Jukebox: Confidence ever growing, Arndts on a roll

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought New Orleans funk to Proctors
A performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Proctors’ GE Theatre was just the thing to heat up a cold Capital Region night.
A performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at Proctors’ GE Theatre was just the thing to heat up a cold Capital Region night.

New album, new tour, new TV exposure — Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are moving at, well, Arndt speed. They play NBC’s “The Today Show” a week from today, in the 9 a.m. hour.

This Friday, the Fort Plain natives and Harvard grads introduce their new album “The Fun in the Fight” at Jupiter Hall at The Lucky Strike (1 Crossgates Mall Road, Albany). “We can’t wait to come home and celebrate this new chapter with you all,” said Jocelyn last week.

The sound and strength of the music speaks for itself, pumping the confident complexity of classic rock through your speakers wherever you drop the needle. I asked mainly about their process: how the writing stands so tall now alongside the distinctive, sonic signature of Jocelyn’s vulnerable/volcanic voice and Chris’s guitar that grafts blues echoes onto arena-rock gestures without copying anyone.

“We’re always looking for silver linings,” said Jocelyn of the album title. “It can be easy to look around and get frustrated with where you perceive you are or what’s going wrong or what you feel you could be doing better.”

Crafting the album’s sonic and thematic balance, they banished doubt with a firm focus on work in a spirit of openness.

“It works best if we just write what we feel and try not to force anything,” she said. “We try to go into each song with the goal of making it the best it can be, and we never know what that’ll end up sounding like. The important part is to trust ourselves. And with every album, we’re getting better at skipping the nervous phase and getting straight to work.” This time, she said, “Chris and I both went into songwriting with a little more experience, a little more confidence, a little more power than our previous records. We wanted the music to reflect that maturity.”

Confidence expanded both depth and range. For example, “Don’t Hang Up” whispers with 3 a.m. desperation, growing into peace, but “Original” packs a punch right away: New-addition Hammond organ hitchhikes on the beat, with Chris’s guitar at the wheel.

“We’re always looking to make music that people can connect with,” Jocelyn explained. “That’s why we do all of this. So we try to be as honest as possible when we write, and just let the songs become what they should be. We don’t ever try to force anything.”

She mused that they’ve now played in 37 states “with more coming soon.” After debuting their new songs tonight in Pittsburgh opening for JJ Grey & Mofro, they’ll play Jupiter Hall on Friday, then tour down the East Coast, west to SXSW in Austin, then hopscotch around the east and Midwest.

“We’re all pretty excited to get back out on the road this spring and summer,” said Jocelyn. “We’ve got lots of dates on the books and lots more coming,” including festival dates to be announced.

Meanwhile, “The Fun in the Fight” is traveling fast via radio. “The single [‘Outta My Head’] was the sixth most added Triple A radio track in the country in its first week,” Jocelyn reported, adding “the new album debuted at No. 6 on the Relix Jambands Top 30 Albums Chart.”

Friday at Jupiter Hall, Jocelyn and Chris will perform with drummer/producer David Bourgeois, bassist Dan Zavadil and possibly bassist Tyrone Hartzog, who’s on some dates. “We’ll be playing a bunch of new songs, some for the first time,” Jocelyn promised, adding they’ll play older songs, too. “Figuring out how to debut it has been really exciting. I can’t wait.” Ruby Dear opens. Friday’s album release show by Jocelyn and Chris Arndt is presented by Bridge Road Events and The Spot 518. 7 p.m. $15 admission includes “The Fun in the Fight” CD. 518-556-3350 www.jupiterhallalbany.com

Musicians are the most generous people, so bands band together Sunday to help Caroline “MotherJudge” Isachsen fight pancreatic cancer. Leader of many area bands and mainstay of uncounted benefits, MotherJudge has long hosted the Best Damn Open Mic Ever at McGeary’s Irish Pub, where Sunday’s “For MotherJudge: An Afternoon of Fundraising and Celebration” brings together four top area bands.

Playing at McGeary’s (4 Clinton Place, Albany) will be the North and South Dakotas; Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys; Ramblin Jug Stompers; and These Are the Hits. MotherJudge’s husband, guitarist and mandolin player Sten Isachsen, plays with the Railroad Boys, Musicians of Ma’alwyck and other groups, and runs North Albany Studios and Bender Studios with her. Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Admission by donation. 518-463-1455

Singer-guitarist Miche Fambro teams with bassist Otto Gardner tonight in the Jazz at the Spring series (Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs). Series impresario Mark Kleinhaut, a guitarist himself, says of the left-handed Fambro, “What Miche plays on guitar is surprising in the best possible way, and it all seems so easy and effortless.” Gardner has played with the Empire Jazz Orchestra for 22 years, and with stars of mainstream and experimental jazz. 7:30 p.m. $15. www.CDJazz.org

British Americana stars Mumford & Sons play the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany), performing in the round Friday, moving up to convincing arena-drawing power and celebrating their new “Delta” album, their fifth. Cat Power opens. 7:30 p.m. $104.50, $84.50, $64.50. $44.50

Terrance Simien, top accordionist and Zydeco’s greatest singer, returns Friday to the Cohoes Music Hall; he almost lifted the place off its foundation last May. Woodstock rockers Professor Louie and the Crowmatix open. 7:30 p.m. $28. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org

Steve Earle leads rock or bluegrass bands, but can play those styles solo since his writing is so strong, his voice so gruffly authoritative. Earle sings solo tonight at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Shannon McNally opens. 7:30 p.m. $45. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Chicago troubadour Robbie Fulks sings solo Sunday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) after a rousing September show with Linda Gail Lewis (Jerry Lee’s sister) at WAMC’s The Linda, singing their duo album “Wild Wild Wild.” Fulks is more thoughtful on his own, a Grammy winner equally inspired by bluegrass and jazzman Charles Mingus. 7 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door, $12.50 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

“Chuck E’s in Love” made singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones a star of late-70s LA pop, but she quickly became a master troubadour of flexible voice and fearless writing. Jones returns to The Egg Friday with a 15-album resume and the smarts, nerve and chops to sing anything she wants. 8 p.m. $39.50.

We were all right on the beat, scraping ice off our windshields in rhythm along snowy streets when we came out of Proctors’ GE Theatre last Wednesday. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought New Orleans funk on a wintry night we really needed it, a cozy echo of Proctors ’80s and ’90s Mardi Gras blasts. Back then, my wife/volunteer bartender Ellie had to pour beers with both hands and I had to run around the block to deliver a plate of food to her once, bypassing the jammed arcade.

Wednesday’s Dirty Dozen edition felt fun and fine with big-beat, horn-powered marches, the pure-party power of late-night rumbas, bustling blues and — of course! — “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Baritone saxman Roger Lewis, a graybeard who’d played with Fats Domino, and tenor player Kevin Harris of similar vintage, played WAY down there and WAY up there, respectively. The Sousaphone player (subbing for Kirk Joseph, touring with John Medeski) stuffed a mic down the bell, wired to a bass amp, and Julian Addison’s kick-drum was the loudest sound booming off the stage, so the place shook. Guitarist Takeshi Shimmura played strong rhythm and interesting solos. Trumpeter Gregory Davis and trombonist TJ Norris sang and led funk chants — including “She-nec-ta-dee!” — and invited dancers from the happy crowd onstage to join them.

Actually, everybody joined their kinetic, on-your-feet, arm-waving party.

Categories: Entertainment

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