KALEIDESCAPE: ‘Elvis Stepped Away from the Mic’

buggy jive at troy savings bank music hall

Here’s a short sample of the sonic adventure that was the KALEIDESCAPE event at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, October 14, 2023. Thanks to Sophia and Sam of Organ Colossal and everyone involved in producing this wonderful show.

Here’s more on the commissioned song I wrote for the event, “Elvis Stepped Away from the Mic,” including annotated lyrics down below.

PS: There’s a studio version of the song in the works. Cheers.


Just weeks ago, Jive got a jump on the Kaleidescape event and made his Troy Music Hall debut opening for Macy Gray.

Jive recalls that a little while after receiving the Kaleidescape email, he got panicky and tried to dredge up whatever Troy history might have lodged in his memory from his days at WMHT, where he worked on documentaries about local communities. Instead, he’s relying on his experiences as an audience member at the Music Hall.

[Buggy Jive] recalls great nights with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Randy Newman [at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall], to name only a few. But Jive seems to have fixated on a 2013 show by Elvis Costello when the star spontaneously stepped away from the microphones, trusted the hall and performed one song without amplification. “The audience was more attentive to that song than the entire rest of the show,” recalls Jive.

So how will that inform his new song? “Well, I don’t want to give anything away,” replies the artist, using a line heard frequently from theater people but rarely from musicians.


Buggy Jive recently opened for Macy Gray at the hall and was able to experience first hand the magic of the room. “I got to sing from that stage for the first time just last week and wow, I usually don’t like reverb but singing into the NATURAL reverb of that room, the vocals seemed to go on forever and smooth out every flaw. It was magical.”

He isn’t kidding. We were at that show, and his use of the acoustics of the room really became part of the original sound he was producing on stage.

“As I understand it, the acoustics were nice enough when the hall was first built, but the secret sauce came later with the installation of the pipe organ and the curved space beneath it at the back of the stage,” he explained.

Buggy’s original song is inspired by concerts he has personally attended there. “I’m going to play a quiet acoustic song inspired by the many favorite artists I’ve seen at the hall over the years: Michael Hedges, Randy Newman, Hancock and Shorter, Difford and Tillbrook (of Squeeze), Sweet Honey in the Rock and Cecile McLorin Salvant all get name-checked. I tend to go all in on shows with stripped-down performances, solo or duo; the hall is really the perfect room for that kind of intimate presentation.”

Specifically, though, the song’s refrain is a callback to a specific memory Buggy Jive holds dear from 2013. “There was a magical moment during an Elvis Costello solo acoustic show where he stepped off mic and delivered a song without amplification, relying completely on the acoustics of the hall. As I say in the song, the organ is the hall’s ‘accidental amplifier of love and light.’”



On the eve of Joni Mitchell’s birthday in 2013
Elvis stood on this stage to offer love and understanding and peace.
And a failed singer-songwriter was there to learn a few things.
(That songwriter was me.)
Elvis was all alone, except for 4 guitars and 88 electric keys.
And with that organ high above and the curved space beneath,
That accidental amplifier of love and light,
The best moment of that night
Was when Elvis stepped away from the mic.

I’ve seen and heard some legendary
Quiet realness in this sanctuary.
Randy Newman, all by himself.
Michael Hedges, all by himself.
And Hancock and Shorter,
And Difford and Tilbrook,
And Sweet Honey in the Rock.
And Cécile McLorin Salvant.
(And just the other day?
Me and Macy Gray!)
See: you can really hear a song make its case
When it’s stripped to its essence up on this stage.
With that organ above reflecting time and space,
That accidental amplifier of love and grace.
And the best moment of all those nights
Was when Elvis stepped away from the mic.

I was in the front row, parquet right,
But as one of the few black men in the room that night,
Floating around in the back of my mind was the
Elvis situation of 1979.
At a Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio,
Elvis lost his cool and also his mind.
With some jive-ass slander of Ray Charles and James Brown
He drunkenly tramped the brothas down.
But in attacking those brothas, he inadvertently
Attacked a little black fan boy in Schenectady
(That little boy was me.)
There’s a time and place for me to get all mad,
But these days I’m just filled with a constant sadness.
Be it accidentally or intentionally,
All your heroes will let you down eventually.

So forget about peace and love
But hold on to understanding.

Elvis finally apologized three decades later
To Questlove and to me via Okayplayer.

