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Jukebox: Spa City stages welcome old friends, fresh faces

Jukebox: Spa City stages welcome old friends, fresh faces

Venerable/new Caffe Lena shows off remarkable musical range this weekend
Jukebox: Spa City stages welcome old friends, fresh faces
Boston-area troubadour Ryan Montbleau brings his hearty vocals, busy guitar and his whole band to Putnam Place.
Photographer: youtube

Eight weeks before SPAC opens Saratoga’s outdoor season, indoor music fills the streets.

Venerable/new Caffe Lena shows off remarkable musical range this weekend, while the even more recently renovated Putnam Place serves up jam-band flavors familiar from before improvements to the building and the addition of hip-hop to the musical menu.

Tonight at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St.), the McKrells reach past St. Patrick’s Day echoes to the wide-ranging folk-pop that troubadour Kevin McKrell has made with several lineups of the band that’s borne his name and played his songs for three decades. The guy’s super-entertaining onstage power and the Celtic string-band bounce of his band sometimes distract from his songs’ punch and poignancy; so listen close. (McKrell’s solo gigs next month shift the focus to powerful effect: Tune in to next week’s Jukebox for details.)

Tonight, it’s all the McKrells: Kevin up front with guitar, bodhran, vocals and arm ink; John (dad) Kribs, guitar; Orion (son) Kribs, mandolin; Arlin Greene, bass; Brian Melick, percussion; Doug Moody, fiddle. 7 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door, $10 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

Where but Caffe Lena would you see a bluegrass band — but with two rappers? And, why not fiddle, banjo, guitars and rappers?

That’s the “up-the-hollow/take-it-deep-to-the-streets” sound Gangstagrass brings to the Caffe on Friday. They boldly call their recent album “American Music”; their rollicking theme to the FX hillbilly crime series “Justified” earned an Emmy nomination. Their elastic cast of characters numbers several dozen on their four albums, but the touring crew includes Rench, producer, musical architect, vocals, guitar; Landry McMeans, dobro; Dan “Danjo” Whitener, banjo; Melody Allegra Berger, fiddle; R-SON and Dolio the Sleuth, raps and vocals. 8 p.m. $20 advance, $22 door, $11 students and children

Dave Maswick and Joel Brown often play with big ensembles; Brown with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and the Boston Pops, Maswick with the Stony Creek Band. But their guitars-and-voices duo, at the Caffe on Saturday, has a sparse but elegant sweetness. Their songs bear a light-on-its-feet wisdom that never bogs down the music; their beautiful new “Skyline Drive” album also features guests Randy Rollman and Brian Melick. Usually, Maswick strums and Brown picks, and it’s all about the blend in a modern folk-pop approach with fine harmony and solo singing and playing. You can imagine top stars crooning these tunes on country radio, but not singing them any better. 8 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door, $10 students and children

Boston-area troubadour Ryan Montbleau has been singing lately with Hayley Jane in the duo Yes Darling, but he brings his whole band on Friday to Putnam Place (63a Putnam St., Saratoga Springs). Members change often around Montbleau’s hearty vocals and busy guitar; currently, it’s drummer James Cohen; bassist/vocalist Matt Giannaros; and percussionist/vocalist Yahuba Garcia-Torres. Montbleau made his “I Was Just Leaving” album (2016) with Anders Osborne in New Orleans, but has released many songs since.

Another agile New England ensemble opens: Goose, from Connecticut. Rick Mitarotondais and Peter Anspach, guitars; Trevor Weekz, bass; and Aaron Hagele, drums, made their aptly titled debut album “Moon Cabin” (2016) in a New Hampshire cabin. 9 p.m. doors 8. $17 advance, $20 Friday 518-886-9585 www.putnamplace.com

Longtime Putnam (and festivals) faves Particle take over Saturday, ramping up the funk with LA “livetronica” by jamming on grooves from founding member Steve Molitz’s restless keyboards. Mike Daum’s guitar shifts from soul-scratch chords to single-note sizzle, while Clay Parnell (bass) and Kito Bovenschulte (drums, best name of the week) lock big disco-funk beats. With only three albums since forming in 2000, they have always emphasized live performing — and are very good at it. 9 p.m. doors 8.

Free; fans under 21 $10

Another tribute Friday: Soul Coughing founder-leader Mike Doughty recreates his former band’s “Irresistible Bliss” album (1996) plus tunes from his prolific solo career at WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany). Doughty has described Soul Coughing (1992-2000) as a “dark, abusive marriage,” but since going solo, he’s banished big demons with 18 solo albums of candidly written and confidently played rock, including the opera “Revelation.” Bassist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston (not to be confused with Scrapomatic, the duo, will accompany Doughty. 8 p.m. $20. 518-465-5233 www.thelinda.org

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