Best Concerts of 2010: Fred Rudofsky

Nippertown contributor and uber music fan Fred Rudofsky says, “By my estimate, I saw several dozen live concerts and club gigs in 2010. Here are the best of the bunch I saw, in chronological order:”

January 22: Haitian Relief Benefit Concert at The Egg. DBR and the Mission not only played exceptional music, they raised the consciousnness of all with a mid-set phone call to a friend to provide eye witness testimony to the aftermath of the earthquake.

January 23: Willie Nile at The Linda. Despite a severe calf injury incurred during a concert he did with Bruce Springsteen, Nile on crutches arrived with a stand-up drummer, sat down at the piano, pulled out the guitar and delivered a set of rock and roll tunes and plaintive ballads that could stand with anyone’s material, even that of The Boss.

February 5: Barrence Whitfield & the Monkey Hips/Knyghts of Fuzz at Positively Fourth Street. Whitfield brought the mayhem and soul that only he can deliver; the Fuzz debuted and shook the rafters as well.

February 13: Blotto at WMHT-TV Studios. Celebrating their 30th anniversary, Albany’s finest band played something good and left the audience wanting more.

February 27: Roseanne Cash at The Egg. Riding the momentum of “The List,” Cash and company dug deep into the great songs of the 20th century, surveyed the equally fine originals she’s written, and left everybody with an indelible smile.

March 5: The Blasters at Valentine’s Music Hall. It may not have been the biggest crowd, but all in attendance had exceptional taste as the pride of Downey, California went full throttle, led by national treasure Phil Alvin.

March 7: Michael Eck at Caffe Lena. Truly a night to remember: a rare solo gig to promote a superb new album. The songs were matched by vivid, candid stories the way only Eck can tell them.

March 11: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at MASS MoCA. They may not be sporting the blues-based sound that once graced the stage at the defunct Revolution Hall, but this Vermont quintet led by the beguiling, soulful Potter still has the energy and songs to get a crowd on its feet and take them somewhere.

March 19: Duke Robillard Blues Band at the Van Dyck. Robillard and company truly filled the best-sounding room in the area with the blues, and the large crowd for both sets showed their appreciation.

April 8: Carrie Rodriguez at the Van Dyck. A virtuoso violinist and mandolin player, Rodriguez is also a talented young singer-songwriter. A healthy crowd that night was treated to an eclectic mix of wistful originals and inspired covers.

April 9: Mark Stuart and Stacey Earle at the Eighth Step. Perennial favorites in the Capital Region, this Nashville-based husband and wife brought a tremendous catalog of songs to Schenectady and charmed all with their sublime harmonies and deft finger-picking.

April 23: The Sophisticates at Tess’ Lark Tavern. Ian Carlton and company exorcised the world of its auto-tuned ways with a robust, dirty-sounding three sets of rock and roll.

May 18: Visqueen at Valentine’s Music Hall. Drawing heavily from the acclaimed “Message to Garcia,” this Seattle trio led by dynamic singer-guitarist Rachel Flotard rocked and mesmerized the small but fervent crowd with songs of love, lust, loss and redemption – it was a show those in attendance will remember for decades.

May 21: Peter Wolf/Roy Sludge at The Egg. Arguably offering the best show of the year, Wolf was promoting a stellar new album and dipping deep into his solo and J. Geils catalog with a talented band. Wolf’s voice, stage presence and rapport with the audience (who will ever forget the hilarious story he told about first meeting John Lee Hooker?), plus a great opening act by Sludge (featuring Jim Haggerty on bass), galvanized the theater for over two hours.

June 11: Tift Merritt at The Linda. Whether at the piano or center stage with guitar, Merritt delivered the goods. Listen to the broadcast to hear the proof of her greatness.

July 25: Nona Hendryx at Schenectady’s Central Park. A founding member of Labelle and in-demand vocalist and songwriter for over thirty years, Hendryx transformed a staid Sunday evening crowd into a frenzy of rock and soul loving revelers – and it was a free show!

