Tag Archives: gigs

October Shows and Such

10 Oct

Fall is nice around these parts.

Hey there, folks. Just a few quick notes here…

Tonight, Friday, October 10 the Rebel Darling fellas and I will open for The Hello Strangers, a Nashville based band fronted by two sisters whose harmonies will give you that tingling tension in your chest. There’s something to be said about kin singing harmony. Join us tonight, and find out just what there is to be said. Consider youself in the know. Oh, we opened for them last time the sisters and their groove slinging band came through town, and we stuck around until the last note. Roger (pedal steel) left his car in a parking garage which closed on him, locking the car behind formidable chain-link gates. We got carried away listening and with a good time, and forgot about the lock down. I smiled for the cameras as I broke into the garage to retrieve his house keys from his car. I ruined a shirt, but it was worth the thrill. I’m looking forward to finding out which article of clothing I ruin tonight…

Here are the details:

    Rebel Darling opens for The Hello Strangers
    WAMC Linda Norris Auditorium
    399 Central Avenue
    Albany, NY 12206
    Doors at 7:00 p.m. / Rebel Darling at 8:00 p.m.
    Click here for info and tickets, or call (518) 465-5233

October has already been a busy month, with a few trips out of town, and the general rolling around. I’ve been fortunate to have played in the Adirondack Mountains a few times this fall, and the clean air allowed for some crisp baritone bellows, good singing. I also spend a day in the Boston area, recording for the Locals Covering Locals, Vol. 2 project I mentioned in Low Down Review No. 26. Project producer and artist, Brian Carroll snapped the below panorama of the fellas and I in the studio. I’m looking forward to hearing the finalized product… That was a fun day, capped off by a night of songs.

Myself, Scudder, and Olson in the Studio / Photo by Brian Carroll

Well, all the other upcoming shows are listed below. I’m going to catch some fresh air before tonight’s show. Be in touch guys, and as always, thanks for everything…

– Mike

The Low Down Review – No. 26

12 Sep

Ken, Casting His Hand-tied Fly.

Promise Kept: Ken returned in the morning as promised. He patched a hole in his belly boat, pulled on his waders, and headed into the cool, early-light water. From our tent, we heard the slurp and snap of his fly line on the pond, and then the quiet anticipation of a well-placed cast. The July sun rose in a cloudless sky over the ridge to the east, and heat filled the still tent air. We stirred. The trout jumped.

He had left his gear with us the night before. A stranger when he approached our camp, but respectful and pleasant, we invited him to join us and watch an osprey dry itself at the tip of a pine tree. With an excited pitch to his voice, he asked if he could use our field glasses. An immediate friend. We offered him jerky, nuts, and the finest in dehydrated lasagna. He took nothing but water, and left us smiling. We agreed to watch over his gear so that he didn’t have to hike back up the mountain with the full load the following morning. That’s what friends do.

“You two want brekkie?” he called in Canadian slang from his pontoon lounge at the pond’s center. He was reeling in a brook trout, and sported a smile that left a shadow on the sun. We had been prepping for some freeze-dried eggs with green pepper and bacon bits, but with a quick glance, we dropped the sealed pouch by the bear can. Neither one of us had eaten trout this fresh. “You bet,” I hollered back across the water.

Cleaned Brook Trout

I met him at the pond edge on a large, smooth blanket of granite rock face. He inspected the trout in the sunlight, drawing attention to its speckeld beauty, the fins translucent and the colors of fire flicker, and, once cleaned, the pink and delicate flesh. He turned the fish over and opened the belly to show me the meat, a trout canoe. His hands shook slightly with delight and years.

Up at the campsite, Ken pulled out a cast-iron skillet and a quarter stick of butter from his day-pack. We were surprised, but Ken gave us a sly smile and asked for low heat on the butane stove. The butter crackled and bubbled up in the skillet, and Ken placed the fish in the center. A rapid sizzle sounded out, and Ken called for lower heat. The sizzle slowed and a savory scent wafted up, a confluence of butter and fresh trout. The fish curved and browned. Brekkie was served to our trio in the skillet with two forks.

