Stephen Kellogg at City Winery NYC – a sampler

Stephen Kellogg
City Winery

New York, NY
January 7, 2017

 

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This was my first trip to City Winery and the ambience was how I had envisioned it, with a lot of wood, small lamp- and candlelight and a generally warm atmosphere that makes you want to drink wine more than beer or whiskey. Despite the large open space and the crowded tables, it has a feel of a giant living room.

I had been hearing about Stephen Kellogg for quite some time, though this was my first chance to see him perform. I was super surprised, very pleasantly so, to see Jesse Humphrey behind the drum kit. I was a big fan of his band Love in Stockholm that was rising out of Boston about five years ago but flamed out nearly as quickly.

Jesse and Stephen were joined on stage by a bass player from Brooklyn named Cookie, Eric Donnelly on guitar from Bridgeport and a singer / violinist named Miranda Mulholland from Toronto, who stood next to Stephen and was his main vocal harmonizing partner. The band seemed very at ease with each other as they allowed the music to unfold itself with Stephen telling his stories between songs. He seems very at ease, effortlessly telling his tales and strumming his songs. You get the feeling he’s just having a chat, the kind of guy that can be the center of attention at a party without feeling the need to brag or tell a ribald joke, that life for him can be a comfortable couch, good company, and an entertaining journey.

The music resides between Americana, folk and country. The comparisons are easy, at times James Taylor or Arlo Guthrie-style New England folk, at times more upbeat twangy Americana à la Ryan Adams. The instrumentation and arrangements are all directed at serving the song and the overall vibe. His voice is as easy to listen to as his stories. You get the feeling that his audience feels as if they may be his friends even if they have not yet met, and that by coming to the shows they have all become friends with each other, at least for a little while.

I was pleasantly surprised by the interlude after the second song I heard, where the band extended the song with a 90-second instrumental that showcased their skills both individually and collectively as a band. They were able to weave an acoustic tapestry that had body and depth, allowing you to take a ride with them. The next selection was a bit of a foot-stomper and knee-slapper and the audience took their first cue to clap rhythmically along with the band.

I was real happy to catch up with both Jesse and Stephen after the show. Jesse and I caught up on recent times, and Stephen and I reminisced about our mutual hometown, Fairfield, CT. Family is important, friends are important, and we can all get together and celebrate them in song and story, in comfort and style: we can reflect on tough times without dwelling, and we can celebrate good times without overindulging.

SET LIST:

Curtain Call
Lost and Found
We Say Goodbye
Start the Day Early
Good Red Wine
Almost Woke You Up
Gravity
Last Man Standing

 

How about a little Stephen Kellogg from his 2014 City Winery show we found at Bob R‘s YouTube channel?

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at lmnandr@gmail.com

Check out the Live Music News and Review.com Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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