3 bassists, cellist join for benefit on Sunday at Helsinki Hudson



Bass is the place. So it will be on Sunday at Helsinki Hudson, where a triumvirate of three highly accomplished bassists, and one cello maverick, will join forces for a unique, cabaret-style performance.

The concept for the evening flows out of the curious coincidence that three well-traveled bassists with impressive resumes in the greater rock world have relocated to the cozy environs of Hudson.

This was brought home for Melissa Auf der Maur, the host of the evening, when she played a bass-oriented festival in Rome. Italy, as part of a lineup that also included Meshell Ndegeocello, another Hudson transplant. They hadn't yet met, but a few weeks later found themselves seated at the same Hudson bar.

Auf der Maur greeted her peer, she recalled, with the not-so-famous opening, "I think we just played the same bass festival in Rome."

"The organizers obviously had no idea that two of the four women in this festival happened to live within two blocks of each other in the same small town in America," Auf der Maur said in a telephone interview. "What's this bass magnet that Hudson has?"

The evening, dubbed "Home Bass: 4 Strings, 4 Hearts for Habitat" is a fundraiser for the Columbia County branch of Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit organization dedicated to creating affordable housing for those in need.

The benefits will accrue close to home, as the specific projects designated for assistance are the Columbia Passive Townhouses, close by to Helsinki, which are meant to be both affordable and have radically low energy costs.

The "Home Bass" participants have a distinctly flashy, 90's-era flavor to their resumes, but have pursued many projects since. It doesn't take many degrees of separation to link the talent at this show with some of the key musical forces of recent decades.

Also a photographer, and, for the past two years, creative director of the re-launched Basilica Hudson arts and performance space, Auf der Maur had been recruited by Courtney Love to spend five years in the alt-rock band Hole, earning a Grammy nomination for the one album recorded during her tenure, "Celebrity Skin." She then replaced original bassist D'Arcy when The Smashing Pumpkins launched a farewell tour in 2000. (They've since regrouped, in different form.) She's since pursued her own solo work and various art-minded projects.

Joining Auf der Maur in the Sunday benefit will be Ndegeocello, who has spent 20 years pursuing her very individual vision; Tommy Stinson, a founder of the legendary band The Replacements, whose current portfolio includes gigs as the bassist for both Guns N' Roses and Soul Asylum; and Melora Creager, a cellist and songwriter who toured with Nirvana and has released a string of solo albums.

A "special appearance" is also promised from Cathy Grier, a songwriter and guitarist known as the NYC Subway Girl.

They'll each "curate" chunks of the evening, inviting their own musical collaborators to the stage and also enlisting the help of fellow headliners. It's likely to be loose, intimate, surprising, and not easily replicated.

"It's a really sweet, collaborative effort," Auf der Maur says.

She credits the idea for the evening to Helsinki Hudson co-owner Marc Schafler. She had already spent a few months trying, fruitlessly, to brainstorm an idea for a fundraising concert to benefit Habitat, whose board of directors she'd recently joined.

"The organizers obviously had no idea that two of the four women in this [Rome] festival happened to live within two block of each other in the same small town in America." -- Melissa Auf der Maur.

"I spent the first six months on the board looking through my phone book and my memories of musicians I knew from afar who would be willing to come to small-town Hudson and play for free," she recalled, but Schafler had the idea of bringing together some musicians already in their midst.

The spirit also fits with Auf der Maur's efforts at Basilica Hudson, where the programming has spanned visual art shows, major concerts, film series and even a food festival devoted to ramps.

The Montreal native, whose years in the music business cued stints living in New York City and Los Angeles, says Hudson is the first American city to really feel like home.

"It's been said before by others, but it's a microcosm of the whole country. There's the lows and the highs within 10 blocks," she says. "It's small enough that you can see the different people and the different lifestyles and the complementary aspects that weave in and out of each other, and you can interact with all of it."

In concert: Home Bass

What: 'Home Bass: 4 Strings, 4 Hearts for Habitat' benefit for Habitat for Humanity of Columbia County.

When: Sunday at 7 p.m.

Where: Helsinki Hudson, 405 Columbia St, Hudson, N.Y.

Tickets are $50 each at tables; $30 at the bar and $20 general admission standing.

Reservations: (518) 828-4800. Tickets are available by phone only for this event.


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