Life is “back to normal” after the holiday, and there’s extra cool music, in both quantity and quality, with many freebies. In honor of ailing/recovering jazz-pop giant Joni Mitchell, let’s dub these shows “Playing Real Good for Free.”
Today at noon, drummer Michael Benedict’s all-star Bopitude (Chris Pasin, trumpet; Brian Patneaude, tenor sax; David Gleason, piano and Lou Smaldone, bass) play Jazz on Jay — maybe the most relaxed concert series, street scene and downtown hang in the area. Rain site: Robb Alley at Proctors (432 State St.). www.proctors.org.
Bopitude also plays next Wednesday at Made in the Shade of the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Also at noon; also free. www.theegg.org
Tonight the Yonder Mountain String Band (Ben Kaufmann, bass; Dave Johnston, banjo; Adam Aijala, guitar; Allie Kral, fiddle; and Jake Joliff, mandolin) headlines at Alive at Five at Jennings Landing (Corning Preserve, Albany).
YMSB has released 11 studio and live albums, so they have plenty of songs. The Blind Owl Band opens. Like the Colorado-based YMSB, BOB are mountain folk, from the Adirondacks (Arthur Buezo, guitar; Christian Cardiello, bass; James Ford, banjo; and Eric Munley, mandolin). Free, 5 p.m. Rain site: Corning Preserve boat launch under I-787. 434-2032 www.albanyevents.org
On Friday, New York Yankees Hall of Famer and jazz guitar star Bernie Williams headlines Schenectady County SummerNight, on State and Jay streets. (see Jeff Wilkin’s story, page 3.) 5 p.m. Free. 388-4355. www.schenectadycounty.com
Also Friday, Local 518 troubadour-supreme Bryan Thomas plays on the roof at Skidmore’s Tang Teaching Museum (N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). On eight albums since 1997, Niskayuna native Thomas compellingly mixes the personal and the political, aiming tremendous craft and intellect at his own huge heart. 7 p.m. Free. www.tang.skidmore.edu. Rain site: inside the Tang
After the holiday weekend off, Music Haven (Central Park, Schenectady) resumes on Sunday with two brass-equipped big bands: Red Baraat, and the Hot Tamale Brass Band. Imagine a New Orleans-style parade crew marching to New Delhi and arriving in Brooklyn: That’s Red Baraat, perfectly exemplifying this series’ agenda to “travel the world, one concert at a time.” The Hot Tamale Brass Band hails from Boston but aims its riffs right at the New Orleans tradition. 7 p.m. Free. Rain site: Proctors (where Novalima totally tore it up two weeks ago). www.musichavenstage.org
On Friday, world-jazz composer/pianist Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius brings her rhythm-emphasizing band Heard to Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) to play music of her previous elegant chamber-jazz ensemble Jupiter Circle, whose songs have a rare melodic eloquence.
Heard is Kasius, keyboards; Jonathan Greene, woodwinds; Bobby Kendall, bass; Brian Melick, percussion; Michael Emery, violin; and Dan Vidali, cello;. 8 p.m. $16 advance, $18 door, $9 children and students — for all three shows listed here. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org
On Saturday, former Saratogians Don Armstrong (now in Arizona) and Tom Mitchell (now in Nashville) return and reunite. They’ve made music together and separately for decades, and this reunion promises the deep fun of old pals at play. Mitchell also once ran Hambone Music near the Caffe, while Armstrong and his late wife Victoria Garvey lived a few blocks away and often played their then hometown. 8 p.m.
On Sunday, Minnesota troubadour Charlie Parr closes out the weekend. Parr is more than a young artist with a venerable style because his songs have right-now meaning that his hearty vocals and skilled string-things playing project powerfully. His debut album “Stumpjumper” is his first on respected national folk label Red House. 7 p.m.
Bassist Stu Hamm made his reputation backing hot guitarists Steve Vai and Joe Satriani; and he brings one on Saturday to the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady): Alex Skolnick of Testament. The Stu Hamm Band also features drummer Joel Taylor who played with Al Di Meola at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival.
Hamm’s new album “Book of Lies” spans Afrobeat to metal-classical. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $18 advance, $22 door. 348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]