Categories: Life & Arts
All music is folk music in the joke-y sense that folks make all of it. Different strokes for different folks, as Sly Stone sang. So, even within the homey campfire circle of acoustic music that most think of as folk, there are many sounds and subsets of the troubadour style — combining, blurring and dividing.
The best-known folk musician playing here in the coming week is Shawn Colvin, performing on Saturday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Colvin has recorded with Buddy and Julie Miller, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzanne Vega, Lisa Loeb and others. And she has acted on the “Larry Sanders Show,” several “Simpsons” episodes and in the film “50 First Dates.”
She has lent her gorgeous voice on tribute albums to other artists, including Fleetwood Mac, Judy Collins and Richard Thompson. She also has recorded an album of cover songs, “Cover Girl,” and recently recorded a cover of “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. She’s at her very impressive best, however, when singing her own songs.
Show time for Shawn Colvin on Saturday at The Egg is 8 p.m. when Jeffrey Gaines opens. Tickets are $34.50. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
White at MASS MoCA
Southern Gothic singer Jim White first hit these ears on an Oxford American magazine music edition sampler CD singing in the novelist Cormac McCarthy manner about well-deserved vengeance murder. He sings on Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Alt Cabaret in Club B-10 at MASS MoCA (1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, Mass.)
Escaping a backwoods Pentecostal background into an itinerant life as boxer, cabbie, fashion model, comic and surfer, White seems to carry the apocalypse in his guitar case, writing and singing strong stuff indeed.
His new live EP, “A Funny Little Cross to Bear,” includes “Jim 3:16” in which he sings “a bar is just a church where they serve beer” and makes it sound like a comfortable joint — for a minute, before vengeful religion shows up to spoil the fun.
Tickets are $14 today and $18 on Saturday. Phone 413-662-2111 or visit www.massmoca.org.
Railbird at Egg
Railbird (formerly the Sarah Pedinotti Band) returns to The Egg tonight, where she sold out the venue last year. She has played jazz clubs for years and the Freihofer’s Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and Albany’s Riverfront Jazz Festival. But she proved her folk credentials in the Eighth Step’s wonderful Jackie Alper tribute last year, holding her own on a bill stacked with stars: Bernice Johnson Reagon of Sweet Honey in the Rock, Magpie, Annie and the Hedonists, Addie and Olin and more.
Railbird is Pedinotti singing and playing guitar with bassist Tony Markellis (recently with the Trey Anastasio Band at the Palace), guitarist Chris Kyle and drummer Chris Carey, performing songs from her recent “Citybird” release and other albums.
Songwriter Phil Roy opens at 8 p.m. Roy has written hits for Aaron Neville, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Wyclef Jean and others and just released his own album, “The Great Longing.” Tickets are $25.
Caffe Lena shows
The Woods Tea Co. survived the deaths of fiddler Chip Chase in 2006 and founder Rusty Chase in 2007 to continue making music by bringing in singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patti Casey.
The Woods Tea Co. plays Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) at 8 tonight. Tickets are $18. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.
On Saturday, Katherine Rhoda arrives at Caffe Lena from her trailer in the Maine woods with such odd instruments as violin-guitar, Marxophone, Lithuanian kankles for an 8 p.m. show. Her music issues from deep in the woods, beautifully echoing several stringed-instrument traditions. Tickets are $14.
Jo Henley at Skidmore
Also on Saturday, and not far from the Caffe, the Boston-based folk-Americana band Jo Henley returns to play at Skidmore College in a free 8 p.m. show at the Spa in the lower level of Case Center.
Schenectady High School grad Andy Campolieto, who co-founded the band in Ithaca with guitarist Ben Lee, says pedal steel player George Schacher (Aged in the Hills) will guest with them, although bassist Tony Markellis, who plays on their albums, won’t be on the gig. Phone 580-5000.
Folk for young, old
Troubadour Tom Chapin sings equally well for children and grownups — that is, without condescension. On Saturday, he’ll sing a family show at 3 p.m. at The Egg.
He has said his music “comes from a tradition of real songs for real people; for everyone, old, young, and in between.” Tickets are $15, $12 for seniors and $10 for children.
Jacobs-Strain at Lena
A precocious young master of country blues, the old-timey species of usually acoustic blues that’s closest to folk music, 24-year-old slide guitarist David Jacobs-Strain plays at Caffe Lena on Sunday.
Jacobs-Strain incorporates contemporary accents within this venerable style, making such a versatile artist that he regularly plays folk, blues and jazz festivals alike, rocking all of them. His new album “Liar’s Day” features producer/bassist Kenny Passarelli and drummer Joe Vitale, Joe Walsh’s 1970s rhythm section.
Troubadour Seth Glier opens at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14.
McMurtry on top
James McMurtry hails from the rock side of the folk-rock street: tough, topical troubadour stuff, with a big beat, snarling guitars and words that would make Woody Guthrie, Warren Zevon and Randy Newman proud.
His ninth album “Just Us Kids” may be his best, jumping onto four different Billboard charts at once while topping the Radio & Records Americana chart for six weeks in a row. The title track mourns the aging of the boomers while “God Bless America (Pat McDonald Must Die)” and “Cheney’s Toy” prove that Texans are best qualified to condemn George Bush.
Other songs spotlight the desperation of the times in populist, and rocking, terms. His Katrina song could have come from the bar White sang about, a church where they serve beer.
James McMurtry plays at The Egg on Thursday with the Dedringers, who are also from Austin, opening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.