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Geoff Muldaur, Fred Schane
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Thursday

Describing a recent Geoff Muldaur performance in London, The Times wrote, “Immaculate guitar picking was matched by vocals that were rich, and bore out the guitarist Richard Thompson’s praise for him: ‘There are only three white blues singers and Geoff Muldaur is at least two of them.’ ” So it is with Muldaur, one of the strongest voices and musical forces to emerge from the folk, blues and folk-rock scenes centered in Cambridge, Mass. and Woodstock, N.Y. Muldaur keeps true to the history of roots music: His musical approach is one of honor and respect, though he brings to the work something new. The New York Times noted, Muldaur “succeeds not because he copies the timbre and inflections of a down-home African-American but because his voice—reedy, quavering, otherworldly—is so unusual that [the music] he sings becomes little more than a context, a jumping-off point.” Muldaur has composed scores for film and television, won an Emmy, and his recording of “Brazil” provided the seed for—and was featured in—Terry Gilliam’s film of the same name. Fred Schane opens tonight’s show at Club Helsinki. (March 28, 9 PM, $18 advance, $22 door, 413-528-6308)

Mushroomhead, Dog Fashion Disco, The Bruise Bros., Five Point O, Wasteform
Saratoga Winners, Friday

Another freaky costumed band will come to the area when Mushroomhead stop by Saratoga Winners tomorrow (Friday). Mushroomhead got their start in Cleveland back in 1993; though originally a side project, the eight members have made this their full-time gig. Now, about the costumes: Vocalist J Mann has said, “Originally, our costumes were pretty random and just disguised the fact that we were from different bands.” Since signing to Universal in late 2001 and rereleasing their latest album XX, “the band has decided to go for a more uniform look, donning outfits and masks that make it look like a rag-doll death squad,” according to Revolver magazine. Mushroomhead originally released XX independently, but since hooking up with Universal they have updated and remixed the album. As for the lineup of the band, we have the previously mentioned J Mann along with Jeffrey Nothing on lead vocals, Skinny on drums, Schmotz on keyboards, Pig Benis on bass, Gravy and Bronson on guitars and Stitch providing samples. If that’s not enough to grab you, Mushroomhead will be joined at the all-ages show by Dog Fashion Disco, Five Point O, Wasteform, and local faves the Bruise Bros. (March 29, 7 PM, $10, 783-1010)

Steve March Tormé
Van Dyck, Friday

Many musicians have famous fathers; few have two. Son of jazz singer Mel Tormé and stepson of The $64,000 Question host Hal March, Steve March Tormé has spent the past three decades as a second-generation star. Following in the footsteps of both his fathers, Steve tried his hand in film and television before launching a jazz career in the late 1990s. Like that of his biological father, Steve’s sound draws heavily from swing, combining rearranged traditionals and original compositions. With fast tempos and plenty of references to cats and swingers, Tormé’s songs are reminiscent of 1940s swing. But they also are filtered through a modern lens, often sounding more like the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies than the elder Tormé. Though the swing-revival craze has faded in the past few years, Steve Tormé continues to tour and record new material. On his most recent disc, The Night I Fell For You, he traded in his big band for a smaller jazz combo, focusing on vocal jazz and romantic ballads. Tormé has played several tribute concerts for his late father, whose own final recording was a duet on his son’s Swingin’ at the Blue Moor Bar & Grille. On Friday, Steve March Tormé will swing into Schenectady for two shows at the Van Dyck. (March 29, 7 and 9:30 PM, $22, 381-1111)

Doc Watson, the Beartown Mountain Ramblers
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday

