Northampton folk-pop darlings Darlingside — a singing group that plays, an instrumental group that sings — performs Friday at The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). They do both so well they won the Folk Alliance Artist of the Year Award. Similar hybridizing acoustic band Front Country opens. 8 p.m. $34. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org
Frequent Egg attractions David Bromberg (master of all stringed things) and Jerry Douglas (dobro demon) team up on Saturday. Both lead cool bands.
Bromberg brought his big band to The Egg last year, and Douglas led his bluegrass wizards the Earls of Leicester at Music Haven that summer. Both can hypnotize audiences all alone. 8 p.m. $36
Ace bassist Victor Wooten has also played here often, with his funk crew co-starring other virtuoso Wooten brothers and with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Sunday, Victor leads a new trio, with drummer Dennis Chambers and saxophonist Bob Franceschini. Their “Trypnotix” album pulsates with fresh and engaging ideas, funk-energizing jazz inventions, making the impossible sound easy and always swinging. 7:30 p.m. $36
With Steely Dan on hiatus after founder Walter Becker’s death and Donald Fagen’s illness, tribute bands busily rock the Dan’s jazzy pop. Reelin’ in the Years (named for the band’s 1972 second single) plays the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) Friday with an all-star lineup of Hudson Valley virtuosos: Jerry Marotta, drums; Scott Petito, bass; Jonny Rosch and Peter Primamore, keyboards; Jesse Gress and Matt Finck, guitars; Chris Pasin, trumpet; Kris Jensen, sax; Don Mikkelson, trombone; and singers Lindsey Skye and Joey Eppard. 7 and 9 p.m. $20 advance (today), $24 Friday. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com
Very New York City singer-songwriter Garland Jeffries has also played here often, and as long as Bromberg, rocking JB Scott’s since ’79. On Saturday, Jeffries plays WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany), just doors from where JB Scott’s stood before the fire. He’ll sing of City neighborhoods whose bard he’s long been. Guitarist Justin Jordan and keyboardist Charly Roth will frame Jeffries’ new tunes from “14 Steps to Harlem” and older urban reveries of urgent compassion and grit. 8 p.m. $18. 518-465-5233 ext. 4 www.thelinda.org
Also Saturday, the Blind Boys of Alabama sanctify the holiday season with Gospel fervor on in-the-pocket harmonies at the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St.), offering the solace of deep spirit to a charred town that badly needs it. Two Christmas albums — “Talkin’ Christmas!” just hit, “Go Tell It on the Mountain” won a Grammy — supply seasonal songs supreme; after 75 years, they have one of the deepest songbooks in the soul-saving business. $52.50, $42.50, $37.50. 518-953-0630 www.thecohoesmusichall.org
Country singer Jennifer Nettles’ name is now better-known than her band Sugarland after Grammy, ACM and CMA awards for her No. 1 solo hit “Stay,” musical-theater and/or TV roles in “Chicago,” “Christmas of Many Colors” and “American Supergroup.” She brings her album and show “To Celebrate Christmas” to the Palace (19 Clinton Ave. at N. Pearl St., Albany) on Tuesday; she’ll sing non-holiday fare, too. 8 p.m. $79.75, $69.75, $59.75, $49.75, $39.75. 518-465-4663 www.palacealbany.org
Alsarah & the Nubatones took longer to tug the Proctors crowd to its feet last Thursday than the previous Passport Series show when Betsaya Machado y La Parranda El Clavo levitated everybody right away.
Sudanese sisters Alsarah and Nahid, trim as Olympians under sculpted hair, sang of being immigrants everywhere, of longing and belonging as Alsarah said, with a trio whose propulsion settled in gradually behind east-African/Middle Eastern chords on oud, bass and percussion. Their opener “Salam Nubia” used Indian-style alap-tal structure, drone-throb intro setting up a busy, dynamic riff; next “Soukura” added a third element via a percussion break.
Fiercely international, they echoed Yardbirds’ blues, celebrated Sufi chants and village wedding songs, protested injustice everywhere, waxed pantheistic in praise of the Nile and brought the awed-at-first crowd to its feet finally with the rousing closer “Habibi Tal” that sped up in sheer happiness.
Richard Thompson has recorded lately in a reflective spirit, reframing songs he’d recorded with bands as solo acoustic guitar explorations. So it was Friday before a wall-to-wall crowd at The Egg’s Swyer Theater: knockout solo struts through songs sad, cynical or celebratory, but mostly the former two. His tunes cut deep but he joked around, disputing criticism that his songs are depressing by claiming his range: medium depressing songs, slow depressing songs and fast depressing songs. Proved it, too.
Starting with the menacing “Gethsemane,” a semi-risque joke about nuns and the haunted/haunting “The Ghost of You Walks,” he revved hard with “Valerie.” In this and the pulsating romance “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” — he introduced it as a love triangle; one side is a motorcycle — and the strident “Tear-Stained Letter,” riffs raced so fast that one was still delighting and challenging the ear when the next hit as if to push forward the first.
However, his slow songs were, as always, his most devastating: the lost-love blue-collar blues “Beeswing,” Fairport Convention’s plaintive “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” “Persuasion” with its achingly lyrical solo, “The Dimming of the Day” and “Down Where the Drunkards Roll.”
At 68, Thompson has lost neither velocity nor depth. He remains one of our absolutely most formidable troubadours.