By Brian Mcelhiney

Schenectady Gazette 08/0107hairdog/
Jan 8 2009

It's no secret to musicians and fans that January is a slow month
for live shows.

About five years ago, Rick Bedrosian, bassist and vocalist for Albany
Irish rock and folk band Hair of the Dog, and Eamonn McGirr, the late
owner of Eamonn's in Loudonville, came up with an idea to help combat
the winter doldrums. McGirr booked Hair of the Dog to play a marathon
at Eamonn's, with shows every Friday and Saturday night throughout
January, and the annual Hair-a-thon event was born.

"It was a great success," Bedrosian said during a recent phone
interview from his home office in Delmar. "In fact, instead of it
wearing out, we actually got more and more crowded as the month went
on, and by the final weekend lines were out the door like it was
Saint Patrick's Day."

This will be the second year that the Hair-a-thon will be held at The
Parting Glass, which is where the band moved the event after Eamonn's
burned down in 2005. The shows began last Saturday and will continue
this Friday and Saturday nights at 8.

Keeping shows different Along with Bedrosian, the group comprises
guitarist and vocalist Mike DeAngelis, banjoist John Haggerty, fiddler
Larry Packer, electric guitarist and fiddler Eric Finn and the newest
member, drummer Scott Apicelli. Even though the Hair-a-thon features
one band playing every weekend at the same venue for a month, Hair
of the Dog has enough songs to draw on from its 16-year career to
create a different show every night.

And for the show's first half, the audience will help out with the
set list. This year's Hair-a-thon will feature a "Stump the Band"
contest, with audience members contributing song titles on pieces of
paper. The band will then try to play anywhere from 10 to 20 of the
titles, faking their way through songs they don't know.

There are also prizes involved, including CDs, T-shirts and hats. The
idea came from a similar segment on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny

"Eric and Scott both teach, and we all know tons of songs. So
if somebody asks for something, chances are one of us knows it,"
Bedrosian said. "Sometimes, we embarrass ourselves, but it's always
fun to do styles of music we never do. We can have fun with it."

The second half of the show proceeds as a normal Hair of the Dog
concert would, featuring the group's original Irish folk-rock and
their takes on traditional Celtic material. The band has four albums
under its belt, including the most recent, 2007's "Donegal."

The half-Irish, half-Armenian Bedrosian, who started out as a rock
musician inspired by The Beatles, developed an interest in Irish music
in 1984 when he subbed in Kevin McKrell and Jeff Strange's Irish group,
The Newports, for their national tour.

"They needed somebody really fast to do the tour," Bedrosian said. "I
learned their repertoire, about 30 songs with a few originals. That
was my bapitism-by-fire kind of thing. I liked it and ended up a
permanent member of the band."

Bedrosian, a veteran of local country rock band Silver Chicken and one
of the founding members of The McKrells, formed Hair of the Dog with
DeAngelis and Haggerty, who at the time played together in The Porters,
in 1993. The group grew from a trio to a sextet over the years, adding
Packer, who's played with Sha Na Na and on The Band's "Last Waltz"
video, and Finn and Apicelli, both Berklee College of Music graduates.

Another Ireland trip

Coming projects for the group include the band's eighth tour of
Ireland for February 2010, on which the band brings a group of fans
to Ireland for a week. The group is working on new material, but is
taking its time, Bedrosian said.

"It's as much art as it is business," Bedrosian said of Hair of the
Dog's performances. "We're there to help club owners sell booze;
it's not like the Egg, where you just sit there and play music. What
we're selling is a good time, forgetting about your problems just
for two to three hours to be able to enjoy yourself, hear good music,
good vocals and really good instrumentalists."

Hair-a-thon WHO: Hair of the Dog When: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
in January Where: The Parting Glass, 40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga
Springs How Much: $13 (reservations needed) More INfo: 583-1916,