Dec 28, 2011

Putnam Den "assault": the real story

From the report, one gets the impression that the early Saturday morning incident at downtown Saratoga's rock venue The Putnam Den is yet another example of the Wild West / Free For All setting down in the Spa City's nightlife district. Another day, another brawl; with someone ending up either dead or seriously injured. To make matters worse, this most recent incident was an example of a Bouncer Gone Mad scenario.

That is if you believe what the Saratogian newspaper has reported. The lead word in their headline is FIGHT. Flashbacks of the massive brawl at the now-shuttered Shadow Lounge come to mind. Readers' comments are flowing-in, most in a "shut the Den down, too!" spirit.

Well, Nanoburgh? has a different take to report on this mess. Although we are not in the "scoop journalism" business, we'll run with this one anyways -- if for no other reason than to mark a line in the sand whereby the Saratogian can once again be pointed-out as holding the title of Upstate New York's Worst Newspaper.

Here's what we hear from two reliable sources (now don't we sound like an old school paper ourselves here?)that were there:

* There was no "fight"

* Instead, there WAS an extremely intoxicated young man on the scene, as demonstrated by his inability to stand on his own two feet as well as a propensity to keep dropping his cell phone.

* On at least two occasions, this young man was refused entrance/service in the venue. But he persisted in that quest, nonetheless.

* On a third attempt, he was "escorted" from the venue by a Security Guard. During that process, the young man was "picked up" by the Guard in some manner, whereby his feet briefly left the ground during the "walk". I think we can all make a mental picture here.

* Once the pair reached a final destination outside the immediate entrance area, the Guard placed the young man back on his feet, turned his back and returned to his duty station.

* The young man reportedly (again) lost his balance after being returned to his feet, fell, and struck his head in some manner. He suffered a serious injury as a result and remained motionless on the scene until police and medical assistance arrived.

* Police eventually arrested the bouncer on an assault charge.

So what have we here?

- We do know that someone got hurt. On that we all agree.

- We also know that the police investigators -- in their initial investigation -- feel that the Guard (bouncer) acted inappropriately in his role, and used some sort of unnecessary force in his attempt to rule the young man away from the establishment's premises.

- But: we also now know that the Putnam Den had at least one Video Camera capturing the sequence of events. Furthermore, we know that the ownership of the Putnam Den is anxious (we dare say: hyper-anxious)to share that video with the police. It is assumed that they have done so by the time we are writing here. Roll that tape!

- While the Guard's conduct will be then revealed, we can state that the venue "did the right thing" up until that point in time: it refused service to an inebriated individual.

- In addition, there is a report that the Guard had not completed the SLA-required "Bouncer School" training that is required of certain employees of licensed establishments. We do not know if this is the case. That question might become a bit more complicated, given that we have also learned that the individual was not an actual employee of the venue. One has heard the term Rent A Cop (which would assume a third=party provider), but this is something we can not confirm.

The prediction here is that the charges against the guard will either be outright dropped or drastically reduced. We also predict the venue will get some sort of slap from SLA, but not of the license-yanking variety.

But: the Saratogian got it wrong with their headline. That, you can take to the bank.


Dec 12, 2011

The Fix It Man: New Fans for Racing

If Slots and Racing are Destined for Marriage, At Least Make it a Functional Marriage!

Solution: Convert VLT Revenues into Betting Vouchers

The Problem:

The sport of horse racing is in the middle stages of its slow-motion crash; fading into oblivion from the American consciousness as the gambling public abandons it in favor of alternative entertainment and gambling options.

Despite the fact that racing has a number of key competitive advantages (ex: the advent of satellite telecommunications for broadcasting its product; the fact that it is the only legal form of online gambling in the USA; etc), its share of the overall gambling action continues to decline -- as does it standing in any popularity rankings. Whereas racing was once considered a Top 3 sport, it is now lucky to find itself in the Top 25.

Meanwhile, its legacy business model is failing: the cost of putting on the show has not only risen at a rate above normal inflation in recent years, but it is incredibly expensive to begin with. Whereas a poker operation might need nothing more than stacks of cards, tables and chairs to convene non-stop action, racing requires a massive staging grounds plus a small army of humans to train and maintain each and every equine athlete, which may (or may not) get to the track a couple times a month in an attempt to earn its keep.

There are several unique aspects of this model that need to be recognized: first is that those aforementioned costs are borne not by the "house" (ie., the hosting race tracks) -- in such a way as casinos bear the cost -- but by both those tracks and by a sector called called horse owners. Both have skin in the game, and both are dependent on the flow of wagering dollars as the sole funding means for race purses.

But because of those incredibly high operating expenses, the "takeout" (the piece of each wagered dollar that is retained) is itself incredibly high -- in some cases as high as 35%! Compare this to the typical casino games, where the takeout is in the low single digits. So, not only are horse players (the funding gamblers) dwindling as a % of the total market, but the few who remain are continuously punished for doing so!

The numbers prove it: fewer races are being run; the total purse dollars are declining; as is the money earned by each individual horse in training. That, in return, results in fewer people being employed in this in those once thriving industry, both on the track backsides and in the breeding barns. The vicious cycle ensues.

So, what to do....?

The Current (and Failed) Solution:

Slots +/or Video Lottery Terminals are popularly viewed as the end-all answer to the problem at hand. The thinking is this:

- Stop looking at alternative forms of gambling as the enemy and instead realize that their momentum can not be stopped

- Lobby to have slot machines embedded into race tracks (racinos) as opposed to casinos

- In all cases, dedicate a portion of the slots' revenues back to the racing industry

- This will result in increased race purses, thereby keeping/getting more owners in the game, which will increase the number of runners, field sizes and races. More action will result in more wagering.

The above initiative is at least partially successful in reaching its stated goals: in fact, the average purse-per-race is up, albeit barely -- although that could also be due to consolidation. But it is not fixing the big problem. Further, it is not addressing what SHOULD BE the primary goal -- attracting new action to the game. Heck, it's not even a logical outcome of the chosen plan.

The (Real & Viable) Solution:

1. Stop taking slot revenues for the sole purpose of feeding purses


2. Keep the the slot money in the hands of those doing the gambling and let them wager it on the horses


- Accept the logic, rationale and wisdom of slots/VLT's being used to support the horse racing industry.

- As an option to just moving the pre-ordained share of those slots into the various racing accounts (track, breeding and purse), distribute a BETTING VOUCHER to the individual slot/VLT players.

- Those players are then financially motivated to go "play the ponies" with their credits.

That's right: an increased number of people are now attending the races; handicapping, wagering and watching. Many of them will have never done so prior; many others will have done so only rarely in their lives beforehand. This is called 'new blood'. Some of them will actually find the experience to be a positive one and even (dare say) plunk their own, non-voucher / real money down in the future.

In other words, some might get hooked on the majesty of this great sport.

Objections, Answered:

O: But the machines are not setup to do this.
A: There is adequate software and engineering brainpower out there that can make this work.

