BEST OF 2018: Amy Modesti’s Top Events

Ana Popovic
Ana Popovic @ Cohoes Music Hall, April 16, 2018

By Amy Modesti
Photograph by Tim Reidy


Corning Museum of Glass’ “Glass Barge” @ Riverfront Park, Troy (June 22) and @ Waterford Town Park, Waterford (June 24): This summer, the Corning Museum of Glass traveled the Hudson River and Erie Canal, from Brooklyn to Corning, to provide arts patrons and glass art fans an opportunity to see how glass can be blown into beautiful art pieces in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of glassmaking transportation. I had an opportunity to board the Glass Barge at Waterford Town Park to watch the 30-minute presentation of glass being transformed into beautiful glass art and even took a tour through the Lois McClure, sponsored by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, as well as watching the presentation days before along the Riverfront Park grounds.

“Guitar Reinterpreted” @ Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany (July 5-August 12): I had a nice time viewing various guitar-inspired art pieces, paintings and mixed-media pieces inside the Gallery at The Rep during the event’s opening reception. Patrons could participate in a silent auction to bid and own a home-made piece. This was part of a fundraiser for their education program as well as promotion for their Johnny Cash tribute performance, Ring of Fire.

Paleface @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (July 20): Not only was this an interesting, entertaining performance from the duo of Paleface and Monica “Mo” Samalot at their debut at the Rustic Barn Pub, it was also neat to see how Paleface (also a visual artist/painter) used his talents in both music and art to display and sell his hand-crafted painted drum pads. Their sound and their vibe reminded me of local duo, Sirsy.

“Anima Mundi” by Emerald Rose Whipple (February 1-March 3) and “One Leaf Does Not a Cyprus Make” by Shawn Theodore (September 13-October 20) @ HVCC’s Teaching Gallery, Troy: These two exhibitions at the HVCC Teaching Gallery were two of the best exhibitions that I have viewed at the gallery. I admired how Whipple used her painting talents to create realistic scenes of what youth culture is all about. Looking at her paintings was like looking at a photograph. Meanwhile, Theodore used journalistic photography to capture the beauty of African American women in both a real and fictionalized experiences within today’s environment. The scenes that he was able to capture through his lens were beautiful and breath-taking.


“Stories From My Living Room: A Night of Storytelling and Music with Greg Aidala” @ Eden Café, Loudonville (March 23): I had the honor of photo shooting the local musician and comedian at his stage debut at the Eden Café. The event, full of live music, comedy and storytelling drawn from his own life and many adventures, was for me, inspiring, entertaining and interesting. It allowed me to get to learn more about my talented friend while I was involved in capturing this special moment for him.


2018 has certainly been the year for entertaining live local and regional music within Greater Nippertown as well as its vibrant arts scene. This year alone in our music scene has been the time for band reunions, new band formations, partial band break-ups, many fun festive charitable events and community happenings, amazing tribute performances and even fun memorable moments from national acts that had brought me back to my childhood that made me relive the ’90s era (I was born in 1989). You will be able to see from all the events that I had attended all year, how much our music scene and arts scene has continued to evolve, and I hope that from this review that you will be able to learn about these acts and the happenings that are happening in our community.


Ana Popovic with Girl Blue @ the Cohoes Music Hall, Cohoes (April 16): At my second time watching the Serbian blues guitarist at the Cohoes Music Hall, Popovic continued to raise the bar high for the blues, as she performed great originals and even some cover tunes in support of her Trilogy album. Albany singer-songwriter Girl Blue was her opening act.

Commander Cody & His Modern-Day Airmen with The Lustre Kings @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (April 22): For my first time attending a Commander Cody show at the Hangar, I found his show – with opening act, The Lustre Kings – to be very entertaining and fun. To be able to see the Commander play the piano was impressive as he performed his hit song, “Hot Rod Lincoln,” among other songs with his former bandmate John Tichy and guest appearances by Mark Gamsjager and Graham Tichy.

