Sousaphone rumbles rose through the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall floor upward past my knees last Friday; trumpet, sax and guitar blasts made my socks roll up and down and the drums — oh, the drums! The Dirty Dozen Brass Band was in the Hall, laying it down and lifting us up.
After Hall Executive Director Jon Elman thanked them for bringing the funk, the noise and the weather of New Orleans to us, they shared beats and heat in such Mardi Gras week plenitude we all felt we’d joined a parade — beads or no beads.
The seven DDBB veterans played with calm assurance that turned rousing, after an adrenalized set by pianist Eldar’s young trio launched the first of two nights of the third annual Bridge Jazz Festival. A joint venture with the Massry Center at the College of Saint Rose, Bridge continued Saturday there with sax-man Maceo Parker and singer Cyrille Aimee.
On Friday, seemingly dedicated to playing ALL the notes available, the fiery Eldar, bassist Armando Gola and drummer Ludwig Afonso needed the change of pace ballad “Willow Weep for Me” to peel themselves off the ceiling.
A veteran horn-powered collective (founded 1977) with a somewhat elastic lineup, DDBB arrived without a trombone and drummer Julian Addison subbing for Terence Higgins (touring with the The Last Waltz crew that hit the Palace hard last month).
But nothing was missing as (75-year-old) baritone sax-man Roger Lewis laid a mambo undertow into their swampy opener, “Hoodoo.” Kirk Joseph (whose own band back in New Orleans features four Sousaphones!) toed the wah-wah pedal on his amp for an eerie edge to the beat, trumpeters Gregory Davis and Efrem (ET) Towns held a wicked cutting contest up front as tenor-man Kevin Harris and guitarist Takeshi Shimmura fed lines and chords into the flow like cabs charging from side streets onto bumper-to-bumper Broadway.
Meanwhile, fiercely ambidextrous Addison knocked the funk up the aisles and around the room. The Mardi Gras chant “Big Chief” was even better, Towns whistling the intro, and a coda — after the band took “Burn Down the Levee” and “Oo-Poo-Pah-Doo” for a ride aboard the “Chief.”
By the third song, everybody was up, some singing along on “Big Mamou” (no, not a commercial for Chef Wayne’s cozy Springfield, Massachusetts restaurant of that name) that blurred along its joyous way into a handful of James Brown funk get-downs. Nobody could fault Joseph for setting aside his Sousaphone for the encore: He sang bass lines as thunderous as those he’d blasted from all that brass plumbing.
Throngs roaming from bar to restaurant to gallery to bar during Troy Night Out and passing the almost levitating Hall must have wondered, “What’s going on in THERE?!”
WILLIAMS MUSIC AT 8TH STEP
Singer-songwriter Dar Williams has stepped up her activist game while growing her skills and creative reach, teaching a course in “Music Movements in a Capitalist Democracy” at Wesleyan, her alma mater, for example, authoring a study on the vitality of villages and towns, and self-releasing “Emerald,” her latest (and ninth) album.
An area fave, she returns to the Eighth Step at Proctors GE Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady) on Saturday. Trevor Gordon Hall, one of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s top 30 guitarists in the world under 30 years old, opens. 7:30 p.m. $26 advance, $28 on Saturday, $40 front and center. 434-1703 www.8thstep.org
Last Tuesday was Mardi Gras, but Louisiana music keeps rolling through. On Saturday, C. J. Chenier, son of zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier and a strong singer, bandleader and accordionist himself, leads his Red Hot Louisiana Band at Riverfront Center (1250 Riverfront Center, E. Main St., Amsterdam) in a benefit for the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation, which presents free concerts all summer in Riverlink Park. Doors at 5:30 p.m., cocktails 6 p.m., Russo’s Grill caters a Cajun buffet at 7 p.m.; music and dancing at 8 p.m. $60 advance, $70 door. 842-7461 www.riverlinkconcerts.com
VAN ZANDT SONGS
Texas troubadour Townes Van Zandt was as famous for renditions of his terrific songs by other singers as for singing them himself. On Saturday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) in “Rain on a Conga Drum: The Songs of Townes Van Zandt,” his songs are in the very capable hands of John Kruth, The Sea The Sea, Cloud Lifter, John and Orion Kribs and host Michael Eck. 8 p.m. $20. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org
LAZY SUNS SHINE AGAIN
Local Americana heroes the Lazy Suns lost longtime dobro-pedal steel-slide guitar whiz Rick Morse last year; but they never lost their mojo. Last year’s “Bar Hotel Music” album jumped onto every regional Best Of list, including ours. And they play on Saturday at the Wolf Hollow Brewing Co. (6882 Amsterdam Road [Rt. 5], Glenville) — their first gig since Morse passed. The Lazy Suns are Marc Clayton (the Tern Rounders, with Morse), guitar; Ed Jahn (the Ed Jahn Band), guitar; Nick Parslow (the Sidewinders), drums; and Jeff Sohn (Coal Palace Kings, with Morse), bass. Everybody sings. 9 p.m. Free. 214-4093 www.wolfhollowbrewing.com
The Carolina kids making up the Barefoot Movement generally do play without shoes — though WHO KNOWS whether the weather will allow that when they play Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) on Sunday? International Bluegrass Music Association Momentum Award winners, this quartet — Noah Wall, fiddle; Tommy Norris, mandolin; Alex Conerly, guitar; Katie Blomarz, bass — might be hot enough to make their own weather. 7 p.m. $18 advance, $20 on Sunday, $10 students and children. 583-0022 www.caffelena.org
The Finger Lakes Guitar Quartet — Joel Brown, Brett Grigsby, Sten Isachsen and Paul Quigley — plays at Bethesda Episcopal Church (41 Washington St. near Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on Saturday. The quartet reaches back centuries to the Renaissance for some songs; others are brand new, commissioned from Skidmore’s Anthony Holland. 2 p.m. $10. 584-5980
O’CONNOR’S NEW STANDARD
Jazz singer Jeanne O’Connor’s New Standard band features area A-listers, wall-to-wall all stars. They back O’Connor on Saturday at One Caroline Street Bistro (yep, One Caroline St., Saratoga Springs): Bob Warren, guitar and vocals; Sam Zucchini, drums and vocals; Mallory Donnelly, vocals; Tony Markellis, bass; and Scott Bassinson, keyboards. 9 p.m. 587-2026 www.onecaroline.com
Reach Gazette Columnist Michael Hochanadel at email@example.com.