Schenectady

Music review: Schenectady’s NipperFest a feel-good celebration of local music, despite the heat

At NipperFest in Schenectady's Central Park on Saturday, clockwise from top left: Bad Mother bassist Kevin Bohen's hair flys back after rocking forward in front of drummer Brian Chiappinelli during a set by the Albany band on the main stage; Angelina Valente sings on the acoustic stage; part of the crowd looks on from the tiered lawn at Music Haven; and Teagan Donovan, 5, of Saratoga focuses on her artwork during the day-long event.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

At NipperFest in Schenectady's Central Park on Saturday, clockwise from top left: 
Bad Mother bassist Kevin Bohen's hair flys back after rocking forward in front of drummer Brian Chiappinelli during a set by the Albany band on the main stage; Angelina Valente sings on the acoustic stage; part of the crowd looks on from the tiered lawn at Music Haven; and Teagan Donovan, 5, of Saratoga focuses on her artwork during the day-long event.

Despite the sweltering day, with temperatures topping 97 degrees, the first (and likely not last) NipperFest in Schenectady’s Central Park drew over 2,000 people throughout the day on Saturday. Hosted by arts and music website Nippertown, the free local music festival offered up 15 bands on the main Music Haven amphitheater stage and on an acoustic stage in a nearby pavilion.

Who needs a heat advisory when you have the massive Central Park pool, plenty of shade and a misting tent that organizers Jim Gilbert and Laura DaPolito snagged from the previous night’s Schenectady County SummerNight?

The feel-good event was a true celebration of local music and community, with many Nippertown writers, local musicians and WEXT radio personalities in attendance.

“Some of you have been coming to see us since we were babies,” said Sirsy singer and drummer Melanie Krahmer to the crowd before playing “Wish List,” a song that she and her partner, guitarist Rich Libutti, wrote years ago when they rented a house in Niskayuna.

Dressed in matching red outfits to complement the day’s blistering heat, Krahmer and Libutti charmed the crowd with their humorous banter, heartfelt warmth and impressive musical chops honed while touring and playing 200-250 shows a year. The duo showcased their new song “Astronauts,” inspired by Krahmer and Libutti’s shared fascination with space, and “Cannonball,” a song so catchy it ended up on the soundtrack for the television show “Shameless.”

Fresh off a gig playing Troy’s Rockin’ on the River, the Collar City rock band Super 400 added a secret weapon to their 6:30 p.m. set: young drummer Ellie, the daughter of bassist Lori Friday and guitarist Kenny Hohman who came onstage to rock out on Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” Ellie took a bow after her guest set and then hopped off the stage on one foot. Other highlights of Super 400’s set included Friday’s powerful vocal turn on the Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road” and the Hohman-sung ballad “Green Grass End.”

It was a night for the kids. A very young music fan danced on the side of the stage during the headlining set by The Figgs, the Saratoga Springs-born band who recently released their 16th album, “Chemical Shake.” Dressed in black (which was OK, since it was dark by the time they took the stage), the Figgs gave the good-sized crowd material that was both old and new. From the new album, we heard the scorching “Hot Vice,” “Cataracts” and “I Lied to the Doctor.” Older tunes included the eternally catchy “Simon Simone,” “Static” and “Something’s Wrong.”

Events on the main stage kicked off earlier in the day with young, up-and-coming alternative rock band Side-B from Albany, a group that has been playing together since their early teen years. Progressive rockers Glass Pony brought a summertime, jam-friendly vibe. Albany grunge rockers Bad Mothers offered a head-banging, thunderous set. Comedian and musician Erin Harkes debuted impressive new material, and Girl Blue’s set was both gripping and grooving.

Montgomery County native Sawyer Fredericks headlined the acoustic stage, which alternated acts with the main stage. (And shout-out to the organizers: the music ran impressively on time for the entire day.) Fredericks won season eight of television show “The Voice,” but severed his resulting record deal with Republic Records to pursue a more independent path. Hats off to Fredericks for trusting his instincts to go his own way. His set included his own “How Beautiful” and “Should’ve Known Better” as well as a great cover of Ringo Starr’s “Act Naturally,” which he performed at Ringo Starr’s annual Peace & Love birthday celebration in Los Angeles earlier this month.

A wealth of local talent filled the acoustic stage throughout the day. Or, as Nippertown writer and acoustic stage emcee Jay Hunter dubbed it, the acoustic stage under the covered pavilion was also “the oasis stage, the shade stage.”

There was stripped-down guitar trio The Tradition featuring Nippertown’s Ralph Renna, Arya Chowdhury and Peter Annello; Schenectady teacher and one-man-band Josh Casano; bedroom-folk singer Angelina Valente; poetic performer Reese Fulmer; lyrical folk-songwriter Caity Gallagher; and Voorheesville prodigy Sydney Worthley, a super-talented young singer-songwriter.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Schenectady

Leave a Reply