The Return of Conehead Buddha

Conehead Buddha – Revival show
4/6/12 @ Valentines – Albany
written by Phanart Pete Mason
pics by Andrew Hill

Kicking off a weekend of celebration for Albany promoter Greg Bell who commemorates 20 years of bringing the best of live music to Albany, classic jamband and homegrown talent Conehead Buddha took to the stage of Valentines for the first time in six years. Featuring Ben Carle of Moon Boot Lover fame on bass, the eight piece band induced the packed upstairs crowd into a sweaty dancing herd, hands in the air in exultation to the music.

Shannon Lynch, one of the founders of the jamband shared her thoughts on the reuniting after many years off: “The band has put a lot of time into really being prepared to come back and hit hard. I feel good about how the band sounds with our new drummer Tom Goss.” Listening to the show and having just seen Strangefolk perform for the first time (as the original quartet) since 2000, the benefit to practice is evident, and the time spent working on their music paid off throughout the night. Practice makes reunion tighter.

Their ska/reggae sound wrapped in a jamband that plays for quality, not quantity, was augmented by the horn trio of Shannon Lynch, Terry Lynch and Shaun Bazylewicz, blaring their upbeat and energetic sound through the crowd while the bass/drum interplay at times gave some African vibe to exquisite funk, particularly on Hey Jody and Wear You Down. The second set included Vinnie, SWM, Wear You Down, My Way, Bobby Brooks, Must be You, Shades, Hey Jody, My Side of the Story, Sights->Psycho Killer->Sights with an encore of Johnny and his Fighting Boys with a Get Up Stand Up section. During Sights the band took off and eventually fell into a cover of Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, setting the fuse of the crowd off in the process.

Not surprisingly, the crowd was loud and dancing, akin to a Mighty Mighty Bosstones show, thriving, swaying and jumping with more energy as the night progressed. Dave Geoghegan from Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets, when asked what it was like to see Conehead Buddha, a group who, like many bands that came through Albany, opened up for you Dr. Jah in their early years noted “It’s cool because their music has really evolved. Some of their horn songs are so big, I feel like I’m at a stage show and the guys are really kicking it out now.”

While this was a reunion night, it was also a celebration. Promoter Greg Bell marked 20 years of bringing the best live music to Albany and did so by reuniting one of the bands he helped bring to the big time, along with the likes of moe., Moonboot Lover, Ominous Seapods and numerous others. Greg pumped up crowd before the sets and again before the encore, keeping the crowd’s momentum electric until the last note was played. Shannon Lynch shared her thoughts: “Greg Bell has been very supportive of all the awesome bands whether they draw people or not. He knows who the good musicians are and has supported the scene; any (music) scene that exists in Albany right now is because of him. He’s been great to us and we’re very happy to be here for him.” Likewise, Dave Geoghegan looked back on the twenty years of the Albany music scene that Greg has presided over and remarked “There’s been a resurgence lately, with the Dirty Paris guys and Timbre Coup, it’s a kinda new scene and I think it’s really cool. We get to play with a bunch of them and the old school reggaes mixed with the new. I think it’s still a vibrant music scene.” As long as Greg Bell continues to promote show, Albany will continue to be the epicenter of live music in Upstate New York.