Fresh Brekkie

We picked the trout clean, leaving only the head, tail, backbone, and ribs, a stripped canoe. Ken and I headed back down to the pond edge. He planned to return the carcass to the center of the pond to foil scavenging carnivores. Then he’d send the fly out again, just for the fun. I decided to chat him up while he slipped the waders on, and tied a Turle Knot around the turned-down eye of a fresh fly hook.

Ken’s Hand-tied Fly Case

Ken had been up the mountain and to the pond before, a few decades back, when he was a teacher in Canada. He had relished the quiet and solitude, and was surprised that no other folks had set up camp around the perimeter of the pond. After he caught a delicious trout for himself, he promised the pond that he would return when he could. A career, the birth of a daughter, white hair, and 30 years later, he was making good on his word. We were the only people camping on the pond now, and we had found the same spot of granite. We shook hands.

As Ken slowly peddled his way out to the center of the pond, I stood and watched him, enjoying the benefits of a promise kept.

Reading to the Author – photo by Daniel Curtis

Greatest Game: I grin every time I talk about it. My eyes widen when I stop to think about it. I wrote songs based on novels by the author who has inspired me most, and he showed up for the event. Hot damn! The man wins the Pulitzer Prize, casts Jack Nicholson to play the lead in the movie, commands the English language as easily as I breathe, builds a lifetime of accomplishments and a catalogue of work Jesus would be jealous of, and then shows up with his family to attend an event put on by us. After the performance, he sat behind a microphone, discussed the event, the songs and music, elaborated on how music influences his writing, and even read a related section from “Ironweed.” His daugther later told me that he hadn’t read from that story in a long while, and that the night we chose just happened to be the 30th anniversary of his first grandson’s birth, and his winning of the Pulitzer. William Kennedy embodies Class. And so do Sarah Clark, Deanna DiCarlo, Matt Durfee, Laurence Scudder, Roger Noyes, The Fattest Man, The Albany Public Library, and everyone that helped turn a gamble, and possibly inauspicious event into a great night, and one of the most memorable in my life. I believe that the night held a generous serving of the undeniable mystery of life that Kennedy writes so well into his stories. Thank you all.

You can watch my nerves peak, my core tremble, and the evening unfold on the Albany Public Library’s YouTube Channel. Stay tuned for further announcements on this project…

Chatting with the Author – photo by Daniel Curtis


From the Low Down: In the last LDR, I mentioned that I was dreaming of summer travel, and I mostly satisfied that desire. Sort of. Well… I was in Austin, TX, throughout the state of Alaska (More on that in the next LDR, I imagine), in the Adirondacks, roaming around New England, and I have a few more plans to travel this year. I am, I admit, dragging my legs along, but the home comforts of fall will rejuvenate. They usually do. Well, sort of.

Much has been going on behind the scenes, and I’ll shout a little now: I signed on to produce Danny Whitecotton‘s next EP, and you’ll hear some of the Rebel Darling fellas on that recording. We’ve got the scratch guitar and vocals down, so more on that in the coming months.

I’m honored to write that the good folks over at Red Line Roots in Somerville and Cambridge, MA selected yours truly to be a part of the second volume of “Locals Covering Locals.” I’m there so damn much, they’ve named me an honorary local. Good news for me, for certain. Read more on that project here… FYI, I’ll be back that way on Sunday, October 5, to record, and for a show at Toad with Red Line Roots honcho, Brian Carroll (I’m hearing that some special guests will be in attendance).

I haven’t yet told you that you can get your own Rebel Darling “Harvest the Heart” T-Shirt. They’ve been stolen by wives and significant others all over New England. They are that comfortable. Pardon the model, but here’s a look at the shirt:

Click Here to Get Your Own…

This weekend, I have a pair of festival shows. Saturday is my annual trek up to St. Regis Falls for Beanstock in the Northern Adirondacks. I’m looking forward to seeing you folks, for certain. It’s a family affair, and the family is good. On Sunday, I’ll be down in Katonah, NY for the first Tribes Hill Music Festival, which features the likes of Red Molly, Sloan Wainwright, and a whole host of other talented songwriters and performers. Here’s the facebook event page…

As always, folks thank you for everything. Spread the word and share the song… Forward this email along to others you think would be interested. Definitely share the music, and head on out to catch an upcoming show, be it Rebel Darling with the boys, or a solo show… Your support keeps the wheels rolling. Thank you. See you out there.