O: But not all of the vouchers will be used, thereby costing the racing industry its rightful share of the slots/VLT funding.
A: Again: software accounting can track all of this, and make the necessary adjustments for expired and unused vouchers.

O: The general concept of using a portion of the revenues from slots/VLTs to support the racing industry is an anti-market example of corporate welfare, or at the very least it's an example of a favored industry / picking winners scenario.
A: All public policy and spending favors one industry or another. Even if 100% of the slots revenues were put into a state's General Fund, it is then subject to the the whims, prejudices and influences of its general budget spending. The rationale of this stated mechanism for supporting the racing industry has as its justification the obvious jobs-generating aspect of this major agri-industry.

****** UPDATE ****** UPDATE ******

Nanoburgh appreacites the national play this post/suggestion has received in the past few weeks, especially from the fine racing blog The Paulick Report.


Dec 5, 2011

The Nanoburgh 2011 Music Awards

Jamie Kent & The Options
Improv Records' Series @ Lake George

Artistic creativity generally happens early in life, and early in the career of a performing artist. There's even a theory out there claiming this is due to our genetic makeup, with creativity and innovation being nothing more than a way for us to show off our feathers, so to speak, and attract a mate. There it is, that old mating drive showing its dominating influence again. It's simply beyond our control, folks.

We don't know how Jamie Kent is making out in that mating department. But what we do know is this: the young Northhampton-based crooner is kicking on all 12 cylinders when it comes to crafting catchy tunes that span the full range of human emotion. Furthermore, he is then able to deliver them in a live setting with a passion and sensibility that surprises for both its depth and diversity. We're even tempted to add the word elegance here, if not for the lounge lizard connotation such usage would draw. Trust us; Mr Kent and his Options are the furthest you can get from that type comparison.

The smallish crowd gathered at the picturesque Lake George Ampitheater on this Travers eve night were treated to a set of that pulled generously from the collective band's 2010 Neotoney as well as their upcoming 2012 release. The baseboard of a made-to-order brand of adult-alternative rock was augmented nicely with touches of pop, scat-jazz, reggae and alt-country, all packaged in the confines of a small quartet that was so tight it that you would think it was a bunch of 70-year old jazz freaks up there.

While one is tempted to build a mile-high list of possible influences for both the vocal and compositional styles; save the effort. Mr Kent is both unique and at the peak of his creative powers. Those two facts alone make it worth the effort to see him in the near future.

The thought of his improving even more down the line, though, is downright scary.


Donna the Buffalo
Saratoga - Putnam Den

The Herd keeps rolling. While their tunesmithing of Jeb Puryear and Tara Nevins remain top notch, it is those four or five times each night – when they lock-in to their patented extended groove-driven instrumental jams – that give goosebumps and drive the happy feet wild. The new rhythm section provides an upgrade, and the now-firmly-embedded David McCracken's Hammond organ runs drive them into whole new sonic orbit.

Kyle Eastwood Band
Lake George Jazz Festival

Seeing that Famous Guy's Kid listed as the closing act seemed to many Jazz Fest observers as a yawner, or possibly nothing more than a blatant attempt to add a name to the bill and attract a few newbies to the annual event as a result. But said observers obviously know little of this gig's reputation and track record of being a TRUE jazz fest par excellence, with no patience or desire for such nonsense.

Bassist Eastwood brought in a six-piece ensemble of the highest order and proceeded to lay out a set that channeled early-Crusaders fusion with touches of bebop, cool and even smooth (of the not-so-icky variety, of course) jazz fibers. The result was an electrifying and exhilerating set proving Mr E to be more than just a fine film scorer, but also someone who has earned his own claim to the family name.

Chandler Travis Philharmonic
Albany - The Linda

Seemingly carrying the torch-bearing spirit of NRBQ...

Avett Brothers
Nashville - Ryman Auditorium

The new Americana treasure, performing in the center of the Americana universe. Can it get any better?

My Morning Jacket
Boston - BofA Pavilion

Big room rockers playing in a big room in a big city. Although we rarely go this route nowadays, it's always good to do it now and then as a way of reminding one's self of the rock grandeur experience. MMJ delivers a progressive yet quirky brand of rock and roll with that unique, weird-key vocals on top of layered soundscapes. It works; even in such a poor venue as this one.

Joe Louis Walker
Saratoga - Parting Glass

Blues is a tough genre to make a living in. After you get past the top 3 or 4 names, the other 99% are playing 20-person rooms to get enough traveling money for European trips, where the audiences are more appreciative and supportive.

That's why the Joe Louis Walker turnout was so encouraging, with a full house not only crowding into Saratoga's Parting Glass on a Thursday night, but also hanging on every guitar note and lyric and responding with ovation after ovation. The twin leads of Walker and hotshot-in-his-own-right Murali Coryell were just the trick for the beer-soaked throng of genuine music lovers.

Peter Karp & Sue Foley
Saratoga - Parting Glass

Singer-songwriter Peter Karp is a mighty fine craftsman of deeply Americana tales of woe and hope. Juno-winning Sue Foley is a mighty fine guitar-slinger of electric blues. Combine these two talents into a single act, and the sky's the limit. Right?

Well, it doesn't seem to be quite working out that way, if their local stop was any indication. The couple's He Said/She Said collaboration – a musical interpretation of a series of letters between the two over the years – doesn't quite gel, allowing neither party the chance to shine in an almost Split the Difference kind of manner. This is not to say it was a “bad” show, by any means; it's just that the expectations were set so high given the players.

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter
Marble Son

Elvis Costello is credited with first saying “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” So maybe we should take that subtle advice, and just say GO LISTEN TO THIS BABY. Besides, it is such a complex and confounding piece of work that we'd have a hard time putting it into words anyways!


Eilen Jewell
Queen of the Minor Key

Cowgirl Cool. The heavy touring has tightened up this gal's chops, and the result is one of the best roots-rock record in years.

Amy LaVere
Stranger Me

Fans of Nanoburgh know that we have long champ'd Ms Amy, with our sister biz having brought her into town for three shows over a twelve-month span a couple years back. In the interim, the Memphis-based hipstress has suffered the death of her legendary producer, the departure of her hot shot guitarist and a nasty breakup with her drummer-boyfriend. With this triple-whammy of losing her major support figures, Mr LaVere is faced with the need to take the proverbial bull by the horns, step it up and take full reins of her future, front and center, for all the world to see. Such a prospect is always full of challenges, fears and mis-steps, of course -- and the view of this tiny dynamo bearing down, clenching her firsts and saying bring it on makes the process all the more intriguing...and ultimately human. This new release offers random looks into new world of hers. Take a peek, if you dare...


The Saratoga by-way-of Greenwich duo continues their climb onto the national scene, complete with fawning press coverage, late night TV shows and festival gigs. Their recent release is downright glorious, which should add a second stage boost to this rocket. For decades, the Albany area has longed for that one breakthrough act it could call its very own. Phantogram is sitting on that very doorstep; right here, right now.

