Jukebox: Laughter, tears fill sweet tribute to ‘Sarge’

Greg Haymes plays with the Ramblin Jug Stompers in 2014.
Greg Haymes plays with the Ramblin Jug Stompers in 2014.

Had to toast the mighty memory of the late, great Greg Haymes after dragging myself home, wrung dry, from The Egg’s memorial fandango Sunday. Angel’s Envy bourbon, if you’re scoring at home.

It all hurt so good.

And I’m so glad Ellie and I caught the Harry Orlyk/William McCarthy show “Capturing the View” at the Laffer Gallery in Schuylerville beforehand, as it opened our hearts for the remarkable gathering that followed.

On Facebook Monday, Greg’s bandmate Paul Rapp (F. Lee Harvey Blotto) hailed the “ … Absolutely stunning and bittersweet memorial for Sarge at the Egg. Astonishing. Would have loved long conversations over dinner with everyone there, but then we’d still be going at it in October, so let’s leave it at a hug and some white stuff on your nose and a bushel basket of sweet, happy memories.”

Yes, fans dabbed white stuff on our noses (recalling Blotto’s “I Wanna Be a Lifeguard”) in The Egg’s lobby reception before the program. We greeted friends from 100, or 1,000, shows Greg had played, reported or just enjoyed. Had my say earlier in these pages and onstage at the Eddies, so I listened to others’ words — sweet, sad, inspiring.

Big, BIG hats off to Peter Lesser, The Egg staff, Sara Ayers and all who spoke and played there for enlarging my memories of Greg.

Sara Ayers showcased husband Greg’s own artwork and love for all arts. Broadway Blotto (Bill Polchinsky) was maybe the funniest, though he grumbled in mock umbrage that the eloquent, droll Bowtie (Paul Jossman) stole his speech. Hailing Greg as a conceptual artist, Broadway proclaimed Greg’s rock-god persona Sarge Blotto among his greatest creations.

Another bandmate, Michael Eck (Ramblin Jug Stompers and others), offered the most emotional tribute, echoing decades of performing, practicing, talking, traveling. Driving with those guys to the Iron Horse in Northampton (mine was the least ramshackle car among the three of us) was maybe my most conversationally stimulating road trip ever.

Guthrie Bell Productions concert promoter Greg Bell and WEXT’s Chris Wienk gave the most culturally on-the-nose tributes. One (sorry, can’t recall which) proclaimed there would be no Capital Region music scene without Greg. Singer-songwriter Bryan Thomas gratefully recalled how Greg kept tugging him out of his basement, back onstage into that scene.

Both Nippertown contributor Ed Conway and Gazette freelancer Kirsten Ferguson highlighted Greg’s generous mentoring, Ferguson in a clever, heartfelt Top 10 list. Reporter Steve Barnes confessed he’d borrow Greg’s thoughts into his own stories, stressing what a fine journalist Greg was.

Yet another bandmate, Stephen Clyde, accompanied Rosanne Raneri who sang Jefferson Airplane’s “Comin’ Back to Me.” This tune makes me cry, any time, but hearing her sing it so beautifully, there, then, wiped me out altogether.

Good thing Sara closed the program by cueing the Driveby Jazz Band (lurking in the corners until then, brandishing horns, banjo, drums), then all of us, into a New Orleans Second Line — honking, clapping, crying and singing into the lobby.

In many of my best moments at The Egg, I sat beside Greg talking listening, laughing, loving what we were seeing.

See, he was our biggest fan; the guy who totally got us and lifted us all with his love.

Every musician starts as a fan and stays one. Musician-fans play two all-star tributes — unfortunately both tonight.

The Pete Seeger Centennial at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) collects top-flight Pete fans Arlo Guthrie (host), Amythyst Kiah, Cary Morin, Dan Zanes & Claudia Eliaza, Dar Williams, David Gonzalez, Guy Davis, Richie Stearns & Rosie Newton, Taina Asili, Tony Trischka, Toshi Reagon and Bill & Livia Vanaver. All are obviously Pete fans, his heirs in music and message. This tribute revue appropriately benefits the sloop Clearwater, Caffe Lena and WAMC. 7 p.m. $35, $25. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Also tonight, Dale Metzger and the Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany) present the Bob Dylan Birthday Tribute and Dylan 78th Celebration. Metzger first presented this celebration when he ran the Union College Rathskellar. The Low Beat is a natural for it now, with an even bigger cast than The Egg’s Pete Seeger Centennial: Rick Bolton, the Mark Emanation Band, Mike Hotter & the Vintage Heads, the Conway Family Band, Mitch Elrod, Bryan Thomas, Michael Eck with Sten Isachsen, Val Haynes & Todd Nelson, Mike Kelly, Al Kash, Kevin McKrell, Tom Mercoglan & the Snook Bros. Band, Ramblin Jug Stompers, Will Roy Band, Tom Raider, Jeff Sohn, Zimmerbeat, Johnny Two Cents, Billy Rella, Tiny Montgomery, and the Late Shift. Dedicated to the memory of both Caroline MotherJudge Isachsen and Greg “Sarge Blotto” Haymes, the show benefits the Eden Rose Foundation and Albany Victory Gardens. 7:30 p.m. $10. 518-432-6572 www.thelowbeat.com

For a show-biz veteran in her 80s, Appalachian singer/songwriter/player Alice Gerrard sure gets around. She stars here this weekend onstage and film: with the Piedmont Melody Makers tonight at the Eighth Step (GE Theatre at Proctors, 432 State St., Schenectady) and in the film “You Gave Me a Song” Friday at Caffe Lena. (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs); then Sunday at the Gottagetgon Festival (Saratoga County Fairgrounds, 162 Prospect St., Ballston Spa.)

Gerrard sang with Hazel Dickens in Hazel & Alice, also with husband Mike Seeger, while Emmylou Harris and others have recorded her songs. The Piedmont Melody Makers also feature Jim Watson, Chris Brashear and Cliff Hale. They all sing and play everything with strings.

Tonight at the Eighth Step: 7 p.m. $25 advance, $27 door, $40 front and center. 518-474-1703 www.8thstep.org

Friday at Caffe Lena (showing of film “You Gave Me a Song”) noon. Donations. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

In other Caffe Lena news, its Sawyer Fredericks shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all sold out.

The Gottagetgon Festival presents Alice Gerrard with the Piedmont Melody Makers as part of its traditional potluck of concerts, barn dances, open mics, a gospel sing and workshops. It’s officially too much folkie fun. Gottagetgon concerts include the Piedmont Melody Makers, as noted (Sunday at 3 p.m.); plus young up-and-coming talents Katherine Rondeau, the Hudson Valley Tinkers and host Adah Hetko Friday night; a sampler concert of all headliners Saturday morning followed by Patti Casey, William Pint & Felicia Dayle Saturday afternoon before the Barn Dance. Sunday starts with a gospel singalong, then concerts by Colin McCaffrey and the Piedmont Melody Makers, then an a cappella sing to send everybody home smiling Monday morning. $60 all weekend, single days $35 adults, discounts for students, teens and children. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4190757

Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment

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