July is in the house and I’m feeling the burn! June had some incredible entertainment for us Capital Districters, and July is no different.
There’s really too much free entertainment available to mention it all, but here are some of my top picks around the region of the acts that you should not miss if you can help it.
Hopefully you were one of the 20,000-plus people who started the month out with a bang at the Empire Plaza for the annual Fourth of July extravaganza.
Sawyer Fredericks, who won the 8th season of “The Voice,” had everyone rockin’ to his original tunes. Then the crowd sailed away with Dennis DeYoung and the music of Styx before the annual Price Chopper and Market 32 sponsored firework spectacular.
But there’s more where that came from.
Beyond the annual Independence Day festivities, the capital concert series offers a trio of shows in July – all worth attending. On July 17, Jakob Dylan, son of Bob Dylan, rolls into town with his band the Wallflowers, the mid 90’s roots-rock revivalists that are inspired by the music of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and have won multiple Grammys.
A week later on the 24th, the plaza brings another son of a famous Bob, Stephen Marley, with the cool vibrations and social justice message that can be so powerfully performed in the form of reggae with a little hip-hop mixed in.
Closing out the month on the 31st is Eric Palsey, whose succession of country hits have gone platinum and will surely be performed with his usual gusto.
And as if that’s not enough, Salt ‘N Pepa is right around the corner playing the plaza in August!
A little further downtown in Albany, Alive at Five took a week off for the fireworks, but gets back into action with Reggae Night on July 11th with Culture. The following week, you’ll see me front and center as the band Lettuce will surely be funkin’ up Jenning’s Landing in the spirit of Parliament and Funkadelic.
The week after that, Saratoga Springs-based jam act Wild Adriatic will bring its rock heavy act to the river, mixing in their bluesy jams with some power rock covers. If you can’t make that date, don’t worry. You can catch these guys again later this summer when they open up for a little southern rock band called Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Troy’s Rockin’ on the River, which takes place on Wednesdays, gets July going this week with Rolling Stones Tribute band Classic Stones Live on the 10th.
Puerto Rican quartet Balún will introduce you to the sounds of the Caribbean, blended with dance pop, on the 17th.
Worchester, MA rock act the Hotelier will bring their brand of Emo to Troy on the 24th, and closing out the month on the 31st, (for those of you not at Eric Palsey), is Pedrito Martinez, a Cuban percussionist, drummer, singer, dancer, bandleader, songwriter, composer, and educator who was featured on NPR’s tiny desk concert back in February of this year.
Check out Freedom Park in Scotia where there are 13 free shows in July ranging from Chamber Music to Bluegrass to Celtic Rock.
The show that gets my attention there is my all-time favorite local cover band the Refrigerators. These guys can play anything, and they are playing in Scotia on July 24. Also, you can catch them – also for free – on July 18th at Rock the Block, Cohoes’ free concert series on Remsen Street.
Rock the Block has 10 shows on Thursdays throughout the summer, July 25th brings in a Tom Petty tribute band!
Upstate Power duo Sirsy is back with a vengeance this summer. Drummer and lead singer Melanie Krahmer, who is fresh off a battle with cancer, will play the Malta Summer Concert Series on July 24, the Freedom Park Concert Series on July 31 and Balston Spa’s Concerts in the Park on August 8. That’s a lot of gigs, so there’s no excuse for failing to catch at least one.
And last, but not least, Harbor Jam at the beautiful new Mohawk Harbor Amphitheater at Rivers Casino offers up David Victor on Saturday the 13th. He’s formerly of the band Boston.
Legendary East Coast Rock group John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band will rock the harbor out with their billboard topping hit “On the Dark Side, I’m sure, and CSN songs plays on July 27, celebrating the music of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
I’m not sure if it’s the heat or that there are so many choices for free live music, but my face is melting! Cheers to summer and what it’s all about! Hope to see you out there!