John Hiatt makes complicated themes simple with show Oct. 10

Photo by Jack Spencer

If John Hiatt were  twice as popular as he is, it would still be less than half as popular as he deserves to be. In fact, Hiatt, who performs Oct. 10 at Infinity Hall, is one of the most underrated songwriters of the past 50 years, despite contributing hits to Bonnie Raitt, Rosanne Cash, B.B. King and more.

He has a way of rendering complicated feelings in simple terms, with vivid lyrics and stick-in-your-head melodies. He’s been doing since the ’70s, though Hiatt’s real breakthrough came on his 1987 album “Bring the Family,” a collection of songs he recorded with Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe and Jim Keltner. When I was in college (well after the album came out), while everyone else was listening to jam bands and Third Eye Blind, I was obsessed with “Lipstick Sunset.” And when the Courant sent me to Memphis once on assignment, you’re darn right I went for ribs at the Rendevouz, which Hiatt mentions in “Memphis in the Meantime.”

“Bring the Family” was the first in a streak of deeply engaging albums: “Slow Turning” featured guitar wizard Sonny Landreth on cuts including “Tennessee Plates”; “Perfectly Good Guitar” yielded the wry title track and the sprawling “Buffalo River Home”; “Walk On” was a rootsy gem that boasted “Cry Love” and the weird love song “Ethylene”; and “Crossing Muddy Waters” featured some of Hiatt’s most personal writing on songs including “What Do We Do Now” and “God’s Golden Eyes.”

I drifted away from Hiatt a bit in the 2000s, which was the result of doing a lot of other music listening for work combined with a couple albums and collaborations that never grabbed me, but it didn’t last for too long: Hiatt’s 2011 album, “Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns,” equals his best work, which only heightens the anticipation for his next album, “Mystic Pinball,” which is due Sept. 25 on New West Records.

[More Details] Ticket price: $85, $110

On Sale Now!

Steve Earle

Wednesday, November 28th • 8:00 pm

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Steve Earle will bring his iconic Rock, Americana, and Folk to Infinity Hall! Considered by his peers as a true outlaw poet and industry renegade, Steve is one of those Artists you must see and hear in your lifetime. We predict a quick sellout, so don’t wait to get your tickets![More Details] Ticket Price: $65, $85


Commander Cody
 

Friday, November 30th • 8:00 pm

Artist, musician, and pioneering band leader Commander Cody helped invent a wild new style of music during the early 1970s , a period regarded as the height of rock innovation. His take on roots, blues, jazz and rock is fresh and innovative – yet familiar and very convincing.

[More Details] Ticket Price: $25, $40


Live at the Fillmore (The worlds #1 Allman Bros. tribute band)
 
Friday, November 16th • 8:00 pm
LIVE AT THE FILLMORE is the definitive tribute to the original Allman Brothers Band. It takes its name from what many consider the greatest live album ever made by one of the greatest live bands of all time, At the Fillmore East. All members are veteran professionals with significant individual musical credits and a dedication to every detail of the show being totally authentic![More Details] Ticket Price: $25, $40

Gary Hoey (Ho Ho Hoey Holiday show)

Sunday, December 2nd • 7:30 pm

Gary had five top-20 Billboard hits, supported Jeff Beck on Jeff’s last tour and has been called one of the top 100 guitarists of all time! His popular Ho! Ho! Hoey series of Holiday CDs and live rock and roll Holiday show continue to attract new fans each year. We are happy to welcome him back!

[More Details] Ticket Price: $25, $40

Taj Mahal Brings Much More Than the Blues Oct. 7

Plenty of musicians play the same old 12-bar blues, album after album, tour after tour. Taj Mahal is not one of them. (He performs Oct. 7 at Infinity Hall.) For more than 45 years, he’s pushed at the boundaries of the blues with forays into world music, jazz, country, Caribbean sounds and various permutations of all of the above.

