If the holiday season is the time for excess of all sorts, here comes more of what we found onstage last week: homecoming and holiday shows.
The Figgs present both: They used to live here and they return on Friday for their annual holiday show at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) with the Charlie Watts Riots opening. Since forming in 1987 as the Sonic Undertones, The Figgs have recorded nine albums (some on major labels), supported Graham Parker and Tommy Stinson and changed lineups only a little. They returned in 1997 to their original trio format with guitarist Mike Gent, bassist Pete Donnelly (who also plays in the Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet) and drummer Pete Hayes; and their most recent album, “The Man Who Fights Himself,” appeared earlier this year.
Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $10. Phone 432-6572 or visit www.valentinesalbany.com.
‘Christmas Sinatra style’
Somehow, Ol’ Blue Eyes doesn’t seem the Christmas-y type. But the Joey Thomas Big Band sets up at The Egg on Saturday at 2 p.m. to put a holiday spin on the Great American Songbook that Sinatra ruled for so long. Singers Bob Father and Mia Scirocco will front the band on Saturday. Admission is $35, $31.50 for seniors, veterans and students. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
Mountain Show & Mistletoe
Perhaps no holiday show is more eagerly awaited than “Mountain Snow & Mistletoe” starring life and musical partners Christopher Shaw and Bridget Ball. At holiday time, these veteran folksingers enlist their Mountain Snow Orchestra for texture, humor and sheer strength in numbers: guitarist and singer Kevin McKrell; multi-instrumentalist John Kirk, who seems able to play any instrument with warm, laid-back flair; and the elfish Brian Melick. More than just a percussionist, he is both musically invaluable and officially hilarious. If McKrell and Melick perform “ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and you don’t fall out of your chair laughing, then you need a funny-bone transplant.
Other elements of “Mountain Snow & Mistletoe” also demonstrate there’s no shtick like old shtick. Shaw may assure you in an elaborate tall tale that his uncle Walt is a patient man, and a good hunter, and Ball can really rev the crowd with a patented audience-participation number. However, these guys are equally effective, or more so, when they play it straight. “Ten Dollar Christmas” and “Shine a Light” bring down the house every time.
Presented at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall for years by Mona Golub, a self-proclaimed “nice Jewish lady” who nonetheless had absolutely no trouble joining its holiday spirit, this annual favorite has made its home at The Egg in recent years. Mountain Snow & Mistletoe unwraps its musical and comical gifts on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $24.
O’Connor and friends
On Friday night at The Egg — the night before the holiday triple-header of “Christmas Sinatra Style” on Saturday afternoon and “Mountain Snow & Mistletoe” on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon — jazz singer Jeanne O’Connor brings her String of Pearls vocal trio (O’Connor with Sue Halloran and Holli Ross) to join the Mendelssohn Club of Albany in a holiday show. Accompanied by pianist Peg Delaney, bassist Pete Toigo and drummer Pete Sweeney, String of Pearls will sing when the huge Mendelssohn Club chorus takes a break. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $18.
O’Connor also performs with Delaney and Toigo on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Panza’s (510 Route 9P, Saratoga Springs). Phone 584-6882 or visit www.panzasrestaurant.com.
McKrell’s Christmas shows
McKrell & Melick aren’t finished with holiday music when the curtain comes down on “Mountain Snow & Mistletoe.” They play “Kevin McKrell’s Christmas Shows” next Friday (Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.) and Saturday (Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.) at the Parting Glass (40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs), then Saturday evening at 8 p.m. at WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium. Then they’re back at the Parting Glass on Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Dec. 23, at 6 and 9:30 p.m.
McKrell leads several bands, but Melick is in all of them; and the likely supporting cast is fiddler Doug Moody, singer (and daughter) Katie McKrell and guitarist Seth Warden.
Admission is $10 for the Parting Glass shows (phone 583-1916) and $15 at WAMC (phone 465-5233 Ext. 4 or visit www.wamcarts.org.
‘Classic Irish Christmas’
Singer Andy Cooney headlines this ethnic-holiday favorite evening on Saturday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy). Starting at 7:30 p.m., this show benefits the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany. Cooney both performs and hosts, with comedian George Casey, soprano Emma Kate Tobia, the Darrah Carr Dancers, musical director Brian Moran, percussionist Jimmy Kelly, guitarist Colm Graham, and Matthew Fisher playing flute and whistles.
Tickets are $34 and $29, Phone 273-0038 or visit www.troymusichall.org.
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected]