Ten Years After the 518

In the summer of 1993, Marcia, Katelin (then two years old) and I moved to Latham, New York from Idaho Falls, Idaho, following my work transfer to assume a new position in Schenectady. We chose what turned out to be a wonderful rental townhouse (with the best next-door neighbors ever), thinking we’d be there for a few years, most likely returning to the Washington, DC metro area with my work as a next step; we still owned a house in Alexandria at that point, which we were renting out. Marcia started law school that summer, taking the first steps on her most impressive legal career, and I got busy putting in my usual 60+ hours per week on behalf of my demanding government employer.

A year or so later, and via a personal connection that Marcia made in her legal work with our most cool and esteemed friend F. Lee Harvey Blotto, I landed a freelance writing gig, on top of my day job, with the region’s late lamented alternative newsweekly, Metroland. It made for some interesting dynamics to be a merchant of mass destruction by day, and an arts maven by night, but it did very much satisfy my equally active left and right brains, and the free CDs and concert tickets were certainly a budgetary boon. Some years later, my Federal bosses asked me to move back to Washington, DC (after an aborted move to Pittsburgh with that same program), but by that time Katelin was in kindergarten, Marcia had begun her law career, and I’d forged a niche for myself in the greater Albany arts and cultural community, so it seemed we’d unexpectedly anchored ourselves in Upstate New York. That being the case, we sold our house in Alexandria, and I elected to forego the next step in my government career, transitioning into the nonprofit sector instead, while still holding on to my music-centric freelance work career, which had expanded to include a television show by that time.  After six years in what we had presumed would be a short-term rental home, we purchased a “real” house half-a-mile away, and ended up staying in Albany for another dozen years, me eventually rising to serve as CEO for a couple of regional nonprofits, Marcia eventually becoming a partner in a local law firm.

In November 2011, a variety of opportunities and choices presented themselves, and with Katelin out of the house as a college student at SUNY Geneseo, Marcia and I decided to follow a new work opportunity in her professional sector to Des Moines, Iowa. We stayed there for four years, then moved to Chicago in 2015, then back to Des Moines in 2019, then on to our current home in Sedona, Arizona in 2020. As I was doing some website maintenance today, I realized that this week marks the tenth anniversary of my departure from Albany. (Marcia had left a month earlier, inciting this). The ensuing decade has been a busy one, that has taken us to a lot of places where we did a lot of things, but marking that November 2011 milestone also reminds me of just how important “The 518” (Albany’s sole area code, in pre-cellular days) was to us as a family, and to me as a creative professional. Given my own peripatetic personal history, I actually spent more time living and working in and around New York’s capitol city than I have anywhere else in my life. I still enjoy satisfying long-distance relationships with many dear friends made during that time, and the place still sits tall and proud as a key location in our family’s historic narrative.

Just before I left Albany after ~19 years as a nominally productive local contributor, I published a few posts here about things that I would not miss (even great locations have their downsides, after all) and things that I would miss once I was gone. At the top of the pile on that latter, positive list was Albany’s truly incredible musical community, within which I’d moved and (I like to think) played some small but important promotional roles as a music critic and (later) as the booking agent for a cool little cultural venue. I still keep in touch with more folks from Albany than any other place I’ve ever lived, and I still remain a fervent champion for many of the incredible singers, songwriters, and musicians who I met, befriended, and worked with during that most formative and enjoyable time.

So as I consider the tenth anniversary of our departure from Albany, it seems fitting to mark the moment with a small tribute to some of those amazing musicians and friends from those days. I do so, as I so often do, by sharing a collection of videos below, featuring ten artists and songs that have moved me deeply and continually satisfied my soul, even as the meat which encases said soul has moved hither and yon across the continent over the past decade. I highly encourage you to seek out and support these incredible artists, whether you’ve ever set foot in Albany or not. They’re all worth your attention and respect. Cheers, Albany. You were great, and I miss you!

“Across a Thunderstorm,” by Jed Davis

“Ain’t Going Anywhere,” by Buggy Jive

“Strange Day,” by The Clay People

“No One Called You A Failure,” by Kamikaze Hearts

“Beautiful Brand New,” by Gay Tastee

“Cop Show,” by Che Guevara T-Shirt

“Doubting Thomas,” by The Weasels

“Bleeding,” by One King Down

“Mariah Moriah,” by Jason Martin

“Whatever Makes You Happy,” by Lughead

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