His output has been prolific enough to make him contemporary to generations of music fans — I first discovered him through his 1996 album “Phantom Blues” — and varied enough to defy whatever expectations you start with. Born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks in New York, he absorbed a wide array of sounds and styles growing up in a musical family in Springfield, Mass. Fredericks chose the name “Taj Mahal” in the late ’50 or early ’60s — accounts vary —when he was attending the University of Massachusetts to study animal husbandry. Music won out over his passion for farming, and he began performing solo and as a duo before releasing his self-titled debut in 1968. An additional 24 studio albums have followed, including 2008’s “Maestro,” along with various live releases, compilations and Grammy awards.

In concert, he roams through large swaths of his catalog, and you’re as likely to hear a gutty country blues as you are a hair-on-fire electric number or even a Malian folk ballad. Whatever he plays, you can bet you’ll get more than just the blues.

[More Details] Ticket Price: $80, $110

“LIVE” CLASSIC COUNTRY WESTERN MUSIC AT INFINITY HALL NEXT MONTH!

 

The Spurs USA, Infinity Hall, Sunday, September 23, 7:30 PM.  Tickets at: 866.666.6306  or Infinityhall.com

The Spurs USA, well known in  Capital Region, The Berkshires, and Connecticut; as one of the best classic country bands around, will be making a stop at Infinity Hall in Norfolk, Ct; Sunday, September 23rd, show time is 7:30 PM.  “We are thrilled at the opportunity to play at Infinity Hall, a sort of dream come true for many musicians. “, said John Barrett, the band’s founder who is originally from Winsted, Connecticut.  While John has been playing music all over the world for the past few decades, his roots are from Winsted, a hop, skip, and jump from Infinity Hall. While John is now settled just a few miles up the road in Great Barrington, Winsted is where many of his family members and friends still live.  An original member of San Francisco Bay area band, The Rhythm Dukes, he has played with Saint Anthony’s fife and drum corp. The Gilbert School Band, Cushing Academy Band, U-CONN marching band and orchestra, US Army 1st Cavalry Division Band (Vietnam) and many small combos through the years as well. He was especially fond of his Rock ‘n Roll band in Winsted called the “Fascinations”, consisting of other Winsted friends, Ed and George Smith, Jack Kempf, Torrington’s Al Brown,  Clair and Ritchie Litke, Goshen’s Tommy “Turk” Coury and Al Fellows.  The band was a big hit at Fraternity Parties at U-CONN.

Barrett’s six piece “classic” country & western band highlights some of the group’s favorites by Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and others of that genre. “Great tunes mixed with pedal steel guitar, fiddle, country crooning and personality plus, are just some of the reasons the band receives invites from all over the area and have a growing fan base of people who can’t hear these songs on the radio much any longer. “The synergy of this little band is magical” quoted Barrett, “I’m so excited to see the growing fan base of classic country music lovers finding us and now, Infinity Hall, what could be better?”  The band’s popularity continues to receive increased attention, most recently appearing at The Colonial Theater, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to an almost sold out crowd, as part of Guitar Jam 2012. But, along with playing their stage shows, the band still performs in the places they love, playing in restaurants and clubs, at fundraisers, and dance halls booked all over upstate New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Saratoga Springs & beyond.

The Spurs USA specialize in the country swing, ballads, and popular music of the 40’s-80’s that so many of people tell the members they miss.  “We have all played in bands for years and wanted to get together and do something we loved that was different. Turned out, everyone loves it!” said Barrett, who is the bass player for the group.

The band also features lead singer and lead guitarist, Dwight O’Neil. O’Neil hails from Memphis but now lives in Canaan, NY. His greatest influences growing up in the south were Merle Haggard, Hank Williams and the likes. His song lists brings the crowd to their feet. Spurs USA drummer, Bob Jones, a Stockbridge resident, focuses mainly on rock, blues, and loves country.  He also lends his pipes on tunes as he has a rich and powerful Cash-like baritone voice. Andy Gordon, from Lenox, is an extraordinary multi-talented musician.  He plays seasoned banjo & pedal steel all over the place, most notably with the Sun Mountain Fiddler and of course, The Spurs USA. Saratoga Springs resident, Dona Frank-Federico has been playing and singing since the age of 10. In her words she, “makes the most noise” in the band, singing and dancing her heart out. Fiddle player Paul Rice, is known as “one of the best in the Berkshires and Beyond” and can fiddle a tune of almost any tempo and style with showmanship and ease.

