LIVE: Commander Cody & His Modern Day Airmen @ the Hangar on the Hudson, 4/30/17
Review by Steven Stock
Photographs by Ed Conway
I probably shouldn’t tell you how enjoyable it was to finally see Commander Cody on his home turf last month, nearly 40 years after first encountering him in Geoffrey Stokes’ book “Star Making Machinery.” The Hangar on the Hudson was packed to the gills with cheerful revelers, dancing couples finding what space they could in the corners of the room, some people dressed up, others decidedly casual.
Even on a cool spring evening everyone was dripping with sweat. If anyone else decides to show up next time we risk triggering one of my favorite Yogi Berra aphorisms: “That place is so crowded, no one goes there anymore!”
“Too Much Fun” was an apt way to begin the rollicking performance, the Commander’s barrelhouse piano sharing solo space with Kevin Maul’s exquisite lap steel and Mark Emerick’s blazing lead guitar. The nearly-two-hour set that followed featured a select few originals – “They Kicked Me Out of the Band,” “Oh Mama Mama,” “Wine Do Yer Stuff” and, of course, the obligatory “world’s saddest song,” “Seeds and Stems (Again)” – alongside a brief survey of boogie-woogie, Texas swing, country and early rock.
To the band’s credit, it all blended together wonderfully, like Bacardi and Coke. The Modern Day Airmen had no problem seguing from Buck Owens’ weepie ballad “Crying Time” to a gritty take on Chuck Berry’s “Nadine” followed by Hoyt Axton’s “Lightnin’ Bar Blues,” the latter featuring drummer Steve Barbuto on vocals and Graham Tichy joining his father John Tichy and Emerick in the burgeoning guitar army.
There was already a ridiculous amount of talent crowded onto the small stage, but nonetheless the band somehow found room for Mark Gamsjager from openers the Lustre Kings to inject a welcome dose of rockabilly into “20 Flight Rock.” The refrain “too tired to rock” seemed more than a little ironic as a roomful of people bopped, jitterbugged and rocked with abandon. Hope you can join us next time, but please, leave a little space for the dancers!
COMMANDER CODY & HIS MODERN DAY AIRMEN SET LIST
Too Much Fun
Riot in Cell Block Number Nine
Rock That Boogie
Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)
Roll Your Own
Truck Driving Man
What’s the Matter Now?
House of Blue Lights
It Should Have Been Me
They Kicked Me Out of the Band
Oh Mama Mama
Lightnin’ Bar Blues
Wine Do Yer Stuff
Hot Rod Lincoln
20 Flight Rock
Seeds and Stems (Again)
Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar
UPCOMING: Commander Cody & His Modern Day Airmen are also slated to play the Bikes, Brews & BBQ Fest at Wood Park in Lake George on Saturday, June 10, sharing the stage with Molly Hatchet and the Mallett Brothers Band. Tickets are $25, $35 & VIP $75.