BEST OF 2016: Richard Brody’s Top 13 Concerts
Story by Richard Brody
Photograph by Michael Hochanadel
Yes, it’s that time of year once again – best of the year list-time, that is. We’re gathering together Best of 2016 from various media outlets, our own contributors and our readers, too. (Sure, just email ’em to us…)
Here’s Richard Brody’s list of the top 13 concerts of the year:
13. Alex Skolnick Trio @ the Van Dyck, September 16
Best known as the guitar shredder for Testament, Mr. Skolnick has been bringing jazz into his trio outings. And on this evening he gave us originals and everything from Ozzy to Django with a little Prince in between. It was a “what’s he gonna do next” set that he got just right.
12. The Fab Faux @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, April 30
Although they were honoring the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Revolver, this was anything but a tribute band. They brought originality and innovation to their rendition of the evening songs that would have put smiles on the faces of the boys from Liverpool.
11. JD McPherson @ the Hangar on the Hudson, September 25
A great band that gave us an evening of high energy rootsy rock n roll that had the crowd, glasses held high, dancing from the first note to the last.
10. Richard Thompson @ The Egg, June 10
This was anything but a typical RT show. He had been commissioned to write music to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Great Britain’s engagement in WWI. Thompson’s music accompanied lyrics taken from letters that soldiers had sent home. It was beautifully done with the accompaniment of the Next Festival of Emerging Artists Strings conducted by Peter Askim. And if the evening’s reminder about the horror of war was too solemn, RT’s final encore “Fergus Laing,” a humorous dig at The Donald, left us laughing. Who could have known?
9. David Bromberg Big Band with Larry Campbell, Keb Mo and Jorma Kaukonen @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, April 3
The Big Band was fine, but what put this belated 70th birthday celebration for Mr. Bromberg on my list were the guests. The different combos that Bromberg, Campbell, Keb Mo and Jorma formed might have been unrehearsed, but they took the evening to another level.
8. Peter Wolf/Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams Band @ The Egg, May 13
An evening of great guitar playing – Larry, Teresa & Band could have headlined. Their rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Big River” brought the house down. And then there was headliner, Peter Wolf, who reconfigured some of his classics and had guitar great Duke Levine leading his band.
7. Lyle Lovett/Robert Earl Keen @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, September 29
Two old friends who met 40 years ago as students at Texas A&M swapped songs and stories that were topped by their co-written “The Front Porch Song.”
6. Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester/Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys @ the Music Haven, July 17
I had seen the Earls two days earlier at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, but who could pass up an all-star band led by Jerry Douglas. A great set by a phenomenal band and our own Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys, who more than warmed up the stage.
5. Jack DeJohnette Trio/Indo Pak Coalition @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, December 9
If you are too busy for opening acts, you missed a great one. The Indo Pak Coalition, led by sax man Rudresh Mahanthappa, integrated jazz with traditional Indian music that was highlighted by a Ravi Shankar cover. The Jack DeJohnette Trio was led by drummer extraordinaire DeJohnette, who also provided highlights on the piano and, supported by Ravi Coltrane on saxophone and Matthew Garrison on electronically infused bass, took us for a ride into the musical future.
4. James McMurtry w/Michael Eck & Sten Isachsen @ the Hangar on the Hudson, February 24
Mr. McMurtry has become my favorite lyricist. His songs, like great short stories, leave you knowing but wanting more. And our own lyrical storyteller, Michael Eck, set the table quite well for Mr. McMurtry.
3. Jazz at the Lake @ Shepard Park, September 17
What can beat a view of Lake George, free admission and a stellar line-up of the Brubeck Brothers Band, Charenee Wade, Tizer featuring violinist Karen Briggs and the DIVA Jazz Orchestra? You can always count on Paul Pines to put together a weekend of great music.
2. The Bill Charlap Quintet @ Skidmore College’s Zankel Music Center, July 5
This was my first time seeing pianist Bill Charlap, but it won’t be my last. His trio – drummer Kenny Washington and bassist Peter Washington augmented by Warren Vache on trumpet and Houston Person on saxophone – was just stunning!!
1. Greyfox Bluegrass Festival @ the Walsh Farm, July 15
This has become my favorite event of the year – a great venue, fabulous music for more hours than I can stay awake for, played by great musicians. Can’t wait for 2017…
MORE BEST OF 2016 LISTS
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 27 Albums
Ed Conway’s Top However Many Shows
American Songwriter’s Top 10 Songs
J Hunter’s Top Jazz Albums (Part Deux)
Newsweek’s Top 11 Documentary Films
Don Wilcock’s Top 10 Blues Albums
The Chicago Tribune’s Top Four Poetry Books
Pitchfork’s Top 25 Music Videos
Stanley A. Johnson’s Top 10 Favorite Musical Places
Time Magazine’s Top 10 Nonfiction Books
TV Guide’s Top Television Shows
J Hunter’s Top Jazz Albums (Part 1)
Esquire’s Top 25 Movies (So Far)