ALBANY — When outside real estate moguls choose to spit shine a bourgeoning neighborhood into the next hip community it draws comparisons to Brooklyn — just don’t dare say that in Troy.
While you’re at it, don’t say that about our local scene, either.
The New York City borough is synonymous with hip — a word that’s thrown around as often as avant gard once was by beatniks who thought dropping the occasional French phrase demonstrated sophisticated charm.
But, in terms of our local music scene, the Capital District has flipped the script. This once also-ran community is now a destination point.
Hartley’s Encore’s Luke Malamood recalls Adam Deitch telling him something profound. Lettuce’s drummer followed an Alive at Five performance with a cameo appearance at an after-party with Hartley’s Encore. It was one of the largest crowds at Jennings Landing this year, and nearly a C-note of people showed up at The Hollow. It was a Thursday night, and Deitch was impressed by the turnout.
“Man, Albany’s got a bit of a scene these days,” he said.
On Thursday, Sept. 12, Hartley’s Encore returns to the Hollow to co-headline with Brooklyn funk and groove band Hunny Ten. The quartet, plus lead singer, is stretching out by planning gigs outside New York CIty after gaining success off a seven-track EP dropped in March. “Take You Home” one of seven tracks off the band’s EP “110%”, has more than 200,000 clicks since it was released on Spotify.
“We went into the studio and luckily things started picking up a little bit,” said Cooper. Vocalist Sho Ishikuri, bassist Micha Gilad and drummer Josh Bailey have each worked with Cooper, who plays guitar, for five years. However, it wasn’t until about two years ago when they stepped up and started playing with earnest.
Cooper and Malamood have a mutual friend in Sam Ellner. Ellner, lives in Brooklyn and plays guitar for another funk band called Fondude. Over drinks, Cooper and Ellner discussed traveling gigs. Ellner, who played in a band with Malamood while attending school in Albany, suggested the Capital City. Cooper said he was sold on a “chill” local scene where the people come out to enjoy live music.
“[Brooklyn’s music scene] is definitely very competitive,” said Cooper. “But, I really do think that the goals are the same no matter where you are. It’s 2019. The internet is an absolute monster that we all have to deal with. As far as shows and gigs go, its sort of the same monster. Can you bring people out to do the show? Create this fun, live atmosphere that people want to participate in.”
Despite the material circulating on the internet today, Hunny Ten is a work in progress. It already embraces a sound reminiscent of Vulfpeck, with Cory Wong’s groovy, guitar plucking style. The music out now only features the four band members. New material will feature singers on the band’s upcoming EP.
“The vision has always been to bring in the vocalist who works best for the song,” said Cooper. A fluid relationship between the band and the lead singer. Not any one person would be established as the band’s lead singer. “Definitely for the studio, for sure. Live, obviously, is trickier.”
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.