Monday, October 29, 2007

John Bach obituary from the Albany (NY) Times Union, October 2007

Bach, John J. ALBANY John J. Bach, age 77, entered into eternal rest on October 25, 2007 at the Community Hospice Inn at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, surrounded by his family. Mr. Bach was born in Albany to the late Myron J. and Katherine B. (Flood) Bach. He was a graduate of St. Teresa of Avila Parish School, Christian Brothers Academy and Siena College, earning a bachelor of science in pre-medicine and a master of science in education administration. He pursued further studies at Columbia University, Harvard University, New York University and the University at Albany. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1952 to 1954. In 1955, Mr. Bach began his career as a teacher of biology, chemistry and mathematics, first at Hackett Junior High School and subsequently at the Albany High School, then located on North Lake Ave.; he became guidance counselor at the high school in 1962. In 1966, he was appointed assistant principal of Albany High School and, in 1967, he became the youngest principal in the high school's history. He played a central role in planning the academic and physical design of the present-day Albany High School and was dedicated to the excellence of this program that combined Philip Schuyler High School and the old Albany High School. Mr. Bach served in and loved the role of principal for nearly 20 years. In 1986, Mr. Bach was appointed deputy superintendent for the Albany City School District, and, three years later, he became superintendent of schools. He continued to lead the district until his retirement in 1994. In these roles, he was the impetus behind the creation of magnet school programs in the district and oversaw the establishment of the Albany School of Humanities, the Montessori Magnet School and the Thomas O'Brien Academy of Science and Technology. He was also particularly proud of bringing Chinese language instruction to the high school and introducing preschool programs in the district. Mr. Bach's efforts to support and advance education in the city of Albany extended well beyond his work in the public schools. He served as president of the Center for Family and Youth (Project STRIVE), chairman of the board of trustees of Christian Brothers Academy, on which he served for 20 years, member of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany School Board, and as a member of the boards of trustees of the Academy of the Holy Names, St. Anne Institute, and the Capital Region Center for Arts in Education. Mr. Bach served on the board of trustees of the Albany Public Library from 1987 until his death. As president of the library from 2002 to 2007, he led the institution through its transition to independence from the city of Albany's government and budget, and then through the planning of the most comprehensive expansion and renovation of the library's branch system in its long history. Mr. Bach was a communicant at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Albany for 36 years. He was a voracious reader with an insatiable desire for knowledge. He was an avid gardener throughout his life. He had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Adirondack lakes and rivers, especially the quiet coves of Lake George that he fished in the company of family members and his dear friend, Bill Weber. He was a lifelong student of history and architecture, especially those of New York City and his beloved Albany. Mr. Bach's family was the center of his life. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Mulderry, who loved him and laughed with him for 46 years; five children who adored him, Ellen M. Bach of Albany, John J. Bach Jr. of New York City, Amy Bach DiLello of Providence, R.I., Erin Mulderry Bach of Washington, D.C., and Kathryn A. Bach of New York City; his sons-in-law, Robert V. Kelley III and Nicholas A. DiLello Jr.; five grandsons, for whom he was storyteller, boat captain and faithful fan, Hugh Robert, Brendan John, and William Patrick Bach Kelley of Albany and Ryan Nicholas and Kieran John DiLello of Providence; brother, Myron J. Bach and his wife Mary Ellyn of Albany, sister, Mary Allen and her husband Stanley of Venice, Fla.; brother-in-law, William J. D. Mulderry of Albany; and sisters-in-law Anne M. Mulderry of Kinderhook, N.Y. and Kathleen M. Smith of East Greenwich, R.I. He was the much-loved "Uncle Jack" to 19 nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister-in-law, Mary M. Smith, brother-in-law, Dennis C. Smith, and nephew, Stephen V. Mulderry. Relatives and friends are invited to call on Sunday from 4-8 p.m. at the Daniel Keenan Funeral Home, 490 Delaware Ave., Albany. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Albany. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of John J. Bach to the Albany Public Library Foundation, 161 Washington Ave., Albany, NY 12210 or to the American Cancer Society, 260 Osborne Road, Loudonville 12211.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Elizabeth Oliphant Naismith obit from the Albany (NY) Times Union, October 2007

Naismith, Elizabeth COLONIE Elizabeth Naismith died Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at the Albany County Nursing. Home. She was born January 1, 1924 in Edinburgh, Scotland, the daughter of James and Annie Naismith; also predeceased by her brother Robert. She worked in quality assurance in the dairy business and had her own Scottish book business. She was a member and deacon at First Presbyterian Church, Albany. Survived by sister-in-law, Cecelia; niece, Jacqueline; nephews, Harry and Peter; many great-nieces, nephews, cousins. Memorial service on Saturday, October 27 at 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Albany. Memorial contributions to the church or to FOCUS Breakfast program.