The General Scene

Boston, much like the smaller Albany, is the ultimate up & down music community. When it's good, it's good. But when it's dry, it's dry. The Hub seems to be into the second or third year of an upswing, with a number of local acts percolating around the 'hoods worthy of moving up the food chain.

Revolution Hall

Are we sounding like a broken record here yet...?

A North Shore Venue

You'd think the math (population & incomes) numbers would add up. Anyone?


Jill Andrews
(Knoxville, TN)
Other Lives (Oklahoma)
Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds (Brooklyn, NY)
Great Lake Swimmers (Ontario, CAN)


Nov 29, 2011

The Diminishing Attention Span

The American Pie Tale is Debunked -- Once Again.

Coincidence? Nanoburgh Smells a Rat!

It seems that individuals' attention spans are increasingly being shortened. Two recent examples lead to such a conclusion:

The first is a viral video clip of a recorded CBS News piece, where an autistic high school lad is given the chance to finally shift from being the varsity hoop team's ball boy to getting into a real game for some real action. He then proceeds to nail three-pointers from all over the court in what truly is an exhilarating experience just to watch. You've likely seen it.

The problem is that this all happened several years ago. I even recall the kid visiting President George W bush as a result. But the peep's on Facebook are pushing this thing around as if it happened yesterday. Didn't they see if a few years back? My sense is that they did; it just didn't last for too many cycles in the old memory bank.

Example Two hits a bit closer to home. We read of the debunking of the local urban legend of Don McLean having written all or part of American Pie in the Tin N Lint saloon in Saratoga. It ends up that it really didn't happen. Someone finally asked Mr McLean, directly!

But lo and behold, guess what? Yes. Someone published this very same expose back in 2003, using the same "how about we just ring the guy up and ask him?" technique used by the intrepid reporter at the Post Star this week. The name of that original debunking journalist? Robert Millis, as published in the Tech Valley Times newspaper on July of that year,.

But the new kid on the block likely knew nothing about that story, right? Indeed, we'll give in on that, considering that the archive of the original piece is not online and subject to Google indexing.

BUT -- and there is the Conspiracy Theory in me at work -- this very topic WAS a very recent and lengthy discussion on the Facebook Group "You Must Be From Saratoga Springs If..." Yep, the point was made that Yours Truly called the bluffs on this bit of Toga folklore a decade eight years ago.

Coincidence? Well, it IS an open forum. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.........


Nov 22, 2011

Bring Out Your Dead! Family Jam Nite

Hall of Fame inductee comes to Saratoga on Saturday, 11/26

Grateful Dead's Tom Constanten leads New Moon Revue into Putnam Den

Saratoga Trivia:

Question: Has a sitting member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ever performed in a Saratoga Springs night club?

Answer: No, but...

That will change on Saturday as former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten plays the downtown Putnam Den as part of a newly-formed all star jam band ensemble.

Constanten, inducted with his mates in 1994, was a member of the Dead on the three late-60's albums that best signify its first of several musical transitions. His earlier years of having been a classical child prodigy and the training under European avant garde masters is often credited with his playing a major role in the group's shift from straight-ahead blues into an electric psychedelia that was heavy on instrumental improvisation and spaced-out lyrics.

From his perch behind the keys, Constanten had a first hand view of the Dead's rise from its Bay Area roots to a thriving national act, complete with its dedicated throngs along for the ride. Yes, he was there for the Acid Tests. Yes, that's him on the groundbreaking Live Dead. Yes, he played at the band's disastrous Woodstock appearance and was right in the middle of the Altamont mess. This guy no doubt has some stories to tell.

But by 1972, Constanten moved on. The Dead's next transition into what would later be called alt-country was of little interest to him; nor was the heavy touring schedule that was now stretching into Europe. His pursuits since have included classically-inclined solo releases, workshops, and in-residence posts at universities. But it was his running into a couple of east coast jam band vets that has TC back onto the performance stage in a live group format.

Vermont-based pedal steel and banjo master Gordon Stone – sometimes called the Phifth Phish for his collaborative work with that mega group – was in the mood for a new ensemble. He roped in Constanten, Rev Tor front man Tor Krautter and a rock solid rhythm section for what is called New Moon Revue. The group's style is a blend of rock, psychedelic jamming and countrified blues.

The Saratoga show is part of a short and linited Thanksgiving season run that has the group working a mix of materials from the extensive combined back catalog from each of the founding members.

Keeping with the Grateful Dead / Family Jam theme of the evening is the opening act, The Garcia Project, which recreates complete set as done by the Jerry Garcia Band.

(featuring Tom Constanten, Gordon Stone and Rev Tor)
w/sg The Garcia Project
(Recreating the Jerry Garcia Band Experience)

The Putnam Den
63A Putnam St
Saratoga Springs, NY
Saturday, November 26 - 9PM
$15 Online Advance / $18 Door

Discount Advance Tix Here

Nov 16, 2011

Flash: Bruno Conviction Tossed

Nov 9, 2011

Saratoga Election Recap

Predictions? So How'd We Do?

We stuck our necks out a few days back with our predicted results of the Saratoga Springs local elections, based strictly on the old gut feel methodology and without any scientific, data-driven science. And? Well, just like that old Meat Loaf tune: "two out of three ain't bad". Let's look at the tallies:

Mayor = Correct. Despite being told by everyone and his brother that Democratic challenger Wilkes was poised to topple incumbent Republican Scott Johnson, we didn't buy it. Johnson prevails, but not nearly by the margin we thought.

Commissioner of Finance = Correct. This was our upset special, where we predicted that Democratic challenger Michele Madigan would surprise sitting Commish Ken Ivins by a more-than-comfortable margin. Yes, indeed: right on the button.

Commissioner of Public Safety = Incorrect. Before we could even start bragging about that last courageous call, our not predicting the upset win by Democrat Chris Mathieson over incumbent GOP'er Richard Wirth acted like a bucket of ice cold water being poured over our heads. But then again; humility is healthy!

Election Analysis

The final numbers (after absentees) will likely show Johnson prevailing by some fig between 200 and 300 votes. The current place sitters that are in control of the city's Democratic party will spin this as being the difference between their having achieved a wholesale sweep, given its impressive wins in the other two council races. Further, they will also spin it as a signal to run hard and run deep with flying the Charter Reform banner into the future, what with Wilkes being the admitted poster boy for that very initiative.

They would be well-advised not to make such conclusions.

Mayor Johnson basically phoned-in this campaign, spending little effort and money on his race. His media buys were near-zip as he let it be known that he wasn't overly concerned about his chances; it was a lock. So, just like a jockey on a speed ball thoroughbred coasting on the front end and then relaxing in the stretch to win by a long neck, Johnson pulled it off with nary a bead of sweat being expended. This despite the full out, all hands on deck assault by his opposition.