 

Eric Johnson brings elegant, virtuosic guitar playing Sept. 27

The late ’80s and early ’90s were a great time for fans of virtuosic guitar instrumentalists: Steve Vai was the flashy trickster, while Joe Satriani brought the power and Yngwie Malmsteen entranced metalheads with his bombastic shredding. Then there was Eric Johnson, who plays with spellbinding elegance. (He stops at Infinity Hall on Sept. 27.)

Born just a few months apart from fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnson wasn’t a bluesman so much as a guitar aesthete with an impeccable sense of melody and harmony, which landed him gigs playing on songs by a diverse array of artists, including Christopher Cross, Carole King, Cat Stevens, Richard Marx and Rodney Crowell. He’s still best known, though, for his own 1990 album “Ah Via Musicom,” which featured the dazzling instrumental “Cliffs of Dover,” a tutorial in speed and precision that was an FM-radio staple, a Top 5 rock hit and won a Grammy for best rock instrumental performance.

Johnson is an exacting musician and something of a perfectionist, which aren’t traits that lend themselves to prolific musical output, but he’s released four solo albums since, including 2010’s “Up Close,” and has toured with Vai and Satriani as part of the G3 guitar summit. Although it sometimes seems like some of his peers have gotten more attention, Johnson’s versatility and sophistication make him the easy choice for repeat listens.

[More Details] Ticket Price: $30, $45

Show up early to hear opener Field Report perform Sept. 16

People have been skipping opening bands for as long as there have been opening bands, and if we’re being honest, they’re usually not missing much. But sometimes opening acts are worth showing up for. Field Report is one of them. (The band opens for Melissa Ferrick Sept. 16.)

The Wisconsin group is the brainchild of Chris Porterfield, who came up playing steel guitar with a band called DeYarmond Edison — a group notable for also including Justin Vernon, who went on to form Bon Iver, and members of the indie band Megafaun. When DeYarmond Edison broke up in 2006, Porterfield spent five years finding his own musical voice, writing, honing and discarding songs until he was satisfied with what he had. And what a trove it is.

Field Report’s self-titled debut, out Sept. 11 on Partisan, is a riveting collection of dusky, low-key songs that make you want to lean in so you don’t miss a note, and heave a wistful sigh when it’s over. Porterfield sings in a warm murmur, his voice blanketed by layers of guitars, keyboards, bass and drums. Although the album’s not out yet, a few songs are available on the band’s website (pay particular attention to “Alcatraz” and “I Am Not Waiting Anymore”), where you can hear an opening act that’s worth showing up early for.

[More Details] Ticket Price: $20, $30

On Sale Now!

  The Smithereens
 
Sunday, December 9th • 7:30

After their electrifying performance on season one of CPTV’s Infinity Hall live, The Smithereens are back with their irresistibly catchy hooks and rapturously fuzzed-out guitars!

[More Details] Ticket Price: $45, $60


The Grand Slambovians (Gandolf Murphy)

Saturday, January 12th • 8:00 pm

The music of The Grand Slambovians has been  described as “hillbilly-Floyd,” “folk-pop,” “alt-country, and roots-rock,”  a clear indicator of its singularly indescribable uniqueness. Dancing freely between all existing religious and philosophical mythologies, the music is uplifting, empowering, and a whole lot of fun!

[More Details]
Ticket Price: $30, $45

Poor Old Shine

Sunday, November 25th • 7:30 pm

Back by popular demand, Poor Old Shine,  a Roots/Americana band from Storrs, CT is about honesty and hand crafted creativity. It’s foot stomping, mind racing, dirty Bluegrass like you’ve never heard it before!

[More Details] Ticket Price: $25, $35