ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
South St., Williamstown, Mass.
In serene and lovely Williamstown, a fittingly handsome building
houses the most impressive collection of art in the region, specializing
in 19th- and 20th- century American and European painting (even
more specifically, the musuem showcases a number of gems from French
impressionists and American notables such as Winslow Homer). The
museum also assembles top-flight special exhibitions, such as the
current Unknown Monet.
Best Museum (Bring the Family)
South St., Pittsfield, Mass.
With special exhibits featuring such themes as toys, bugs and solve-it-yourself
detective mysteries, along with permanent exhibtions, many interactive,
that appeal to children’s interest in animals, rocks, dinosaurs
and such, it’s no wonder that this is a family favorite way to spend
an afternoon in the Berkshires. And don’t forget the aquarium downstairs.
Or the mummy upstairs. The kids will be having so much fun, you
might even be able to coax them into the gallery where you can show
them several fine examples of Hudson River School painting.
Best Avant Garde Museum
Marshall St., North Adams, Mass.
What exactly is it that we love most about MASS MoCA? Is it the
amazingly creative re-use of an electronics factory? The sprawling,
enormous galleries, the largest space for contemporary art in America?
The classic movies projected outside? The unique musical performances?
The stunning exhibits? What we love most about MASS MoCA is that
it is just a leisurely afternoon drive away.
Best Museum for Exhibit-Related Programming
Institute of History and Art
Washington Ave., Albany
Everyone loves the AIHA. (They usually win the Reader’s Pick for
Best Museum, too.) One of the things that makes them special is
the programming that goes along with each exhibit. If you visit
the museum regularly, then you know that the Albany Institute continually
offers lectures, artists’ receptions, theme parties and family friendly
events related to whatever they’re exhibiting. (Peruse the events
calendar in this paper once in a while and you’ll see them listed.)
The AIHA knows how to enhance the museum experience.
Best Multipurpose Museum
York State Museum
State Plaza, Albany
This isn’t a museum with just one mission; the New York State Museum
has multiple missions. The permanent exhibits educate thousands
every year about the people, history, geography and plant and animal
life of New York state. Traveling exhibits, like the Bank of America-sponsored
Great Art Series, bring world masterpieces to our state capital.
The NYSM also uses its great auditoriums to present concerts and
special events, including marathon screenings of works by local
filmmakers. And it has that nifty carousel, too—we can’t wait until
the repairs are done.
Best True-to-its-Mission Museum
Glendale Road, Stockbridge, Mass.
As you could guess from the name, the Norman Rockwell Museum is
the best place to see the works of America’s best-loved illustrator,
Norman Rockwell. Along with all 323 covers Rockwell painted for
The Saturday Evening Post, the Rockwell Museum offers temporary
exhibits of other illustrators of the same period, which not only
puts Rockwell’s work in context, but gives us a window into a long-gone
period in American publishing. For example, check out their terrific
current exhibit of illustrations for woman’s magazines of the 1940s
Best Floating Museum
River (Broadway near Madison), Albany
During World War II, this Cannon-class destroyer escort battled
Nazi gunboats and Japanese submarines. After decades of hard duty
in foreign waters, the Slater made its way up the Hudson to Albany,
where restoration began in 1997. The only original DE still in existence,
the Slater has been restored from a rustbucket to a see-worthy museum,
thanks to a heroic grass-roots effort mostly performed by naval
veterans. Tours of the ship provide a vivid sense of the onboard
lives and military operations of its 216-man crew.
Best Gallery (Get the Hell Outta Your Parents’ Basement)
Columbia St., Albany
Albany Center Gallery made a great move this year, from its confines
at Albany Public Library on Washington Avenue to a big, spacious
gallery downtown on Columbia Street. The new space lets the gallery
breathe, and it’s very inviting to patrons. Congratulations on your
move, ACG! It’s like you’re all grown up. Sniff.