Arthel “Doc” Watson was a man of constant sorrow half a century before O Brother, Where Art Thou? brought the music of the Appalachians to its current prominence. The legendary musician, whose accolades include the National Medal of Arts, a National Heritage Fellowship and a whopping five Grammies, will be in town for a show on Saturday at Club Helsinki in Great Barrington. In 1960, when Watson was nearly 40, a documentarian recorded the North Carolinan’s unadorned music and brought it to a national audience, making Watson a hero to that era’s young folksingers. Since then, he’s been considered a national treasure, but he hasn’t been content to rest on his laurels: Watson’s career output includes more than 50 albums and decades upon decades of touring. His plainspoken poetry will be complemented by the bluegrass stylings of openers the Beartown Mountain Ramblers. (March 30, 8 PM, $35 advance, $38.50 door, 413-528-3394)

Michael Jerling CD-Release Party
Caffe Lena, Saturday

Scan the track listing of the recently issued two-CD set Fast Folk: A Community of Singers & Songwriters, which commemorates the vibrancy of “new folk” artists who congregated in Greenwich Village in the ’80s, and you’ll see the expected heavy hitters: Shawn Colvin, John Gorka, Steve Forbert. But you’ll also notice local light Michael Jerling, singing his tune “Long Black Wall.” An Illinois native who has long resided in Saratoga Springs, Jerling has spent more than two decades bringing his reflective, heartfelt songs to listeners across the country, scoring prizes at the Kerrville Folk Festival, landing deals with the Shanachie and Waterbug labels, and earning such accolades as Request Magazine’s comment that Jerling has “the literate humor and eclectic taste of Lyle Lovett [and] a skewed vision all his own.” Jerling just founded his own label, Fool’s Hill Music, the first release of which is his new disc, Little Movies. The troubadour will celebrate the disc’s release with a show on Saturday at Caffe Lena. (March 30, 9 PM, $12, 583-0022)

Amy Fairchild, Rosanne Raneri
Larkin Lounge, Saturday

If Amy Fairchild sounds like a woman on the verge of playing Lilith Fair, forget it—she’s already been there and done that. An emerging singer-songwriter- guitarist who got her start during her college years in Northampton, Mass., Fairchild won the New York City Lilith Fair Talent Competition in the spring of 1999, earning a Jones Beach gig alongside such Lilith stalwarts as Sarah McLachlan and Sheryl Crow (both of whom show up frequently in Fairchild reviews as reference points). Another kudo followed last year when she won the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition. And her latest album, Mr. Heart (So Fair Music), is gathering steam on college radio across the country. With music rooted in an acoustic folk-pop tradition that serves her well in either a solo or full-band setting, along with intelligent, observational lyrics, catchy meoldies and a remarkably relaxed, organic vocal delivery, Fairchild is winning over fans and critics for the same reasons Crow did some years back. Fans and critics from this region need no introduction to Rosanne Raneri, the once-local singer-songwriter who has relocated to Boston but who is back in town to share this bill. (March 30, 9 PM, $8, 463-5225)

also noted

Baltimore-based power trio Mary Prankster, whose namesake front woman’s pottymouth has gotten them bounced from a club or two, will test decorum tonight (Thursday) at Valentine’s (9 PM, 432-6572). . . . Also tonight, Voices on the Verge—featuring solo artists Beth Amsel, Jess Klein, Erin McKeown and Rose Polenzani pooling their talents—touch down at the new WAMC Performing Arts Studio (8 PM, $13 members, $15 non- members, 800-323-9262). . . . Folk duo Chrysalis Lore host their monthly music and poetry gig at Miss Mary’s Art Space tonight (7:30 PM, $2-$10 donation, 426-3570). . . . Tomorrow (Friday), Hungry Jack go high-tech with a performance at Byte This cyber café in Amsterdam. Blind Eye are also on the bill (8 PM, $3, 843-4749). . . . Up-and-coming pop-punk stars F-Timmi play Valentine’s on Saturday, with Liars Academy, This Afternoon and the Imports (8 PM, $10, 432-6572). . . . Old school folk duo Aztec Two-Step come to Schenectady’s Van Dyck for two shows on Saturday (6 and 9 PM, $20, 381-1111). . . . Damon Zick and Friends, a jazz quintet who have shared the stage with bigshots like Don Byron, will play the Larkin on Sunday (8:30 PM, $3, 463-5225).


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