Tonight, fiddler Eileen Ivers presents “Joyful Christmas” at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St.). Bronx-born, trained in Ireland by Martin Mulvihill, Ivers co-founded Cherish the Ladies, toured in Riverdance and has recorded and toured busily as side-person and leader, including a Christmas album, “An Nollaig” (2007) and “Beyond the Bog Road” (2016). Hailed as the Jimi Hendrix of the violin, she plays an electric fiddle and calls her band Immigrant Soul. 7:30 p.m. $36, $20. 518-273-0038 www.troymusichall.org
Shemekia Copeland sings the blues and anything else she wants to on Saturday at the Massry Center at The College of Saint Rose (1002 Madison Ave., Albany). She tore it up at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival this June. As versatile as she is powerful, sassy or sweet, Copeland (daughter of Texas blues guitar great Johnny Clyde Copeland) can shake the rafters or soothe the soul, and her band kicks hard or glides easy. 8 p.m. $35, students $10. 518-337-4871 www.massrycenter.org
Syracuse-born world-class banjo master Tony Trischka brings a full band to the Cock ’n Bull (5342 Parkis Mills Road, Galway) on Wednesday. Inspiration to Bela Fleck and everybody else, Trischka plays Wednesday with Dominic Leslie, mandolin; Zoe Darrow, fiddle; Tim Eriksen, stringed things and vocals; and singer Phoebe Hunt. Both Erikson and Darrow also sing. Co-star of The Egg’s Banjo Fests, Trischka plays on EVERYBODY’S albums. He’s led his own bands (sometimes called Skyline) since the 1970s and made dozens of tuneful, precision-played albums, music with deep roots and wide wings. $60 dinner (5:30 to 6:15) and show (8 p.m.) 518-882-6962 www.thecocknbull.com
Unfortunately, soul-blues goddess Bettye LaVette’s show Wednesday at the Cohoes Music Hall is canceled.
The Egg’s (smaller) Swyer Theater almost burst with talent as I caught Darlingside and Front Country last Friday and the Victor Wooten Trio on Sunday.
As dynamite Front Country singer Melody Wagner joked Friday, when they’d played outside at Made in the Shade of The Egg this summer, they worried, as San Franciscans (now in Nashville), that an earthquake could roll The Egg over on them. They felt safer Friday inside and dispelled any danger that such a beloved band as Darlingside would roll over them as openers by knocking it out of the park.
Front Country would have killed the place even if trumpet-voiced Wagner had sung alone. With ace pickers setting off country-folk-blues-rock-jazz fireworks on mandolin, bass, fiddle and guitars, they exploded into standing ovation thunder.
Woody Guthrie’s “Do-Re-Mi” and David Olney’s “Millionaire” rooted the band in populism, but even broadsides soared in their nimble hands and voices. “For the Sake of the Sound,” an upbeat, driving mission statement, earned the first mid-set standing ovation, harmonies ringing almost as strong as Darlingside’s. A happy band brimming with uplift, they charmed big-time, ranging from the zippy instrumental “T.H.A.T.S.” to the razor-sharp a cappella launch of “Good Side.”
Darlingside took over quietly but quickly, so close at a single mic, like a bluegrass band, they could have perched together on a cocktail table. A bracing blend of vintage and experimental, they sang and played like Vampire Weekend’s arch grad-student vibe and urban-modernist pop sensibility, four-part harmonies tight as the Beach Boys’, and soulful authenticity they might have borrowed, with respect, from the Louvin Brothers.
They made an original, sensational sound of stunning skill and wry wit. It was beautiful, everything moved: tempos rose and fell, and harmonies shifted by simply stepping closer or farther from the mic. When Harris Paseltiner set aside his guitar and sat to play cello, he’d stand to sing. Don Mitchell did triple duty: vocals, guitar and banjo; so did Auyon Mukharji, singing, playing violin or mandolin. Riffing on The Egg, Mukharji’s witty intros told how each member preferred his eggs and noted certain egg-based cuisines originated in India, like his family. Bassist (and new dad) Dave Senft has the strongest solo voice, but their close harmonies are uncanny.
Here’s what I could make of the setlist: “God of Loss,” “Go Back,” “White Horses,” “Pilot Machines,” “Harrison Ford,” “Extralife” (new), “Whippoorwill,” “Blow the House Down,” “Birds Say,” “The Ancestor,” “Eschaton” (new), “Good for You,” “Sweet and Low.” Encore: “Hold Your Head Up High (new), “My Gal My Guy.”
Secure among friends, they introduced new songs from “Extralife,” due next month; Paseltiner said writing a song takes them four years, since they’re a democracy, so even the fresh tunes felt polished and ready. Fans greeted older faves “White Horses” and “Pilot Machines” as if at the door of a party. After the witty “Sweet and Low,” they encored — Paseltiner dead-panned as they returned, “It’s nice to be back in Albany again” as he had at the start — with the new “Hold Your Head Up High” then “My Gal, My Guy” from “Birds Say.” They evoked the Beach Boys wonderfully in “Gal,” then the stage blacked out as the last note rang in a dramatic finish.
“My name is Stanley Clarke,” joked bassist Victor Wooten on Sunday, cracking up drummer Dennis Chambers, sax-man Bob Franceschini and an Egg-ful of fans. The awe Wooten earned was just as unanimous.
They played jazz, mostly, turbo-charged with pedal-controlled electronics, funk fire, hip-hop zap and recorded vocal histrionics from Michael Winslow. His soul-man exhortations and a recorded keyboard track led forcefully into their opener, “DC10,” a jagged bop blitz Chambers drove with just snare, kick and high-hat. Things got faster and more intricate, Franceschini electro-harmonizing his alto before they hard-stopped in the same nanosecond.
Wooten walked his acoustic bass into “Rice and Beans,” drums bombing away and sax doubling in a zippy stop-and-go dance. “Quimbara” grooved easy, for a minute, then jumped into crash-and-burn intensity until Wooten and Franceschini laid out as Chambers set up a righteous, climactic clatter all by himself; Wooten picked it up and sang over it in “My Life,” a humorous lyric that bounced off the funk rolling fast. They played those three without a seam, welded together in a tight flow, but their playing grew more intricate and propulsive song by song. In “Zenergy,” Franceschini went encyclopedic, singer Bronte Roman, saxman Eric Walentowicz and DJ Sir Walford greeting quotes of “Nature Boy” or “Brick House” with happy shouts around me in the front row.
Wooten’s wild solo in “Funky D” unwrapped familiar melodies, too; most were related to the season and articulated in brilliantly fresh, fun ways. He bowed an odd electric bass he might have hijacked from the Jetsons, but otherwise plucked, snapped and strummed with blinding-fast fingers, pedal-activating effects. He made his bass sound like an organ, a flute, an orchestra on Neptune, or just like a bass; proving he’s the most inventive virtuoso on the instrument since Jaco.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at [email protected].