Roots Music Fest offers a tasty batch of bands

Less than a buck a band: That’s all the Roots Music Festival costs tonight at Red Square (338 Broadw
Local mandolinist and singer Matthew Loiacono will celebrate the release of his solo CD “Kentucky†with a gig this Saturday at the Amrose + Sable Gallery in Albany.
Local mandolinist and singer Matthew Loiacono will celebrate the release of his solo CD “Kentucky†with a gig this Saturday at the Amrose + Sable Gallery in Albany.

Less than a buck a band: That’s all the Roots Music Festival costs tonight at Red Square (338 Broadway, Albany). Good bands, too; some of our finest area performers.

During happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. the program features blues singer Courtney Blackwell, spirituals by the Gospel Train, and Dana Monteith singing alt-country.

From 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., it’s Happy Balky and the Good Livin’ playing rural pop, the Ramblin’ Jug Stompers with old-time tunes, the gospel grandeur of the Mont Pleasant Baptist Gospel Choir, bluegrass from Mark Jones and Friends, the Red-Headed Strangers doing country blues, rockabilly by Rocky Velvet, alternative folk from Platypus, and alt-country from the Sidewinders.

Admission is $10, and proceeds benefit the JC Club, a “feeding center” serving meals to inner city children. Phone 432-8584 or visit


Matthew Loiacono cut loose from the Kamikaze Hearts to record his solo album “Kentucky,” apparently all by himself, but he brings some friends to celebrate its release on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Amrose + Sable Gallery (306 Hudson Ave., Albany).

Loiacono actually “released” the album via free download in his “Why Kentucky?” contest in which listeners competed over the past few weeks for a $50 prize by guessing why he named the album for the Bluegrass State.

Bonus: The “most awesome incorrect” answer also gets rewarded. Clue: It’s not because the album is bluegrass, although Loiacono’s mandolin dominates instrumentally, and not just in the cozy chamber-country instrumental “Twelve (For Smoke Detectors).”

He stacks his voice up like a sweet sonic layer cake in the sumptuous “Vaults & Crowns” and “Inside My Grin.” On the closing “Through the Night,” the voice is as desolate at first as the droning mumble of Richard Bucker (for whom the Kamikaze Hearts opened at WAMC and stole the show.)

On Saturday at Amrose + Sable, Loiacono has help at the mike: singers Frank Moscowitz, Martha Kronholm and Olivia Karis-Nix; but the only instrument onstage will be his mandolin. Other instruments help build the album’s sparse, rustic ambience, mainly boomy or clattery percussion and noisy electric guitars. The songs are welcoming and well-made, plain as a corncob or murky as R.E.M.’s idea of country. The only thing wrong with it is that it’s too short; it makes you want more.

Saturday’s show is a dual CD release party with We Are Jeneric, celebrating their “In the Parlor With the Moon” album. Swamp Baby also performs. Admission is $5. Phone 607-437-6877.

Close to home

The Catskills-based Felice Brothers have been touring with Sun Volt, the Drive By Truckers, the North Mississippi All Stars, Justin Townes Earle and Man Man. Before flying off to tour Europe, they will play close to home, on Saturday at the Bearsville Theater (291 Tinker St., Woodstock).

Rootsy enough to play Red Square’s Roots Music Festival or open for Loiacono, they have a new self-named album and big things ahead. They play the Mountain Jam and Bonnaroo festivals in June.

Doors open at 8 p.m., show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $15. Phone 845-679-4406.

Other local notables head to Woodstock this weekend: Grainbelt’s Howe Glassman and Jason Hughes open for former Jayhawks songwriter/co-leader Mark Olson on Sunday at the Colony Café. Also performing is Sean Schenker of the Trapps. Show time is 7 p.m. Admission is $15. Phone 845-679-5342.


Brooks Williams is entitled to sing “Statesboro Blues.” He hails from Statesboro, Ga., though he lives now in Massachusetts. On Saturday, he presents his “Festival of Guitars” at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs).

Co-starring Dakota Dave Hull and Ken Bonfield, this fret-fest includes afternoon workshops — Williams at 1 p.m., Bonfield at 2:30 p.m. and Hull at 4 p.m. — and an 8 p.m. show together.

Williams just released his 16th album, “The Time I Spend with You,” a romantic blues collection with nimble small-band arrangements, sizzling solos, yearning and triumph. Yes, “Statesboro Blues” is on it.

Admission is $20 for each workshop, $18 for the show.

Williamson at 8th Step

Cris Williamson was indie before there was such a thing, and she arrives at the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theater (432 State St., Schenectady) on Saturday with her pioneering spirit and skills intact. In fact, her new album “Fringe,” mainly about western women, may be her finest since 1973’s “The Changer and the Changed,” a milestone in independently released albums.

Bonnie Raitt says Williams’ voice is “like honey on a cello.” Born in Deadwood, S. D., Williams exemplifies independence, activism and fearless clarity of expression. Vicki Randle, first woman member of the Tonight Show Band, opens at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $25.


Long-distance award for bands playing here this week goes to Pepper, from Hawaii, playing sun-tanned surf-reggae on Tuesday at Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy).

Four-time picks for the Vans Warped Tour, the band will introduce new songs from “Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations,” its fifth album. Red Eye Empire and Iration also perform.

Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $16. Phone 274-0553 or visit

musicians’ future

The Future of Music Coalition and the American Federation of Musicians (Albany local 14) presents “What’s the Future For Musicians?” on Wednesday at the Clarion Hotel in Albany from 3 to 8:30 p.m.

Admission is free for these workshops, seminars and breakout sessions with experts in performance, production, legal and business matters. Among the presenters is Paul Rapp, Albany Law professor, entertainment attorney and drummer with Blotto; holding forth on Legal and Business Considerations of Being in a Band alongside Pete Donnelly, bassist and singer with the Figgs and the Terry Adams Rock ’n’ Roll Quartet.

To register, phone 489-5122.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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