Stuff happens twice this week: two big MASS MoCa shows, two Van Dyck guitar shows, a double-named band at the Low Beat, a married duo at The Egg, two stars we might not expect to see together at the Palace, two very different divas, and two unusual instrumental quartets.
Iron & Wine (the dual music-making name of singer-songwriter Sam Beam) plays at MASS MoCA (87 Marshall St., N. Adams, Mass.) on Sunday; Secret Sisters open at 6 p.m. $29. 413-662-2111 www.massmoca.org.
Beck plays there on Tuesday. His output has slowed since his early-’90s take-over-the-world burst, but the quality is still there on the deceptively quiet new “Morning Phase,” his 12th release, his first in six years and best since “Odelay.” 8 p.m. $50.
The Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) guitar blitz rolls on. The New West Guitar Group (USC grads John Storie, Perry Smith and Jeff Stein) mix electric and acoustic guitars in jazz standards and rock tunes on Friday. 8 p.m. $8, advance; $10 door. 348-7999. www.vandycklounge.com.
Tap-style pioneer Stanley Jordan does what looks impossible in two Saturday shows, tapping the strings, mainly, in a percussive, resonant attack but also plucking and strumming. His highly original approach to jazz feels intensely musical rather than drily technical. 7 and 9:30 p.m. $22, advance; $28 door.
Wakey! Wakey! plays the Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany) tonight. Singer-songwriter Michael Grubbs fronts this Brooklyn alt-pop combo; its music has been heard on “One Tree Hill” where he’s played cameos. 8 p.m. $10. 432-6572 www.thelowbeat.com.
Nashville singer-songwriter duo Johnnyswim (music and marriage partners Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano, daughter of the late Donna Summer) sing at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Monday. Their debut “Diamonds” has built big buzz, along with lots of TV. 7:30 p.m. $24. 473-1845 www.theegg.org.
Banjoist/comic (wait: is that redundant?) Steve Martin raised eyebrows with his bluegrassy Steep Canyon Rangers, and again by teaming up with singer Edie Brickell. It’s all for real: Martin/Rangers’ “The Crow” won a Grammy and a track from the Martin/Brickell album “Love Has Come for You” won a Grammy for Best American Roots Song.
They just released a live CD/DVD set via PBS Great Performances, and they team up Friday at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave. at N. Pearl St., Albany). $79.50, $59.50, $39.50. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.com.
Soul-pop diva Diana Ross sings on Tuesday at the Palace. Beyond just legendary, a superstar across the generations since the Supremes rivaled the Beatles, she has a magical presence and an untarnished voice. 8 p.m. $178, $98, $78, $55.
Broadway diva Linda Eder sings on Saturday at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center (N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs). “Post-Broadway” may be more accurate: Eder evades the stage trick of bloating songs with big, high finishes and is a tremendously gifted and versatile musician, not just comfortable in many styles but positively intrepid. 8 p.m. $65. 580-5321 www.skidmore.edu.
Strings and things
ETHEL looks like a conventional string quartet — well, maybe a hipster string quartet, vacationing at the beach. It’s anything but conventional: They apply conservatory technique to any music they want to, with consistently eye- and ear-opening results.
Current faves include Ennio Morricone’s score for “The Mission” and Jeff Buckley’s album “Grace.” ETHEL plays on Saturday at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (14 Castle St., Great Barrington, Mass.) 8 p.m. $30. 413-528-0100 www.mahaiwe.org.
The World Percussion Quartet plays on Wednesday at “Made in the Shade of The Egg.” Formed in 2012 to play the “Drums Along the Mohu” festival, this quartet is omni-percussionist Brian Melick, tabla player Devesh Chandra, African drummer Zorkie Nelson and steel pans player Aston “Robot” Ellis. Noon. Free.
“Is THAT all you got?” NRBQ pianist Terry Adams demanded, grinning, as the Bearsville Theater crowd applauded last Sunday night. He teased everybody into loosening up: More and more people jumped around as the ’Q won everybody over with range and surprise.
Adams intro’ed his own new “Ramona” by acknowledging his/its debt to Thelonious Monk's “Pannonica.” Then, calling an audible, he said, “This is how ‘Pannonica’ goes,” and played it solo, off the cuff and beautiful. Then he fired up Monk’s spunky post-bop “Well, You Needn’t” and the band jumped right in on it.
They also swung a hot “Take the A Train,” featured trombonist Carl Q in “The Stripper,” did two Byrds’ covers and songs by ex-members Al Anderson, Joey Spampinato and the late Steve Ferguson.
On the road a week after two months off, with drummer Conrad Choucroun back from paternity leave, they were happy and confident, playing hard and having a good time — especially when Adams cut loose on keyboards or saxophonist Klem Klimek came up front to howl “Get a Grip” – way over the top. In “Peanuts,” Adams threw handfuls of them into the crowd.
They sampled their new “Brass Tacks” album, singing country-sweet on my brotherJim Hoke’s “I Want to Know,” playing it straight in the chestnut “Getting to Know You,” lamenting “This Flat Tire,” celebrating “Love this Love We Got,” assuring, in guitarist Scott Ligon’s words, “It’ll Be Alright,” declaring war in bassist Casey McDonough’s “Fighting Back” and impatiently announcing “Can’t Wait to Kiss You,” also by McDonough.
All were worthy additions to a deep songbag filled with older gems they also played Sunday to shouts of delight: “Little Floater,” “Green Lights,” “Ridin’ in My Car,” “Ain’t It Alright,” and some other faves. Very damn cool.
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.