Texan singer-songwriter James McMurtry — the son of Larry and, not surprisingly, a novelistic tunesmith of dauntless phrasemaking, honed descriptive skills and deep emotional insight — headlines at The Egg (Empire State Plaza) tonight with the rootsy, earthy southern-rocking Bottle Rockets opening.
McMurtry would be hailed as a songwriting great even if he never penned anything besides “Choctaw Bingo” (a favorite live tune of Ray Wylie Hubbard) or his political broadsides “We Can’t Make it Here” and “Cheney’s Toy.” John Mellencamp produced the first of McMurtry’s 11 albums, “Too Long in the Wasteland,” in 1989; his 12th is due this year.
At home in Austin, McMurtry and the Heartless Bastards follow Jon Dee Graham in a midnight set every Wednesday at the Continental Club. Like Graham and his sometime employer Alejandro Escovedo, McMurtry doesn’t play here enough.
Neither do the Bottle Rockets, hard-country hillbillies from St. Louis. They helped launch the 1990s Americana wave with contemporaries Uncle Tupelo and could hold their own alongside them, or the Drive By Truckers.
Unashamedly twangy, raucous as a truck with a bad muffler, they call themselves “reporters from the heartland” writing songs about their friends. Their 11 albums include a tribute to Doug Sahm and a live CD and DVD set, “Live in Heilbronn, Germany.”
They recently toured with Marshall Crenshaw and played Steve Earle’s “Hardcore Troubadour” Sirius XM outlaw country show.
Show time for James McMurtry and the Bottle Rockets is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $28. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
Tuck & Patti (guitarist Tuck Andress and singer Patti Cathcart) launch an impressive string of guitar showcases tonight at the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) at 8 p.m.
Musical partners since 1981, married since 1983, the two have released 14 albums since their 1988 debut. Most hit the contemporary jazz charts. Singer-songwriter-guitarist Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) is Andress’s niece and has served as both roadie and opener for Tuck & Patti.
Admission is $18, advance; $22 at the door. 348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com.
David Lindley takes over the Van Dyck for two shows on Friday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. Lindley has proven for 40 years he can play anything with strings, first with the pioneering world-music combo Kaleidoscope, then with Jackson Browne for decades — all while playing more sessions than anybody in or outside of Nashville.
On his own, he’s led the raucous rock band El Rayo-X and recorded and toured in smaller units. He returns to the Van Dyck playing solo on more instruments than most of us can identify. He’ll briefly tell us what’s what, but his gigs are way more fun than ethno-musicalogical/educational.
C’mon, what ethnomusicologist would dress like him? His wardrobe is louder than his amps, his voice is a helium blast way up there, his muttonchops swing like Spanish moss along the bayou.
Admission is $20, advance; $24 at the door.
Mountain Jam today through Sunday at Hunter Mountain is a big-time guitar showcase because founder Warren Haynes plays there with both the Allman Brothers Band, in their farewell swing, and with Gov’t Mule.
In addition to the Allmans and the Mule, Mountain Jam features Bob Weir and Ratdog, the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco), the Dark Star Orchestra, Umphrey’s McGee, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, our own Sean Rowe, Pretty Lights, Lucius, and 24 more.
Tickets range from $69 today only, without camping, to all four days, with camping at $289. www.mountainjam.com.
Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band features two top guitarists on Tuesday at Albany’s Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave. at N. Pearl St., Albany) — just 25 days before his Beatles band-mate Paul McCartney plays the Times Union Center.
Ringo’s crew deserves its all-star label: It boasts guitarists Steve Lukather (Toto, and a million sessions with everybody in LA) and Todd Rundgren (the Nazz, Runt, Utopia), keyboardist Gregg Rollie (Santana, Journey), bassist Richard Page (Mr. Mister) and drummer Gregg Bissonette (Maynard Ferguson, Toto, Santana and many more).
Expect Beatles songs, plus Ringo solo-album songs and tracks by some of the All Starrs. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $152, $102, $82 and $62. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.com.
No Outlet plays the Mouzon House (1 York St., Saratoga Springs) on Friday at 7 p.m., part of a series I wish I’d mentioned sooner, curated by and mostly starring bassist Tony Markellis, one of my favorite musicians of all time. There’s a farm-to-table menu and spicy music from a trio (Markellis, dobro player Kevin Maul and drummer Dale Haskell) playing everything from Thelonious Monk to Little Jimmy Dickens.
Also Friday, Northampton folkies Heather Maloney and Darlingside team up at Caffe Lena, celebrating their first collaboration on record after touring the Midwest together last fall. $18, advance; $20 door. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org.
The Caffe’s can’t-miss weekend continues with the extra-fine local jazz-folk duo Bob Warren (guitar) and Joy MacKenzie (voice) on Saturday. 8 p.m.; $16, advance; $18 door). Veteran troubadour Rod MacDonald flies solo on Sunday. 7 p.m. $15, advance; $17 door.
Saturday at The Egg, drummer Michael Benedict presents Bopitude Baritone Madness, bolstering his Bopitude rhythm section with baritone sax blasters Gary Smulyan, Bruce Johnstone and Claire Daly. Downbeat jazz mag declared Benedict’s album “Five and One” one of the best jazz CDs of 2013. 7:30 p.m. $25.
Wednesday at The Egg, singer-songwriter Patty Griffin introduces new songs from “American Kid” and plumbs her much-admired catalog of songs tailored for her wonderful voice. Parker Milsap opens. 7:30 p.m. $35.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]