George F. Hasbrouck obit from the Binghamton (NY) Press, October 2007

George F. Hasbrouck, 55, passed away on October 7, 2007 at his home in Morristown, N.J. He is the son of the late George M. Hasbrouck and Cora G. Hasbrouck of Binghamton, New York. He is survived by two sisters and brothers-in-law, Barbara and Michael Murphy, and Ellen and Kenneth Weissman and a niece, Katharine Murphy, all of New York City. George was born in Elmira, N.Y. and moved to Binghamton as a child. He graduated from Binghamton Central High School and was a Cum Laude graduate of Middlebury College. He was retired from AT&T where he worked for many years. Much of his life centered around the community of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown. There he served as a Stephen Minister, providing end of life guidance and spiritual counseling. He was also a member of the vestry and sang in the parish choir. As a member of the St. Peter's Outreach Committee, he volunteered at the Morristown Soup Kitchen and other community organizations. He also loved the history and architecture of Morris County and served on the board of the Morristown Historical Preservation Committee.
A funeral will be held Friday, October 12, 2007, at 11 a.m. at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown. For those who wish, contributions can be made to St. Peter's Episcopal Church or the Morristown Community Soup Kitchen, 36 South Street, Morristown, N.J. 07960

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Four Metroland reviews of Dylan & Costello in Albany, printed October 11, 2007

Taking It All In

By David Greenberger

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

Besides having created towering bodies of work as musical artists, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello both understand the dynamics of show business. Though their public debuts were a decade and a half apart, they each found reason to jettison their given names in exchange for identities that would create a desired effect in the marketplace. The erstwhile misters Zimmerman and MacManus appeared on the same bill last Saturday at the Times Union Center (with Amos Lee in the unenviable position of having to play a short set of recently minted songs for an audience awaiting the confluence of memory and moment to goose them into a middle-aged high). Though they didn’t take the stage together at any point during the night, their adjacent sets allow for some thoughts on their similarities and differences.

Both men had powerful managers who succeeded in positioning them well from the outset, creating a base that allowed each of them to pursue their artistic inclinations, long after having parted ways (Dylan’s being Albert Grossman, Costello’s Jake Riviera). However, while generally faithful to their creative instincts, they each have made unsuccessful albums, failing because of their misguided attempts to either regain or enlarge their commercial standing. Dylan has had a handful of scattershot attempts (among them, Down in the Groove, Under the Red Sky, and Dylan and the Dead), while Costello needed to bottom out with Goodbye Cruel World before regaining his bearings. Other than a brief excursion over to David Geffen’s company in the ’70s, Dylan has spent the entirety of his career on Columbia Records, the same label on which Costello made his initial and largest splash (he left in 1986, after his 11th album).

Playing in an arena gave a certain regimentation to the night’s momentum. Costello’s 45-minute solo set was greeted with honest cheers that would have brought him back for an encore were it not for the lights coming up to quell the elation. His set included his earliest song (“Radio Sweetheart”) and a couple so new that they’ve not yet been released (“Down Among the Wines and Spirits” and “From Sulfur to Sugarcane,” co-written with T-Bone Burnett). This scribe’s favorite Costello number, “Blue Chair,” even made the list. Costello happily used the cavernous room’s acoustics, letting his voice linger on notes to bounce off the rafters. Though he was one man with a guitar, he presented himself not as a troubadour, but as a songwriter, inferring the songs’ larger arrangement possibilities and relishing the grooves. His outrage at the ongoing war in Iraq, as well as governmental failures at home, informed some of his choice of material as well as between-song anecdotes and observations. Songs such as “The River in Reverse” and “The Scarlet Tide” carry incredible power because he eschews sloganeering for poetic resonance or human-scaled narratives.

Dylan has done something that very few 60-plus artists achieve: He’s continued to replenish his audience with younger listeners. In his case this has been essential to the vitality of his ongoing tour, because it’s the audience members who are his own generational peers that grouse the most about the performances. Their complaints (“I didn’t recognize the song,” “His words were garbled,” etc.) simply describe their need for music to reassure, rather than challenge or surprise. Dylan has created songs so durable that they can disappear behind the engine of a great band. The songs become a means for six people to align themselves together in time and space and create an energy that would be different in any other configuration and in any other moment. Musical enrichment of that order is a rare commodity, and Dylan makes a case for it every time he takes the stage. No two nights are the same, and some are better than others, just like life itself. What we want from a Dylan concert is transcendence. It’s hard to pull that off in an arena, but he certainly hit his fall-back position: a great performance.

It’s a Wash

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

The following overheard ex change, between two college-age kids outside the bathroom at the Times Union Center, perfectly sums up my feelings on Saturday night’s Bob Dylan fiasco.

Kid No. 1: “I guess I expected his voice to not be all that great.”

Kid No. 2: “Dude, Dylan sucks.”

