Jukebox: Live from Albany! It’s Blues Traveler and The Schmooze

In addition to the 11 Alive at Five shows at the Riverfront Amphitheatre (kicking off with Blues Tra

Coldplay postponed its show last week at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, so the outdoor concert season starts tonight with the first big summer show as Blues Traveler launches Albany’s 20th Alive at Five season. (See Brian McElhiney’s profile on page D3.)

In addition to the 11 Alive at Five shows at the Riverfront Amphitheatre (rain site: the Corning Preserve Boat Launch under I-787), Pearl Street Live also starts tonight: free outdoor shows after all free outdoor Alive at Five shows. Tonight, from 8 to 11 p.m., it’s The Schmooze.

Pearl Street Live is on Pearl Street in front of Jillian’s, a block from where Richie Havens launched the Alive at Five series years ago. When traffic problems forced a move, Alive at Five relocated to Broadway, then to the Riverfront Amphitheatre. Wherever, Alive at Five is usually a lively scene. It crescendos this season with a spectacular funk blast of Tower of Power (July 30) and the Neville Brothers (Aug. 6), with the reggae-rocking Wailers (Aug. 13) as the coda.

Alchemy in Woodstock

Something new also starts this week: the Alchemy café, gallery and bookstore (297 Tinker St., Bearsville, next to Woodstock). Super music-manager Albert Grossman (Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, the Band, many more) once owned the building, like almost everything else in Bearsville.

Stephanie Izarek and Nick Martin reopen 297 Tinker tonight with a show by Woodstock-area players Marc Black and Mike Esposito. Show time is 9 p.m. and admission is $10. Phone 845-684-5068.

After tonight’s practice run (and Friday’s “comedy and prose in fabulous shoes” gig by Kimberley Kay of Star 93.3, starting at 7 p.m.), the grand opening on Saturday pairs rocking pianists Commander Cody and Professor Louie. Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $15. Paintings by Commander Cody will be up (and for sale) in the gallery.

The new venue’s promising summer schedule includes the Bowmans, the Kennedys, Naked, the Ramblin Jug Stompers, Uncle Monk (featuring Tommy Ramone), Happy Traum, Tracy Bonham and many more.

The place has vibes aplenty. It’s near the Bearsville Theatre, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Studios (now WDST’s studios), and the headquarters of Bearsville Records.

Grossman offered refuge to many in the houses he owned there, so at a Bearsville Records picnic (lobster, from the Bear Café), I got to meet Al Aronowitz, one of Albert’s longtime guests, and thank him for inventing this job when he wrote for the New York Post. Aronowitz introduced Bob Dylan to the Beatles and interviewed everybody important in his era. Many of his stories are at http://www.bigmagic.com/pages/blackj/ — but it’s a circuitous trip.

Who’s on first?

The day this column previewed Bruce Springsteen (at the Times Union Center on May 14) and David Bromberg (the next night, at The Egg), reader Rick Kincaid (who planned to drive from Rochester to meet his grown kids from NYC at the Springsteen show) e-mailed me a poster from Paul’s Mall, the Boston club upstairs from the fabled Jazz Workshop. Like my column, the poster (from October 1973) also featured Springsteen and Bromberg, but Bromberg was the headliner and Springsteen the opener!

Those clubs presented cool music, including my last-ever Miles Davis show. (Miles didn’t see much of us: He played most of the show with his back turned.) When guitarist Larry Coryell left the bandstand after a gig with his own band that hadn’t worked, he sat down at a front table with a couple who might have been Chick Corea’s parents — at least, a fan at a neighboring table said that’s who they were.

Coryell shook his head and said, “I should never have left Gary Burton” with bitter candor. My Gazette colleague Tim Coakley saw Jimmy McGriff there, and T-Bone Walker, among others.

After another Paul’s Mall show, my friend Ricardo Smith, raised on Strong Street in Schenectady and a veteran of many gigs at Billy’s Hotel, the El-Jor Grill, the Castle Club and every other bar here, was heading back on a foggy night to where he and I were staying with the marvelous Marr twins.

As he walked down Boylston Street, he saw a beam of red light slice through the sky and hit a young guy, then vanish. The guy staggered, clutched his chest and fell hard to the sidewalk as passers-by froze, aghast. Almost immediately, a car screeched to a halt beside him and the distraught passengers jumped out, gestured and yelled in dismay, grabbed the limp victim of the mysterious red death-ray from space, tossed him into the back seat and sped away.

Ricardo had noted the building below where the ray seemed to have originated, though. He walked in and upstairs to the top floor and opened the door. There he found a darkened roomful of Berklee College of Music students (of course), laughing and getting ready to fire their laser out the window again, at another friend planted below as the target and with another carful of “rescuers” ready to remove the evidence.

Out of control reunion

A few years after that, some members of the Out of Control Ski Club formed a band for club parties: the Out of Control Rhythm and Blues Band. They practiced in singer/drummer Rick Siciliano’s Albany Street photo studio, then took the local club and festival scene by storm, playing everywhere, all the time.

Players came and went: 27 years later, no originals remain. However, at saxophonist Joe “Box” Dragone’s birthday party last year, the 1998 version of this long-lived, horn-powered band decided to play a few shows together.

Their next reunion gig is Friday at Trick Shot Billiards (1602 Route 9, Clifton Park) at 9:30 p.m. Admission is $5. Phone 383-8771.

Very Vedder

Eddie Vedder’s shows at the Palace Theater on Monday and Tuesday are sold out, but imagine how fast tickets would vanish if this were a reunion show, of the first time Vedder played here.

On Feb. 9, 1991, Vedder’s band Pearl Jam played the RPI Fieldhouse with Public Enemy and Neil Young and Crazy Horse, a thrilling, multifaceted, powerful show.

Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]

Categories: Life and Arts

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