BEST OF 2016: Greg Haymes’ Favorite Concerts, Albums, More
By Greg Haymes
Photograph by Stanley Johnson
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 media outlets, our own contributors and our readers, too.
Nippertown’s Greg Haymes has compiled some lists of his favorite albums, concerts and more:
First of all, I’m only one man. Which means that I can’t be everywhere at once, and I can’t see every concert. I missed a lot of great shows (or at least shows that I thought would be great) this past year – everything from Freakwater at the Low Beat to the terrific Tedeschi Trucks triple-bill at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
So what you read here is just the low-down on my favorite concerts of the year – ones that I actually witnessed – in chronological order. As they say, your results may vary:
FAVORITE CONCERTS OF 2106
2/27: No B.S.! Brass @ Bridge Jazz Festival at Massry Center for the Arts, Albany
2/28: Leon Russell @ The Egg’s Hart Theatre, Albany
4/7: Stewart Copeland, Jon Kimura Parker & Co. @ Massry Center for the Arts, Albany
4/10: Down Every Road: Songs of Merle Haggard @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy
4/16: Brad Mehldau Trio @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
5/5: Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile @ EMPAC, Troy
5/7: The English Beat @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
5/19: The Milk Carton Kids/Margaret Glaspy @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
6/22: Lucius/Margaret Glaspy @ Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park
6/25: The Joey Alexander Trio, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah @ Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs
7/31: Chick Corea Trilogy @ Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, Lenox
8/7: DakhaBrakha @ Music Haven at Central Park, Schenectady
9/17: Galactic, Warpaint at PearlPalooza @ North Pearl Street, Albany
9/18: Rosanne Cash, M Shanghai at FreshGrass @ MASS MoCA, North Adams
9/23: Fear of Strangers @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany
9/24: JD McPherson @ the Hangar On the Hudson, Troy
9/25: Trixie Whitley/Indigo Street @ Club Helsinki, Hudson
10/4: Lake Street Dive/Rubblebucket @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy
10/13: Fantastic Negrito/Bryan Thomas @ Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes
10/26: Elvis Costello & the Imposters @ the Palace Theatre, Albany
11/10: Amanda Palmer @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany
PERFORMANCE THAT MADE ME CRY
Lonesome Val’s “I Forget You Everyday” at Down Every Road: Songs of Merle Haggard @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (April 10)
PERFORMANCE THAT PHYSICALLY GAVE ME SHIVERS
Lucius’ “Born Again Teen” @ Upstate Concert Hall, Clifton Park (June 22)
Trixie Whitley’s “A Thousand Thieves” @ Club Helsinki, Hudson (September 25)
PERFORMANCE THAT MADE ME DANCE… ALMOST AGAINST MY WILL
The English Beat @ The Egg, Albany (May 7)
Galactic @ PearlPalooza, Albany (September 17)
BEST OPENING ACT
Bryan Thomas with Fantastic Negrito at Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes (October 13)
Indigo Street with Trixie Whitley at Club Helsinki, Hudson (September 25)
Fear of Strangers reunion @ the Hollow Bar + Kitchen, Albany (September 23)
BEST MUSICAL THEATER PERFORMANCE
“Broadway Bounty Hunter” @ Barrington Stage Company, Pittsfield (September 1)
“A Night With Janis Joplin” @ theREP, Albany (July 12)
“Once” @ Proctors, Schenectady (May 10)
BEST SURPRISE GUEST
Neil Gaiman with Amanda Palmer at The Egg – doing an impromptu dramatic reading of “Goodnight Moon” (November 10)
TOP 10 MOST DISAPPOINTING CONCERT CANCELLATIONS
10. ZZ Top and the Gregg Allman Band @ the Times Union Center, Albany (August 24). (ZZ Top has been re-scheduled for Proctors on Sunday, February 26.)
9. The California Honeydrops @ Shepard Park, Lake George (July 20).
8. Wanda Jackson @ Club Helsinki, Hudson (March 24).
7. The Cactus Brothers @ the Ale House, Troy (February 20) and again @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (July 22).
6. Buckwheat Zydeco @ Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington (August 20).
5. Kanye West @ the Times Union Center, Albany (December 11).
4. Michelle Shocked @ Putnam Den, Saratoga Springs (July 14 & 21) and again at Newberry Music Hall, Saratoga Springs (July 23).
3. Charles Bradley @ BSP Lounge, Kingston (August 12) and MASS MoCA, North Adams (August 13).
2. Joe Ely @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (July 22).
1. Beacon Jazz Festival featuring the Sun Ra Arkestra @ Seeger Riverfront Park, Beacon (June 25).
FAVORITE ALBUMS OF THE YEAR
Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression (Concord Music): The proto-punk has hinted that this might be his farewell, and if that’s the case, he’s going out on top.
