Recommendations of where to go and what to hear in Westchester (and nearby) in July 2019:
July 13: Jimmie Vaughan | 8pm (Doors: 5pm)
Daryl’s House (Pawling, NY)
Many aficionados of Southern blues/blues rock guitar will consider the late Stevie Ray Vaughan as one of the best of all time in the genre, possibly next to Jimi Hendrix. But when people used to ask Stevie who his major influence was, he would always first answer, “my brother.” With good reason. There are many great guitarists, but whoever one may name, Jimmie Vaughan ranks among the top echelon. Formerly the lead guitarist with Fabulous Thunderbirds, Vaughan has been on his own for a long while, touring regularly. He was here in the Hudson Valley a year ago, a long way from Austin, Texas. If you missed the 2018 show, don’t make that mistake again. When it comes to Texas blues, rockabilly and roots rock, there are not many who can muster the refined combination of tasteful eloquence, technical prowess and deep feeling. He fronts a ravenous hot band and Vaughan is still on top of his game as a singer, bandleader and guitar virtuoso. While his brother Stevie was given to long, noodling improvisational solos of ravishing skill, Jimmie prefers to focus on the song. He’s less about proving something technically, although he is a powerhouse. To him, it’s about tight arrangements, harmonies and elegant expressiveness. Call it “clean playing” perfection, but never without missing the point of the blues. He’s going to grab you by the heart, twist your soul and soothe your mind. One of our greatest living cultural treasures!
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY)
Caramoor is the place to be this July. Bring your guitar player to hear the real deal! There is nothing quite as breathtakingly exquisite as classical guitar, the earliest form of guitar music. The guitar is by now the most popular instrument in the world, but classical guitar, one of its most sophisticated and beautiful expressions, draws the smallest audience. Not for long. Along comes a young virtuoso from Montenegro, simply known by his first name Miloš, ready to change all that. He’s just 36 years young, handsome and swift on the fretboard, and suddenly everything changes. He’s making the classical guitar cool again and many burgeoning guitarists would do well to sit at his feet and hear how a guitar can sing when in the hands of a true maestro. He studied at the famed Royal Academy of Music in London and has played the best stages of the world, including Carnegie Hall. The New York Times said he is “one of the most exciting and communicative classical guitarists today.” This is his debut at Caramoor, and part of the sunken garden recital series aptly called “Guitar in The Gardens.” BBC Music Magazine named Miloš as one of the “champions of the classical guitar who have shaped its sound in the last century.” A good one not to miss. The affordable program promises to thrill, bringing you a world-class player:
J.S. Bach Suite in C Minor, BWV 997, Prelude and Fuge
Granados Oriental and Andaluza
De Falla “Danza del molinero” from El Sombrero de Tres Picos
Villa Lobos Selection of Works
American Roots Music
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (Katonah, NY)
The creative tour-de-force, the banjoist husband-and-wife duo of Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, build upon the folk tradition to create an amalgam of typically American folk roots music spiced fiery hot with Afro-Eurasian-jazz-grass. The banjo without limitations, one could say. Fleck & Washburn will perform pieces from their Grammy Award-winning self-titled debut, as well as from their new record, Echo in the Valley (Rounder 2017). Fleck is a 15-time Grammy Award-winner with the distinction of having been nominated in more music categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history. Washburn is his match in every way, and together they are some of the most innovative practitioners of contemporary American string music. They are at once traditional, yet musically adventurous. Old and new. Ancient and modern. They stretch all boundaries, yet greet you with the comfort of familiarity. Plainly said, they will make you happy and challenge the limits of musical discovery. You will not know every time exactly what to call it, but you will love every minute of it.
July 30 & July 31: Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
The Ridgefield Playhouse (Ridgefield, CT)
If you have ever been behind an old pickup with the bumper sticker “My baby don’t tolerate Lyle Lovett” and wondered what that was about, well, there is this guy from Texas who was once married to “pretty woman” Julia Roberts…and the boy sure can sing. Once someone referred to him as a “highly literate songwriter,” which is true, but that fails to mention that he is just wall-to-wall fun. The golden-voiced Grammy Award-winning Texan Lyle Lovett is one of the wittiest songwriters in the land, and it is a treat to have him back in the region. The Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut is a short hop from Westchester and a lovely concert venue. These tickets are not cheap – $120-130, but for anyone who wants a nice night out with a world-class performer, it is worth it. They captured it right: “a singer, composer and actor, Lovett has broadened the definition of American music in a career that spans 14 albums. Coupled with his gift for storytelling, the musician fuses elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues in a convention-defying manner that breaks down barriers. Hits include “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas),” “If I Had a Boat,” “Cowboy Man” and more!
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.