But coattails are important, even in local races. Despite Saratoga's commission/council form of government (where the Mayor is just one of five votes), that post is the most high profile of the bunch in the public consciousness. So, Johnson's Missing Man act no doubt harmed the fortunes of his Republican stablemates Ivins and Wirth.

To give credit where credit is due, party chair Thilo Ullman assembled a functional campaign organization. Their initiatives, both admirable (ex: social media and non-traditional advertising) and not-so-admirable (ex: misleading sock puppet attacks)seemed well organized and effective.

Yet, they fell short in the mayor's race, even with that balls to the wall effort. Dead-year elections (those without national action) have low voter turnouts, and for this year's edition this was especially true. In that setting, candidates with a major gripe +/or who are sitting on a hot button local issue are at an advantage because their supporters are the ones that are all wound up and are the more likely to get out and vote. Wilkes was that candidate here; the face of Charter Change. Despite that perfect storm, he was beaten.

Given what Wilkes represented, the Dem's should conclude that they just witnessed the best-case tally for Charter Change -- everyone in town who wants it went out and voted for it yesterday. From there, the blue party should also conclude that this isn't the pony worth taking to the starting gate in the immediate years ahead. But the guess here is that they will.

Further, Mr Ullman's troupe remains weakened -- all these years later -- by the toxic divide dug by the vicious Keehn/Kim takeover a couple of elections cycles ago. Granted, this year's slate of candidates was an important step in unloading that heavy baggage -- with Ms Madigan especially acting as a bridge between the competing camps -- but the fact remains that its leadership (i.e., committee)is still loaded with supporters who somehow wax nostalgic for that nightmare era. Fresh blood is needed, particularly if that blood is not interested in fighting those old wars as well as it being representative of a wider demographic. Committee meetings tend to be absent of both under-40 and innovation class representation. If the Democrats wish to continue their forward momentum, they would be well advised to change those facts.

The Republicans, on the other hand, will lick their wounds and be back for another round in two years, well-armed. One of their obvious moves will be to (like Johnson), do nothing and let the now-governing Democratic newcomers repeat their crash & burn act of incompetence and in-fighting, just like in those old Val Keehn days. All of that is possible, especially given the party's alleged "deals" it made with the city's public sector unions that will turn the upcoming budgeting battles into full-out circus shows.

We can foretell the script already: Mayor Johnson and Accounts commissioner John Franck will play the part of fiscal watchdogs, while incumbent Public Works head Skip Scirocco and the incoming Mathieson are both committed to the empire building of their massive, union-heavy departments. All eyes watching that upcoming drama will be on Ms Madigan, who despite her lover-dovey campaign whispers to those unions, is charged with shaping the fiscal debate with the initial budget suggestions.

Reality can sometimes suck: Ms Madigan will find that out very soon. As a result of that messy process, she will probably be making some enemies out of friends she currently has. Being the bearer of band news is never pleasant.

She can just ask Mr Ivins about that.

(In other races: congrats to the Lake George Citizens Group for their rousing victory. We were glad to have played a small, last minute role in that success.)

Nov 8, 2011

Elections Day: Upgrade, Please

We don't need "more people" voting.

Instead, we need "more informed people" voting.

Elitist? No.

I just have a pretty good knack for identifying the root cause of problems.

Nov 7, 2011

Meet Commander Cody (if not familiar)

Saratoga's most interesting person? Maybe, just maybe...

The Commander orders up a hometown celebration for Nov. 19

“I just got married, so that means it's time to party!”

Saratoga's increasingly newbie population may or may not know of fellow resident George Frayne. If they do, it is mostly likely because of his prominent place in the city's visual arts community; a result of his strikingly colorful paintings and sculptures adorning galleries and private collections about town.

But what most don't know is that Frayne holds a legacy of having headed-up one of the most popular and prominent live-music acts in America, back in rock and roll's glory days of the early and mid- 70's'. That band was the rollicking Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen.

How prominent were they, one might ask? How about this: they produced one of the most recognizable hit singles of the period (Hot Rod Lincoln) and one of the Top 100 Greatest Albums of All Time (Live from the Heart of Texas), as deemed by Rolling Stone magazine.

Frayne will don his Commander Cody persona for a special one-night performance in his adopted hometown, a 9PM show at The Parting Glass Pub on Saturday, November 19. Advance tickets for the affair --- which is doubling as the informal post-wedding reception for Frayne and his new bride Sue --- are available at the venue's website ($16) or at the door on show night ($20).

Formed in the University of Michigan scene of the later 60's (while Frayne was completing his Masters in Fine Art), Cody and company soon thereafter made their way to the left coast's Bay Area, recruiting new group members upon arrival. Their piano-driven boogie woogie-meets-western swing offered up a fresh new twist for the emerging roots-rock movement of the day. Local shaker Bill Graham plugged them into the orbit of contemporaries like the Grateful Dead and (later) their cosmic cowboy cousins the New Riders of the Purple Sage, and the party was on.

In 1971, the group debuted on vinyl with Lost in the Ozone, which included the radio friendly Hot Rod Lincoln. From there, the touring road became their constant companion. The Dead heads, college kids and even the outlaw country crowd all bought into the traveling circus of mayhem and merriment. The bus kept rolling thru five more highly acclaimed albums and hundreds of concerts, finally coming to a dead halt in 1977. 'Unscrupulous management' is to blame, according to Frayne.

The Airmen scattered to various parts and careers, some musical, some not. Guitarist John Tichy, for example, went on to become chair of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering (yes: you read that right) at RPI in Troy. Frayne himself dipped his feet in two different buckets, reviving his somewhat dormant painting and sculpture career while at the same time continuing to hit the stage as the Commander Cody Band (without the Lost Planet Airmen), albeit on a more limited schedule than back in the day. Reunions shows with the originals have popped up over the years, however.

Frayne setup camp in the Spa City (Gansevoort, technically) in 1998, giving in to the the prompting of his native second wife and figuring the area's central location made for easy trips to the nearby major markets. He's been there ever since, blending nicely into the burgeoning arts scene underway and in-flight there. As examples he has a sculpture on permanent display at the Saratoga Auto Museum, is frequently curating his own works at local group and one-man shows, and yes—he painted one the city's beloved thoroughbred sculptures a few years back. Did we mention he is also an acclaimed video artist and art-book publisher?

But lest not forget the music, for that performance bug will never fade away. In his own words, George Frayne and his alter ego are “still trying to pound that piano into submission.”

Commander Cody Band
In Concert
A Special Hometown Celebration of George & Sue's Wedding
Saturday, November 19
9PM, All Ages

The Parting Glass
40-42 Lake Ave
Saratoga Springs NY 12866
$16 Advance Tix / $25 VIPs Tickets : BUY THEM HERE

Read of Cody's encounter with Hunter S Thompson, here in an interview on the very kewl Free George blog.

Nov 6, 2011

Samyn hangs up the reins

Jockey Jean-Luc Samyn, a fixture on the New York Racing Association circuit (Belmont, Aqueduct, Saratoga) since 1976, today announced his retirement.

