BEST OF 2015: Fred Rudofsky’s Fave Concerts, Albums & More

J.D. McPherson
J.D. McPherson @ The Hangar, 8/31/15 (photo by Ed Conway)

By Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Ed Conway, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Rudy Lu


1. J.D. McPherson with the Mickey James Trio @ The Hangar, Troy, August 31

2. Hamell on Trial @ the Low Beat, Albany, several shows throughout the year

3. Dale Watson & His Lone Stars with Lara Hope & the Ark-Tones @ The Linda, Albany, July 13

4. Rhiannon Giddens with Bhi Bhiman @ The Egg, Albany, April 21

5. Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin & the Guilty Ones with Rebel Darling @ The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, October 28

6. Nicole Atkins @ Club Helsinki, Hudson, February 14

7. Willie Nile @ The Linda, Albany, May 16

8. Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds with Lucky Jukebox Brigade @ The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany, March 28

9. Chuck Prophet with Sarah Borges @ Club Helsinki, Hudson, October 23

10. Booker T. Jones at Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival @ Corning Preserve Boat Launch parking lot, Albany, September 12

11. Ry Cooder, Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White & Friends @ The Egg, Albany, November 15

12. The Outta Sites @ the Beer Belly, Albany, June 2

13. Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience @ the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, Albany, March 14

14. The Joe Krown Trio @ the Parish Public House, Albany, November 13

15. Ray Wylie Hubbard with the Grahams @ The Hangar, Troy, October 24

16. Sarah Borges with Amy Black & the Muscle Shoals Revue @ Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, August 19

17. The Duke Robillard Band @ the Van Dyck, Schenectady, April 3

18. Peter Wolf & the Midnight Travelers @ The Egg, Albany, October 10

19. The Fleshtones with the Lawn Sausages and the Mysteios @ the River Street Pub, Troy, March 8

20. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings @ The Egg, Albany, December 5

21. The Chandler Travis Three-O and David Greenberger at Caffe Lena, Saratoga Springs, November 21

22. The Lustre Kings with Cindy Cashdollar and Kevin Maul @ The Hangar, Troy, November 28

23. Mavis Staples with Joan Osborne @ Proctors, Schenectady, November 6

24. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear with Red Haired Strangers @ The Hangar, Troy, December 12

25. Buddy Guy with Tom Hambridge @ The Egg, Albany, November 11


1) Call Me Insane: Dale Watson & His Lone Stars
2) Let the Good Times Roll: J.D. McPherson
3) Lost Time: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
4) Under the Savage Sky: Barrence Whitfield & the Savages
5) The Acoustic and Blues Roots of Duke Robillard: Duke Robillard
6) Tomorrow Is My Turn: Rhiannon Giddens
7) Goin’ Green: The Lustre Kings
Go Green8) It’s a Holiday Soul Party: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
9) Born to Play Guitar: Buddy Guy
10) Bocce and Bourbon: The Comfortable Songs of Chandler Travis and David Greenberger: Various artists
11) Panhandle Rambler: Joe Ely
12) Still: Richard Thompson
13) Didn’t It Rain: Amy Helm
14) The Ruffian’s Misfortune: Ray Wylie Hubbard
15) Outskirts of Love: Shemekia Copeland
16) Father’s Day: Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters
17) The Weather Below: Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds
18) Eatin’ at Me: Gurf Morlix
19) Worthy: Bettye LaVette
20) Servant of Love: Patty Griffin
21) The Muscle Shoals Sessions: Amy Black
22) Crosseyed Heart: Keith Richards
23) Skeleton Crew: Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear
24) Gates of Gold: Los Lobos
25) Bound by the Blues: Sonny Landreth


1) The Soul Manifesto 1964-1970: Otis Redding
2) Faith and Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976: The Staple Singers
3) Truckdriver, Gladiator, Mule: Neko Case
4) 1+: The Beatles
5) 1970-1975: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything…: The Faces
6) The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: Bob Dylan
7) Live at the Fillmore East October 4th & 5th, 1968: Sly & the Family Stone
8) Directly from My Heart: Little Richard
9) 12 Classic Albums 1947-1962: Dexter Gordon
10) Buzzin’ the Blues: Slim Harpo


Loudon Wainwright

1) “Ten Klicks South of Whiskey,” a play by Ryan Smithson, local author and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran. This may be the first great play about the two wars that have defined our century. Smithson’s play is an intricate series of candid monologues and vignettes about the lives of soldiers before, during and after deployment. The debut of this play on November 13, featuring brilliant, gutsy performances by the Averill Park High School Off-Broadway Players, wowed an audience, especially veterans and their families. Featuring horror, humor, grim scenarios, courage and optimistic closure, this is a stage work that will resonate for decades to come.

