The sun sets before evening show times these days, as outdoor music events get scarce. The Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival on Saturday and two music weekends at Lake George are among few left on the calendar. Music mostly moves indoors, now, when road trips remain a fine (snow-free) idea.
One road trip years back didn’t work out so well for the maddest music fans I’d ever met: They drove to SPAC from Syracuse to see King Crimson at the WOMAD Festival, only to find they’d missed the British complex-rockers who had played two hours before their announced slot.
“Furious” doesn’t come close. I hope they got tickets early for King Crimson’s sold-out shows Tuesday and Wednesday at The Egg, the first two shows of just 17 on this tour.
Which King Crimson lineup (of about 20) will lucky fans see? Rolling Stone reports it will be guitarist/founder/leader/chief enigma Robert Fripp (who once played a Central Avenue record store with guitars and some tape recorders); bassist Tony Levin; drummer/percussionists Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison and Bill Rieflin (yes, three drummers); guitarist/singer Jakko Jakszyk and saxophonist Mel Collins.
If starting a tour here seems surprising, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Frank Zappa and others have launched major national runs from area venues. Zappa rehearsed for days at the Palace for his last-ever run, for example, then played a tremendous show.
Caffe Lena is one indoor venue that may prove too small for special shows this week.
On Sunday, longtime Caffe performers John Hammond and G. Love team up at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center in a benefit for the Caffe, which opened just two years before Hammond’s first show there, in 1963.
Before starting to write songs, Hammond reached back for his stripped-down blues, recording vintage masterpieces (33 albums to date) by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and other giants with expert support including The Band, Duane Allman, the Mussel Shoals crew and Dr. John. Hammond usually performs solo.
Both Hammond and G. Love left college after just a year; Hammond from Antioch, G. Love from Skidmore: He stayed long enough to discover Caffe Lena and star at its open mics.
Born Garrett Dutton in 1972 (nine years after Hammond’s Caffe Lena debut), G. Love acknowledges Hammond, Bob Dylan, Schoolly D, Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys among his inspirations and has recorded prolifically (17 albums since 1993) with the trio Special Sauce and as solo artist and collaborator with Jack Johnson, The Avett Brothers, Zap Mama and others.
Admission to their Caffe Lena benefit at Skidmore is $75 front and center, $47 orchestra level, $35 balcony. www.caffelena.org 583-0022
Fellow musicians, friends and fans will celebrate the too-brief life of the late Victoria Armstrong at the Caffe on Monday at 6:30 p.m. A longtime Saratoga resident and frequent Caffe performer with husband/musical partner Don Armstrong, Victoria died in May at home in Tucson. Don will be among the many performers on Monday. There’s no admission charge, but reservations are a must due to the huge admiration and affection Victoria earned here.
Like Don and Victoria Armstrong, both the Wild Ponies and the Bots are extra-close musical partnerships.
The Wild Ponies are husband and wife Americana-style singer/songwriters Doug (guitar) and Telisha (bass) Williams. They bring fresh songs from “Things that Used to Shine” and drummer Jake Winebrenner to Steamer No. 10 Theatre (500 Western Ave., Albany) on Friday. Catskill-based Americana singer-songwriter C.B. Smith opens, at 8 p.m., playing in a duo with bassist Bill Strohm. $13 advance; $15 on Friday. 438-5503, www.steamer10theatre.org
The Bots from Los Angeles are brothers Mikaiah (guitar or bass) and Anaiah Lei (drums). Fresh from widely praised gigs at Coachella and other festivals in San Francisco and Osaka, they play the Hollow Bar + Kitchen (79 N. Pearl St., Albany) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. $1.02. 426-8550, www.thehollowalbany.com
On Friday, Seun Kuti (sax-playing son of Afro-beat giant Fela) leads the 15-piece Egypt 80 band (featuring some Fela veterans) onstage at Club Helsinki (405 Columbia St., Hudson) for a steamy evening of transcontinental funk. 9 p.m. show, 6 p.m. doors. $25 advance general admission, $30 general admission on Friday; $35 reserved. 428-4000, www.helsinkihudson.com
On Saturday, the extra-elegant jazz singer Lizz Wright takes over Club Helsinki. Georgia-born, raised in the church, Wright can sing sanctified and soulful, with a wide repertoire and an effortless mastery of music directed to the spirit or the heart. She boasts both a warmly persuasive and graceful voice and a stage presence of effortless charisma. 9 p.m. show, 6 p.m. doors. $35 general admission; $45 reserved
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.