– Mike

If you would like to receive the Low Down Review via email, click here, or send an email to info@rebeldarling.com

Friday at Historic Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY

15 Jan

I wish I knew who to credit for this photo…

Hey there, folks.

This here is mostly a note for all of you in the Northeast. I’ve been thinking over the next LDR, and have it mapped out, for the most part, in my head. But I owe it to you to give the writing the time it deserves before I hit send. I want to tell you a story that draws together a beautifully written song by a friend, a small record shop in Schenectady, and a photograph. Stay tuned. I try to.

But here we are. I want to let you know that I’m playing a room this Friday in which brick walls absorb and share the secrets of spirits aplenty. The worn wooden floors press back decades of inspiration. If sincerity were a scent to be bottled, the perfumers would head to the stage, and kneel down to guage how it should reach the nose. And when the lights go low, currents of music course through the room. Some close their eyes. Others stare with a fixed gaze. Everyone leaves with a story. It’s no lie to say that some rooms stir the soul, churn the imagination, comfort the body, and humbly command reverence with a wink and quick smile. It’s rare to find one. Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY is such a room, and simply put, I am lucky and so very pleased that I have the opportunity to play and sing for you on that stage.

Friend, and talented songwriter Caitlin Canty will join John Rice (slide guitar), Ryan Dunham (harmonica) and I. A fitting return. And you’ll hear a full set of Caitlin’s songs, a true treat, and you’ll also hear a bit from all of us together. Conjuction junction… Quick interjection: Caitlin’s next album is being produced by one of my favorite literate and contemporary songwriters, Jeffrey Foucault. I’m betting she’ll share a few tunes from that baby. The boys and I? Well, we’ve got a few cards to pull out from our sleeves as well. Firm bets on a good night, and the Jack of Diamonds.

We’re going to keep it loose, fun and heartfelt. We’ve been looking forward to sharing the night with you for a while.

Here are the details:

Saturday, April 27 with the Stray Birds

25 Apr

LtR – Maya, Oliver, and Charlie – Photo by Jake Jacobson

Now, for those of you who have been on this email list for a while, you’ll likely recall the name The Stray Birds. I first mentioned them in LDR 13, then again in LDR 15, again in others, and also posted a photo of Maya bearing down on her banjo in LDR 20. I’m a fan, you get the idea… Even if you’re new on this list, you might know the name already. If The Stray Birds are brand new to you, I strongly suggest that you give them a listen; they are a trio of young musicians with a masterful grasp on both musicianship and songwriting. They are hardworking, traversing the country for packed show after packed show, and their dedication to each other and their music is both amazing and admirable. Great folks, those Stray Birds.

That hard work is paying off too, at least with rich experiences. They’ve been featured on the renouned World Cafe Live, selling out the house, and recently recorded a spot on the revered Mountain Stage radio show, which also featured banjo luminaries Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. They have been interviewed on more than one occasion for No Depression, the, as they put it, roots music authority, and their recent, eponymous album, The Stray Birds was listed in NPR’s top 10 Americana Albums for 2012. Quite a resume here, folks, for a band just a few years old.

The Stray Birds – 2012 release

And we’re bringing them to Albany, NY’s backyard, folks. On Saturday, April 27th, I’ll perform as Rebel Darling (more on that later) with John Rice and Ryan Dunham from the Red Haired Strangers for an opening set for The Stray Birds. Here are the show details:

A few of us are making a day out of it up in Rensselaerville, and plan to hike about the Huyck Preserve. There will be food and drink at the show, but if you’re looking for a bite or a beverage before you head up to the Center, grab it at The Palmer House Cafe. You’ll definitely enjoy the food, the atmosphere, and the beer. I’ll probably head down there after the show for a drink or two. You’re welcome to join. In fact, I dare ya.

Huyck Preserve – Photo by AllOverAlbany.com

Thanks so much, folks. Let’s get ourselves out and enjoy the Spring. Don’t forget to take a peek at the schedule, and get yourself a copy of “Harvest the Heart”. Much love your way…

– Mike

Click here for “Harvest the Heart”

Friday Night Mellow Cinder

31 Jan

We’ve just about left January behind, and February 1 is on the mind. I’ll be celebrating the first day of the shortest month in fine fashion, folks, and I’m hoping that you’ll head out to join me. You’ll find me at More Bread and Jam, Cohoes’ finest coffee and sandwich shop, and a staple that now holds Troy and Albany, NY’s finest musicians and songwriters together.

