Notable bands play unexpected venues
Once SPAC-sized Pittsburgh indie/worldbeat rockers Rusted Root in a cozy Schenectady Irish pub? Trumansburg (you know, near Ithaca) alt-rockers Donna the Buffalo in a Saratoga Springs club? Hot British rockers The Heavy at the Palace for free? The 1980s Wisconsin country-rockers BoDeans back on the road, playing anywhere! — at Bearsville Theater?
Performers popping up in unexpected places, that’s the story this week.
ROOT AT SUSAN’S
Rusted Root has played some of our biggest venues, including SPAC with 1996’s H.O.R.D.E. tour: Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere, a big package of indie bands that Blues Traveler organized. With singer Michael Glabicki at the helm, and making music from many parts of the globe, they’ve sailed past some career peaks and valleys, touring (smaller and smaller venues) as their recordings grew fewer and farther between.
On Saturday, Rusted Root plays at Pinhead Susan’s (38-40 N. Broadway, Schenectady), a venue whose bar is stocked with brews from Mad Jack’s, the brewery behind the Van Dyck.
Admission is $10. Phone 346-6382 or visit www.susanisapinhead.com (Strangest URL of any bar in America?).
DONNA PLAYS PUTNAM
Like Rusted Root, Donna the Buffalo has played bigger venues than Putnam Den (63 Putnam St., Saratoga Springs), where they play on Friday at 9 p.m. Also like Rusted Root, Donna the Buffalo plays thick, swampy grooves, but often with a strong acoustic accent — fiddles! accordions! hand percussion! — and global influences. (Blues Traveler plays Putnam Den on Oct. 15.)
Admission to Donna the Buffalo on Friday is $20. Phone 584-8066 or visit www.putnamden.com .
FREE THE HEAVY!
The Heavy — yeah, those “How Do You Like Me Now?” guys — play for free at the Palace Theatre (19 N. Pearl St. at Clinton Ave., Albany) tonight at 9 p.m.
They have much more than this inescapable instant-classic; they’ve released three studio albums since forming in 2007 near Bath, England. “The Glorious Dead” hit earlier this year, with the hit “What Makes a Good Man?” earning them the singular honor of an encore on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
For free tickets, visit GotBeer.com, WEQX.com, Metroland.net or call the Palace at 465-4663 during regular business hours.
BODEANS AT BEARSVILLE
The departure of Sammy Llanas from the BoDeans in 2011 surprisingly didn’t sink the long-running Wisconsin rock band: They replaced Llanas with guitarist Jake Owen and added players. Formed around the writing and singing team of Llanas with Kurt Neumann, they played everywhere here in the 1980s, including the Union College Memorial Chapel and the RPI McNeil Room.
Rolling Stone readers hailed them as 1987’s Best New American Band, and their sound spurred on the Americana movement.
They’ve recorded steadily and scored a hit or two but opening shows on U2’s Joshua Tree tour made them better known and more successful as a touring band than recording artists. Their new “American Made” album (their 11th studio album) has earned respectable reviews.
The BoDeans play the Bearsville Theater (291 Tinker St., Woodstock) on Saturday at 9 p.m. Sarah Borges opens. Doors at 8. Admission is $40 and $25. Phone 845-679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com.
NRBQ ROLLS ON
Like the Bodeans, NRBQ rocks on after losing a key player: bassist, singer and writer Pete Donnelly, who is also in the Figgs and leads his own band.
He spoke of this extra-busy life just before the Figgs played with Graham Parker at WAMC this spring. After I asked if three bands were enough — NRBQ, the Figgs and the Figgs with Graham Parker (a different gig altogether) — he laughed and said he actually had a fourth, sometimes called the Philadelphia Combo but more often booked as Pete Donnelly.
He said, “I believe in a full life, you gotta do a lot to get anywhere. But sometimes I feel like I’m doing too much and I’m at my wits’ end with the scheduling and running a family.” He’s raising four of the cutest kids possible with his wife outside Philadelphia.
Donnelly recalled that the Duplex Planet impresario David Greenberger (himself a bassist) had suggested Donnelly to NRBQ leader Terry Adams when Adams formed a new version of NRBQ, originally the Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet, in 2008. He said as the band recorded and toured, Adams wanted greater contributions from the players as writers as well as performers. Donnelly wrote songs that jumped right into the NRBQ songbook, including “Original Wonder” and “When You Come Home” — which also appear on his recent solo album “When You Come Home.”
“What he brought to the band is unique and brilliant and we’ll always love him,” said Adams on the NRBQ site, where Donnelly said, “I have had the time of my life playing with NRBQ. I will miss those guys terribly.”
Donnelly and the Figgs released “The Day Gravity Stopped” and celebrated their 25th anniversary earlier this year with shows at Valentine’s and Putnam Den. They return to Valentine’s on Dec. 21 for a holiday show.
Meanwhile, NRBQ plays The Narrows (16 Anawan St., Fall River, Mass.) on Friday at 8 p.m. with new bassist Casey McDonough, a Chicagoan who plays with ‘Q guitarist Scott Ligon’s brother Chris’s band the Problems. Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 on Friday. Phone 508-324-1926 or visit www.narrowscenter.org.
Then, NRBQ plays on Saturday at Bridge Street Live (41 Bridge St., Collinsville, Conn.). Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $37 and $27. Phone 860-693-9762 or visit www.41bridgestreet.com.
And on Oct. 7, NRBQ headlines the Pines Theater Harvest Festival at Look Park in Florence, Mass. Visit www.collectivemusicconcerts.com for details.
Veteran vocalist Mary Stallings sings on Friday at A Place For Jazz (First Unitarian Society of Schenectady Whisperdome, 1221 Wendell Ave.) at 7:30 p.m. The New York Times recently compared her to Nancy Wilson and Carmen McRae: “polished, self-possessed and close to the ground, with blues and gospel language on simmer.” Tickets are $15. Phone 393-4011 or visit www.aplaceforjazz.org.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.