I will say this. In the past couple of months I've seen a lot of really talented young bands coming up who remind me of the old days. They just want to play. They're happy to play for gas money, pizza and some beer. They play for whoever they can play in front of, and no matter how many people are there, they play their asses off. That's what I respect about bands, and I've been seeing that a lot more lately -- young bands working their asses off. The Albany scene has grown tremendously in the past few months. It's been a renaissance of talent.
Who are some of the bands you're talking about?
Timbre Coup, Dirty Paris, Formula 5, Eastbound Jesus, Higher Organix, Sunny Side of the Street Band... there's just a lot of stuff going on that shows that the music scene is not dead. It continues to move on. I went to see the Black Keys a couple of weeks ago at the Garden and it showed me that rock 'n' roll is not dead. I mean, DJs and electronica are huge right now, and have been for some time. For a while it felt a little scary that people weren't going out to see people with instruments and people who sing. And then I see 20,000 kids at the Garden going crazy and singing along with every song. It made me think, "Yeah, rock 'n' roll is alive and well." It's just great to see a bar band go from playing small clubs to making it to the Garden in only a handful of years really. It kind of came out of nowhere. It was a real rock 'n' roll show -- guitars, drums, singing. It's great to see that.
What are some of your favorite shows that you put on? You've must of had a few transcendent nights?
The night 7 Walkers played. It was my last show at Revolution Hall and I got up and sang background vocals on "Goin Down the Road Feeling Bad" with Bill Kreutzman and his band. Standing onstage, using George Porter Jr.'s microphone looking over thinking, "Shit, I'm fucking singing with one of the Grateful Dead!" [laughter]
Pretty surreal, huh?
Surreal? Yeah, I'll say so. That was cool. The first night I sold-out the Palace with moe. was a highlight. The Phil & Friends show in Glens Falls [10/20/07] when Trey [Anastasio] played the whole show with him. That was a highlight.
Yeah, that was an incredible show.
The Ominous Seapods, Dr. Jah and Moon Boot Lover at Valentine's. It was $10 for all the beer you can drink, and it was my first sell-out at Valentine's.
Wow, what year was that?
Probably 1994 or 1995. I started doing shows at Valentine's in 1993, so that was probably early 1994. It was quite the show.
Was Max [Verna] just talking about that at the recent Seapods reunion? Something about how you called him a genius and then later on his girlfriend had to carry him down the stairs because he couldn't walk.
I think that was the New Year's show where Max played on his back because he was too drunk to stand up [laughter]. Yeah, that was Max. And that was a fun night. Valentine's shows are always fun.
Let's see... the first show I did with Matisyahu was a highlight. There were about 50-75 people there and half them were Hassidic Jews and rabbis, and the other half were college kids. That was cool to see. An agent called me up and said, "Hey Greg, want to do a Hassidic reggae band on Hanukkah?" I said, "Sure, what the hell. I'll try that." [laughter] I've done a lot of shows like that. Nobody else will do it, so I have to do it.
Another one of my highlights was Roger McGuinn at Valentine's. His complete hospitality rider was a $100 bottle of wine and a couple things of string cheese.
That's pretty funny.
Yeah, it was amazing. Two packages of string cheese and a bottle of really expensive wine.
Do you keep a record of all the shows you've done?
I've got boxes and boxes of flyers and posters from shows I've done. I actually have one binder full of stuff. But I really haven't kept up on it. I keep buying binders and saying, "This will be the week I'll do this." One of these days I'll get it done. Another favorite of mine was bringing Jeff Buckley to Valentine's before anyone really knew who he was. I was in Karen's office [the owner of Valentine's], and I see a press pack from William Morris Agency in New York sitting in the garbage. I pulled it out to see and it was Jeff Buckley. And being a fan of his father's [Tim Buckley], I hired him immediately not knowing he would become huge at some point.
That's always cool to have something like that happen. From my end, getting something in the mail from a band just starting out with a handwritten letter. You do an interview and a few years down the road they're playing Letterman or something. It's amazing to see.
Yeah, that stuff happens all the time. Never to me....