When Matt McWatters came up with the idea of doing a benefit concert he did the right thing by enlisting the help of area promoter Greg Bell. Within a week, the Who’s Who of the Capital Region music scene were signing up to donate their time and talents to the cause. More bands wanted to play then there was stage time, so the list had to be narrowed down to twelve acts. Those twelve were recognizable names, even to the casual local live music aficionado. Friday night’s show included Way Down, Skunk Hostage, Funky Jukebox Brigade, Conehead Buddha, Dr. Jah & the Love Prophets and Timbre Coup. Saturday night’s show was no less impressive with The Hearing Aides, Sean Rowe, Matt and the Bad Ideas, Super 400, Erin Harkes and Black Mountain Symphony w/special guests from the Ameros and 7th Squeeze. UpstateLIVE was there Friday night to hear the amazing line up.
Way Down, with a little help from Dirty Paris, had the hard job of going first, but their musical talents and jazz and rock influences shone through during there set that ended with a dynamic interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” that had everyone moving. Skunk Hostage played second and were met by a growing crowd that was eager for their fresh blend of progressive, punk and rock. Tony Califano (bass/vocals) and Justin Fuld (vocals/guitar) mixed it up a bit and in addition to looking like brothers (according to at least one person) they played off each others musical strengths well.
The next band, The Lucky Jukebox Brigade, took the stage with it’s eclectic blend of guitars, drums, trumpets, a tuba, a wash board, violin and then hidden away in the corner the multi-facated Kristoph DiMaria (with a broken nose) playing percussion, guitar, organ and offering entertaining backing vocals. LJB does an incredible job of managing a really big sound with the help of their powerful vocalist, Deanna Deluke, and her ukulele.
Longtime local favorites, Conehead Buddha, played to the peak crowd of around 200 people, filling the upstairs of Valentine’s with dance and good vibes. The ska band that has been rocking the Capital District since the mid 1990’s didn’t miss a beat and got the crowd revved up for the final two bands of the night.
Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets brilliantly fused together reggae and ska then rolled it in a jam band blunt. Old favorites like “Come Down From the Mountain” and “Freedom Rising” had everyone singing along. Dave even inducted everyone in attendance into the Jah Army. When the lively set was done the “bright smiles” of the dancing “Jah Army” at Valentine’s was yearning for more. And luckily the music lovers got more.
The long evening of great music ended with the Prog Rock styling of Timbre Coup who played to almost 2 am and still had time to squeeze in an encore. Timbre Coup was able to stretch themselves out with the jam band crowd allowing everyone to get lost in the music. They were sure to bring them back with an incredible solo from Andrew Chamberlaine’s seemingly magical 7-string guitar.
When the dust settled after both nights of incredible music $4193.00 was raised for EverRibbon: My Sandy Hook Family Fund and Newtown Youth & Family Services. Kudos to the promoters, the venue, the bands and especially the fans that came out to support a great event and the incredible home-grown music scene.
To hear a few songs from Friday night’s show, visit the UpstateLIVE Soundcloud page.
If you would like to donate to Newtown Youth and Family Services, you can visit their website, or donate by mail at: 15 Berkshire Road; Sandy Hook , CT 06482
Check out more of Mike Wren‘s photos below