On Friday, April 22, I strode the few blocks from my apartment in downtown White Plains to catch
headline a CD release party at Vintage Bar.
Funnily enough, Gil Parris does not appear on this live compendium of Hudson Valley folk, funk,
and jazz artists -- "Local - Live - Original Volume 1" released by
dtg PRODUCTIONS. He just supplied the necessary star power to insure a crowded room.
I must have confused the time, because, when I arrived, no one had started playing yet. This proved most fortuitous
as it insured that I got to see both opening acts -- Natalia Zukeman
performing solo on slide guitar and KJ Denhert
with with her band. As a matter of fact, I ended up chatting with Ms. Zukerman before she went on.
An unusual friendliness pervaded the club. Maybe that stems from the fact that the husband and wife team of
Leslie and Andrea Bloome run dtg Productions. On their web site, they state
"DTG Presents' goal is to nurture original music scenes in Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutches counties
creating a vibrant community of musicians, venues and music lovers." They recorded all CD tracks live at local
venues throughout the Hudson Valley in New York with "absolutely NO overdubs or studio 'Extras' used."
Mr. Bloome, who plays bass with countless bands in the area, pulled me aside and explained that although
Natalie Zukerman had originally committed to playing the show with her band, the group recently took a short hiatus.
On stage, Ms. Zukerman accompanied herself alone on bottleneck guitar utilizing numerous tunings. Her distinctive style harnesses
elements of folk, jazz, blues in service of her high, clear, storytelling voice. Her intimate lyrics envelop the
listener with lines like "There's a hole in the sky where you used to stand" from "Hole." The daughter
of classical musicians Eugenia and Pinchas Zukerman, she grew up in Manhattan but spends most of her time now on
the road touring in support of her second album, "On A Clear Day."
Next up on stage, KJ Denhert immediately got the crowd dancing with her mix of urban funk and folk. For the most part,
the songs consisted of soulful vamps over which she sang vignettes of her life in scatter-fire, jazz-like fashion. The outstanding
band consisted of Mamadou Ba (bass), Ray Levier (drums), a keyboardist, and Ms. Denhert on acoustic guitar. The music
flowed effortlessly, entrancing the audience with its relentless groove. "Jelly Bean," off the featured CD,
proved a particularly effective crowd pleaser.
Growing up, I found myself drawn to female singer/songwriters. They always managed to pierce my heart
with an easy intimacy. It still works today when Brynne sings "Little Girl" and Kathleen Pemble performs "Big Blue Sky."
Other album highlights include the acoustic, piano jazz of "Passion Samba" by Lonnie Leibowitz and the bluesy folk of "Brush It Off" by
Marc Von Em. "Leave It Behind" by 5 Minute Jam brings a touch of modern rock to the CD. I can only picture what the dance
floor must have looked like when they recorded this tune.
Despite the many CDs that come my way, I find myself irresistably drawn to "Local - Live - Original Volume 1." That
bodes very well indeed for the local music scene in the New York Hudson Valley.