Tomorrow night, I’m reaching beyond New York’s Capital District, though, to welcome Brookyln-based songwriter, Caitlin Canty for her debut performance ’round these here parts. Caitlin’s been stirring up excitement around the Northeast with her sparse and beautiful songs that both cut and caress (Check out this article in the Rutland Reader). This is pure, folks, and we’ll be sharing the stage for some song swapping. We’re also working on some prep and practice for the big “Harvest the Heart” CD Release Show in March.

I’ll also introduce you to the lastest member of my musical family, a Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue. I ain’t gonna say much here. I’ll let the guitar do the talking, and it’ll be a mellow conversation.

Gibson ES-335 1959 Reissue

The Show Info:

    Friday, February 1st at 7:00 p.m.
    More Bread and Jam Cafe
    130 Remsen Street
    Cohoes, NY 12047
    (518) 874-4272
    Support traveling songwriters.
    Gas ain’t cheap and rent ain’t free.

Keep your eyes and ears close to my schedule over the next few months. In addition to Caitlin, I’ve scheduled a number of shows with fine songwriters and musicians from all over the Northeast. It’s mighty hard to get out there and find it all, so when I do find it, I make sure I’m working at bringing it to the neighborhood. Join us tomorrow, and you’ll hear what I’m writing about. And for all y’all out near the Northeast’s Atlantic Coast, I’m headed your way next week, joined by my buddies Laurence Scudder and Ryan Fitzsimmons. Been looking forward to this short tour for a while now.

Thanks so much, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without your support and I hope to see you out there. Much love your way…

– Mike

The Low Down Review – No. 21

31 Dec

Boiling Gold: For a while, I was defintely in the low down, folks. I’m just now peeking through the most sick I’ve ever felt. I had the worst of what’s going around, a flu that wrapped a few other maladies into its careless cocktail of static illness. Dramatic? Not at all… Shit was intense, and the couch was the farthest I could reach from the bed for a week. I cancelled my last show of the year, and fell in and out of awareness to bad movies on Netflix.

Volcano, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche is probably the worst of the bunch, but watching Tommy Lee Jones react to a volcano erupting and forming in the middle of downtown Los Angeles proved to be a healthy dose of humor amidst a collection of crumpled tissues and empty tea cups. The man yells about as much as Samuel Jackson, and takes more charge than a fleet of car batteries.

At the other end of the spectrum, though, and just last night, I found Even the Rain (Tambien La Lluvia), a brilliant, layered movie that drew complicated parallels between the Spanish conquest of the Americas in search of gold in the 15th and 16th centuries and the fight in the Americas over water rights, using the Chochabamba protests in 2000 as a backdrop. The movie pushes the notion that though the details change, the story remains the same, but does so without falling neatly into the cliche. Substitute gold with water, and you’ll get the gist of where the movie takes the viewer. This does not stand to minimize the effectiveness of the cinematography, the dialogue and the captivating performances…

I’ll avoid a detailed recounting of the storyline (here’s the trailer), but I have to mention that the screenwriter, Paul Laverty has a masterful command of irony as an artistic and revelatory tool (we ain’t talking obscure albums and PBRs here…). He showed remarkable ability in weaving the conflicting stories of the indigenous fight for rights and the perceived rights of those in power into a coherent drama about a director and his producer. The characters (who endeavor to film a controversial movie about Christopher Columbus in the Americas) and their rich portrayal are the result of a very deep tool chest, and provide the viewer with an engaging story, as well as a detailed and colorful tapestry.

So, after the movie, and as I turn on the kettle for another cup of tea, I do so reminded that while I’ve been feeling down, I am, by and large, not held down. And while I ain’t yet paying gold for my water, I know it’s more precious than gold. Water, in my mind, is a gift of life from the planet, not a product for sale by humans.


