So, who’s hot? Which performers can vanquish Ol’ Man Winter and warm us up?
Despite the closing of some venues, the live music selections are pretty impressive. We may be less inclined to launch musical road trips now than the rest of the year, but some out-of-town attractions are worth the risk. This time around, however, we’ve recommended pop, rock and blues shows within easy driving distance, listed here chronologically.
• Jan. 26: Trey Anastasio Band at the Palace Theatre in Albany. The Phish guitarist’s funk band — powered by local hero-bassist Tony Markellis — has built its own loyal following by laying down big, big grooves and decorating them with guitar (duh!) and horn solos. Its seven players make a lot of sound.
• Jan. 30: Heart at Proctors in Schenectady. Newly selected for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with a fistful of Grammys and 35 million albums sold, the mighty Wilson sisters (singer Ann and guitarist Nancy) are on the charts again. Full-on rock shows are rare at Proctors, but the room sounds great when full of big noise.
• Feb. 1: Tift Merritt and David Wax Museum at WAMC’s The Linda in Albany. Rightly compared to Joni Mitchell (songwriting) and Emmylou Harris (singing), Merritt merits this pick for her past stellar shows here and new songs from “Traveling Alone.” The David Wax Museum weaves Mexican and Americana roots into a rich tapestry.
• Feb. 6: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at The Egg in Albany. These Vermont rockers sold out this show before most fans could grab their credit cards; they’re that hot, bursting beyond their regional fan base to such high-profile showcases as Bonnaroo, Floydfest, Hangout and “Love for Levon.” They even have their own chocolate bar.
• April 27: Jake Shimabukuro at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. He plays ukulele. Don’t laugh. He plays like Jimi Hendrix played, with overwhelming technical command and a boldly fearless musical conception. This great virtuoso’s deep humanity warms his skill and formidable smarts with engaging sweetness.
— Gazette popular music writer Michael Hochanadel