ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Spectrum 8 Theatres
The best thing
about the Spectrum isnt the convivial atmosphere, though thats
worth mentioning. Nor is it the upscale snack bar. Its the
film programming, quality presentation and the ability, after all
these years, to surprise audiences. Example: By the end of this
summer, they will have screened LEnfant, The Devil Wears Prada
and Snakes on a Plane.
Best Grand Cinema
432 State St.,
Most years we
pick Proctors as best second-run cinema, and were sort
of doing it again. But we especially want to underline the spectacular
experience of seeing a movie there. Why? We watched Peter Jacksons
King Kong from the balcony a few months ago. Wow.
at Saratoga Film Forum likely reflect the tastes of this particular
film societys membership, and it must be a diverse membership.
Sure, there are the usual lesser-known documentaries and familiar
art-house hits, but SFF screens terrific filmswere thinking,
this year, of Carroll Ballards Duma and Shane Blacks
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangthat no local theatrical distributor would
Best New Film
14 Castle St.,
Great Barrington, Mass.
This one were
going on faith, because the intentions are honorable and the program
set for the next year is very good. Newly restored, the Mahaiwe
recently offered its first film in decadesthe Lloyd Bacon/Busby
Berkeley masterpiece 42nd Street. Not a bad beginning.
Time & Space
One more way
TSL shows its commitment to grassroots democracy is in its film
presentations. The selections are a mix of international, national
and local cinema; vibrant discussion is an essential part of the
Best Cult Film
Spectrum 8 Theatres,
290 Delaware Ave., Albany
squirm in their seats during Eraserhead was an evil treat, but taking
in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in a room full of fellow creeps
and freaks was a life-affirming (if not familiar) blast. Mr. Keegan,
could we please trouble you for a few modest requests? Pardon our
taste, but how bout some American Psycho, perhaps a dabble
of Kurosawa, a pinch of Memento? No matter, we await each new schedule
with bated breath.
Best Local Actor
We knew the
Albany Academy could get you far. Past attendees of the Academy
include some guy called Herman Melville, President Theodore Roosevelt,
and a totally awesome, current Metroland staff writer. But Mr. Holmes
has done the coolest thing of any Academy graduate ever. (We might
be a little biased here.) Holmes landed a (very prominent) supporting
role in a David Cronenberg flick, A History of Violence, and an
excellent Cronenberg flick at that. Lets just say Holmes
acting made us glad we never pissed him off in high school. Heres
to Holmes one day getting a nod from that other Academy.
take our excellent orchestra for granted. Under the baton of David
Alan Miller, it is good enough to put across a Mahler symphony with
the best of them, and his outreach programs to kids and small-ensemble
concerts (with the Dogs of Desire) continue to promote new music
in unusual venues. And dont forget the orchestras many
We know: Its
supposed to be the Troy Music Hall. And thats a fantastic
hall. But Memorial Chapel adds a degree of intimacy, and its underrated
acoustics are similarly superb. From solo instrumentalist to chamber
orchestra, every note is crisp and clear.
Year after year,
Dan Berkenblit puts together a series of artists and ensembles ranging
from the renowned to the unknownand you can bet that those
unknown ensembles will hit the big time soon. Subscribe to the series.
Theyre all winners.
The Nikos Stage
TheatrE Festival,, Williamstown, Mass.
is but a shadow of the former Adams Memorial Theatre, which was
sliced and diced to create this more intimate space, the space is
intimate and affords excellent sightlines, comfort and a stage that
can still accommodate the most challenging and audacious of designs.
Company, Pittsfield, Mass.
of Follies resulted in the best musical production in ages. Her
production values are top-flight. Her creation of a musical-theater
lab is inspired. Boyd also knows how to transform varied spaces
into theater, but it is the opening of her new theater in downtown
Pittsfield that shows true vision and reason for optimism.
Under the guidance
of Kate Maguire, this venerable institution has attracted an exceptionally
strong family of directors, designers, technicians and actors who
annually produce challenging work that matters and speaks to our
needs while it engages our minds.
Why travel to
Manhattan for off-Broadway theater? StageWorks/ Hudson continues
to challenge audiences with the edgiest regional theater. Its Play
by Play series is like a rollercoaster car without the locking bar:
thrills, chillsyoud better hold on tight.
intensive for theatre pros (alumni are like a Whos Who for
Tony and Oscar nights) to the largest program for high-school students
in the Northeast, Shakespeare and Company makes the grade. Others
have programs for the grant money; S&Co has it for the heart.
