Who are the Dimmer Twins? Go to The Egg (Empire State Plaza) Friday to find out.
Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers chose that name for their duo, like Mick and Keith of the Rolling Stones are the Glimmer Twins and Bob Dylan produces his records as Jack Frost. Hood and Cooley write most Drive-By Truckers tunes since forming the country-rock band in 1996 (especially since Jason Isbell left), and they’re the main voices. 8 p.m. $34. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org.
As Hood and Cooley pare down, Americana troubadour Ryan Montbleau beefs back up. The Boston-based troubadour reactivates the Ryan Montbleau Band Friday at the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.) after solo projects and collaborations with the Tall Heights including his new “Woodstock Sessions” album. On 12 albums since 2002, he aims for uplift in melodies and meaning and always nails it. Empire of Lights opens. 8 p.m. $25. 518-953-0630 www.thecohosesmusichall.org.
Saturday at the Parish Public House (388 Broadway, Albany), the Florida-based Heavy Pets play funky rock. Touring more than a decade, they released their fourth studio album Strawberry Mansion last year. 9 p.m. $12 advance, $15 on Saturday. 518-465-0444 www.parishpublichouse.com.
Ellie King sings Wednesday at Upstate Concert Hall. (1208 Rt. 146, Clifton Park). Born Tanner Elle Schneider (daughter of Rob) in LA, she’s made more movie and TV appearances (five) than albums (two). Her first hit “Playing for Keeps” is the theme song for the “Mob Wives Chicago” TV series: Perfect! Making rootsy rock at the crossroads with country, she plays guitar and banjo. Barns Courtney opens (see story, pages 4 and 5). 8 p.m. $25 advance, $28 on Wednesday. 518-371-022 www.upstateconcerthall.com.
I knew I loved Jocelyn & Chris Arndt even before seeing their tender farewell to the late, great Greg “Sarge Blotto” Haymes. (https://www.facebook.com/JocelynandChris/videos/327911381094607/)
Nothing I’ve ever written has brought more response than my story here Friday, “A colleague’s tribute to musician-writer Greg Haymes.” Thanks to editor Miles Reed for opening The Gazette pages so wide. Thanks also to Rudy Lu for his wonderful photo.
Thanks, too, to those who honored me as Music Journalist of the Year Sunday in the first Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards at Proctors. I stepped onstage where son Zak and daughter Pisie graduated from Schenectady High School and where I saw my first-ever movie, and I said this:
“I want to thank the academy. (This got the laugh I hoped for.) It’s an honor just to be nominated. OK, that part is true — I’m in fast company here, and among friends. Don Wilcock is here, the first editor I ever wrote for. My thanks to Don and all the editors who ever put my words on a page. Thanks to everybody who reads those words.
“I’m happy to have this, but I have a suggestion. Next time, let’s call this award the Greg.
“The late great Greg Haymes was the best of us. Hurts like hell that he’s gone. So, thanks for The Greg.”
How heartwarming to see Greg’s wife Sara take home two Eddies for co-running Nippertown as Arts Publication of the Year with him and as Electronica Artist of the Year. Biggest winner: Caffe Lena for Best Venue (Small), Local Music Venue of the Year and a People’s Choice Award for Local Concert of the Year: Sawyer Fredericks, which our Dave Singer reviewed here. Wryly charismatic comic/musician Erin Harkes ably hosted the polished three-hour production, which appropriately included six musical performances.
The tremendously energetic and creative Zimbabwean sextet Mokoomba made a strong claim for most soulful, slickly choreographed Afro-pop crew around last Thursday at Proctors GE Theater. They combined powerful harmony vocals in the hearty Ladysmith Black Mambazo style with punchy funk grooves, airy guitar floating on top, and dazzling choreography. Even when the frontline of guitarist Trustworth Semende, singer Mathias Muzaza and bassist Abundance Mutori stood and rotated on one leg while spinning the other, they never missed a beat, surging from “Weleye” into the anthemic “Africa” in a pulse-pounding rush to close their 90-minute set.
They seldom slowed from party overdrive, drummer Ndaba Coster Moyo, percussionist Miti Mugande and Mutori making great beats, while Donald Moyo’s keyboards emulated horns, kora and balafon that varied the arrangements.
Nobody understood a word they sang* — and how DOES Muzaza sing that haunting metallic sound and sky-scorching falsetto in the same song!? But dancers got the message anyway, mobbing the front of the house, the right thing to do.
Friday night, the straight-ahead local jazz trio of Nick Hetko, piano; Rich Syracuse, bass; and Jeff Siegel, drums, honored their late band-mate and mentor Lee Shaw in the new meeting room of the First Reformed Church, a fund-raiser for A Place for Jazz, where all have performed.
The first set felt a bit like a classical recital, a mood the great-sounding if over-bright room reinforced. Siegel coaxed great subtlety and power from a surprisingly small kit while Syracuse commented on everything with wit and propulsive phrasing. But the night increasingly belonged to Hetko.
He grafted a ragtime launch onto Strayhorn’s “Upper Manhattan Medical Group” to start the first set, went all McCoy Tyner in the second number (didn’t catch the title) and built Oscar Peterson-style cascading runs into teacher Lee Shaw’s “Sleeper.” In “Siegel’s “Freefall” from the trio’s album “When You Were There,” Hetko handed off the lead to Siegel with irresistible, driving force, a terrific contrast with the lyrical delicacy of the album’s title track.
In the second set, a big peak, they flew free, fast and far. Contrast and color were full force and fine. When Syracuse took the mic to introduce the upshift from the sweet, slow “I Fall in Love Too Easily” into the blistering “Oscar’s Boogie,” Hetko literally couldn’t wait and climbed aboard the riff, drawing the band in for a great ride.
OK, Lee Shaw isn’t replaceable; but this trio is outstanding on its own terms.
* I snaffled Mokoomba’s set-list: Kumukanda, Magireti, Nyansola, Njawane, Kulindiswe, Ngikhumbula, Wayile, Manina, Makisi, Nzara Hapana, Njoka, Weleye/Africa.