The Blue Ribbon Boys with Julia Gottlieb at Club Helsinki

The Blue Ribbon Boys are a local collective of musicians, each of whom are in at least one other band. The Blue Ribbon Boys used to play in the area often, but the pull of their other musical endeavors and the demands of touring took their toll on the jazz/Western swing band and it more or less became an obsolete side project. Every once in a while the musicians get together and play a gig or two though, such as their yearly show at the Claverack Town Park. Having missed that show this year, I was thrilled that The Blue Ribbon Boys was playing last Friday night at Club Helsinki in Hudson, NY. Earlier that day Club Helsinki had hosted a garden party reunion for Waldorf schools (several band members actually went to such schools, such as upright bassist “Sauerkraut” Seth who is now the lacto-fermentation master at Hawthorne Valley Farm). The Blue Ribbon Boys were playing after the event ended, but many Waldorf alumni were in the audience. Singing with The Blue Ribbon Boys was Julia Gottlieb, who used to sing with them and flew in from LA just for the show (she also went to a Waldorf school). Although I didn’t go to a Waldorf school myself, seeing The Blue Ribbon Boys together again was like a reunion for me, and it was nice to see the gang swingin’ once more.

The band started out mellow, delivering jazzy slower numbers before working up momentum (and the tempo). Teddy Weber played pedal steel guitar and sang, Evan Palazzo lent his honky tonkin’ piano skills, Seth Travins played upright bass and sang, Lukas Schwartz played fiddle, Scott Clark was on drums, and Julia Gottlieb sang. The Blue Ribbon Boys have such a fun about them that I can’t help but grin like a fool when I see them. Seth Travins wrote a lot of songs the band played, such as “Mr. Man In The Moon,” which was one of my favorites of the night. The song started out with a bass-heavy groove before Julia Started to sing. Evan played a great introduction for “You’re The Picture,” which Julia sang, Teddy joining in shortly after her with his own sweet-sounding  vocals. Teddy also had some hot solos during the song, pedal steel emanating in a way that warmed the heart and feet. Indeed, there were several dancers at the show who kicked things up on the dance floor. Yet another great tune the band played was the slightly mystic “Shenanigans.” Oh, and Teddy sounded great singing the Hank Williams tune “Move It On Over,” which was an absolute pleasure to hear.

As the evening wore on the band mixed it up with fast-paced swing tunes, along with grab-your-guy-or-gal-close slow dances. The music was perfect for the lounge-like club, and it was a lot of fun to both listen and dance to. Towards the end of the show, Michael Farkas of The Wiyos joined The Blue Ribbon Boys on stage for a few songs, lending his harmonica madness to the music. One such song was Slim & Slam’s “Flat Foot Floogie,” a Blue Ribbon Boy standard, and Michael’s playing was a great addition to the music. When the band’s second set was over, they were called back due to continued applause which got louder as the musicians returned to the stage from behind the velvet curtains that lead backstage. Happily, the band played several more songs until, finally, the show was really over. Although I don’t think The Blue Ribbon Boys will be playing together again soon, I’m not too disappointed because three of the musicians — Seth, Teddy, and Michael — are also in The Wiyos, a band that’s playing at Club Helsinki on September 10th. That should be a special night, one that I don’t plan on missing. I absolutely love The Wiyos, and opening the show will be Sara Parilli and Kip Beacco (Teddy’s old band mate in The Hunger Mountain Boys). It’s also the birthday of the greeter at Club Helsinki, so the night will really be a celebration of music and life. Like I said, I’ll be there, and if you’re in the area I suggest you go too.

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