Best DIY Gallery
2nd St., Troy
The basement came with the brownstone, but Anne-Marie Dambournet-Gunn
wasn’t really using it. So she transformed the unique space into
a cool gallery. To alleviate some of the duties of running said
gallery, she implemented a simple procedure: If you want to show,
sign up and do the work. That’s it. The space is tight but inviting,
and the shows that we have seen so far are top-notch. Creative use
of excess space—that’s an idea we would like to see catch on everywhere.
Best Gallery Tour: Hudson.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
used to be if you said “Hudson,” the free-association reply would
be “antiques.” (If you go back a couple of decades, the reply might
have been unprintable.) There are still plenty of reasons to go
antiquing in Hudson, but it’s the art galleries we honor here. We’re
not going to list them all by name because we don’t want to inadvertently
leave anyone out, but Hudson is now the place to go on a
weekend gallery tour.
Best Art Gallery Food
4th St., Troy
New kid on the block Kismet in Troy rocks a hardcore political manifesto
and features some righteous art, but man, the food. We ain’t talking
cheese and crackers here peoples, no: fresh crab rangoon,
chicken skewers and chocolate fondue. It’s like we died and went
to, well, Kismet on an opening night.
Best Visual Artist
regionally for both her former radio show, Hello Pretty City,
and her exquisite photography, pixie-like Laura Glazer has been
an admired fixture on the local arts scene for years. She has lately
been focusing on drawing in addition to her photography, and her
recent exhibit at Albany Center Gallery, Birds Are Beautiful,
featured whimsical sketches of birds (which can now be found in
the form of bags, T-shirts and onesies, among other things, at local
boutiques and on etsy.com). Make no mistake, her drawings are almost
as charming as she is.
it’s in the pages of Upstate Fashion, on the cover of
Chronogram, or hanging on the walls of your local gallery or
coffeehouse, Guille’s distinctive hand-tinted prints are sure to
catch your eye. His subject matter seems to be yanked from waking
dreams, and his colors are wonderfully playful. The man has been
doing what he does for so long, we have to say that he is a master
of his technique.
Best Performance Artist: C. Ryder Cooley.
PHOTO: Shannon DeCelle
her antlers, deer head and accordion, singer-poet-artist C. Ryder
Cooley has charmed and confounded audiences all over the Capital
Region. Whether singing her own dark, free-form songs or Henry Mancini,
Cooley is fascinating. It’s provocative, challenging work laced
with wit and a sense of fun.
Best Arts Festival
almost titled this category “Best Arts Festival to be praised in
the International Herald Tribune.” That’s how big Bard Summerscape
has become. It’s not just about the size and number of events, though.
It’s the quality and thoughtfulness that go into the planning. (Well,
and the money—Bard apparently has boatloads of money.) This year’s
theme, Elgar and His World, takes us deep into the culture of the
United Kingdom at the beginning of the last century through music,
theater, opera, cabaret and film. The breadth of Bard Summerscape
Best Art Trend
It started regionally with Albany’s First Fridays—monthly events
where downtown galleries and museums combine efforts to institute
a citywide arts walk, complete with after parties, music, snacks,
and most importantly, plenty of art to admire and to buy. This idea
spread like wildfire throughout the area, and now we have these
types of arts nights in Troy, Schenectady, Ballston Spa, Glens Falls,
Poughkeepsie, Hudson, and Pittsfield, Mass. We want to take a moment
and give a shout out to Saratoga Springs, who, though they didn’t
exactly start the trend, have been doing the monthly arts nights
Best Cultural Freebie
Morning Open Rehearsal at Tanglewood
West St., Lenox, Mass.
A lovely summer morning, a picnic breakfast on Tanglewood’s splendid
lawn, the Boston Symphony Orchestra tuning up for their evening
performance—and trust us, they sound pretty darn magnificent even
when they’re just “rehearsing.”
Best Dance Venue
George Carter Road, Becket, Mass.
We all know that the Pillow showcases the very best in dance from
around the world, but the facility itself is almost as impressive
as the performers, with its theaters, dance studios, extensive archives,
and lovely grounds, gardens and trails. Add a variety of community
programs, including free outdoor performances, and you’ve got just
about everything you could ask for from an arts institution.
