The debut show of Blue Star Radiation on November 18th at the newly renovated Westcott Theater in Syracuse New York, followed by Putnam Place in Saratoga Springs, Nectar’s in Burlington and Oxbow Brewing and Bend in Portland, Maine. The four night tour before the holidays makes it a fantastic voyage through New England.
Composition versus improvisation. moe., Kung Fu, The Breakfast, Lotus, Percy Hill, Ghosts of Jupiter, and Assembly of Dust all come from a heavy catalog of music that can be played differently any given night. Blue Star Radiation is a new band that glows off these concepts that includes Vinnie Amico on drums, Rob Derhak on bass, Tim Palmieri on guitar and Nate Wilson on B3 Hammond keys and flute.
It is appropriate that moe.’s ryhthm section of Rob and Vinnie started this mini run on a Thursday in Upstate, New York. After all, they have played in front a rowdier 220,000 down the thruway in Rome during Woodstock 99. There is a Danko/ Helm quality of the two when they are on a New York stage that radiates. The freshly renovated Westcott filled the old cinema to the back of the house with new premium seating alongside the left stage. moe.’s “The Pit” opened the inaugural performance and helped welcome everyone to a comfortable spot in the room to groove. Nate Wilson then plays his original “Eye of the Yellow Tiger.”
The new four piece also filled the first set with some back in black covers. The Black Crowes‘ “Wiser Time” and Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” created a sandstorm of surprises. The band also claimed they were playing ‘Set List Yahtzee’ with a malleable list of songs to pull from. Again, it was a Thursday night for the first of four shows, why stick to the plan?
The second set unfolded with some some chilling viking rock. Nate Wilson’s keys and vocals took Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” to warn the frosty November crowd that snow falls hard and don’t you know, the winds of Thor are blowing cold. (Led Zeppelin did play in Syracuse at the War Memorial in November of 1969.) What a song to cover ahead of the partial lunar eclipse that night for the blood moon that hasn’t been seen since the 1440’s. One of the first snows of the year did arrive just as the eclipse unfolded at 4 AM giving way to Thor.
The band did give a lighter nod to the Syracuse, New York suburb of Liverpool by covering “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” by the Beatles. Tim Palmieri took lead on this as he has on many Sunday Beatles acoustic sets he’s been known to do in New Haven, CT. The band encored with the moe. classic “Opium,” no quarter notes in these lyrics, It’s eight AM not a quarter past three, flowers and fog won’t you rescue me.
Rob Derhark simply thanked the crowd for letting them do their thing and have a week of music to just simply cut loose to. Tim Palmieri helped raise a glass and get the Westcott crowd to cheers to moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey. The simplicity of appreciation to play music that is essentially improvisational and unplanned transcends after the show is over.
Blue Star Radiation – The Westcott Theater, Syracuse, NY – November 18, 2021
Set 1: The Pit, Eye of the Yellow Tiger, Wiser Time, Blue Jeans Pizza, Dance Hall Days, Black Magic Woman
Set 2: Locomotive Breath, Mar De Ma, All in Stride, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, Sign, No Quarter, Bloody Well Right
Encore: Toast to Chuck, Opium
photos by Jim Houle