Category Archives: Blues

Underground Horns, Blind Boy Paxton, The Foxfires, and Three Pints Shy perform tomorrow at Haverstraw RiverArts & Music Festival

HRA_AD4_2x2_8Stick around Rockland County on Saturday, Sept .17, and get yourself to the wonderful Haverstraw RiverArts & Music Festival.

It’s a one-day  celebration of the mighty Hudson River in a cool urban village that provided many of the multiple millions of bricks that transformed Manhattan and many other parts of what ‘s now New York City.


Underground Horns

It was started in 2014 by Haverstraw RiverArts, to bring a full day of music and art set against the backdrop of the Hudson for the residents of Rockland and beyond.

From noon to 6 p.m., Emeline Park at the foot of Main Street will be transformed into a wonderland of art, live music, food, a beer garden, and craft vendors.

It’s all free.


Blind Boy Paxton

Everything will be great, but the music will be especially hot this year, with a lineup that includes a danceable New York City horn band, a rising young country blues star, a West Nyack indie-rock band, and a Celtic combo. (Full disclosure: I helped recruit two of the bands.)


The Foxfires

Here’s the music schedule:

Student musician & Welcome – Noon-12:30 p.m.

The Foxfires (West Nyack “Seagaze” indie rock) – 12:30-1:30

Three Pints Shy (Celtic) – 1:40-2:25

Student musicians – 2:30-3

Blind Boy Paxton (country blues) – 3-4

Announcements – 4:45-5

Underground Horns (NYC funk horns) – 5-6


Three Pints Shy

If you go for the music, y0u should also check out the food and crafts and the professional artists who will display their work along the waterfront.

A special feature of this year’s festival is the 1885 wooden schooner Pioneer, which will offer rides throughout the day for $25 per person. GO HERE TO BUY TICKETS.


Schooner Pioneer


Blues legend Joe Lewis Walker plays Daryl’s House in Pawling on Saturday

"Hornet's Nest," the latest album from blues legend Joe Louis Walker  packs a sting.

“Hornet’s Nest,” the latest album from blues legend Joe Louis Walker packs a sting.

If you’re looking for a way to heat up the coldest winter weekend in decades, Daryl Hall and the crew at Daryl’s House in Pawling, N.Y., have just the thing for you on Saturday night: Joe Louis Walker.

The 65-year-old Walker has an explosive, urgent style of playing and singing that makes him one of the most exciting blues players working today. And it’s no surprise, give he’s been at it since first picking up a guitar at age 8 — or so the story goes.

Walker isn’t one of the originators of the style, but he learned by working with some of the very best in blues, jazz, and rock — Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Thelonius Monk. and Jimi Hendrix, to name a few — and makes the most of his lessons.

Walker’s at his best when he’s playing pedal-to-the-metal electric blues, as on “Hornet’s Nest,” the title track of his latest album — his 24th release — which drops on Alligator Records on Feb. 25. His voice and guitar snarl in the best possible way on that outstanding track. “All I Wanted to Do,” on the other hand, is a loping, horn-filled showcase that sounds original and classic all at once. In “Don’t Let Go,” he mines a vein tradition that inspired artists like Elvis Presley so many years ago.

Like the hard-working bluesman that he is, he’s superb when he sounds like he’s sweating his way through numbers that bring his gritty, dangerous voice to the front. When he dials the vocals back a bit, as on “Ride On, Baby,” his strongest qualities begin to disappear, making him sound less distinctive. But even then, Walker’s energy and enthusiasm shine through

Walker, a 2013 inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame, is a real musical treasure. Daryl’s House (the former site of the Towne Crier) is a comfortable, homey place that should be a perfect showcase for Walker’s prodigious gifts. Catch him there if you can.


WHAT: Joe Louis Walker in concert

WHEN: 9:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21

WHERE: Daryl’s House, 130 Route 22, Pawling, N.Y.; 845-289-0185


Amy Helm’s Hudson Valley roots keep her anchored

Amy Helm

Amy Helm

I was thrilled to chat with Amy Helm the other day ahead of her appearance this Saturday at the 10th annual Pleasantville Music Festival in lovely downtown Pleasantville in Westchester County, N.Y.

Helm talked about her famous surname and her recent move out of ensemble work and into the spotlight as the leader of her own band, Amy Helm & The Handsome Strangers.

Read the full interview with Helm at by tapping or clicking here, or see it in print in Friday’s editions of The Journal News.