Best Dance Series
State St., Schenectady
Over the past year, Proctor’s brought some of the most innovative
dance troupes to their stage. From Pilobolus to Alvin Ailey to Burn
the Floor’s amazing show Floor Play, we drank up every last
bit of it. We look forward to next season’s programming, which will
include performances by companies like African Footprint, Momix,
Peru Negro, and the St. Petersburg ballet.
Best Dance Troupe
Sinopoli Dance Company
year, Ellen Sinopoli and her company blew our minds when they performed
the modern dance original work (created by Sinopoli and architect
Francis Bronet) Spill Out! at the Gasholder Building in Troy.
We commend them on their originality and imagination.
Best Movie Theater
Delaware Ave., Albany
might expect that the Spectrum would, one fine year, get some competition
for this category, yet year after year it goes unchallenged.” We
wrote that four years ago, and it’s still true. They still have
the best snacks, and an uncanny knack for balancing art-house fare—who
else in the first-run business books so many foreign-language films?—with
box-office blockbusters. (In other words, we’re still delighted
they booked Blades of Glory.)
Best Film Series
York State Writers Institute
Hall, 135 Western Ave., Albany
Don Faulkner, William Kennedy and their cohorts at the New York
State Writers Institute stepped up their game this year. There were
the expected classics by Kurosawa, Renoir and other masters, but
tracking down and screening the very looooong director’s cut of
the notorious Heaven’s Gate? Balancing films from Angola
and Cuba with glossy Hollywood gems starring Barbara Stanwyck and
Clara Bow? Nicely programmed.
Best Classic Movie Theater Experience
State St., Schenectady
You still can’t beat Proctor’s, with its huge screen and 1920s opulence.
It’s what, in a better world, the moviegoing experience would always
Best New Movie Theater
Street and Broadway, Schenectady
While they’ve only been open three months, we’re tipping our hats
to Schenectady’s new downtown six-screen multiplex for their state-of-the-art
stadium seating, solid mainstream programming and unusual (for here)
selection of real-food snacks. We hope they’ll become a fixture
in a downtown that could use a few more.
Best Film Series Sponsored by Beef
Angus Beef Film Series at the Palace Theater
Clinton Ave., Albany
Thanks, Certified Angus Beef, for this fine film series at our region’s
other grand, supersized movie house, the Palace Theatre. From single
showings of classic and recent films to fun-and-quirky events—an
all-day Lord of the Rings marathon, a nifty pairing of the
two versions of The Manchurian Candidate—the results won’t
make a movie buff ask, “Where’s the beef?”
Best Theater Company
Cross St., Hudson
The little theater that could, StageWorks/Hudson stages some powerful,
seldom-seen-north-of-Manhattan plays. Despite the loss of its usual
spring signature and most adventurous productions, Play by Play,
to the corporate confines of Schenectady in the fall, StageWorks/Hudson
stretches its audiences’ imagination with risky, excellently done
plays you won’t ever see in dinner theaters.
is Shakespeare & Company’s secret weapon: actor, director, teacher,
he heads the troupe’s nationally honored education program and too
rarely plays the clown role in a Shakespeare production, and even
more rarely directs at the company. That’s a shame, because his
production of Stoppard’s Rough Crossing is tight, fast, and
Best Musical Director
years Julie Boyd has been honing her skills as a director of troubled
or troublesome musicals. She breathed new life into Mack and
Mabel and Cabaret, and her sublime production of Follies
represented her at a height difficult to match. But this year’s
production of the very different West Side Story exhibited
her ability to mount even the biggest and most dance-intensive musicals
in Barrington Stage Company’s new facility in Pittsfield.
Best New Theater Facility
Union St., Pittsfield, Mass.
Now that the mezzanine has been renovated, BSC’s theater on Union
Street in Pittsfield is complete, and what a treat it is. Excellent
sightlines, comfortable seats and temperatures, a sizable orchestra
pit, and a stage that proved its versatility with last year’s jewel
boxed setting for Ring Round the Moon and this summer’s expansive
staging of West Side Story, establish the place as a dream
factory for theater year round.