The French-born rider won of 2,613 races, which included countless stakes wins. His prowess on the grassy turf courses made popluar the wiseguy angle of "Samyn on the Green".

But most importantly, Samyn was the regular rider for the ponies that Team Nanoburgh? would parade to the track under its separately-named stable banner.

Jean-Luc looked might spiffy in our green and red silks, even if it was rarely on the front at the wire. And we'll always remember how one of our more ornery geldings didn't want any part of walking back to our Clare Court stable after having breezed at the faraway Oklahoma course one AM, thereby taking an unforseen forty minutes out of J-L's day and losing him at least two other works (and possible afternoon mounts) as a result.

We'll sure miss seeing him in the irons next year at the Spa.

Nov 5, 2011

Ron Paul: The Unwanted Party Crasher




In school, we'd occasionally throw keggers. It is assumed that the reader knows or can guess what the general gist of these gigs was all about. When convened, they would tend to be massively popular. That massive part is what sometimes caused us problems.

Three distinct tribes of the local population would show up at these pow wows. The majority of the frolickers were the expected and welcomed college crowd, whether they were close pals, the folks you kind of knew from a class somewhere and the friends of a friend of a friend types. But on the fringes lurked two not-so-welcome groups of strangers: those we called townies (local kids) and jet heads (primarily Okies from the nearby Air Force base). The townies were usually crashing the party for the free beer buzz, while the flyboys were there on a mission to kick some ass and steal our women. It was a toxic three-part mix.

For some unknown, reason, that thought hit me when reflecting on the Occupy Wall Street movement. In observing the actual gatherings, via both media coverage and having swung by lower Manhattan on two occasions for an eyewitness view, I see the same type of dynamic in play. The vast majority of the protestors are of the expected type; looking the part, holding the right signs and voicing the proper slogans. But just like those old townies and jet heads from my carefree youth, out there on the fringes are those “what exactly are you doing here?” and not-so-welcome characters that seem very much out of place.

Communists, anarchists, Native American radicals, back-to-the earth extremists and similar; they're all down there. Sure, all these people have some skin in the game, but they really didn't read the OWS playbill before heading downtown, now did they? Worse, they provide ammo to the right wing media's scheme to conveniently file the whole shindig into one of these pigeonholes, all with a goal of alienating Middle America. I think we're all on to that game by now.

Most confusing to observe, however, were several small spatterings of Libertarians, with the requisite Ron Paul for President, End the Fed and Get Gov't Off My Back signage. These folks, even more so than the above mentioned groups, either totally missed the memo or took the wrong train to the hootenanny.

Granted, one can counter that there really isn't a clearly defined OWS playbill or memo, and that is a fair enough point. But there does at least exist a near-universal consensus that the general Occupy Wall Street rallying cry orbits around the central tenet that the delicate fulcrum balancing America's state interests and its commercial interests has swung too far in the direction of the latter — and that needs to change, pronto. Given that, we can easily conclude that this is not the Libertarians' garden party.

Their waaaaaaaaa'mbulance can he heard backing up to the back gate right now: where is the individual's interests (liberty!) in all this, they will ask? A fair question, but one that is misguided because it doesn't understand (or accept) that the individual is embedded throughout the above equation, on both sides of the divide. To help by way of example...

Joe Everyman, in exercising his liberty on any given morning, might take advantage of a state-financed water & sewer system, roadway and sidewalk to get to the office, where he then wages battle on behalf of a corporation for the next eight hours. This inter-meshing continues all day and night and into the weekend. Our citizen hero is a vested party not in one side or the other, but in the whole system.

Libertarians reject this reality. Instead, they choose sides and frame the push-pull as being the state vs the individual, with the commerce side either getting a free pass or being folded into the same anti-state union (hello Citizens United ruling). But both the Free Pass and the Damn That Big Gov options seem to be nothing more than convenient distractions for not being able to explain the natural end-game of their beloved laisse-faire's calamities; i.e., the ugly excesses of the financial industry, the recent mortgage/banking crisis,consolidation, monopolies, political influence, and so on. After all, if the central dogma is to get out of the way of business, how do you prevent all of the above nastiness? If anyone out there can buck that trend and tell us, please do so and get back to us. You have the address.

Back to our Joe Everyman, again. As he jumps back and forth between the State and Commerce camps, we can make a few predictions on how he would react to the possibility of being forced to move various aspects of his life from one to the other. It seems safe to assume that he thinks it best to let the EPA regulate drinking water quality, and not to force him (via the closure of that agency) to build a lab in his basement to test the H2O coming into his family's household. The same likely holds true with his being asked to now become a cell biologist in order to determine the safety of of the 100's of medicinal options for treating his daughter's nasty cough; he'll rely on (and appreciate) the FDA for that research, thank you very much. And he probably wouldn't take kindly to being forced to use one (the only one) cell phone provider, after all the previous competitors exercised their Libertarian rights and merged into one big monopoly.

The spirit of OWS says that all of that is pretty bad stuff. It would then conclude that the primary cause of our current economic dilemma is our having tasted a few chapters of this Libertarian KoolAid – of moving that fulcrum towards the right-hand or commerce side of that spectrum. Whether you agree with that logic or not is one thing, but there should not be any doubt as to how the so-called 99% feel about it.

Why, then is the Ron Paul crowd down there in Manhattan? An honest misinterpretation? An attempt to co-opt the movement? A hankering to just rile things up? The guess here is that is is confusing OWS's “Clean Up the Fed” cry with its own “End the Fed” stupidity. Again, those are two very different goals: most OWS'ers would think that requiring banks to maintain a certain level of assets in reserve (and regulating them, in general) to be a good thing, not a bad thing.

It is easy to see how the Libertarian philosophy has it appeal. After all, that rugged frontiersman knocking down those trees to build his home in the virgin woods is part of the branded American iconic legacy. But America has voted with its feet, as they say: today, 92% of the population lives in urban areas. That old frontier epic, now transformed into its current replacement of a delivered home along side a county road fifteen miles from town and six miles from its nearest neighbor, is out of synch in dealing with the modern day reality.

Now someone please tell that to Ron Paul and his blind mice.

Mr Rooney Hits the Finish Line

"Who do ya like?"

There's a question asked several hundred times each day at the Summer Place to Be, aka Saratoga Race Course. On this afternoon circa 1985, it was coming in my direction from a gentleman in the next box. I recognized the guy with his elbows leaning in my direction as Mr Andy Rooney.

A product of Albany and well on his way to being a pop legend of the little screen with his Sunday night WTF? segments on 60 Minutes, Mr Rooney was a regular in the Spa's upper clubhouse, just a short trek from his home down in nearby Rensselaerville. Of interest was that he sat in the company of a Roman Catholic priest that day.

"I like the 3, on top of either the 6 or 7,"
was my reply after lifting my head out of the Form. "But don't take it to the bank."

But he did, given he gave me a thumbs up after the 3 nipped the 7 at the wire for a handsome exact.

