Hot tickets, new shows

02:54 PM, Jul 23, 2013

Greg Townson of The Hi-Risers will play Abilene to celebrate the release of his first solo album. (Kurt Brownell)/


Written By Jeff Spevak | Staff music critic

Universally recognized good guy Greg Townson has not only been playing on tour and recording with the surf-rockers Los Straitjackets — yes, he gets to wear a Mexican wrestling mask — producing an album by Zurich’s Hillbilly Moon Explosion, and playing on an upcoming Eleni Mandel album. His band The Hi-Risers remains one of Rochester’s music treasures, having spent the summer touring Europe to promote its latest album. Now he’s celebrating the release of his first solo album, at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Abilene Bar & Lounge, 153 Liberty Pole Way.

Recorded in London, Rochester’s Saxon Recordings and Townson’s bedroom, On Your Side is a comfortable fit alongside the Hi-Risers’ half-dozen releases. Townson stays completely within his considerable skills; he’s a relaxed guitarist and singer, there’s not one note of overreach here. Is there such a thing as meditative garage rock? Hi-Risers albums are loaded with songs that feel like instant, familiar classics the first time you hear them, and the same is true with On Your Side. “The Instruments Agree,” “Before the Credits Roll” and “Not Daylight Yet” all have elements of ’60s pop-rock and even soul. Actually, this is Townson’s soul album.

Sparks on the Highway,” with its ominous guitar, fuses that dynamic duo of cars and women. Townson and his usual stable of lyricists (Nick Crews, John DeAngelis and Allyson Bice) dwell exclusively on love and love lost. That includes the warning that precedes an impending meeting with the cast of reprobates gathering for “My Family Reunion.” Relationships are in flux: “Just like the weather, my world is about to change.” But to have once had love and lost it maybe isn’t such a bad thing, as Townson sings, “It could have been worse because, she could have taken me be back.” But Townson is really a romantic at heart, as revealed on the album-closing “I’ll Wait For You.”

The one-word review for On Your Side: charming.

Admission is free. As is generally the case, the Abilene happy hour shows come with drink specials and free food. Townson’s record is available on his website, gregtownson.com. Also at Abilene:

• Anna Egge returns for a 9 p.m. Saturday gig. A small-town Canadian native, now living in Austin, Texas, Egge is a bit like alt-country chanteuse Eilen Jewell. Except much taller. Rochester’s Woody Dodge plays at 11:15 p.m. Admission is $8 for ages 21 and older; $12 for ages 20 and younger.

• Double-bass roots music-chanteuse Amy Lavere is back for a 6 p.m. Aug. 4 show. Tickets ($20 in advance; $25 the day of the show) are available at the bar. Carrie McFerrin opens. Yes, there will be barbecue.

Officer Friendly, one of the more-popular local club bands here from the mid-’90s, is pulling itself together for an 8 p.m. Friday show at Water Street Music Hall, 204 N. Water St. True to the sound of the day, Officer Friendly was very grungy. The band itself hasn’t been around since 1997 or so, but lead singer John Gaenzler did show up in 2002 to play a solo acoustic set. Tickets ($10 in advance; $12 the day of the show) are available at waterstreetmusic.com, (888) 512-7469 and Aaron’s Alley.

A much-talked about ethereal, synth-minded indie-pop band from Denmark, Indians, has an 8 p.m. Friday show at the Bug Jar, 219 Monroe Ave. A Rochester lineup opens the show: Mikaela Davis, Stoney Lonesome & The House of Lights and Previous Kindred. Tickets ($8 in advance; $10 the day of the show) are available at bugjar.com.

Also coming to the Bug Jar:

• The Brooklyn-via-Israel duo Hank & Cupcakes, 9 p.m. Sept. 14. Philadelphia’s The National Rifle and Rochester’s Soviet Dolls open this night of synth-pop. Tickets are $10 for ages 21 and older; $12 for ages 18 to 20.

• Rough-hewn solo blues punk Scott H. Biram, 9 p.m. Sept. 24, with Black Pistol Fire of Austin, Texas. Tickets are $12 for ages 21 and older, $14 for ages 18 to 20.

• Speed-metal outfit Nashville Pussy (actually, now from Atlanta), 9 p.m. Oct. 22. With Milwaukee’s Jayke Orvis & The Broken Band and the Barry Brothers Band of Hume, Allegany County. Tickets ($12 in advance; $14 the day of the show) are at bugjar.com.

Singer-songwriter and innovative guitarist Keller Williams plays at 8 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Historic German House Theater, 315 Gregory St. Williams uses a looping system of electronics to back himself during the performance. Tickets ($25.50 in advance; $30 the day of the show) are available at Needledrop Records and the Bop Shop (neither of which has a service charge), The House of Guitars, Aaron’s Alley, ticketfly.com or (877) 435-9849. Call (585) 857-8385.

Lord of the Strings” Arvel Bird, renowned Native American violin and flute player, heads an impromptu jam from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday at Bernunzio Uptown Music, 122 East Ave. His recent album, Titanic Centennial: Commemorative Special Edition, is a tribute to the passengers, crew and musicians aboard the Titanic. It’s free, bring your instruments.