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Jukebox: Loss, grief inspiration for beautiful songs

Jukebox: Loss, grief inspiration for beautiful songs

Singer/songwriter Shelby Lynne is one of a few artists who has made compelling music from harrowing events
Jukebox: Loss, grief inspiration for beautiful songs
Shelby Lynne will perform at The Egg this Saturday night.
Photographer: Provided

Few artists have made more compelling music of more harrowing history than sister-singer/songwriters Shelby Lynne — at The Egg on Saturday — and Allison Moorer. Both have written and sung of loss, grief and survival since witnessing their parents’ murder-suicide. Shelby was then 17, Allison 14. They sing like wise southern gothic sibling angels on “Not Dark Yet,” their first-ever album-length project together. (Lynne sang three duets on Moorer’s 2003 live album “Show,” and she’s sung duets on record with the late Dean Martin, Raul Malo, alt-rockers Live, Tony Jo White, Marc Cohn and others; while Moorer wrote “Thunderstorm/Hurricane” about Lynne.)

Lynne’s 2001 Best New Artist Grammy for “I Am Shelby Lynne” actually hailed her sixth release (of 14 counting “Not Dark Yet”). She’s recorded for seven record labels, sign of a highly independent artist. Her acting credits including portraying Johnny Cash’s mother in “I Walk the Line,” and she starred in a Dec. 2012 episode of “Live from Daryl’s House.”

Lynne lives in the California desert, Allison in New York City; though she, like Lynne, launched her career in fairly conventional Nashville terms. Some of Lynne’s outlaw spirit has moved Moorer’s music into edgier territory over nine albums; so di net d the influence of former husband Steve Earle; Moorer was his seventh wife.

At The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) on Saturday, Shelby Lynne sings with stringed-things master Ben Peeler. Singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson opens. Son of Richard and Linda, Thompson produced “Not Dark Yet,” a sweet, sad collection of well-chosen covers (the Louvin Brothers, Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Jason Isbell, Merle Haggard, Nirvana, Nick Cave), plus Lynne’s own heartbreaking “Is It Too Much.” (Lynne and Moorer plan a second duets album, of originals they’ll write this year.) 8 p.m. $34.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Also at The Egg, super-hot singer-songwriter Valerie June plays Sunday, a show postponed from Feb. 7. The soulful Memphis-born Valerie June sings and plays bluesy rock, spacey, funky and fun. Her video for “Got Soul” earns its title: She sings in her high, clear voice and plays banjo under the Brooklyn Bridge, which also co-stars in the video for her hymn-like, rocking “You Can’t Be Told.” She’s city and country, rock and soul, sweet and strong. She recently followed her 2013 debut “Pushin’ Against A Stone” with “The Order of Time.” The War and Treaty opens 7:30 p.m. $35, $25


Jazz guitarist Mike Moreno leads an all-star crew Friday at Skidmore’s Zankel Music Center (815 N. Broadway, Saratoga Springs): Eric Harland, drums; Matt Brewer, bass; Aaron Parks, piano. Doug Weiss plays bass on Moreno’s new “Lotus” album, his seventh.) Houston-born Moreno studied in New York where he first made his mark in clubs. He keeps a busy calendar. He plays with Albany-born vibes giant Stefon Harris’s new band, on Kendrick Scott Oracle’s new album and Will Vinson’s new project; among more than 40 sideman credits including Brian Patneaude’s “Riverview” (2009). 8 p.m. $8 adults, $5 seniors, free for students and children. 518-580-5733 www.skidmore.edu/zankel/.


Gregory Porter returns here in June on Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival, as does fellow recent Troy Savings Bank Music Hall smash Joey Alexander; also festival fave from last year Jane Bunnett & Maqueque and Mountain Music Weekend hit Jose James.


Gregory Porter was tremendous at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last week; not just for the big, buttery voice; the deep interpretive intelligence or the cooking band. But let’s give those guys some right now: Chip Crawford, piano and leader; Jamal Nichols, bass; Emanuel Harrold, drums; Tivon Pennicott, tenor sax; and Ondrej Pivec, organ. Proud pillars in support, they served up sizzling solos when Porter stepped back from the mic.

He made medleys; no, novels, of song. He sang his life story in tunes he wrote or owned from others’ songbooks in a self-revealing serenade of soulful jazz. When he sang Sly’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” he touched the audience with a warm hand of gratitude. Even deeper: He wove the rueful rocking “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” from the Temptations’ classic soul songbook in a logic/feeling thread on absent fathers and wound up with his own “I Wonder Who My Father Is.”

He sang soul sermons; his opener “Holding On” soared on spiritual uplift, so did “Don’t Lose Your Steam” later. He cited his mom’s converted barbershop church to intro “Take Me to the Alley,” sanctifying this sympathetic anthem. He sang of romantic love a bit, and beautifully: “Hey, Laura” rang with hope and regret; his “Mona Lisa” was loving as Aaron Neville’s or Nat King Cole’s. But Porter mainly reached for wider themes than just one-on-one. He closed with the rousing “Free” and left as the band vamped “Come Together,” leaving one by one until only drummer Emanuel Harrold rocked the Hall.

They all returned with Porter for the anthemic encore “When Love Was King,” a stirring god-is-love and vice versa fable of civilization as salvation.


Veteran troubadour Tom Paxton returns to Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) tonight with the DonJuans: singer-songwriters/great accompanists Don Henry and Jon Vezner. Henry and Vezner bring new energy to Paxton’s tunes and introduce their own. The trio was terrific at the Eighth Step last fall. 7 p.m. $50 advance, $55 door, $27.50 students and children

The young bluegrass band Mile Twelve plays the Caffe on Friday. 8 p.m. $14 advance, $16 door, $8 students and children

On Saturday, local heroes Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys take over, featuring guest fiddler Sara Milonovich. Gaudet’s graceful folk-pop tunes soar and soothe in his band’s skilled hands. 8 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door, $10 students and children

The Caffe stays with local fare Sunday in its new Saratoga Originals series with blues guitarists-singers Mark Tolstrup, Rick Bolton and Steve Candlen. 7 p.m. $16 advance, $18 door, $9 students and children


Boston Celtic rockers Dropkick Murphys drop-kick open the door at Albany’s new Capital Center (55 Eagle St., Albany) Sunday in a triple-header of boisterous, energetic bands: Agnostic Front and Bim Skala Bim also rock the place. For the Center’s first-ever show, Dropkick Murphys bring the noise with regular rock riot-gear plus bagpipes and tin whistles. $35. 518-487-2155 www.albanycapitalcenter.com

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