Two if by Mail: I want to get the New Year off to a generous start, so I’m offering up a two-for-one sale on physical, mail-order Greenhorn sales for the month of January. It’s real simple, folks. Anyone who clicks the “Buy Now” link below or the identical link on my website to purchase through PayPal will receive an extra copy of Greenhorn for free. What should you do with this additional album? No rules against re-gifting around here; send it along to a friend you think will enjoy the tunes and spread the generous spirit. Happy New Year, folks!

From the Low Down: I wish I had more news on the recording front, but December is a difficult month to record, and a prolonged illness, John’s sprained ankle, holiday festivities, a vacation to Key West, and some other issues delayed the proceedings. We do, though, have quite a bit already recorded, including the vocal tracks for half of the album. So, there’s good news for certain. We have a lot to accomplish next month, though.

Also in the realm of good news and related to the album, I met with tattoo artist, designer and photographer Nick Reinert a couple of weeks ago to view some of his ideas for the cover art. It was an exciting meeting because the guy had some brilliant sketches, and I’ll show you one:

That image will be the thematic center-piece for all the album art, as well as for the collection of songs, and I’m glad to be working with Nick again after a long break between projects. Nick worked with me and Matt Durfee in 2007, snapping photos and helping with staging for the Palatypus CD Release show. Make sure you folks check out Nick’s work and portfolio at his website.

In other good news, the tickets to March’s CD release party are now available on Caffe Lena’s website. Here’s the direct link to the event page and ticket information, and here’s the info on the show – you’ll be reading and hearing a lot about this one:

    Harvest the Heart CD Release Show
    with opener Caitlin Canty
    Saturday, March 30 – Doors at 7:00 p.m.
    Caffe Lena
    47 Phila Street
    Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
    Ticket Info: Member – $12 / General – $14
    Purchase tickets here…

As always, folks thanks for everything. I’ve got a lot in the queue for the new year, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you all. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

– Mike

Ernest Hemingway’s Typewriter
Hemingway House, Key West, FL

If you would like to receive the Low Down Review via email, click here, or send an email to info@mrpoulopoulos.com

The Low Down Review – No. 20

15 Nov

The Evidence – Photo by Greg Klyma

Stairwell Inspiration: Sometimes songs are found after days of playing with a melody, or weeks of scrawling out the particulars of a life event. Other times songs are found in a stairwell.

Rust-belt vagabond, buddy, and Boston-based troubador Greg Klyma and I left a late-night showcase room while at NERFA and headed towards the stairwell. While trudging up the stairs, guitars in tow, I muttered the phrase, “she can make a man change his mind.” We went silent. Our footsteps, and the muffled chatter a few flights up, were the only sounds. I could feel our concentration bearing down on that phrase. After about five seconds, I said, “I’m holding onto that one.” We burst into a sly laugh, and our focus sharpened.

We headed right for Greg’s room, broke out a guitar and mandolin, passed a flask of whiskey between us, and flipped open the notebook. 40 minutes later (at 3:30 a.m.), with the instruments and an empty flask, we headed back out into the NERFA fray to shop the song around. By all accounts, we’ve a keeper.

It’s happened a few times before, and I’m still amazed by how a seemingly random phrase becomes the seed from which a song bears fruit. Greg and I knew, maybe instinctively, that the phrase was a chorus to an unwritten song. We also knew, without really discussing the objective, that it was our job to find out who said that phrase and capture that character in a few verses, choruses and a revelatory bridge. We just sat down and started plugging away with a disposable pen, some scribbles, our share of duds, and a few flourishes.

We walked out of Greg’s room with a solid country tune, and some ideas on how to bring it to y’all’s ears – more on that in the coming months. And, if you request “Make a Man Change His Mind,” I’ll play it at a show (I’m working on the bridge vocals; it’s a little higher than my normal range, but I’m getting there). For now, I’m sending gratitude across the Berkshires and over the Pioneer Valley – I’m glad we decided to take the stairs, Greg.

