LIVE: The Chandler Travis Philharmonic @ The Linda, 11/19/11

The Chandler Travis Philharmonic @ The Linda, Albany

Chandler Travis made a Capital District stop, once again, at the Linda, this time dragging the rest of the Philharmonic with him. The last time in town – at Amsterdam’s Riverlink Park – they were missing their mandocello-accordion player, Dinty Child. All nine members made this one, albeit with a slightly different line-up. I have seen the Philharmonic several times, but I do not believe it has been the same line-up twice, as Chandler has a stable of fantastic musicians he can draw from in case someone can’t make the gig. Trumpeter Keiichi Hashimoto and pianist Cliff Spencer came along for the ride this time.

Anyone who has seen Travis knows that he possesses a dry wit that can border on hilarity, so it should be no surprise that he would have good friend Pete LaBonne along to warm up for him. LaBonne has that same sense of understated humor. He may not be quite as polished as Travis – possibly due to living in a small cabin in Upstate NY… without power – but he can be just as funny. LaBonne hit the stage to a chorus of “PETE… PETE… PETE,” which of course, he joined in on. As he ran through his short set, all the members of the Philharmonic left the green room and sat with the audience to catch it, a tribute to how they all felt about him.

Like Travis, it is very difficult to pin a music style label on him, but it’s clear from songs such as “100 Monkeys Typing” and “Hillbilly Coupe De Ville” that his songwriting lies delightfully off-center. He wasn’t going to let a balky guitar amp distract him too much; when Travis offered up his amp, he basically said fuck it and kept on playing, producing cheers from the audience. He did, however, borrow a familiar song from the Chandler Travis set list for the obligatory singer/songwriter sing-along, “Turning The Page”, but since he wrote it, I don’t think anyone minded.

The Philharmonic hit the stage dressed for the occasion – in PJs with their usual antics on full display. Just looking at the horn section (dubbed the June Trailer Dancers) jumping around between parts, you get the sense that they are not serious. You could not be more wrong. They take the music very seriously; just not themselves. They generally appear to be having as much fun as the audience. Many musicians are very good players, and others are good entertainers. The CTP is both. While taking a break from his valet duties, Fred Boak stepped up from his back-up vocals to be featured on “O Miserable Love” with the accordion, giving it an almost polka feel.

Again, trying to peg them into a particular style is really pointless as they can shift styles quicker than Travis can change costumes (which he does several times). “Mid Morning In Moscow” harkens back to the big band era with its heavy brass of Bob Pilkington on trombone and upright bass of John Clark, while “Where’s My Glasses” is beyond a label, but resonates with anyone over a certain age. (In fact I’m sure most of us have sung along to its opening line without even realizing it, “FUCK… FUCK… FUCK… I just had them on”). LaBonne came up and joined them for one of his songs, “Supermarket Employee,” also to the thunderous chant of “PETE… PETE…,” only by this time, more of the audience knew the words.

Throughout the show, it was hard to tell who was having more fun, drummer Rikki Bates or woodwind player Berke McKelvey, as their smiles never seemed to fade. This could also be said about the audience. While they ended up playing two encores, the second was done unplugged as the CTP strolled around the aisles of The Linda singing “Things To You” and “Goodbye.”

Review by Ed Conway
Photographs by Joe Deuel

Don’t Blame Me
My Father Met My Mother in New York
Where’s My Glasses
Suddenly Everything is Different
Make the Small Things Pretty
Did You Ever Know
Last Thing I Needed
Mid-Morning in Moscow
Milk Truck on Fire
All My Good Luck Is Gone
Supermarket Employee (with Pete LaBonne)
Get Ready for Freddy
O Miserable Love
Let’s Have Some Fun
Thanksgiving in Stoughton
Grand Route St. John
Things To You

Guest of Honor
Turning the Page
Toothy Ruthie
Hillbilly Coupe De Ville
We Rolled the Car
Pour Beer on Each Other
100 Monkeys Typing

The Chandler Travis Philharmonic @ The Linda, Albany
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic @ The Linda, Albany
Pete LaBonne,  Fred Boak and Chandler Travis
Pete LaBonne, Fred Boak and Chandler Travis
1 Comment
  1. Denise says

    Nov. 19th the Chandler Travis Philharmonic and Pete LaBonne atThe Linda !! This review by Ed Conway and these photos by Joseph Deuel bring the night back into clear focus and oh what an “outstanding ” night of music it was !! Thank You, Chandler Travis Philharmonic for that thing you do so very well..and this time for sharing your pal and musical cohort Pete LaBonne with Albany NY…Hope to see you all back again soon and a little birdie tells me that Chandler Travis Philharmonic may well be back at the Amsterdam Riverlink Park again summer 2012..stay tuned..

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