Jukebox: Cash a perfect opener for Preservation Hall

Much to choose from on local music scene this weekend
Rosanne Cash performs Saturday night at Universal Preservation Hall.
Rosanne Cash performs Saturday night at Universal Preservation Hall.

Rosanne Cash learned in a jukebox-Juilliard of craft and charisma, singing with her famous father Johnny Cash. She learned onstage with Johnny and from his list of essential country songs that shaped one of her best albums. She sings and writes as he did, with uncompromising creativity.

So she’s the perfect choice to open Universal Preservation Hall (UPH, 25 Washington St., Saratoga Springs) in a sold-out show Saturday. She preserves what’s great and authentic about country, and renews it in her own music, just as UPH preserves an 1871 Methodist church.

Cash speaks eloquently in Ken Burns’ “Country Music”; was just as impressive when a free Empire State Plaza show was rained indoors into the Convention Center. Grumpy people toted coolers and lawn chairs into that inhospitable box, tugging kids disappointed at being indoors. With husband/producer-guitarist John Leventhal, she put us in her pocket and sang us anywhere she wanted.

We’ve seen Cash do this here with Leventhal or small bands; one featured great jazz singer Catherine Russell. At UPH Saturday, Cash sings with Leventhal; Kevin Barry, guitar; John Korba, keyboards; Zev Katz, bass; and Dan Reiser, drums. Leventhal and Rieser play on her “She Remembers Everything” album (2018), a(nother) masterpiece of fearless self-reflection, of elegant playing and singing and a novelist’s skill with words. 7:30 p.m. Sold out. 518-346-6204 www.universalpreservationhall.org

Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are also sold out Saturday, at Caffe Lena; so is Dermot Kennedy on Sunday at Upstate Concert Hall.

Tonight, Music Haven’s Passport Series continues at the Proctors GE Theater (432 State St., Schenectady) with Irish traditional powerhouse Altan.

Since singer-fiddler Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh and flute player Frankie Kennedy formed Altan in the mid-1980s, Kennedy died in 1994. But their trademark sound, silvery acoustic instruments swirling around Mhaonaigh’s spun-gold voice, only grows stronger. “The Gap of Dreams,” their 13th album since 1989, explores the passage between worlds, echoing Leonard Cohen’s lyric, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Their Troy Music Hall show was one of 2016’s brightest.

Altan is Mhaonaigh, vocals and fiddle; Ciaran Curran, bouzouki; Mark Kelly and Daithi Sproule, guitar; and Martin Tourish, accordion. 7:30 p.m. $30. 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org

Sadly for Irish music fans, the High Kings also play tonight, at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Finbarr Clancy, Darren Holden, Brian Dunphy and Paul O’Brien play 13 instruments among them, in traditional dances and ballads. 7:30 p.m. $36. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

And if Altan and the High Kings herald St. Patrick’s Day next month, Australian love-song specialists Air Supply echo Valentine’s Day. Tonight, their “Lost in Love Experience” tour hits Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy).

Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock haven’t had to alter their hit-making sweet ballad style since 1975. 7:30 p.m. $79.50, $69.50, $59,50, $49.50; $159 VIP package. 518-273-0038 www.troymusichall.org

Also tonight, Jazz at the Spring (Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring St., Saratoga Springs) presents Tri-Light Trio: singer Teri Roiger, tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and bassist John Menegon, playing songs of Abbey Lincoln, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Charlie Haden and Charles Mingus, plus originals. 7:30 p.m. $15 advance, $20 door. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4484270. Sponsor Capital District Jazz (CDJ) offers some free tickets for fans 17 and under via [email protected]

Friday, pianist-rocker Bruce Hornsby plays with yMusic at Troy Saving Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). Restless, durable, Hornsby has previously played here with the Range, the Noisemakers, Ricky Skaggs and solo at the piano. Some projects never reached here including his early ’90s run with the Grateful Dead, and his short tour with jazz giants drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Christian McBride, which played the Calvin Theatre in Northampton.

The New York chamber-jazz group yMusic crosses over from the recital stage to mainstream gigs with Paul Simon, Bon Iver, Ben Folds, José González and others. They recorded Folds’ album “So There” with him and “The Way is Read” with The Staves. The group is Alex Sopp, flute; C.J. Camerieri, trumpet; Gabriel Cabezas, cello; Hideaki Aomori, clarinet; Nadia Sirota, viola; and founder Rob Moose, violin. They’ve released five albums, most recently “Ecstatic Science.” How does this work? Check www.jambase.com. 8 p.m. 69.50, $59.50, $49.50, $39.50.