2) “Surviving Twin: A Posthumous Collaboration,” a one-man performance by Loudon Wainwright III. Wainwright’s music, mixed with personal monologues culled from the extensive writings of his late father and slides from his family’s rich past, was captivating. Nature vs. nurture, legacy and personal achievement, fate and free will, all were explored by the heart of a poet who revealed how deeply acceptance and loss endure.


1) Gary Clark Jr.’s The Story of Sonny Boy Slim. A tremendously gifted guitarist – the future of the blues – attempts to indulge all his music tastes and delivers a much-hyped yet watered down studio album that has only three decent songs.

2) Grace Potter’s Midnight. A tremendously gifted singer aims for vapid pop stardom by turning her back on her roots-rockin’ past. Sell out comes to mind. Hopefully, Potter will reclaim what made her such a compelling music force back when she and the Nocturnals would rock out soulfully at Revolution Hall.

3) Shuggie Otis at The Egg, Albany. Otis had little rapport with the audience, which made the shifts from straight-up blues to spacey soul-funk rather cold and jarring. “Tell us a bit about the songs!” I found myself screaming in my head. The vocals were lost in the mix, and Otis, not a strong singer, was straining throughout much of the show. His guitar work was impeccable, but the band was rather pedestrian until they woke up for the encores. It was barely a 70-minute concert. Weird…

4) Buddy Guy’s encore at The Egg, Albany. The blues legend was hitting on all cylinders until the encore, which was an overlong, extraneous mash-up of Hendrix and Cream. As a lifelong fan, all I could think was, “Why can’t you just stick to the rich trove of songs you’ve written, Buddy?”

5) Not getting a ticket for the sold-out Tedeschi Trucks Band show at The Egg, Albany. I’m still kicking myself about that.


Wendell Holmes
Wendell Holmes of the Holmes Brothers

Popsy Dixon and Wendell Holmes of the Holmes Brothers: They were two-thirds of the best band I ever saw, and friends of mine for half a lifetime. Their NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award in 2014 was long overdue, but I’m proud to know they got to enjoy the recognition.

B.B. King: The King of the Blues. One of a kind. My favorite musician of all. I’ll never forget sitting on his tour bus after a show at the Palace Theatre and talking with him about everything under the sun.

Allen Toussaint: Was there anything he couldn’t do? Singer, songwriter, pianist, producer and inspiration to so many in New Orleans and beyond for several decades.

Cynthia Robinson: Trumpeter and vocalist with Sly & the Family Stone. She was ahead of her time. Just listen to her performance on “Dance to the Music.” WOW!

Mighty Sam McClain: A soul, blues and gospel singer-songwriter of the highest order. His life story was incredible, and he never forgot where he came from.

Dick Quinn: Legendary fan of live music and friend to many. The Capital Region lost a great one.

Stanley Johnson’s Favorite Things
J Hunter’s Top 25 Jazz Recordings, Part I
Tim Livingston’s Coolest Rock Event/Album That You Probably Never Heard About
Albert Brooks’ Top 5 Vocal Albums
J Hunter’s Top 25 Jazz Recordings, Part II
Rudy Lu’s Top 10 Favorite Concerts
Tim Livingston’s Coolest Rock Event That You Probably Never Heard About, No. 2
J Hunter’s 10 Best Concerts… And More
Gene Sennes’ Fave Recordings
Ed Conway’s Top 10 Concerts
Tim Mack’s Top 10 Concerts

  1. Stanley Johnson says

    Very enlightening!

  2. Richard Brody says

    Fred – a very busy and interesting year – I think that you have wrestled the “energizer bunny” award away from Sam Bush

  3. Dave Farison says

    Nice list, Fred. I was able to join you for 4-5 of these shows, and can’t agree more w/ your Grace Potter disappointment. She was so great at Rev Hall back in … (you still have those pics?).

    Thanks, and Happy New Year.

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