LtR – Bob Ristau, Mike Eck, Ryan Dunham, myself, Mat Kane
Photo by Josh DuJack

Turn Your iPod On: This just in, folks: you can purchase the Lost Radio Rounders’ latest CD, Heaven’s Radio on CD Baby as both a physical CD and as a digital download. That’s right, you can get that old-timey, spirit-lifting live sound right on your computer, or in your mailbox. Just look at them photos, folks. You know you want to hear how it sounds. Purchase individual songs, or the album as a whole. It’s wholesome music originally recorded by the Carter Family, and it’ll do your soul some good to listen in. Step right up…

Not a bad pitch, ehy? In all seriousness, you should check out this recording. It was recorded in a similar fashion to how the Carter Family would have done it years ago: straight live. The CD release party was a great time, and I thank Mike Eck and Tom Lindsay for asking me to be a part of the project – I hope we get to play again. It was also a pleasure to be part of such a stellar cast, including Kim Kilby, Ryan Dunham, Bob Ristau, and Mat Kane.

Click here to sample and/or purchase Heaven’s Radio

LtR – Ryan Dunham, Tom Lindsay, myself
Photo by Josh DuJack

From the Low Down: You might notice that my show schedule is shorter than usual. The reason is we’ve started recording and I have to set as much time as possible aside to make sure we finish on schedule. That’s right, there’s a schedule, and there’s already a deadline. Why is there already a deadline? Well, the guys (John Rice, Roger Noyes and Tommy Krebs) and I will release the next album on Saturday, March 30th at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY. I’m already excited, and we have a lot of work to do in order to make it happen.

Photo by John Rice

Joining us for the night will be Caitlin Canty, a wonderfully talented singer and songwriter, based out of NYC, but originally from Vermont. I happened upon Caitlin’s latest album, Golden Hour online and by chance. After a few songs, I clicked “Purchase” and wrote her a note informing her that I’d be stealing from her album. After meeting her this past weekend, and hearing each other perform, we sat down to share a few tunes. Turns out we have some similar musical interests and approaches, and I’m looking forward to introducing her sincere and thoughtful songs to y’all. Many thanks to the clairvoyant Sarah Craig at Lena’s for making it happen. Put this show in your calendars now. Advance tickets are recommended.

In the immediate future, I’m also excited for this Friday’s show (Nov. 16) at Desolation Road Studios in Altamont, NY. You might remember that I mentioned Jim and his work in LDR No. 19. On Friday, Jim hosts Rosary Beard (Hunter Sagehorn & Matthew Loiacono) and I for a warm night of tunes to chill to. Here are the details:

Head on out and join us, request a song or two. It’s a comfortable room, and I plan to play a comfortable, relaxed set. And… Rosary Beard writes beautiful music, suitable for just about every situation. Their album, Halfmoon Fever is an outstanding addition to any catalogue. Hope to see you there.

As always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I truly wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

– Mike

Maya de Vitry (The Stray Birds)
Bears Down on the Banjo at NERFA

If you would like to receive the Low Down Review via email, click here, or send an email to info@mrpoulopoulos.com

Rochester and Cohoes, NY this Weekend

1 Nov

Left to Right: Roger Noyes, myself, Tommy Krebs, John Rice
Photo by Courtney Blackwell

Folks! Thanks very much to all of y’all that came out to the More Bread and Jam show a couple of Saturdays ago! Me and the boys, we had a great time, and we’ve begun recording… More on that in the next Low Down Review. Courtney Blackwell captured the above mid-song moment while at the MB&J show. Here’s a number from that night, it’s called “Mad in the Morning” – click on the title, or here. It’ll be on the next album… Careful, it’s catchy.

Coming up this weekend, I have a string of three shows and then it’s off to NERFA next week, with a jaunt out to New London, CT for a power-house show. I’m making my way back out to Rochester, home of the garbage plate and Park Ave Fest, for the first two shows this weekend. Rochester’s become a bit of a second home over the past couple of years. Here’s the details on those two:

    Friday, November 2 at 8:00 p.m.
    With buddy and songwriter Matt Sauer
    Starry Nites Cafe
    696 University Avenue
    Rochester, NY 14607
    (585) 271-2630
    Passing the hat ’round

    Saturday, November 3 at 6:00 p.m.
    Lovin’ Cup
    300 Park Point Drive
    Suite #101
    Rochester, NY 14623
    (585) 292-9940
    Tickets $5 public / $3 student

The Starry Nites show will be particularly intimate, and early attendance for seating is recommended.

