highway Records signed the band to a contract in 2008 and has released Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! (2009) and Scandalous (2011) on that imprint. In 2011, Def Jam/Island/Universal released the iTunes Live: SXSW EP. The Electric Slave album (Vagrant Records) was released in 2013. The band is comprised of Lewis on guitar and vocals, Bill Stevenson on bass and keyboards, drummer Eduardo Torres, saxophonist Jason Frey, Joe Woullard on baritone saxophone and Derek Phelps on trumpet. The minute that the band hit the stage the six piece band put the pedal to the metal and didn't let up until the evening came to an end. The horn section gave all the songs the groove they were meant to have. The band performed songs from Electric Slave as well as key early tracks while working the crowd into a frenzy. The "real" highlight of the Honeybears energetic set was when Lagasse joined the band on congas. He has done this at past Boudin Bourbon and Beers, so it should not have come as a surprise, but it was still a nice experience. And, because Lagasse has the chops (the famed chef played drums in a band as a teen and had the talent to regularly perform paid gigs and earn a music scholarship) it only added to the performance.
At the end of the evening the crowd left in, what can best be described as, a fat and happy mood. The festival goers received a gourmet multi-course meal with unlimited second helpings, good beer, bourbon, wine and spirits, excellent desserts and top-shelf musical performances. By attending and paying the price of admission, purchasing event merchandise and/or bidding on the silent auction items they helped raise funds for children's charities that create opportunities to inspire, mentor and enable the younger generation. Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
Squeeze with special guest The English Beat at the Paramount
Article By Mike Perciaccante | Photographs By Christine Connallon
Squeeze / The English Beat The Paramount Huntington, NY October 16, 2016
Squeeze and the English Beat, two of the most beloved acts of the '80s Modern Rock era, rocked Huntington, NY's sold-out Paramount on an unseasonably warm Sunday evening in mid-October. The venue was filled with fans of both bands--many of whom were clad in what now, some thirty years on, have become ill-fitting concert t-shirts. Many fans came because they wanted to relive their youth. Others were in attendance as curiosity seekers wondering if either or both bands still had "it." A last group came with their children, who have grown up listening to their parents sing along to the songs made famous by both groups.
Featuring the songwriting collaboration closest to Lennon and McCartney since, well, Lennon and McCartney, Squeeze's songwriting duo of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook created smart pop songs—edgy yet mainstream. Their songs featured literate and erudite lyrics with a decidedly cheeky British sense of self and humor, layered over well-crafted, catchy, hook-filled melodies. Though it sounds impossible and implausible Squeeze was not able to score a U.S. Top 40 (Billboard Hot 100) hit until it released "Hourglass" in 1987. For those who might question this fact, the group's best-loved and best-known song, "Tempted" stalled in its climb up the charts at #49 in 1981.
Squeeze bridged the gap between Britpop and modern rock/new wave indie rock forming in Deptford, London, in 1974. During this first part of its career the band issued Squeeze (1978), Cool For Cats (1979), Argybargy (1980), East Side Story (1982) and Sweets From A Stranger (1982) all released on A&M Records. The greatest hits compilation Singles - 45s and Under (A&M Records) was released in 1982. The band has broken-up and reunited a number of time in the ensuing decades. Squeeze first broke up in 1982. In 1984, Difford and Tilbrook released a self-titled duo album on A&M Records. Squeeze reformed in 1985, releasing Cosi Fan Tutti Fruitti (A&M Records, 1985), Babylon and On (A&M Records, 1987) and Frank (A&M Records, 1989). In 1990, the band released Play its ninth album, and the only one released by Reprise Records. Some Fantastic Place following in 1993 reuniting the group with A&M Records. Ridiculous was released on IRS Records in 1995 and Domino was released in 1998 on Quixotic Records. The band disbanded again in 1999. In 2007, Squeeze reunited for US and UK tours and has recorded sporadically while continuing to tour.
In 2010, Squeeze issued Spot the Difference (XOXO Records), an album of newly recorded versions of older material. The band's first album of all-new material since 1998, Cradle To The Grave (Virgin EMI Records/Love Records), was released in October 2015.
In addition to "Tempted" and "Hourglass," Squeeze is also known for the songs "Take Me I'm Yours," "Cool For Cats," "Some Fantastic Place," "Another Nail in My Heart," "Goodbye Girl," "Is That Love," "Black Coffee In Bed," "Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)" and "Slap and Tickle." The band is currently comprised of Difford (guitar and vocals), Tilbrook (lead guitar and lead vocals), Lucy Shaw (bass), Simon Hanson (drums) and Stephen Large (keyboards).
