Singer-songwriters DiFranco, Ferrick, Sorrells among women headliners

Michael Hochanadel's weekly Jukebox column
Ani DiFranco plays The Palace in Albany at 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Ani DiFranco plays The Palace in Albany at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Exciting women singer-songwriters headline shows here over the next week. Most spring from the folk tradition, but stretch it.

Best known is Ani DiFranco, playing at the Palace (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) at 8 p.m. Tuesday. She’s so powerful she held her own when the astounding Hamell on Trial opened for her years ago at Proctors. Opening Tuesday’s show is Anais Mitchell, who released a fine album last year, “The Brightness.” Tickets are $37.

The other women’s names on marquees here also promise strong shows.

Melissa Ferrick and Chris Pureka play on Saturday at the Linda Norris Auditorium of the WAMC Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany). Ferrick’s new live album “Live at Union Hall” follows eight years after her previous live album “Skinnier, Faster, Live at the B.P.C.” She’s played everywhere from Valentine’s to a freebie before a huge crowd at Empire State Plaza. Like Hamell on Trial, she’s a one-guitar rock band, also trained on other instruments at the New England Conservatory and Berklee.

Pureka recently released “Dryland,” her second album of guitar-powered folk-pop.

Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $23. Phone 465-5233 or visit

Veteran folk-blues troubadour Chris Smither plays the Linda tonight, aiming his mellow, mumbly croon at tunes from his new album “Leave the Light On.” Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $25.

Women star at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) on Saturday and Sunday — after the Wiyos and Gypsy Dave and the Stumpjumpers (both old-timey trios) play tonight at 8 p.m. Admission is $15, $12 for Caffe members. Phone 583-0022 or visit

Sarah Lee Guthrie — Arlo’s daughter, Woody’s granddaughter — and her husband-musical partner, Johnny Irion (profiled in Wednesday’s Gazette), play on Saturday at the Caffe. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $18, $15 for members.

On Sunday, veteran musical mega-traveler Rosalie Sorrells returns to the Caffe to wrap up the weekend. Born almost 70 years ago in Boise, Sorrells launched her career as a roving troubadour on a family road-trip, with her five children. She writes songs, collects songs and is often the subject of others’ songs, releasing 20 albums, publishing three books and performing everywhere from the 1966 Newport Folk Festival to many times at the Caffe. Gamble Rodgers called her the hillbilly Edith Piaf, and she has an honorary doctorate from the University of Idaho.

Show time is 7 p.m. Admission is $22, $20 for members.

Half Sorrells’ age, Neko Case — playing next Thursday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) — has made a lot of music, mainly with the New Pornographers and as a solo artist. Charismatic and independent, she is rooted in the high-intensity emotional fearlessness of Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton, but has sincere pop sophistication. She can sing rough or smooth, in an absolutely astonishing voice. Her songs drench the narrative drive of classic country in film-noir murk.

The best thing about four New Pornographers’ albums, she has released “Canadian Amp,” “The Virginian,” “Furnace Room,” “Blacklisted,” “The Tigers Have Spoken” and “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood,” with her former band the Boyfriends, under her own name or (“Tigers”) as a member of the Sadies.

“Fox” wound up on many Top 10 lists at the end of 2006, with beefy baritone guitar, stirring Gospel choruses, twangy tragedies, shimmering acoustic strums and a subtle rhythm section. Best of all: her fantastic voice and graceful songs.

Eric Bachmann opens for Case on Thursday, at 7:30 p.m. Formerly of college-rock favorites the Archers of Loaf and sometimes with Crooked Fingers, the sweet-voiced troubadour recently released his solo debut, “To the Races.” Admission is $24. Phone 473-1845 or visit


Wrapping up the three-show George Gershwin “New York Living Legacy Project” at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany), pianist Bill Charlap and his mother, singer Sandy Stewart, team up on Sunday at 7 p.m.

First, Charlap plays solo piano distillations of Gershwin tunes he recorded with his trio on “The American Soul.” Then Stewart joins him in duets, as on their “Love is Here to Stay” album. This show follows their fifth weeklong series at New York’s Rainbow Room. New York Times writer Stephen Holden observed, “Each year their collaboration deepens in intensity and insight.” Admission is $24.


Pianist Billy Childs erases the boundaries between jazz and classical through compositional ingenuity and improvisational freedom on his new album “Lyric” and onstage tonight at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy).

Guitarist Larry Koonse, harpist Carol Robbins, saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Antonio Sanchez make up his Jazz-Chamber Ensemble. Fans might recognize Childs and Sanchez: Childs plays with Chris Botti, and Sanchez played here recently with the Pat Metheny Trio.

Show time tonight is 8 p.m. Admission is $27 and $24. Phone 273-0038 or visit


“Loop Sanctuary IV: Dreaming A New Real” at the Chapel + Cultural Center (2125 Burdett Ave., Troy) wraps up tonight at 7 p.m. with ambient/experimental/mixed-media ensembles the Beige Channel, Twisted Pair and the Axe Iron Suns in an evening of music and projected visuals. Admission is free. Phone 274-7793 or visit


Saturday night’s Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy) show by the North Mississippi All Stars is an encore: They played Proctors in November with Charlie Musselwhite and Mavis Staples and were sensational. On Saturday, the All Stars headline, with a new album, “Hernando,” named for their Mississippi hometown, and with Alvin Youngblood Hart opening, at 8 p.m.

Admission is $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Phone 274-0553 or visit


Valentines hosts a benefit tonight for the Buckley family, who lost their home in a recent fire. Pirate School, Small Axe and Maggie Mayday perform, starting at 8 p.m.

Pirate School is a plugged-in version of the generally acoustic Kamikaze Hearts, playing electric instruments and full drums. Bob Buckley is the Hearts’ guitarist and brother of Eric and Karen Buckley, who lived in the house at the time of the fire but were unhurt.

Admission is $10. Phone 432-6572 or visit, or

Categories: Life and Arts

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