After the Saturday show, I have enough time to head over to a favorite Rochester watering hole, Abilene (enjoy a Texas breakfast at any hour), to catch my friends in The Womack Family Band. These folks are sharp musicians, fine and soulful songwriters, stunning singers, and great people. This past summer, they opened for Crosby, Stills and Nash back in their home state of Ohio. Give their cozy cover of Paul McCartney’s “Every Night” a listen at the link…

On Sunday, The Womacks and I will caravan over to More Bread and Jam for a dinner-hour set. I’ll open, and trusted side and slide-man John Rice will join me. We’ll waste no time getting the main course up, however, and your participation is encouraged. Help us welcome the Womacks. To the details:

Thanks again, folks. I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without your support. Much love your way…

– Mike

Live at Dirt Floor Studio, Chester, CT

The Low Down Review – No. 19

4 Oct

LtR – John Rice, myself and Laurence Scudder. Photo by Courtney “Coco” Blackwell

Summer-ville, MA: I had a hell of a good time out in the Boston area this summer. I took quite a few trips out there and raised hell at Porchfest, an informal outdoor festival in Somerville, shook my nerves at the venerable Club Passim in Cambridge, enjoyed the warm and receptive Toad, also in Cambridge, and let it out at the jovial Burren Backroom in Somerville. I even sat for a bit in Harvard Square’s subway station belting out tunes to the stomp of foot-traffic and hiss of train brakes, sneaking sips of whiskey between songs. Courtney Blackwell, the sweet voice in the Blackwell Sinners and on Greenhorn, snapped the above photo at Toad – one of my favorite gigs, and I was very fortunate to sit between two of my favorite, and excellent musicians.

Throughout the vast majority of those Boston gigs, you could hear Laurence Scudder and his viola, laying down melodies that span the globe. He strode with form and grace from Arabic scales to Appalachain flourishes. He’s a tasteful, attentive player and his resume lists him as a steady side-man to not only the Boston area’s finest song-writers and bands, but national acts as well. Here’s a link to a video in which Laurence joins the one-man music machine, Martin Sexton on stage for a hard hitting version of Sexton’s “Gypsy Woman.” For a few years, he toured with the jazz-folk-funk outfit, The Ryan Montbleau Band, and he’s put together some wonderful work for the up-and-coming Brothers McCann.

After Porchfest, it was easier to take the
Tonka to Toad

It’s clear that Laurence is an accomplished and skilled musician, but what I’ve come to know is that he’s a down-to-earth guy and, like I mentioned earlier, a hell of a lot of fun to hang with. He’s been a huge help in expanding my gigging range, and the reason I’ve been able to return to Boston time and again. Both he and John Rice (my tunes would still just be sitting on paper without Mr. Rice, and if you’ve seen me play, you’ve likely heard John’s versatile and learned melodic vocabulary) have taught me, through their example, how to listen and share while playing, and, quite simply, patience. So I’ve got to bring the go-to sidemen to the forefront and say, “Thanks, guys. This shit’s fun, and it wouldn’t be right without ya.”

At the ready..

Not So Desolate a Road: Located right on State Route 146, at 182 Main Street, in Altamont, NY, you’ll find Jim Miller’s Desolation Road Studios, a relatively undiscovered room for regional art and music in the Albany area. The studio space is a perfect size for a warm, acoustic performance, and he knows it. He set up cafe tables in the middle of the shop for listeners.

Recently, Jim constructed a custom frame for a photograph I took and wanted to give to a good friend as a wedding gift; I was honored to be the Best Man, a description a few folks would likely take issue with… He suggested that I consider barn wood for the frame, with a double mat for both depth of perspective and complimentary tonality in color. His suggestion sounded spot-on to me, and as you can see for yourself in the photo below, he did a beautiful job. And… I can tell you that his reasonable custom framing prices would send Michael’s into a fit of confusion. Plus, he’s a small business owner, so he invests himself in each project with dedication to detail; he knows his name travels with each frame and photograph.

A sample of Jim Miller’s framing talents

Pack the car full of folks, and head on out to Altamont and visit Jim (you can catch a wood fired pizza next door at Mio Vino). While at the Studio, pick up some hand-made jewelry or pottery, chat him up for your next framing project, and bring some beer or wine to one of the many shows he hosts on his intimate stage: I’ll return to Desolation Road for a pre-Christmas show on December 22nd. Simply put, Jim’s a good guy, and works hard to make sure that his customers are comfortable and pleased. Give him a go, and say hello for me.

