Rocking bands, terrific troubadours, even more guitars — oh, and a seven-foot-tall clown. In other words, get your tickets now.
Max Creek celebrates 45 years of jams, in the Grateful Dead spirit but with their own songs, on Friday at Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.). This Connecticut crew boasts original members Scott Murawski, guitar; Mark Mercier, keyboards; and John Rider, bass; plus newcomers Bill Carbone and Jamemurell Stanley playing drums and percussion. 8 p.m. $22 advance, $27 door. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.org
On Saturday, the long-running (since 1997) Dark Star Orchestra returns to the Palace (19 Clinton Ave. at N. Pearl St.), playing their patented blend of Grateful Dead tributes cum musical puzzles: Exactly what Grateful Dead show are they playing tonight, song for song? DSO doesn’t just celebrate the super-famous, busily bootlegged ones: the Avalon ’69, Cornell ’77, for example. Their knowledge is encyclopedic, their skill kaleidoscopic, their jams stratospheric. 8 p.m. $35.50 advance, $$38.50 on Saturday. 800-745-3000 www.palacealbany.com
A Perfect Circle collects hard-rock stars singer Maynard James Keenan (Tool, Puscifer), drummer James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins, Tinted Windows), guitarist Billy Howerdel (Ashes Divide), bassist Matt McJunkins (Eagles of Death Metal, the Beta Machine) and drummer Jeff Friedl (the Beta Machine, Puscifer) and welds them into a powerful riff machine. They rock the Times Union Center (51 S. Pearl St., Albany) on Saturday in their first tour in six years. They’re prolific for a part-time crew, with three studio albums, a compilation and a live box set, plus fresh music in the works. 8 p.m. $75, $55, $39.50. 518-745-3000 www.timesunioncenter-albany.com
Another all-star crew rocks the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) on Saturday: the Security Project comprising wonderful Woodstockers including former Albany super-singer Happy Rhodes with Peter Gabriel sidemen united to play Gabriel’s tunes. Veterans drummer Jerry Marotta (Gabriel solo albums and tours) and guitarist Trey Gunn (ex-King Crimson) have brought newcomers David Jameson (keyboards) and Michael Cozzi (guitar) into the band. 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. $18 advance, $22 door. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com
Greenwich-born folk-country star Hal Ketchum returns to Caffe Lena on Sunday. Both shows are nearly sold out. “Hal is one of those former Caffe performers who rocketed out of our orbit,” Caffe Executive Director Sarah Craig said. “It’s exciting to…treat fans to an intimate evening with an artist normally seen only in concert halls,” she added, describing Ketchum’s show as “An Evening With Hal Ketchum in a great space that feels like a living room.” Persuading major artists to play the Caffe is easier after improvements to sound, lights and backstage facilities and with more seating. However, major artists charge higher fees, so the Caffe also must: Livingston Taylor $45, Loudon Wainwright $55, Jim Kweskin with Geoff Muldaur $60. 3 and 7 p.m. $50 advance, $55 door, $27.50 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org
Honey-voiced Shawn Colvin brings a full band to perform her landmark “A Few Small Repairs” on Friday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Her fourth release and arguably her strongest, the bravely candid album (about her divorce) deservedly won two Grammys. Openers Larry Campbell (he plays everything, formerly with Bob Dylan and Levon Helm) and Teresa Williams (she can sing anything) play in her band. Dakota-born, Austin resident Colvin played strip-mall ‘kicker bars here in New York City bands led by Buddy Miller before becoming a folk/alt/country star. They couldn’t afford rooms after playing for the door at such dives as Danny’s Rodeo Inn, so – as Colvin recounted onstage at The Egg a few solos shows back, “whoever was most sober drove us all back to New York!” 7:30 p.m. $52.50, $37.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org
Also Friday, rock singer-songwriter Mark Mulcahy returns to WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany). Leader of the bands Miracle Legion and Polaris and composer of ultra-hip scores for “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” cartoons, Mulcahy briefly left music to single-father his children after his wife’s death. His “Fathering” and “Ciao My Shining Star” albums explore parenting and loss, signaling a brilliant return to form that continues with the highly touted “The Possum in the Driveway” album. Chris Collingwood of tuneful Jersey popsters Fountains of Wayne and the new band Look Park (there’s one of those in Northampton) opens. $16 advance, $18 door. 518-465-5233 ext. 4 www.thelinda.org
On Saturday, unique singer-songwriters play here: Christine Lavin at Caffe Lena (where she served coffee and tea in the 70s) and Lee Ann Womack at The Egg.
