Jukebox: A week of wonderful ‘what-ifs?’ come true

Tony and Pete Levin, Gangstagrass head lineup
The Levin Brothers — Tony, left, and Pete — team up with drummer Jeff Siegel and guitarist Jeff Ciampa at the Van Dyck.
The Levin Brothers — Tony, left, and Pete — team up with drummer Jeff Siegel and guitarist Jeff Ciampa at the Van Dyck.

What if?

What if two brothers with separate (impressive!) rocking resumes built a band together?

What if a rapper listened to old bluegrass records?

What if some jam-band stars joined forces?

What if a venerable coffeehouse reached beyond folk music?

The answers, in order:

Tony and Pete Levin play the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) tonight.

Gangstagrass plays the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady) Friday.

Jam-rockers from the Ominous Seapods and God Street Wine play Putnam Place (63a Putman St., Saratoga Springs) Saturday as the SeaGods.

And Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) scores sell-outs with folk shows and by stirring some rock into the mix.

The Levin Brothers star separately in top rock and jazz bands: bassist Tony with King Crimson, Peter Gabriel and John Lennon plus MANY others; keyboardist Pete with David Sanborn, Charles Mingus, Lenny White and, you got it, MANY others. As the Levin Brothers they’ve made two hard-hitting fusion-jazz albums and team up tonight with drummer Jeff Siegel (Lee Shaw, and yeah, MANY others) and guitarist Jeff Ciampa (OK, Harry Belafonte, Dave Matthews, MANY others) at the Van Dyck on their “Snowtire Tour.” 8 p.m. $20. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com

Gangstagrass hit like a wonderfully rude shock with their theme to HBO’s hillbilly crime series “Justified.” It’s bluegrass and rap, far out as Big & Rich with rapper Cowboy Troy, or Lil Nas X. It started when rapper Rench discovered Ralph Stanley, strapped on a guitar and rounded up MCs R-Son and Dolio The Sleuth, banjoist Dan Whitener and dobro player Landry McMeans to Krazy-Glue up-hollow instruments to uptown hip-hop. First came millions of downloads, then they amazed at bluegrass festivals.

Friday they rap and pick and astound at the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theatre. 7:30 p.m. $24 advance, $27 door, $50 front and center. 518-474-1703 www.8thstep.org
Slam together resurgent ’90s north country/Albany jammers Ominous Seapods (guitarists Max Verna and Dana Monteith, bassist Tom Pirozzi, keyboardist Brian Mangini and drummer Ted Marotta) with God Street Wine guitarist (and producer of the ’Pods’ “Jet Smooth Ride” album) Lo Faber and we get SeaGods, an improvising monolith, rocking Putnam Place Saturday. They previously toured together as the Lo Faber Band; “SeaGods” is better. The ’Pods recorded “Econobrain,” their first release, onstage after honing a thrilling jam-based style in years of club shows here. Retro-jammers Glass Pony open. 8 p.m. $20 advance, $25 on Saturday, $5 surcharge for fans under 21. 518-886-9585 www.putnamplace.com

About two minutes away on foot, Caffe Lena presents sold-out shows tonight by Sean Kelly, lead singer of the Samples, a Colorado jam-band; both shows Friday by the harmonizing string band trio Red Molly; and the late show Sunday by classical-soul quartet Sons of Serendip.

Good news: Tickets remain for the Sons of Serendip early show Sunday and Lost Leaders Saturday. Boston University grad students formed Sons of Serendip on a whim, aiming classical training and instruments at contemporary tunes including “Purple Rain” (Prince) and “Hallelujah” (Leonard Cohen), layering soulful vocals on top. They made the finals on America’s Got Talent, Season 9. 7:30 Sunday. $42 advance, $45 door, $22.50 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

The Lost Leaders are bassist-singer Byron Isaacs (Ollabelle, the Lumineers, Amy Helm’s bands), singer-songwriter Peter Cole and sometimes others. Their mellow, soft-rocking, harmony-singing blend shines on a terrific new album “Promises, Promises” and onstage Saturday at the Caffe. 8 p.m. $18, $20, $10

On Friday, the mixed-media “Simon & Garfunkel Story” plays Proctors main stage (432 State St., Schenectady). A live band accompanies big-screen video and still-photo projections in a career overview of the folk-rock superstar duo. 7:30 p.m. $50 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org

Blues guitarist-singer Lonnie Shields plays Saturday at WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany). The Arkansas-born, Delta-trained bluesman/BBQ chef considered retiring, despite success on record and onstage, before protégé/prodigy Jesse Loewy helped revive his career. 8 p.m. $18 advance, $22 on Saturday. 518-465-5233 www.thelinda.org

Also Saturday, the Elvis Birthday Bash at the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy) stars area rockabilly and early-rock giants Johnny Rabb, the Tichy Boys (father-and-son guitarists John and Graham) and anybody else who plays, sings and loves The King. There in spirit: the late Dino “It’s Only Me” DeCherro, self-proclaimed Elvis’ biggest fan and a pompadoured personality deluxe who died recently. 8 p.m. $15. 518-272-9740. www.thehangaronthehudson.com

Also, also Saturday, Hawaiian ukulele wizard Taimane Gardner plays Proctors GE Theatre. She started playing at 5 and studied with Jake Shimabukuro as a teenager. Like Shimabukuro, she riffs pop songs into medleys, evading music’s “border patrol” with sheer talent. 8 p.m. $25

The Dave Fisk Quintet plays Sunday at the Wishing Well (745 Saratoga Road [Route 9], Malta). Sax-man Fisk recruited area stars Steve Lambert, trumpet; Joe Finn, guitar; Mike Lawrence, bass; and Andy Hearn, drums, for this Swingtime Jazz Society afternoon show. 4 p.m. show, 6 p.m. jam. $15, students $5. 518-423-9343 www.wishingwellrestaurant.com

Categories: Entertainment, Life & Arts

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