And now for something(s) completely different . . .
There’s a lecture/deconstruction of a Beatles album, a concert-reading-Q&A, and a cross-cultural hybrid performance.
Like all Beatles albums, “The Beatles,” widely known as the White Album, has inspired decades of obsessive analysis, conversation, even meditation by musicians and fans. On Friday at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady), composer, producer, engineer and Beatles obsessive Scott Freiman presents “Looking Through a Glass Onion: Deconstructing the Beatles’ White Album.”
Freiman uses audio and video clips to help guide audiences through the album, drawing on first-hand accounts of how the Beatles developed and recorded their best-selling album (19 times platinum and the 10th best album ever in U.S. sales), including such instant and enduring classics as “Hey Jude” (my dad’s favorite, and their top-selling single), “Blackbird,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Revolution” (1, and 9).
Sold-out show, or lecture, begins is 7:30 p.m.
Mike Doughty has (or is) a vivid story and he’s not afraid to tell it.
On Saturday, he visits WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany) in what he calls “The Book of Drugs” — a concert-reading-Q&A event. Released on Feb. 1, “The Book of Drugs” recounts his eight-year run as founder and leader of the band Soul Coughing. On Jan. 31, Doughty released “The Question Jar Show,” a two-CD live album recorded with bassist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston. The album collects songs and conversations stimulated by fans’ written requests, queries and comments stuffed into a jar before each show — much as NRBQ did with its Magic Box.
Alarmingly candid, “The Book of Drugs” pulls no punches on Doughty or anyone else. Novelist Rick Moody has praised the “astonishingly vital, energized and natural voice contained in its pages, one which never once had a ghost writer presiding over it, likewise its acerbic and sometimes lacerating honesty.”
Doughty picks up his guitar, opens the pages of “The Book of Drugs,” takes questions — or all three at once — starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $22. Phone 465-5233 or visit www.wamcarts.org.
The string quartet ETHEL and Native American (Taos Pueblo) flute player and drummer Robert Mirabal team up on Saturday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy) in “Music of the Sun.”
ETHEL is configured like a conventional string quartet: violinists Cornelius Dufallo and Jennifer Choi, cellist Dorothy Lawson and violist Ralph Farris. But ETHEL is anything but conventional. They use amps and they improvise. They have toured with rockers Joe Jackson and Todd Rundgren, and they have played both RPI’s EMPAC and the TED Conference.
A protégé of Carlos Nakai, Mirabal is also an ace collaborator, composing music for Japanese dancers, and leading a band with a Senegalese guitarist, a Cape Verdean drummer and a Haitian keyboardist. He crafts his own flutes and drums, and he earlier collaborated with ETHEL at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival in 2008. Click here to read Geraldine Freedman’s preview of this show.
Show time for “Music of the Sun” by ETHEL and Robert Mirabal is 8 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $35, $30, $25; students $15. Phone 273-0038 or visit www.troymusichall.org.
Now for something warmly familiar
Robin and Linda Williams are as consistent and as welcome as the seasons: Virginia-based troubadours/life partners equally comfortable in the down-home folk or the up-the-hollow country traditions.
On more than 20 albums and decades of tours that have brought them to just about every coffeehouse, grange hall and barn hereabouts, they have woven quietly thoughtful or rousing and muscular musical tales of ordinary people they render heroic and heroes they bring right next door. Case in point: their new album “Stonewall Country” traces the life of Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
On Saturday at the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theatre, Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group (bassist Jim Watson and fiddler/mandolinist Chris Brashear) will cherry pick tunes from “Stonewall Country” and its many predecessors. And it will feel like home. Show time is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $26. Phone 434-1702 or 346-6204 or visit www.eighthstep.org or www.proctors.org.
Revisionism, or not
After Willie Nile’s show last Saturday at The Linda, Don Wilcock said to me, “Well, I guess we were right about this guy, 32 years ago.”
Wilcock, a longtime Troy Record music writer, Buddy Guy’s biographer (“Damn Right I’ve Got the Blues”) and currently BluesWax editor in chief, and I met Willie Nile in 1980 when he played the MayFest free show at the University at Albany. He knocked everybody out then, and he’s still doing it.
When I mentioned Don’s words to Willie by email, he said, “I feel like I’ve grown into it after all these years and am having a great time.” In an earlier email, Willie had said, “It’s amazing to me how connected we all are and it doesn’t take much to uncover that connection with some good and meaningful songs and a bit of genuine humanity and compassion.”
That’s not a bad mission statement, but so is his song “One Guitar,” which ends with this call to action: “So if you get knocked down, you gotta take a stand. For all the outcast, dead last who need a helping hand. So get your tambourines and turn your amps up loud. And raise your voices, voices up above this crowd.”
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.