The Upstate Beat: Adirondack Film Festival unites music, visual art

Debbie Harry in “Blondie: Vivir en la Habana."

Debbie Harry in “Blondie: Vivir en la Habana."

UPSTATE BEAT – The iconic new wave band Blondie still tours, but the group isn’t scheduled to come through the Capital Region anytime soon. Local fans can still get their Blondie fix tonight, when the Adirondack Film Festival opens with a screening of a short documentary that captures the group’s ground-breaking 2019 trip to Havana, Cuba, as part of a cultural exchange.

This was a 40-year dream come true for the influential post-punk band. Director Rob Roth, a longtime collaborator with Blondie and artists like David Bowie, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, documented the Cuba trip in a short film called “Blondie: Vivir en la Habana,” which creates a dream-like portrait of the legendary band’s experience.

Narration from Blondie founders Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Clem Burke provides a glimpse of the passion and beauty they discovered in Havana and their experience performing alongside incredible Cuban musicians. In spite of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s ban on “subversive” Western music, fans are seen in the film singing along with Blondie songs like “Tide Is High” and “Heart of Glass.”

The Blondie film kicks off the Adirondack Film Festival tonight at the Charles R. Wood Theater at 7:30 p.m., along with an evening of music videos and a Q&A with director Rob Roth. The festival continues over the weekend with panel discussions, special events and 70-plus films on multiple screens in downtown Glens Falls.

Can’t make it in person? A virtual option allows film and music lovers to watch virtually. Check out all the ticket options at

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Billy Bragg Electrifies Troy Savings Bank Music Hall

“Music doesn’t have the power to change the world, but it has the power to make you think you can,” said British folk-rock legend Billy Bragg, putting the onus on the rapt audience at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall on Tuesday night to make the world a better place, rather than expect music performers to make change happen through song.

Bragg’s rousing 20-song set alternated between new songs from his latest album, “The Million Things that Never Happened,” inspired by life during pandemic-related lockdowns, and old classics like “A Lover Sings,” “Levi Stubbs’ Tears,” “Greetings to the New Brunette” and “There Is Power in a Union.”

In between there was lots of Billy Bragg banter: always witty, on-point and inspiring. “I hope you take away tonight the idea that the world can change, and you can play a part in it,” he said before ending the evening with one of his greatest tunes, “Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards,” about the seemingly endless work of political activism.

The Week Ahead

— Indie darling Clem Snide, aka Israeli-born songwriter Eef Barzelay, comes to Lark Hall (351 Hudson Avenue Albany) on Friday in support of his latest album “Forever Just Beyond,” which highlights his insightful lyrics and idiosyncratic delivery. Also on the bill is acclaimed Americana singer-songwriter Jill Andrews. 8 p.m.
— Drummer Corky Laing, the last surviving member of the classic lineup of hard rock band Mountain, brings his power trio to Pauly’s Hotel (337 Central Ave., Albany) on Friday for the 50th Anniversary Mississippi Queen Cowbell Tour, a night of Mountain songs plus a tribute to Cream. Laing will also sign copies of his memoir. With the Ryan Matter Band. 8 p.m.
— Misty Blues, a 2019 International Blues Challenge finalist led by singer Gina Coleman, is at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) on Saturday to perform “Queen of the Blues.” The show pays tribute to four quintessential female blues artists—Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Ruth Brown and Koko Taylor—through their songs and stories from their lives. 8 p.m.
— On Saturday, a heavy metal double bill takes over MVP Arena (51 S Pearl St., Albany) when Judas Priest and Queensrÿche ride into town. Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford will likely drive out onto stage on his chopper, brandishing a riding crop and dressed head-to-toe in leather for the band’s iconic tunes like “Hell Bent for Leather,” “Breaking the Law” and “Living After Midnight.” 8 p.m.
— Neo-garage rockers Wild Weeds, a quartet playing their own brand of “lake surf” music, team up with singer-songwriter and storyteller Marc Delgado at the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy) this Saturday. Delgado’s performances are a mix of spoken-word, jazz improv, art rock, folk music, guerrilla theatre, lush vocal harmonies and loud rock’n’roll. 8 p.m.
— You will not hear better string quartet playing in the world today, said the BBC of Takács Quartet. The world-renowned quartet graces Union College’s Memorial Chapel (807 Union St., Schenectady) at 3 p.m. Sunday (see page C2.)
— The music of Algerian group Imarhan is based in the traditional rhythms and flourishes of Tamasheq wedding bands and the Assouf music pioneered by Tinariwen, but the band’s songs are contemporary, bridging past and future. Don’t miss this uncompromising and wholly original group at No Fun (275 River St., Troy) on Tuesday, Oct. 18. 7 p.m.

Reach Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

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