Best Local Actor
musicals to its kids plays, from Hubbard Halls old-fashioned
classics to Capital Reps off-Broadway hits, no matter the
role, no matter the play, no matter the venue, nobody plays Narcissus
with more energy, focus, and conviction.
A woman of antic
imagination. In winter, she teaches Anglo kids at Skidmore College
how to move their bodies in polyrhythms. In summer, she trains actors
at the Williamstown Theater Festival to move like dancers. Shes
made dances like Mak III and Balls that
traverse the Tang Museum in haz-mat suits or in gumball-colored
unitards, adding another dimension to the visual art shows.
Best Dance Venue
For its ever-expanding
program of U.S. and international dance groups and a steeply-raked
space, the better to see them perform.
Best Dance Recovery
new board and management
back free lawn admission for kids, pre-curtain greetings by Marcia
White, and a spiffed-up booth full of dry goods, like SPAC lawn
blankets and NYCB facebooks of the beautiful dancers.
naturally, at Jacobs Pillow.
358 George Carter
Road, Becket, Mass.
For almost 75
years of dancing feet in jazz shoes, tap shoes, pointe shoes, flamenco
heels, and Gods own naked feet on the Inside-Out platform
stage under a Berkshire sunset.
Clark Art Institute
225 South St.,
of their collection and the quality of the traveling exhibitions
they host cant be denied. Lately, the Clark has upped the
ante with programs that engage the community in uncommon ways for
a traditional museum. Curator quiz shows? A Tokyo-themed party that
sounded like a night out with Gwen Stefani and the Harajuku girls?
Proof that trying something new can be fun.
1040 MASS MoCA
Way, North Adams., Mass.
Still the leader
in offering exhibits no other museum would even imagine, MASS MoCA
continues to inspire, engage, challenge and amuse with its film
and performance programs, and exhibits of thrill rides andbelieve
it or notpaintings. Something for all.
Best Art Gallery
408 Fulton St.,
Odds are we
have seen you, if you are into the arts world at all, at this happenin
hub of the local arts community. Since 97, Colleen Skiff has
guided the all-volunteer, nonprofit bulwark through the highs and
lows that come with a dedication to the independent scene. Consistently
showing some of the regions more fascinating artists (including
some pretty sick tattoo artists), this gallery lives up to its stated
mission of promoting the knowledge and appreciation of contemporary
art in the Capital Region.
Best New Art
of Art Photography
opened its doors exactly a year ago, and in that time has mounted
very professional and attractive exhibitions by the regions
heavy concentration of photographic artists. It also has branched
out by adding a film-production component and by moving downstairs
to a bigger and better space, while keeping the original upstairs
space for film production, photography classes, and other creative
ventures. Owner Mark J. Kelly and his assistant Julia Bracaglia
has pulled it off with elegance, professionalism and inclusion.
Best New Arts
The UAG have
been active members of the local arts scene for about a year now,
helping to organize events and shows, and waving the flag for Albany
as a vital creative community. Since settling into their gallery
space across from Ben & Jerrys on Lark Street, the Guild
has presented a handful of their own shows (including the bizarre
Pretty Girls & Robots) in addition to supporting others;
theyve also begun teaching art classes. A valuable resource,
Best Local Author
The poet and
educator offers a way to incorporate the philosophy behind the martial
arts into ones daily life in his new book Bow to Life: 365
Secrets From the Martial Arts for Daily Life. People dig it. Thats
got some bad news for you: James Howard Kunstler.
Best Local Author
If Al Gore hasnt
drilled it into your head yet just how screwed we Earthlings are,
Kunstler has got four words for you: peak oil theory, mutha. The
Saratoga Springs-based writer gained national acclaim in the 90s
for his staggering look at suburban sprawl in The Geography of Nowhere.
With his latest book, The Long Emergency, he has trained that same
skillful prose and insightful analysis on the devastating consequences
of the end of cheap oil. Think $3 a gallon is bad? Try darning your
socks. Dont read this book unless you want to be a real downer
for a couple of months afterward.
Open Mic Host
Hosting an open
mic is an underappreciated art. Dan Wilcox has honed this skill
right along with his poetry at venues such as his Third Thursday
series at the late Lark Street Bookshop. Wilcox is friendly and
enthusiastic, runs a tight ship graciously, and manages to be a
presence without making himself the center of the showone
of many reasons he is beloved in the regions poetry scene.
