For the second year in a row, Floodwood played a holiday show at the Kirkland Arts Center (KAC), in Clinton. I regrettably missed the show last year and was determined not to miss it again. The KAC is an intimate venue and ticketing was capped at 150 people, providing a truly unique experience to those lucky to be in attendance.
Floodwood has been picking up steam since their founding in September of last year, with appearances both locally and throughout the northeast. Describing themselves as a “progressive string band”, they are a combination of talented musicians specifically from and dedicated to the CNY area.
Tim Herron, a popular local musician famous for his energetic playing and original songs opened the show was the perfect choice to get the crowd ready for Floodwood. Having only ever heard of Tim by word of mouth, I was certainly impressed by the talent and level of musicianship that was brought to the table. As Tim closed his set, he brought up Jason Barady, a tremendous mandolin player, and together burst into an upbeat rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You”. The KAC was full of a diverse mix of folks ready to see Floodwood. Family, friends, old and young, locals and those that made a special trip for the show; it felt much more like a party at someone’s awesome art filled home, than a concert.
Some of Floodwood’s songs were familiar and some new to me. “Long Way to Virginia” is one of my favorites and I was pleased to hear it. They even busted out a Christmas tune!! As a long time moe. fan, I couldn’t help but hear some similarities, specifically with “Magnolia Road”- is this not “Tambourine”? – Ironically Al explained the following night to his audience in Buffalo how the song came about. He noted that it was originally used as an instrumental intro to “Tambourine”, which then morphed into another song called “Green”, and then he collaborated with another musician, forming “Magnolia Road”. Al explains it better, but you get the point.
While the idea of a side project with Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico, both of the aforementioned jam band originally peaked my interest in Floodwood, Nick Piccininni, Zach Fleitz, and Jason Barady keep me coming back time and time again. This is not moe.; Floodwood stands on their own as a high energy and exploratory bluegrass band. Piccininni, with his superb skills on the fiddle, banjo, and on vocals, was my choice for MVP of the night, keeping the crowd young and old alike dancing.
Closing with an explosive “Cumberland Blues”, Fleitz, and Barady had a wonderfully energetic duel. I overheard one of the youngest attendees clearly amazed by the performance, ask his mom, “What are they doing up there?” looking for explanation of the frenetic pace and heated musicianship, definitely a poignant moment.
Coming back on for an encore, Floodwood was joined by Diane Schnier, Al’s wife, (who is also a talented musician in her own right) and Tim Herron, for a sweet and soulful rendition of the Neil Young classic, “Helpless”. This was a wonderful night full of great people and memorable music, and I hope that the KAC can continue the tradition for years to come.