Mary Bridget Davies: More than a Janis Joplin tribute artist

Mary Bridget Davies does Janis Joplin and a whole lot more at B.B. King's Blues Club in Manhattan. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/

Mary Bridget Davies does Janis Joplin and a whole lot more at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan. (© 2014 Steven P. Marsh/

If you go to see Mary Bridget Davies‘ show at B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan, don’t count on an evening of Janis Joplin.

If you do, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment, like the woman standing near me at the bar on Monday night. She was wearing a muumuu and a multicolored headband, which made her look like she was ready for a psychedelic Sixties sort of evening.

But when Davies kicked into a set that was heavier on non-Joplin songs, including some massive versions of some Amy Winehouse hits, the woman started getting antsy, asking people around her if they knew whether Davies would be doing “songs from the show” at some point. Continue reading

Last-Minute Music Tip: Check out today’s Rockland-Bergen Music Festival

Joe Durso

Joe Durso

Rockland County-born rocker Joe D’Urso is celebrating his 50th birthday this month by taking over the German Masonic Park in his hometown of Tappan, N.Y., all day Sunday and throwing a music festival featuring his musician friends.

The result is the Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, with gates opening at 11 a.m. , with music starting at 11:30 a.m. and running nonstop through 7:15 p.m.

It’s the first festival of its kind in the Rockland County area in my memory. It should be a blast. The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day at this point, an hour before the music starts.

The festival brings together in my backyard a bunch of artists that I’d happily go to New York City to see play separately: Willie Nile, Marshall Crenshaw, Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, Jesse Malin, John Eddie, Piermont’s Tom Chapin and many, many more.

Willie Nile

Willie Nile

But here you don’t have to travel as far, pay outrageous parking charges, or deal with all the hassles of a drive into the city. And with a family-friendly vibe and tickets priced at $50 (free for anyone 12 or younger, and for anyone born in 1964) at the gate, you can afford to bring the kids and introduce them to some of your favorite musicians without breaking the bank.

I interviewed D’Urso and Nile for a preview in The Journal News/ Tap or click here to see what they have to say and find out more about the festival.


Where: Rockland-Bergen Music Festival, German Masonic Park, 120 Western Highway, Tappan, N.Y.

When: 11 a.m.-7:15 p.m., Sunday, June 29; rain or shine.

Tickets: $50 at the gate; 12 and under free; free for anyone born in 1964 with driver’s license proof.







Peter Stampfel pushes banjos to the limit

Peter Stampfel torturing a banjo and assaulting our ears at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

Peter Stampfel on banjo at the Gerdes Folk City 50th Reunion in 2010. (Photo 2010, Steven P. Marsh)

The granddaddy of freak folk is still going strong with his latest album, ‘Better Than Expected’

Peter Stampfel defines freak folk.

It’s a category that didn’t even exist when Stampfel, now 75, was starting out as a young musician, releasing his first album, “The Holy Modal Rounders,” in 1964.

The genre developed to describe the work of current musicians such as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Akron/Family, and the like. But Stampfel was there first, and has provided inspiration and collaboration all along.

The  Holy Modal Rounders cofounder is an acquired taste, for some, with his cracked vocals, inimitable fiddling and banjo playing, and genre-busting choice of material.

His is a restless mind, and his art challenges the conventionality at every turn.

Continue reading

Dave Van Ronk gets his long overdue time in the spotlight

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Terri Thal and Dave Van Ronk at their home at 190 Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, in August 1963 (Photo by Ann Charters, courtesy Terri Thal)

Moviemakers Joel and Ethan Coen have gone to great lengths to let us know that their new movie, “Inside Llewyn Davis,” is not about Greenwich Village folksinger Dave Van Ronk.

The movie, which has been making the rounds of film festivals throughout the year and started playing in major cities a couple of weeks ago, opens nationwide  this Friday.

LEARN MORE about the real Dave Van Ronk

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)

Terri Thal (© Martus Granirer 2013)

Check out the interview with Terri Thal I wrote for The Journal News.  Thal, a Rockland County woman who was married to him during the period covered in the film, and don’t miss her first-person account for the Village Voice.  And read Van Ronk’s memoir, “The Mayor of MacDougal Street.”

Yes, Llewyn Davis, as played wonderfully by actor and talented singer Oscar Isaac, affects a Van Ronk look of sorts with his facial hair. And yes, many people, me included, took to calling the flick in early days the “Dave Van Ronk movie.” (That probably was before it had gotten a formal title.) Continue reading