Late-season festivals cluster on the calendar; a glorious mess: Irish 2000 in Ballston Spa, FreshGrass bluegrass at MASSMoCA in North Adams, Jazz at the Lake on Lake George, indie-, alt- and roots rock on Pearl Street. Choices are even harder than last weekend in Schenectady where the Battle of the Bands, the Grecian Festival, the Little Italy Festival and the Stockade Art Show jumbled together.
MASSMoCA’s FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival brings big national and regional acts; Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder (after a recent stripped-down Egg show with Ry Cooder) and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver among the former; while our own Ramblin Jug Stompers are the only act to play this fest every year. Acts outside the high-lonesome tradition also play FreshGrass, notably great singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash, Irish troubadour Glen Hansard (ex-The Swell Season) and jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel. Alison Brown will play both a bluegrass set and a tribute to The Band. More than 50 acts play altogether, from 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Full festival: $99 adults, $89 students, $46 children and teens. Friday: $39 adults $60 Saturday or Sunday; less for students, children and teens. www.freshgrass.com
Jazz at the Lake
Jazz at the Lake is free, in Shepard Park on Lake George; three acts starting at 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with a 7:30 p.m. Saturday set by the Diva Jazz Orchestra.
1 p.m. — The Brubeck Brothers, two sons of Dave make music both more modern and less radical than their dad’s: Chris Brubeck, bass and trombone, Dan Brubeck, drums; Mike DeMicco, guitar, and Chuck Lamb, piano.
2:45 p.m. — Charenee Wade sings the incendiary political pre-rap songs of Gil Scott-Heron.
4:30 p.m. — Pianist Lao Tizer’s quartet, co-starring violinist Karen Briggs, plays 1970s-style fusion.
7:30 p.m. — All women 17-piece Diva Jazz Orchestra, led by drummer Sherrie Maricle, plays modern big-band sounds.
1 p.m. — Columbian harpist Edmar Castaneda, a smash at SPAC’s short-lived Spa Little Theater jazz series and the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, leads his trio: David Silliman, drums; Marshall Gilkes, trombone. Castaneda plays basslines and melody at once, brilliantly, ala Charlie Hunter.
2:45 p.m. — The Gary McFarland Legacy Ensemble featuring Dick Oatts, alto sax, and led by local hero Michael Benedict, pays tribute to the late composer Gary McFarland.
4:30 p.m. — Composer/pianist Amina Figarova leads a sextet of orchestral ambition and complexity. Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, she mourned victims of the 9/11 attacks in “September Suite.” www.lakegeorgearts.org/lakegeorge-jazz.htm
Also free, and as urban as Jazz at the Lake is lake-side scenic, Pearlpalooza presents six bands on two stages bookending blocked off Pearl Street in downtown Albany from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. Headlining is Galactic, formed in 1994 and immediately a major funk force in their native New Orleans, playing everything from cozy traditional jazz to booming bounce. Drummer Stanton Moore may be the most visible member of this elastic-sized band, playing with almost anyone who comes in range; but it’s a two-way street: Galactic also hosts guest artists from many styles including Brazilian samba on recent recordings, also Macy Gray, Mavis Staples and Crescent City high school bands. Also playing: LA rockers Warpaint, Rochester-based Maybird, Bassh — comprising members of Band of Horses and Matrimony — the young-and-promising jangly Greeting Committee from Kansas City, and the Rechorduroys, a fresh power-popping crew of indie-rock veterans from Troy. www.weqx/pearlpalooza-2016/
Clubs along Pearl Street and beyond will present evening after-parties once Pearlpalooza wraps and the street opens again.
Skolnick at Van Dyck
Cool Friday night club shows often seem to preface big music weekends. This Friday, before a fest-rich weekend, guitarist Alex Skolnick brings his trio to the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady). Best known as master shredder in thrash-metal mob Testament, Skolnick is as inspired by hyper-agile jazz guitarists Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass as by metal monsters Tommy Iommi or Randy Rhoads. With drummer Matt Zebroski and bassist Nathan Peck, Skolnick will re-imagine jazz tunes as metal mashups and vice versa. 8 p.m. $15 advance, $19 door. 348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]
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