Real Good for Free: Alive @ 5

It’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows,
No one owns a piece of my time…

Downtown Albany’s free outdoor summertime Alive @ Five concert series kicks off on Thursday, June 4 with John Popper and Blues Traveler. Woodstock guitarslinger Jim Weider – the guy who took over Robbie Robertson’s guitar chair in The Band – brings his own band Project Percolator to town to open the show.

That’s the first of an expanded, 11-show series that takes place at the Riverfront Park amphitheater in Albany’s Corning Preserve every Thursday at 5pm through August 13 when it all wraps up with a righteous reggae celebration featuring the Original Wailers with Bearin’ Peace.

Best of the bunch? I’m betting on the Neville Brothers, who are making a return appearance following their 2004 Alive @ Five show. Of course, I admit to having a particular bias towards Aaron and his brothers that has often made me swoon.

I saw them perform onboard a New Orleans riverboat on my honeymoon, and they made me attempt to impress my lovely new bride with dance moves that I had no idea were even in my repertoire.

Several years later, I ventured over to Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass. with my buddy and now bandmate Micheal Eck, and we found ourselves at a post-concert soiree in Northampton Hotel where Aaron was seated at the upright piano, regaling the intimate crowd with handful of solo songs before wrapping it up with a heart-stopping rendition of “The Mickey Mouse Club Theme Song.”

Then again the Original Wailers could certainly stir up a memorable memorial to the great Bob Marley. And Vermonters Grace Potter and her band are working with Midas-touched produced T Bone Burnett on their upcoming album, so I wouldn’t sell them short.

And I’ve been a fan of the uncompromising Irish-rockers Black 47 since bandleader Larry Kirwan and his band made their Nippertown debut in 1992, stirring up quite a mosh pit at Bogie’s.

Here’s the complete slate:

June 4: Blues Traveler/Jim Weider’s Project Percolator

June 11: The Platters/Cornell Gunter’s Coasters/Wylder

June 18: The Marshall Tucker Band/Jefferson Thomas

June 25: Grace Potter & the Nocturnals/Deni Bonet

July 2: The Village People/the Refrigerators

July 9: Black 47/Kevin McKrell & the Hard Road Ceili Band

July 16: Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra/Sensemaya

July 23: Hotel California/Aloud

July 30: Tower of Power/the Out of Control Rhythm & Blues Band

August 6: The Neville Brothers/Mingo Fishtrap

August 13: The Original Wailers/Bearin’ Peace

As always, the rain site for each show is the parking lot under the I-787 overpass at the Corning Preserve Boat Launch. But it’s such a horrible place to hear a show that let’s all keep our fingers crossed that none of the shows – or at least none of the good ones – have to re-locate.

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