I’m not being irreverent just for irreverence’s sake; Dylan really does not have “it” anymore. Hasn’t in 20-some-odd years. Maybe it’s some character he’s playing (that might explain the weird pencil moustache), or maybe it’s just Dylan being Dylan—either way, it doesn’t click. I’m not looking for him to be the dust-bowl folkie of the early ’60s or even the Rolling Thunder minstrel boy of the mid-’70s, but just a glimmer of the Infidels-era fist-shaking would be nice. Instead, we’ve been fed the same semi-coherent freakshow for a quarter-century. We’re often told that we should appreciate what he is rather than what he was, that merely his appearance should warrant the utmost praise. That’s all bullshit: The only reason we’re still kissing Bob Dylan’s ass is because we’re afraid each record and/or live performance could be his last. (I’m looking at you, Rolling Stone—five-stars for Modern Times, my ass.)

Granted, after singing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” for more than four decades, pretty much anyone would seem less than enthusiastic about rolling it out on a nightly basis. But on Saturday, that was one of the few recognizable tunes, and only for its chord progression. The lion’s share of Dylan’s set found the old man pitching a sub-Tom Waits grumble at his most tuneful numbers: “Simple Twist of Fate,” for one, was completely unrecognizable until the turnaround at the very end of the verse. And the band, as strong as each player might have been, failed to generate any real heat—imagine if Letterman’s Late Show band decided to play only late-period Grateful Dead covers. Sounds good, sure, but the Dead still suck.

The get-up-and-go-home moment came during “Masters of War.” To paraphrase my companion that evening: If a song has eight verses, I’d better be able to understand every damn word. I sure as hell shouldn’t have to wonder “Is this ‘Highway 61’?” three minutes into a song. Maybe I just don’t dig the blues, but I’d rather listen to the Wallflowers. (Incidentally, opener Amos Lee did a pretty good Jakob Dylan impression.)

To provide contrast, or just because he could, Dylan asked Elvis Costello along on his current tour. Now here’s an example of growing old gracefully: At 53, Costello still displays the fiery passion of his early years, and his solo set showed that he’s not only his generation’s most versatile songwriter, but one of its best singers, too, evidenced by both his way-underutilized falsetto on “Either Side of the Same Town” and the triumphant closing fanfare of “Veronica.” He told stories, waxed political, quoted the Who and Lennon and Def Leppard, and fucked up the chords to “Oliver’s Army,” all with trademark showmanship and vigor.

Is it too late to trade in Dylan’s entire set for another 40 minutes of Elvis?


—John Brodeur

Hot and Bothered

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

“Don’t expect anything of Bob Dylan, he has done enough!” wrote an indignant fan in the comments section of a local newspaper’s Web site recently, defending the artist from a review that was a bit one-sided in its trashing of Dylan’s recent show at the Times Union Center. The fan’s comment was overly defensive, sure, but held a grain of truth: To seek enjoyment from Dylan’s present work, rather than from his Newport Folk Festival-flouting distant past, you have to let go of your expectations.

If you lionize the guy for his history as an artist who defies expectations and always follows his own path, than maybe you should accept certain things. Such as his right to show up onstage in a mariachi outfit, barking out lyrics in an even gruffer voice than usual, while leading a purple-suited band through nearly unrecognizable versions of classic songs like “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Highway 61 Revisited.” Personally, I’m OK with all that. From where I sat, the crowd was fairly indulgent too, for a time, cheering whenever Dylan got anywhere near a familiar musical phrase. (A friend of mine, seated in a different section of the arena, afterward relayed a story about a concertgoer who was so enthusiastic, yet so alarmingly oblivious, that she yelled out “That Dylan sure can sing!” during Elvis Costello’s opening set.)

Other facets of the show that bothered people, such as Dylan’s near-total lack of interaction with the audience, weren’t a deal-breaker for me. Positioned sideways to the stage in front of his keyboard for much of the time, he acknowledged the crowd only once, with a scant “Thank you” late in the set. Hell, he barely even looked up from his keyboard. That’s fine, I’m sure it wasn’t personal. And the song choices, heavy on more recent material, were OK too, as the mature wisdom and rollicking roadhouse vibe of his last three albums have their own charms.

But, that said, there was little actual enjoyment to be found during this show. The arena setting didn’t help. To relieve boredom, I kept trying to imagine the same show in a roadhouse somewhere, where you wander in off the highway and stumble upon Dylan and his crack band jamming out to this unheard version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Now that would be a surreal and mind-blowing experience. Instead, we were left to sweat in an unbearably hot arena, which had no air conditioning despite the unseasonably hot and humid weather, while the crowd grew increasingly squirrelly and restless, some walking out early.