The English Beat was formed in Birmingham, England in 1978 and has spent its career fusing pop, ska, punk, reggae, rock and soul. Its upbeat songs deal with politics (as do the songs of any English band that made its bones in the lat '70s and early '80s), peace, love and harmony. The original band, which consisted of Dave Wakeling (vocals, guitar), Ranking Roger (vocals), Everett Morton (drums), Andy Cox (guitar), David Steele (bass), and saxophonist Saxa released three studio albums in the early '80s: I Just Can't Stop It (Sire/Go Feet, 1980), Wha'ppen? (Sire/Go Feet,1981) and Special Beat Service (I.R.S./Go Feet, 1982). Along with The Specials, Madness and The Selecter, The English Beat helped propel British neo-ska here in the U.S.
The English Beat is best known on these shores for its ska-ed-up cover of Smokey Robinson & the Miracles' "Tears Of A Clown" as well as "I'll Take You There," "I Confess," "Click, Click," the Andy Williams cover "Can't Get Used To Losing You," "Soul Salvation" and "Stand Down Margaret." The band is currently comprised of Wakeling (lead guitar and lead vocals), Matt Morrish (saxophone), Kevin Lum (keyboards), Mink Qua (keyboards), Nucci Cantrell (drums), Brad Engstrom (bass) and King Schascha (toasting/vocals).
The first group on stage was the English Beat. As the opener, the band performed a shorter than the norm, but nevertheless, strong set. Opening with "Rough Rider" and featuring "Tear of A Clown," a tour de force performance of "Tenderness" from Wakeling and Ranking Roger's short-lived General Public project's All The Rage album (IRS, 1984), "Save It For Later," the new song "Never Die" which will be on the band's forthcoming CD, "Can't Get Used to Losing You," "Ranking Full Stop" and "Mirror In The Bathroom."
Other highlights were the anthemic version of "I'll Take You There" which flooded the dance floor with folks intent on skanking in the crowded General Admission orchestra pit and another new song " The Love You Give Lasts Forever."
Following a short intermission, Squeeze, the headliners, took the stage and blew everyone away. Opening with a muscular version of "Hourglass," the band grabbed the audience by the throat and never let up. The nineteen song main set featured five new songs found on Cradle To The Grave ("Nirvana," "Only 15," "Beautiful Game" "Open," and "Cradle to the Grave"), as well as the covers of "Harper Valley PTA" and "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" which can be found on the Deluxe Edition of that album. The band also paid homage to one of its influences with a stellar version of the Easybeats' "Friday On My Mind." Mining all aspects of its career, Squeeze, with a video monitor playing behind the band, delivered a very fast-paced version of "Is That Love," and spot-on renditions of "Another Nail in My Heart," "Tempted," "Slap and Tickle," "Goodbye Girl" all featuring Tilbrook on lead vocals. "Electric Trains" and a very fast version of "Cool For Cats" showcased Difford's singing voice as he handled the vocals. The main set came to a close with powerful and joyful versions of "If I Didn't Love You," "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" and "Up the Junction."
In short order the band revved-up for the encores. First were the new songs "Snap, Crackle and Pop" and "Happy Days." The night ended with a powerful rendition of "Black Coffee in Bed," followed by band introductions and a superb version of "Take Me I'm Yours."
Part of the magic that is Squeeze is the magic created by the mixture of Tilbrook's sweet higher register (tenor) playing against Difford's deeper and darker gruff baritone. They worked so well on this night layered over the band's driving beat as the quintet delivered rousing, kick-ass versions of the radio-friendly hits that forged a major part of everyone's personal Modern Rock soundtrack.
As the evening ended and the crowd filtered out of the venue, many stopped by the merchandise stand to buy t-shirts, CDs, posters, baseball caps, trinkets and other tchotchkes from both bands. If anything, this double bill proved that not only are the band of 1980s alive and well--they are thriving! Additional article contributions by Christine Connallon.
