City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
I was 12 years old and sprawled across the back seat of the family station wagon – a big-finned, hardtop machine with wicked tail lights and heavy metal side panels painted the color of wood. Dad sat in the driver’s seat, directly in front of me, losing his mind.
My sister and I had reached the age when promises of ice cream sodas and enticement of egg creams in exchange for orderly behavior – can you just sit still, for five minutes, please! – no longer carried significance. If we were going to be bribed into silence, it was going to take cash. Five bucks apiece, to be precise. Our palms dutifully greased with paper greenbacks depicting a serious-looking Abe Lincoln, we giddily trotted into the department store. It was a momentous occasion: each of us setting out to purchase our first record album. Dad waited in the car. My sister chose an album by The Beatles: love, love, love, blah, blah, blah. I made a beeline for the new releases. The Rolling Stones. Sticky Fingers.
I cradled it in my arms, this inspired 12-inch by 12-inch platter, double-wrapped in an opaque shopping bag, the contents within filled with strut and swagger and songs about slave-owners and demon lives and drugs, salivating Pavlovian dogs, mad, mad days on the road and nightdreams of sins and of lies and living after we’ve died.
“Beatles, very nice,” said dad, during the unveiling of the albums in the family station wagon. “And you?”
He gazed over the back of the album jacket first, which was festooned with a bright sticker that depicted a big red mouth and a long unfurling tongue. It was the album’s front side that got the more immediate reaction. Here was a near life size snapshot of a human torso wearing a pair of jeans upon which was fixed a working zipper. When unzipped, the jacket revealed an inner-jacket picture of a pair of cotton briefs. To this day I’m not sure what dad said when examining the zipper-front, other than the sound of the words seemed to emanate from somewhere deep in the gut. The jargon itself was a mash-up of words that mixed phrases from the Old Country, new American slang and some otherworld language yet-to-be invented.
Of course, immediately, I was hooked.
“God knows what I’m on about on that song,” Mick Jagger told Rolling Stone magazine many years later, when asked about his lyrics for the album’s first track, “Brown Sugar.” “It’s such a mishmash,” Jagger said. “All the nasty subjects in one go.”
The Rolling Stones debuted a rough working version of “Brown Sugar” at the Altamont festival in 1969 - the first song in the setlist performed immediately after that infamous stabbing captured in the film “Gimme Shelter.” Despite the karmic baggage, when it was finally released as a single a year-and-a-half later, it climbed up the American charts and all the way to number one, displacing Three Dog Night’s six-week cling to the top of the charts - with “Joy to the World” of all things - and provided a daring counterpoint to chart-topping snoozers by Carole King - “It’s Too Late,” James Taylor -“You’ve Got A Friend,” and the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” - that would soon follow.
“Sticky Fingers” begins, as most good things do, with a succession of scything Keith-chords, adds a dose of heavy horns, and a killer rhythm section highlighted by the booming of Charlie bass-drum beats, as Mick Jagger releases the pent-up verse: Gawlko slayship bownfocottan feels/ sawld in-a-mawket-down in New Awleens…
The album was released at an important time in popular rock and roll history: the Beatles had broken up, Bob Dylan a recluse and the trippy-hippy ‘60s were over. ‘Sticky Fingers’ boasts 10 songs in all, and not a throwaway tune in the bunch. There is the acoustic beauty of songs like “Wild Horses” and “Moonlight Mile,” the Gram Parsons-inspired country-rock-and-tonk of “Dead Flowers,” the heavy horn and musical jam explorations of “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and the solemn hair-on-your-neck at attention moodiness of “Sister Morphine.”
The Rolling Stones classic 1971 album "Sticky Fingers" is the focus of the next Rochmon Record Club Listening Party, which takes place Tuesday, Jan. 16 at Caffe Lena. I can’t wait to see and hear what Rochmon’s got lined up for the night. Doors at 6:30 p.m. and show time is at 7. A word of advice: If you want a seat, get there early. A $5 donation is suggested. Donations go to the restoration funds of Caffe’ Lena and Universal Preservation Hall.
