Tom Hamilton, frontman for American Babies and guitarist for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, will bring his newest project, Tom Hamilton Acoustic, to Garcia’s in Port Chester, NY next Thursday, November 16. Joining him for the evening will be Leslie Mendelson, the breakout solo artist that has shared the stage this year with everybody from Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, to Jackie Greene, Soulive, and more.
With JRAD on more of a roll than ever lately, and American Babies going strong in their tenth year as a band, Hamilton has long known the success of being a formidable frontman. But the solo acoustic set is a pretty new musical venture for him. He tells the Poke Around: “Playing outside of a loud band is still pretty foreign to me. Whether I’m playing solo, or in a stripped down acoustic format like these upcoming shows, it’s different but the jury is out as to where it gets categorized.”
That being said, those who have gotten to see him do his thing at the head of JRAD or with the Babies can imagine the kind of beauty he must bring to a single acoustic guitar on an intimate stage.
Mendelson herself has had a celebratory year, from releasing her newest album in over eight years, Love and Murder (which Glide magazine called one of the best records of 2017), to being an incredible addition to legendary guitarist Steve Kimock’s most recent musical project. Then there’s the sit-ins here and there with guys like Jackie Greene and Eric Krasno. Whatever setting she finds herself in, whether it’s an explosive jam fest with ten friends or a solo session, Mendelson brings a grit to the melodies she plays, with a real tenderness that shines through, and that wins an individual over pretty quickly.
Yet, despite their accolades, both Hamilton and Leslie, to probably everyone who’s gotten to see them perform or talk even briefly with with them, remain admirably grounded in their sense of what they set out to do each time they step on stage.
“I think I’ve done my job when I know that I’ve successfully entertained an audience, Mendelson tells The Poke Around. “Whether it comes from feeling some sort of heightened emotion from the music or even a little banter and a laugh in between songs, if I feel like I’ve hit a few of those points then I know the gig was a success.”
Hamilton’s goal in a gig these days? “A feeling of completion. At that particular moment, things make sense. At the end of the day,” he says, “any time that I have a guitar in my hands brings the same challenges. Being in the moment. Tell the story. Don’t think about yourself.”
When the two come to Garcia’s, it’ll be a return for both of them to one of the true east coast deadhead havens that has really come to love them before, for various other musical projects. “I love the place. I’ve spent a lot of time in that building, both at The Cap and Garcia’s,” says Hamilton. “It’s a great community that runs the place and I’m so lucky to be a part of it.” Likewise, Mendelson tells us she’s “always excited to come play this venue. There’s a great energy in that room and the people are always psyched to be there.”
Just for kicks, The Poke Around also asked Hamilton and Mendelson what they thought of one another’s stuff.
Leslie on Tom: “I’ve seen him perform with JRAD but not with this latest project of his own songs so I’m excited to hear it.”
Tom on Leslie: “I know Leslie and I think she’s great! A great performer with a beautiful voice, and most importantly, the hang is awesome. I’m super looking forward to her set at the show.”
It should no doubt be a pretty resplendent evening of tunes all around.
Also opening up for the night will be Christopher Brown, a seasoned coffeehouse artist in the greater New York City area for more than forty years.
To get more info and to purchase tickets, head to https://www.thecapitoltheatre.com/garcias-list/.