Recommendations of where to go and what to hear in Westchester and nearby in February 2020:
Classical/ Chamber Music
Saturday, February 8, 5pm
The multiple Grammy Award-winning, internationally renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the world’s foremost chamber orchestras, a rich ensemble that you would normally see at Carnegie Hall. Getting to hear them locally for an early concert is just delightful. Interestingly, they work without a conductor, preferring a collaborative creative environment. They produced 71 albums, including the Grammy Award-winning Shadow Dances: Stravinsky Miniatures, and 42 commissioned and premiered original works. Orpheus creates extraordinary musical experiences that enrich lives and empower individuals through collaboration, innovation and a passion for artistic excellence. This is simply one of the very best. No other writer’s accolades are required. The program will be:
FARRENC: Nonet in E-flat Major, Op. 38
MENDELSSOHN: Octet in E-Flat Major, Op. 20
Sunday, February 16, 7pm
The Tarrytown Music Hall (13 Main Street, Tarrytown)
I know what you’re thinking. Please…not another bunch of celebrity kids cashing in on the family name, trying to ride the coattails of their famous dads! Not here, actually. This band is terrific. The parental fame is as much a curse as it is a blessing. If they were just average Joes, everyone would simply say that they are the greatest new southern rock band. The Allman Betts Band brings together the next generation of Allman Brothers fame: Gregg Allman’s son from his first of seven marriages, Devon Allman, is on guitar and vocals. Dickey Betts’ son Duane Betts, who bears an uncanny resemblance to his father in both physical appearance and style, hair, hat and everything, is on lead guitar and vocals. On bass, we have Berry Duane Oakley, son of the founding bass player of the Allman Brothers Band, Berry Oakley. These musicians have known each other since childhood, they grew up in music, have taken to their father’s profession and pledged to continue the Allman Brothers legacy.
In the history of rock and roll, I do not know of another occasion when three sons of three famous bandmates formed a band and were actually good. To a limited degree, they cover the famous songs of their fathers, not just to carry on the tradition, but surely to satisfy the longing of the original band’s many fans, yet with a healthy dose of fine original material. The many old Allman Brothers fans will not complain a bit that the Allman Betts Band sounds much like the original Allman Brothers, reconnecting with that special blues-infused southern swamp rock genre. Duane Betts is truly every bit as good as his father as a guitarist and Devon Allman is a terrific singer in his own right. The result is surprisingly good. Expect them to get rocking while evoking the same vibe and musical approach that the Allman Brothers made famous, but the Allman Betts Band has their own brand of originality and musicality. Most importantly, expect to be surprised and delighted because they are, in fact, “all that.”
Saturday, February 22, 8pm
The Tarrytown Music Hall (13 Main Street, Tarrytown)
I hope the Tarrytown Music Hall has good insurance, because this pair of virtuosos will blow the roof off the house. The overused word “legendary” gets batted around quite a lot, too often as it is misapplied to wishful thinkers. The word has since lost some of its meaning. Few legitimately deserve those powerful accolades, but it actually fits spot-on to these amazing and distinguished musicians. Harmonica player and guitarist Charlie Musselwhite and lead guitarist Elvin Bishop are two exceptional elder statesmen of the blues. As one of the most refined and versatile harmonica players, Musselwhite has incorporated elements of Brazilian and world music in his traditional blues repertoire. He has been actively recording since 1966 and his recent work with Ben Harper, Get Up, earned him a well-deserved Grammy. He has performed with musical luminaries Ben Harper, Cyndi Lauper, Eddie Vedder, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Gov’t Mule, INXS, Mickey Hart and Japan’s Kodo Drummers, George Thorogood, Eliades Ochoa, Cat Stevens and personal friend and best man at his wedding John Lee Hooker. Rock & Roll and Blues Hall of Famer Elvin Bishop is a rousing blues rock guitarist, whose scorching blues first emerged with the famous Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1965. His biggest hit was Fooled Around and Fell in Love, a pop-blues, but he can get down as a fiery roots blues lead player on anything. Charlie Musselwhite is not to be missed and seeing his shows should be on any blues lover’s bucket list, and Elvin Bishop can play the guitar unspeakably well.
Sunday, February 23, 12pm (Doors 11am) to 2pm
Daryl’s House (130 NY Rt. 22, Pawling)
One of the best kept secrets in the Hudson Valley is the free 12-2 PM brunch matinee weekend shows at Daryl’s House in Pawling. Audiences are treated to class-act musicians without a cover charge. This writer has seen surprisingly phenomenal up-and-coming acts there, and this will be one of them. On this date, they will bring in a relatively unknown, but fantastic soul-blues singer, Kevin Burt. For more than 25 years, Kevin Burt has been electrifying audiences throughout the Midwest, dispelling the myth that true blues has no roots in Iowa. His soul-inspired presentation is unique, which consistently gets him compared to a range of artists like Bill Withers and Aaron Neville, with the ability to build an audience rapport that has been compared to B.B. King. This show is sponsored by the Hudson Valley Blues Society, a local organization dedicated to keeping the blues alive in the region. Kevin Burt puts on a soulful, moving solo show of passionate acoustic music. Don’t expect nitty-gritty, down home roots blues. He performs smooth, uptown soul, the good old-fashioned way, that will stir your heart. Just what the world needs right now!
Joni and Paul: The Music of Joni Mitchell and Paul Simon
Friday, February 28, 8pm
The Schoolhouse Gallery and Theater (3 Owens Rd. North Salem)
Tribute shows are all the rage nowadays. Numerous regional venues are packing their schedule with cover bands, for better or for worse. Everyone from the Beatles to the Grateful Dead seemingly has a proxy revival. While some would rather hear original new music, it’s no difference than classical performances at Carnegie Hall, when the music of the old masters is performed. Two of the great masters of 20th century singer-songwriting are being celebrated at the Schoolhouse Theater as Anne Carpenter and Peter Calo perform the enduring songs of Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. The Schoolhouse is the perfect, intimate little venue for such a tribute. While the iconic celebrated artists hardly require descriptions, as both Dylan and Mitchell are by now considered as giants in the American songwriting annals, Anne Carpenter and Peter Calo are Hudson Valley favorites, both superb performers deserving respect and attention. Calo is a brilliant guitarist, singer/songwriter and producer. Anne Carpenter is a lovely singer, of the caliber capable to take on the beautiful-but-difficult songs of Joni Mitchell. This should be an amazing evening, bringing the audience songs they love with the comfort of familiarity by two voices worth knowing.
Frank Matheis is an award-winning music journalist, author and radio producer with an eclectic musical taste that covers the gamut of music from Americana to Zydeco, from Jazz to World Music. He is a regular contributor to Living Blues magazine and other music publications, and the publisher of www.thecountryblues.com. His radio documentaries have been heard on three continents in three languages.