LIVE: Eberwine / Hilltop @ Putnam Place, 07/30/2022

Not quite everything is back to normal following the worldwide pandemic that stopped the entire world in its tracks. However, in 2022, live music is finally coming back in a very big way and here in upstate NY, we have some of the best up-and-coming bands in the nation. On Saturday, July 31, I witnessed two top contenders play at Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs — Hilltop and Eberwine

Photo by Tammie Birdwell


Hailing from right here in the Capitol District, Hilltop started the evening with a set of originals mixed with a tribute to the String Cheese Incident. These guys may be relatively new to the scene, but some of them have been playing together since they were in high school and you can tell. 

Aris Niewkerk (guitar/vocals), Reid Perry (drums/vocals), Stephen Perry (percussion/vocals), and David Klag (bass/vocals) know the way around their instruments and if you close your eyes you would think they have been playing for decades. Their jams are tasty, surprising, and as delightful as the band members themselves. Keep your eyes on social media for Hilltop’s upcoming tour dates and news of a possible new album (this winter?).

Photo by Tammie Birdwell

Who the Heck is Eberwine?

Frankly, I am still asking myself, “who the heck is Eberwine?” and I attended the show. This band is about to turn the scene on its head because I guarantee you haven’t heard a jam band do this before. 

Hailing from Buffalo New York, Ebwerwine is a super-group of seasoned musicians including Todd Eberwine (Dive House Union, Todd Eberwine Band, Soul Roach), Jay Race (Dead Alliance Buffalo), Paul Zabrycki (Dead Buffalo Alliance), Aaron Ziolkowski (Little Mountain Band), and Scott Molloy (Lazlo Hollyfeld, BEU). And while most of these guys have only been playing together for a very short time, it is impossible to tell — especially when they jam. 

Photo by Tammie Birdwell

Eberwine opened with a set of originals. The crowd was immediately drawn into the experience because, much like me, they had never heard anything like this before. Is this a rock band that jams or is it a jam band that rocks? Well, the answer to that is both. And I have never seen a musician quite as animated as Todd Eberwine. He truly loves every second of what he does and it is evident both on his face and with every note he plays.  

For their second set, I thought it knew what to expect because it was a cover set of Phish and Grateful Dead songs – I was wrong. Unlike other cover bands who simply copy the music, Eberwine put their own unique progressive spin on it and it was one of the freshest most entertaining Phish/Dead cover sets I have ever heard. If you’re curious, and you should be, you can check out Live at The Strand on Bandcamp or other streaming platforms, also keep an eye out for upcoming tour dates on their website or social media.

Photo Gallery by Tammie Birdwell

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