The Colony has long been a fixture on the Woodstock music scene, but for some reason, never really seemed to occupy the limelight the way many people felt it could, and should. I recently had the opportunity for my first visit to the newly redesigned and refurbished Colony Woodstock, and, IMHO, the venue has finally realized its full potential!
New owner, Neil Howard, has spared no expense in reshaping the place in his own image. The stage has been moved to, IMO, a better spot, the sound and lights are terrific, and, most importantly, the bookings are out of this world, which is the main reason why I’ve been driven to write this blog at this time. Colony Woodstock is about to embark on a truly impressive run of shows that should interest anyone who studies good music, with a major in Rock n Roll!
The run starts this weekend, Friday, November 17, with Terry Reid and The Derelicts! Now, I’m sure there are many people who just thought to themselves, “Who”? So, let me enlighten y’all. Terry Reid was Jimmy Page’s first choice to be lead singer of Led Zeppelin! I’ve probably got your attention now, I’m just guessing. The thing is, Terry said no to Jimmy! He had a solo career that was going pretty well at the time, (Terry was opening for The Stones on their first tour of America with Mick Taylor in 1969), and he wanted to concentrate on that! I wonder if he regrets that decision, but I’m NOT gonna ask him! I’ll just say this. Musicians and other creative types out there, think about whether you’d rather have 50% of something, or 100% of nothing. Plenty of artists have chosen the latter! Nuff said!
Terry Reid, from what I understand, has moved from the hard rock he espoused in his youth, to a more laid back, rootsy Americana style of music, but his early albums, and the live act I saw open for The Stones in ’69, were pretty hard rockin’ affairs, and kind of ahead of their time. So, based on all that, don’t you wanna check him out this Friday at Colony Woodstock? I know I do! Terry Reid and The Derelicts. Friday night. Colony Woodstock.
But save some energy for Saturday night, because Colony has an amazing 1-2 punch lined up for this weekend! Saturday night, Rockabilly raconteur Robert Gordon rumbles into Colony for a night of rockin’, rollin’, and getting’ down! I say “rumbles into Colony” because, besides being a tireless proselytizer for early Rock n Roll and Rockabilly for, like, ever, Robert is a Harley enthusiast who used to ride with the Hell’s Angels in New York! Never an actual member, Robert, never the less, is that hardcore of a biker! But he’s also that hardcore of a rocker, if your concept of Rock n Roll is what the Founding Fathers, Chuck, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Fats Domino, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, and The Everly Brothers, created, back in the day. That’s Robert Gordon’s milieu.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, I used to see Robert perform several times a month, mostly at the original Lone Star Café on 13th Street, where he and his band were regulars. Now, lemme tell you about Robert Gordon’s bands, because he got some of the best musicians on the planet to play with him, many of whom, have now, sadly, passed into the great beyond. Let’s start with guitar players. Do the names, Link Wray, Chris Spedding, or Danny Gatton mean anything to you? Well, they damn well should, because right there are 3 of the heaviest cats to ever strap on a 6 string! The only thing in Rock n Roll history that’s comparable is The Yardbirds incredible run of the greatest guitarists anywhere, back in the 60’s when they had Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page pass thru the group! Robert’s guitar players from back in the day, are THAT impressive! But in case you don’t believe me, let me run down a few items of interest.
Robert’s first guitar player was the immortal Link Wray! Link burst onto the scene in 1958 with the now classic, “Rumble”, which, in one fell swoop, introduced America, and the world, to distortion and the power chord!!! Link Wray was one of the most influential guitarists who ever lived! Pete Townshend said he never would have picked up a guitar, if not for Link! Bob Dylan has said that “Rumble” is the greatest instrumental ever made, (although I personally prefer the follow up, “Rawhide” which was a staple of every Rock n Roll band I was ever in)! If you don’t know Link, you owe it to yourself to go to his website (www.linkwray.com) and check The Man out. And The Man is capitalized because he was, The Man! Here’s a clip of Robert and Link doing their version of Jack Scott’s, “The Way I Walk” which features one of my favorite guitar solos of all time from Link. Blazin’!