And with no concessions made by Dylan and company to make the arena conditions more tolerable—such as screen monitors for those in the back to get a closer glimpse of the action—watching Dylan and his band jam out strictly to their own tune onstage, without feeding off or acknowledging the crowd at all, started to feel strangely like an off-putting, voyeuristic exercise. Nothing is more rousing these days than an acerbic antiwar song, and when you find yourself straining to hope that “Masters of War”—perhaps the best antiwar song ever written—will be more electrifying than it is, that’s not good.

—Kirsten Ferguson

I Was There

Bob Dylan and His Band, Elvis Costello

Times Union Center, Oct. 6

Bob Dylan has built a catalogue of lyrics that stand as rock music’s greatest contribution to literature, but his uncanniest achievement has always been his relentless self-invention (the forthcoming movie I’m Not There seems to be a long overdue meditation on this aspect of Dylanology). For the last 15 years or so, Dylan has become the grizzled bluesman he’s seemingly always wanted to be, the folkie in blue jeans just another legend lost to time. Ambling on stage, Stratocaster in hand, leading his fedora-topped gang of desperados into a jaunt through “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat,” Dylan seemed right at home, his fingers shaking out little blues licks to join the bent notes of steel guitarist Donnie Herron and lead player Denny Freeman. Dylan stayed out front for a textbook rendition of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and a jammy “Watching the River Flow” before retreating to his electric keyboard for the remainder of the concert.

One of conventional wisdom’s biggest falsehoods is that Dylan could never sing—I direct the jury to the New Morning and Street Legal albums in an effort to refute this claim. The only thing is, conventional wisdom is now correct: Dylan’s voice has become monotonous and nearly tuneless, and is the biggest reason why I personally can find no use for his last two, near-universally acclaimed “comeback” albums. In concert, this can be overlooked, especially during the songs that don’t suffer from his declamatory cadence. Like many of Dylan’s newer tunes, Love and Theft’s “Summer Days” uses the blues trope of repeating the first line of each verse, making a song of eight-plus verses almost insufferable, especially when it is simply Dylan bellowing braggadocious shit to a woman half his age. Yet classics like “Masters of War” and “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” have only gained power and relevance over the long stumble of years since they were written, Dylan’s death rattle taking on the befitting tone of the accusatory prophet.

Ironically, as one who hardly ever listens to latter-day Dylan on record, the song that I found most effective this night was “Workingman’s Blues #2,” from last year’s Modern Times. It seemed to sum up Dylan’s current philosophy the best: “You can hang back/Or fight your best on the front line/Sing a little bit of these workingman’s blues.” The so-called Never Ending Tour seems to be a way for Dylan to make sure he’ll die with his boots on.

—Mike Hotter

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Costello/Dylan in Albany, NY - 10/6/07

Purloined from here

Alexander writes:

I saw the Costello/Dylan concert last night. Excellent! I can see how some might be put off by Dylan (he's hard to understand, even if you know all the words to his songs), but having seen him at his touring nadir in the late 80s, I found his show to be very entertaining. The Costello set was even better! Here are the set lists for both performers:

Costello Set List
October 6, 2007

1. (The Angels Wanna Wear) My Red Shoes
2. Blue Chair
3. Either Side of the Same Town
4. The River in Reverse
5. Oliver's Army
6. Down Among the Wines and Spirits (new song, debuted 9/19/07 in Nashville concert)
7. From Sulfur to Sugarcane (new song, written with T-Bone Burnett for the film “All The King’s Men,” but not used. Debuted at 9/27/07 concert in Charlottesville, Virginia)
8. Veronica
9. Radio Sweetheart/Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile)
10. (What's so Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding
11. The Scarlet Tide

Dylan Set List
October 6, 2007

1. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel)
2. Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
(Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
3. Watching the River Flow (Bob on electric guitar, Donnie on lap steel)
4. Simple Twist of Fate
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
5. Rollin' and Tumblin'
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
6. When the Deal Goes Down (Bob on electric keyboard and harp,
Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
7. 'Til I Fell In Love With You
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on lap steel)
8. Workingman's Blues #2
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on pedal steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
9. Things Have Changed (Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on violin)
10. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll
(Bob on electric keyboard and harp, Donnie on electric mandolin, Stu on acoustic guitar)
11. Highway 61 Revisited (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel)
12. Ain't Talkin' (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on viola, Stu on acoustic guitar)
13. Summer Days (Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on pedal steel, Tony on standup bass)
14. Masters of War
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar, Tony on standup bass)
15. Thunder on the Mountain
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)
16. All Along the Watchtower
(Bob on electric keyboard, Donnie on lap steel, Stu on acoustic guitar)

Band Members
Bob Dylan - electric guitar, keyboard, harp
Tony Garnier - bass
George Recile - drums
Stu Kimball - rhythm guitar
Denny Freeman - lead guitar
Donnie Herron - violin, viola, electric mandolin, pedal steel, lap steel