English Beat Set List Rough Rider The Tears of a Clown Rude Boy Skank Tenderness I'll Take You There Save It for Later Never Die The Love You Give Lasts Forever Can't Get Used to Losing You Ranking Full Stop / Mirror in the Bathroom Jackpot
Squeeze Set List Hourglass Nirvana Is That Love Another Nail in My Heart Electric Trains (Chris Difford lead vocals) Only 15 Beautiful Game Friday on My Mind (The Easybeats cover) Cool for Cats (Chris Difford lead vocals) Tempted Slap and Tickle Goodbye Girl Open Cradle to the Grave Harper Valley PTA (Jeannie C. Riley cover) (Glenn Tilbrook on ukulele) I Don't Wanna Grow Up (Tom Waits cover) (Chris Difford lead vocals) If I Didn't Love You Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) Up the Junction Encores: Snap, Crackle and Pop Happy Days Black Coffee in Bed (followed by band introductions) Take Me I'm Yours
The Best Films from the Tribeca Film Festival 2016
By Christine Connallon and Mike Perciaccante
Celebrating its 15th year of bringing the best and brightest to movie goers, the Tribeca Film Festival 2016 showcased gems in both feature and short length categories. With 101 features and documentaries, 72 shorts and 77 world premieres, the possibilities were endless. Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 following the attacks on the World Trade Center as a way to help the economic growth of the hard hit downtown region through storytelling and culture, the Tribeca Film Festival is one of the brightest points of the year for the thousands who flock to enjoy the films and events, both in person and online. Let's look back at some of the highlights from the festival as we begin to plan for the wonder that is sure to be TFF 2017.
Contemporary Color: Directed by Bill and Turner Ross, this fascinating documentary focuses on iconic musician David Byrne and an incredible project he spearheaded, celebrating the art of the Color Guard. Byrne cultivated an incredible event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, inviting friends like Saint Vincent, Nelly Furtado and Ira Glass to collaborate on original pieces with 10 Color Guard teams from North America.
Elvis and Nixon: Director Liza Johnson is at the helm of this incredible film featuring the mega-watt talents of Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon. When Elvis shows up on the White House lawn just before Christmas of 1970 expecting to be deputized into the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs by the President, the wild ride has just begun!
King Cobra: Directed by Justin Kelly, this drama starring James Franco and Christian Slater looks at the early rise of a gay port headliner and falling out with his producer, resulting in dire consequences.
Shot! The Psycho-Spiritual Mantra of Rock: Focusing on the astonishing work of legendary music photographer Mick Rock who has spent his career chronicling the likes of Queen, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie and so many others, this documentary by Barnaby Clay gives us access to the man behind the lens and his well of amazing stories in creating this stable of work.
Pistol Shrimps: Brent Hodge’s hilarious documentary of an eclectic group of actresses, comedians, musicians and more who comprise a women’s basketball team in Los Angeles is both endearing and wildly entertaining, featuring Aubrey Plaza.
Strike A Pose: When seven young male dancers started out to support pop icon Madonna on her Blonde Ambition tour as well as the documentary Truth or Dare, they had no idea how their lives would change. This powerful look at the aftermath and directions their lives have taken them in the years since is an engaging look at glamour and pain, thanks to directors Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan.
A Hologram For the King: In what feels like a departure for star Tom Hanks, this engaging adaptation of a Dave Egger’s novel places Hanks as the main character, an aging businessman who travels to Saudi Arabia to sell new software to the king.
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Justin Krook’s documentary takes a true inside look into the life, mind and formative years of eminent DJ Steve Aoki. Particularly engrossing is the backstory of Steve’s dad, Rocky Aoki, daredevil and founder of Benihana. This relationship truly formed the man Steve is today.
The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Bill Purple’s brilliantly directed film starts the formidable Jason Sudeikis and Jessica Biel as a couple in New Orleans who are forever changed by tragedy and the teenage girl (Maisie Williams) who enters their picture in need of help.
As I Open My Eyes: Leyla Bouzid’s film aptly depicts the clash between family and culture as a Tunisian woman fronts a politically charged rock band as their lead singer, much to the defiance of her mother.
All We Had: Katie Holmes stars in and directs this adaptation of the 2014 novel by Annie Weatherwax about a mother and daughter who stumble on hard times.
Geezer: From director Lee Kirk, this hilarious film stars Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day as a happily married suburban dad of two who takes the opportunity of his 40th birthday to try to revisit his former life as the lead singer in a punk rock band.
With films to satisfy the urges of any movie goer, the only question is how will the fine folks at the Tribeca Film Festival top this lineup? Thankfully we only have a few short months to bask in the wonder of the 2017 edition.
Additional article contributions by Mike Perciaccante Photo Credit: Image Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival