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ROUGH MIX

Local music fans, you will likely be seeing a lot more of one-man band Hamell on Trial, aka Ed Hamell, in the area over the next few weeks. The popular musician will begin a unique five-week residency at the recently opened Capitol Grille (142 Washington Ave., Albany) tonight (Thursday, May 24) at 8 PM, which will run every Thursday until June 21.

Syracuse native Hamell is known around these parts for his humor and charisma, and his biting commentary on social and political issues, which are infused into not only his songs, but his on-stage banter as well. His most recent album’s title, Songs for Parents Who Enjoy Drugs (which largely featured Hamell’s toddler son, Detroit, both as a character and guest vocalist), is indicative of his sharp, direct sense of humor. That album—along with his previous one, Tough Love—was released on Ani DiFranco’s label, Righteous Babe Records.

Hamell is embarking on a new project over the course of the next few weeks, during which he will continue to polish his renowned act into a one-man show that he eventually plans on taking off-Broadway.

Capitol Grille co-owner Nick Ferrandino describes Hamell’s performance as a one-man play with only one prop: a guitar.

“He sort of has his show honed down to a 90-minute thing,” Ferrandino says. “He incorporates his songs into this thing and there’s a fair amount of—for lack of better words—stand-up [comedy] that he does with it.”

Hamell divides his time throughout the Northeast, performing weekly dates in New York City, Philadelphia and now Albany, among other places.

The last time that he played in town, Hamell stopped in to the Capitol Grille to say hi to Ferrandino and to check out his old friend’s new bar.

“While he was here,” Ferrandino says, “unbeknownst to me, he was sort of casing the joint, too, he was checking it out to see how it would fit.”

A small, intimate dining room in the back of the Capitol Grille will serve as Hamell’s performance space. There will be no stage, no mic, no amp. . . . Hamell wants to create an intimate experience for the audience.

Ferrandino points out that the show isn’t exactly family-friendly—that a lot of Hamell’s material is for, shall we say, mature audiences only. He says that if Hamell’s show were a movie, it would be rated NC-17.

Admission to Hamell on Trial’s Thursday night shows is $8. You can call the Capitol Grille at 434-1616 ahead of time to reserve seating.

—Kathryn Lurie



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