BEST OF 2013: Fred Rudofsky’s Top 25 Concerts of the Year

Willie Nile (Photo courtesy of The Linda/Andrzej "Andre" Pilarczyk 2013)
Willie Nile (photo courtesy of The Linda/© Andrzej “Andre” Pilarczyk 2013)

Story by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Joseph Deuel, Eric Gleason

By my count, I attended 60 live music events this year and thus got to hear nearly 100 bands. That might seem like a lot, but I did miss going to at least two dozen gigs because of foul weather (especially the Lawn Sausages reunion, which I heard was outstanding), foul timing (sometimes a teacher has to grade a stack of essays on a school night) or foul mood (one can only go to so many shows alone – hey, Miss Right, are you even out there?).

Venues that book quality music matter to me; I’m a loyal patron like Norm Peterson on “Cheers.” I was a regular at The Egg, Club Helsinki, the Ale House, Caffe Lena and Valentine’s Music Hall. I also witnessed incredible taped-for-radio-broadcast shows at The Linda. The Bearsville Theater offered the chance to see a rock and roll legend who stayed after the show to chat with fans till the staff turned off the lights in the bar. Red Square hosted bands from across the nation but also promoted local talent as well as any Capital Region club did. The Van Dyck even booked a pair of stellar blues shows – I can only hope that this becomes a trend for what has been a woefully underbooked venue the past few years.

The Hangar in Troy got instant street cred, opening in the fall with prime music. The Bayou Cafe became the Hollow Bar + Kitchen and didn’t miss a beat. The free music nights at the Troy Dinosaur Bar-B-Que were a big draw, too, and hopefully more live music fans will get hip to checking out more than just brisket and wings on a Friday or Saturday night.

For the third year in a row, I did not go to SPAC or the Times Union Center, but I did drive two hours out to the Green River Festival in July to enjoy two days of eclectic music from more than 30 bands, all for $70, easily the bargain of this or any year. (Seriously, I cannot say enough about this annual event – all outdoor music festivals should aspire to this one’s greatness).

2013 was a cornucopia of superb live music, so drawing up a definitive list is impossible. Yet here it goes….

1.) The Holmes Brothers @ the Van Dyck, September 27
2.) Peter Wolf & the Midnight Travelers @ The Egg, October 19
3.) Willie Nile @ The Linda, June 1
4.) Hamell on Trial @ Valentine’s Music Hall, November 27
5.) Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez @ Caffe Lena, April 19
6.) Joe Ely @ The Hangar/Ale House, November 14
7.) Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express with special guest Sarah Borges @ Club Helsinki, August 10
8.) Loudon Wainwright III @ The Egg, January 25
9.) J.D. McPherson @ the Ale House, July 24
10.) Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale @ the Green River Festival, July 21

The Chandler Travis Three-O (photo by Joseph Deuel)
The Chandler Travis Three-O (photo by Joseph Deuel)

11.) Ray Wylie Hubbard with special guest Dustin Welch @ the Ale House, May 21
12.) Jon Dee Graham with special guest Mike June @ Valentine’s Music Hall, September 25
13.) Ian McLagan @ the Bearsville Theater, June 21
14.) Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds with special guest Connor Kennedy @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, December 5
15.) Chandler Travis Three-O with special guests the Jack Grace Band @ Caffe Lena, March 15
16.) Billy Joe Shaver @ the Ale House, October 1
17.) Richard Thompson with special guest Teddy Thompson @ The Egg, September 28
18.) Scotty Mac & the Goldtops @ the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, December 27
19.) Matt Mirabile Band with Alison Jacobs and special guest Tommy Love @ the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, March 16
20.) Duke Robillard Blues Band @ the Van Dyck, January 18
21.) The Amy Helm Band @ Club Helsinki, March 1
22.) Over the Rhine with special guest Tift Merritt @ The Egg, October 18
23.) Scotty Mac & the Rockin’ Bonnevilles @ the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, April 6
24.) Knyghts of Fuzz with Ritz Carlton & His Fabulous Band at the Ale House, March 2
25.) Maria Muldaur and the Campbell Brothers @ the Music Haven, July 28

Amy Helm @ Club Helsinki (photo by Eric Gleason)

Timothy Reidy’s Year in Review Video
Mike Hotter’s Favorite Albums of the Year
Fred Rudofsky’s Best Albums of the Year
J Hunter’s Best Concerts of the Year
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part II
J Hunter’s Best Jazz Albums, Part I

Got a Best of 2013 list that you’d like to share with Nippertown readers? Best concerts of the year? Best Local 518 music moments of the year? Best plays? Best art gallery exhibits? Best books by local authors? Best whatever? Please keep it local, but send it along to [email protected]

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