October 4. Pianist Jamal’s mouth-dropping keyboard runs are well known to jazz fans but neophytes should not miss this chance to hear this true virtuoso. Jamal has had many quiet successes (read his excellent autobiographical pages at www.ahmadjamal.net) and gives his native Pittsburgh props as a jazz haven and home to many legendary artists, including lyricist Billy Strayhorn, guitarist George Benson, and vocalist Billy Eckstine. Certainly a thinking man’s pianist, Jamal’s compositions have been in heard in two literary film adaptations, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Bridges of Madison County. Here, he appropriately performs in Skinner Hall at Vassar College in a show sponsored by Dickinson-Kayden. 7:15pm. Poughkeepsie. Free with advance tickets; see Vassar website for details. (845) 437-7294; www.vassar.edu/concerts
Gillen and Turk
October 18. What’s better than two great musicians playing off each other? Two great musicians who are also great dudes both on and off the stage. Fred Gillen Jr. is one of the Hudson Valley’s hardest-working showmen, hosting and playing events from Westchester to Albany. Matt Turk, whose musical knowledge extends from mandolin riffs to Brazilian hip-hop, has a clear voice and a well-crafted songwriting style. Together, this folk duo exceeds the sum of its parts. Dockside Pub, Mahopac.
(845) 621-0057; www.gillenandturk.com
Blues Day Tuesday Redux
October 7, 21 The multitalented Big Joe Fitz (crooner, mouth harpist, guitarist, and the host of WDST 100.1-FM’s “Blues Break” on Sundays at 10pm) has for over 20 years overseen the area’s best blues jam on alternating Tuesdays at the Willow Creek Inn in Stone Ridge. Thank your lucky stars that Big Joe and company are now returning to their first-and-third Tuesdays roots with a new jam at a new location: the fun and casual High Falls Cafe. Big Joe and the crew, which also includes soaring vocalist Barbara Dempsey, have been culling great guest talent as well, such as the mesmerizing K. J. Denhert, who sat in last month. 7pm. High Falls. Free. (845) 687-2699; www.highfallscafe.com
October 16. Singer-songwriter, guitarist, and Hudson Valley resident Jude Roberts hosts a CD release party for his full-length album Stained Glass Afterglow (Independent) at the still-indie Rosendale Theater. Roberts is set to perform tracks from the CD and other originals with support from a number of top-notch area musicians. He’s recently shared stages with Pete Seeger, Dar Williams, and Karan Casey, helping, no doubt, to raise the bar on his unique vocal style and rock-solid guitar playing. This show is highly recommended for fans of acoustic and folk music. 7:30pm. $10 (includes CD). Rosendale. (845) 658-8989; www.myspace.com/heyjuderoberts.
October 24. With the still-recovering New Orleans still very much in the news years after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, one positive byproduct of the city’s recent story has been a renewed focus on Southern-style funk. Hit Voodelic’s MySpace page
(www.myspace.com/voodelic) and check out Little Earl (vocals), Colin Almquist (bass), Dan Cartwright (drums), and fellow music scribe Ross Rice (keyboardist and publisher of Roll magazine) and their delicious brand of grits and gravy. This is roadhouse music at its most fiery, guaranteed to get the already rocking crowd at New World Home Cooking really rolling. 9pm. Free. Saugerties.(845) 246-0900; www.ricorlando.com.
Skytop Halloween Party
October 31. Get ready to monster mash when the atmospheric Skytop Steakhouse and Brewing Company pulls out all the stops for Halloween, which falls on a Friday this year. As part of Skytop’s That Organ Groove series, the fright, er, night begins with keyboardist Neil Alexander (NAIL, the Machine) warming things up with spooky toccatas and fugues in all sorts of minor keys. At 10pm, Alexander will be joined by the house band, which features guitar whiz Matthew Finck and yours truly on the traps. (That Organ Groove series finishes out the year with Hammond B3 wizards Jeremy Baum and Bruce Katz on Nov 21.) 9pm. Free with costume. Kingston. (845) 340-4277; www.skytopsteakhouse.com.