Best Club (Suburban)
Route 146, Clifton
You would be
hard pressed to find a club as eclectically booked anywhere else
in the Capital Region. She Wants Revenge one night, Yngwie Malmsteen
the next. Throw in a little Ashlee Simpson and multiply that by
Hatebreed and you have the only reason some of us Metrolanders ever
venture into the burbs. Being able to price motor homes before
shows is an added bonus.
Best Club (Urban)
A year in, the
spacious, pretty downtown venue has established itself to be just
as quirky as its Burlington, Vt. sister venue. Jam, pop, funk, alternative
rock, house musictheyre all here. Also: the best sound
system (for its size) within city limits.
1375 New Loudon
Over the past
year, the old potato factory has packed in some brutal shows and
drawn metal and emo teens from all over the state and beyond. There
really is nothing like seeing a Swedish death-metal band shredding
and head banging in a rough-and-tumble road house. This year, Winners
has seen some of the most brutal, current, relevant and interesting
acts from the now burgeoning, hardcore/metal sceneacts like
In Flames, Mastodon, Strapping Young Lad, Between the Buried and
Me, Converge, As I Lay Dying, Opeth, Into Eternity, Gwar, Unearth
and Bleeding Through. Yeah, the likelihood of seeing Ashlee Simpson
or Deerhoof play Winners are pretty low, but what they do, they
Venue (19th Century)
Bank Music Hall
State and 2nd
acoustics are so crystal clear your posture will automatically improve:
You just cant slouch in the presence of such regal appointments.
Venue (20th Century)
innovative booking, and a floor plan that has you wondering how
and where you are within the elongated orb. (That goes for both
the Hart and Swyer Theatres.) Plus, the friendliest elevator operators
in the tri-state area.
Venue (21st Century)
. . . When its
Best Large Concert
State Park, Saratoga Springs
This year the
award goes to the old guard, to the perennial outdoor venue. Weve
all got our memories of SPAC, and love everything from the teeming
lawn to the canopy of greenery under the bandshell to the faded,
aqua-colored paint on the footbridge. But this year more than ever
SPAC seems to have something for everyone, whether youre a
chardonnay-sipping jazz fan or a brooding goth-rockeror somewhere
in the numerous points in between. SPAC is a Capital Region classic
that has really upped the ante with a great roster of events and
and Lark Street, Albany
We simply havent
had a mid-sized venue in the area for a while now, at least not
one that could support general-admission concert events. It still
looks (and sounds) a lot like a basketball court, but nobody else
was about to bring Slayer to Center Square, so for that, we say
Luxury Flats are a tasty treat.
The Luxury Flats
They came out
of nowhere (Hudson, actually) and wowed just about everyone that
got in front of them over the last year. We could have easily named
them Best New Band or Best Rock Bandtheyd have a strong
claim to eitherbut well just go ahead and say what everyone
is already thinking. And if you dont know, now you know.
Best Live Band
We sure wish
theyd play more often, but when youve got world-class
musicians in your ranksincluding steel-playing gun for hire
Kevin Maulyou know that one of them is occasionally going
to get the call to play or record out of town. So for now weve
got to share a bit. But this trio plays some of the hottest Americana
weve seen in a while, with all three able to handle lead vocals.
From blues to rock & roll, Maul, Dale Haskell, and Tony Markellis
are a tight, fierce little unit.
Best Rock Band
faking crazy. If you cant take it, you better stay home. The
Wasted may be just a rock band from upstate New York,
as their Web site says, but no band is better at capturing, in brilliantly
twisted lyrics and memorable riffs, the cheap beer- and nitrous-fueled
world of upstate miscreants. Call it the soundtrack to our upstate
New York lives: profane and pathetic, desperate and destitute. But
its always worth hearing. That cross-eyed dwarf plays a mean
Best Pop Band
writes some of the quirkiest, catchiest geek-pop tunes weve
heard since . . . well, since Smiths old band (the Stars of
Rock). And his recently revamped Scientific Maps have a full-time
theremin player, which is pretty freakin sweet.
They may be
a well-kept secret in the Capital Region for now, but Broadcast
Live has their sights set on the larger national scene. The bands
catchy debut album, Underground, which paired mellow, groove- oriented
hip-hop songs with the occasional rock-thrash polemic, charted high
on the College Music Journal radio charts in the spring. Now that
they have a monthly residency at Red Square, Broadcast Lives
pro-justice message and music of broad appeal just might take off
among local music fans as well.
