Super 400’s Lori Friday on the bass at Songfest last Friday. Michael Hallisey / TheSpot518
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction to performer Julie Gold’s name, who was erroneously named as Lori Gold. Spotlight News apologizes for the mistake.
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ALBANY — 518 Songfest at The Egg proved to be an intimate experience between songwriters, performers and fans throughout the night on Friday, May 18. Some of the best stories, however, happened prior to the show.
Below, we’ve captured the evening through vignettes under each artist.
Michael Worthley looks with a smile on his face as Rose Gabriel puts the finishing touches upon the merchandise table. It’s two hours before 518 Songfest at The Egg, and everyone is getting ready. She just placed battery-operated tea light candles in each of several miniature lanterns.
“It’s looking good,” he said, with the sound of appreciation in his voice.
She looks up with a smile on her face and shares how someone already asked how much the lanterns were going for.
“Priceless,” she said.
Rose and her husband Andrew Gabriel make it their jobs to make his daughter, Sydney, look good. The owners of Ambassador Music Group have been doing just that since Sydney dropped her debut album last September.
Michael shakes his head when asked how things are going. He and his wife, Shauna, are sports parents. They’re accustomed to corralling the kids and traveling long hours on the road for their son’s hockey games in Buffalo or in Plattsburgh. Sydney’s burgeoning music career has added another wrinkle to that lifestyle. The two parents helped convince their son to put a hold on hockey. He’s since transitioned to soccer. The family just recently returned from Ohio, where the Gabriels hoped to persuade one of the largest radio stations in the Midwest for more airplay by offering facetime and an interview. Michael shows off a few pictures from when the family stole away a few hours to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
The local music scene has looked at Sydney and asked two common questions; The first is, “Who is this?,” once asked in a disconcerting tone. Here was this local girl with a 14-track CD with a high-polish shine. It made no sense until you popped it into a player and listened. Then, the following question,“Where’d she come from?” would follow with surprise.
“We thought Tulip Fest was big,” said Michael, at which Sydney played only last May. Next month she’ll be at Mountain Jam. She’ll play at one of the largest festivals in the Northeast, on the same playbill as Grammy Award-winning artists Sturgill Simpson, The War on Drugs and Portugal. The Man.
Nonetheless, Michael said, she hasn’t developed an ego. Her softball teammates have nicknamed her “Famous.” But, he said, there’s still plenty of her classmates who don’t know who she is.
Julie Gold listens attentively while seated in the auditorium with her companion as Super 400 conducts its sound check on stage. Despite attending the show as the night’s special guest, the Grammy Award-winning artist sits unassuming while attendees prepare the theater.
Gold is from Pennsylvania and lives in New York City. In this one-day festival focused on showcasing music from the 518 area code, the commonality she shares with the region is her proximity to the Hudson River.
“I love this piano,” she exclaimed during her own sound check. “I could play it forever, but The Egg would kick me out.”
The river served as inspiration for her song, “Love Is Love Is Love.” Later in the evening, while introducing the song to the Songfest crowd, she shared her fascination with the river.
Each morning, at 9 a.m., Gold would call and speak with her mother while walking along the banks of the Hudson River in New York. Gold’s mother immigrated to America and processed at Liberty Island in 1930. She was a part of what she called the “great generation” of people who left their homeland for a better life for their children. As she watched the river roll past, Gold said she imagined that some of that same water helped bring her mother to America.
Gold fell in love with music while watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show when she was 8 years old. Her first piece of music was a 45 of Petula Clark’s “Downtown. Within its dust cover was the mystery behind finding who “T. Hatch” was. Gold approached her mother, only to learn that there was such a thing as a songwriter. “Before that moment, I thought songs were always there,” she said. Tony Hatch, the songwriter behind the words to “Downtown,” was “one of the lucky ones” to create them.
When it looked like music would be in Gold’s life, her mother didn’t stand in the way. She was open to all sorts of music. In their home, rock and roll was not the “Devil’s Music,” she said. When Gold introduced friends to her mother, with music ever-present in her life, she would always ask what instrument they played. On those morning phone calls — despite her clockwork-like frequency — Gold’s mother would answer, “Oh, Jules! I was hoping it was you.” Last year, on the last day of summer, Gold’s mother died. She said it was the most appropriate time for who she called the “most beautiful of people.”
“Everyday, for all those years, I had her in my life. Until just recently.”
After more than 20 years of establishing a reputation as a hard-rocking trio, Super 400 prepared itself for a rare acoustic set.
Guitarist Kenny Hohman said he didn’t like playing acoustic guitar, and stayed away from it all together until he and his wife, the band’s bassist Lori Friday, started the Troy Music Academy nearly seven years ago. The school was created out of necessity. Friday sustained serious injuries to her neck, back and kidney after a car accident. Hohman said he learned to appreciate playing acoustically while teaching people the guitar.
Hohman, Friday and the band’s drummer Joe Daley sat inside the auditorium to talk about catching a quick dinner before the show when Julie Gold interrupted.
Gold was listening in on the sound check and wanted to compliment each of them on their musicianship. Before long, a genuine moment of musicians bonding over their craft ensued. Hohman immediately complimented Gold on her “radiating positivity” and the two hugged.
Musicians have a natural curiosity to learn how another started in music.
Michael Hallisey is Managing Editor of Spotlight Newspapers.