BEST OF 2015: Greg Haymes’ Top Concerts, Albums & More

By Greg Haymes
Video by Timothy Raab
Photographs by Rudy Lu, T. Charles Erickson


For me, nothing in 2015 compared to the thrill of (somewhat belatedly) discovering twentysomething Chicago singer-songwriter Ryley Walker. Evoking the American Primitive guitar stylings pioneered by John Fahey and Leo Kottke that were later carried into the 21st century by such fretboard masters as Daniel Bachman and Steve Gunn, Walker’s mind-boggling finger-picking is rooted in traditional folk, but applied to a more avant-garde, neo-classical aesthetic. And his fearless, holy howl of a voice resonates with echoes of Tim Buckley at his most adventurous.

His sophomore album Primrose Green was hands-down my most-listened-to record of the year, and I caught three of his four Greater Nippertown tour-stops – each time with different accompaniment. (Sadly I missed his stop at BSP Lounge in Kingston).



Art Neville and George Porter
Art Neville and George Porter of the Funky Meters @ Massry Center for the Arts, 4/16/15

January 3: “Home Bass 2: A Little Help for Our Friends” @ Club Helsinki, Hudson. Replacements/Guns ‘N Roses bassist Tommy Stinson organized his second annual benefit for Habitat for Humanity featuring an impressive line-up of Happiness, Rhett Miller, Elvis Perkins, Jesse Malin, Dust Bowl Faeries, Ruby Stinson and others.
March 7: St. Vincent, Jenny Hval @ Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park
April 15: Sufjan Stevens, Cold Specks @ the Palace Theatre, Albany
April 16: The Funky Meters @ the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, Albany
April 21: Rhiannon Giddens, Bhi Bhiman @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
May 16: Ryley Walker, Pigeons @ the Half Moon, Hudson
June 12: Lonesome Val Haynes at “Sirens of Song” also featuring MotherJudge, Olivia Quillio, Ashley Sofia @ The Hangar, Troy
June 27: Ryley Walker at Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, North Adams
June 28: The Charles Lloyd Quartet (with Bill Frisell) at Solid Sound @ MASS MoCA, North Adams
July 6: The Lone Bellow @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany

July 15: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue @ Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park
September 20: Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester at FreshGrass @ MASS MoCA, North Adams
October 6: Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
October 12: Ryley Walker, Michael Chapman @ the Low Beat, Albany
October 15: Kat Edmonson @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
October 22: Mother Falcon & Ben Sollee @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
October 28: Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones, Rebel Darling @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany
November 6: Mavis Staples & Joan Osborne @ Proctors, Schenectady
November 15: Ry Cooder, Ricky Skaggs, Sharon White & Friends @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany
December 13: The A.D.’s at “Music for Mark Wilken” also featuring the Cooter Brown Band, Crash Course, MoonShine Junkies and FlashBack @ the Best Western Inn, Cobleskill



Lonesome Val Haynes
The Gray Things
The A.D.’s



Ryley Walker: Primrose Green (Dead Oceans)
Africa Express: Terry Riley’s In C Mali (Transgressive)
Rhiannon Giddens: Tomorrow Is My Turn and Factory Girl (Nonesuch)
Sufjan Stevens: Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
Original Broadway Cast: Hamilton: An American Musical (Atlantic)
The Lone Bellow: Then Came the Morning (Descendant)
Keith Richards: Crosseyed Heart (Mindless)
Maura Kennedy: Villanelle: The Songs of Maura Kennedy and B.D. Love (Varèse Sarabande)
Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material (Decca)
Bettye LaVette: Worthy (Cherry Red)


Alabama Shakes: Sound & Color (ATO)
Heather Nova: The Way It Feels (Embassy of Sound)
Cassandra Wilson: Coming Forth by Day (Legacy/Sony)
Houndmouth: Little Neon Limelight (Rough Trade)
Roger Lion: Roger Lion (Team Love)
Bjork: Vulnicura (One Little Indian)
Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit (Mom + Pop Music)
Joe Ely: Panhandle Rambler (Rack ‘Em)
Kurt Vile: b’lieve i’m goin down… (Matador)
FFS: FFS (Domino)
Various artists: Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton (Tompkins Square)
Will Kimbrough: Wings (Daphne)



The Parlor - Wahzu Wahzu

The Parlor: Wahzu Wahzu (B3nson)
MaryLeigh Roohan: Living Alone (
Nelson Esposito Quintana: None of the Above (
Annie & the Hedonists: Tonal Indulgence (
Party Boat: Honey, Baby, Darling (
Chandler Travis/David Greenberger: Bocce & Bourbon: The Comfortable Songs of Chandler Travis & David Greenberger (Iddy Biddy)
Shana Falana: Set Your Lightning Fire Free (Team Love)
The Weasels: Also Sprach Larrythustra (
The Lustre Kings: Go Green (Wild Boar)
Eric Margan: Tabernacle Choir (


Kevin McKrell: I Wish I Had a Boat (
Eastbound Jesus: Hollerin’ (
Olivia Quillio: Get Down and Pray (
Sean Rowe: Her Songs (Anti-)
Jesus Christ & the Hallucinogenic Allstars: Cosmic Annihilation (JCHA Music)
Mike & Ruthy Band: Bright as You Can (Thirty Tigers)
Tim Olsen Band: Creature of Habit (Planet Arts)



Audra McDonald (Josie Hogan). Photograph T. Charles Erickson.
Audra McDonald in “Moon for the Misbegotten” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival (photograph T. Charles Erickson)

1. “Grinders Stand” @ Bridge Street Theatre, Catskill
2. “Moon for the Misbegotten” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williamstown
3. “Surviving Twin: A Posthumous Collaboration” @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
4. “Souvenir” @ Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany



1. Warhol by the Book @ Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, March 7-August 16
2. “El Anatsui: Five Decades” @ The School: Jack Shainman Gallery, Kinderhook, May 17-September 26
3. “Traces: Mary Pat Wager + Rachel Baxter” @ the Arts Center of the Capital Region, Troy, October 30–December 20

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
Fred Rudofsky’s Fave Concerts, Albums & More
Don Wilcock’s Top 10 Blues Albums
Steven Stock’s Top 10 Box Sets
Richard Brody’s Top 17 Concerts… And More
Steven Stock’s Top 10 Studio Albums/Live Albums
Tim Reidy’s Top 10 Concerts (Albany, Non-Albany)
Steve Nover’s Top 60 Concerts

  1. Todd Nelson says

    Thank you Greg for both NEQ and Lonesome Val! Nippertown has the most comprehensive music coverage in the 518 area. Keep up the great work.

  2. Rudy says

    Impressive!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wish I’d been at the Trombone Shorty show–that man and his band throw it down.

  3. Tim says

    Riley’s “Rainbow in Curved Air” opened to door to a new world of modern music for me a long time ago in 1969. Thank-you Greg for bringing ‘In C’ Mali to my attention. At the Africa Express website you will find a delightful INTERACTIVE video of an entire live 43 minute performance. You can change the camera angle perspectives and also zoom in on some specific instruments. It’s fun and mesmerizing. I suggest connecting to a surround sound audio system before you start.

  4. Val Haynes says

    Thanks Greg!

  5. Val Haynes says

    Hey Greg, thanks so much for the excellent review; I’d never seen it before!

  6. Stanley Johnson says

    I’ll make a point of looking for Ryley Walker’s next visit. That Primrose Green video brings to mind the guitar playing of the long-gone and almost forgotten Richard Farina (whom I didn’t discover until this year). And great to hear Val Haynes is back.

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