"What are you drinking? I owe you one," he growled over.

I passed, telling him that I tend not to drink when doing serious handicapping -- which was and is a (mostly) true statement.

"You just might be the smartest guy in the house," is what I got back.

Good thing he didn't see my bankroll at the end of the day. If I recall, I think I gave it all back. Today's news makes me harken to that brief interlude with Mr R, and wishing I had taken him up on his gracious offer on that warm sunny day.

I don't remember seeing him over the last ten or so years at the track, however. Most likely, the fame part of the game - which he detested and made mention of in his last TV show -- chased him away. If so, that's too bad, for he played the part well of your typical race track character.

Nov 3, 2011

Saratoga Election Predictions

The crystal ball says...

City Mayor:

S Johnson (R) def. B Wilkes (D) +16 pts

Comm. of Public Safety:

R Wirth (R) def C Mathieson (D) +14 pts

Comm. of Finance:

M Madigan (D) def K Ivins (R) +10 pts

The remaining four elections are non-contests, as the incumbents (Franck, Scirocco, Yepsen, Veitch) are running unopposed. So, we predict all four will win!

Note: these are not endorsements. They are gut-feel, non-scientific predictions.

No polling was undertaken. Why not, you ask? For some unexplained reason -- and despite its near perfect track record in the nailing the last four years of regional elections (seriously) -- none of these campaigns hired the NANOBURGH POLL for its strategy, modeling or planning. So: no pay / no play! Go figure.

The Local Library: Doomed or Just Acting a Little Bit Different?

Amazon Announces Plan to Wipe out 2/3 of Librarians

Take One Out for a Drink: She'll Need It After This

Some Libraries to Remain / Most Will Fade to Memory

Move over, movie rental stores and record shops: you're about to get some company. Public libraries are set to join you on the near-extinct species list as digital tech continues to run wild with its viscous stablemate, the rampaging beast commonly called Creative Destruction

The proverbial straw that will break this camel's back was unveiled today in Seattle, with Amazon announcing that it will start renting books. Pay $79 to join their Prime program, which acts as a sort of new wave library card where you can then download e-books to your Kindle on a "you don't own it, you're only using it for awhile" basis. Yes, the selection is limited at this time and it is limited to one title per month, but take our word for it: this will change.

We are likely looking here at the new standard of book publishing. Some free advice to library boards across the nation: start working on a shut down plan.

This will start (+/or accelerate) discussions of the role of a local library within a community. Founded on the most noble of intentions -- to offer up a substantial subset of the written word to the masses -- we are now at a point of asking whether "its time has passed."

In addressing that query, it is first necessary to analyze the ways in which the typical local library functions today. Is it still providing that initial mission? If not, what mission IS it fulfilling? Let's roll the tape...

Last week, I spent time in two distinctly different localities in upstate New York: Saratoga Springs and the Village of Lake George. The former is a small city with a busier-than average downtown area while the former is already a winter season ghost town. In both places, I spent time in the library.

One was big, the other was tiny in size. One was busy, one was empty. You can guess which is which. One had a fairly decent selection of new and legacy titles, the other had a small inventory of mostly long-forgotten titles. Ditto, ditto. A staff of 15+ manned Saratoga, while a single friendly individual was more than enough to (wo)man that ship in L-G. Those were the differences.

But what they had in common was this: most people coming thru the doors didn't go anywhere near the bookshelves. Those locations were dead zones. Similarly, few (if any) seemed involved in nose-to-the parchment research at the seating areas. What, then, were the patrons (as library folks tend to call their facility's users) doing in there? Here are some of the common observations:

1. Reading papers and magazines

2. Using broadband

3. Staying warm (homeless, bored, elderly or unemployed people)

4. Waiting for their parents to pick them up on their way home from work (doing homework or socializing with friends or playing video games in a special room designed for just that).

I'm sure the library industry (or their local membership) will deny my observation as being valid, but I would challenge them to show me the figures that say otherwise. Sure, you have a lot of books being borrowed, you counter? Maybe in Saratoga (because of its unique characteristics and facility), but not in a small one-room schoolhouse type of setting like Lake George or many thousands of others scattered in Smallburgh, USA. But even Saratoga would have a hard time convincing me that most people are in there hunting for books.

Assuming that my observations are, indeed, valid: we are faced with a Truth in Advertising dilemma here. Given that libraries are primarily funded thru their own local property tax assessment, are we sure of true transparency here? Are the taxpayers/voters aware that they are subsidizing not only book purchases and salaries, but are also funding certain aspects the city/town's off-the-books homeless services, net access and teenage daycare needs?

I watched a woman basically set up her virtual office and go about conducting a full plate of business (including a VoIp phone call to a customer!) while I was sitting beside her. All in a comfy chair in a private cubicle at 75 degrees with full access to power and WiFi. How does the 75yo homeowner on the other side of town feel about subsidizing this activity, or subsidizing the kids downstairs playing Guitar Hero?

The nut is this: the game has changed, so the library profession has needed to change the rules of engagement to justify its existence -- and staffing, salaries, facilities and operating budgets. With the "come check out our books" service offering now being met with a lack of demand (for a lot of reasons, not just Kindle and Amazon), the metric is now foot traffic. So, the kid coming in the door at 3PM to swap spit with his girlfriend in the corner is of value (two bodies counted right there). Same with our one-gal corp in the cubicle and the homeless guy taking a bath in the sink. They are contributing to the new numbers of merit.

Yes, the role of the library has changed. For good or bad, it has adapted to survive AND re-designed its own report card. Some of the more progressive ones (like Saratoga) have moved to fill the place with a full calendar of community meetings and events in its various public rooms. This changes its role to more of a community center than the original "words for the masses", but it is still of community value. But let's just be honest about it and face the new reality.

Meanwhile, the small outpost in Lake George doesn't have a chanceof succeeding in that new definition. It doesn't have the meeting space -- heck: it doesn't even have the local demand for those spaces. Nor does it have the space for the latchkey kids in the afternoon and those plugging in their notebooks to put in a day at the office are just running up their NiMo bill. It therefore remains stuck in the old paradigm of book lendng with Amazon today basically saying "thanks, but we'll take it from here".

Repeat for every similar library in begone communities on the map, and another piece of Americana has just been flushed downtown.


Like A Recurring Skin Rash

Maricopa County, Ariz. Sheriff Joe Arpaio called on President Barack Obama to release the microfiche of his birth certificate in an interview Tuesday with the Phoenix New Times.

The White House released Obama's long-form birth certificate online in April. Prior to that, the Obama campaign released a copy of his certificate of live birth online.

Despite that evidence, Arpaio wants to see the microfiche of Obama's birth certificate. Read more, if you must.

Notice the this guy's job title is Sheriff. Not former Sheriff. Sheriff. In other words, some yahoo from the craziest state in the Union (after Texas) is derelict in his duties as an elected official, given he is wasting his time, energy and effort on harassing the President of the United States.