Best Metal Band
Great Day For
There are several
up-and-coming metal bands in the area, but Great Day For Up remain
on top, poised to wreck the cosmos with their payload. Your beard
will grow several inches with one listen (same goes for you ladies).
The stuff is munificent, car-crushing and concentrated toward the
task at hand, that task being to conquer nations, salt their fields
and mock the lamentations of their weak. Doom is in the room, baby.
Back 40 Band
picked em, and we did too. We may talk lots about Americana
and alt-country and all of those precious hipster things, but the
Back 40 Band is just country, pure and simple: NASCAR-worthy, cowboy-hat-wearing,
cheap-beer-drinking, little-sticker-guy-peeing-on-Ford-worthy country
music. Two- stepping, line-dancing country music. Got it? Theyve
racked up numerous local awards as perennial favorites, so heres
another one to put on the mantle (beneath the deer head).
Best Hair Band
(Without the Hair)
The Lone Peaches
Only from Amsterdam
(New York) could a band so true, so right, so untouched by the hands
of time, emerge. As if hatched from a prematurely unearthed time
capsule, labeled (in cherry-red lipstick, perhaps) 1989, the Lone
Peaches bring to the table hooks, chops, looks, and RAHH-AHHH-AHHH-AHWK-UHH!
Check out the demos on their MySpace page (myspace.com/ thelonepeachesrock)
and say it with us: Theres no place like New Jersey, theres
no place like New Jersey . . .
Best Furry Band
OK, we know,
enough with the beard jokes. But seriously, the Hearts do have some
knockout tufts of chin fur going on, not to mention some killer
songs. And Jason Martins costume-wearing, animal-anarchist
group Evolution/Revolution has been consistently impressive, even
if their fixation on actually becoming animals is a bit weird.
After a revolving-door
string of lead guitarists over the last several years, founding
duo Melanie Krahmer and Rich Lubitti finally decided to do away
with the damn thingas well as their drummerand go it
alone, together. We can only imagine what this does for their gas
mileage. And their new logoa washed out black-and-white-on-red
rendering of the duo in actionis pretty snazzy,
Best Band You
Thought Had Broken Up
The Clay People
It is a time-tested
formula: The undead simply can not die. They are, however, susceptible
to lineup changes and stylistic deviations. While reincarnating
his Frankensteins monster, Dan Neet may have stitched together
just the right body parts, because the CP are writing dark, hook-laden
pop-rock songs that outshine their past work, and theyre playing
shows that are converting those formerly averse to clay.
He gets this
award because. . . . hes Johnny Rabb and youre not.
But seriously, Johnny has been a factor in the yearly Best Ofs probably
since this publication has been around. A golden set of pipes, the
best rock & roll hair, and the undying respect of local-music
fans. Whether its singing with his Jailhouse Rockers or traveling
to Europe and headlining festivals with the Neanderthals, Rabb is
a local rock & roll legend. Consider this a lifetime-achievement
Best Jazz Musician
The supple trio
led by this pianist is only the tip of the iceberg. Coming up through
the traditions (everything from bop and swing to Latin and assorted
modern hybrids), hes developed into a formidable composer
as well. Based in the Capital Region, the area is elevated by his
Best Jazz Standards
Sonny and Perley
specific, because Sonny and Perley know their way around what is
usually called the great American songbook. Sometimes
they play straight jazz; sometimes they play Latin-inflected jazz.
Either way, when they perform the works of Porter, Ellington or
Berlin, they create something lovely to listen to.
He won the Lark
Tavern songwriting contest this spring, and we have to agree with
the judgesMatt Durfees enchanting, reflective songs
are drawn around complex, finger-picked acoustic-guitar lines, like
a cross between American Beauty (Grateful Dead) and Nick Drakes
Five Leaves Left. Too interesting to be lumped into the pop category,
too smart for the freak-folk boom, Durfee is in a category all his
The lovely Laura
Boggs has been a bright spot in the local folk scene for a few years
now as a regular at open mics and performing solo shows. Boggs
upbeat, gentle demeanor endears her to audiences young and old.