Best Theater Restoration
South St., Pittsfield, Mass.
Go to see anything here, but leave ample time to have your breath
quietly stolen as the meticulously restored theater transports you
back to the 19th century in all of its architectural splendor, gilt
elegance and artisans’ pride. From the original seating in the balcony
to the sweeping embrace of the mezzanine and box seats to the exceptionally
plush seating in the orchestra and the magnificent acoustics, sightlines,
and proscenium, the labor of love begun by Robert Boland evokes
tears of joy.
Best Use of Donated Money
Jaffe Fund/Berkshire Theatre Festival
year Ed and Lola Jaffe donate a substantial sum of money so that
high-school students from surrounding communities may see the entire
mainstage season gratis. The Jaffes also donate $20,000 to the theater,
but it is this fund that should be the inspiration for all the summer
theater educational programs around. If kids never get to see fully
mounted shows, they never experience the magic of theater. The season
is dedicated to Ed Jaffe, who died this year; Lola continues their
Best Venue for Orchestras
Savings Bank Music Hall
and State streets, Troy
And by orchestras, we don’t just mean the Albany Symphony or touring
large ensembles from Japan or Russia. We mean big-band jazz outfits,
like the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra. The size and peerless acoustics
of the Troy Music Hall make for a powerful musical experience, whether
the ensemble is playing Mahler or Mingus.
Best Venue You Should Get to Know
B. Taylor Community Room
County Community College, Schenectady
This is an absolute gem of an auditorium, and a great place to catch
a concert. The acoustics and sight lines are first rate; the stage
is wide and accommodating for both soloists and larger ensembles.
It may be called a “room,” but, believe us, it’s a real fine hall.
Best Outdoor Venue
MacDonald Music Haven
A beautiful, welcoming space in a great urban park. Nice stage,
with plenty of good spots to sit and enjoy the show—without that
overmanaged, herded-in experience you can suffer through at other
local outdoor venues.
Alan Miller and the good folks at the Albany Symphony Orchestra
continue to exceed expectations with excellent performances, smart
programming, engaging world- premiere works, and a commitment to
community outreach, arts-in- education programs and audience-building
that is innovative and sophisticated. Consider this: In this past
season, various ASO permutations performed concerts of beloved repertory
(the Russian night, with the opera excerpt, was superb), a mixed-media
concert with video artists, and young people’s programs with Cowboy
Dave (one of Maestro Miller’s alter-egos). Pretty good, eh?
Best Summer Music Series for Adventurous Programming
Hall, 25 E. Main St., Cambridge
We like Beethoven. OK, not all of us like Beethoven that much, but
most of us like Bach and Brahms and Schubert and . . . you get the
picture. There are no shortage of places to hear this music in the
summer. Music From Salem, up yonder in Cambridge, balances a traditional
repertory with less-performed works by living composers—some of
whom occasionally come to Hubbard Hall to perform.
Best Literary Series
York State Writers Institute
at Albany, Albany
We could prattle on about why this is a perennial winner, but why?
It’s simple to list some of the writers who came to UAlbany so far
in 2007: Norman Mailer, Wallace Shawn, Rebecca Wolf, Susan Cheever
and Richard Ford. We hear that there are some big names coming this
Best Local Author
2005, Schwarzschild made a splash with his debut novel, Responsible
Men. The work drew comparisons to Arthur Miller and accolades from
the spectrum of mainstream press. Schwarzschild was only getting
started. This year he was named a Fulbright Scholar and this fall
he'll release a collection of short stories called "The Family Diamond."
Word has it that on top of his engaging literary ability, he's also
a "can't miss" professor at the University at Albany.