Great White @ Jennings Landing, Albany (June 7): The kick-start to the 2018 Alive at Five Concert Series at Jennings Landing was alive and rocking hard with ’80s rock band, Great White. The “One Bitten Twice Shy” band was not shy at all as they brought their hits to the Alive at 5 stage.

The B.B. King Blues Band featuring Tito Jackson with The Age @ Corning Preserve, Albany (June 28): The blues continues to be alive and well as former members of B.B. King’s band came together with the Jackson 5’s Tito Jackson to perform the music of blues great, B.B. King, as well a Jackson 5 medley performed in memory of both his brother, Michael and his father, Joe Jackson, who had recently passed away.

Third World @ Jennings Landing, Albany (July 19): Although I wasn’t familiar with their music apart from their hit song, “Now That We Found Love,” Third World was able to bring reggae back to Greater Nippertown in full force and put on an entertaining show during the Alive at 5 Concert Series.

Grand Funk Railroad with Super 400 @ Corning Preserve, Albany (August 1): I wasn’t able to catch the entire performance from both Super 400 and Grand Funk Railroad since I was completing the installation work for my photography exhibition at Alacrity Frame Workshop, but for the last half hour that I was able to attend, I heard “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “I’m Your Captain” and “We’re an American Band,” all of which sounded great.

Toronzo Cannon & the Chicago Way with the Matt Mirabile Band @ Central Park, Schenectady (August 19): Chicago blues guitarist and Chicago Transit Authority bus driver Cannon put on an amazing performance of blues to close out the Music Haven Concert Series. I was wowed by his passion and his solos that he brought alive throughout the night. Opening act, the Matt Mirabile Band – featuring Jill Hughes, Keith Pray, Steve Aldi, Andy Hearn, Doug Jacobs and Matt Mirabile – also performed an electric set of blues and a beautiful tribute to the late Aretha Franklin with their cover of “Chain of Fools.”

Blue Oyster Cult with Kristen Capolino @ Empire State Plaza, Albany (August 23): Although I had missed Kristen Capolino’s set and the first part of BOC’s set, I was able to hear an hour’s worth of live, entertaining rock and roll including “Godzilla,” “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Burning for You” among other classic tunes.

Keith Anderson @ Schaghticoke Fair, Schaghticoke Fairgrounds, Schaghticoke (September 3): Nashville recording artist Keith Anderson, made a stop at the Schaghticoke Fair under the sweltering Labor Day heat to perform his country hits, “XXL” and others as part of the 199th Annual Schaghticoke Fair. This was the first time I was able to watch this country crooner perform live.

Hops and Harvest Festival featuring the Infamous Stringdusters, Honeysuckle and the Lonely Heartstrings Band @ Empire State Plaza, Albany (September 19): It was a successful first-ever Hops and Harvest Festival on the Empire State Plaza grounds this past fall. This was the first time that I had ever heard of these popular bluegrass acts performing on two local stages for free.

Dwight Yoakam with Levi Hummon @ The Palace Theatre, Albany (October 7): I had a blast listening and watching Dwight Yoakam dance around the Palace stage while performing a string of covers and many of his top hit songs that were popular on the country charts. The “Fast as You” and “Guitars and Cadillacs” singer can still bring the hillbilly music and rock & roll out on stage.

Tinsley Ellis and Tommy Castro @ The Swyer Theatre, The Egg Performing Arts Center, Albany (November 8): A special thank you goes out to my friend, Margo Berch Singer for giving me the opportunity to attend the TNT Tour featuring live blues from two entertaining acts, Tinsley Ellis and Grammy nominated performer, Tommy Castro. This was the first time that I had heard these two great performers, all to benefit the Capital Region Blues Network, who hosted this entertaining event.


4th of July Celebration featuring Moriah Formica and Smash Mouth, Empire State Plaza, Albany (July 4): Shrek dolls were held in the air as pop-rock band Smash Mouth was singing and bringing the ’90s back to the Empire State Plaza, performing their songs “I’m a Believer,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Walking on the Sun” and other fun, dancing tunes. Smash Mouth, along with “The Voice” contestant Moriah Formica, both put on amazing and entertaining performances leading up to the fireworks display over the Plaza.

