Weekend Music Ideas: September 15, 2017

Mike Stern, Arcade Fire, Sturgill Simpson, Festival at the Farm and more.


A year has passed since Mike Stern fell on a New York street, broke bones in both shoulders, and suffered nerve damage that affected his right hand. But one would never know it from the jazz-fusion guitarist’s new album Trip or late Thursday set at the Regattabar, as the grinning Stern (pictured) wielded his typically deft blend of nimble runs, incisive bends and effusive humor. He’ll be back to wrap up his two-night stand on Friday, and it doesn’t hurt that his powerhouse band sports trumpeter Randy Brecker, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Tom Kennedy.

But that’s just one option in this month’s busiest weekend for live music. Arcade Fire hits TD Garden for Friday’s biggest concert, as the arty, anthemic Canadian band toys with a boxing-match intro to a career-spanning set that should sail past the mixed reviews for new album Everything Now with legendary live charisma. Two suitable alternatives the same night: Public Service Broadcasting — a genre-busting London indie-rock trio that mashes up electronica, prog-rock and samples from old propaganda films – squeezes into the Middle East’s new room Sonja. And keyboardist Marco Benevento puts aside his busy membership in Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to bring his own eclectic, jamming band to the Sinclair on Friday.

The dynamic voices of the rising three-woman band Joseph (a wow at this year’s Newport Folk Festival) take over the Sinclair on Saturday, while modern country maverick Sturgill Simpson cranks up his guitar – and his rock side – at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Matthew Sweet also holds court at the Brighton Music Hall on a kindred double bill of guitar-rocking pop with underground hero Tommy Keane. And Mark Burgess, once frontman for Chameleons UK, taps into the sound and catalog of his former outfit with his band Chameleons Vox at the Middle East Downstairs on Saturday.

However, this is the last big weekend for festivals and there are three to consider. Close to home, the Festival at the Farm brings roots-rock jams to Prowse Farm in Canton (once home to the Life is Good Festival) with a Saturday lineup including the funky Lettuce, Brett Dennen, Lee Fields and Ballroom Thieves and a Sunday slate with the Wood Brothers, Martin Sexton and Ryan Montbleau. Here’s a link to the Festival at the Farm site.  On a larger scale in the Berkshires, like Wilco’s Solid Sound in June, FreshGrass takes over the MASS MoCA complex all weekend, with Railroad Earth headlining on Friday, Brandi Carlile leading a Saturday lineup that includes the Wood Brothers, Crooked Still, Son Little and a bluegrass tribute to the Allmans Brothers, and a Sunday roundup brimming with Del McCourty, David Grisman, Shovels & Rope and Bill Frisell. Here’s the FreshGrass schedule. Finally, for the intrepid road-trippers, Grace Potter hosts her Grand Point North Festival in Burlington, Vt., playing both nights while Dawes, Tank and the Bangas (who just got the Sinclair bouncing on Thursday) and Hooray for the Riff Raff join  on Saturday and the Trey Anastasio Band headlines on Sunday on a bill including Joseph and Son Little. Here’s the schedule for Grand Point North.

Finally, on Sunday, folk-rockers Big Thief – whose Adrianne Lenker quietly channels subconscious feelings with raw nerves – plays the Sinclair with Boston’s Palehound, who just scored a bunch of Boston Music Award nominations.

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