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September Music Highlights

Fr 9/2- Radio Woodstock presents STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES (AND DUCHESSES), featuring ALLISON MOORER, at Bearsville Theater, Bearsville/Woodstock—Most careers in music have a very specific arc, and it always goes the same way: up, then down and out. But some by the sheer quality of material and personal gumption manage to simply oscillate with the times—think Pete Seeger—and find a core of die-hards who respect the stance of the unapologetic rebel, while insisting on consistently great songwriting and fully committed performances. Schooled to do such in Texas by legends like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle blew into the country music world in the ’80s with a rocking Texas swagger, turning heads with Guitar Town (1986), which married mandolins with Marshall stacks, honest songs, real people, no stupid hats. Two more great records, then life got complicated: multiple marriages, drug problems, incarceration…it’s a well-documented decline and resurrection, with Steve kicking all habits, and making a career-saving streak of amazing records on his own label E-Squared, including one with bluegrass legends The Del McCoury Band (The Mountain, 1999). Steve made the Nashville-New York migration in the mid double-naughts, showing his Seeger appreciation with Washington Street Serenade (2007), and love for his mentor with Townes (2009), while moving up to Ulster County with wife Allison Moorer, an impressive artist with eight albums and a hit with “A Soft Place to Fall” on the soundtrack to The Horse Whisperer (1998). Fans of the HBO series The Wire and Treme will have no difficulty recognizing Steve, who portrays varying personalities he’s inhabited during his lifetime with absolute precision. Steve is back on tour with his electric band The Dukes, plus Allison, working the hits plus material from his most recent release I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive (2011), which is also the name of his new novel (Steve stays busy, y’all). So if you just picked up this magazine, better get over to the show at Bearsville quick. Bearsville Theater, 291 Tinker St., Bearsville/Woodstock,, 845.679.4406. 9 PM

Sa 9/17- METROPOLITAN HOT CLUB (gypsy jazz), at Unison Arts Center, New Paltz—As a regional arts facility, the non-profit Unison Arts has long been a valuable resource, providing education in the arts and healthy lifestyles, as well as a nice intimate place to hear acoustic music at the small theatre at Unison Arts Center, just outside of New Paltz. The month of September has some great concerts coming up there: classical guitarist Daniel Lippel (Fr 9/16 8 PM), Uncommon Ground (Fr 9/23 8 PM), Sameer Gupta-Namaskar Trio, and Sweet Clementines (Fr 9/30 8 PM). But lately round here, we’ve been on something of a gypsy jazz kick, the swingin’ sound out of Paris in the 30s and 40s. You know who I’m talking about: Django Rhinehart, Stephane Grappelli. And word has it the Metropolitan Hot Club—their name being a nod to Django & Stephane’s Quintette du Hot Club de France—has the style down cold. Or, I should say, hot. In the Django chair is guitarist Michael Boyle, who studied with acclaimed jazz picker Frank Vignola, and is also an accomplished luthier, having built the arch-top guitar he plays. Violinist Michael Snow has made his career playing every style imaginable, from classical to Indian to rock, but hasn’t been the same since hearing Grappelli the 70s. Guitarist Aaron Lieberman, originally from the rock band God Street Wine, covers the rhythm parts, while Martin Keith—son of bluegrass legend Bill Keith, and a skilled luthier as well—holds down the bass lines. If you have never experienced a well-oiled gypsy jazz quartet in concert before, prepare to be stupefied, because there is a reason they used the word “hot” all the time in reference to this jazz, back in the day. Unison Arts Center, 68 Mountain Rest Rd., New Paltz,, 845.255.1559. 8 PM

Sa 9/17- THE DRUM BOOGIE FESTIVAL, featuring THE JACK DEJOHNETTE QUARTET, THE JERRY MAROTTA BAND, NEXUS with GARRY KVISTAD, and more, at Cornell Park (in the Rondout), Kingston—If you just can’t stand drums or percussion, please just skip this highlight. Of course, I feel deeply sorry for you, but toodle-oo. OK, everyone else, what’s happening? We have a lot in common, and a lot of it is going down on the Strand in Kingston this month. Two years ago, The Drum Boogie Festival put together a wide range of rhythmic individuals and ensembles with two goals: to raise funds for cancer research, while showing the public the diverse styles of world percussion and drumming. This year it’s a don’t-miss lineup headlined by none other than Jack DeJohnette and his Quartet, featuring fellow Hudson Valley resident David Sancious on keyboards, along with Roberto Quintero and Yusnier Sanches. DeJohnette is—in my humble—the greatest living jazz drummer, having performed with Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Sun Ra, and just about everyone in between, bringing a totally new level to the instrument—“playing the molecules,” as (Hot Tuna drummer) Harvey Sorgen once said to me. And while I’m exercising the privilege of a published opinion, one of rock’s finest drummers brings a band to this stage the same day. Jerry Marotta builds drum parts like Gaudi designs buildings. That is: solid, inventive, always reaching for something special. Orleans, Hall & Oates, Indigo Girls, and Peter Gabriel—all employers—agree, I’m sure. The top shelf band: Tony Levin, Pete Levin, and Jesse Gress. And the Canadian-based percussion ensemble Nexus is one of the world’s finest, pushing the envelope of rhythmic possibilities in all directions—member Garry Kvistad also founded Woodstock Chimes. This go-round they’re performing an all-Steve Reich program. Plus steelpan drums by Liam Teague, Native American Singers and Drummers, Jonathan Singer (xylophone, Indian drumming), NYU Steel Band, Hip Pickles (rudimental), The Valerie Naranjo Group (African), Orlando Hernandez (tap), and the Not-So-Traditional American Rudimental Drummers. Plus—oh, you know it—a big ass drum circle. Drums drums drums! Cornell Park, Wurts St. in the Rondout, Kingston,, 845.657.0499. Rain date Su 9/18. 9:30 AM-8 PM

Fr 9/23- OLLABELLE at Helsinki Hudson, Hudson—It started as weekly jam in a New York bar, with a widely disparate group of musicians singing gospel tunes together, seeking community in the shadow of 9/11. Woodstock’s own Amy Helm—daughter of Levon—was singing in a variety of blues combos, bassist Byron Isaacs was making the rounds, while getting more into songwriting. Canadian-born keyboardist Glenn Patscha had been active in the New Orleans music scene, Tony Leone was an in-demand jazz drummer, and Fiona McBain—originally from Sydney, Australia—was getting attention as a singer-songwriter. A demo of the fledgling band made it to producer T-Bone Burnett, resulting in a 2004 critically-acclaimed debut that sealed the deal, and Ollabelle hasn’t looked back since. Though quite different in overall sound, comparisons to The Band would not be out of whack: both groups delve into the rich loam of American musical traditions, with honesty and integrity, and a real affection for high-quality ensemble playing. Great dynamics, strong songwriting, sensitive arrangements, and vocal harmonies for days. Presently they’re touring their brand-spanking new release Neon Blue Bird, and folks who buy the CD online (at get four bonus tracks. And Helsinki Hudson—already a fine place to enjoy great music—has just opened their restaurant. Reservations are recommended. Helsinki Hudson, 405 Columbia St., Hudson,, 518.828.4800. 9 PM

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