If he had been caught surfing porn, he might be fired. Why not here?

Nov 2, 2011

Tracking the Bad Guys

Today, Occupy the Boardroom and The Yes Lab helped launch a new tool in the fight against the one percent: a deck of most wanted playing cards that can be used to help track down the bad guys.

The cards aim to let more folks know what these guys look like, so that they can identify them in public, and join thousands of other people in personally letting them know how they feel.

Deal NANOBURG? in on this game!

For more info, see the kickstarter page: For info on Occupy the Boardroom:

Oct 31, 2011

The Spark

Here is the product -- and the magazine cover -- that started the revolution.

Reading this article sent Gates and Allen into developing a BASIC programming language for the machine (after having picked up the phone and telling Altair officials that they had already done so).

It also sent the geeks at the Valley-based Homebrew Computer Club into a frenzy. Here, in kit form, was the answer to their dreams. By the time Wozniak showed up for a meeting, one was there laying spread-out across a folding table for all to inspect.

The company that made the Altair 8088, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), was a garage startup just like its more famed follower-firms that would come along a few years later. Founded by former Air Force engineers, its initial products were radio transmitters and the heavy-duty programmable calculators of the day. Its mail order approach gave it tremendous advantage on delivering the first desktop PCs to the massive starving geeks demand.

The early units are now collector items.

Was Rick Perry shitfaced?

It's the question raging among the netaholics and political junkies today: was Rick Perry drunk when he made this speech on the New Hampshire campaign trail or not?

Two scenarios:

- If Yes: is getting one's drink on a good idea for a presidential candidate? What does this say about his capacity for sound judgement?

- If No: This is what the guy acts like when he's sober? What other excuse can he now fall back on?

Oct 29, 2011

Joe's Bruno's Ghost - Halloween Edition

You Got Questions? Uncle Joe Has Answers.

Dear Joe,

I see where disgraced Congressman John Sweeney is actively practicing law. He was recently hired by some big shot Albany firm, even. Seeing him back working full time, I was wondering if you have thought about doing the same?


Dear Pete,

Sweeney is practicing law again? You gotta be shitting me! Can you imagine having this guy as your attorney? I mean, come on: he'd stand up to say something and the whole joint would burst out laughing. You wouldn't be able to shut up the giggles coming from the jury box.

Speaking of Sweeney, there's something that's been bugging me for awhile now. Remember that last DWI, where he was pulled over on the Northway with the young barmaid "on his lap?" What the hell does that mean, "on his lap?" I mean, was she sitting there butt-to-lap? If so, what direction was she facing? Was she driving the wheel, like a little baby? Or are we talking some other part of her being "on his lap?" Details, we need details! Jesus Christ, if I were still in charge here we'd have a full blown investigation into this matter, a commission or whatever. Instead, we don't know ooo-gots! This place has really gone to hell.

Dear Senator J,

What do you make out of the Occupy Wall Street thingamajig?

Bernie Samuels

Dear Writer B,

I actually went down there last week to check it out for myself. At first, I thought it was just a bunch of bored college kids who were trying to live out the 60's that they just read about in some class they took. But then I heard them yelling 'Fox News Lies!' and I knew they were my kind of people. I mean, look at the hatchet job the media did on me! That made me fall right in line with them. But five minutes later, I needed to take my afternoon nap.

Hey JBG,

How can I get a no-show job at the State, like your daughter supposedly got?

Frank A Tomlin

Hey FAT,

How about you meet me in the squared circle at the gym tomorrow morning?

Dear Ghost of Joe,

I hear you're a pretty good cook. Do you have any special recipe for doing up a good plate of lasagna?

Phyllis B,

Dear Ghost of Phyllis,

Sure thing. Here's how I make that happen. First, I lay out the plates and silverware. Then I open up a nice bottle of red wine. Then, I pick up the phone and call the boys down at one of the pie palaces I used to flood with state business and say "Hey Paisan: Uncle Joe here. Do me up a tin of the best lasagna you know to make down there and get it over to the ranch, on the double." It's funny, though - one of them told me to go take a flying leap the other night. He must have been having a bad day, I guess.

Dear Joe Bruno,

Knowing that you were a big shot at an Information Technology firm after leaving office, I thought I would hit you up for some advice on a computer problem I'm having. My Google searches are taking forever in Internet Explorer. But not Yahoo or Bing. I think it has something to do with some browser plugins that were added. How do I go about unloading all of them? Thanks in advance.

Rudy Lindahl

Dear Rudy Lindahl,

WTF are you talking about? Google? Bing? Yahoo? Your making sounds a little baby would make. What are you, one year old or something? How did you learn to write if you're only one. I know, someone wrote this letter for you, didn't they? I'm on to your act. You can't bullshit a bullshitter, you little punk.

Dumb Ain't Good

Oct 27, 2011

talk talk talk

Listening to sports talk radio in the Boston market these days -- where you'd think the Red Sox committed the worst atrocity in the history of mankind by not making the playoffs -- makes me realize how similar these on-air blabbermouths are to the right wing sociopaths (Beck, Savage, etc) that dominate the political talk shows:

The more they keep talking, the further divorced from reality they become.

Oct 26, 2011

Fixing the OTB Mess

Privatize all the parlors / franchise the service to tracks

The Problem:

NYC OTB is closed. No longer can people walk to the neighborhood parlor to place a bet on the ponies running at the three NYRA tracks, Finger Lakes, the in-state harness tracks and out-of-state races. As a result, the handle (the amount of money wagered)is negatively effected to all those racing operations. Of importance to New Yorkers is the in-state tracks. In addition, funding to the New York State racing breeding programs are negatively effected.

Granted, NYRA immediately stepped-up with proactive initiatives after the NYC OTB doors closed. The result has been an uptick in on-track attendance and handle, which is a good thing.

But much like the old Sales School 101 rule to "never leave any money on the table" when closing a deal, the fact remains that a significant amount of wagering money is being lost to the state racing coffers as a result. This is not to wax nostalgic for the old OTB, by any means. On the contrary: the business model on which OTB operates (and arguably: was founded on) is a total mess.

Various plans are being floated as to "what next?" for NYC OTB. Given that at least two of other regional OTB corporations are in poor financial health as well, the question becomes a statewide concern. Suggested options include:

- Do nothing and operate without an OTB framework in NY
- Re-open NYC under a new efficiency model
- Re-open NYC and merge the separate OTB corp's into a single entity
- Allow NYRA to operate its own OTB operation in NYC

The Fix-It Man has a better idea...

The Solution:

The State / the OTB's / NYRA / whoever does not need to be in the business of operating OTB parlors.

Instead: open the opportunity for doing so to the private sector.

Setting: stop into any "neighborhood" type of bar or restaurant some weekday at lunch time and what do you see? Answer: a bunch of locals hanging out, with many of them occasionally buying a Keno/Lottery ticket from the barkeep. Come Sunday, that same crowd is gathering to watch NFL football, often tossing a few bucks at the "$10/square" grid behind the bar or making sneaky bets with fellow fans.

