Jukebox: Guitar greats cluster on local calendar

Plus top troubadours with violins, Afro-beat bands and song stylists
At Caffe Lena last Saturday, the jazz-world-beat band Heard performs.
At Caffe Lena last Saturday, the jazz-world-beat band Heard performs.

Categories: Entertainment

A run that started last week with Buckethead at Upstate Concert Hall continues with more outstanding guitarists this week; plus top troubadours with violins, Afro-beat bands (see my story on Friday’s Africa Unplugged show) and song stylists spicing the mixture.

Astounding in speed and imagination, Australian whiz Tommy Emmanuel plays The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) Saturday, with country-folk singer-songwriter Suzy Bogguss. Emmanuel started playing at 4, toured with his family band by 6 and is a memberof the Order of Australia, a Kentucky Colonel and one of few Chet Atkins Certified Guitar Players.

His 27 albums include “The Day Finger Pickers Took Over the World,” Atkins’s last. In Emmanuel’s hybrid picking, he sometimes reaches his left thumb around the neck to pluck strings in counterpoint. Heart trouble put him on hiatus in 2007, but he’s roared back

Mentored by Roy Rodgers and Dale Evans, then Dolly Parton, Bogguss made mainstream country hits before going independent in a more folk direction via Kickstarter. She made one of her 21 albums with Atkins. 8 p.m. $49.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Also Saturday — an impossible guitar fan choice! — old-school (i.e., Django) virtuoso Frank Vignola leads his trio (Vinny Raniolo, guitar; Gary Mazzaroppi, bass) at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door, $14 students and children

Guitarist Jesse Cook plays Sunday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). Raised in France, Canada and Spain (his father lived next door to Gipsy Kings singer Nicolas Reyes), Cook mixes rumba beats with folk and jazz-style tunes. An inventive finger-picker, Cook plays with Chris Church (violin), Nicolas Hernandez (guitar), Dennis Mohammed (bass) and Chendy Leon (drums). 8 p.m. $36, $29. 518-273-0038 www.troymusichall.org

Belgrade-born Ana Popovic plays blues Monday at Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.). After touring in her father’s blues band at 22, she set her own ambitious virtuoso path, introducing her nine-piece Mo’ Better Love band at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Her latest release is three CDs. Girl Blue opens. 8 p.m. $37, $27. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org

Quinn Sullivan takes over Wednesday at Cohoes Music Hall. A prodigy like Emmanuel and Popovic, Sullivan (19), started guitar lessons at 3, played the Ellen DeGeneres Show at 6, accompanied mentor Buddy Guy at 8 and answered the musical question “Who’s Gonna Fill These Shoes” on Guy’s 2008 album “Skin Deep” at 9. Sullivan wowed everybody at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival last June. The Age opens. 8 p.m. $35, $20

Friday at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Black Violin returns: Wil B (viola) & Kev Marcus (violin), with DJ SPS and Nat Stokes (drums). Named for jazz violin pioneer Stuff Smith’s last album, they’ve made three studio albums and two mixtapes; hip-hopping jazz and vice versa. 8 p.m. $49.50, $39.50, $34.50, $39.50

Singers take over the Hall on Saturday. Syracuse-born Martin Sexton brings his trio (Chris Anderson, bass; Boo Reiners, stringed things) and folk-rock tunes that sparkle on his 11 albums and won the National Academy of Songwriters 1994 Artist of the Year Award. Kentuckian Joan Osborne played New York City blues bars, often with the Holmes Brothers, before her huge hit “One of Us” launched a tour with The Dead, a spot in the film “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” and at Proctors recently with Mavis Staples. She sings Bob Dylan tunes on her new ninth album. 8 p.m. $44, $37

Folk-rock’s Zelig, Eric Andersen plays Caffe Lena Friday. A new two-CD “The Essential Eric Andersen” recaps a brilliant career launched in 1960s Greenwich Village alongside Dylan, who dubbed him “a great ballad singer and writer” and recruited him for his ’70s Rolling Thunder Revue. Andersen starred in a Warhol film, played on “The Festival Express” Canadian railway tour with the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and The Band, and formed a trio in Norway with Rick Danko. 8 p.m. $30 advance, $35 door, $17.50 students and children

Tonight, Dan Navarro warms up the Caffe, where he played often with late partner Eric Lowen after penning hits for stars Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne and others. Opener Jacob Johnson brilliantly applies Stanley Jordan’s tap style to acoustic guitar, launching the parade of great guitars through here. 7 p.m. $20 advance, $22 door, $11 students and children


Magpie, aka Terry Leonino and Greg Artzner, features traditional and vintage Americana to contemporary and original compositions. Pete Seeger said of them, “… more links in the chain.” They perform Saturday at 7:30 in the A Place for Folk series at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady, 1221 Wendell Ave. $20 adults; $10 students.

When percussion leprechaun Brian Melick joke-ranted that Caffe Lena had run out of cookies Saturday before he got any, singer Roosevelt ran a cookie to the stage. The place was full and everybody felt like a member of the jazz/world-beat combo leader/keyboardist-composer Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius (hereafter EWK) calls Heard. EWK led Saturday with melodica, keyboard or voice as band, guests and fans helped bring her music to vivid, globe-spinning life, cookie or no cookie.

Powering EWK’s tunes: regular members Melick, Ghanian percussionist/singer Zorkie Nelson, bassist Bobby Kendall and reeds player Jonathan Greene.

The crowded stage and the front of the packed house hosted guests including singers Kelly Bird and Roosevelt (no last name given, or needed once his voice hit the mic), guitarist George Muscatello, cellist Melora Creager (of Rasputina; EWK tours with them soon, as drummer!), percussionist Ade Knowles, violinist Mitsuko Suzukiand a chorus of children.

The music rose from beats, powering jazz; African elements weren’t accents, they were integral. The launching pad, “Market Song” evoked a bustling bazaar in a distant square. Scrambled styles made an elegant sonic omelet. Greene’s clarinet and Creager’s cello in “East Wind” portrayed a well-wined klezmer wedding; his baritone sax on a rich clatter of metallic percussion in a later tune evoked Gerry Mulligan parachuting into a gamelan.

Melick mostly drummed straight time in the same pocket as Kendall’s bass while fellow percussionist Nelson nudged things toward Ghana and Knowles fanned the flow. When Nelson or Knowles played the pulse, Melick flew in infectious joy. Songs conjured New York City, nature, a playground, a party; though a sweet serene song mourned engineer Charlie Eble, who died during sessions for “Flyway,” the Joel Moss-produced album that supplied songs for Saturday’s show.

Muscatello’s guitar etched Metheny-ish single-note solos of elegant strength, but his most stunning contribution was his most selfless: hypnotic drones in the concluding “The Butterfly;” steady and sweet, it gave the song wings. Longtime concert pal John Michael said the show equaled anything he’d heard on “Afropop Worldwide.” He was right.

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