Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sam Amidon and friends at Rockwood Music Hall

Banjo and guitar onstage before Sam Amidon's set at Rockwood Music Hall.

The first clue that Sam Amidon wasn't really going to be performing banjo only at Rockwood Music Hall 2 on Wednesday. (Photos © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

UPDATE: New photos added!

Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

As predicted, Sam Amidon‘s solo banjo show at Rockwood Music Hall on Wednesday night was neither solo nor banjo only. But we’re not complaining. The multitalented Amidon took to Rockwood’s Stage 2 along with a banjo, guitar, fiddle, baby grand piano and a handful of mics.

Sam Amidon at Rockwood Music Hall.

He treated the solid crowd to about 70 minutes of his lovely, mournful folksongs. Just a few numbers into his set, Sam was joined by longtime collaborator Thomas Bartlett, the pianist and singer better known as Doveman.

Then, maybe 15 or 20 minutes into the show, Sam started looking for another guest. “Paul, do you think Beth went to the wrong Rockwood? I told her 2, but I didn’t tell her there was 2.” The man he addressed as Paul got up from his stageside table briefly and came back with the lady in question — Beth Orton, his collaborator of the last year or two and, by appearances, his partner in life. (Sam’s loving looks toward Beth and the tiny baby she carried with her were hard to interpret as anything other than paternal!)

It didn’t take long for Sam to drag Beth onstage with him for a couple of numbers, too.

Sam Amidon and Beth Orton at Rockwood Music Hall.

While this show broke no new ground, it was a great, thoughtful way to move toward the end of 2011. Thanks, Sam, Thomas and Beth!

Tonight’s the night: Sam Amidon solo banjo show at Rockwood Music Hall

Sam Amidon at the Mercury Lounge, New York City.

Sam Amidon on banjo at the Mercury Lounge in New York City last year. (Photo © 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

If you’re in the mood for some great banjo music rooted in old-timey tradition but presented with a very modern flair, head to Rockwood Music Hall at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 28) to catch Vermonter Sam Amidon in a solo show.

Here’s how he describes the show:

End Of Year Contemplation through Banjosong

While I cannot even dare hope to match the fine calibration of Kirsten Dunst’s recent acting performances (most notably Marie Antoinette, Wimbledon, and Melancholia), I do wish that as 2011 draws to a close we can sing a few murder ballads and old love songs together and maybe it will snow.

Amidon is  an ace on the banjo, and delivers murder ballads and other traditional numbers in creative and compelling ways. He’s a bit of a deadpan performer, but there’s humor beneath the surface, too.

And even though this is billed as a solo banjo show (probably a good thing, because Rockwood’s stages aren’t particularly suited to bands of any size), Sam has lots of friends in New York. So you can never be sure who might drop in to join him or just to check out his set.

His talented circle of friends includes Beth Orton, Thomas “Doveman” Bartlett, violist Nadia Sirota and composer/pianist Nico Muhly,  to name just a few.

Even if none of his pals show up, chances are you’ll wind up feeling like a friend by the end of his set.

$15. Doors at  7 p.m. Rockwood Music Hall, 196 Allen Street, Manhattan. (212) 477-4155

Condola Rashad: Stick Fly’s not-so-secret weapon

Producer Alicia Keys to appear at post-show talkbacks this week

Condola Rashad outside the Cort Theatre. (Photo © 2011, Steven P. Marsh)

When Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? saw a preview performance of Stick Fly on Broadway, we had a great time. The show is flawed, never quite making a clear point while keeping the audience entertained.

But we decided to check out Lydia R. Diamond‘s play (being promoted far and wide in the name of Alicia Keys, one of the producers of the comedic family drama with a twist) even before we knew what the show was about. That’s because we we were blown away by the actor with a below-the-title billing who absolutely steals the show: Condola Rashad.

Keys will be attending the show and conducting “an intimate post-show conversation” on Monday, Dec. 19 and Thursday, Dec. 22.

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