Local bands come together for WAMC benefit show

Local bands come together for WAMC benefit show

“If you’re interested, we’ve got copies of the U.S. Constitution over on that table,” Sub Slab guitarist Rick Kessler said, gesturing nonchalantly off stage. The audience erupted in applause.

The Albany quintet was one of four musical guests at the third annual Winter Warm Up! Show at The Linda on Saturday night. The concert to benefit WAMC Northeast Public Radio may be an annual event, but this year there is more at stake for the arts community.

There have been reports over the past week that President Donald Trump plans to make significant cuts to the federal budget that would ultimately eliminate national arts organizations. “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely,” The Hill reported on Jan. 19.

Sub Slab made it clear that they intend to stand up for the arts, taking pauses to inform their audience of upcoming solidarity marches and protests in the Albany area. Their set, performing a variety of genres, radiated an old-school rock influence (there was even a Sock Hop style original thrown in there) and won as much applause as their call for socio-political justice.

And they had a few good acts to follow:

The show opened with solo artist Caroline Doctorow, accompanied by Chris Tedesco, who serenaded the room with a number of originals such as “Sweet to Me,” the title track of her 2011 album. The acoustic folk artist has released 10 solo records amongst other work and currently tours with The Steamrollers.

The Matchstick Architects picked up where Doctorow left off with an enthusiastic performance. The Massachusetts-based group showcased a number of songs off their debut album, All That’s In Between, and had the room tapping along to their contagious energy. Bassist Diane Davis stole the show as she jumped around to the country-blues beat.

Though the general seating at The Linda doesn’t allow for too much movement, some viewers stood at tall pub tables by the humble pop-up bar, enjoying a few drinks and taking advantage of the open dancing space.

Closing the show was up to Jasper. The young indie rock trio was an unexpected change of pace for the more mature audience at The Linda but the listeners that remained for the grand finale were quick to match the enthusiasm of the loyal entourage of Jasper followers in attendance.

Over 20 of Albany’s indie scene fan base lined the first three rows of audience seating, yelling and cheering for their multi-instrumentalist garage rock heroes. The band members shuffled mics and instruments between songs, catching their new audience members off guard.

“They switch?” one Jasper virgin asked his companion incredulously. His friend nodded with a knowing smile, “It’s their thing.” It doesn’t hurt that they play each one well. Ben Gesek belted out “High Point” before switching guitar and drum roles with Alex Brooks. Bryan Bidwell committed himself to the guitar and bass, nodding along to his notable bass intro to “The Valley.”

In their cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” fans waved lighters as Brooks gave his all. If the fans of the previous three bands were worried the group would lack soul, they were happily mistaken.

For listeners who couldn’t make Saturday’s performances, the show was recorded by WAMC for their Live at the Linda program which airs every Wednesday night from 8-10 PM on 90.3 FM on the radio. Live streaming is available at

photo by Bryan Lasky

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