’Tis the season when transplanted local musicians come home for the holidays; some play shows for hometown crowds.
On Friday, Rocky Velvet reunites at Pauly’s Hotel (338 Central Ave., Albany) to re-create the careening, big-fun rockabilly energy they generated here from 1996 (when they formed in high school) to 2009. When they split so members could go off to play with (fellow local) Eddie Angel, Commander Cody (another one), Wanda Jackson and Robert Gordon, they left a big hole in the roots music scene here — and in many clubs’ schedules.
The lineup on Friday is guitarist Graham Tichy, singer Ian Carlton, drummer Jeff Michael and (from Rochester’s Hi-Risers) bassist Todd Bradley. They’ll fire up songs from their album “It Came From Cropseyville” and the early hillbilly rock and roll canon, starting at 9 p.m. Admission is $8. Phone 426-0828.
For purely selfish reasons, I wish the Martian Denny Orchestra would venture north from Nashville and swing by this way because it features some transplanted area musicians of note: the aforementioned guitarist Eddie Angel, co-starring for years in Los Straitjackets; guitarist Bob Irwin who runs Sundazed Records in Coxsackie but spends lots of time in Nashville these days; drummer Jimmy Lester, a former Straitjacket; bassist Dave Roe, who played in Johnny Cash’s last road band; and my he-plays-everything brother Jim Hoke. Click here for the Facebook page and on YouTube; and they’re working on an album now.
Busy weekend at Caffe
The music of the Lost Radio Rounders is a homecoming in itself, especially as they’ll be playing songs everybody knows in their “Carl Sandburg’s American Songbag” presentation on Friday at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.
These guys — multi-instrumentalists and singers Tom Lindsay and Michael Eck — perform historic material with folkloric roots that sometimes predate the Republic. And they’re very adroit at creating pacing and sequences that prevent any museum-ish feeling from spoiling the fun. Sandburg’s songbag, for example, includes “Shenandoah,” “The Midnight Special,” “Turkey in the Straw” and “John B. Sails,” but you haven’t heard those chestnuts the way these guys play and sing them.
The compatibly historic-minded, Portland-based troubadour Putnam Smith opens, starting at 8 p.m. He plays his grandfather’s banjo and gave his new CD an antique look by printing the notes on a circa 1901 letterpress. Admission is $15 in advance, $17 at the door. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.
Also at the Caffe this weekend, the Wholesale Klezmer Band returns for their annual holiday-season get-together on Saturday, and Matthew Carefully takes over on Sunday.
The Wholesale Klezmer crew sings Jewish party and dance music in Yiddish or Hebrew, and they play in universally infectious fashion. Show time is 8 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $16 in advance, $18 at the door.
Carefully is celebrated for co-starring in the Kamikaze Hearts and two solo albums; and he loves matching the venerable with the high-tech. Bailiwick (four Skidmore students wielding 10 instruments) opens at 7 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
We seem to be in a folk or post-folk run here, so we might as well stay with it: Transatlantic troubadour Zoe Lewis plays on Saturday at the Eighth Step at Proctors Underground (432 State St., Schenectady). It’s hard to know where Lewis would journey for a homecoming show: Born in coastal Britain, she played Latin jazz there before vagabonding via Thailand to Provincetown. If this suggests a lack of focus, don’t believe it: Lewis was Folk Winner at the Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival, took the Troubadour Award at the Colorado Rocky Mountain Folk Festival and Audience Favorite honors at our own nearby Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.
She celebrates the release of her new CD “Rotary Phone” on Saturday, following her recent album of children’s music, “Small Is Tremendous.” Show time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 on Saturday. Phone 434-1703 or 346-6204 or visit www.eighthstep.org or www.proctors.org.
Chicago at the Palace
When Chicago visits the Palace Theatre tonight, it will be a homecoming of sorts for co-founder (in 1967), trombonist and arranger James Pankow, whose first wife came from Troy. (I met them at a Beverly Hills restaurant years ago with Eagles guitarist Don Felder and his wife, Susan, and my [Schenectady-born] friend Nancy Lyons, who’s now married to Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip but was then married to Bee Gees producer Albhy Galuten. That was the night I met Dolly Parton and saw Los Lobos for the first time, but I digress. Oh, yeah — and Ted Knight was at the restaurant: He was on WROW radio and WTEN TV here, before becoming Ted Baxter on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”)
Chicago has sold 100 million albums, with 21 Top 10 singles (11 hit No. 1), played here many, many times, and proved to be as durable as they are productive. Show time is 8 p.m. tonight at the Palace (19 Clinton Ave., Albany). Tickets are $80, $70, $60 and $40. Phone 465-3334 or visit www.palacealbany.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.