Jukebox: Giving thanks for musicians, melodies, venues

Two tributes happen at The Egg Saturday
Ljova and the Kontraband perform tonight in the Music Haven Passport Series at the GE Theatre at Proctors.
Ljova and the Kontraband perform tonight in the Music Haven Passport Series at the GE Theatre at Proctors.

We’ll all be too busy next week, eating and drinking too much, sinking in after-feast digestive stupors deep into soft chairs in front of football games, or arguing politics. So, let’s give thanks today — a week early — to all those who make music for us, or make music possible for us.

In gratitude for the musicians who make the sounds, the melodies and meanings, let’s also celebrate those who bring us the music. In venues, on radio, through record companies and other enterprises, they form and fill the pipeline for us from inspiration to experience, from aspiration to applause. We thank you all.

The tributes and blues we talked about last week roll on.

Two tributes happen at The Egg Saturday. “Elliott Landy’s Music Cinema with Professor Louie & The Crowmatix” combines iconic images by photographer Landy with live performances by Professor Louie and company of music by Landy’s most famous subjects: Bob Dylan and The Band. Landy shot the infrared color Dylan portrait, vegetation glowing ghostly hues behind the star; and his black-and-white group shots of The Band looking serious in thrift-store-looking suits etched their image forever. Keyboardist Professor Louie leads the Crowmatix (Miss Marie, vocals; Frank Campbell, bass; John Platania, guitar; and Gary Burke, drums), but Burke powers it. They’ve made six albums; songs created by their Woodstock neighbors, and originals. 7:30 p.m. $20. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Also Saturday at The Egg, Almost Queen honors the British Rock And Roll Hall of Fame band in traditional human-jukebox fashion: Joseph Russo as singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Steve Leonard as Brian May; drummer John Cappadona as Roger Taylor and bassist Randy Gregg as Roger Deacon. 8 p.m. $49.50, $39.50, $29.50

Also, also on Saturday, at the Cohoes Music Hall not The Egg, Jimmy Webb honors the time and place his songs helped build. Webb’s tunes ruled mid-60s radio, reaching from L.A. to everywhere via “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I get to Phoenix” and uncounted others. Better singers, especially Glen Campbell, made hits of Webb’s tunes, as he agrees. But he frames his can’t-miss tunes in tales of funny, insightful charm; and he turns the tables on his new album “Slipcover,” covering songs of contemporaries including Billy Joel and Paul Simon, even the Stones! 7:30 p.m. $37 floor, $30 parquet and balcony. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org

Blues? Got some! Toronzo Cannon plays the Skyloft (1 Crossgates Mall Rd., Albany) Saturday. The Chicago guitarist-singer (and bus driver) was electrifying at Music Haven in 2018; a powerful artist with something to say and a compelling way to say it. I reported here, “In generous encores, Cannon (like several other Music Haven acts this summer), played his way off the stage down into the crowd surging around him and filling the front dance floor. He welded the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ and Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ inside an uptempo southside shuffle, like surprise upstart plants ‘volunteering’ in a garden, before extolling women of his own age (50) in ‘Fine Seasoned Woman.’ Before the encores, Cannon noted the late hour: ‘Y’all have to work tomorrow!’ as he checked his watch in mock alarm. ‘I’m calling in sick!’ shouted a fan in reply. More like, calling in well, and happy.” 8 p.m. $15 advance, $20 door. 518-869-5638 www.skyloftny.com

Music Haven rolls on, between the summers, as impresario Mona Golub says. Its Passport Series presents Ljova and the Kontraband tonight in Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). “Ljova” is a Russian strings player, composer and arranger born Lev Zhurbin. He Krazy-Glues eastern European folk tunes onto zippy dance beats, as if Argentinian tango giant Astor Piazzola played a Moscow wedding. Kontraband features Inna Barmash, vocals; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Mathias Kunzli, percussion; and Jordan Morton, bass. Check their lively NPR Tiny Desk Concert. 7:30 p.m. $25. 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org

Lotus and Wax Future play the Cohoes Music Hall tonight, laying down beats you can (must!) dance to under zippy, nimble jams. The electro-jamming quintet Lotus evokes Phish or moe., if those bands never got around to singing; while the compatible funk/hip-hop duo (sometimes trio) Wax Future also goes for the groove, and gets there. 8 p.m. $32

Guitarist Taz Niederauer, then just 14, was soloing in Col. Bruce Hampton’s 2017 birthday party when Hampton collapsed onstage and died. I wouldn’t have stated this so playfully about anybody else, but Hampton lived in a goofy world all to himself and would likely laugh. Taz plays the Hollow Bar + Kitchen (79 N. Pearl St., Albany) Friday. Non-lethally! 8 p.m. $15. 518-426-8550 www.thehollowalbany.com

Troubadours Reggie Harris and Greg Greenway perform “Deeper Than the Skin,” a conversation about race in America, Friday at the 8thStep (Addy Theatre, 3rdfloor — 432 State St., Schenectady). They co-starred in the GE Theatre for the Step’s brilliant 50thanniversary show (2017) and are uniquely qualified. Towering talents and longtime friends who’ve shared many a stage, Harris and Greenway speak and sing of “What would it look like to transcend race and come together?” They’ll show us. 7:30 p.m. $24 advance, $27 door, $40 front and center. 518-434-1704 www.8thstep.org

Friday, Alan Chartock & The Berkshire Ramblers play a benefit show for and at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs). Banjoist (and WAMC CEO) Chartock leads this merry band in bluegrass at its ramblin’, loose-limbed best. 8 p.m. $25. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

Bluesman Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton plays the Caffe tonight; Jontavious Willis opens. Both young men play many instruments and many styles of blues; and Paxton won many new fans with a knock-out, ear-opening area debut at SPAC’s Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival. 7 p.m. show, 6 p.m. podcast interview. $27 advance, $30 door, $15 students and children, $35 show and interview

Longtime Caffe stalwart Don White returns Saturday to introduce his new (10th) album “Live at the Guthrie Center.” A sort of dad-jeans of folk music, White wisely, humorously and with love, sings mostly of family. 8 p.m. $20, $22, $11

‘Jams for Josh’ a success

Musicians and fans filled The Hangar Sunday for a multi-band, day-long fundraiser to help longtime area drummer Josh Bloomfield fight cancer, diagnosed a week before his 40th birthday.

“Jams For Josh” added more than $22,000 to the $12,000 raised on GoFundMe, drawing 500-550 fans to the River Street, Troy. venue and confirming the generosity of music people.

“The response was overwhelming,” reported Hangar and Ale House impresario Brian Gilchrist. “It was a smashing success,” added organizer Jeremy Walz who has played in bands with Bloomfield for 20 years and counts the drummer as his closest friend. 

“The music was tremendous,” he added, noting he’d met “200 people I never met before” at the fundraiser. “It takes a ferocious amount of work to make something like this happen, and dozens of people stepped up and volunteered.” Walz said, “When you see an outpouring of support like this by so many people, in the middle of so much bad news, it just lifts your spirits.”

“The turnout for Josh Bloomfield’s benefit from 3 to nearly 9 p.m. yesterday was astounding,” reported Ralph Michael Spillenger on Facebook. Musician in many bands, including the Students, and operator of numerous venues over time, Spillenger added, “I can’t think of any local musicians that didn’t come to play on two stages and hug Josh. I got there later and it was very crowded. Earlier, they said you couldn’t move. 

Silent auctions and a 50/50 raffle were all happening, with tents outside. Employees and owners of the places where Josh plays were all there. The Rustic Barn didn’t even open up, and instead their gang (attended Jams for Josh at the Hangar). Tess (Collins) and a crew from McGeary’s showed.”

The first bands onstage Sunday were Right Coast Soul, which included Bloomfield, Walz, Sloan Tash and others; and Soul Serenade — many of the same players, minus Tash, who moved to California recently. Walz donated his airline miles so Tash could fly back for Sunday’s show. Right Coast Soul and Soul Serenade essentially combined to kick off Jams for Josh. Walz said he’d ordered a couple of hundred t-shirts for the event, but when he came offstage, they were sold out. “I didn’t even get one!” 




Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts

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