Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an eight-year-old Robert Ridarelli won a talent contest on a local television series and gained a spot on the cast. He changed his name to Bobby Rydell and later sang in several bands in the Philadelphia area. “Kissin’ Time,” his first single, charted in 1959, and before long he was a million-selling teen idol. He had 34 Top 40 hits, including “Wild One” and “Volare” in 1960, and he co-starred in the movie musical Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. The British Invasion in 1964 revolutionized the pop world, however, ending Rydell’s string of hits and relegating him forevermore to the supper club circuit. An autobiography, Bobby Rydell: Teen Idol on the Rocks, hit bookstores on May 4, 2016.
Bobby Rydell headlined one of Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swings, performing his old hits plus standards from the Great American Songbook with the City Rhythm Orchestra. Couples of all ages danced as the now 74-year-old sang hits like “Sway” and covered songs by Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin. Despite a bout with alcoholism in his youth and more recent liver and kidney transplants, Rydell looked handsome and belted his songs with a rich, soaring voice. Despite heart surgery and a hip replacement, the stylish, dapper singer glided across the stage, working the audience much like he did 50 years ago. After all these years, Rydell’s signature song, “Volare,” had the baby boomers singing, dancing and even swooning. More than 50 years after his heyday, Rydell is still a class act.
On August 10, Rydell will host a concert, conversation and book signing event at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
The World/Inferno Friendship Society/Bowery Ballroom/July 7, 2016
In 1994, the band Sticks And Stones ended in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Seeking a fresh start in music, the band’s frontman, Pietro Ventantonio, moved to Brooklyn, New York. Renamed Jack Terricloth, in 1996 he started the World/Inferno Friendship Society, a punk band that would integrate sounds of contrapuntal fugue, swing, cabaret, tango, waltz, New Orleans funeral march and just about everything else. Terricloth has been the only constant during the collective’s 20-year history. The World/Inferno Friendship Society’s sixth and most recent album is 2014’s This Packed Funeral.
As with very World/Inferno Friendship Society concert, the performance at the Bowery Ballroom began with the band’s percussionists pounding on drums like a marching band, at first slowly, and then faster, igniting more enthusiastic revelry among the fans, until Terricloth strolled onstage, bottle of wine in hand. Under dim red and blue stage lights, Terricloth was a sight from a noir vaudevillian nightmare, with pale white skin and thinning hair against a dark suit, cufflinks jutting from his sleeves and spats peeking from his pant legs and white shoes. He came to entertain, but also to be entertained by his rabid fans pushing for space to pogo by the edge of the stage. This anarchy was lightened with comedy, with the band performing complex genre-defying rockers with titles such as “Let’s Steal Everything,” “I Wouldn’t Want to Live in a World without Grudges,” “Addicted to Bad Ideas” and the closing “Zen and the Art of Breaking Everything in This Room.” Terricloth frequently knelt at the edge of the stage to touch fans while crooning in a talky manner into an old-fashioned microphone. Terricloth was more ringmaster than vocalist, and turned the concert into a raving punky party.
Sick Of It All/Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom/July 9, 2016
Sick Of It All formed in 1986 as a hardcore punk band in Queens, New York. The following year, the band built a local following by performing the Sunday afternoon matinee series at CBGB’s. The band’s current lineup consists of brothers Lou Koller on vocals and Pete Koller on lead guitar, Craig Setari on bass, and Armand Majidi on drums. Sick Of It All’s 11th and most recent album is 2014’s Last Act of Defiance.
Sick Of It All’s 30th anniversary tour packed Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom, reviving the New York hardcore punk that thrived three decades ago less than 10 city blocks south at CBGB’s. Eighteen of the set’s 23 songs were from the 1990s. Lou Koller shouted throaty anthemic rants as the three-piece band clobbered beats with aggression. This hardcore music was not about speed as much as it was about hanging anvils to angry, rallying chants. The evening was particularly celebratory because it was a homecoming, with Sick Of It All headlining perhaps its largest local venue. Black balloons were released from the ceiling as the concert drew to a close with “Step Down” and “Built to Last,” during which time the stage was filled with well wishers and Pete Koller played guitar while riding on the shoulders of Jimmy Gestapo of Murphy’s Law. The original New York hardcore scene morphed into several sub-genres, but tonight its pioneering veterans were feted as local heroes.
Ray Wylie Hubbard/Hill Country Barbecue + Market/July 13, 2016
Ray Wylie Hubbard was born in Soper, Oklahoma, but moved as a youth with his family to Dallas, Texas. There he learned to play guitar, eventually forming a folk group with fellow aspiring musician Michael Martin Murphey. During his college years, Hubbard formed a trio named Three Faces West and spent the summers playing in Red River, New Mexico. Upon the breakup of Three Faces West, Hubbard toured the Southwestern coffeehouse circuit as a solo artist, then formed another short-lived group, Texas Fever. During his time in New Mexico, Hubbard wrote “Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother,” which Jerry Jeff Walker recorded and turned into an outlaw anthem in 1973. Hubbard gained cult status within progressive country circles, and assembled the also short-lived cowpunk blues band Ray Wylie Hubbard & the Cowboy Twinkies. Hubbard rode the post-Nashville progressive outlaw country wave of the 1970s and beyond as a respected name but with minimal album sales. Currently based in Wimberly, Texas, Hubbard released his 16th album, The Ruffian’s Misfortune, on April 7, 2015.
If it sounds like Texas, it deserves to headline at Hill Country Barbecue + Market. The 69-year-old Hubbard came to the venue with his 23-year-old guitar playing son, Lucas Hubbard, and drummer Kyle Snider. Perhaps Hubbard was promoting his memoirs, A Life … Well, Lived, published on November 5, 2015; the trio played a two-hour set, but quite a lot of the time was spent on Hubbard chatting a humorous spin on his career. Hubbard delivered the timing and pitch of a professional comedian on these anecdotes. His lyrics similarly often exhibited his wit, but also the moving, introspective life of a lonesome cowboy on the road. The set was grounded on country music, but many of the songs were straight-forward blues. The set was kept jumping by his vast catalogue of rowdy barroom honky-tonk songs, however. The elder Hubbard impressed on slide guitar, but the younger Hubbard was even more impressive with a subtle yet sharp picking style. If everything is bigger in Texas, then New York needs to make more room for this elder statesman of outlaw music.