From the Low Down: Tonight (Oct. 4), I’ll be back in Cherry Valley, NY for a two-hour set at The Rose and Kettle. The R&K has one of, if not the best prepared menus in the Capital District. Matt is a serious chef, and a laid-back guy, a righteous combination. Rumor has it that The Black Fox River Project’s lead man, Brad Towle might show for a few beers and a few songs (Check out his new EP at the link). It all goes down at 8:00 p.m., and it’s worth the short drive.

Taking a different track than I did this summer, I have a number of shows scattered around the Albany, NY area in the next few weeks – get complete details here… I’ll call attention to two shows listed, and they’re back-to-back. On Friday, October 19, help me celebrate months of hard work by the old-timey (but no where near old) guys in The Lost Radio Rounders at the Steamer No. 10 Theatre in Albany. You may recall that I’ve teamed up with these encyclopedic performers a couple of times and they’ve decided to release a selection of live recordings from those collaborations on a disc titled, Heaven’s Radio: Gospel Songs of the Carter Family. Here’s a note on the album release directly from their website:

“We’ve had this one professionally mastered, designed and printed; it looks spiffy and it sounds great. Please join us, along with special guests M.R. Poulopoulos and Kim Kilby (who are featured on the record along with harmonica man Ryan Dunham and bassist Cousin Clyde) for our CD Release Concert. This is going to be a wonderful evening in a real sit-down theater, and you’ll have an opportunity to get your own copy of the record. Please tell your friends. We’re very excited about this show.” Me too, guys… Check out all the details for the show here… Hope to see you there, and that you take a disc home.

The second show fits nicely into the new CD theme. I’ve begun pre-production work and practice on the next album (a collection of 10 new, original songs), and some fine players and I are filling out the tunes in order to develop a feel for how the album will sound. Join John Rice, Roger Noyes (Arch Stanton Quartet / Dan Johnson and The Expert Sidemen), Tommy Krebs (Alta Mira), and I on Saturday, October 20th at the recently re-opened More Bread & Jam Cafe in Cohoes, NY. We’re kicking that adventure off at 7:00 p.m., and you might want to bring some dancing shoes. A few of the tunes require them.

It needs to be said that I’m very excited about the songs on this next album, and that you should expect the above players as well as some additional musicians (including Scudder and his viola) to join on for the effort. I am constantly humbled and amazed by the talent that has been, and continues to be supportive of my music and efforts. These folks enrich not only the songs, but my life, and I’m hoping that I do the same for them.

A couple of weeks ago, I took a pen and notebook out to Northampton, MA and wrote a review of the Kelly Joe Phelps performance, and the good folks at Nippertown published the review. Read the review by clicking here…

I plan to be pretty busy over the next few months with recording, gigging, and the daily duties behind a towel and dish-soap, but I’m hoping that I can at least send out a few shorter updates on my whereabouts and to catch you up on how it’s all going (please share the same…). It may be a bit before I have the time to put together another LDR, but then again, that ain’t nothing new.

So, hopefully, I’ll see you out there, and as always, folks thanks for everything. Spread the word and share the song… I simply can’t do it without you.

– Mike

On the spot harmony to Dandelion Wine…

LtR – Jim Trick, Sierra West, Marinna Bell and myself at Club Passim.
Photo by Denise A. Maccaferri

If you would like to receive the Low Down Review via email, click here, or send an email to info@mrpoulopoulos.com

A Pair of Tunes for Uncle Bill

29 Jun

Hey there, folks.

I just wanted to share some video from last month’s show at Mocha Maya’s in Shelburne Falls, MA. I opened the night for Kyle Carey, a wonderful vocalist and songwriter.

I wrote these two songs because I had the pleasure of knowing my Uncle Bill, a hard working man with a humorous disposition. Life dealt him some tough shots, but the man carried on and I believe he found joy along the way. Here they are, “Dandelion Wine” and “Old Bill”:

You can also view other live video on the “Sounds Live” page…