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Jukebox: TOMFEST to pay tribute to local musician/artist

Jukebox: TOMFEST to pay tribute to local musician/artist

Tom D’Ambrose, longtime saxophonist with the Sharks, cast a long shadow
Jukebox: TOMFEST to pay tribute to local musician/artist
Denny Laine sings solo Thursday night at the Skyloft in Crossgates Mall.
Photographer: youtube

We lost Tom D’Ambrose in November, an essential musician and artist here. Sunday at the Hangar (675 River St., Troy), fans and friends can join in “TOMFEST,” a musical farewell, with his artwork on display.

Longtime saxophonist with the Sharks and frequent guest with bands of many friends, D’Ambrose cast a long shadow.

Double B and the Drive-By Jazz Band is one of 10 bands playing TOMFEST and features his Sharks bandmate, trumpeter Bob Button. They played a Second Line New Orleans sendoff for Greg Haymes at The Egg last April; perfect for TOMFEST Sunday.

Also playing, a galaxy of our stars including the hyperactive Lustre Kings with guest singer/comic Erin Harkes; the Lost Radio Rounders plus Bowtie Blotto; Johnny Rabb; former Units/Fear of Strangers bandmates singer Val Haynes and guitarist Todd Nelson; the Tichy Boys; Circle of Willis; the Lazy Suns; Off the Record; and Tom Corrigan. 3 p.m. $10 donation — a buck a band! — benefits the Albany Center Gallery and the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society. 518-272-9740 www.hangaronthehudson.com

So many other cool shows happen this week, I’m surprised many have sold out.

Into the Mystic sold out at Cohoes Music Hall last Saturday, but the Hall just added a new show Nov. 7 by the Van Morrison tribute crew.

At The Egg, Mat Kearney is sold out on Tuesday; so is Grace Potter a week from tonight.

Both shows at Caffe Lena by We Banjo 3 (WB3) tonight are also sold out.


Denny Laine, one of rock’s Zeligs, sings solo tonight at the Skyloft (1 Crossgates Mall Road, Albany). Laine will echo superstar stints as founding member of both the Moody Blues and Paul McCartney’s Wings, and highlight songs from a lower-profile solo career. Laine wrote and co-wrote songs and played guitar and bass in both: He won’t run out of tunes, or tales. 8 p.m. $40-$20, 518-869-5638 www.skyloftny.com


We mentioned WB3 is sold out tonight at Caffe Lena, but banjos show up in other bands there (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) and at the Hollow (79 N. Pearl St., Albany).

First up at the Caffe, though, Bill Staines plays Friday. A Caffe stalwart since it opened, Staines plays guitar left-handed and has written tons of songs; some are hits for other artists. He titled a recent best-of collection “The First Million Miles,” reflecting a long life on the road. He’s now deep into his second. 8 p.m. $20 advance, $22 door, $11 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

Saturday at the Caffe, Dirty Grass Players feature banjo (Alex Berman), bass (Mikey Sallemi), guitar (Ben Kolakowski) and mandolin (Ryan Rogers) to take classic rock songs to the hills. 8 p.m. $16, $18 $9

Banjo-est of all, Danny Barnes plays music from a new album Sunday. Going solo after years with Austin’s Bad Livers, Barnes won Steve Martin’s 2015 Prize for Excellence in Banjo, recognizing brave and accomplished experiments (like the Dirty Grass boys) in expanding the banjo into electronica and jazz while honoring old-time string music.

Mandolinist Joe K. Walsh opens.          


OF COURSE, The Egg features a banjo this week, Wednesday, when Greensky Bluegrass hits town. Guitar great Richard Thompson plays the same night.

Veteran road dogs — 175 shows a year for nearly two decades — Greensky Bluegrass is Michael Arlen Bont — yeah, banjo! — Anders Beck, dobro; Dave Bruzza, guitar; Mike Devol, bass; and Paul Hoffman, mandolin. They archly titled their seventh album “All for Money.” Openers Ghost Light lack a banjo but boast big jam-band credentials: guitarist-singers Tom Hamilton and Raina Mullen (both from American Babies); pianist Holly Bowling (solo improvisations including Dead and Phish songs); drummer Scotty Zwang (Dopapod); and bassist Steve Lyons (Nicos Gun). 7 p.m. $39.50 advance, $42.50. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Richard Thompson has played The Egg both solo and with a killer two-guitar band; he returns solo Wednesday. Prolific as he is powerful — more than 30 albums this century — Thompson stands alone for guitar fireworks; very candid, very evocative and very British songwriting and deep-conviction vocals. 7:30 p.m. $59.50, $49.50


The Ghost of Paul Revere brings a banjo tonight to the Hollow (79 N. Pearl St., Albany). The Maine quartet — Max Davis, banjo; Sean McCarthy, bass; Griffin Sherry, guitar — call their rambunctious, string-band-and-sing-along style “holler folk.” No banjo in Vermont-based openers Saints & Liars: Jed Hughes and Mike Farkas, guitars; Chris Rogers, bass; and Nolan Rolnick, drums. 8 p.m. $15. 518-426-8550 www.thehollowalbany.com

On Friday, Northampton’s own exotically eclectic, often-glittered, street-smart vaudevillians Bella’s Bartok take over at the Hollow.

Yeah, banjo, but Amory Drennan also plays trombone and most of the cats double: Asher Putnam, bass and hijinks; Dan Niederhauser, guitar and vocals; Alex Kogut, accordion and keyboard; Crisco, drums and percussion; and Gershon Rosen, trumpet. They often open for such similar genre-jumping bands as Red Baraat, the Suitcase Junket and Rupa & the April Fishes. On Saturday, they headline, with banjo-less, horn-powered West End Blend opening. 8 p.m. $14 


Tonight, Michael Benedict and Bopitude continue the Van Dyck’s Thursday Jazz Night series that Cliff Brucker and his New Circle band launched last week.

New Circle sounded fun and fresh, with a looser feel than Full Circle, his previous crew. Brucker led from the drumkit but with a light touch so sax-man Kenny McCabe, guitarist Chad McLoughlin and bassist Tarik Shah enjoyed — really! — plenty of freedom and flow. Their originals, especially McCabe’s oblique mid-tempo bebop “Ice Fishing in Europa” and McLoughlin’s fractured waltz “On the Fly,” sounded solid as the standards, which they refreshed to sound more than up to date. Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way” balanced respect with imagination to great effect, for example. While McLoughlin’s solos crackled and burned, he also impressed as an accompanist, comping encouragement and tossing out ideas the other soloists welcomed. 

New to the scene, Shah was completely at home: in the pocket at all times and tip-top when he soloed.

Bopitude tonight at the Van Dyck is Benedict, drums; Brian Patneaude, tenor sax; Chris Pasin, trumpet; David Gleason, piano; and Mike Lawrence, bass. 7 p.m. Tip jar. 518-348-7999. www.vandycklounge.com


Visiting my musician brother Jim Hoke around one of his weekly residency shows, I find the town saddened by both the (onstage!) death of revered singer-songwriter David Olney (Jim plays on some of his records and videos) and the Titans’ defeat in the AFC Championhship game last Sunday — and alarmed by light snow, as I write this.

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