Jukebox: Country, near-country artists dominate scene
Jazz came to Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady) last weekend with the Yellowjackets and Mike Stern on Saturday. This week, country comes to Proctors, and stays longer, with two Randys and two Rogerses. Meanwhile, other artists playing here in the coming week also make music either straight out of country or at the fuzzy borderline between country and folk.
Tonight, the Randy Rogers Band plays in Proctors GE Theatre, part of WGNA’s Rising Country Star Concert Series, which concludes on Monday with Randy Houser. In between, Kenny Rogers, a star who’s risen about as high as any country singer, plays on the Proctors Mainstage on Saturday.
Kenny Rogers pioneered multi-media stardom at a level the two young Randys would love to emulate. Starring in movies based on his songs, publishing books of photographs, cozying up to Dolly Parton in top-selling duets, scoring 20 platinum albums and 22 No. 1 hits: who wouldn’t want to follow in his bootprints? It’s almost not fair that (Kenny) Rogers always makes it look so easy.
Kenny Rogers sings on Saturday at 8 p.m. on the Proctors Mainstage. Tickets are $55, $45, $35 and $20. Phone 346-6204 or visit www.proctors.org.
No wonder that two of the Randy Rogers Band’s six albums (since 2002, their newest is a self-named effort) were recorded live. The Texas quintet carved its reputation onstage as frequent opener of choice for Willie Nelson, the Eagles, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan and others. The Randy Rogers Band plays tonight at 7:30 in Proctors GE Theatre. Tickets are $12.
On Monday, Mississippi-born Randy Houser wraps up the Proctors/WGNA Rising Country Star Concert Series. A bandleader by 13, he went to Nashville to write hits, and did: “Honk Tonk Badonkadonk” hit huge for Trace Adkins. Soon Houser went back onstage and hasn’t left, boosting his debut album “Anything Goes” up the charts with strong live shows and TV appearances. Houser wrote “Back That Thing Up,” a hit for Justin Moore who launched this emerging artist country series in November. Randy Houser sings at 7:30 p.m. on Monday at Proctors GE Theatre. Tickets are $12.
The Adirondack-born bluegrassers the Gibson Brothers return to Saratoga Springs on Sunday; not to Caffe Lena which they’ve packed many times, but to Lillian’s Restaurant (408 Broadway, Saratoga Springs). They better bring their A-game: Jim Gaudet and his Railroad Boys open, at 7 p.m.
The Gibsons’ (Eric and Leigh) new album “Iron & Diamonds” is their closest to home, invoking both hard-rock mines and baseball summer afternoons in the Adirondacks. Gaudet’s “Recalling it Quits” may be the best-ever comeback album in this area, a dazzling return to form by a folk-Americana bard who inspired and influenced every serious songwriter hereabouts before putting music on hold for a decade. Now he’s back doing it again.
Tickets for the Gibson Brothers and Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys (a small combo, tight and tough and tender as the Gibson’s band) are $20. Phone 581-1604 or 587-7766.
Country/folk at Caffe Lena
On Friday, Idaho-born alt-country bandleader and troubadour Eilen Jewell visits Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), a convenient road-trip now that she lives in Massachusetts. Her music is a road-trip, wandering from primal 1920s southern blues to southwestern swing, old-school Nashville and rockabilly. The Eilen Jewell Band fires up on Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is $16, members $14. Phone 583-0022 or visit www.caffelena.org.
On Saturday, Jeremy Wallace takes over the Caffe Lena stage with his trio; guitarist Jacob Johnson opens, at 8 p.m. Wallace makes music he calls “Americana with a bite,” rocking songs from folk, blues, jazz and country traditions with a muscular trio. His albums are as good as their titles: “My Lucky Day,” “She Used to Call Me Honey” and “Suicide Suitcase.” Johnson also knocks musical boundaries around, playing a percussive guitar style he calls “neo-acoustic folk/funk.” Admission is $16, members $14.
On Sunday at the Caffe, it’s all Gordon Stone, all the time.
His 3 p.m. workshop comprises demonstrations and discussions of the scrambling three-finger picking style he uses to fire up both banjo and pedal steel. Mandolinist/singer Matt Schragg accompanies Stone. Admission is $25, $20 for students.
Then, at 7 p.m., the Gordon Stone Band (drummer Caleb Bronz and bassist Jon McCartan) plays a concert at the Caffe. Check them out playing Thelonious Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” at the 2007 Tulip Festival in Albany’s Washington Park, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMZiewfjJS8. Tickets to the Gordon Stone Band are $15, $12 for members.
Folk troubadours and tall tale spinners Christopher Shaw & Bridget Ball, partners in life and music, team up on Saturday in a benefit for and at the Sand Lake Center for the Arts (2880 Rt. 43, Averill Park). Their annual holiday season Mountain Snow & Mistletoe extravaganza is so popular that it’s easy to forget that they can charm and astound in any season. Here’s a reminder, and for a good cause. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $20. Phone 674-2007.
Back to jazz
Local jazz hero saxophonist Brian Patneaude was among the many players and fans at the Yellowjackets’ show with Mike Stern last Saturday at Proctors. And this Saturday, his gig is the place to be for jazz-heads. Patneaude celebrates the release of his new album “Riverview” on Saturday at the College of St. Rose Massry Center for the Arts (1002 Madison Ave., Albany), featuring the same band that recorded the album in just one night: guitarist Mike Moreno, organist Jesse Chandler and drummer Danny Whelchel, a stalwart of Patneaude’s regular working quartet since 2002.
Patneaude always brings a questing and highly organized intelligence to his projects, but there’s something special, a real advance, in the melodic flow and force of this music. The saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader has hit a new plateau of inspiration and performance in this eight-song album: six originals plus Billy Strayhorn’s “Chelsea Bridge” and Don Grolnick’s “The Cost of Living.” He takes more risks than on previous efforts, confident in the expert support of his bandmates, and the risks pay off every time.
Show time for Brian Patneaude’s “Riverview” CD release party on Saturday at the College of St. Rose Massry Center for the Arts is 8 p.m. Admission is $10 but the show is free for St. Rose students with ID. Phone 434-6756 or visit www.brianpatneaude.com.