Best Concert Venue (Single)
getting a snazzy new marquee and interior overhaul, the Palace has
diversified its programming by presenting, literally, something
for everyone. Over a two-month period this summer, the musical schedule
alone has included Hall & Oates, drug casualties Ween, Christian
rockers Casting Crowns, and “Weird Al” Yankovic. Add to that an
active slate of film screenings, plus comedy and theater productions,
and you’ve got a jewel in the heart of downtown Albany.
Best Concert Venue (Double)
State Plaza, Albany
The Egg’s two theaters continue to impress. Either could claim to
have the best sound in the area and few would dissent. All we could
ask is to see some new names in there—not that we’re sick of Richard
Thompson and Buddy Guy or anything like that.
Best Concert Venue (Triple)
State St., Schenectady
Schenectady’s long-standing “If We Build It, They Will Come” ethos
will be put to the test when Proctor’s opens two new performance
spaces this fall. In the meantime, the Proctor’s main stage has
been updated handsomely and is as wonderful a place as ever to catch
not only music, but theater, film, and other productions.
Best Concert Club
River St., Troy
Revolution Hall is simply a comfortable place to see a show. The
rich wood floors and inviting balcony recall some of our favorite
venues in New York City, and the sound inhabits Rev Hall in such
a way that there really is no bad place to hear the show. The acts
booked at the Hall have gotten progressively more interesting and
worthwhile. With a little more variation in their booking, the Hall
could well end up being the most overall appealing concert venue
in the Capital Region.
Best Variety Club
Madison Ave., Albany
It’s a sports bar! It’s a nightclub! It’s a theater! It’s many taverns
in one! Under Tess Collins’ adventurous ownership, this longtime
neighborhood tavern has become the most versatile social space in
town. Depending on the night, patrons can watch bands, perform at
an open mic, catch the game, cheer on a burlesque troupe, or ogle
a fashion show. And it’s available seven days a week for simply
enjoying drinks with friends and partaking of tasty pub grub. Meanwhile,
the list of activities is still expanding: In September, Tess’ will
be the new host of Alien Nation dance night.
Best Band: Rocky Velvet.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
rockabilly kingpins Rocky Velvet have been popular in the region
for more than a decade, but they’ve suffered from the more-than-
occasional extended hiatus over the years while the members, particularly
wunderkind guitarist Graham Tichy, have set out around the country
on other gigs. They’ve been back in a big way this year, though,
releasing their first album, It Came From Cropseyville, and
undertaking a busy round of performances in the area. The boys are
back and burning.
Best Rock Band
their 10th anniversary this year, Albany’s the Erotics are still
kicking it chest-high with a sleaze-rock flair that’s unmatched
around these parts. A case could be made that they’re just hitting
their stride now, a decade in, with recent tours taking the band
across the U.S. and throughout Europe, their fifth album due out
soon, and several movie soundtracks enlivened with that brazen trash-appeal.
Best Pop Band
was a time when we couldn’t have justified this label, but since
emo has become a staple of Top 40 radio, it seems safe to call the
Loyalty, simply, a pop band. The Queensbury-based foursome have
played a bunch of cherry gigs of late (including opening for the
Strokes in Albany last fall), and the handful of tunes they have
released so far are smart, punky, head-bobbing slices of radio-ready
pop-rock—a better categorization might be Best Band That Sounds
Vaguely Emo But Actually Doesn’t Suck.
Best Pop-Punk Band
Little’s songs range from sugary pop to driving post-punk, and we
love them for it.” We wrote that four years ago, and still feel
the same way—even if the music seems quite a bit harder. The band
flew under the radar for a while, but released a propulsive, catchy
CD, Know No Shame, in late 2006. Longtime guitarist-vocalist
Matto Laque (who still keeps busy with other projects) and bassist
Jessie Pellerin (also of species-benders Evolution Revolution) have
been “keeping it real since 2000” (according to their MySpace page);
we wish them (and drummer Geoff K.) well.
Best Punk Band
they have two saxophone players and, yes, they often end up on bills
with third-wave (fourth-wave?) ska bands, but Public Access are
first and foremost a punk-rock band, and a damn good one at that.
