Conspirator and Dopapod played Feb. 28 at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. Conspirator is on its Dynasty Tour headed to Colorado, land of green sunshine and Dopapod is on the road too, headed south, at this very moment.

Music feeds the soul — Conspirator

by Caitlin Morris, The Saratogian

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Two weeks ago, the four suburban East Coast men that make up the jamtronica band Conspirator were sitting in a jungle hut, bonding over their shared fear of the howler monkeys lurking in the rainforest before they headlined a festival. But next week, they’ll practically be at your doorstep, Saratoga Springs.

Conspirator came together 10 years ago, founded by Disco Biscuits keyboardist Aron Magner and bassist Marc Brownstein, and has seen over the years a rotating crew of drummers, DJs, producers and everything in between.

“They are masters of jam,” Conspirator guitarist Chris Michetti said of his cohorts.

Michetti joined the band two years ago, after he spent a few months filling in for Jon Gutwillig, the then-injured Disco Biscuits guitarist, and hit it off with Magner and Brownstein. With the addition of drummer Greg Sgrulloni, the band is getting back to its “jamming roots,” according to Michetti, and doing it “with a nice hybrid of thick EDM and jam.”

The band tours full time, and on the days they aren’t touring, they’re shaping the “jam movements” that comprise the framework of their songs while crafting the electronic tracks sprinkled in between those movements.

Michetti said working with his band mates and meeting his heroes, like Luther Dickinson and Robert Randolph, on the festival circuit has taken his music to another level. Playing a guitar lick is easy, at least it is for Michetti, and everyone likes to solo on stage, but what he really wants to do is “speak through” his guitar, he said, and let’s just say it takes him more than 30 seconds to have a good conversation.

“I like when there’s time to breathe and move together as a band,” Michetti said.

Magner and Brownstein have “a methodology, a vocabulary of improvisation,” they said, and Michetti has — as evidenced in the albums — definitely picked up on their skills.

“We’re moving around tonally, rhythmically and somatically to create something — as a group, not just as one. Every five weeks, there’s a new jump,” Michetti said, adding that they learn how to “have a direction,” to contain and “peak the jam” and to “keep the crowd with us and not fizzle out.”

The bands nearly constant evolution has taken the music from a heavy emphasis on electronic dance music to what is now a lighter one that “feels much better, much more honest and true” to Michetti.

The music may be taking on a new direction, Michetti said, but it’s still christened with a synthesis of growls and whistles that are the staples of old-school EDM, moobahton and dubstep.

Even though he does it full time, performing in front of audiences isn’t a simple feat, Michetti said, even when the crowd is a mere several hundred like at Putnam Den.

“It’s not like buttering a bagel,” Michetti said. “It’s not — it’s a big deal.”

He said the group often needs to bring even more pep to the small shows, which aren’t equipped with a dancing sea of thousands of people in front of them like at festivals.

Currently, Michetti and his fiancée are looking for a place in Philadelphia, where the rest of his band mates are living.

“The goal is to be closer, and work as much as possible,” he said, and to revamp the band’s “backlog of tracks.”

Much to the delight of Conspirator fans, that backlog might even mean not just one, but two full albums in the near future, Michetti said.

I popped into Putnam Den the other night to listen to a song or two by the beautiful Zach Deputy; what a pleasure.



Family, friends support Darryl Mount on birthday


By Caitlin Morris, The Saratogian

Sunday, December 8, 2013

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Darryl Mount Jr. turns 22 today (Dec. 9) and his family made sure that he knew it — coma or not — with a house full of presents, food and family Sunday afternoon.

If you didn’t know better, it could have been anyone’s joyous birthday celebration.

Mount ran from Saratoga Springs police officers at 3 a.m. over Labor Day weekend and was found unresponsive on the pavement below, behind Gaffney’s. He has been in a coma ever since. Since the injury, Mount has alternated between the intensive care unit and Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. Now he is home.

At the party, Mount was the center of attention as he sat in the living room in a specialized wheelchair equipped with a headrest and straps to support his upper body. The football game was on, there was food in the kitchen and children were playing on the floor. Someone secured balloons to the lamppost in front of his family’s Malta home.

When Mount’s condition stabilized and plateaued, doctors made the call to transfer him home with Patty Jackson, his mother. An aide helps care for him 16 hours a day, seven days a week. If his condition improves or worsens, he will be transferred back to a medical facility.

The state Mount is in is technically a coma, but family members see him respond to things every day, they said.

At the party Sunday afternoon, Mount yawned. Sometimes he appeared to be paying attention to a particular person or item. Once, while his mother read a card to him, it looked like he was choked with emotion before a tear fell from his eye.

“As everyone else’s life continues, ours doesn’t,” Jackson said, “It doesn’t go away for me.”

Jackson, who is employed as a nurse, said the lives of her and her husband, Warren Jackson, are at a standstill, unsatisfied with official, incomplete answers about what happened to their son.

Police say Mount was chased during a foot pursuit after pushing his girlfriend into a wall outside a bar — something his girlfriend denies happened and police say they have on tape. Mount ran down an alley on Broadway, onto a small roof and then fell from scaffolding, police say.

The case, however, is not closed and the police report and tape have not been made public. The Jacksons don’t believe the police version and are holding onto the hope that someone will come forward with more information.

Mount’s mother, step-father and extended family have made repeated requests to the city police, the public safety commissioner who oversees the police department and Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office for an outside investigation into the incident, all of which have all been denied.

Now, Jackson said, they are going to do what is necessary to preserve the right to fight for Mount’s best interests, and they said they have filed a notice of claim indicating their intentions to sue the city.

By the end of December, Jackson said, she will have completed the legal hurdle of getting complete guardianship of her son. And she is grateful for support that’s come from unexpected places — a state trooper who knew her son, a pastor down the street from her home and others.