We’re all a little wiser and a lot more grayer.
It was just 20 days before he stepped inside
This house of prayer.
Where you can really hear a song make its case
When it’s stripped to its essence up on this stage
With that organ above reflecting love and passion.
That accidental amplifier of truth in action.
“Accidents will happen.”
My deepest memory of that night,
I was sitting there in parquet right,
In reflections of love and light,
Elvis stepped away from the mic.

NEW EP: “Ain’t Going Anywhere”

new up: ain't going anywhere

Hot damn: ‘Ain’t Going Anywhere: The 2020 Diaries’ is seven songs written and recorded in the buggy basement bunker during the test of humanity that we call the Year of Our Lord Twenty Twenty.

The new EP is available for a limited time as a free download at Bandcamp.

And it’s coming soon to your favorite streaming service.

All songs copyright 2020 Bryan Paul Thomas except: “Ain’t Going Anywhere” contains a verse of “Both Sides Now” by Joni Mitchell; “The Jungle Line” is by Joni Mitchell and was recorded live Sept. 13, 2020 at Virtual JoniFest 2; “Swing Along” is by Will Marion Cook and is in the public domain; and “100 Voices” is based on the closing paragraphs of the novel “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster, which is also in the public domain. All beats and bad ass drummers appear courtesy the Loop Loft.

Music Videos

The ‘One Hundred Voices’ Mixtape

100 Voices album cover landscape

UPDATE: WEXT Radio will play the “One Hundred Voices mixtape in its entirety Friday, March 13, 2020 at 8 p.m. Shout out to Chris Wienk and everyone at WEXT for the support. You can listen over-the-air in New York’s Capital Region or online at wextradio.org.

One song. Six versions. The “One Hundred Voices” Mixtape is here.

Stream it for free on SoundCloud, BandCamp and YouTube.

Prepare your earholes.

All stuff by Buggy Jive. Lyrics based on “A Passage to India” by E.M. Forster (public domain). All beats courtesy The Loop Loft.

“He paused, and the scenery, though it smiled, fell like a gravestone on any human hope.”

See the “B-Side” live in 360 degrees

The Live Jive Five

Take my new band for a spin.

Be in the room where it happens and sit in on a rehearsal as the Live Jive Five perform the title track from the new album, “The B-Side.

Pick your poison. (And how about liking the Facebook page or subscribing to the YouTube channel once you’re there?)

[themify_button text=”#ffffff” color=”#09519e” bgcolor=”black” size=”large” link=”https://www.facebook.com/BuggyJive/videos/494083638055392″]FACEBOOK[/themify_button]

[themify_button text=”#ffffff” color=”#ff3333″ bgcolor=”black” size=”large” link=”https://youtu.be/va_BULRUjbw”]YOUTUBE[/themify_button]


  • The video works best with a hi-speed Internet connection.
  • If you’re on mobile, use your app for Facebook or YouTube to view – not a browser or a different app.
  • Some folks are saying the video doesn’t work in Safari on desktop. If so, try another browser such as Firefox or Chrome.
  • It should work with Google Cardboard and other VR platforms. (If you think you can handle it! After all, that’s a lotta Buggy to contend with.) It is, however, strictly a 2D experience.)

PS: The new album The B-Side is available at your favorite digital music service.

The B-Side album cover and record

Spotify Spotify

Soundcloud Soundcloud

iTunes iTunes

Band Camp Band Camp

Amazon Amazon

Tidal Tidal

YouTube YouTube

CD Baby CD Baby

New music. Coming soon. Shhhhhh.

coming soon tiny album

“Broken chords and melodies scattered on the floor.”

A new tiny album from Buggy Jive is coming in August.

Tracklist redacted.*

1. 1. Saving Myself for Sunday

2. The B-Side

3. Stole My Stealing from Eliot

4. Another Song About the Moon

5. Lawza Mercy

6. Shoot All the Bluejays You Want

7. Watertown


* Nerds will find a way. Where my nerds at? #BlerdLife

In the meantime, enjoy this music video aka “How I Spent My Summer Vacation in 2018”. Cheers.

The Art of Songwriting: Friday, April 26 at the NYS Writer’s Institute

The Art of Songwriting event

I’m looking forward to coming out of the basement to talk about songwriting, literature and big art with Taina, Mr. Eck and Paul Grondahl – but of course, profoundly sad that Mr. Haymes won’t be there with us.

The Art of Songwriting:
Taina Asili, Michael Eck, Bryan “Dr. Buggy Jive” Thomas
Friday, April 26, 2019
7 p.m., Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, University at Albany Downtown Campus.

