‘Writers with guitars’ abound in local clubs
The late, great Warren Zevon dubbed himself a “small, mobile gestalt unit” when he started performing solo. After breaking up his (great) touring band, he became a writer armed with a guitar or a guitar-playing writer … but I digress.
This week’s onstage offerings include numerous mobile gestalt units, some smaller than others, most armed with guitars, and all bringing songs to us in simple, strong terms.
Like Chatham’s Rory Block, Saratoga Springs hero Michael Jerling doesn’t play here nearly enough. And, like Trey Anastasio, Jerling often has bassist Tony Markellis laying down the groove. (Markellis played with the Trey Anastasio Band at Albany’s Palace Theatre last weekend.)
Longtime compadres Jerling and Markellis team up on Friday at Coffee Planet (100 Milton Ave., Ballston Spa). Jerling advises, “Time to venture outside and cast your shadow” — wise counsel, especially with such fine music involved — and for free.
Show time is 6 p.m. and no reservations are needed. Jerling and Markellis play next Friday, Feb. 8, as well, adding multi-instrumentalist Teresina Huxtable to the mix, at the Stony Creek Library (37 Harrisburg Rd., Stony Creek). Phone 696-5911 or visit www.stonycreekfreelibrary.sals.edu.
Like many fellow artists who value independence and quality control, Jerling has a record label. His Fool’s Hill Music delivers his own projects and those of his buddies in song and sound: most recently Joel Brown’s “Places,” Yata’s “Nature Girl,” John Kribs’ “The Blue Wall” and his own “Music Here Tonight,” recorded live at Caffe Lena in 2009 with Markellis and Huxtable.
Greg Brown at The Egg
Minnesota singer-songwriter Greg Brown swings through for the umpteenth time on Saturday to play solo at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). After playing nearly everywhere else around here, this seems to be his gig of choice hereabouts — with fans fondly recalling his June 2008 show there.
Brown has voice down to there, and songwriting ambitions up to there, and on-record cohorts aplenty on his latest (of 24!) album “The Freak Flag” including producer-guitarists Bo Ramsey and Richard Bennett. Brown also borrows tunes from wife Iris DeMent and daughter Pieta Brown.
Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $24. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
Eberhardt at Caffe Lena
Pennsylvania-born, NYC-based “New Folk” pioneer Cliff Eberhardt returns to Caffe Lena on Friday with Louise Mosrie opening. His dozen-or-so albums include “All Wood and Doors” — acoustic interpretations of Doors’ songs — but his most recent project, scoring and performing an 1800s version of “The Taming of the Shrew,” took him to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $18. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.
Good for Her at A Place for Folk
Good for Her is more than a multi-meaning catchy name. It’s the all-star, all-women troubadour ensemble of Nancy Walker, Kate McDonnell and Rosanne Raneri. And it’s the next attraction at A Place for Folk on Friday at the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady (1221 Wendell Ave., Schenectady).
As “small, mobile gestalt units” go, this one is larger than most, with guitarist Larry Clyman and percussionist Sam Zucchini accompanying the three singer-songwriters. (Albums by both Walker and Raneri are available from Fools Hill.) All are area favorites as individual, complete-package artists: They write, they play, they sing. But Raneri in particular has branched out recently as a sought-after harmony singer whose duo show with Bryan Thomas at Steamer No. 10 made many Top Ten lists last year. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $16, students $14, $2 for children with paying adults. Phone 377-0002 or visit www.aplaceforfolk.org.
Martin Sexton at Club Helsinki
Syracuse-born troubadour Martin Sexton excels as much for range as intensity, melding folk, soul gospel, rock and whatever he wants into an all-style-drive vehicle to take audiences wherever he wants.
He beat-boxes, he skats in harmony with his guitar solos, he writes wise and funny songs and has as much voice as Greg Brown. While he’s released 10 albums since his 1992 debut — “In the Journey” was his first, “Fall Like Rain” his most recent — Sexton has built his reputation as a live performer. John Mayer calls Sexton “the best live performer I’ve ever seen.”
Sexton plays Friday at 9 p.m. at Club Helsinki (405 Columbia St., Hudson). Only show-and-dinner seats remain, at $45. Phone 828-4800 or visit www.helsinkihudson.com.
Hot Club of Detroit at Van Dyck
Now for something completely different on this mostly-folk Friday. Re-creating the folkloric, zippy, lighter-than-air “gypsy jazz” of Django Reinhardt, the Hot Club of Detroit plays the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) on Friday at 7 and 9:30 p.m.
Last time around, they tore it up at A Place for Jazz in 2010, as I reported then: “The band’s ensemble playing snapped, crackled and popped, everybody playing aggressively behind the solos and negotiating tricky beats unison and harmony passages with aplomb that seemed effortless.”
The Hot Club is composed of guitarists Evan Perri and Paul Brady, bassist Shawn Conley and accordionist Julien LaBro. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 on Friday. Phone 348-7999 or visit www.vandycklounge.com.
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.