En Vogue with Wurliday @ Empire State Plaza, Albany (July 11): I felt my childhood playlist continue to play a week later with the return of another ’90s-based band, En Vogue. Listening and dancing along to them performing such hits as “Free Your Mind,” “What a Man”, “Push It” (minus Salt & Peppa), among countless others certainly brought me back to the days of attending my middle and high school dances.

Justin Timberlake with Francesco Bates @ Times Union Center, Albany (October 20): Another thing crossed off my bucket list – watching the former *NSYNC singer Justin Timberlake perform live on the Times Union Center stage. Timberlake was certainly part of my childhood as I was growing up and listening to early pop-icons on the radio. On his Man of the Woods Tour, Timberlake was still able to bring “Sexy Back” to the main stage as he sang both new hits and classic hits from his Justified, Future Sex/Love Sounds, 20/20 Experience and Man of the Woods albums, despite his bruised vocal cords. The artistry of the stage set-up from the song choices to Timberlake’s overall performance (with some assistance from the Tennessee Kids) was amazing. This had me singing and moving along to his songs throughout the night and long after the show.


Soul Serenade @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (February 17) & the Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (September 22): Local Allman Brothers tribute act, Soul Serenade, has been spreading the love of the Allman Brothers Band in 2018 as they had made their appearances at both The Hangar and the Rustic Barn. The band – consisting of local musicians Josh Bloomfield (drums/vocals), Frank Daley (guitar), Joe Daley (drums), Brian Mangini (piano), Michael Newman (bass) and Jeremy Walz (guitar/vocals) – continued to meet my expectations and entertain me in their tribute to this legendary band.

The Broken Hearts @ Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Troy (March 9) & Rustic Barn Pub (Featuring the Tradition) (November 16): I was impressed by this local Tom Petty tribute band when I had first watched them make their stage debut at the Dinosaur. Band members Johnny Clifford (guitar/vocals), Jimmy Cappello (bass, from Blue Hand Luke) and their drummer and keyboardist pay homage to the late Tom Petty. From seeing them perform at the Dino BBQ, Philly’s and recently, the Rustic Barn Pub, they continue to impress the crowd with their tribute.

Blue Machine @ The Hangar on The Hudson, Troy (May 11): If you thought their tribute to Jimi Hendrix last year at Dino BBQ was amazing, well, think again. Blue Machine, featuring Tommy Love, Super 400, select singers from the Troy Music Academy and other guest performers, put on one of the most amazing tributes to the Rolling Stones (and one of their best musical performances to date) at the Hangar. This was a special show to be a part of to watch my friends pay homage to these rock and roll legends while celebrating my birthday week. Thank you again Blue Machine for singing Happy Birthday to me after the first set This was a concert and moment that I won’t forget.

Gabriel Sanchez @ Rockin’ on the River Concert Series, Riverfront Park, Troy (July 19): One of this year’s Rockin’ on the River concerts featured a tribute to musical icon, Prince, featuring music from Gabriel Sanchez and his band. This group was able to entertain the summer crowd in their homage to the music legend.

Spring Fest featuring The Wheel @ Twisted Vine Wine & Tap, Delmar (June 9): I was able to catch a section of this tribute show that The Wheel and members of Raisinhead performed in homage to The Band, performing the entirety of the album from The Last Waltz. From the bit that I was able to catch, the tribute was entertaining and fun to attend as part of the fifth annual spring festival.


The Back 40 Band @ Vapor, Saratoga Springs (January 5): I had an opportunity to support the return of the Back 40 Band by photographing and video recording their debut performance at Vapor at the beginning of this year. This was all in support of their 20th Anniversary Reunion tour. They have been continuing to perform great country tunes throughout the year at Powers Park and even as part of Foodstock 4 at the Rustic Barn Pub. Happy 20th Anniversary Back 40 Band.

Scotty Mac & the Rockin’ Bonnevilles @ Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Troy (January 27): The band made their return to the concert stage at the Dinosaur multiple times at the venue and at select events this year in support of their 21st anniversary together. The last time I saw them was five years ago at the CRBN Blues Fundraiser at the Fuller Roadhouse Grille, and it has been nice to see them return to the stage to perform once again.