They’ve been banging out the anti-hits for six years or so now,
and they’re actually getting more aggressive, further bolstering
our point. Plus, we’re not about to start a Best Ska Band category.
Best Nouveau Prog Band
couldn’t think of a more succinct way to classify a band who sound
like the Minutemen, the Beach Boys, the Mars Volta, King Crimson,
Dashboard Confessional and Kansas, all in the course of one four-minute
song. This seven-piece army of sound (eight, if you count the lighting
guy) is one of the Capital Region’s most original acts. Catch them
the next time they’re home between tours.
Best Old-School Metal Band
you heard about that Jack Clutch? He’s a white-trash hero. The man
counts to zero. That’s the best line ever, from the best band to
arise from Ballston Lake in . . . well, let’s just say ever.
Best High-School Metal Band
a teenage battle of the bands at the Colonie Public Library two
months ago, one group of youngsters from Schenectady stood above
the rest with their sheer bravado, commitment, and skill. On that
night, Riffamortis brought the thunder down like the best of their
ancestors and showed that, while still in high school, they are
serious contenders with the big boys for local metal gods. There’s
just the matter of getting that learner’s permit first . . .
Best Freak-Folk Band
Dunbar and the Hobo Banned
“Internet street musicians,” this gang of sweaty but huggable folk-waifs
write songs filled with a wary innocence worthy of their hobo moniker.
Acoustic guitars, horns and the occasional singing saw combine in
a luminous haze while the vocalists sing of rambling through fields
near and far, thankful to the people they meet along the way, be
they good or otherwise. The Hobo Banned’s psych-folk songs don’t
hearken back to the past as much as they yearn for the future.
Best Americana Band
Felice Brothers’ Catskills folk is rough around the edges and intoxicating.
The U.K. magazine Uncut called them the “next generation
of Americana heroes.” We couldn’t agree more. Their big-label debut
Tonight at the Arizona sounds piped-in from 40-odd years
ago, back before Dylan owned a Strat and the Band was, simply, a
backing band. Ryan Adams, eat your heart out.
Best Acoustic Duo
many like acts overcompensate for the lack of a backing band by
playing loud and aggressive, Palatypus choose to explore the softer
dynamic possibilities of two acoustic guitars. Matt Durfee’s melodic
finger-picking is the perfect counterpart to Mike Poulopoulos’ Spartan
folk strumming, and their two voices blend like gin and tonic on
a summer day. Bring a blanket when you catch one of their frequent
happy-hour performances at Red Square—this is music designed for
laying around and passing a spliff.
Best Acoustic Trio
as precious antiques should be preserved and displayed, the melodic
gems of the folk tradition need to be handed down and performed.
Fiddler-banjoist George Wilson, fiddler-mandolinist Frank Orsini,
and guitarist/pianist Peter Davis are the consummate curators of
a marvelous musical museum bursting with Celtic fiddle tunes, old
French Canadian songs, and Appalachian string-band music. In the
realm of acoustic trad, the Whippersnappers rule.
Best Jug Band
all of the jug bands in the area this was a close one to call (ha
ha). But one jug band stood head and shoulders (and jug) above the
rest. For the members of Blotto who are in this band, this is a
return to roots, as Blotto’s origins are in’70s jug band the Star-Spangled
Washboard Band. RJS take their old-time DIY ethos seriously though,
taking a cue from Dave Van Ronk’s early ’60s jug band the Ragtime
Jug Stompers. So many jug bands, so little time . . .
Best Transplanted Band
three members of Severe Severe came here from Memphis, Tenn. (and,
originally, Los Angeles), last year, bringing with them a dark,
pulsing sound that calls to mind mid-period Cure, the Rapture and
Fugazi—it’s like goth turned inside out. Here’s hoping they stick
Best Cover Band
are not your average cover band: The members have a range of developmental
disabilities. They are, however, the most remarkable, and they get
the nod here not just because of their back story, but because they’re
a great band, period. Based out of Lexington Center (Fulton County
Arc), they’re certainly the most talked-about cover band in the
area as well.
