Jukebox: Five shows, one night and all good choices

Amy Helm plays the Cohoes Music Hall tonight with her Handsome Strangers band
Ex-Byrds Roger McGuinn, left, and Chris Hillman, right, were joined by Marty Stuart at The Egg on Sept. 18.
Ex-Byrds Roger McGuinn, left, and Chris Hillman, right, were joined by Marty Stuart at The Egg on Sept. 18.

Categories: Entertainment

Amy Helm (Levon’s singer-songwriter daughter) plays the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.) tonight; getting first mention here because I just saw her in the crowd at the Byrds’ Sweethearts of the Rodeo show at The Egg. (See REARVIEW). Her Handsome Strangers band features Byron Isaacs, bassist and producer; guitarist Daniel Littleton; and drummer David Berger. Helm has become a stronger singer over time, adding a bluesy edge to a pleasing folkie croon. She devoted half her set at The College of Saint Rose last year to Tom Petty songs.

In addition to her own albums “Didn’t It Rain” (2015) and “This Too Shall Light” (releasing now), she’s sung on more than 50 albums. 8 p.m. The National Reserve opens. $35 floor seats, $30 parquet, $25 balcony. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org

Also tonight, Italian-born multi-traditionalist guitar player, singer and composer Beppe Gambetta returns to Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). His 13th album “Short Stories” features songs in four languages, plus a live tune from his annual “Acoustic Nights” European guitarists’ free-for-all. Gambetta loves to play with other pickers, but plays the Caffe solo tonight. His approach “brings American and European roots to speak together with one voice,” states his bio. Clips (gawk at this: https://youtu.be/t6aIZVmXWoo) confirm this, placing him in the august company of Tommy Emmanuel and the late Michael Hedges. 7 p.m. $20 advance, $22 door, $11 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

Also, also tonight, superb Irish balladeers the High Kings play The Egg (Empire State Plaza). Since 2008, they’ve brought fervent singing and amazing instrumental virtuosity — 13 instruments among them — to stages worldwide, updating the storytelling-in-song tradition of their word-crazed, melody–rich homeland. 7:30 p.m. $34.50. 518-473-1845www.theegg.org

Also, also, also tonight, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers play WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany) just months after they rocked Music Haven with joyous Louisiana dance beats and accordion energy deluxe. Co-star in this pulsating combo, Paul Lefleur plays rubboard (frottoir, to you Creoles) with virtuoso dexterity matching Dopsie’s towering skills on the squeezebox. 8 p.m. $20. 518-465-5233 www.thelinda.org

Also, also, also, also tonight, our own jazz young lions the Giroux Brothers play Jazz at the Spring (Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs), part of a strong ongoing series. Nate (saxophones) and Tyler (valve trombone) Giroux lead a combustible combo of skilled, open-minded contemporaries: Dylan Perillo, bass; Matt Niedbalski, drums; and Luke Franco, guitar. Yes, THAT Dylan Perillo, leader of his madcap orchestra specializing in big-band loony tunes. In fact, all but Franco play in Perillo’s orchestra, playing Sunday at Caffe Lena, as noted below. 7:30 p.m. $15 advance, $20 door. 207-798-1280 www.cdjazz.org

Also at Caffe Lena: Mississippi to Greenwich Village singer-songwriter Steve Forbert — he played his area debut at JB Scott’s! — sings Friday (8 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $12.50 students and children); young string-band wizards Time for Three play Saturday: Nick Kendal and Charles Yang, violins; Ranaan Meyer, bass. (8 p.m. $30 advance, $35 door, $17.50 students and children); and our own retro-jazz delight, the Dylan Perillo Orchestra, plays Sunday. Equally adroit at dusting off musical antiques and tickling the funny bone, they’ll be fun to watch as all eight to 12 of them overpopulate the cozy Caffe stage. 7 p.m. $20 advance, $22 door, $11 students and children

Also at The Egg: country-folk duo Over the Rhine — always the duo of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, and sometimes a quartet — play Saturday. Named for their Cincinnati neighborhood, they’re prolific — 16 studio releases and seven live sets — and cooperative, sometimes touring as members of the Cowboy Junkies. Singer-songwriter Sam Lewis opens. 8 p.m. $29.50

Jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux plays The Egg on Tuesday, singing fresh tunes from her new (eighth) album “Anthem,” with socio-political content. Her sound echoes Billie Holiday, her message is all her own. 7:30 p.m. $39.50

Singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman brings tunes for the time of Trump to the Eighth Step in Proctors Dance Rehearsal Studio (third floor, 432 State St, Schenectady). Now, when everyone needs a good laugh, Zimmerman brings a keen eye and clever phrase-making to the tough chore of comic relief. He took inspiration for one song on his “RiZe Up” album from the hyper-articulate activist-students who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He did standup before starting to make his own music, and he blogs for the Huffington Post 7:30 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $35 front and center. 518-434-1703 www.8thstep.org