Foodstock 3 @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (March 4) and Foodstock 4 @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (November 4): This new annual benefit event, put on by local musician Bob Gamache continued to be a successful benefit event last year at the Rustic Barn Pub. Proceeds from Foodstock went towards the Capital Region Regional Food Bank. This event featured live music from acts such as The Tyes, Diva & the Dirty Boys, Soul Sky, Off the Record and many others who have donated their time towards this great cause.

Dustin Mele Memorial Concert @ Revolution Hall, Troy (March 10): The fifth annual benefit event continued to be one of the top benefit concerts held in Greater Nippertown. Last year’s event to benefit the American Suicide Prevention and other organizations, featured live music from Diva & the Dirty Boys, Soul Sky, a special entertaining reunion from The Burners U.K. and Super 400/Blue Machine. Another one of my favorite events to attend in the community every year.

Greasy Fingers Band @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (April 7): I had the honor of assisting my friends in the Greasy Fingers Band in live streaming and photographing this year’s benefit event held at the Rustic Barn. For this event, all the proceeds went towards the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the LLS Benefit and Open Mike Jam.

Joe Manupella Memorial Block Party @ Forty-One Sports Bar and Grille, Lansingburg (April 28): This annual walking/running event and block party has been held in Lansingburg for the past three years. Last year’s musical block party featured live music from both Emerald City and the Matt Mirabile Band featuring Alison Jacobs, who returned to perform together on stage after almost a five-year hiatus. It was a nice surprise to see Jacobs return to the band, and I’m looking forward to seeing what could happen for this group in 2019.

518 SongFest @ The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Albany (May 18): This was the first time that I had an opportunity to attend the 518 SongFest at The Egg Performing Arts Center. This benefit event, put on by members of WEXT, featured music from Sandy McKnight’s Pop Clique, Sydney Worthley, Super 400, Julie Gold and Moriah Formica, all to raise money towards Exit 97.7 WEXT and Columbia Arts Team.

Remembering Ernie Williams & Rocky’s Music Studio Blues Camp @ The Hangar, Troy (May 19) and Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (August 12): These two blues events, put on by Rocky Petrocelli of Rocky’s Music Studio, have been held in memory of local bluesman Ernie Williams, as well as other local blues musicians that have passed away. The Hangar tribute featured music from students from Rocky’s Music Studio, The Young Wildcats, as well as Ernie’s original band members. The Rustic Barn Pub featured music from The Young Wildcats, as well as guest performances from Petrocelli, Willie Pierce and Rich Surrano. All the proceeds went towards the Ernie Williams Memorial Scholarship.

Dylan Storm Benefit Show @ River Street Pub, Troy (June 24): After catching a part of the Great Car Race along River Street, I stopped by to support Sly Fox & The Hustlers’ bassist, Dylan Storm James Wilcox, who needed assistance due to a house fire at his home. This event featured music from Avenue A, The Tradition, Sly Fox & The Hustlers, and other bands and special guests that came to perform and support Dylan and his family during this time of need.

Enchanted City Festival @ Troy (September 15): I photographed this fifth annual event for my local newsweekly, The Eastwick Press. Many local patrons came to the city to dress up in Victorian and steam punk attire to perform live music, display their cars and the latest technology, and sell clothing, and other belongings throughout the city. This street fair, along with the annual River Festival and the Troy Pig Out, are all fun events to attend in the City of Troy.

Springfest featuring Diva & the Dirty Boys @ Spindles On Remsen, Cohoes (May 5): This annual spring festival held in Cohoes as part of the Cinco de Mayo celebration featured live music from the local group Diva & the Dirty Boys, who always put on an entertaining set of music ranging from ’60s cover tunes to original songs that will make you dance on a warm spring day.

10th Anniversary Open Mike Jam @ Brunswick BBQ, Cropseyville (June 6): This was a special moment – not only was this the first time that I had attended the jam, but it was the tenth anniversary of the monthly jam sessions. This jam was dedicated to the late, local music super-fan, Dick Quinn.

