LIVE: Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers @ Massry Center for the Arts, 10/7/17

Amy Helm

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Amy Helm and an updated version of her band the Handsome Strangers played to a small but enthusiastic audience to kick off the Premiere Performances concert series at the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts last week.

Included in her new line-up were Woodstock-based guitarist Connor Kennedy and keyboardist Zach Djanikian (who are also both members of Donald Fagen’s touring band the Nightflyers), as well as bassist Ted Peccio (a songwriting collaborator from Nashville) and NYC drummer Shawn Dixon.

Opening with the upbeat, gospel-tinged, NOLA-spiked rhythms of “Didn’t It Rain,” the band chugged through a set featuring Allen Toussaint favorites and the Grateful Dead’s “A Friend of the Devil,” as well as several originals and gospel tunes. The band switched easily from driving, electric rhythm & blues to sweet, four-part harmonies repeatedly, and the audience followed without losing a beat. Helm was at all times moving, shaking and clapping her hands with the music and frequently playing the mandolin to add to the band’s full sound.

Helm was generous in showcasing her bandmates, including filling fans in on their various musical backgrounds. In many ways, Connor Kennedy shared the spotlight with her, not only with his virtuoso guitar work, but also frequently sharing the lead vocal chores.

And there was a surprise, too. After the band played its first encore, they announced they would play covers of Tom Petty as a tribute to the recently passed rock icon. Kennedy had driven to New Jersey before the gig to pick a new double-neck guitar so that “the songs could be played properly.”

Helm had just recently finished recording her sophomore solo album in Los Angeles with some songs co-written with Ted Peccio. I am certainly looking forward to its release, hopefully in the near future.

GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of this concert…

UPCOMING: Amy Helm presents Skylark: A Night of Songbirds, an all-female evening featuring Nicki Bluhm, Cindy Cashdollar, Jennifer Condos, Emily Gimble, Shelley King, Allison Miller, Elizabeth Mitchell, Carolyn Wonderland, Simi Stone, Rachael Yamagata and, of course, Amy Helm at the Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock at 8pm on Friday, November 3. Tickets are $75 & $100.

UPCOMING II: Here’s the round-up of the rest of the 2017-2018 concert season at the Massry Center for the Arts

Amy Helm and Ted Pecchio
Amy Helm & the Handsome Strangers
Zach Djandian
Sean Dixon and Amy Helm
Connor Kennedy
Connor Kennedy, Amy Helm, Ted Pecchio and Zach Djanikian
Connor Kennedy, Amy Helm, Ted Pecchio and Zach Djanikian
1 Comment
  1. Rudy says

    Well done! Amy and her band were incredible!

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