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Live At The Linda: "Peter's Picks"

Accidentals/ John McEuen/ Stephane Wrembel/ North by North/ Open Sesame
Accidentals/ John McEuen/ Jason Goodman/ North by North/ Open Sesame
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Each Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8 p.m. “Live At The Linda” brings you some of the best musical acts to grace the stage at The Linda - WAMC's Performing Arts Studio. Linda General Manager and LATL host Peter Hughes celebrates one year at WAMC with some of his favorite artists to grace The Linda stage in the past 12 months.

We’re going to start out tonight with Matty Stecks. Now Matty Stecks used to be a young lad named Matthew Steckler, who grew up in Schenectady, New York and attended Linton High School. It was there he befriended a young Peter Hughes and the two would become simpatico lifelong friends. When I was finishing out the virtual concerts a year ago, I turned to Matt. Mattty Stecks is an award winning jazz and music composer, performer, teacher, bandleader and scholar who’s been recognized for his seminal work with the projects Dead Cat Bounce and Persiflage, chronicled in Downbeat & Jazz Times, and featured at festivals and major concert series in the United States. When he closed out the “Open for Takeout Virtual Concert Series” he presented this musical gift to The Linda, a tune composed and performed in recognition of our rebirth and this program. It’s called Listen Linda, and this is Matty Stecks live at The Linda.

Sometimes when you present an artist you get to know them a little better and the fan in you is sitting just there on your shoulder poking you in the side of the head, saying, Hey, can you believe we get to hang out with this guy. That’s what it felt like to present John McEuen. I was already aware of John and his contributions folk and county popular music, his work with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Circle will be unbroken album and all that. But I was fan-boying because he’s the high school best friend of one of my personal idols, Steve martin. The Tute-Uncommons from King Tut, which was John and the Nitty Gritty Dirt band. They met working at the magic shop at Disneyland in the 60s and taught each other to play banjo. So as I’m playing it cool with John not disrespecting his awesome pedigree by bugging him about his undeniably more famous best friend whom I idolize, that very cool thing happens. Through many texts, emails, then phone conversations and finally sitting down in person, I met John. Became a fan, maybe a friend, and I forgot totally about Steve Martin, if only for that day. John McEuen played the music of the dirt band and his remarkable solo work including their #1 international hit, Mr. Bojangles, which proceeds Sammy Davis Jr.’s also signature rendition. I present Mr. John McEuen, live at The Linda.

Hey everyone, we’re playing Peter’s Picks this week, celebrating the last year of the great recordings we’ve done here at our little studio on Central Avenue. OK, Stephane Wrembel. Now if you listen to this show regularly you might say, hey Peter, you played Stephane last week. Yes, yes I did. But I liked him that much. Again, it’s a situation where I was professionally aware of Django Reinhardt, of which Wrembel is arguably, and I will, the finest in the world. But I wasn’t immersed, I hadn’t done the deep dive. But after working with Stephane, talking with the man, whose take on life, philosophy and the human condition is as deep as his skill on the guitar is proficient, I felt like I had homework to do. The best entry point for Stephane is his theme from Woody Allen’s Academy Award-nominated film “Midnight in Paris,” Bistro Fada. I mean, anyone who can engage you in a post-show conversation that includes the writings of Plato, the universal simulation theory and the acting perfection of Owen Wilson, is, well, you had to be there. Closest I can do for you is this, here is Stephane Wrembel live at The Linda.

The Accidentals have played the Linda a few times before, enough that when they we’re coming back several WAMC staff members got very excited. The female-fronted, multi-instrumentalist power trio, The Accidentals are Sav Buist, Katie Larson, and Michael Dause. NPR says, “Some of the most compelling writers of our time... they display equal interest in the focused musical forms of indie rock and pop and the expansive potential of orchestral arrangements, jam band open-endedness, and impressionistic singer-songwriter expression.” What I’d like to add is that they are just some solid, positive, good natured fine people. Here’s are The Accidentals live at The Linda.

I would love to tell you that programming The Linda or any performing arts venue is always a carefully crafted, exacting science of some programmatic master plan of which I have taken my decades of experience, training, data, encyclopedic knowledge of audience trends and a vast catalog of artists all of which I know and can assemble into the perfect seasonal presentation. Well, of course that is true, but sometimes, you just get lucky.

I had never heard of North by North until their touring agent sent me an email saying they we’re looking for a date somewhere between Daryl’s House and Buffalo. Albany is good for that routing you see. They Philadelphia power duo just need to play, and would have some local groups on the card in tow. The deal was good, the agent is good, so sure, you just say yes sometimes. Man was that a good call. North by North maybe my favorite 45 minutes of music from the past year. They rock, they rock hard. I hope this recording becomes something fans try to dig out someday to say “did you hear them when they played Albany. I just liked it.” North by North is the sweat-fueled rock & roll dream of two childhood friends from the south side of Chicago. Their music was forged through years of teen angst, twenty-something alienation and a profound belief that rock music can be genuinely clever and inventive. It’s a sound glued together by melodic hooks, soaring vocals, crushing guitar, bombastic drums and the kind of untethered energy that has won crowds over hundreds of shows and dozens of festivals across three countries. Hers is North by North live at The Linda.

OK, this one, is special. I’m going to let you in on an industry secret from the marketer and programmer perspective. Most professional musicians wo come across your table play jazz, they teach jazz, they listen to jazz and they want to share jazz. I myself, love jazz. But we represent really a small, elite percentage out there. I’m just saying, jazz is really hard to sell. So while I’d love to book it every week, it kind of requires a hook. Something else to draw your attention and interest other than, “it’s good”

So I get this call one day from a guy named Joe Fiedler. I hadn’t heard of him. But he has a jazz band looking to tour. OK, I’m listening. It’s a side project from his day job. OK again a common story. His day job, he’s the current musical for Sesame Street. What! And his Jazz Band is called Open Sesame, they have an album called Fuzzy and Blue, and they play jazz renditions of the music made famous from the Sesame Workshop. OK, now we’re talking. Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner. AND, he wants to do an interactive presentation on how they make music for Sesame Street. Jazz, children’s educational programming, and a Q&A lecture, this is the most NPR thing I think we could do. It was that good. And he was that good. We’re going to play several songs from, Open Sesame here but I want you to pay special attention to their rendition of Rubber Duckie, you will never think of that the same way again. OK, this set is brought to you by the letter A, M, C and the number 12. Here is Joe Fiedler live at The Linda.

Thanks for sticking with us this week and we play in the Keys of Jazz. Join us next week for "Americana Night,” with Jaimee Harris 2021, Amy Speace 2022, and David Wilcox 2018. For more information on this show or any upcoming events follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit thelinda.org.