Aaron Johnston, Scott Hannay, Michael Travis – Photos

Written by on December 3, 2023

Aaron Johnston, Scott Hannay, Michael Travis – by Tammie Birdwell.

If you live in the 518 and you love local music, you can never leave this place. Because I have lived all over the country, and nowhere in the world has the kind of local live music scene that we do in upstate New York — and that’s all thanks to people like Greg Bell of Guthrie Bell Productions.

On Friday, December 1st, at The Hollow Bar and Kitchen in Albany, NY — the stars aligned and a super-group was formed. Not like the X-Men, but way better. Aaron Johnston (played drums on the Andy Milonakis track entitled Pussy, Pussy, Pussy, Marijuana, J.E.D.I, and many more), Scott Hannay (Mr. F, Capital Zen, Wild Adriatic, Mihali, Twiddle, and many more) and Michael Travis (String Cheese Incident) all came together and produced two-and-a-half hours of nonstop, literally nonstop, improvised “Jamtronica.”

These two last-minute gigs are going to be some of the most original, creative, and exciting music you have ever had the pleasure to hear. When I say last-minute, what I truly mean is, that these three may have sat in with each other on occasion, but they have never played together. Again, when I say they never played together — I mean until they sat down on that stage, they truly had never played together. They didn’t practice together once.

There was a crack in the curtain at the back of the stage — behind Michael Travis. I was attempting to get their attention “between songs” because it was messing with a lot of my photos. As you can see in the gallery below, the crack in the curtains was never closed. That’s because, for two and a half hours, they didn’t stop playing.

I am going to repeat that in case you missed it. These three musicians, absolutely at the top of their game, played completely improvised music for almost three hours non-stop without practicing together at all beforehand.

Frankly, as I grew older, I got really into punk rock — therefore ended up at many “practice sessions” in storage units and garages. Often with bands that had played together for months. If you haven’t had the “pleasure” of that experience, I can explain. Last night’s set shouldn’t have been possible. Not without me and my autistic brain picking up on a billion mistakes.

However, the set itself was not only non-stop, it was also nearly flawless. People were absolutely abuzz. Everyone in that room knew they were witnessing something incredibly special. Usually, people start to wander home about halfway through. That didn’t happen last night for a very good reason. It was such a unique experience in every way, we weren’t going to allow ourselves to miss a moment — no matter how tired we might be.

The bad news is this: they did not record last night’s set. If you missed it, it shall only live on in the memories of the people who were there. Possibly a couple of cell phone videos, if you can find them.

The good news is this: it’s not your last chance. They booked another last-minute spot on Sunday night at The Waterhole in Saranac Lake. I know it’s a bit of a drive, but it’s quite literally your last chance.

Check out our gallery below and plan your last-minute trip to Saranac Lake right away.


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