August 1: Raul Midon/Martha Redbone at Schenectady’s Central Park. Midon was a one-man band, coaxing rhythms and sounds from his guitar that had to be seen and heard; he also proved to be a compelling singer with a epic batch of songs. Likewise, Redbone was captivating, merging classic soul with Native American roots – and it was a free show!

August 6: The Figgs at The Linda. With an excellent album to promote, this Saratoga-based trio hit the stage with energy, wit and imagination – hearing them play, one immediately had to consider that telepathy exists.

August 13: Travis Caudle at Emack and Bolio’s in Albany. With just an acoustic guitar, this world traveler from Australia delivered two impressive sets of originals and a few choice covers from the Police and U2 – and it was a free show!

August 23: Deke Dickerson and the Eccophonics at Valentine’s Music Hall. A surfeit of good music – rockabilly, surf, blues and country. Nuff said!

August 27: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at SPAC. Did they live up to their legend and the superb new album, “Mojo”? Yes!

September 11: DumpstaPhunk at the Corning Preserve. Part of an impressive lineup featuring Somi, Ravi Coltrane and John Scofield, Dumpstaphunk owned the day with some serious dance-inducing New Orleans funk in what was sadly an abbreviated set. And it was a free show! May Northern Lights book these guys soon!

September 12: The Carolina Chocolate Drops at The Egg. Wow. I’d read about this talented young trio, heard clips of songs, but nothing prepared me for such an awesome live show that respected the roots of blues and bluegrass without losing the swagger and fun.

September 30: Alejandro Escovedo and the Sensitive Boys/Hamell on Trial at The Egg. Arguably the best double-bill of the year, Escovedo and Hamell, friends for two decades brought the goods. With subversive wit, Hamell regaled the audience with free-wheeling stories and jokes and songs that grabbed the throat and heart with wit and compassion. Escovedo, the epitome of a phoenix, drew upon a rich catalog of rockers and ballads. Just seeing Hamell and Escovedo team up for an encore of the VU’s “Waiting for the Man” and the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden” reaffirmed that rock and roll will never die.

October 7: Soulive at Northern Lights. New York’s funkiest jazz trio took on songs by the Fab Four, and Clifton Park was never going to be the same, thankfully.

October 10: Super 400 at the Ale House. It’s always a treat to hear this trio rock out, and what better venue than the Ale House?

October 24: The Stone River Boys at The Ale House. This was a show that anybody in attendance will rave about upon the slightest mention, a perfect blend of Texas country, Memphis soul and rockabilly, and West Coast blues – sometimes all in one song.

November 5: Peter Case/Ashley Pond Band at Valentine’s. Pond got the evening off to a fun start, with hypnotic songs that David Lynch ought to feature in his next film. Case, with electric guitar and pickup drummer, proved why he is one of the great songwriters of our time.

November 8: Elizabeth Cook at The Linda. Not even a night of slushy snow could prevent a revved up crowd from hearing Cook bring a fresh take on country music (check out her incredible album “Welder”) in a voice that makes heartbreak tangible and the absurd hilarious.

November 20: The subdudes at The Egg. Few bands can match this New Orleans quintet’s soulful harmonies and sense of groove, and who else would you want to play a song – by request – as the proposal to the woman you love? It happened that evening. Engaging music, to say the least!

December 11: Ian Carlton’s Rock and Roll Party at the Ale House. Rocky Velvet reunion! Johnny Rabb! Tommy Love! Knyghts of Fuzz! Random guests from the audience invited up to sing!

Got a Best of 2010 list that you’d like to contribute? Best concerts of the year? Best local music moments of the year? Best whatever? Please send it along to [email protected]

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1 Comment
  1. Brian Goodman says

    Thanks Fred!
    Knyghts Of Fuzz aim to please! New vinyl 45 will be out soon on Carlton Records!

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