Frank’s Picks: March


Recommendations of where to go and what to hear in Westchester and nearby in March 2020:



Sleepy Hollow String Band

Sat., March 7, noon (doors: 11am) 

Daryl’s House (130 NY Rt. 22, Pawling) 

Westchester’s own Sleepy Hollow String Band is heading north on I-684 to Daryl’s House for a free Saturday brunch performance, a path best followed to enjoy a daytime show and a good meal. The band is regularly booked here, and it’s no wonder as they deliver an exquisite set of delightful acoustic roots music. The current core lineup consists of Connie McCardle (guitar and vocals), Mike Burns (guitar and vocals), Ethan Kende (standup bass), supplemented by instrumental friends. Mike Burns founded the Westchester Bluegrass Club, which regularly sponsors jams and generally fosters appreciation of American string and roots music. Through the dedication of Mike Burns, the late great banjoist Ben Freed and Michael Rosenthal the club has been a local cultural treasure, sponsoring small concerts at the Purdy’s Lake House for over 15 years.

Blues Rock & Soul

The Slam Allen Band

Sat., March 7, 8:30pm

The Towne Crier Café (379 Main St, Beacon) 

There are still people who think that blues is a sad, cry-in-your-beer music. Those people should get out more. With Hudson Valley’s favorite guitarist, Slam Allen, the focus is on “Let the Good Times Roll” and in his vibrant, packed shows you can expect to jump and shout for joy. He is a polished, consummate entertainer who cut his chops as band leader for Muddy Water’s former harmonica player James Cotton and locally with the late Bill Perry. Slam is a fiery guitarist and singer known as “The Hard-Working Man” for good reason. He puts on a show that will wipe away your sorrows and worries in three seconds flat! By now, he has reached international fame, touring all over the world to ecstatic audiences. He is one of the finest blues singers ever. The real blues is dance music that will irresistibly pull you in and enthrall. This is as good as it gets. Go and have some real fun with his amalgam of Chicago blues, soul, R&B and rock, and tell him that Frank sent you. The Towne Crier Café had moved from Pawling to Beacon some years ago, and if you have not been to that venue, you will enjoy one of the region’s best music clubs with a great kitchen.


Dweezil Zappa “Hot Rats Live! + Other Hot Stuff 1969” 

Thurs., March 12, 8pm

Tarrytown Music Hall (13 Main St, Tarrytown)

When I was in high school in 1972 a neighbor girl gave me Frank Zappa’s album because she did not like it. “It was too weird,” she said. “In fact, nobody liked it, but you might, given the strange stuff you listen to.” She was right. “Hot Rats” was a musical epiphany, a mind-expanding transcendental journey into improvisational jazz rock, with complicated melodic structure and experimental artistic expression, unlike anything I had ever heard. Frank Zappa stretched the horizons of rock-and-roll into the realm of progressive jazz. Every listen uncovered new nuances, interesting passages and thrilling, daring freedom. Zappa was to rock music what Salvador Dalí was to visual art: bold, surrealistic and completely unconventional; in parts bizarre, yet musically satisfying. It was life-changing. Dweezil Zappa has been performing his father’s music and carrying on the Zappa legacy for years now. He continues the creative work of his father and the resurrection of this album should be an exciting draw for Zappa fans. “Hot Rats” was decades ahead of his time, as Zappa was a creative genius, a masterful artist and innovator. It stands today as one of the fiercest artistic expressions of 20th Century rock, and even today it is as powerful and stunning as 50 years ago.


Lúnasa with special guest Natalie Merchant

Sun., March 15, 7pm

Tarrytown Music Hall (13 Main St, Tarrytown)

This should be a night to remember. They are back again after a highly successful packed show in 2019. Natalie Merchant hardly requires an introduction. In this region, she is a virtual folk-pop superstar. If you don’t know her from the 10,000 Maniacs, check out her quintessential 1995 hit-album “Tigerlily.” She will pair again with the world-famous Irish acoustic band Lúnasa, which was named for an ancient Celtic harvest festival in honor of the pre-Christian Irish god Lugh. Lúnasa was formed in 1997 from members of some of the greatest Irish groups of the previous decade, an early review from “Folk Roots” magazine describing the band as an “Irish music dream team.” From the start, the band’s complex arrangements and unique sound reshaped the boundaries of traditional music and energized audiences the world over. They said it well about themselves: “We play a very diverse selection of music, including our own compositions, melodies from other Celtic regions such as Brittany, Galicia, Asturias, and Scotland, and slower melodies often involving three-part harmonies. The melodies are played on the traditional instruments of pipes, fiddle and flute, but the rhythmic and harmonic style – the bass and guitar style – give the band a very contemporary sound.”

Stephane Wrembel: The Django Experiment V. Album Release

Sat., March 21, 8:30pm

The Towne Crier Café (379 Main St, Beacon) 

The great French Gypsy Django Reinhardt’s hot-jazz guitar legacy is carried on in a sub-genre called “Gypsy Jazz.” Mostly in Europe, numerous players adopted Reinhardt’s style, namely Bireli Lagrene, The Rosenberg Trio, Dorado and Sampson Schmitt, Angelo Debarre, Titi Winterstein and many more. Most current practitioners stay true to the pre-WWII music of the iconic Django Reinhardt, his partner, violinist Stephane Grappelli, and their famous Quintet, the Hot Club de France of Paris. Stephane Wrembel takes that tradition and stretches the creative boundaries in various jazz and world music directions, performing an amalgam that is deeply rooted in Reinhardt’s tradition, but not locked down in limitation – yet always with Django’s light, sweet spot. Wrembel was born in Paris and raised in Fontainebleau, the home of Impressionism and Django. He stated: “When I was 17, I decided to become a professional musician. I knew I had to practice 18 hours a day, and after I got my high school diploma, I decided that was what I was going to do. I had a classical background, a passion for rock music, and then I found out about Django. I fell in love with the very strong impressionist feel in his music.” Wrembel learned both “in the streets” and formally. He immersed himself in the Gypsy culture by visiting the wagon camps outside of Paris, playing with the real insiders. He was later admitted in Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2000, after graduating summa cum laude. He moved to New York in 2003. Today, he is one of the world’s most relevant practitioners of the Django style jazz guitar. His “Django Experiment” album series are powerful impressionistic musical statements, as exciting as it gets, by the foremost Django Impressionist. Among other guitars, he plays a 1943 Busato formerly owned by Joseph Reinhardt!

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 His radio documentaries have been heard on three continents in three languages.

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