Best of 2011: Andrzej Pilarczyk’s Top 12 Concerts’s very own Chief Photographer (and frequent reviewer), Andrzej “Andre” Pilarczyk shot 231 separate musical events during the past 12 months. So after much personal deliberation, he’s finally compiled his Top 12 concerts of 2011 – and decided to make them all his number one picks…

North Mississippi All-Sta Duo
North Mississippi All-Sta Duo
Closing the wonderful Chenango Blues Festival, the North Mississippi All Star Duo, walked on stage and quickly went to work. Luther and Cody Dickinson commenced to feverishly burn up the night with their incendiary blues-rock energy. (Read his review/see his photos)

Robin Trower
Robin Trower
Being stuck with the parents on a week long vacation in Wildwood, New Jersey, I met these two brothers from Philadelphia, and I hung out with them. The three of us were all in our early teens and really into rock music. We wandered around the streets during the day – to stay as far away as possible from our parents camping out on the beach – until we found a small record store/head shop to hang out at. I recommended to them a Joe Walsh album, and they in turn recommended Robin Trower’s “Bridge Of Sighs.” Seeing Trower at The Egg play the album’s title tune was a cathartic experience. (Read his review/see his photos)

Ray Davies
Ray Davies
Sometimes I don’t know if the Kinks chose me or I them. I became a life-long fan at 13 when I picked up their LP, “Preservation Act II,” and fell in love with it. I later bought every album of theirs that had come before it and every recording since. Ray Davies performing at The Egg was like seeing and hearing a dear old friend who had stopped by for a visit. (See his photos)

John Ragusa and Hugh Pool as Mulebone
John Ragusa and Hugh Pool as Mulebone
In the ’90s, my friend Mona Golub turned me on to a blues guitarist-singer-harmonica demon named Hugh Pool. He played her Central Park concert series in Schenectady, opening up for former Muddy Waters’ guitarist Bob Margolin. Pool’s bourbon-drenched vocals and frenzied slide-guitar playing blew my mind. Seeing him time and again since then, he still consistently blows my mind. This time out he performed in Lake George’s Shepard Park on a warm summer’s night with John Ragusa in the blues duo Mulebone. I was blown away again. I still can’t get over how great a musician and performer he is! (Read his review/see his photos)

Chris Thile and Michael Daves Duo
Chris Thile and Michael Daves Duo
A decade or so ago, Chris Thile made his mark as a monster mandolin player with the teen-age bluegrass sensations, Nickel Creek. Now teamed up with guitarist Michael Daves, the fabulous duo played on the opening night (Thursday) of the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival. The sparks of improvisatory brilliance flew between these two instrumental geniuses song after song. (See his photos)

David Bromberg Big Band
David Bromberg Big Band
Legendary bandleader and blues performer David Bromberg is no stranger to The Egg. But this time out he brought in a whole big band complete with a killer horn section. Bromberg and his bandmates magnificently rocked, rolled and funked their way all night into a well-deserved standing ovation. (See his photos)

Latino All-Stars' Hilary Noble
Latino All-Stars' Hilary Noble
For one night only, Latin-jazz trumpeter Ray Vega put together an exemplary collective of like-minded musicians to play Union College’s small Emerson Auditorium. Billed as the Jazz/Latino All-Stars, the ensemble went into hyper-drive from the get go. But it wasn’t until saxophonist Hilary Nobel pulled out all the stops in the second set and unleashed a mighty thunderstorm of notes that inspired the rest of the ensemble to get out of their comfort zones and follow suit. The musical explosion that followed transformed the room… (Read his review/see his photos)

Yuja Wang
Yuja Wang
The diminutive and gorgeous Yuja Wang is a monster classical pianist. That night in the Massry Center at the College of Saint Rose, Wang made those 88 keys on her Steinway piano whisper, cry and scream in musical ecstasy with her every touch. (Read his review/see his photos)

Godsmack’s front-man, Sully Erna brought a decidedly different, non-heavy metal collective to The Egg for an inspiring evening of brilliantly crafted compositions that rocked the listener’s soul – not the building’s foundation. (Read his review/see his photos)

Pat Monahan
Pat Monahan
With a healthy dose of theatrics, Pat Monahan – the lead singer of the rock band Train – continually mesmerized the audience at SPAC. Touring in support of their newest album, “Save Me, San Francisco,” the hard-working Train is at the top of their game for a reason: they are that good. (Read his review/see his photos)

Buddy Guy
Buddy Guy
Back then, Buddy Guy influenced Jimi Hendrix. And he’s influenced countless blues performers ever since. By all accounts, Guy was in top form at The Egg, so if you were lucky enough to have seen him there, you’ve got a few stories to tell your grandchildren. (Read his review/see his photos)

Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett
Back in the day, I saw Lyle Lovett perform in Texas. He was not a star at that time, and I was a sergeant in the military. We were both stuck in life’s transitional flow. Both he and I went on to better things once we got out of our situations. He performed a fantastic show at The Egg, and I got to photograph him there. That made me a happy camper – for life! (See his photos)

Reviews and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Nippertown chief photographer


Fred Rudofsky’s Top 10 Theater Concerts
Paste Magazine’s Top 20 New Bands
J. Eric Smith’s Top Album
Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Albums
Brian Patneaude’s Top 5 CDs
American Film Institute’s Top 10 Movies
Stanley Johnson’s Top 10 Concerts
Richard Brody’s Top Books
Sebastien Barre’s Best of the Year
New York Magazine’s Top 10 TV Shows
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 10 Bar/Club Gigs
Steve Nover’s Top 10 CDs
Greg Haymes’ Top Music Video
Paste Magazine’s Top 10 Albums
The New York Times’ Top 10 Books
Mike Hotter’s Top 10 Albums
Kirsten Ferguson’s Top 10 Live Cover Songs
The A.V. Club’s Top 10 Comedy Albums
Ed Conway’s Top 10 Concerts
The Los Angeles Times’ Top 10 Pop Albums
J Hunter’s Top 10 Live Shows
Mr. Eck’s Top 10 Albums
Richard Brody’s Top 10 Concerts
Mike Hotter’s Top 5 Songs
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 20 Albums
Greg Haymes’ Top 15 Theater Productions
Tim Livingston’s Top 5 Music DVDs
David Brickman’s Top 11 Art Exhibitions
J Hunter’s Top 10 Jazz CDs

  1. Mr. Reidy says

    I like how I did not see any of these, which means that good acts abound.

  2. Ed Conway says

    Great picks. I loved the little back story on each. As always, fantastic photos. “You must have a good camera”.

  3. J Hunter says

    That’s my boy! Outstanding, as ever!

  4. Fred says

    Kudos on all counts.

  5. David Brickman says

    Hey, I could be Ray Davies (the old friend who visits …) Great descriptions, even greater pictures. Happy New Year!!!

  6. Dave Suarez says

    Nice shots Andrzej.

    Just wish I was the photographer to to share the music and the Jack Daniels with Greg.

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