Dar Williams, Bad Plus, Foster & Bibb at Egg
The Egg all but cracks open this week, maybe the concrete orb’s busiest music season.
Prolific, powerful, plain-spoken troubadour Dar Williams sings on Friday at 8 p.m., with Nashville singer Angel Snow opening.
Williams is on a roll, and not just because her new (and ninth) album, “In the Time of Gods,” features an epic biker song. The album has an all-star cast, but it’s really about the songs. After her two-CD retrospective “Many Great Companions,” her songwriting muse has kick-started the engine and twisted the throttle. Tickets are $28. 473-1845, www.theegg.org.
On Saturday, well-traveled jazz trio The Bad Plus (10 albums and nonstop tours and side projects over 12 years) takes over The Egg.
Starting at 8 p.m., they improvise any way they want to on any tunes they want to. Sure, they compose originals — often, and well. They also stretch their talents into unexpected nooks and crannies of the pop and rock world, jazzing up tunes by Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Yes, Heart, Rush, Queen, Tears for Fears, Radiohead, Blondie and more. They’re fearless, fierce and fun: bassist Reid Anderson, pianist Ethan Iverson and drummer David King. Tickets are $24.
On Sunday, The Egg gets the blues when old friends Ruthie Foster and Eric Bibb hit town. Foster really gets around, headlining her own shows and singing with the Warren Haynes Band, while her albums win Grammy nominations and blues awards.
Foster is the daughter of church singers and Bibb the son of Leon Bibb, whose folk fame brought such mentors as Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson and Bob Dylan into his record-filled home. Bibb has recorded and performed since the late 1960s/early 1970s, while Foster launched her career a bit later.
The duets show they call “Thanks for the Joy” starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $28.
All week, The Egg presents offsite events honoring the arrival of the Beatles 50 years ago, first steps in becoming more famous than, well, anybody.
These two-part, free presentations feature Skidmore College Beatles scholar Gordon Thompson speaking on “She Loves You — The Beatles in New York.” Then local hero jazz pianist Cole Broderick plays solo interpretations of Beatles songs, including those on his terrific album “A Solo Piano Tribute to the Beatles.”
At an early performance in that project, I found it fascinating to watch Broderick think his way via new paths through songs we’ve all heard a million times each.
“She Loves You — The Beatles in New York” with Gordon Thompson and music by Cole Broderick: 7 tonight at Guilderland Public Library; 7 p.m. Friday at Albany Institute of History & Art; 2 p.m. Saturday at Schenectady Public Library; 2 p.m. Sunday at Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library; 7 p.m. Monday at The Arts Center of the Capital Region; 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Saratoga Springs Public Library; 7 p.m. Wednesday at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls; and 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, at Bethlehem Public Library.
The Egg’s Beatles celebration continues next weekend, onsite, with the tributes All You Need is Love on Feb. 14 and the Fab Faux on Feb. 15.
Friends of Pete Seeger gathered at the Eighth Step on Monday, with instruments, to honor his life. Musician/Proctors communicator Michael Eck tells it:
“Pete was there in spirit, but he just might have really been there, too. It was a lovely night of songs and stories, with everyone sharing bright memories instead of bemoaning his loss. [Clearwater] Sloop singer Dan Einbender became a sort of tour guide, embroidering others’ tales with wonderful filigrees and obscure facts.
“Pete’s producer, David Bernz, offered quips about Pete’s creativity and working methods. Old pals like Rik Palieri and Rick Nestler brought yarns from the Clearwater and origin tales of their first tentative meetings with Pete as young men; and gray-haired elegies about missing him now. Margie Rosenkranz sang; Wanda Fischer sang; Graham and Barbara Dean sang; everyone sang. It was a night of salts, volunteers, amateurs, professionals, friends and fans, all gathering to celebrate Seeger’s life and legacy. As Bernz pointed out, in a riff on the old Joe Hill remark, ‘Don’t Mourn, Harmonize!’ ”
In the Den
Donna the Buffalo and the Red Haired Stranger play Putnam Den (63A Putnam St., Saratoga Springs) tonight at 9:30 p.m.; doors at 8. Both bands roam wide musical fields dubbed Americana, both displaying curiosity, expertise and energy in their quest. And both have new songs: Donna the Buffalo on “Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday” and our own hometown Red Hairs Strangers on “Hill Town Sessions” — bearing proof these locals could well steal this show. Admission is $20. 584-8066 www.putnamden.com.
A belated shout-out to the super-skilled sound man who delivered Kathy Mattea’s voice with such crystal clarity to her fans at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last Sunday night. Ideally suited to acoustic performances, as Mattea demonstrated in her a cappella solo encore, the Hall challenges visiting sound engineers.
Mattea’s man delivered clarity and punch from her banjo’s staccato treble runs to the lowest bass notes. And he echoed the placement of instruments on the stage in the sound. Eamonn O’Rourke played fiddle and mandolin at stage right, and that’s where the sound of his instruments originated, with (stage left) guitarist Bill Cooley’s playing coming from that side of the soundscape. Bassist David Spicher and Mattea came from the middle, where they stood. I think Mattea addressed her engineer as Jake, and I wish I’d caught his full name. Masterly work.
Reach Gazette columnist Michael Hochanadel at firstname.lastname@example.org.