Who: Bill Cole.
Where: Phila Street.
How long have you had a woodwind shop?
Forty years. I started out in Watervliet and about 15 years I moved up to Saratoga Springs.
How did you get into the business?
A teacher encouraged me to go to school for music. I was drawn to one program specifically that taught band instrument repair. Music instrument technology trained you how to fix instruments: woodwinds, brass and strings. When I got out I started my own shop, temporarily. Forty years later, here I am.
It's a niche market, isn’t it?
Even within my field I have a niche. Most music stores go after the big school accounts, and although I’m very happy to work on school instruments, I’m really targeting the pro horns. So, I get customers from across the country. It’s a special market and one I enjoy.
Have you ever had a brush with fame?
Over and over again. I have a book, about 300 pages, I hope to write it someday of all the things that have happened over 40 years. You’re standing right here next to Garth Hudson’s saxophone; he’s a friend of mine and we’ve had a lot of correspondence with Garth and The Band. Dave Matthews Band – we work on Jeff Coffin’s instrument when he comes to town. Chicago. Jethro Tull. Those are the big guys, but the real honor is working for the professional musician who’s playing (locally at jazz clubs) – because you know their passion for playing is so important. To be a part of that is great.
Do you play?
I don’t play professionally. Both my son and I play when we fix the instruments, but our job is to fix them; their job is to play them.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An engineer or an architect. To this day I look at the buildings that are going up and I just marvel at them. I’ve always had a passion for that.
What are some of the best things Saratoga Springs has to offer?
When I have customers who come into town for the first time and looking for some direction about what to do, I tell them go to SPAC, have a picnic, and on the way back go to Congress Park and visit the museum; they’re going to get some nature, they’re going to get some history and then all you have to do is walk down the street and see the beautiful buildings that have been built, the beautiful buildings that have been restored. Saratoga just has something for everybody.
Who would portray you in a movie about your life?
I would say Johnny Depp, ha. He would have to shave his head and gain some weight – but I think he could nail it. Plus, he’s one of my favorite actors.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The city based Code Blue emergency shelter, which has had a transitory geographic existence since its opening in late 2013, has one final hurdle before landing in a permanent home.
Earlier this week, the city Zoning Board of Appeals upheld its May 2017 interpretation that the proposed new permanent shelter on Walworth Street is zoning compliant. The ZBA’s unanimous 7-0 decision came in the aftermath of a legal challenge to halt its development, led by a group of 22 area residents, claiming the development is not a permitted use within the Urban Residential Zoning District.
Following the ZBA’s Jan. 8 approval, the 22 Franklin Street residents opposed to the project issued a statement saying they were disappointed by the “erroneous determination” and that they will be identifying their next steps and actions “in the near future." The group has until Feb. 7 to file an appeal. Claudia Braymer, an attorney representing the residents, said on Wednesday the group had yet to make a final decision regarding an appeal.
The Code Blue Saratoga program was born from the tragic death of Nancy Pitts. The 54-year-old mother of two sought shelter on a Williams Street porch during a frigid December night in 2013. She was discovered by police the next morning. Within days of the homeless woman’s death, a cooperative partnership between then mayor-elect Joanne Yepsen, non-profit organizations, and members of the community was initiated, and a plan set in motion to site an emergency shelter in the city. Since that time, a series of temporary shelters have been housed at St. Peter’s Parish Center, the west-of Broadway Salvation Army building, and the east-of Broadway Soul Saving Station Church, and at times met with public opposition by some residents who lived near the location where the shelter was to be sited.
Last February, local business owner Ed Mitzen announced he would donate the funds to construct a permanent Code Blue homeless shelter atop Shelters of Saratoga property on Walworth Street. Shelters of Saratoga, or S.O.S., oversees the Code Blue emergency program and operates a case managed shelter and a twice-a-week “drop-in” center - which draws 20 to 22 people each day - at its two existing buildings on the property.
