Blue Notes, King, Delfonics to evoke disco era
Welcome to the antique show.
Nostalgia rules at Thanksgiving, so it’s perfect that artists from decades past parade across our stages, including some that have fought like families at their most noisy and dysfunctional.
Amid (alarming!) reports of New York City’s disco revival, three disco-era acts team up at Albany’s Palace Theatre in the Thanksgiving Soul Jam on Saturday at 8 p.m.: Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes, Evelyn “Champagne” King and the Delfonics. Here’s where it gets complicated. Many of the original Blue Notes have died, including Melvin and Teddy Pendergrass, whose booming baritone powered most of the Blue Notes’ hits. Those included “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “The Love I Lost,” “Wake Up Everybody,” “Bad Luck” and “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” which defined Philly Soul in the 1970s.
Legal disputes and constant shifts in membership dethroned arguably the one group that most effectively carried doo-wop harmonies into the disco era.
When Neil Young named his big band the Blue Notes, Melvin sued and forced a name change.
King was famously discovered while singing as she cleaned a washroom at Philadelphia International Records (the Blue Notes’ label) and scored her first and biggest hit “Shame” in 1977, though she has continued recording and touring. “Open Book” in 2007 was her first album in 12 years.
The Delfonics predate the Blue Notes, forming in 1965; but they split into two oldies acts in 1975 with both claiming the name. By then their hits were long behind them, but movie soundtracks kept their music around, notably Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” which featured “La-La (Means I Love You)” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind.” Major Harris, leader of one version of the Delfonics, died Nov. 9 at 65.
As seemingly countless PBS specials remind us, these acts can be surprisingly satisfying because the songs stand up, even if the arrangements may seem dated at times. Those keeping these legacy bands alive are careful to replicate the harmonies and lead vocals of the original recordings.
Tickets to the Thanksgiving Soul Jam on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Albany’s Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave.) are $39 plus fees. Phone 465-3334 or visit www.palacealbany.com.
Return of Dinosaur Jr.
Formed in 1984 — when the disco acts on the Thanksgiving Soul Jam were slipping or splitting — Dinosaur Jr. did something different. They split in 1997 and its members formed numerous other bands. Then they reunited their classic lineup in 2005 — guitarist J. Mascis, drummer Lou Barlow and bassist Murph — to resume touring and recording. They play the Pearl Street Ballroom (10 Pearl St.) in their hometown of Northampton, Mass., on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
The first three Dinosaur Jr. albums — “Dinosaur” (1985), “You’re Living All Over Me” (1987) and “Bug” (1988) — heavily influenced grunge with their massive but melodic guitar sound. But their post-reunion albums — “Beyond,” “Farm” and “I Bet on Sky” (2012) — are amazing simply for existing at all after their explosive split. But these are also strong, unified and confident albums; also tuneful, noisy and sincere.
Tickets to Dinosaur Jr. at the Pearl Street Ballroom on Wednesday are $25, and a portion of proceeds benefits The Common School. Hush Arbors open. Phone 413-586-8686 or visit www.iheg.com.
The Marshall Tucker Band rocks Southern style Wednesday at Vapor (342 Jefferson St., Saratoga Springs). After nearly as many lineup changes as the Blue Notes or the Delfonics, the Marshall Tucker Band retains singer Doug Gray as the only original member, but he’s arguably the single indispensable element. He’s the voice on “Can’t You See,” “Take the Highway,” “Heard it in a Love Song” and others. They split up in 1983 but reunited in 1988, though three of the five founding members have now died. Tickets are $20 and $12. Doors open at 8 p.m. Phone 581-5772 or visit www.vapornightclub.com.
Formed in 1988 in Tucson, the Supersuckers survived struggle, success, turmoil and turnover, went on hiatus then re-formed. Powerful, prolific (18 albums from 1992 to 2008, with one on the way), versatile, the reunited Supersuckers — bassist-singer Eddie Spaghetti, guitarists Dan “Thunder” Bolton and “Metal” Marty Chandler and drummer Christopher “Chango” Von Streicher — play on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany). The Pistolwhips and Mordwolf open. Tickets are $15. Phone 432-6572 or visit www.valentinesalbany.com.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.