Out-of-towners, local bands herald spring
As we try hard to believe that spring might actually come sometime soon, touring artists are sprouting up in growing numbers, and homegrown performers are gathering on our stages, too.
South African singer-songwriter Johnny Clegg may be our distance (and longevity?) champ. He helped pioneer world music starting in the late 1960s, leading the racially mixed bands Juluka and Savuka: a brave thing to do then, when such combos were illegal at home. Both became international sensations, aided by the popularity of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album and tours, and Clegg led each band in memorably spirited local shows.
Clegg has performed under his own name for years now, and he headlines at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.) on Saturday with his current touring band; his son Jesse opens. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $28 and $20. 273-0038 www.troymusichall.org.
Closer to home
At the other end of the distance spectrum, blues singer-slide guitarist Rory Block plays at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) on Saturday at 8 p.m.
Since launching her series of tributes to the blues masters before her, the Chatham resident has raised the already high profile she earned through both interpreting blues classics and crafting new ones reflecting her own life and contemporary issues. So far, she’s released albums honoring Robert Johnson, Son House and Mississippi John Hurt — the first artist I ever saw at Caffe Lena.
Admission is $25, advance; $28 at the door; $14 children and students. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org.
All the way from Mallett, La. — and you KNOW the weather’s warming up when Creoles from bayou country start coming to town! — Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience play a benefit for the Alzheimer’s Association of Northern New York at 8 p.m. on Saturday at NaNola (2639 Route 9, Malta).
A double Grammy winner and a hyper-engaging entertainer, Simien is also the greatest zydeco singer ever. He’s played Jazz Fest in New Orleans 29 times, and on April 26, he closes the Fais-Do-Do stage for number 30. His bands always really rock, with that swaying bayou beat, fiery accordion and soulful vocals from Simien, who can toss Mardi Gras beads a surprising distance, with his bare feet.
Complimentary craft beer and food sampling starts at NaNola on Saturday at 6 p.m. Donation is $15. 587-1300 www.nanolamalta.com.
Big Bromberg band
Now based in Delaware but seen here often enough to make folks wonder if he’s returned to his Hudson Valley roots, guitar wizard and fun exponent of all American roots music David Bromberg leads a fairly big band at The Egg on Saturday.
Unlike some horn-powered bands Bromberg has led here, this is basically a string band: local bassist Butch Amyot, multi-instrumentalists Mark Cosgrove and Nate Grower, and drummer Josh Kanusky. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $38.50. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
Also in the American roots realm, the Wiyos headline the 5th Roots Music Festival on Saturday at WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany).
Hosted by the he’s-everywhere man Michael Eck, the festival features the Mt. Olive Baptist Church Male Chorus, Red Haired Strangers, the Hot Club of Saratoga and Rebel Darling.
Young pioneers of the old-timey revival, the Wiyos (Michael Farkas, Teddy Weber and Sauerkraut Seth Travins) started out as a musical antique show reviving vintage tunes. More recently, they’ve started writing their own tunes in venerable and more modern styles. “One More for the Road,” their seventh release, mixes live and studio material.
Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $15. 465-5233 ext. 4 www.wamcarts.org.
Figgs open Low Beat
Formed in Saratoga Springs when they were high school then Skidmore students, the Figgs don’t live here any more: bassist Pete Donnelly is in Philly, guitarist Mike Gent in Boston and drummer Pete Hayes in New York.
Fortunately, they return to play fairly often. Their flexible, rocking sound and loyal local fan base make them the natural choice to play the official grand opening of The Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany) on Saturday at 8 p.m. Chalaque opens.
In their 25 years, the Figgs have recorded more than 20 releases on a handful of labels, played with Graham Parker and Tommy Stinson and done tons of side projects: Donnelly played with NRBQ for six years, for example.
As the Figgs, they play strong, heads-up fundamental roll. The Low Beat has been presenting shows for a few weeks, but the Figgs are just right for this official grand opening. Admission is $10. 432-6572 www.thelowbeat.com.
No, Chandler Travis doesn’t live here, either. However, he plays here often enough, and with enough different bands, that his fans might imagine him residing along Lark Street, somewhere back of Broadway in Saratoga Springs or in a Schoharie farmhouse.
And here he comes again, playing The Ale House on Saturday with the Catbirds. To clarify/confuse, he also leads the Chandler Travis Philharmonic (big band, with horns), the Philharmonette (smaller big band), the Three-O (usually four pieces) and the Catbirds (usually four pieces also, but other ones: drummer Rikki Bates, guitarist Steve Wood, multi-instrumentalist Dinty Child and bassist/guitarist/singer Chandler Travis. It’s the most conventionally rocking of his bands, and their new “Say Yeah” album generates lots of energy.
Oh, yeah — and he makes solo albums. Pete Labonne opens for the Catbirds on Saturday at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. 272-9740 www.alehousetroy.com.
David Greenberger does live here, in Greenwich. He presents the last in his series of “One Upon” two-minute performances in a one-seat theater at Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs) from 6 to 9 p.m. today.
Greenberger’s short pieces are monologues he collects in conversations with aging friends, set to music by his band A Strong Dog — multi-instrumentalists Kevin Maul and Mitch Throop. Performances are free, first come-first served, in a temporary one-seat theater on the mezzanine of the Tang. 580-8080 www.skidmore.edu/tang.
The Goo Goo Dolls hail from Buffalo, which practically makes them hometown heroes; and they play The Egg’s Swyer Theater — the smallest place you’ll ever see them — at 8 p.m. on Wednesday on their acoustic “Otis Midnight Sessions” tour. They’ll play stripped-down versions of songs from the 14 albums across their 30-year history. Admission is $59.50. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.