Like Lyle Lovett & His Large Band, Chandler Travis makes both big, or large, sounds and more intimate music by dividing and recombining bands. Deep in Travis’s musical DNA – whatever ensemble he’s leading – is engaging playfulness, encyclopedic musical knowledge and a bold willingness to surprise even himself. His biggest band, so far, is the Chandler Travis Philharmonic – eight, nine or a dozen musicians or more, most garbed in unconventional finery, but all playing their butts off. His smallest, so far, is the Incredible Casuals, a rocking trio that played WAMC in May. The Philharmonic’s smaller mutation the Philharmonette doesn’t lack for power and goofiness – Travis opened comic George Carlin’s shows for 10 years – it’s just not as large.
On Friday, Travis leads the Philharmonette onstage at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs), where they played in March. He’ll sing and play guitar and likely wear the weirdest things on the Caffe’s small, jam-packed stage. His musical accomplices/enablers are valet/singer Fred Boak (Danny Ray to Travis’ James Brown); Dinty Child playing accordion, guitar, mandolin and mandocello; bassist John Clark, saxophonist and clarinet player Berke McKelvie and trumpeter Yaure Muniz, fresh from a tour with the
Buena Vista Social Club. As usual, they’ll play whatever they like, possibly including serious but fractured lamentations from Travis’ solo album “After She Left” and new stuff from “The Chandler Travis Philharmonic Blows,” set for release later this year. As he promised/threatened before his March Caffe Lena show, “There may be sporadic outbreaks of jazz.”
Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $16 in advance for members and $18 in advance for non-members, and $20 at the door.