Last Saturday was a big music night in Albany: many downtown venues offered a genre of music complimentary to the sold out Trey Anastasio Band (TAB) show at The Palace Theatre. Hot Day at the Zoo and The Blind Owl Band were scheduled for a foot stomping, hoedown of a good time. Bluegrass at the Bayou stood on it’s own as if it were competing with TAB. Each of these bands performing at The Bayou Café have a dedicated following which filled the venue.
The hungry-for-more music aficionados left the Trey show and filed into the already bursting-at-the-seams café where Hot Day at the Zoo kicked off sometime around midnight. The deluge of music fans brought with them the carnival like atmosphere where they would boogie with their drunken hearts, ready for more. While Hot Day at the Zoo is focused on traditional bluegrass, there are subtle change ups relatable in the progression of this genre.
Throughout the set, each musician gave the others fair opportunity to take a solo, and yet, partake in a conversation through instrumentation. Musically, the roots string band captured an underlying jazz progression. Vocal harmonization with genuine lyrics could tug on the heartstrings. Hot Day often add agreeable little nuances for a finishing touch to their showcased songs. Those newly introduced to Hot Day were pleasantly surprised to hear “Ripple,” a widely known Grateful Dead tune.
Opening for Hot Day at the Zoo was The Blind Owl Band. The four piece outfit is new to the scene, but not new to eclectic sounds, traditional instrumentation and influences of some more obscure bands in the business. Geographically in the music world, location can often define a band. Hailing from Saranac Lake, these bearded boys have characterized their sound as if they stood on top of their mountain reaching out their beat up instruments grabbing various concepts of music, holding it captive ultimately for a presentation unique to the scene. On stage, they knocked the nit and grit right out of their strings. Added vocal harmonies invite us to the darker realm, where we were lead through a journey of traditional roots, dirty jams and down right scary turns along the way. Be brave and bold, these North Country boys can lighten it up a bit with Irish pub tunes as well.
Surely, those meandering out on the street missed two great acts. The energy inside was so alive you could reach out and hold on. As was the rest of South Pearl Street, which was rather magical as if some music fairy sprinkled her dust and said, “enjoy.”