S.O.S. Executive Director Michael Finocchi said having the Code Blue emergency shelter on its grounds benefit those seeking help and provide a greater continuum of services. “First off, we won’t have to go looking for another (temporary emergency) place every year and it will also enable us to share services between Shelters of Saratoga and Code Blue – housing services, employment services; we can offer more to these individuals. This project will allow us to more easily connect homeless individuals with the support services they need.”
The city based shelter initially would open when temperatures dipped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but in early 2017 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order which directed emergency shelters to operate when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. Currently, Code Blue is temporarily housed at the Soul Saving Station Church on Henry Street, where since mid-November the 41-bed shelter has been at full capacity. The proposed new building will consist of approximately 6,500 square feet of space and house about 50 beds. The two-story building is slated to include a large kitchen, laundry room, men’s and women’s sleeping rooms, multiple showers and bathrooms, a large storage area for donated food and clothing, and a small Code Blue office.
On a single night in 2017, 553,742 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States and more than one-fifth of those people were children, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was released December 2017. The number of people experiencing homelessness increased in 14 states between 2007 and 2017, and the largest absolute increases were in New York State – up by 43 percent during that time, according to the report, which notes that there are about 89,500 who are homeless in New York. And while New York may also have a greater population than many others, the national average state-by-state indicates 17 people per 10,000 are homeless, while in New York that ratio jumps to 45 people per 10,000 - a ranking that places N.Y. third worst in the nation.
The proposed permanent shelter Code Blue location heads for final approval back to the Planning Board, which meets for a workshop – a pre-meeting gathering – on Tuesday and for its full meeting Thursday, Jan. 18 when it is anticipated to discuss the matter. The proposal is not expected to meet much resistance; the Planning Board was unanimous in its support of a special use permit and site plan review for the facility, last July.
“It’s got to go back to the Planning Board, but we won’t have to go through the whole process like we did the first time,” Finocchi said. “It was already there before, and the vote was 7-0. Once we get our approval we can file for a building permit.”
Depending on the length of this year’s spring thaw, the site housing the permanent Code Blue shelter building could be operational by the 2018-19 winter season, which begins next November.
Mayor Meg Kelly, who began her term Jan. 1, thanked the ZBA following Monday’s unanimous agreement. “Code Blue is a community problem and we all must come together as a community to solve this problem. We are better as a group to help the homeless during these brutally cold nights,” Kelly said.
The proposed Code Blue permanent shelter:
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Two weeks into the winter season coupled with predictions that forecast freezing temperatures for most every day this month are pushing the status of the city based homeless shelter from emergency status into a near 24/7 operation.
Code Blue Saratoga, a program of Shelters of Saratoga, provides temporary unrestricted shelter during periods of hazardous winter weather - defined as 12 inches or more of snow and/or a temperature of 32 degrees or less, to include wind chill factor. Last year, the shelter was opened 28 times during the daytime hours over the course of the entire season. That number will already be eclipsed this weekend.
“The daytime temperatures are a lot lower this year,” says Code Blue Director Cheryl Ann Murphy-Parant.
Code Blue was started in December 2013 as a collaborative effort between the City of Saratoga Springs, faith-based groups, individuals and non-profit partners committed to assisting individuals who are homeless. The shelter is temporarily housed at the Soul Saving Station Church, on Henry Street.
Parant said current needs at the shelter include: milk, juices and ice tea mix; butter, sugar and coffee – regular and decaffeinated. Donated items may be dropped off at the shelter at any time. Additionally, a volunteer sign-up is listed on the organization’s website –https://www.codebluesaratoga.org/wordpress/ - where volunteers may sign up for a variety of duties.
The walk-in, emergency homeless shelter offers a hot meal, a warm and safe place to sleep and essential supplies. During the 2016-17 winter season, Code Blue housed more than 5,800 overnight stays and served 6,700 meals.
Shelters of Saratoga, which oversees Code Blue, had hoped to be operating a permanent shelter adjacent to its S.O.S. properties on Walworth Street this year after local business owner Ed Mitzen announced he would fund the costs to build the shelter and local firms Bonacio Construction and the LA Group agreed to forego any profits to keep the building development costs as low as possible.
