In this busiest week onstage for months, Field Report may be the secret-weapon breakout band, opening for Sara Watkins at The Egg on Saturday after a week at SXSW.
As quietly acoustic as the Low Anthem or Bon Iver (Field Report leader, songwriter and pedal steel player Chris Porterfield played with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon in DeYarmond Edison) and very much in their league, Field Report makes songs like miniature novels, illustrated with wide-open rustic tonalities that achieve a rare kind of welcoming intimacy. Among kinda-similar bands, I like them better than Mumford & Sons or Dawes, but only a little better than the Lone Bellow.
There’s no guarantee that Field Report will steal this show from Watkins. Actually make that two Watkinses: Fiddler and singer Sara performs with guitarist brother and former Nickel Creek band mate Sean (now also in WPA and the Fiction Family).
Since Nickel Creek split, she has toured with Jackson Browne and The Decemberists and released two albums, honing her own multigenre musical vision. (Meanwhile the other former third of Nickel Creek, ever-restless mandolinist Chris Thile, plays with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau on April 13 at The Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington, Mass.; then he returns with Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer to Tanglewood on Aug. 15 in the Goat Rodeo Show.)
Field Report opens at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for Sara Watkins at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $20. Phone 473-1845 or visit www.theegg.org.
Van Dyck celebration
Looking at the worn brick and wide beams in the Van Dyck, you just know it’s older than the 66 years it’s been presenting music. Some claim it was a house of ill repute before the late, great Marvin Friedman started bringing his jazz-playing pals up from New York. Looking at my photo above, you just know I’m the same age as the Van Dyck. So the club’s anniversary weekend means something to me, partly because I once lived across the street and have seen amazing shows there for years.
The place (237 Union St., Schenectady) celebrates this weekend with three shows spanning the spectrum of music it has hosted since Marvin’s nights there, choosing 66 as their big number because of Bobby Troup’s song “Route 66,” which has been every kind of tune from classic jazz to now.
This 66th year Van Dyck weekend starts tonight with the Stick Men featuring Tony Levin (click here to read Brian McElhiney’s profile on Levin) who’s played the Van Dyck with numerous bandleaders. — maybe most memorably a trio show with Larry Coryell.
Tickets tonight are $22.
On Friday, Jim Cullum leads his jazz band onto the Van Dyck stage to celebrate old-school (pre-WWII, pre-Van Dyck, in fact) small band jazz, as we previewed in these pages recently. Tickets are $22 in advance and $26 the day of the show.
On Saturday, it’s classic rock with the Jefferson Starship, led by Paul Kantner, a true Summer of Love survivor now older than the Van Dyck at just past 72. Kantner kept rolling past the breakup of the Jefferson Airplane, a sci-fi-oriented solo career launched by “Blows Against the Empire” (his first “solo” effort but really an all-hands-on-deck San Francisco hippie riff-fest deluxe), then various versions of Jefferson Starship and Starship, even a Jefferson Airplane reunion.
His current Jefferson Starship features co-founder (and former Quicksilver Messenger Service member) and multi-instrumentalist David Freiberg, longtime guitarist Slick Aguilar, drummer Donny Baldwin, keyboardist Chris Smith and Cathy Richardson, singing the parts Grace Slick once sang.
Show times are 7 and 9:30 p.m. all three nights. Admission for Jefferson Starship is $29 in advance, $35 at the door. Phone 348-7999 or visit www.vandycklounge.com.
Two cool shows happen south of here, both on Saturday.
Jazz saxophonist Ralph Lalama (member of Joe Lovano’s Nonet and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra) brings his trio Bop Juice — bassist Mike Karn and drummer Clifford Barbaro — to the Athens Cultural Center (24 Second St., Athens) at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. Phone 945-2669 or visit www.planetarts.org.
Country-folk singer-songwriter Tift Merritt played WAMC recently with her band, but on Saturday at Club Helsinki (405 Columbia St., Hudson), she teams up with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein in “Night,” a suite of songs written for them by Brad Mehldau, Patty Griffin, Philip Lasser and others — with some arranged by fiddler-singer Jenny Scheinman. Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $30. Phone 828-4800 or visit www.helsinkihudson.com.
Roots at WAMC
WAMC’s Roots Music Festival 4 also happens on Saturday, at The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany). The Red Haired Strangers host, and folk-blues duo Brown Bird from Rhode Island headlines. It’s a full evening, starting at 8 and featuring James Edmond’s Heavenly Echoes, Lost Radio Rounders and Friends presenting songs of the Carter Family, and Olivia Quillio in addition to Brown Bird and the Red Haired Strangers. Admission is $3 per band, or $15. Phone 465-5233 ext. 4 or visit www.thelinda.org.
Roots at The Egg
Jazz singer Kurt Elling explores the roots of American rock on his Grammy-nominated album “1619 Broadway — The Brill Building Project” and onstage on Sunday at The Egg. The Brill Building is the hit factory at that address, where commercial rock ’n’ roll was invented, but where jazz masters had also worked and where Paul Simon still has an office.
That range gave Elling artistic license to sing such jazz classics as Duke Ellington’s “Tutti for Cootie” (Duke had an office there, too), and early rock numbers including Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me,” Leiber & Stoller’s “Stand By Me,” Goffin & King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Another Pleasant Valley Sunday,” Mann & Weill’s “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling,” Bacharach & David’s “Walk On By” and Simon’s “American Tune.”
Show time for Kurt Elling’s “1619 Broadway — The Brill Building Project” is 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $29.50 and $27.50. Visit theegg.org for more info.
Once-local heroes moe. present their winter fest in Vermont on Friday and Saturday. Moe. plays two sets on Saturday, one outdoors on the Bear Mountain stage at Killington Resort and another in the Spartan Arena (100 Diamond Run Place, Rutland).
Snoe.down also features Tauk, the Primate Fiasco, Floodwood, Jimkata, Dumpstaphunk, and Eastbound Jesus. Marco Benevento plays a special prefestival showcase tonight at the Wobbly Barn (2229 Killington Road, Killington). Admission is $10.
Snoe.down tickets range from single-day admission at $53.26 to all the music for $88.17 and various music and lift-ticket combinations up to $278.82. Phone 802-863-5966 or visit www.flynntix.org.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.