Comical, poignant, self-aware and silly, Lavin has twirled flaming batons in her act, but she’s fiery enough without props. She’s celebrating her 23rd album “Spaghettification;” her previous releases include “Dance of the Happy Xenophobe” and “I Was in Love With a Difficult Man.” 8 p.m. $22 advance, $25 door. $12 students and children
Womack moved beyond mainstream country sounds and success with her deep-rooted new album “The Lonely, the Lonesome and the Gone” and with this appearance in very much a listening room, The Egg, versus the hat-waving arena crowds her hits draw. That said, The Egg works well for country artists; one of the first to play there was Mary Chapin Carpenter at the dawn of her superstar career. 8 p.m. $28.50
Country-folk goddess Rosanne Cash sings at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.) on Tuesday, with husband/guitarist John Leventhal. Like Womack, Cash built hits-based mainstream country stardom before reaching both back to country fundamentals in folk music and forward with candid, rootsy troubadour tunes. Her 15 albums have snagged a mantle-full of Grammys; 2014’s “The River & the Thread” may be her best. And she’s published four books. She sings with bone-deep conviction and Leventhal plays right in the pocket. 7:30 p.m. $44, $37, $32, $25.
GUITAR BLITZ RIFFS ON
Tim Reynolds brings his power trio TR3 to WAMC’s The Linda on Saturday. Formed before Reynolds teamed up with Dave Matthews, TR3 now is Reynolds, guitar; Mick Vaughn, bass; and Dan Martier, drums. They all sing and they write originals and cover tunes by Led Zeppelin, King Crimson and even James Brown. 8 p.m. $30
Also Saturday, Tab Benoit (“Ben-wah” — he’s from Baton Rouge) plays the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.). Apprenticing with blues veterans Raful Neal, Henry Gray and Tabby Thomas in his hometown’s Blues Box, Benoit branched out from Louisiana clubs and roadhouses in 1991 and has released 20 albums since 1993. Even before Katrina, he founded the nonprofit Voice of the Wetlands Foundation to protect swamplands whose deterioration has exposed the Gulf Coast to hurricane disasters. He funds it with an annual music festival. On Saturday, he leads his regular trio: bassist Carl Dufrene and drummer Darryl White. 8 p.m. $35.50, $32.50, $30.50, $28.50
Rodrigo y Gabriela play like one musical mind with four fast hands at The Egg on Sunday; rocking, caffeinated neo-flamenco, with the accelerator floored. Mexico City natives Rodrigo Sanchez (mostly rapidly articulated leads) and Gabriela (mostly driving strums) started as heavy metal mashers but bring hard-rock drive to acoustic guitars that are likely smoking, too hot to touch, at the end of a show. They recorded three of their six albums live onstage, but their newest, “9 Dead Alive” is a studio project. 8 p.m. $79.50, $59.50, $49.50
SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
On Friday, Puddles Pity Party comes to the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. This extraordinary vocal experience began when a mysterious (he doesn’t speak) seven-foot-tall clown started singing karaoke with a boombox in Georgia flea markets in 1998. In 2013 (Halloween, appropriately) he joined Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, singing contemporary pop hits in bygone styles.
Hailed as “the sad clown with the golden voice,” Puddles has branched out on his own, a star of festivals, TV and on Facebook: 265,000 followers. 8 p.m. $34.50, $29.50