Best New Band
Park’s Alta Mira have been gracing the region’s clubs since late
last year with a sound that fuses anthemic pop-rock to ornate, expansive
arrangements, a la XTC, ’90s Radiohead, or some of Tool early stuff.
They’re handy with a time- signature shift, they can rock a waltz
with the best of ’em, and singer Joe Michon-Huneau has a serious
set of pipes. Watch for their debut EP next month.
Best New Solo Artist
like to say that Ashley Pond is the Capital Region’s answer to Cat
Power, but that wouldn’t be at all fair: The minimalist, blues-based
guitar-and-vocal explorations on Pond’s forthcoming debut disc Dala
are far more outgoing. She claims to be influenced by Nick Drake
and Led Zeppelin, and we can hear both: Her soulful voice sweeps
from sassy purr to assured wail, and her guitar work is intricate
and interesting (listen: There’s nary a strum to be heard). A welcome
addition to the area’s already bustling singer- songwriter scene.
Best Vocalist (Female)
been described as a singer with the potential to follow Norah Jones’
path to stardom (and big bucks), but Sarah Pedinotti has a voice
and style all her own. With a showcase at the Egg earlier this year,
and the record labels lapping at her door, Pedinotti’s future is
so bright, you should catch her now while she still plays weekly
in her Saratoga hometown. Wear shades.
Best Vocalist (Male)
thick and sweet as molasses, Sean Rowe’s baritone is one of those
rare singing voices that will leave you forever changed. Like Al
Green, Van Morrison, or Gil Scott-Heron at their best, this is deep
soul you’ll feel right down to the tips of your toes, and, uh, other
Best Guitarist (Electric)
hereby demand a dramatic increase in the frequency of Complicated
Shirt live shows, because we need Drew Benton to tear our faces
off. Benton’s guitar heroics are (almost) as vitriolic as his lyrics,
and reason enough alone to check out the band.
Best Guitarist (Acoustic)
may play a nylon-string guitar rather than the more common steel-string
flat-top, but don’t be fooled—classical/flamenco ace Maria Zemantauski
doesn’t pussyfoot around on those six strings and twenty-odd frets.
She can set bass notes rumbling like an avalanche and treble passages
flying like sparks off a blowtorch if she’s so inclined. Around
here, she is unmatched for both chops and the power to telegraph
emotion that all art aspires to.
Best Guitarist (Down by Law)
to serve out his post-drug arrest probation within spitting distance
(er, that’s piss-testing distance) of Washington County, the famous
Phish-founding guitarist and composer whiles away the days in his
temporary residence of Saratoga Springs. Sightings of the red-headed
ax man are a frequent, although low-key, occurrence downtown; will
he leave without playing an impromptu gig at a local venue? We’ll
Best Drummer Posing as a Singer-Songwriter
our area is blessed with a precious coterie of talented drummers,
special mention must be made of the one and only Steve Candlen.
Yeah, he’s a fine enough writer, with some killer tunes and a smooth,
soulful singing voice to his credit. But what we really love is
his drumming: Candlen brings a sense of swing, fun and finesse to
any trap set he sits behind. And like all great players, he elevates
any musician fortunate enough to be playing alongside him.
Best Nuggets-Style Garage rock
& the Aztecs
from the low, fuzzed-out fidelity of the recording to the rock-&-roll
intensity of the performance, makes this vinyl single sound as if
it was recorded by some white-hot, undiscovered garage band in the
mid-’60s. But it’s very much a contemporary performance, led by
the killer vocal attack of Ian Carlton (Rocky Velvet) and backed
by Graham Tichy (Rocky Velvet, Lustre Kings), as well as Eddie Angel
and Jason “Teen Beat” Smay, both of Los Straitjackets (a band you
might recently have caught performing—for the seventh time—on Late
Night With Conan O’Brien).
Best International Superstars
being a bit facetious here, but, with their latest disc, Oneida
Road, raising their profile here and across the pond, the Hearts
are still poised for a breakout success. It’s never too late to
be an overnight sensation.