Reservoir Music Notes returns…for a minute or a month. We’ll see how much there is to say, but the days are warming and the unofficial kickoff to summer is here now, so I thought it would be a good time to return to civilization with a column about some of the outstanding concert series that are happening this summer. This won’t be, as it might have been in the past, a comprehensive, all inclusive, guide to summer festivals, concert series, and shows. It will just be me, writing about whatever comes to my attention, whatever strikes me as good, or possibly interesting to you, or maybe something I should go out on a limb and recommend! It’s part of a more laid back attitude to life that I’ve adopted since my shoulder surgery and closing of Reservoir Music as a retail store, last year. And part of this will be that columns and blogs will no longer be written weekly. They will be written and posted on the blog pages of my websites, www.reservoirmusiccenter.com and www.brooklyncowboys.com, and probably on the articles page of www.hvmusic.com as well, whenever I feel like there is something noteworthy to tell you about. This could happen daily, or monthly, but I will always post an announcement on Facebook and Twitter when there is a new blog, and if it fits into the Tri-Valley Townsman’s publishing schedule, as this column does, it will appear in the newspaper. So you won’t get the complete guide to summer music in one sitting, but stick with me, and we’ll get everything done over time, and just in time, for all of us to experience some great live music this summer!
Memorial Day weekend kicks off with the first show of a small, but mighty concert series at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY! Dan Smalls, of Dan Smalls Presents, in association with the brewery, has put together a stellar line up for this summer’s events. With only six shows and one event scheduled for the entire summer, they’ve overwhelmed with quality, not quantity! Every single show is a grand slam home run, as is the one non-musical event scheduled at the brewery! As a slugging percentage, this is the most powerful concert series happening this summer! There’s plenty of other good ones, but so far I haven’t seen any where every single show is killer, and hopefully, they’ll be adding more! After that build up, I won’t leave you hanging. The full line up of musical entertainment at Brewery Ommegang this Summer will be The Pixies, The Avett Brothers and John Prine (together), Old Crow Medicine Show, The Decemberists, Primus, and Bonnie Raitt! Short, but oh so sweet! Just like the best Rock n Roll! For the full schedule and more details, please visit www.ommegang.com. You won’t want to miss any of the music at Ommegang this summer!
I’m very excited about their opening show, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, when Dan Smalls Presents and Brewery Ommegang will be presenting the hugely influential, indie rock legends, The Pixies!
The Pixies' musical style has been described as "an unorthodox marriage of surf music and punk rock”, and I suppose that’s as good a description as any! To me, they sound like a punk-rock Rasberries, but I’m philosophically opposed to describing music in words. You have to hear it, if you know what I mean!
In their relatively short first incarnation, (1986-1993), The Pixies produced relatively few albums, whose sales were relatively modest. While they did enjoy some mainstream success, their importance lay in the fact that they influenced a number of bands associated with the alternative rock boom of the 1990s. Of course, since reforming in 2004, they have experienced the kind of success that eluded them the first time around, selling millions of dollars worth of tickets to their performances around the globe! Gary Smith, who produced their Come On Pilgrim album, commented on the band's influence on alternative rock, and their legacy, in 1997:
I've heard it said about The Velvet Underground that while not a lot of people bought their albums, everyone who did started a band. I think this is largely true about the Pixies as well. Charles' secret weapon turned out to be not so secret and, sooner or later, all sorts of bands were exploiting the same strategy of wide dynamics. It became a kind of new pop formula and, within a short while, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was charging up the charts and even the members of Nirvana said later that it sounded for all the world like a Pixies song.
The Pixies are credited with popularizing the extreme dynamics and stop-start timing that would become widespread in alternative rock. Artists including David Bowie, Radiohead, PJ Harvey, U2, Nirvana, The Strokes, Weezer, Bush and Pavement have cited admiration of or influence by the Pixies. Bono, of U2, has called the Pixies "one of America's greatest bands ever", and Radiohead's Thom Yorke has said that, while at school, "the Pixies had changed my life". Bowie, whose own music had inspired The Pixies while they were at university, has said that the Pixies made "just about the most compelling music of the entire 80s."
One notable citation as an influence was by Kurt Cobain, on influencing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", which he admitted was a conscious attempt to co-opt the Pixies' style. In a January 1994 interview with Rolling Stone, he said, "I was trying to write the ultimate pop song. I was basically trying to rip off the Pixies. I have to admit it. When I heard the Pixies for the first time, I connected with that band so heavily I should have been in that band—or at least in a Pixies cover band. We used their sense of dynamics, being soft and quiet and then loud and hard." Cobain cited Pixies’ album, Surfer Rosa, as one of his main musical influences, and particularly admired the album's natural and powerful drum sounds—a result of Steve Albini's influence on the record. Albini later produced Nirvana's 1993 In Utero at the request of Cobain.
So you see what league we’re playing in with The Pixies? The Major League, buddy, the Major League! May 22, Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown. Doors 5:00, music at 7:00.
Now it has also come to my attention that almost every park in the city of New York is having a concert series this summer, many of them free, and that series kicks off in Central Park with an amazing show this Monday, May 18, when Tedeschi-Trucks pulls into town for a free show! This is really not to be missed! I’d probably recommend it as a paid show, but for free? No brainer!
Events in NYC parks are taking place all over the city, including Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and most of them are free! Genres range from Shakespeare and opera to Hip Hop and Rock, so there’s something for everyone! One show that won’t be free takes place at the end of the season, and features Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead, with Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes, on lead vocals! There are also several local Hudson Valley luminaries on the Summerstage schedule. More information about music in New York City parks this summer can be found at http://www.cityparksfoundation.org/events/, and information about the Prospect Park series can be found at http://www.prospectpark.org/news-events/events/?filter_by=tag&tags=Celebrate%20Brooklyn! I should mention that to use this link, you must include the exclamation point at the end, which Word is not automatically including as part of this link! So click on the link, but don’t forget to add the exclamation point before you search, or you’ll go to the wrong page. Of course, you can always type any of these shows into any search engine, and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
On a sad note, it pains me to announce that the Bellayre Music Festival, which has taken place every summer for the past 23 years, at Bellayre ski resort in Shandaken, NY, is on hiatus for this year! The series has presented the best of every genre of music during it’s run, and this is a tremendous loss to the Hudson Valley’s musical smorgasbord. Thankfully, organizers have announced that it will return next year.
Now I could continue, but I want to get this column online in time for y’all to be able to make it to Tedeschi-Trucks on Monday, which is in tomorrow! I will also be resuming my guest spots on John Madeo’s excellent radio show, The Delaware Jamboree, which airs every Monday night from 8-10pm on WIOX-FM, 91.3, out of Roxbury, NY. If you’re out of the area, you can also listen on www.wioxradio.org, or at least you used to be able to. The WIOX site is temporarily down at the moment. Hoping it will return soon, but rest assured that I will investigate and find out the real skinny for you, my loyal readers, as always, and let you know in my next appearance here!
Thanks for reading. It’s good to be back!
Fred Perry is a founding member of Alt-Country supergroup, The Brooklyn Cowboys, is from a 3rd generation musical family and lives in the Hudson Valley, where he does what he can to promote live music.