In other words, there are thousands of gambling dens already operating all across NYS, and they are all owned and operated by private business men and women. Horse racing needs to become embedded into these facilities.

How? That part is easy to answer. All we need to do is pick up a self-service betting machine from one of the race tracks, put it in a truck and deliver it to a bar that has paid to have one. Hook it up to the AC and the internet, and it's ready to go. OK, maybe not that simple, but it's awfully darn close! The machine vendors will gladly get involved in making the necessary firmware modifications, given the bonanza they are now sitting on.

So there you have it: walk into a bar, and there is a NYRA machine. Right next to the jukebox and the terminal that tells you that lottery ticket you bought last week is worth nothing. The bar gets a piece of the action.

Next comes the question of "who maintains the machines?" That answer is easy as well: the nearest race track. Take a map of NY, plot out the existing thoroughbred and harness tracks, and draw a circle around each one. That becomes their franchise area. The tracks already have the expertise in the care & feeding of the wagering terminals--now they just need to buy a few trucks to service their partners in the field.

But how does the money get divvied up among all the players -- the originating track, the private facility, the local franchise track, the breeding industry, the state?

Someone else figure all that out. I've just outlined the new paradigm. Details are not my forte.

Now, let's get on with it!

Oct 11, 2011

Girls Can Play Guitar, Too!

Debbie Davies: Friday, October 21

Blues Artist of Year to Play @ Saratoga

Growing up in LA in the 1960’s, Debbie Davies found that being a female guitar player meant only one thing: strumming an acoustic model. The electrics were still toys meant only for boys. But when she heard the British blues-rock bands, particularly the driving sounds of Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, she became completely captivated.

Going against the grains of society’s accepted roles of the time, Debbie pursued her dream with the passion of an artist and the soul of a rebel – by plugging in and turning up the volume. That path would eventually lead her to winning two Blues Music Association Awards in the ensuing years, including her latest in 2010.

Debbie Davies brings her supercharged electric blues band into Saratoga's Parting Glass Pub music room for a 9PM show on Friday, October 21.

Davies cut her teeth playing in blues and rock ‘n roll bands in California until1984, where she landed the lead guitar spot in Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, an all-female band led by the wife of John himself. In 1988 she was recruited by Albert Collins to join the Icebreakers, and for the next three years she was a featured guitarist performing behind one of the most innovative bluesmen of all time.

“I stepped through a door into the real blues world when I joined Albert’s band,” Davies says. “It’s one thing to listen to the records and pull off the licks, or sit in the audience watching these artists play. But actually going out and touring with one, turned the blues into something completely three-dimensional for me. I knew then what a special opportunity this was, but I know it even more now.”

“It was the most powerful band I had ever played with, so I learned to dig even deeper into myself to pull out the music. Albert was a man of so much grace and kindness, so I can only hope that I was able to absorb some of his humanity too.”

In September 1993 she struck out on her own, with the debut release, Picture This. Nine solo and two collaborative CD’s have followed, including her latest, the highly acclaimed and rocking Holdin' Court. She has received multiple nominations for Blues Music Awards, and in 1997 won the award for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist. This past year, she won as Best Traditional Female Artist.

The local show has as a unique feature its 'Kids Under 16 Free with Adult' component, part of the Let Kids Hear The Music! initiative seeking to expose a new generation to genres not receiving air play across the modern radio dial. Adult tickets are $16 in advance (available thru the Parting Glass website) or $20 at the door.


"Davies exhibits guitar playing virtuosity with the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray." (Music Connection)

"She pulls out all the stops. She can play it all: seductive, soulful material, down-home delta blues, or humorous tales of life on the road." (Blues Review Magazine)

"Once in a rare while I hear a musician of such talent that I want people to know. I believe my reputation backs up my ability to recognize exceptional blues guitarists. Such a one is Debbie Davies." (John Mayall)

“She wields an electric guitar as if it were a wand.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Davies playing is extraordinary - full of propulsion and energy and melodic invention.” (People Magazine)


Debbie Davies Band

Friday, October 21 – 9PM

The Parting Glass - 40-42 Lake Ave - Saratoga Springs, NY

518-583-1916 –

$16 Adv / $20 Door / Under 16 = Free

Tix on Sale Here

Oct 9, 2011

Online Energy Usage: the clouds help

From the EarthTalk Files...

Dear EarthTalk: What is the environmental impact of so many people now using sites like Facebook and spending so much time online? (Bob Yearling)

The environmental impact of so much online time really boils down to energy usage, which in turn affects the amount of greenhouse gases we pump into our atmosphere. For one, each of us can help by limiting computer time (whether surfing the ‘net or not) and shutting them down or putting them into sleep mode when we aren’t using them (this can be automated via the computer’s power management control panel).

Also, when shopping for a new computer, consumers and businesses alike can opt for models certified by the federal government as energy efficient with the Energy Star label. If all computers sold in the U.S. met Energy Star requirements, Americans could pocket $1.8 billion annually in saved energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking some two million cars off the road.

Individual responsibility aside, the creation and management of more efficient data centers by the major online hubs—especially as we enter the age of “cloud” computing whereby most of the software, content and services we look to our computers for resides online and is served to us as-needed—is what can have the biggest impact. Google, Facebook, and are already deeply committed to the cloud computing model, with Microsoft, Yahoo and others following suit accordingly.

For its part, Google has been a real leaderin the building of green data centers, even powering them with renewable energy. The company recently released environmental footprint scores for several of its data centers. While the energy usage required to run its cloud services (Google Search, Google+, Gmail and YouTube) seems huge in the aggregate—it used 260 megawatt hours to power its data centers in 2010—it boils down to only 7.4 kilowatt hours worth of energy annually per user. Google reports that to provide an individual user with its services for a month uses less energy than leaving a light bulb on for three hours. And because the company has been carbon neutral since 2007, “even that small amount of energy is offset completely, so the carbon footprint of your life on Google is zero.”

In an April 2011 report entitled “How Dirty is your Data?” the non-profit Greenpeace examined energy sources for the 10 largest IT companies involved in cloud computing, finding Apple, Facebook and IBM especially guilty of getting significant amounts of power from coal-fired power plants. (Facebook had come under fire earlier this year when reporters uncovered that the company planned to buy electricity for its brand new eco-friendly data center in Prineville, Oregon—one of the greenest such facilities ever designed and constructed—from a utility that derives most of its power from coal.) Yahoo, and Microsoft scored best in use of renewable alternative energy sources for cloud services.

In the long run, analysts think that the widespread shift to cloud computing will be a great boon to the environment. A report released in September 2011 by Pike Research, “Cloud Computing Energy Efficiency,” predicts that because of the shift to cloud computing and increasing efficiencies, data center power consumption will decrease by 31 percent between 2010 and 2020.

EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: Subscribe: Free Trial Issue: