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Live in the Clubs

Charmboy members love mixing it up

Thursday, September 26, 2013
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Live in the Clubs


Charmboy is set to play Friday night at Valentine's.
Charmboy is set to play Friday night at Valentine's.

The three members of Albany’s hard-rocking Charmboy certainly get around on the local music scene.

In the past few years, the trio has become something of a go-to group for singer-songwriters looking to beef up their sound. The full group — guitarist Eric Halder, bassist Sarah Clark and drummer Scott Smith — backs up the soulful Tom McWatters as The Philo Beddoe Band, along with former Kamikaze Heart Bob Buckley.

Clark and Halder play with McWatters’ brother Matt McWatters in Matt and the Bad Ideas. Clark and Smith play with Tor Loney in Tor and the Fjords. And when former Albany stalwart and New York City resident John Brodeur comes to town, Charmboy is usually his backing group.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the past, the band’s members all played in the now defunct Ashley Pond Band; Halder was a member of Sense Offenders alongside the McWatters brothers; and Smith plays with The Disposable Rocket Band. Most recently, Clark recorded keyboard parts for folk guitarist Matt Durfee’s upcoming album.

Charmboy

WITH: The Pistolwhips, Slaughterhouse Chorus, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany

HOW MUCH: $5

MORE INFO: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com

Multiple lineups

“I think last year, in the fall, at one point I had played with six different lineups in a month,” Clark said, sitting with her bandmates at a coffee shop in Albany. “I think we kind of got a reputation of being able to pick stuff up pretty fast, and for committing to stuff.”

While sometimes the last-minute calls to play can be stressful — “With John and with Tor we had just a couple of practices; with John I think we had one practice,” Clark said — the band enjoys being able to stretch out with so many different performers.

“That’s one of the things I dig about playing with these guys,” Halder said. “We can jump in behind John Brodeur, who’s real poppy, power-pop — less power-pop and more just pop. And then we go behind Tom McWatters, who is real kind of soul, but heavy, hard rock soul. And Matt — well, Scott doesn’t play with Matt and the Bad Ideas. . . . But it’s still a similar vibe. And then when we played with Ashley, she had more of a folk, blues kind of thing. But usually, most of the time it’s the rootsy kind of feel that we like.”

Even with all these projects, and more on the way, the band has still found time to play gigs and record a full-length album, 2011’s “Let It Feed,” under its own monicker. Most recently, the trio recorded a new song for a four-song split CD with Albany band The Pistolwhips (the two bands are both part of local musicians collective Built 4 BBQ).

This CD will be given out on the two bands’ upcoming Midwest tour, which kicks off at Valentine’s on Friday night. The show, which doubles as a CD release for The Pistolwhips, will also feature Slaughterhouse Chorus and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Early incarnation

Charmboy has been kicking around the local music scene in some form or another off and on since at least 2005, with Halder as the one continuous member. He formed the earliest incarnation of the group with drummer Vincent Zandri (formerly of The Blisterz) and bassist Chris Neuhaus.

After Zandri left, Smith ended up joining — although he had been passed over at his first audition for an earlier band Halder was in.

“When I first moved to Albany, I tried out for a band Eric was in, and I got asked to the leave the room, that whole thing — it was an audition,” Smith said. “I didn’t get the gig, which wasn’t a big deal, but I remember leaving and saying to myself, ‘Wow, that guitarist is really cool.’ He was using nylon strings at that time, with effects.”

Clark, Halder’s wife, was next to join the band, originally on Wurlitzer organ before moving to bass. She also didn’t pass her first audition.

“I know it sounds weird, Eric auditioning his wife, but we had an audition, and she didn’t make the gig,” Smith said. “Same kind of thing — we asked her to leave, we were talking — it was just the two of us. So Eric and I played as a duo for like two shows, I think, and then Sarah came back on board playing organ.”

However, the band fizzled out at that point, as Halder had begun playing with the Sense Offenders. Halder and Clark would occasionally play shows with fill-in drummers, but the trio wouldn’t reunite in full until they all ended up in the Ashley Pond Band together in the late 2000s. After Pond’s band split, the trio recorded the classic rock influenced “Let It Feed.”

The band is working on new songs for a second album — Halder and Clark usually write songs separately and bring them to the group. They may also put out an EP of surf music.

“Sarah kept coming to us with surf songs,” Halder said. “And we’re like, ‘One or two are pretty cool.’ But she just kept coming with them.”

 
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