At the party, there always seemed to be someone talking to Darryl in passing, just saying hello, or showing him a gift they got him — a T-shirt with a lion, a piece of art to hang on the wall, a musical clock.

His mother lit a “22” candle on a white and blue cake, and everyone sang.

“Sometimes I feel to blame, like if only I could have been there or if only I could have stopped it or if only I was there or if I could have done something different,” Jackson said, too choked up to continue.

Her son was shaking his head slightly, turned to his mother’s face, and it’s impossible to know where he is.


City and Colour, St. Louis

Alright, it’s not so much an ode as it an offering. These iPhone cameras aren’t so bad. When they first came out, I’ll admit I bashed how easy they made it for anyone to take a picture, but it turns out you still need to have a good eye for making a photograph, so I guess the pro photographers dodged a bullet.

About two weeks ago, I spontaneously wound up at three wondrous concerts in seven days, beer in hand and two times out of three wearing a Halloween costume. I wasn’t working these shows, but I took a few photos with my phone and walked away with decent results.

City and Colour AKA Dallas Green

Oct. 27, 2013 at The Pageant, St. Louis


This seasoned musician was the front man — vocals and guitar — for the hardcore group Alexis on Fire for over a decade, which he left in 2012 so he could devote his attention to City and Colour.

His band name is really just a play on his actual name. Look at it again.

The acoustic folksinger swerves toward rock and blues more than most folksy types and, for me, it’s the saving grace that keeps him at arms length from whiny. That dirty edge of rock and blues really surfaced when I saw him live at The Pageant in St. Louis.


Green is also a thoughtful lyricist with lines that pull you in. My old friend and nearly Ph.D-brandishing political genius, who got suckered into holding my beer every time I saw a photo-op, said it was just one song, with lines that resonated so strongly in him that he became a real fan of City and Colour.

His most recent album, out six months ago, is “The Hurry and the Harm.”

Check it out

Pretty Lights

Oct. 31, 2013 at the Times Union Center, Albany


My roommate won tickets from 102.7 WEQX on Twitter. She really spends way too much time on her iPhone, but it was all worth it for this moment, brought to you by social media.

Derek Vincent Smith has been around for at least five years, but has really gained momentum recently. His show at the Times Union Center in Albany on Halloween was sold out, and here’s the best part: he had a full band in Sesame Street costumes playing with him.


The Times Union Center wouldn’t let me bring the hand-crafted bow and arrow portion of my Artemis costume inside the venue, but they very politely offered to coat check it for me.


Rogue Chimp

Nov. 2, 2013 The Nutshell, Lake Huntington


This band caught me off guard. I felt damn fortunate to wind up in the always-lovely shack of a bar, The Nutshell, on Lake Huntington to find this electronic, jam fusion band going bananas.

First off, they were all in chimp costumes, except for one guy who insisted on wearing this cute, white scooter helmet that was still quite endearing. They will tell you, I’m sure, that monkey suits are not easy on the sweat glands.

But I got to dance to a fiddle-playing chimp, which was very special, so they did not sweat in vain.


Perhaps more importantly, they were actually really flippin’ good. Like finger licking, getting down on the get down, good.

Check it.

Maybe I’m just late to the game because a few days after I heard them, they opened for Lotus.

As a side note, the redeeming quality that makes up for The Nutshell’s notoriously slow ability to actually sell its patrons beer is the fact that no one made me put my bow and arrow down — not even when I started pointing it at other people and demanding things.


Thanks guys.

Here’s some iPhone concert pointers –

  • Make your body a tripod. Shows are nearly always low-light situations, so you’re going to need to stay still. If you can’t do it on your own, ask a wall or a friend to keep your drunk behind steady.
  • Tapping on the image to focus it can also change the light settings; making your photo lighter or darker. Play around with that.
  • Look for the light. Always look for the light, with any camera.
  • Don’t be shy.
  • BUT
  • Don’t watch the whole show through your iPhone, because that’s just depressing.

It was my first time seeing Rusted Root, at Putnam Den earlier this week, and they put on a phenomenal show, in a venue they always make time for.

Liz Berlin of Rusted Root, July 11, 2013.

Liz Berlin of Rusted Root, July 11, 2013.

My knee was killing me that night — the humidity was a bad mix with the hardware in my leg — so I sort of hobbled around taking pictures for much of it, trying to find a good mix of Jameson and gimpy dancing to keep me going.

Michael Glabicki, lead singer and guitarist.

Michael Glabicki, lead singer and guitarist.

Thanks guys!!!

Tom petty and the Heartbreakers were the second concert I photographed at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and it went waaaaaaaay better than my first time around. Which was Rascal Flatts; thank. god.

Tom Petty at SPAC, June 23, 2013.

Tom Petty at SPAC, June 23, 2013.

What a great experience, especially getting a few good shots of the band. I was ecstatic I got the shot of Tom when he glanced my way — some artists will give you a good photograph, and it feels like you’re being handed a present.

Mike Campbell on guitar, Benmont Trench in the background.

Mike Campbell on guitar, Benmont Trench in the background.

At SPAC, photographers are only allowed to take pictures for the first three songs, so I hustled the whole time. I took over 200 pictures.

Benmont Tench can play one hell of a keyboard.

Benmont Tench can play one hell of a keyboard.

On second thought, there’s really only so much I can write about dogs and dog-related-subjects that I can stomach.

I’m keeping the name Toga Dog, because it rocks, and I’m still a writer with a camera and a dog.

I hereby declare this a photo blog –

Leaving the Phish show at SPAC, July 7, 2013.

Leaving the Phish show at SPAC, July 7, 2013.


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