Unplugged and in tribute
Rufus Wainwright performs at Asbury Hall on November 3.
This month affords us two opportunities to catch marquee-name singer/songwriters—coincidentally both out queer artists—performing in a stripped-down setting. On November 3, Rufus Wainwright takes the stage at Asbury Hall at Babeville. Given that most of his projects since his 2007 restaging of Judy Garland’s fabled 1961 Carnegie Hall concert have grown increasingly ambitious in scope and cast (two operas; an album setting Shakespeare’s sonnets to electronic, classical, and pop/rock music delivered by the likes of Carrie Fisher, Helena Bonham Carter, Florence Welch, and William Shatner), it’ll be fascinating to see what makes the set list. The following week, country/roots sensation Brandi Carlile heads to Niagara Falls, Ontario, for two nights at Fallsview (November 9–10). Although she’s been on the scene for a while now (her self-titled debut album came out in 2006), she really took the world—and the Grammys—by storm last year with By the Way, I Forgive You, a collection of songs celebrating outsiders. She’s become quite the music-industry insider in the meantime, collaborating with folks like Elton John, Dave Matthews, and Sam Smith, to say nothing of her acclaimed new supergroup the Highwomen, in which she’s joined by Maren Morris, Amanda Shires, and Natalie Hemby. For these shows, however, the spotlight will be firmly on her and her guitar.
Joni v. Joni
Joni Mitchell—easily one of the most cherished and influential songwriters of her generation—turns seventy-six this month, and is the subject of not one but two local tribute concerts. On November 2, Rochester-based Lauren Faggiano brings her band the Good Souls and a few special guests to Hallwalls for a set spanning Mitchell’s work from 1968 through 1991, a period that saw the artist evolve from the Canadian folk circuit to AM radio stardom and then enter a period of extraordinary, if often controversial, experimentation. A week later (November 9), as part of MusicalFare’s Cabaret series, Jim Runfola and Theresa Quinn and backing musicians zero in on one specific phase of those experiments: Mitchell’s collaboration with jazz great Charles Mingus. There’s an interesting twist because, rather than limiting themselves to selections from the Mingus album, they’ll be reinterpreting several of her earlier pop hits in that style. Both events sound like surefire crowd pleasers; together, they’ll demonstrate just how vast and versatile the composer’s talent has always been.
And speaking of tributes …
The late, great Gram Parsons practically invented what became known as “country rock” during his brief but legendary stints with the Byrds and his next band, the Flying Burrito Brothers. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the latter group’s debut album, The Gilded Palace of Sin, so, of course, there’s a touring show (built around a longtime former member of the group who joined well after Parsons’s death) to honor this rich body of work. They’ll hit Sportsmen’s Tavern on November 7. Another giant of twentieth-century popular music is the recipient of some Buffalove at the same venue near the end of the month, when Elton John gets the royal treatment at the hands of multi-talented Joe Rozler with Nelson Starr, Roger Cormier, and Rob Lynch—stellar performers all—on November 30. It’s a Saturday afternoon show, so presumably you’ll be out in time to do some fighting on Saturday night. (Elton says it’s alright.)