The Upstate Beat: Spring preview — a few musical highlights of the season ahead

Five people on a wooden porch, two standing

Co-founder Patterson Hood of the band Drive-by Truckers, shown here, played a solo show at Albany’s Lark Hall last December. He comes to The Egg on May 8 with his musical partner Mike Cooley and the full Americana band. 

UPSTATE BEAT – Spring is nearly here. The sun shines more often, the days are longer, and the first little buds and flowers have erupted from the earth. With spring comes a musical bounty, as more artists venture on tour, and hibernating Capital Region residents emerge from their dens to see music in the live sphere. We have lots to look forward to around here. A perusal of the show listings for the next three months finds there are many promising under-the-radar — and some over-the-radar — shows to look forward to this spring. A few highlights:

April 8: The Bobby Lees are one of the best rock bands from the greater Hudson Valley. The Woodstock group embodies the spirit of upstate New York in redneck fashion – garage jump suits, worker overalls — and snotty attitude, wrapped up in some of the catchiest, most rocking garage-punk music around. They will make the crowd at No Fun (275 River St., Troy) explode.

April 15: Caffè Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) presents an evening with Hiss Golden Messenger singing black-eyed prayers and snake songs. The Durham, North Carolina, group, led by songwriter and bandleader M.C. Taylor, combines elements from the American songbook with existential ruminations, an indescribable spirit and an undeniable groove.

April 28: The legendary John Doe, frontman for Los Angeles punk rock band X, brings his latest project to the Hangar on the Hudson (675 River St., Troy) with a new album in tow: “Fables in a Foreign Land.” Doe formed the John Doe Folk Trio in his current home of Austin, Texas, with bassist Kevin Smith (Willie Nelson) and drummer Conrad Choucron (NRBQ).

May 2-May 7: Alanis Morissette’s redemptive “Jagged Little Pill 25th Anniversary Tour” at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in 2021 was one of the highlights of the SPAC season, with the songs sounding instantly recognizable, yet fresh, and Morrissette herself seeming full of energy. It will be fun to see how Morissette’s music and spirit translates to theater when Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) brings the Broadway musical, “Jagged Little Pill,” inspired by the songwriter and album, to its stage.

May 8: Drive-by Truckers co-founder Patterson Hood played a riveting solo show at Albany’s Lark Hall last December. He comes to The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) with his musical partner Mike Cooley and the full Americana band. Don’t miss the chance to see one of the best rock bands touring today.

May 18: If you have yet to see a show at Argyle Brewing Company’s Cambridge Depot (6 Broad St., Cambridge), now is a good time to check out the charming bar and music venue housed in an old train station. For the last two decades, Micah Schnabel has toured as one of the main songwriters for the acclaimed Columbus, Ohio, band Two Cow Garage. It’s always worth seeing the self-described beat poet with a guitar.

June 4: California rock band Rival Sons bring their 1970s-inspired hard rock and “Darkfighter” album tour to Empire Live (93 N. Pearl St., Albany). Most excitedly, they also bring The Record Company and Starcrawler as opening acts. Starcrawler is a group of young Los Angeles rockers with killer style and an over-the-top, crazy-kinetic lead singer, Arrow de Wilde.

A few more to look forward to: Neo-folk singer Suzanne Vega at Universal Preservation Hall (April 14); Little Feat’s “Boogie Your Spring Away” tour at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (April 18); indie-rock’s The Mountain Goats at Empire Live (April 18); Indiana power-pop band Houndmouth, who opened for Greta Van Fleet at MVP Arena last fall, headlining at Empire Live (April 22); reggae legends The Wailers at the Strand Theatre in Hudson Falls (April 22); Catskill singer-songwriter Amy Rigby at Argyle Brewing Company (May 7); Burlington punk act Rough Francis at the Hangar on the Hudson (May 18); heartland rocker John Mellencamp at the Palace Theatre (June 13); and legendary pop group TLC kicking off the SPAC summer season with Shaggy, En Vogue and Sean Kingston (June 16).

The Week Ahead

— At press time, there were still a few tickets left to see Caroline Rose kick off her North American tour at Skidmore College’s Arthur Zankel Music Center (815 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on Friday. The indie-rock singer-songwriter, known for her witty humor, clever lyrics, pop sensibility and all-red attire, played a wickedly charming set at Albany’s 2018 PearlPalooza. 8 p.m.
— In honor of April Fool’s Day, the 8th Step at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) gathers an ensemble of singer-songwriters to perform funny songs in-the-round. The Friday show features five humorous folk artists – David Buskin, Robin Batteau, Christine Lavin, Shanna in a Dress and John Forster – on stage at once, taking turns accompanying each other and paying tribute to comedy-music icons Tom Lehrer and Cheryl Wheeler. 7:30 p.m.
— You either love ABBA, or you feel that you’ve heard enough “Dancing Queen” and “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme…” for one lifetime. For those who love the Swedish pop group, Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) presents the ultimate ABBA tribute act on Saturday, as “The Concert: A Tribute To ABBA” brings the pop phenomena to life on the main stage. 8 p.m.
— SPAC’s spring season at the Spa Little Theatre (108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs) continues on Sunday with a set, in partnership with Caffè Lena, from The Steel Wheels, a string-based Americana band from Virginia with strong bluegrass underpinnings and a feel-good collaborative vibe. 7 p.m.
— With roots in Capital Region groups like End of a Year and Self Defense Family, the post-punk hardcore band Drug Church is national in scope now but still claims Albany as its origin. The dark, socially conscious group comes to Empire Live (93 N. Pearl St., Albany) on Sunday with another Albany group that has since grown quite big — Prince Daddy and the Hyena. Also on the bill: Webbed Wing, Anxious, and Albany’s Halo Bite and Sunbloc. 7 p.m.
Contact Kirsten Ferguson at [email protected]

Categories: Entertainment, Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Saratoga Springs

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