Top North Country troubadours celebrate big news/new music this week; Michael Jerling with his new “Family Recipe” album and a show Saturday at Caffe Lena; and Bob Warren with his new album “My Town,” introduced early last month at the Caffe.
Spanning cozy campfire songs to bitter broadsides, their strengths have seldom seemed so similar.
Both write eloquently with fertile imaginations grounded in home, family and principle. Both sing in gentle, mellow voices. Both attract superbly talented musical pals to their projects. In fact, it’s almost enough credits to note that bassist supreme Tony Markellis plays on both, though Warren’s album boasts a bigger cast of pickers and singers than Jerling’s.
Jerling has been all over the radio (WAMC, WSPN and WEXT) with his new music, but the Caffe is its natural habitat, his regular hang. He plays Saturday with Markellis, bass; Teresina Huxtable, reed organ and accordion; and Orion Kribs, mandolin. 8 p.m. $18 advance, $20 door, $10 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org
Amid grand and jaunty tunes “Genghis Khan,” “That’s Why Republicans Hate Trains” and “Talk too Little,” that reach for the funny bone in quiet slyness, Jerling mourns the loss of passing time in “Smelly Old Dog” and “In Lieu of Flowers,” a lyric that turns obituary-style convention on its heart. He’s at his most outraged in “I Never Thought” and “When Words Mattered” and his most poignant in “Old Boomtown.”
Here, Jerling sings:
“I have lived here all my life
Raised a family, lost my wife
Still I hold on, can’t find a familiar face
Or, God forbid, a parking place”
Jerling accurately praises old pal Warren (whose band gave country giant Hal Ketchum his start) as “a master songwriter at the top of his game.” Jerling released Warren’s deep, dazzling album “My Town” on his own Fool’s Hill label. “We recorded the album, for the most part, live in my living room,” Warren told me by email, and Jerling explained that high-ceilinged space overlooks the Battenkill, as does master landscape painter Harry Orlyk.
Must be something in the water up there!
Jerling calls Warren’s album “an uplifting look at home, family and the deals we make in life,” preoccupations and themes of his own songs.
For example, Warren sees home in sweet, stark terms that resonate with Jerling’s own melancholy. Warren’s title track honors home as:
“Not the place where I was born
But the place where I am from
Where my lost became my found
Some songs later, he moans, “I Hate the Color You Painted My Old House,” brother Don’s electric guitar riffing alarm.
Nonetheless, however, Warren raises a sigh of contentment from his rural life in “The Deal I Made”:
“To find my home
I had to come a long long way
I’m very happy with the deal I made”
For these marvelous talents, aligned by place, time of life and the wisdom and assured depth of craft that come with it, home is where the song is.
Foreigner singer Lou Gramm brings the arena-rockers’ hits to Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) Saturday in “The Juke Box Hero.” Foreigner scored 16 Top 40 hits, 10 hit the Top 10 including “I Want to Know That Love Is,” “Head Games,” “Cold as Ice” and “Feels Like the First Time”; while Gramm’s solo hit “Midnight Blue” also sold big. Concert time is 8 p.m. and tickets are priced from $69.50 to $29.50. For more, call 518-346-6204 or visit proctors.org.
The North Mississippi Allstars blues up the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.) on Sunday. Sons of the late, great producer Jim Dickinson, these guys — Luther, guitar; and Cody, everything else — build on a super southern pedigree, going deep and rocking hard or soothing the soul. GA-20 opens. 8 p.m. $35, $30, $25. 51-8-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org
The Motet and TAUK jam at Jupiter Hall at Lucky Strike Social (1 Crossgates Mall Rd., Albany) on Friday. The Denver septet — Lyle Divinsky, vocals; Dave Watts, drums; Joey Porter, keyboards; Garrett Sayers, bass; Drew Sayers, saxophone; Ryan Jalbert, guitar; and Parris Fleming, trumpet — graduated into the big time by recording “Live at Red Rocks” outside their hometown. New York’s TAUK – Matt Jalbert, guitar; Charlie Dolan, bass; “A.C.” Carter, keyboards; and Isaac Teel, drums — rock-jams in compatible fashion on “Shapeshifter II: Outbreak.” 7 p.m. $25 advance, $28 door. 518-556-3350 www.jupiterhallalbany.com
Around Michael Jerling’s album intro party Saturday, Caffe Lena packs the weekend with cool shows. The Raquette River Rounders reunite tonight: singer songwriter John Kribs and bassist Michael Hadfield. Since breaking up in the early 80s, the duo’s annual reunions have become fan faves. 7 p.m. $16 advance, $18 door, $9 students and children
Friday’s “Prine Numbers: A Tribute to John Prine” unites local heroes in Prine’s tunes: Michael Eck and Good Things; the Bluebillies; Joel Brown & Dave Maswick; Kevin McKrell; and Zan & the Winter Folk. 8 p.m. $22, $25, $12.50
Amy Helm (Levon’s singing-songwriting daughter) plays the Caffe Sunday, toting new tunes from “This Too Shall Light.” 7 p.m. $45, $50, $25