The Supersuckers celebrate 30 years of nonstop touring Sunday at the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy). Formed in Tucson in 1988, they moved to Seattle, playing loud alt-country upstream against the grunge current. On this “Big Show Tour,” they’ll play a country set, then all of their “Smoke of Hell” (1992) and “La Mano Cornuda” (1994) albums. Supersuckers are Eddie Spaghetti, bass; “Metal” Marty Chandler, guitar; and Christopher “Chango” Von Streicher, drums. They’ve played everywhere, including Russia, and once backed Willie Nelson on the Tonight Show. Their 17 albums include live sets, titles we can’t print here and vintage country covers as the Junkyard Dogs. Blackcat Elliot opens. 7:30 p.m. $15 advance, $20 door. 518-272-9740 www.hangaronthehudson.com

Friday, Tin Can Alley plays its third-ever show at WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany) after debuting at a campaign fundraiser for folksinger-financial adviser Bridget Ball Shaw’s run for the Rensselaer County Legislature last fall, then playing Caffe Lena more recently.

Kevin McKrell and Brian Melick (bandmates in the Mountain Snow Orchestra that Ball led with husband-troubadour Chris Shaw until they retired from performing) asked Eck and Greg Haymes (bandmates in the Ramblin Jug Stompers) to join their set during Ball’s fundraiser. “We played some stuff off the cuff and I, at least, laughed harder than I ever have onstage,” Eck recalled. Before they’d finished packing their gear, they’d decided to be a band. They immediately added McKrell’s daughter, Katie, and later Jeff Strange, McKrell’s partner in Donnybrook Fair. “Someone else may join in the meantime,” Eck mused/threatened. He said, “Lots of singing, lots of laughing and lots of percussion. That’s what a Tin Can Alley is. Think of it as The Almanac Singers from Hell!” 8 p.m. $15

I never got to see the Byrds, but live recordings suggest they never played “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” (the Byrds’ 1968 country-rock breakthrough) better than ex-Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman on Sept. 18 at The Egg.

They wisely hired Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives on this tour. Those guys — Kenny Vaughan, guitar; Harry Stinson, drums; and Chris Scruggs, bass and pedal steel, all rhinestoned to the max — brought it in a big way.

Stuart declared his band “direct descendants” of the Byrds’ “Sweethearts of the Rodeo” album, and they play better than the Byrds at every position. Really. And they sing beautiful three- and four-part harmonies.

McGuinn and Hillman told tales to set up songs; their delivery barstool laid-back, their raps rehearsed to glib smoothness. Hillman told of meeting Gram Parsons in an LA bank in early 1968. “What do you do?” asked Hillman. “I play some piano,” Parsons answered. When Hillman reported this back to McGuinn, Jim/Roger thought, “Maybe we can work with this guy” because, as Hillman remarked, they were “rebuilding the band” after David Crosby and Gene Clark had left. McGuinn said, “I wanted him to play some piano like McCoy Tyner since I loved John Coltrane’s band so much. So Gram came in and played piano like Floyd Cramer and we liked that. Turned out he could do other stuff, too.” Then they played Parsons’ “Hickory Wind.” OMG!

They were deep fun, right out of the box. After the kick-ass opener “My Back Pages,” they slapped together a crisp medley of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Act Naturally.” McGuinn showed how “Mr. Tambourine Man” incorporated Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “a Beatles beat,” but Stuart totally took over the song with a tremendous electric guitar solo.

After the break — they made me cry in the first set with my very favorite Byrds’ song (thanks Carole King and Gerry Goffin), “I Wasn’t Born to Follow” — the Fabulous Superlatives laid waste to the place with over-the-moon electric guitar breaks in “Country Boy” and “Time Won’t Wait.” 

When McGuinn and Hillman came on after that, it was “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” time, but they changed up the order of songs in a way that made more sense than the album, and they played it all the way to country-rock/no-nostalgia-in-sight heaven. Scruggs’ steel solo in “The Christian Life” — YIKES!

“You’re Still on My Mind” sped up on the chorus, just like on the record, but Scruggs’ steel break completely tore up the place. Everybody, I mean, EVERYBODY, sang along on “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” first song on the album, last in the set.

Encores maybe peaked on “Running Down A Dream” for tempo and energy; but then came, “Turn, Turn, Turn.” How great to hear Pete Seeger’s reassuring “I swear it’s not too late.”

They’d started the encores with Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and “Wild Flowers,” Hillman gratefully explaining how Petty tugged him out of retirement to make a record and into a new lease on his musical life. Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives’ youthful skill gave fresh life to the Byrds’ most influential album.

Leave a Reply