Longtime political-folk faves Emma’s Revolution, singer-songwriters Pat Humphries and Sandy O, wrap the Eighth Step’s 49th season Friday at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). They add keyboardist John R. Burr (Maria Muldaur’s band, the Alison Brown Quartet) and drummer David Rokeach (Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Rita Moreno) for the urgent insurgent message on their (fourth) “Revolution Now” album and at the Eighth Step on Friday.
They played the Unauguration Concert near Washington, premiering their broadside “Vote (The Trump Rewrite),” and won’t lack for material. 7:30 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $50 front and center. 434-1703 www.8thstep.org
Patron saint of feminist folk with an LGBT lean, Cris Williamson returns tonight to Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). Since “The Changer and the Changed” (1975), Williamson has inspired multitudes, offering a megaphone for other troubadours through her Olivia Records womyn’s music label and the compelling example of her own deep-truth music. 7 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $2.50 students and children. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org
Singer-songwriter Shannon McNally made “Black Irish,” a folk-soul masterpiece, out of big trouble: “a miserable divorce,” she says, moving to Mississippi to ease her mother’s death and single motherhood. Produced by Rodney
Crowell, it’s very tasty lemonade pressed from strong lemons, one of the year’s best albums. On Friday, McNally plays the Caffe, with accompanist Brett Hughes. 8 p.m. $16 advance, $18 door, $9 students and children.
Saturday at the Caffe, a tremendous two-fer: “Sisters of Slide” — local heroes Rory Block (Chatham) and Cindy Cashdollar (Woodstock). A one-woman blues machine, Block plays, writes and sings at the top level, while Cashdollar has worked mainly as accompanist to Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams and Van Morrison, and won five Grammys with Asleep at the Wheel. $35 advance, $40 door, $20 students and children.
Girl Blue (Albany singer-songwriter Arielle O’Keefe) takes over the Caffe on Sunday. She calls her new release “I Am Not a Star”; the title is clearly wrong. 7 p.m. $14 advance, $16 door, $8 students and children.
Blues guitarist and singer Ana Popovic plays Tuesday at the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.). Belgrade-born, Los Angeles-based, she was the only woman aboard the Experience Hendrix Tour 2016 and recently released a triple album “Trilogy,” her 10th. 8 p.m. $37, $32, $27. 465-4663 www.palacealbany.org
Singer, songwriter, fiddler Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek leads her own band Wednesday at The Egg, playing bluegrass, country, pop and folk from her album “Young in All the Wrong Ways.” Similarly versatile Mike & Ruthy open. 7:30 p.m. $29.50. 473-1845 www.theegg.org
E Street Band bassist Garry Tallent and folk veteran Tom Paxton both brought Nashville cats here: Tallent last Tuesday at the Hangar and Paxton last Friday at the Eighth Step.
Rensselaer native guitarist Eddie Angel (Los Straitjackets) fired up instrumentals “Rampage,” “Telstar” and “Apache,” the latter two unrehearsed impromptus as fiddler, accordionist, acoustic and slide guitarist Fats Kaplin replaced Tallent’s broken string offstage. On these wild romps, they nailed tricky upshifts and turnarounds perfectly. Angel also led Tallent’s hand-picked band, which ably echoed the fresh 1950s exuberance of Chuck Berry, Sonny Burgess, Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly and the Collins Kids tunes that Tallent either played straight-up or used as inspirations for the neo-antiques on his “Break Time” album.
Keyboardist Kevin McKendree tore up “Gone Awry,” Kristi Rose sang “Rock Boppin’ Baby” and her other solo spots over the moon and harmonized right in the pocket, Kaplin’s decorations made every song better, Mark W. Winchester dragged his bass to the mic for “Hillbilly Train” and drummer Jimmy Lester was relentless in the best way. After weeks on the road, they were tight as Angel’s e-string.
Tallent locked his guitar to Angel’s, sang well — especially in Buddy Holly’s “Cryin’, Waitin’, Hopin’ ” — and smiled his way through the show as his band rocked, reeled, surged and stomped.
The awed crowd included Blotto guys (Greg Haymes/Sarge Blotto played with Angel in the Star Spangled Washboard Band), singer Johnny Rabb, who plays with Angel in the Neanderthals, and many other musicians: all knocked out by the show’s depth, uplift and pacing. How fun to see such experienced rockers enjoying each other.
Paxton’s songs have held up well but, a somewhat mannered singer whose finger-picking still seems effortless, he’s wisely teamed with fellow singer-songwriters Don Henry and Jon Vezner, who sing in a more natural style and color his songs with supportive playing. On Friday, they sang their own strong stuff when Paxton rested. Vezner played keyboards, uke and melodica, and sang harmonies and lead on some songs including “Where’ve You Been?” written with his wife, Kathy Mattea, “Has Anybody Seen Amy?” and the harrowing “It Was You” about being abused as a child.
They were totally unified hootenanny-style in Paxton classics “Bottle of Wine” that wrapped the first set, “The Last Thing On My Mind” and “Ramblin’ Boy” near the end of the second. “Eleanor’s Song,” an evocative co-write, proved these three guys are onto something. The strongest solo spot was Henry’s. He has the whole rig: writing, singing, playing and patter. On Friday, when he sang “Schenectady,” all you could hear was his guitar and voice and his fans’ hushed breathing.
Gordy and Martin
Brooklyn-based acoustic guitar aces Grant Gordy and Ross Martin play tonight at the Cock ’N Bull (5342 Parkis Mills Road, Galway), blending bluegrass with jazz and other flavors, as on their duets album “Year of the Dog.” Martin recently played the Cock ’N Bull with the Matt Flinner Trio. 7 p.m. $15 cover. 882-6962 www.thecocknbull.com
Tonight, jazz pianist Chuck Lamb leads his Acoustic Fusion quartet — Evan DuChene, drums; Matt Vacanti, bass; and our own Jeff Nania, saxes — at the Senate Garage (41 Front St., Kingston). 7:30 p.m. $15. 845-802-0029 www.jazzstock.com
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected].
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