Adrian Belew, The Ventures will display guitar virtuosity

Guitar heroes will burn up the frets here during the coming week: the Adrian Belew Power Trio on Sun

Guitar heroes will burn up the frets here during the coming week: the Adrian Belew Power Trio on Sunday at Revolution Hall and the Ventures free at Alive at Five on Thursday.

Playing a club may seem strange for Belew, known for arena-sized gigs with high-concept giants such as Frank Zappa, the Talking Heads, David Bowie and King Crimson. However, Zappa discovered Belew in the late 1970s “making good [Fender] Stratocaster [electric guitar] noises” in a Cincinnati bar, as Zappa later recalled. Belew brought those noises to Saratoga Performing Arts Center with the expanded Talking Heads a few years later, on the “Stop Making Sense/Big Suit” tour and its less theatrical predecessor the previous summer, finding himself right at home amid a formidable funk jangle.

When I spoke with Belew just before he returned to SPAC on David Bowie’s 1990 “Sound + Vision Tour,” he said learning to play Bowie’s music only took a few days but rehearsals to micro-synchronize the music with images on the huge video screen behind him took weeks, the most creative onstage video I’d seen since a mid-1970s Lou Reed show at Albany’s Palace Theatre with 48 screens walled behind him.

When Belew returned to SPAC on the 1996 H.O.R.D.E tour with King Crimson, a scheduling mix-up put them onstage so early that some super-avid fans from Syracuse that I met at the show wanted to burn the place down in frustration, having missed them by hours. I didn’t tell them that this was the greatest King Crimson set I’d ever seen; they seemed unhappy enough already.

Belew has since contributed guitar electro-impressionism to albums and tours by artists from Paul Simon to Laurie Anderson, Ruichi Sakamoto, Nine Inch Nails, Crash Test Dummies, Tori Amos, Cindy Lauper and even William Shatner. He has led his own bands between superstar gigs, and this tour marks a return to the simplicity of “making good Stratocaster noises” in bars. His new trio features twentysomethings drummer Eric Slick (of the Zappa tribute band Project/Object) and bassist Julie Slick.

Show time for the Adrian Belew Power Trio is 7 p.m. Sunday at Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy). Chris O’Connor opens. Admission is $22 in advance and $25 on Sunday. Phone 274-0553 or visit

Every guitarist around pilgrimaged to JB Scott’s when the Ventures played there in the late 1970s. Even at the peak of punk, these guitar heroes of instrumental pop packed big respect. In fact, they reportedly outsell the Beatles in Japan: No language barrier for a band that doesn’t sing.

They played what later became known as surf-rock before there was such a thing, pioneered distortion, reverse-tracking, flanging and other electronic tricks, and haven’t changed their style since 1958.

They headline at Alive at Five on Thursday, a free show at Albany’s Riverfront Amphitheater. The compatibly twangy Rocky Velvet opens. The rain site for Alive at Five shows is the Corning Preserve boat launch under I-787. For more info, visit


Music, lobsters, micro-brews — what’s not to like about LobsterPalooza on Saturday in Albany’s Washington Park?

This free admission rain-or-shine event starts with tabloid-pop singer Ryan Cabrera at 1 p.m. The Jim Weider Band follows at 2 p.m. featuring the guitarist who replaced Robbie Robertson when The Band reformed. The Lee Boys, a fantastic Florida-based “sacred steel” band of brothers and cousins who tore it up at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival play at 3 p.m. Americana-style singer and bassist Amy LaVere goes on at 4 p.m. The reunited Ominous Seapods jam at 5 p.m. Meanwhile, The Tallest Man on Earth (roots-folk moniker of average-height Swede Kristian Mattson) plays between sets and the Ramblin’ Jug Stompers stomp and ramble in the brew tent, where there will be jugs a-plenty.

Music is free, but admission to the Microbrew Festival from 2 to 6 p.m. is $25. Dinner is from 1 to 6 p.m., with steak and lobster or both. Phone 867-1000 or visit for food pricing and other information.


Both LaVere and The Tallest Man on Earth have a busy weekend: They also play the Roots Rock Weekend at the Parting Glass (40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs).

LaVere, and Happy Balky & the Good Livin’, play tonight at 8. The Tallest Man on Earth and Knotworking, play on Saturday at 8 p.m. Admission is $18 tonight and $10 on Saturday. Phone 583-1916 or visit for more information or reservations.


Mallory O’Donnell records her new album — the much-anticipated follow up to 2006’s terrific “Joy” — later this month. So tonight’s Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) show offers the chance to hear the new songs even before they’re committed to disc. Musical partner/producer/main songwriter Bob Warren describes the new tunes this way:

“But I Do It Anyway” — a funky soul groove about a hopeless, one-sided relationship.

“Put Your Trust in Me” — a soul ballad begging for trust.

“One of these Days” — a breezy, Latin-esque declaration of independence.

“I’m Gonna Hate Myself When the Morning Comes” — a smoldering minor key groove.

“Put a Little Love In It” — infectious dance beat recalling Archie Bell and the Drells’ “Tighten Up” and Warren’s Staten Island childhood.

“Nobody Knows” — a romantic tune O’Donnell co-wrote with her fiancé.

“Bye Bye, Baby” — an Aretha-like uptempo rocker.

“With You” — raw piano, bass and drums with a sweet vocal.

Onstage tonight, O’Donnell will sing these new tunes, and faves from “Joy,” with her usual (great) band: guitarists Bob and Don Warren, bassist Tony Markellis (who co-produced “Joy”), drummer Danny Whelchel, cellist Monica Roach and pianist Michael Roach.

Show time is 6 p.m. Admission is $15, $12 for Caffe members. Phone 583-0022 or visit

Categories: Life and Arts

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