Albany’s Palace Theatre taking over operations at the Cohoes Music Hall seems good news for the venerable hall. Key contributions of other players unfortunately went unmentioned in last week’s announcement: the Eighth Step Coffeehouse operated the hall before C-R Production’s tenure, Cohoes resident and Massry Center at the College of St. Rose Programming Manager Sal Prizio revived the hall with quality shows after C-R departed, and promoter Greg Bell of Guthrie-Bell Productions has teamed up with Prizio on additional shows this spring.
The Eighth Step, now presenting at Proctors GE Theater and Underground, moved into the Cohoes Music Hall in 2000 at the invitation of then-Mayor John McDonald. “We were growing audiences and doing well,” recalled Margie Rosenkranz, then and now Eighth Step executive director; also then the administrator of the hall.
When Cohoes-born New York City actor Jim Charles returned home with partner Tony Rivera to set up C-R Productions and present musicals at the hall, space conflicts arose; C-R ultimately won.
After C-R left last year, Prizio presented Peter Yarrow in the hall, then Michael Benedict’s jazz drums blast, guitarist Tim Reynolds (of the Dave Matthews Band) and a comedy showcase, all successfully.
“I believe that the Palace is a fine institution with many great resources, and the deal really helps Cohoes present itself as turning a corner,” said Prizio by email. “The Palace is run by great people there and presenting in the city will do a lot to help the downtown.”
“My first show there will be the New Riders of the Purple Sage on April 1 [this Friday],” said Bell by email. He and Prizio will also present Amy Helm on April 22 and Alejandro Escovedo on May 11.
Bell said those announcing the Palace deal “apologized for not mentioning the upcoming shows.” He added, “I have an excellent working relationship with the Palace and I am looking forward to doing many shows at the Cohoes Music Hall.”
Executive Director Holly Brown’s Palace team has turned around that downtown Albany venue almost as impressively as Peter Lesser has elevated programming and operations at The Egg. However, adopting the Cohoes Music Hall contract reportedly set off a City Council squabble concerning costs and benefits to Cohoes.
For now, the Cohoes Music Hall seems poised for success with three fine spring shows, the work of Sal Prizio and Greg Bell. Hats off to them, and to the Eighth Step before them; and best of luck to the hall.
After seeing Bonerama at SPAC and Jazz Fest in New Orleans — BIG stages! — catching them last week in cozy Parish Public House felt even more exciting. Local funk riffers Oobleck heated up the joint before Bonerama — yeah, three trombones, guitar, drums and bass or Sousaphone — all but levitated it.
As you’d expect from a New Orleans horn band, they marched through the Mardi Gras chant “Indian Red,” and they swung some reggae like a street parade. But they also tore up the Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” — guitarist Bert Cotton at his southern-fried best — the Grateful Dead’s “The Other One” into “Dark Star” and back out again; plus three Led Zeppelin rockers from a new album they’re recording these days.
Matt Perrine’s Sousaphone pumped the bassline of Zep’s “Good Times Bad Times” out to the moon and back as drummer AJ Hall replicated Robert Plant’s patented howl. Delighted shouts greeted Craig Klein’s “Spanish lady comes to me” vocal in “The Other One” after three trombones — his, Greg Hicks’ and Mark Mullins’ — deconstructed and re-assembled the famous Grateful Dead jam.
Then they invited local hero/grad student and trombonist (natch!) Alex Slomka on stage for the staccato “Bap Bap” then the rambunctious “Rugulator” — each trombonist exploding short riffs like beboppers trading fours. Bonerama took things home with a zippy “When My Dreamboat Comes Home,” a borrowed Meters’ blast and the party-hearty “Louie’s Perch,” rocking past midnight. Wow!
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]