Also Friday, area faves Annie & the Hedonists play the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady). Before anybody was talking about Americana, they were playing it in folk or jazz festivals, coffeehouses and clubs. Annie is singer Annie Rosen, with Jonny Rosen, guitar; Peter Davis, reeds, piano and guitar; Don Young, bass; and Lee Blackwell, drums. Their seventh album just hit: “Bring It On Home,” produced by Saratoga’s Joel Moss. 8 p.m. (dinner from 6:30 p.m.) $20. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com

Our once-local heroes The Figgs complete a confusing Friday of excess options, playing Putnam Place (Putnam Street, Saratoga Springs; their former hometown). Powerful, prolific, seemingly permanent, the Figgs released the three-disc “Shady Grove” last fall. The album bounces on pop-punk energy and fun experimentation, like all Figgs efforts, but also carries some sadness. They — Mike Gent, guitar; Pete Donnelly, bass; and Pete Hayes, drums — lost guest keyboardist Ted Collins and roadie Eric Harmon recently. A valiant rock-on commitment shines through. Post-punk trio Candy Ambulance — Jesse Bolduc, bass; Jon Cantiello, drums; and Caitlin Barker, guitar — opens. 8:30 p.m. $12 advance, $15 Friday. 518-886-9585 www.putnamplace.com

Troubadour Bob Warren, who told us about Hal Ketchum last week, plays Saturday at Patrician Hall (12 S. Park St., Cambridge) with duet partner Joy Mackenzie and bassist Tony Markellis. 7 p.m. $15, students and seniors $13. 518-764-5045 www.pencilbrookproductions.com

Victor Wooten and the Wooten Brothers bring the funk to the Massry Center at The College of Saint Rose (1002 Madison Ave., Albany) on Sunday. Founding co-star of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, jazz giant and all-purpose collaborator, bassist Victor may be the biggest name among these musical brothers, though his area debut was a dynamic duo show at the Parting Glass with drummer J.D. Blair. Vic learned the bass because the family band needed a bass player and he was the youngest.

Pianist Joe Wooten plays with the Steve Miller Band; Roy “Future Wooten” plays drums of all kinds including electronic walk-around kits and is Victor’s bandmate in the Flecktones; and Regi Wooten plays guitar. The late Rudy Wooten played sax; Rudy’s jazz club in Nashville is named for him. This virtuoso brother act may be the baddest funk band since James Brown’s JBs, Parliament Funkadelic or Defunkt. 7:30 p.m. $45. 518-274-7804 www.massrycenter.org

As Awan Jenkins sat in with Michael Benedict’s Bopitude last Thursday at the Van Dyck, the young alto-sax-man underlined the durability of the ’50s and ’60s hard-bop that his elders make, and affirmed how the open-door sit-in policy that many of our established bands increasingly demonstrate enriches the scene.

Not that Bopitude needed any help, exactly. They hit hard and sweet in two strong sets of vintage tunes with right-now immediacy. Drummer Benedict led from the groove to anchor things with bassist Mike Lawrence and pianist David Gleason, while trumpeter Chris Pasin and tenor sax-man Brian Patneaude wove, dove, darted and soared singing lines overhead.

Bopitude swung as gracefully as they bopped, so their opener, Paul Chambers’s “Beauteous, drove between emphatic hard-hitting passages and a bossa interlude of contrasting charm. It wasn’t all high-pressure, however; though “Billy’s Bounce” sure did. “Joy Spring” eased and ambled nicely.

After Carmen Lookshire guest-sang “At Last,” pretty well, to start the second set, Jenkins rejoined in Art Blakey’s “Ala Mode,” swinging hard and full of song quotes as Benedict beamed behind the kit, then took it home himself with a solo on stands and cymbals as much as drumheads. “Happy Birthday” popped up in the first set, for Lawrence; but mostly the cats honored hard-bop giants of past decades, enjoying its playful impact as much as the fans. “We just love to play,” said Benedict, leaving the stage.

The Van Dyck Thursday night jazz series continues tonight with guitarist Chad McLaughlin’s quartet at 7 p.m., then Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble plays its monthly gig next Tuesday, 8 p.m.

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts


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