RadioRadioX Open House featuring Off the Record @ RadioRadioX, Waterford (September 27) and Funeral for The X @ the Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (April 14): Congratulations to RadioRadioX for officially making their online radio debut last year. After the sudden ending of The X radio station on air, RadioRadioX founder Art Fredette, announced the formation of the new station, “RadioRadioX” during the Funeral of the X event at The Hangar that featured music from many local bands and solo acts. The new radio station kicked off with an open house event featuring live music from ’60s rock and roll lounge band, Off the Record.

Troy Victorian Stroll, Troy (December 2): This was a fun event to photograph for The Eastwick Press last month, and it certainly got me into the Christmas spirit. I had an opportunity to attend many artist openings, check out the craft fairs and listen to live music from the RPI Flute Ensemble (Troy Atrium), Israel Singer (Troy Pop Up at Pioneer Bank), the Tichy Boys & Johnny Rabb (KeyBank) and The Lustre Kings and many special guests (The Takk House).

Remembering Buck Malen @ Pauly’s Hotel, Albany (November 5): It has been two years since the passing of local blues musician and host of the Blue Monday Blues Jam, Buck Malen. The Monday blues jam, hosted by Jeremy Walz and the house musicians, came together with other local musicians to perform the blues in memory of Malen.

Dwayne’s Annual Christmas Party @ Albany Elks Lodge, Albany (December 15): I was able to catch most of this annual Christmas party and benefit event, and I had a blast attending this event for a great cause. Featuring a performance by Matt Mirabile & Friends, the event raised funds through the silent auction and the admission for the Tom Healey Memorial Scholarship Fund.


Emerald City @ Power’s Memorial Park, Troy (August 25): After eight years with its original line-up, it was time for change. At the second to last Powers Park concert, Emerald City band members Edward Powers (bass/vocals) and Gary Tash (guitar/piano/vocals) stepped down from their roles in the band and performed one last time with their friends. The band put on a great show for their final act in their original line-up. I wish you, Gary and Ed, the best of luck to what you both continue to pursue in 2019.

The Refrigerators @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (November 3): After two years of being involved in the line-up of The Refrigerators as their vocalist, Amelia Karcher left the band and is headed to New Orleans. Although it was the end of the singer’s reign with the group, the band, along with Karcher, performed entertaining dance tunes throughout the night in celebration of their band member. I wish you the best of luck to you on your new adventures in life and in music, Amelia.


Bad Apple @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (October 5): Bad Apple, featuring Rich Romano (guitar), Mike Shudt (bass/vocals), Matt Lewis (vocals) and Todd Hanhurst (drums/vocals) perform classic ’90s hits and some ’70s tunes for your listening pleasure. The band made their stage debut at the Rustic Barn Pub and put on a great show.

Strung Out @ Concerts in the Park: ’50s-’60s Cruise In @ Talmadge Park, Mechanicville (June 19): Hosted by the Mechanicville Public Library, this was a fun event to kick off the start of summer. Residents were showing off their classic cars while listening and dancing to great oldies covers from local musicians Frankie Minissale (guitar/vocals), John Ellis (bass/vocals), Jeff Prescott (drums/vocals), Matt Mirabile (acoustic/electric guitar) and Andy Narzynski (guitar/piano/vocals).

Kitty Rodeo with Off the Record @ The Hangar on The Hudson, Troy (December 7): The all-female group, Kitty Rodeo, opened for Off the Record at The Hangar, playing their own mix of classic country covers and oldies. This group features Brenda Fisher (guitar/vocals), Chanda Dewey (drums) and Sarah Clarke (bass/vocals). Be sure to look out for their music in 2019.

Motorbike with Super 400 @ The Hangar on the Hudson, Troy (December 8): Motorbike, originated by guitarist/vocalist Mike O’Donnell, opened for local favorites, Super 400, at The Hangar performing their own original music. The band featured musicians T.J. Heimel (guitar), James Alanson Kirk (bass), Chris Carey (drums) and Frank “The Tank” Moscowitz (pedal effects) turned in a great performance, as did Super 400.