Shortly after that announcement, however, a group of 22 residents filed a legal challenge claiming the proposed two-story building which would house about 50 beds didn’t fit into their west side neighborhood and that its development is not a permitted use within the Urban Residential Zoning District. Monday night at City Hall, the Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to discuss the matter.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – One day after being sworn in, the newly elected City Council convened for its first regular Tuesday night meeting at City Hall on Jan. 2. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the newest members of city government - Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, Supervisor Tara Gaston and Mayor Meg Kelly, were the first to arrive.
Mayor Kelly – the 21st mayor in the city’s 102-year history and its fourth woman mayor - made six appointments to three boards: Tom Roohan was appointed chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority, Stephen “Sully” Sullivan the Authority’s vice-chair and Mark Torpey re-appointment as chairman of the Planning Board, among them.
Two residents speaking during the meeting’s public comment period. One proposed the council pursue ideas for the development of an indoor recreation facility (despite that one recently was constructed on the city’s south side); another requested specific monetary detail regarding the definition of “affordable housing.”
Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan announced the city received more than 900 property-tax prepayments (380 online and 533 in-person) totaling almost $2.9 million during the final week of the 2017 calendar year. “Hopefully, you’ll be able to take the deduction,” Madigan said. “That’s still to be determined.”
Tuesday night’s meeting ran a total of 32 minutes, which, if not an all-time record for brevity, had to be close to one. We may never see one like it again in our lifetimes.
This week at the Planning Board:
Spencer Subdivision. Belmonte Builders is proposing a 22-lot residential cluster subdivision totaling approximately 12.63 acres on property located between Arrowhead Road on the west and Kaydeross Park Road on the east. The proposed lots will vary in size from approximately 10,000 square feet to 16,700 square feet in size. As part of the proposal, approximately 5.2 acres of open space will be created - 1.1 acres located east of the proposed lots along Arrowhead Road and west of the proposed lots on Julians Way, and approximately 4.1 acres located west of Kaydeross Park Road, north of the proposed lot development. The proposed lots will be served by municipal water from the city - for which new water mains will be provided – and will be served by public sanitary sewer.
Ballston Avenue Townhouses. Ballston Ave. Partners has submitted a sketch plan for discussion regarding a proposed town house development at 96 and 116 Ballston Ave.
In 2018, U2 will kick off their two-month North American tour in Oklahoma on May 2 and conclude with shows in New York City - at Madison Square Garden June 25, and New Jersey – at the Prudential Center on June 29. Other major artists slated to stage shows in the U.S. this year – although to date none have been scheduled to take place in the immediate Capital Region – include: Jeff Lynne’s ELO; Maroon 5; Foo Fighters; a Pixies and Weezer co-headlining tour; Taylor Swift; Kenny Chesney; Zac Brown Band; Shakira, Alice Cooper, Jethro Tull, and Jackson Browne – to name a few. Whether any of these shows will land locally remains to be seen.
Concerts currently scheduled to take place in the region in 2018:
Mt. Joy, Jan. 15 @ Hart Theater, Empire State Plaza
Walk The Moon, Jan. 17 @ Upstate Concert Hall
Henry Rollins, Jan. 20 @ The Egg
James Taylor, Jan. 26 @ Times Union Center
Get The Led Out – American Led Zeppelin (tribute), Feb. 3 @Palace Theatre
G3: John Petrucci, Joe Satriani, Phil Collen, Feb. 10 @ Palace Theatre
Three Dog Night, Feb. 11 @ Hart Theatre
Celebrating David Bowie w/ Bernard Fowler, Adrian Belew, Carmine Rojas, Earl Slick and others, Feb. 12 @ The Egg
Next Women of Country w/Sara Evans, RaeLynn, Kalie Shorr, Feb. 15 @ Palace Theatre
Dropkick Murphys, Agnostic Front, Bim Skala Bim, Feb. 25 @ Capital Repertory Theatre
Montgomery Gentry, March 2, @Upstate Concert Hall
Wyclef Jean, March 2 @ Putnam Den.
Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles, March 2 @ Proctors
Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, March 8 @Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Five for Fighting, March 18, Swyer Theatre
Dixie Dregs, March 21 @ The Egg
Monster Energy Outbreak Tour w/ Jstjr, Kayzo, DJ Gammer, Dubloadz, March 28 @ Upstate Concert Hall
Robin Trower, March 28 @ Hart Theatre
Daughtry, April 7 @ Palace Theatre
They Might Be Giants, April 22 @ The Egg
Dweezil Zappa, April 24 @ The Egg
Alan Jackson, April 28, Times Union Center
Aztec Two-Step, April 28 @ Caffe Lena
Leo Kottke, April 29 @ Swyer Theatre
Yanni, May 13 @ Proctors
Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Foreigner, Whitesnake, June 16 @ SPAC
Saratoga Jazz Festival, June 23-24 @ SPAC
Charlie Puth, Hailee Steinfeld, July 22 @ SPAC
SARATOGA SPRINGS – A new spy thriller which includes action scenes that take place at Riley’s Lake House, the United States Hotel and other Saratoga locations in 1940 will celebrate its book launch at Northshire this month.
Lawrence Dudley’s “New York Station” has been hailed by Publisher’s Weekly as a gritty spy thriller featuring “a multifaceted protagonist who’s a refreshing change from formulaic genre,” and by critic Angela Woltman for its “never-ending supply of action, new characters, and puzzling subplots.”
The book launch celebration for Dudley’s “New York Station” will take place 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26.
Also this month at Northshire: poet, memoirist & philanthropist Eileen Rockefeller will read poems from her new collection, “Space Between: Selected Poems,” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 12, and Mary Cuffe Perez will share stories from her new book, “Barn Stories: Reflections from a Saratoga County Horse Farm,” at 7 p.m. on Jan. 27.
Events are free and open to the public and will take place at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, 424 Broadway. For more information on these or other events, call 518-682-4200, or visit the Northshire Bookstore website at www.northshire.com.
Book Launch at Northshire for New Spy Thriller with Saratoga Connections
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Madeleine Bokan grew up dancing at Saratoga City Ballet. Her college studies at Fordham University took her to New York City, and subsequently on to her current position as a sales manager for a start-up publisher. Her love of dancing remained strong. She searched for an outlet.
“You’ve had this really important thing, but if you’re not doing it professionally, it’s suddenly gone,” says Bokan, who began attending workshops for ex-dancers who still love to dance. “I was paired up with another member of the program who I quickly learned also had a full-time career outside of the dance world. She was there, like me, to fill that void for movement that all dancers-at-heart hold. Immediately I felt comfortable with these people… a creative space where I fit again.”
Inspired, Bokan re-connected with fellow Saratoga City Ballet dancing alum Erin Dooley who has continues her pursuit of a dancing career, dancing at Joffrey Ballet School and Alvin Ailey School. The duo co-founded Getaway Dance Collective and this month will launch their first retreat in their native Saratoga Springs.
It’s a way of expressing yourself and rehabilitating your body, Bokan explains, for dancers to see themselves as dancers again, by stepping out of their reality and rejuvenating with movement and choreography. “For me, it’s restorative.”
The Getaway Dance Retreat will feature dance classes and workshops at the National Museum of Dance studios and include yoga, Pilates, a guided trail walk on the Avenue of Pines, and a group dinner in Downtown Saratoga Springs. Attendees will be housed for a two-night stay at Anne's Washington Inn - which has been in Bokan’s family for three generations - and takes place Jan. 19-21. Registration is $175, which also includes a Friday welcome happy hour and dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
It’s about showing how movement can rehab the body and the mind in countless ways, Bokan says. “A weekend of wellness, of immersing everyone in movement.”
Registrations will be accepted through Sunday, Jan. 7, and be may be made at: https://getaway-dance.squarespace.com/retreat/.
