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Take a Chance
by Haven James

Event: WDST Holiday Benefit Concert at The Chance
Date: Monday, November 30, at 8 p.m.
     Related Links:
The Chance
Marcy Playground
Virgin Records
Capitol Records

And the hits just keep on coming. Some people wonder why many Woodstockers relish the passing of summer and truly look forward to the off-season events. The reason is simple: people you haven't seen all year come out of the woodwork, and usually they gather at functions that contribute in some way to the general well-being of the community at large. For those who missed this past week's special, the Cathera Lane fundraiser at New World, you missed an awesome party. Deem this one a success, it was fabulous on every level and congratulations to all who put out to make it so.

This week, another event approaches so get on the bus: the sixth annual WDST Holiday Benefit Concert scheduled for Monday, November 30, at 8 p.m. The Chance Theater at 6 Crannell Street in Poughkeepsie will host this year's bash and the lineup is top-notch again. The benefitees, of course, are Family of Woodstock and Dutchess Outreach; both organizations being major players in helping area folks acquire and maintain reasonable survival levels on a variety of bases.

Marcy Playground headlines the affair, as they continue to tour in support of their big new album on Capitol Records. The band's been working on new material in between a heavy road schedule and will release singles as they become available. You can expect to hear some new music at the concert. Marcy Playground is John Wozniak, singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer of the debut album; Dylan Keefe, a former tuba player, on bass, and Dan Rieser, former student at Berklee in Boston and one-time trombone player, on drums. The storybook tale of the band's origins, stemming from playground visions at John's childhood school in Minneapolis, are well known and overplayed, so we won't go there (you can read it via links on the web from our site if you somehow missed it). Suffice to say that Wozniak is the poet/dreamer of the group who has envisioned and composed the bulk of their music. Good enough to hit the Top 10 on more than one occasion, they put forth a pretty fun playground to romp in.

Cracker has "Gentlemen's Blues" playing rounds on the charts under the guidance of everybody's favorite entrepreneur, David Branson and his Virgin Records. You don't get a free six-pack of Virgin Cola or a ticket to Hawaii on Virgin Air if you buy a ticket to the show, but you do get some of David Lowery's (formerly of Camper Van Beethoven) classic smash mouth music to rock to. The band has remained unchanged in core membership through four albums now. Lowery sings lead and plays rhythm guitar on most songs, with Johnny Hickman playing lead guitar and singing both lead and background on the album (both he and Lowery write the songs, sometimes collaboratively, sometimes individually). Bob Rupe and Frank Funaro work the rhythm section on bass and drums, respectively, and Kenny Margolis plays keyboards and accordion.

Lowery is quoted as offering this commentary on Cracker's current work: "This record kind of encompasses everything we're about, and it includes elements from our three prior albums. A lot of the songs are about being in a band; self-mocking our complaints, and celebrating the weird stuff that needs to be celebrated. I didn't even realize it until we were mixing the album, when someone said, Oh, it's a concept album about being in a band." Cracker has a current single called "The Good Life" which you can catch on the cycle on WDST regularly.

Rounding out the show is something from Everything. They're a bus band out of Virginia and currently have a new album, "Super Natural," out on Blackbird/Sire Records. With reeds, horn, and guitars, the band taps into those special spirit forces of the muse to bring on the high times. They are Craig Honeycutt on guitar and lead vocals; Steve Van Dam on alto-sax, clarinet, guitar and vocals; Rich Bradley playing tenor sax, guitar, and vocals; Wolfe Quinn tapping keys, trombone, and auxiliary percussion; Nate Brown nailing drums, percussion, and vocals both lead and backup, and David Slankard on bass.

Monday's show at the Chance begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are available via Ticketmaster or at the Chance box office; they're $24 in advance, $28 at the door, and discounted to $20 at the box office with a college ID. Last year's gala raised over $7,000 and hopes are high that the figure will bump up this year. Again, it's the kind of thing you can buy a ticket for to help out even if you can't make the show, but it looks to be a great one to catch if you can.

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on November 25th, 1998

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