Her writing style is clever and accessible, and her croon is reminiscent
of Natalie Merchant. Boggs enchanting-but-not-cutsie songs
have a sensibility that make them all her own, with the added charm
of a random French ballad, or Shel Silverstein poem that shed
set to music. Bonus: We hear she plans on running in the next mayoral
Steve Candlen has a great sound. His honey-coated, slightly gritty
voice serves his catchy tunes very well. Were telling youif
you havent seen him live lately, you should. Were looking
forward to an album from him at some point, but until then, you
can catch Candlen Thursdays when he hosts the open mic at the Daily
Grind in Troy.
Jacobs is a
recent addition to the scene, but shes creating quite a stir
as a blues singer and songwriter with her guitar-playing partner
Matt Mirabile. They took the top slot in the Northeast Blues Societys
challenge last year and represented our corner of the country well
at the International Blues Challenge. Jacobs is the real deal; she
knows her blues history and sings it like someone from a different
era. Shes also been known to purr some fine rockabilly as
wellbut the blues is her main game.
Best Local Drum
God Gone Gold
Not only has
Jason Bittner found international success with irrepressible metalheads
Shadows Fall, he is also now widely regarded as one of the worlds
best metal drummers. Bittner wowed em with his double-bass
acrobatics at the 2005 Modern Drummer Festival, and today you can
find his face on every single internationally-distributed drumming
publication on earth. And even though he traverses said globe performing,
teaching master classes and sitting in with the likes of titans
like Dream Theaters Mike Portnoy and Anthraxs Charlie
Benante, the guy always takes time to call old friends, sign autographs
or show kids a lick or two.
The A-Man does
gay karaokeand so much more. From gay cruises to raising money
for good causes, the A-Man is one of the most tireless local promoters
around. If youre on his e-mail list, expect numerous regular
updates. The man is a whirlwind of activity and a bright, positive
spirit in the Capital Region scene.
not fretting about the fate of the New York Mets or playing in his
new band, Grainbelt, Howard Glassman is booking worthy musical acts
into the newish WAMC Performing Arts Studio and Valentines,
the stalwart Albany club. And doing it quite well, thanks.
singer-songwriter, who has been making himself a regular presence
at area venues from Caffe Lena to Valentines, puts it all
out there on the Internet. He has a Web site and a live journal,
where he makes it possible to experience brocknroll
as music, blog, audioblog and images. Hes upfront about not
being in it for the money, but we wish him lucrative gigs anyway.
All we know is, watch out for Evil Fred when you visit
Best Band Name
Che Guevara T-Shirt
Did this Sonin
guy design a T-shirt with Che on it, or did the dooder really score
the bloody shirt of a dead revolutionary? Only K. Sonin knows.
Balls Deep had
this, they totally had this, but a MySpace search revealed a band
in Ohio with the same name, and anything Ohio can do, upstate New
York can do better. Of course we arent so sure Drown Retarded
Children could really be described as better. (Is revoltinger
a word?) DRC really do have some stiff competition (pardon the pun)
when it comes to vomit-inducing monikers. Some of the field includes
Mucopus, pOOp, Organ Harvest, Clitorture and, of course, the totally
endearing runner-up, Balls Deep.
Brent Gorton has been tinkering with this thing in his home studio
for a couple of years now. And weve been waiting. And waiting.
Turns out it was worth it, as Gortons tricked-out, weirdo
soundscapes and keen pop sensibilities come together perfectly on
this album. Word is a few record-label snafus held up the process
as well. Kamikaze Heart Troy Pohl gave the thing a once-over as
co- producer. It also contains one of the greatest (and strangest)
laments about our town: Albany is the End of the Line.
Section 8 Reunion
The rumors started
barely minutes after their last gig and seem to recur at least once
every year: Section 8 are getting back together. What would motivate
such rumors? Perhaps their undying fan base, their reliability as
Music Shacks highest selling local act years after they broke
up, the fact that almost any tough-guy kid in Troy from age 15-
to 30-something can quote singer Kasey Dorrs lyrics at the
drop of a hat. Alas, as far as we can tell, the members have moved
on to different bands and different states. However, Mr. Dorr has
kept himself busy with a number of satisfyingly sludgy projects,
including pOOp, El Chubachabra and Gunther Weazel. So stop whining
about it get out to some shows, but while youre at it, keep
your fingers crossedand we will, too.
Every once in
a while at this annual Memorial Day festival, youll see a
performer wandering around the campsites in late evening, taking
in the virtuoso finger picking, the swing, the contra tunes, the
singing, and looking a little dazed to realize that while they are
appreciated, they are not the main attraction. Of course more often
youll see them happily joining in.