Guitarist Joe Mele is always the first musician to sign up for any benefit show; the seventh annual Dustin Mele Memorial Concert at Brown’s Revolution Hall (425 River St., Troy) Saturday to honor his late son hits extra close to home.
Benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Catholic Charities CoNSERNS-U Program, the show — “A Night of the Beatles” — features Mele’s own band Soul Sky, Super 400 and Across the Pond, with many guest artists: a strong lineup of area stars united in a compelling cause. Mele has played in as many bands here as the ubiquitous Michael Eck or Eddie Angel, notably Emerald City, Breakfast of Champions and Merlin’s Minstrels, always adding imagination and drive wherever he plays. 6 p.m. $20 recommended donation. www.facebook.com/DustinMeleMemorial
Hot pickers visit this week. Texas jazz-pop giant Eric Johnson presents “Classics: Present and Past” tonight at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Last time they played The Egg, Johnson and his band ordered coffees with five espresso shots each, and played that way. The band is Roscoe Beck, bass; Tom Brechtlein, drums; and Dave Scher, guitar. 7:30 p.m. $36. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org
Robert Cray plays polished, soulful blues Tuesday at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall (30 Second St., Troy). Cray pays tribute to friend and collaborator Tony Joe White on his Steve Jordan-produced new album “That’s What I Heard.” 7:30 p.m. $46.50, $34.50. 518-273-0038 www.troymusichall.org
Dweezil Zappa’s show Wednesday at The Egg is all tribute to his late father’s epic guitar album “Hot Rats.” When Frank released “Hot Rats” 50 years ago, he dedicated it to son Dweezil, who’ll lead his own band Wednesday through its oblique, driving, psychedelic explorations. 8 p.m. $69.50, $49.50, $39.50
BRITISH INVASION SHUFFLE
On Friday, Peter Asher of Peter & Gordon and Jeremy Clyde of Chad & Jeremy bring to The Egg the blithe British pop style they separately built in the ’60s. After losing their former musical partners, they teamed up for this evening of tunes and talk. Asher has produced hit albums for Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and others, and played live here more recently with guitar great Albert Lee. 8 p.m. $29.50, VIP meet up and show $49.50
UPH ROCKS ON
Universal Preservation Hall (25 Washington St., Saratoga Springs) presents a full slate this week: comic Louie Anderson tonight (8 p.m. $69.50-$29.50); jazz-pop trumpeter Chris Botti Friday (7:30 p.m. $179.50-$79.50); An Evening with the Celebrity Housewives Saturday (7:30 p.m. $409.50-$109.50); the Marvelous Marquise Circus Saturday (2 p.m. $10); and the Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame Ceremony on Monday (7:30 p.m. $50), honoring Benny Cannavo and the Accents, Blotto, the Fidelitys, Hal Ketchum, Lena Spencer and John Sykes. 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org
Bruce Hornsby tugged even fans “who only know six of my songs” past their comfort zone Friday at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, a thrill ride with a fascinating musical mind. Reinterpreting those songs and newer ones through the new music prism of yMusic, the 65-year-old pianist troubadour let yMusic set the scene, playing 30 minutes of traditional instruments making new sounds new ways. Think Snarky Ethel Bangs on a Glass.
They fingered keys without blowing for percussive effects, swooped and dove, soaring kites of melody overhead like a music store walking in a park. It was beautiful, surprising, strange. One fan’s bonus is another’s barrier to expectations; but yMusic won over the crowd to standing ovation awe as “Their Stenciled Breath” faded like pond ripples into glassy silence.
After a break, Hornsby sat at the Steinway alone for songs requested in notes and shout-outs. His “six songs” barely hint at the diverse piano power and musical curiosity he showed off Friday. In one all-88-keys reverie, he evoked Chopin and Debussy before Thelonious Monk’s ghost hijacked the song. Hornsby wrapped these explorations in laid-back charm, just enough of the familiar to ground fans of his hits, yet still sounding like the world’s hippest piano bar.
He raised a dubious eyebrow, taking a request for “My Foolish Heart,” saying he’d struggled to remember the chords. In “A Night on the Town,” he pushed the mic away to dig in deep; “Fields of Gray” dug deep with poignant words.
When yMusic joined Hornsby in the final stretch of the three-hour, two-set show, he mixed hits with fresh tunes. First the new “Voyager One” flew high, then he grafted the Neville Brothers’ “Sister Rosa” onto the hit “The Way It Is.” Apart from the fresh energy of newer songs, Hornsby hits had matured into somehow more meaningful expressions, especially “Every Little Kiss” and “Mandolin Rain,” retaining familiar beauty but with fresh feels.
The group yMusic is founder and arranger Rob Moose, violin; Nadia Sirota, viola; Gabriel Cabezas, cello; Hideaki Aomori, clarinet and bass clarinet; Alex Sopp, flute and vocals; and C.J. Camerieri, trumpet and French horn.
At the Massry Center of The College of Saint Rose on Sunday, the Wooten Brothers played the funkiest and funnest show of the three I saw last weekend.
It’s truly a band of brothers: Flecktones bassist Victor and drummer Roy “Futureman,” plus keyboardist Joseph and guitarist Regi and “brother from another mother” saxophonist Bob Franceschini, born the same day as Joseph. They welded individual skills into a synapse-quick ensemble when their birthdays still numbered single-digits; 40 years later, they’re one mighty groove-and-solos machine. Sunday, they reached back to high-flying soul songs recently rediscovered on their first demo cassette, also to similar-vintage chestnuts by Sly Stone, James Brown and other giants. They explored the future in free-jazz forays out past Mars, especially when Victor looped bass riffs into a rich sonic tapestry. The SynthAxe Drumitar Roy plays in the Flecktones is impressive; big sounds from a small instrument. But the standard trap set he played Sunday was more fun.
After Victor challenged the band to riff in complex times, from busy 11/8 to the sudden silly silence of 0/8, Joseph led the hit-it-and-quit-it climax of odd intervals. The last giant unison blast hit after 45 beats. As they chatted, walked around, put down their instruments, of course, they never lost the count; delighting the on-its-feet cheering crowd with one last ferocious funk stroke.