Heartless Bastards w/ Alberta Cross – Bearsville Theater, Woodstock, NY 9/13/15 (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Woodstock, New York may not be the hub of the flower child sub-culture that it was in the 60’s, that culminated during the Summer of Love, but it still has a vibrant art and robust music scene. The Bearsville Theater, now a part of the Bowery Presents family, nestled on The Sawkill Creek on Tinker Street on the town line of Woodstock and Bearsville is offering a more diverse variety of shows than ever before.

English band Alberta Cross opened the show right at the scheduled start time, and many Heartless Bastard fans that opted to skip the supporting performance missed an excellent set of soulful blues-rock. Alberta Cross is essentially Petter Ericson Stakee, as the only other permanent member of the band, co-founder, bassist Terry Wolfers, left Alberta Cross in 2013, leaving Stakee on his own and other band members listed on their Facebook page as friends. Stakee’s passionate lyrics, performed with equally passionate vocals transfixed much of the disappointingly sparse audience. Highlights of the set were “Old Man Chicago” from the album Broken Side of Time, “Crate of Gold” from the Songs of Patience record and “Ghost of Santa Fe” from the band’s upcoming self titled album, recorded in Woodstock, New York due out on October, 16.

Heartless Bastards 2

Heartless Bastards began their set with “The Mountain” that had bassist Jesse Ebaugh playing steel pedal guitar and guitarist Mark Nathan on bass. Singer/guitarist Erika Wennerstrom’s Grace Slick-esque vocals fit nicely with bands Alt-Country-Blues-Rock sound. Ebaugh and Nathan returned to their usual instruments and Wennerstrom switched to acoustic guitar for “Gates of Dawn”, from the bands newest album Restless Ones, released in June. The Heartless Bastards provided the score to the film based on the James Welch novel Winter in the Blood and songs “Journey” and “Skin and Bone”, which ended with a big guitar feedback finish, showed why the band and Erika Wennerstrom’s song writing made a great backdrop to Alex and Andrew Smith’s movie of American Indian struggles in the badlands of central Montana.

Restless Ones, prominently featured in the set, and a block of songs from the record, “Pocket Full of Thirst”, “The Fool”, and “Into the Light” made a fine centerpiece to the show. “New Resolution”, a song from the band’s first album had a real upbeat feel good quality. The biggest reactions and ovations came from a pair of songs the band really rocked out on, “Wind up Bird” and “Only for You” that ended the set. The band returned and played a searing version of “Parted Ways”, during which the band slowly left the stage leaving Erika Wennerstrom singing solo, whose vocals soared over guitars left leaning on amps that created pulsating feedback.

Albert Cross and Heartless Bastards made for an excellent combination of music with styles that complimented each other with blues-rock and a touch of alt-country. The Bearsville Theater has improved a lot in recent years with updates to the interior of the venue to go along with an evolving calendar of shows.

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