Leonard Cohen: You Want It Darker (Columbia): A perfect swansong for the most literate and intimate of all poets who dreamed of becoming pop stars.
Shearwater: Jet Planes and Oxbows (Sub Pop): Another near-perfect gem from Austin multi-instrumentalist/lead singer Jonathan Meiburg and his crew.
Lucius: Good Grief (Dine Alone); This is the album that should have made look-alike singer-keyboardists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig stars. Really…
Trixie Whitley: Porta Bohemica (MRI): The daughter of the late neo-bluesman Chris Whitley carries on his legacy while foraging her way through paths less taken.
Trevor Morrison, the Scottish Festival Orchestra, more: The Lost Songs of St. Kilda (Decca): There’s magic and grace in the deceptively simple, Satie-like, solo piano recordings captured a decade ago on the desolate Scottish island.
David Bowie: Blackstar (ISO): Pushing the art-pop envelope one last time, as potently as ever…
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels featuring Bill Frisell: I Long to See You (Blue Note): The ground-breaking veteran jazz saxman delves into folk and singer-songwriter genres with the help of Willie Nelson and Norah Jones.
Nik Bartsch’s Mobile: Continuum (ECM): The most hypnotic album of the year. Thanks EMPAC for bringing it to my attention.
Allen Toussaint: American Tunes (Nonesuch): I loved this posthumous release all the way through, but the final title track made me break down and weep uncontrollably.
Anohni: Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian): Co-produced by Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, the debut album as Anohni (formerly the frontperson for Antony & the Johnsons) is as powerful and uncompromising as ever… and more politically pointed.
serpentwithfeet: blisters (Tri Angle): Vocalist Josiah Wise and producer Haxan Cloak have conjured up a most sublime slice of art-soul, at once intimate and enormous.
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Skeleton Tree (Bad Seeds Ltd): A spare, haunting, almost ambient song cycle that makes music out of mourning.
William Bell: This Is Where I Live (Stax): With help from producer/co-songwriter John Leventhal, the R&B great who penned such classics as “Born Under a Bad Sign” and “You Don’t Miss Your Water” revived his career with a stellar southern soul album.
Britta Phillips: Luck or Magic (Double Feature): She’s had a diverse musical career, stretching from “Jem” to Luna, but this is her most potent, personal pop statement.
BEST COMEBACK ALBUM:
William Bell: This Is Where I Live (Stax)
BEST TOTALLY BIZARRE YET FASCINATING ALBUM:
Matmos‘ Ultimate Care II (Thrill Jockey): M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel sound-sourced the entire album exclusively from a Whirlpool washing machine.
FAVORITE LOCAL 518 ALBUMS
John Rice: Walking Songs
Dust Bowl Faeries: Dust Bowl Faeries
Jocelyn & Chris Arndt: Edges
Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys: When It Rains
Ray Murray & the Bomb Squad: Murray
Belle-Skinner: We Shut Our Eyes
The Lazy Suns: The Lazy Suns (aka, Bar Hotel Music)
Adolph Niegsch: White Ghost
Darling Valley: Crooked Orchards
Kimono Dragons: Swirldoggin’ with Kimono Dragons
Coupons: Number One Hit Album
The North and South Dakotas: Been Away
FAVORITE LOCAL 518 EPS
The Sea The Sea: In the Altogether
Hospital Corners: Birdfire
Stellar Young: The Spark Caught
Dryer: Bright Moon Bright Sun
Bathrobe Robots: Bathrobe Robots
Cannon the Brave: Cannon the Brave
Candy Ambulance: I Feel Fantastic
BEST LOCAL 518 RE-ISSUES:
Sara Ayers: Fluorochrome (Vinyl on Demand)
1313 Mockingbird Lane: Have Hearse Will Travel (Cacophone)
BEST LOCAL 518 RECOVERY FROM THE VAULT:
Rocky Velvet: Shuckin’ the Corn: The Great Lost Rocky Velvet Album
MORE BEST OF 2016 LISTS
The New York Times’ Top 10 New Podcasts
Steve Nover’s Top 50 Concerts
Tim Reidy’s Top 10 Concerts In and Out of Albany
Fred Rudofsky’s Favorite Live Music Events
Albert Brooks’ Top Jazz Albums
Rudy Lu’s Top 10 Concerts
Kathy Conway’s Top 10 Concerts
Paste’s Top 10 Comedy Specials
Fact’s Top 10 Album Covers
Entertainment Weekly’s Top 15 Entertainers
Richard Brody’s Top 13 Concerts
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)