BTW, Link Wray is a 2018 nominee for the RnRHoF, and it’s way overdue! Robert should be inducted too! A cool cat, and a real cool cat herder!!!
When Link went back to his solo career, after 2 albums and countless tours with Robert, he was replaced with the only man who could actually fill Link’s shoes pretty well, the always inventive, Chris Spedding!
Chris is an English guitarist who’s been around forever and has played with literally everyone. One of the most in demand session guys in Britain, and member of several bands, he moved to New York for a few years in the 80’s and joined Robert’s band. Together, they recorded one great album and did some of the most memorable gigs of the Lone Star Café’s entire run on the corner of 13th and Fifth! Chris’ solos were mindbending! Chris is now touring with Bryan Ferry.
Next up in Robert’s band was Danny Gatton. You may have never heard of him, but Danny Gatton was a guitar player’s guitar player! He was actually known as “The World’s Greatest Unknown Guitarist”! Danny was also called “The Telemaster” and guitarist Amos Garrett named Danny “The Humbler”! Nowhere is this more in evidence then in this clip with Danny jamming with Albert Lee and Vince Gill, two guys who know something about guitars, themselves. Check out the smiles and admiration on Albert’s and Vince’s faces during Danny’s solos. Danny’s burying them, and they’re lovin’ every minute of it! Needless to say, every great guitarist in the world, household names that you love and admire, were fans of Danny’s!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the fiddle player in this clip, Mark O’Connor, is a living legend who started winning national fiddle championships when he was still a little boy, and could also hang with these guys on guitar, and the steel player looks like John Hughey, also a legend, although no longer a living one.
Now, we can turn to Robert’s rhythm sections. The one I remember the most fondly, consisted of Rockin’ Rob Stoner and Howie Wyeth, who took time away from Robert to tour with Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Revue! Other drummers were New York mainstay, the late great Bobby Chouinard, who moved on to fame and fortune with Billy Squier, and Anton Fig, late of The Late Show with David Letterman and session work with everyone from Mick Jagger to Bob Dylan. Robert’s bass player, when Rockin’ Rob went off to play with Dylan, was Tony Garnier, who, himself, went off to play with Dylan, and has been the only constant in Dylan’s band for a coupla decades, now!
So, those are the kind of musicians Robert Gordon attracted, back in the day, i.e. the cream of the crop, and while we’ve all grown older and none of us are as pretty as we used to be, one thing I think we can still count on, is Robert Gordon bringing a first class band into Colony Woodstock with him, next Saturday night! If you like rocking’, you best come a knockin’! Next Saturday, November 18, Colony Woodstock. Robert Gordon! Local Rockabilly faves Lara Hope and The Ark-Tones open.
And the fun don’t stop there, folks! I just popped over to colonywoodstock.com and I noticed they’ve got another of the world’s greatest unknown guitarists booked for November 24th, Arlen Roth, and my buddy, Chris Bergson and his band, the following night. I’ll be there, and you should too!
Next month, the new Colony’s got Darlene Love, Larry and Teresa Campbell, Rhett Miller, Ian Felice, Willa and Company, Scott Sherrard and the Brickyard Band, and more, but the biggest night of the year, anywhere, as far as I’m concerned, will be December 8th, when the very Reverend, Horton Heat pulls into The Colony, with his buddies, The Blasters, Big Sandy, and Junior Brown!!! I mean, who puts a line up like THAT together? Who has four acts on one bill, any one of whom could headline, and calls it, Horton’s Holiday Hayride? Nobody, that’s who! Oh, except Neil and his fine staff at Colony Woodstock, who’ve given this great and generous Christmas gift to the community! Thank you, Neil. This one’s gonna be a night to remember!
Colony Woodstock’s also a great place to stop for a bite or a drink. There’s usually some cool music goin’ down, even if nobody famous is booked, and it’s a nice place to wind down and cool out at the end of the day, so, head over to colonywoodstock.com early and often, and always be up to date on all the wonderful and groovy happenings at the rockinest club around town, Colony Woodstock! See you there!
Fred Perry is a founding member of Alt-Country supergroup, The Brooklyn Cowboys, is from a 3rd generation musical family and lives in the Hudson Valley, where he does what he can to promote live music.