“The Mudd Club,” by Richard Boch. ($24.95. Feral House. 445 pages).
For 21 months Richard Boch served as the gatekeeper at the Mudd Club, a legendary club located at 77 White St. in downtown Manhattan in the late 1970s and early ‘80s which staged performances by everyone from Marianne Faithful and The Cramps to John Cale and Nico, the B-52’s and William S. Burroughs – the latter reading behind a steel desk from his classic works, as Allen Ginsberg sat stage left, looking on.
“By early spring of 1979, I felt the whole world was headed for White Street – and that working the door was a big deal,” writes Boch, whose job manning the door made him akin to a modern-day St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, deciding who would gain entry and who would be denied to the never-ending mayhem that awaited inside. The door policy: no beards, no fat people, no pre-packaged punk outfits bought by suburbanites at boutiques and no tourists queuing up to gaze at the freaks. More than a concert space – the building’s first floor had a legal capacity of 300, the exclusive second floor offered 2,500 square feet of space, with beer on ice served from a claw-foot tub, and a black steel cage – the club served as a link between the generations where music, art and fashion collided.
Fortified by hot dogs and vanilla egg creams at Dave’s Luncheonette – “a twenty-four-hour dive that specialized in extra grease and lousy coffee,” Boch, a Long Island kid who grew up listening to the Jefferson Airplane, scribes a downtown world of night-stalkers that included David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Frank Zappa, and members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash.
“I met everyone and the job quickly defined me,” he writes in this memoir of the cobbled streets of Lower Manhattan, as the seventies spilled into the eighties during a fiery time of creativity long before the realtors and hipsters would invade and conquer, their hyper-gentrified sensibilities resulting in the blandness that exists today.
“Cover Me: the stories behind the greatest cover songs of all time,” by Rod Padgett. ($22.95, Sterling Publishing Co., 232 pages).
Rod Padgett, who a decade ago founded the popular blog Cover Me, details the stories behind nearly two-dozen original songs popularized by later day “cover” versions. In each of the tunes - which includes Elvis Presley’s rendition of “Hound Dog,” Johnny Cash’s “Hurt,” The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout,” and Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along the Watchtower,” Padgett describes how these artists have a way of making the songs all their own, how those revised versions came to be, and offers a significant historical nod to their original creators, while displaying the artwork of record jackets and context from previously published interviews.
“Stranded in the Jungle: Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride,” by Curt Weiss. ($24.99, Backbeat Books, 310 pages).
Jerry Nolan, one of the 20th century’s most overlooked drummers, finally gets his story told – and who better to tell it than fellow drummer Curt Weiss. Nolan most famously played drums in the 1970s and ‘80s with the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers, two bands that inspired music and fashion on both sides of the Atlantic.
“They sounded close to what punk rock would sound like a few years later: a steamroller of exuberant, take-no-prisoners rock ‘n’ roll, teetering on the edge of collapse…bum notes be damned,” Weiss writes. “And Jerry…he drove the band like a locomotive.”
Weiss’ biography traces a timeline from Nolan’s Brooklyn upbringing – where he was childhood friends with Peter Criss, later the drummer of Kiss – his earliest inspirations from 1950s rock and roll, and his study of legendary jazz drummer Gene Krupa: “blasting out a snare drum roll, bobbing his head, chin extended, deeply entranced by the music.”
The Jerry Nolan story has been a long time coming, and Weiss has done a great service to music fans by sharing that story.
SARATOGA SPRINGS - A 39-year-old man, suspected of being involved in Wednesday's alleged robbery at the main branch of the Adirondack Trust Company, has been charged with felony robbery and felony grand larceny, according to Saratoga Springs Police.
The man, Anthony J. Paradise, of Ballston Spa, was taken in to custody at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday. The robbery occurred shortly after noon, earlier that same day. Paradise is suspected of forcibly stealing in excess of $3,000 from the bank.
Police said a search warrant was executed at the Ballston Spa residence where Paradise had been staying short term, and that items were secured with potential ties to the robbery. Paradise is believed to have acted alone.