Savoy Diamond Dance featuring the El Dorados @ Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs (December 21): This was a fun swing dancing event at the historic Museum of Dance during the winter solstice. Since the last time I had seen the El Dorados at O’Brien’s in Troy this past May, they have continued to perform an entertaining show that combines both music and even a dance lesson from a swing dance instructor. This was the first time that the dance was held inside the Museum of Dance.

Acoustic Trauma @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (December 1): I had a fun time attending Acoustic Trauma’s Paul Nunzio Maceli’s birthday party at the Rustic Barn Pub this last month. I enjoyed his concept of having both a regular concert featuring his music, as well as having other local musicians perform their own set of music during the intermission and with the band as well. Happy Birthday, Paul.

Moonboot Lover @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (February 3): Moonboot Lover, featuring Saratoga Springs native Peter Prince, put on an entertaining show at the Rustic Barn. This was the first time that I had seen this group perform. Their elaborate stage set-up reminded me of an astronaut being sent out to outer space and seeing the stars and planets up in the sky, perfectly fitting with the band’s theme.

The Lustre Kings with Cindy Cashdollar @ Rustic Barn Pub, Troy (October 19): The Rustic Barn Pub last year alone hosted plenty of fun, entertaining performances and special events, and this was indeed a special event. It was the first time that I had seen pedal steel extraordinaire Cindy Cashdollar (sister of drummer Russ Cashdollar) perform with the rest of the Lustre Kings.

J Hunter’s Top Women in Jazz Albums
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 21 Concerts
J Hunter’s Jazz2K Awards
Ed Conway’s Top Concerts
Stanley A. Johnson’s Top 10 Concerts (And More)
Michael Eck’s Eastern Liberal Elite Best of the Year
J Hunter’s Top 10 Jazz2K Discs
Mike Stampalia’s Top 10 Concerts
Rudy Lu’s Top 12 Concerts, Honorable Mentions Plus Two More
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 31 Albums
Bokonon’s Top 10 Greater Nippertown Concerts in the English Language
Rick Sleeper’s Top 10 Musical Performances at the Cock ‘n Bull
Steve Nover’s Top 50 Concerts
Mark Alexander Hudson’s Top 10 Greater Nippertown Shows
Richard Brody’s Top 13 Concerts
Parade o’ Shoes: The Sole of a Band
Fred Rudofsky’s Top 13 Box Sets & Historical Releases
Dan Hogan’s Top Eight Concerts
Berkshire On Stage Critics’ Top Theater Productions
Don Wilcock’s Top 11 Interviews
Tim Reidy’s Top 11 Concerts In and Out of Albany

  1. Daniel D. Hogan says

    What a great list!

  2. Stanley Johnson says

    I think you may be close to equaling the number of shows per year that Steve Nover has attended.

  3. Amy Modesti says

    Thank you so much for your kind words Daniel and Stanley!! Thank you again for reading my “Best of” List!! I really appreciate it! Both of your lists were also great to see as well. It was interesting to see how similar some of our top picks were from everybody this past year!! I agree with you on that Stan! I admire how Steve is always attending and being a part of a lot of great shows in our community!! To say that is an honor!! Thank you for your support and thank you again to Nipper Town for having me contribute to the list again for 2018!! Happy New Year everybody!!

  4. Margo Singer says

    What a great list indeed, very well written, and it brought back some nice memories of some shows I was lucky enough to attend and hang with you! Will let my friend Jo Fenton know that you appreciated the free tickets to the TNT show which she couldn’t attend due to illness…Izzy thanks you for the shout out as well, and thanks for the mention of Guitar Reinterpreted which was indeed a fabulous exhibit

  5. Amy Modesti says

    Thank you so much Margo! It was great to see you and Izzy at some of these shows that we were at together! I hope that we are all able to attend some more art and music events in the future!! Tell Izzy that he is welcome from me and please thank Jo for me for the tickets for the TNT show! It was really nice of her to donate the tickets. You’re welcome! The Guitar Reinterpreted exhibit was really cool to see in person!! Keep up the awesome work on the art and the music to you both!!

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