Free and open to the public.

The Capital Region’s most acclaimed singer-songwriters will talk about the challenges and pleasures of their work.

Taina Asili, musician and activist, is the leader of local AfroLatin fusion group, La Banda Rebelde. Billboard featured her in a list of “11 Songs of Protest & Resistance by Latino Artists,” and The Huffington Post named her #2 on a list of “12 Freedom Fighting Bands To Get You Through the Trump Years.” Her songs are frequently featured on Democracy Now!

Michael Eck, writer, musician and host of WAMC’s American Roots Series, has produced four solo albums and is a member of several local bands. The Village Voice said, “Somewhere between lovelorn cowpoke and sardonic folkster is nose-pierced Albany NY dad Michael Eck, whose sharp lyrics and quick-witted guitar reflect all over like a broken mirror and shine with liberation like a tossed-aside wedding ring.”

Bryan “Buggy Jive” Thomas evokes Prince and Lenny Kravitz, but with a strong literary hook. The Times Union named him “Best Male Singer-Songwriter” for his 1999 acoustic hip-hop debut, “Radio Plastic Jennifer,” and his soul rock epic “Ones and Zeros” was Metroland’s 2002 “Album of the Year.” His new music video, “Stole My Stealing from Eliot,” a quirky homage to T. S. Eliot shot in London, Paris and Albany, is available on YouTube.

We join the Capital Region music community in mourning the passing of musician and journalist Greg Haymes, who died Wednesday, April 10. Greg had been scheduled with Taina, Michael, and Bryan on our Art of Songwriting panel discussion.

How to Write ‘Another Song About the Moon’

Another Song About the Moon

A few weeks ago, during the Super Worm Moon phenomenon, a back-and-forth in casual conversation presented itself as a possible song lyric.

Even as I was improvising a quick melody into my iPhone, I was asking myself, “Am I really writing yet another song about the moon?”

So: How to Write ‘Another Song About the Moon’ is a new, short film about building a song from scratch, starting with only a click and a quasi-improvised vocal track.

It condenses 4 hours of fly-on-the-wall studio footage down to about 4 minutes, immediately followed by the official music video.

J. Eric Smith wrote some beautiful words about the song.

“Laughing and crying, you know it’s the same release.” – Joni Mitchell.

For Caroline and Greg.

VIDEO: “Laughter is Agency”

This song was written shortly after seeing Toni Morrison in conversation with Hilton Als for the New Yorker Festival in October 2015.

(And when I say “shortly,” I mean I was humming and singing the first line on the walk back to the hotel.)

This was also written just a few months after the release of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, so there’s some of that in here, too.

There is a studio version of this song in the works that you may or may not ever hear on the forthcoming album Literary Reparations, which may or may not ever be released.

Cheers, y’all.



Toni reads the New York Times with a
pencil in hand and a poet’s eye
She picks through the language upon the pages
She kills some words quickly; some, she lets suffer.
She be laughing as she slashes through others
But the laughter is not fun.
It is agency.

She be laughing on the regular
At them that try to edit her.
All of their so-called improvements just be
They change her titles, even changed her name
They make it worse; she takes the blame.
So her laughter is not silly.
It is serious.

She finds yet another editor’s crime.
So Toni begins to fantasize
About the reprimand.
She say: “Y’all got some nerve to capitalize
The final word in Paradise
What part of my Nobel Prize
do you not understand?”
But Toni’s too cool to say it.
But don’t confuse cool with complacency.
Listen for her laughter.
It is agency.


Harper had an editor, too.
Wanted to edit her Daddy.
Wanted to edit the messenger too.
Wanted to end it happy.
Editor be like: “This is not fully conceived.
Don’t make him who he was
Make him who we need him to be.”
Harper say: “He was both of these men at once.”

Thus the Lord said unto Harper Lee
“Go, set a watchman to declare what he see.
Go, set a trap for 2015.”
Harper laughs and waits so patiently
Because laughter is an agency.

The ‘Black Crow’ Maxi-Single: From Buggy to Joni with love

Joni Mitchell celebrates her 75th birthday in November.

So I’m digging out and dusting off a cover of Joni’s “Black Crow” that I recorded about a year ago.

And throwing in another Joni-themed tune or two to boot.

Now available to stream or download for REAL GOOD FOR FREE on the Bandcamp page.

Also: my anti-social media spaces may go full fanboy between now and homegirl’s actual birthday – Wednesday, Nov. 7.

The Facebooks. The Twitters. The Instagrams.