I can’t say that Elvis was my very first crush (Tom Jones holds that honor), but he was the first performer whose albums I owned and played incessantly. My mother would order them for me from commercials on television and I would wait impatiently for the UPS guy to deliver the records to my house weeks later. The haste of Amazon Prime was unimaginable in the 70s.
The best weeks of the year, from a television viewing perspective, were the ones in which the 4:30 movie featured Elvis movies like Blue Hawaii and Viva Las Vegas. Even as a kid I knew the quality of these movies was suspect, but they were just so damn fun to watch that it didn’t even matter.
August 16, 1977, the day Elvis died, is a day I’ll never forget. I was in Long Island at a shopping center that had outdoor speakers broadcasting a radio station playing pop music. There was an interruption in the programming and a man’s voice announced the shocking news that Elvis Presley was dead.
It was my first rock and roll heartbreak.
Had Elvis lived, he would now be 85 years old. On Saturday night the Hangar on the Hudson in Troy is hosting a birthday party to celebrate the King of Rock and Roll. Johnny Rabb, the Tichy Boys and other special guests will be performing in what promises to be an epic party in the King’s honor. My dancing shoes might not be blue suede, but they’ll be on my feet nonetheless.
My Spotify playlists lean heavily towards classic rock with a side of traditional jazz, mostly for Sunday mornings with the New York Times and an extra mug of coffee. Any new music I’ve been exposed to in the past 20 has come from either students (thanks, Dani and Skrabs!), my sons or, in more recent years, 97.7 WEXT. There’s some good stuff out there and I’m more than open to expanding my musical horizons any time.
I’ve seen a few shows this year that have been, what I consider to be, slightly under the mainstream radar. There were The Suffers at the Egg, The Marcus King Band in Cohoes and St. Paul and the Broken Bones in Asbury Park, each qualifying as not exactly well known, but extremely talented musical groups. Sunday night, I saw another one of these special performances, this time at the Palace.
What happens when you go to a concert, thinking you’re one of the cool kids hip to a great band, only to learn that the rest of the audience is your age or even older? Well, that was my experience this past weekend at the Lake Street Dive show at the Palace Theater. I went into this show assuming the crowd would be trendy and young and I couldn’t have been more wrong because most of the folks were my peers. You know, the well preserved middle aged type.
I can’t claim to be incredibly familiar with Lake Street Dive’s catalog, but I can tell you this – they were awesome and put on a killer show. The band, who have been playing together since meeting as students at the New England Conservatory of Music, plays music that spans multiple genres including Indie Rock, Neo Soul and Alt Jazz. The lead vocalist, Rachael Price has a truly phenomenal voice that she seems to effortlessly unleash, even from a sitting position necessitated by a booted broken foot. Bridget Kearny who slays on upright bass completely blew me away with the sounds she created – and her adorable hot pink booties. The remaining members of the band Mike Olson (on guitar/trumpet), Mike Calabrese (organ and drums) and new member, Akie Bermiss on keyboards.
After attending a huge two-day music fest a few weeks ago, this concert was a warm welcome back to the kind of show I enjoy – one that is local, low key and absolutely danceabley fun. If it hadn’t been a Sunday night, I would have hung out until the bitter end and maybe even waited at the stage door to thank the band for a terrific night out. As it was, I left before the final encore and joyfully hummed my way back to the car. You know me – I’ve always loved a dive.
Wednesday evening when Stephen Marley sang that lyric I wanted to go there with him to a place where there are no worries. Releasing the weight of worry sounds amazing. All that energy previously occupied with fretting about things beyond one’s own control can be put to use so much more productively. Instead of creating scenarios of doom, our brains could be creating something beautiful. God, that would be such a nice change from beginning the morning with the latest
shit Twitter storm and then being consumed with the responses and breaking news for the remainder of the day.
The Right and the Left, along with the Socialists when they’re able to participate in the war of opinion overload, are producing so much information that it feels like an assault, a mental and emotional injury almost. It hurts.
Turn it off, you say? How does one do that? It feels to me like we’re living a reality that we’ve read about in history books, very pre-WWII. I stay connected to media because I don’t want my grandchildren to ever ask me what I did during these dark and divided days only for me to respond with “I ignored it.” Digesting, processing and trying to understand news and information these days is an excruciating job, but as invested humans we have to make an effort.
I looked around the Plaza and saw so many different and unique looking people, all together enjoying great music on a beautiful summer night. As you might imagine, “Every little thing is gonna be alright,”* is certainly a statement in which I’d like to believe. Maybe I’m focusing on the “wrong” things, universal health care, access to quality education, the acknowledgement of everyone’s equal civil rights, instead of the unemployment rate and the performance of my 403B.
Is it me or are you worried too?
*Confession: I inserted “once Trump and his ilk are gone” after every verse.
Filed under aging, Albany, concerts, Events, musings, News, Observations, politics, stress, Uncategorized, upstate New York
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?
Filed under Albany, concerts, Dinner, drinking, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, winter
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.
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.”)
Filed under Albany, art, concerts, Events, friends, Local, Music, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter
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…
Great, color, great fabric
- 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.”
Filed under Albany, beauty, Dinner, Eating, Exercise, Fashion, favorites, Food, friends, ideas, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Recommendations, running, Uncategorized, x-country skiing, yoga
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?