Jukebox: Comeback trail brings old favorites to Egg

Jayhawks, Rufus Wainwright in concert
The Jayhawks bring songs from a new album, “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels,” to The Egg in Albany tonight.
The Jayhawks bring songs from a new album, “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels,” to The Egg in Albany tonight.

Eight seconds; just eight seconds. That’s the average human attention span, as research commissioned by Microsoft recently found. That’s actually shorter than the attention span of … a goldfish: nine seconds. In 2000 (when EVERYBODY got a cellphone), the average human attention span was all of 12 seconds.

No wonder nobody can remember artists who take a career hiatus, and why coming back seems so hard. Drop off the charts and nobody remembers you.

Swimming upstream against that fame amnesia of “Love you: Who are you?” two acts play The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) in comebacks. Neither the Jayhawks nor Rufus Wainwright was gone long, but attention spans and memories are short. So it’s astounding that the Jayhawks have sold out tonight after major breaks (2005-09, 2013).

Its ’90s lineup reunited, more or less, the band’s new album “Back Roads and Abandoned Motels” collects songs leader Gary Louris wrote both for the Jayhawks and other artists, including the Dixie Chicks, Jakob Dylan, Ari Hest, Carrie Rodriguez, Emerson Hart and others. Onstage, the Jayhawks are Louris, guitar and lead vocals; co-founder/bassist Marc Perlman; keyboardist Karen Grotberg; drummer Tim O’Reagan; and recent addition John Jackson, guitar. Folk Uke (Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson) open. 

Rufus Wainwright, at The Egg Friday, never really went away, but has veered through dizzying detours from the early art-pop that made him a star in his 20s; he hasn’t released new music since 2016. Son of folk-pop royalty Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, he’s even made two operas, one in French: He grew up mostly in Montreal.

He played Valentine’s in Albany with a rock band during his first fame, before addiction and other struggles. Recovered, happily married, he’s a one-man creative explosion. He’s paid tribute to Judy Garland in the world’s top halls, collaborated with great artists from Richard Thompson to William Shakespeare (setting nine of the Bard’s sonnets to music), made music for dance pieces, acted in a dozen films and sung chewing gum jingles on a “Funny or Die” video. “House of Rufus” (2011) collects 19 CDs of studio and live albums, DVDs and unreleased material.

A few years back as he walked through Manhattan, he got cash from an ATM, bought some things in a bodega, sat down in a café and ordered lunch, talking nonstop by cellphone. When I noted the elaborate arrangements on a recent album, he un-self-consciously said his voice is a beautiful thing — he’s right! — and he likes dressing it up in “the prettiest frocks.”

He’s mostly played here solo since then, as he will Friday at The Egg. His half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche opens. 8 p.m. $45. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Work o’ the Weavers Friday at the Eighth Step at Proctors’ Addy (432 State St., Schenectady, third floor) unites four contemporary artists in a tribute to the hugely influential folk quartet that actually scored jukebox hits in the age of Elvis. David Bernz, Travis Jeffries, Mark Murphy and Martha Sandefer evoke the music and message of the original Weavers: Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Lee Hays. At Seeger’s urging, however, they not only replicate Weavers songs, they update the originals’ powerful advocacy of equality and freedom. The Dirty Stay-Out Skifflers (Rick and Donna Nestler, Dan Berger and Tom Reister) open. 7:30 p.m. $26 advance, $28 door, $50 front and center. 518-434-1703 www.8thstep.org

Celtic duo Kevin Henderson, fiddle; and Neil Pearlman, piano, duet Friday at Old Songs (37 S. Main St., Voorheesville). 7:30 p.m. $25 adults, $12 ages 13-18, $5 12 and under. 518-765-2815www.oldsongs.org

At Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), new stars come into their own. James Maddock has opened for Willie Nile at WAMC’s The Linda and makes his area headline debut tonight, showing off a wider range than most troubadours on his new album “If It Ain’t Fixed, Don’t Break It.” 7 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $12.50 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

Amanda Platt, leading her band the Honeycutters Friday, sang in Caffe open mics while at Skidmore. She writes and sings, they play: Matt Smith, guitar and pedal steel; Rick Cooper, bass; Josh Milligan, drums; and Evan Martin, guitar and keyboards. 8 p.m. $18, $20, $10

Martin Luther King weekend at the Caffe brings four events honoring the civil rights hero, his principles, the progress and struggles of today.

Saturday at 3 p.m., musician Garland Nelson leads “Shout It Out! The Evolution of the Black Vocal Tradition,” a workshop on African-American musical expression and messages. 3 p.m. Free

Later Saturday, Yaddo presents activist/artist publisher and advocate Kima Jones in “Empowering Artists of Color,” a discussion on bringing marginalized voices into the light. 5 p.m. Free

Then, Creative Action Unlimited presents a staged reading of “Our Now, a play about race and gender justice, in response to the August 2017 Charlottesville events. 7 p.m. Free

On Monday, R&B pianist and singer Daryl Davis both performs and explains how he’s personally persuaded KKK members to abandon racism. 7:30 p.m. $15

In between, and totally at home for the compelling moral force of his mainstream folk music, Bill Staines sings on Sunday. Fellow troubadours often sing and record the New Hampshire singer-songwriter’s music, but Staines remains his own most confident and convincing voice. He’s headlined at the Caffe twice a year since 1967 and hasn’t lost a step. 3 p.m. $20, $22, $11

Categories: Entertainment

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