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Jimmie Dale Gilmore
Iron Horse Music hall, Northampton, Mass., Thursday
Caffe Lena, Friday
Club Helsinki, Great Barrington, Mass., Saturday

If you have any inclination whatsoever to catch the “Cowboy Poet” Jimmie Dale Gilmore, now is obviously the time: three nights, three clubs, four shows and all within easy driving distance—take your pick. Even though a bunch of you caught Gilmore with his resurrected country band the Flatlanders when they performed at the Lakehouse over the summer, don’t pass on that account, because this time through, Gilmore is doing things a little differently. Well-loved originals certainly will be on the set list, but Gilmore’s new album boasts covers of some his favorite contemporary songwriters, so you can expect songs from such scribes as Butch Hancock, Walter Hyatt, Townes Van Zandt and Jerry Garcia. (Iron Horse: Feb. 28, 7 PM, $17.50, 800-THE-TICK; Caffe Lena: March 1, 7 and 9 PM, $20, 583-0022; Club Helsinki: March 2, 9 PM, $30, 413-528-6308)

The Erotics, the Brett Rosenberg Problem, Roma, the D.A.’s
Valentine’s, Friday

Boston pop-rocker Brett Rosenberg (he’s lived there long enough to call the city home, and he’s a huge part of Beantown’s music scene, yet Rosenberg once lived in these parts) will bring his band, the Brett Rosenberg Problem, to Valentine’s tomorrow (Friday) as part of a rather eclectic bill. High on the success of their debut, Pop Riot!, the Brett Rosenberg Problem are a hairsbreadth away from releasing their second longplayer, Destroyer, due to be released in April. Headlining the show are Albany’s own glam/punk/hard-rock idols the Erotics, who released their critically acclaimed 20th Century S.O.B. on FastLane Records last year and were recently invited to play L.A.’s Whisky-A-Go-Go for a June celebration of Mötley Crüe’s 25th anniversary. Boston’s Roma and our own alterna-rockettes the D.A.’s also will perform. (March 1, $5, 432-6572)

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones
Palace Theatre, Friday

Béla Fleck has been playing banjo since he was 15, and in the 25-odd years since, he has virtually reinvented the instrument’s sound and style. But bluegrass is only one part of Fleck’s progressive mix: Over the years, he has incorporated everything from bluegrass, funk, jazz, rock and classical, and of late has even become involved with the jam-band circuit. Featuring saxophonist Jeff Coffin, percussionist Futureman and bassist Victor Wooton, the Flecktones are among the most versatile and creative musical collectives touring today, with numerous awards and Grammy nominations to show for it (in fact, Fleck has been nominated for Grammys in more categories than any musician in history). With high-profile friends like Edgar Meyer, John Medeski, Paul Hanson and Dave Matthews, Fleck continues to expand his influence while expanding his own musical palette in the process. Touring in support of their newly released Live at the Quick, the Flecktones will bring their eclectic sound to Albany’s Palace Theatre tomorrow (Friday). (March 1, 8 PM, $26 advance, $28 door, 465-4663)

Ill Niño, Switched, Stepkings, Pipebomb
Northern Lights, Friday

Six-member, Latin-influenced Ill Niño were formed two years ago out of drummer Dave Chavarri’s former band, El Niño, after Chavarri (also ex-Pro-Pain) returned from a two-month tour as interim drummer for Soulfly. The band’s music was taking a more melodic turn, and they collectively felt that a change was in order. Ill Niño loosely translates to “crazy baby,” and reflects the band’s “increasingly schizophrenic sound,” Chavarri says. “We’re musical gluttons: Heavy, soft, brutal, pretty—we want it all.” The guys in the band all grew up in the United States, but were born in places such as Brazil, Peru and the Dominican Republic, and it’s from these roots that they have pulled much of their musical influence. As Chavarri has said, “The idea is to be as heavy as possible and as melodic as possible—with a Latin twist.” The other members of Ill Niño are Cristian Machado on vocals, Jardel Paisante and Marc Rizzo on guitars, Lazaro Piña on bass and Roger Vasquez on percussion. The band’s debut on Roadrunner Records, Revolution . . . Revolución, has received a lot of buzz; according to CMJ New Music Report, “Ill Niño’s Latin metal monster will make you feel like you’ve just downed a bottle of Tequila, getting all tingly in places you never knew you had.” Joining Ill Niño at the 16-and-older show at Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday) will be Switched, Stepkings and Pipebomb. (March 1, 7:30 PM, $5 advance, $7 door, 371-0012)

Natalie Merchant
Palace Theatre, Saturday

Back before Tori was a cornflake girl, before Meredith was a bitch, before Ani was a righteous babe, back when the Indigo Girls were still a long way from fine, there was Natalie Merchant. First as lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, and later as a solo artist, Merchant was one of the most visible and successful women of the college-rock era. Her lulling vocals, combined with a socially active spirit (her Web site is linked to The Nation, just to give you an idea), made her a figurehead for progressive folk-rock, and an inspiration for left-leaning, earnest young music fans everywhere. Even as cynical a fella as David Letterman was captivated, recently inviting Merchant to perform consecutive nights on his show—an unusual, if not unprecedented, event. Merchant is currently on the road touring to promote her newest release, Motherland. (March 2, 8 PM, $32.50-$40, 476-1000)

Jesse Winchester, Keiran Kane
The Egg, Saturday

Don’t expect Jesse Winchester to espouse a rosy view of the music business. “I don’t make any money from records,” he once said, “and what little I did make from performing wasn’t usually worth the aggravation.” Like so many tunesmiths who enjoyed impressive hype in the singer-songwriter heyday of the early 1970s, Winchester soured on the grind of recording and touring after more than a decade of steady work, then laid low throughout much of the ’80s and ’90s, devoting his energies to writing tunes for other performers. This was an ignominious fate for a man who enjoyed a semi-legendary entrée into the music business. A Memphis native, Winchester moved to Canada in 1967 to avoid being sent to Vietnam. He hooked up with Canadian icon Robbie Robertson, who helped land Winchester a record deal, and in 1970, Winchester released his self-titled debut, with Todd Rundgren handling engineering chores. Winchester’s comeback disc, 1999’s Gentlemen of Leisure, featured equally impressive collaborators, including Steve Cropper, Jerry Douglas and Vince Gill. When he hits the Egg stage on Saturday, expect Winchester to prove why he’s engendered such adoration, even during his reclusive years, by sharing his low-key, blues-inflected folk storytelling. Keiran Kane, formerly of the duo the O’Kanes, will open. (March 2, 8 PM, $22, 473-1845)

also noted

Tonight (Thursday), multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter Emily Wells will stop in at Saugerties’ New World Home Cooking as part of a national tour in preparation for her fourth release (10 PM, free, 845-246-0900). . . . Intermedia artist Phill Niblock will perform an iEAR presents! concert tonight in the West Hall Auditorium of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Niblock has been a composer and filmmaker since the ’60s, and he “makes thick, loud drones of music, filled with microtones of instrumental timbres which generate many other tones in the performance space,” while simultaneously showing films or videos of people working in Mexico, Peru, Brazil and China or computer-made black-and-white abstract images (8 PM, $8, $3 for students, 276-4829). . . . Along those lines, tomorrow (Friday), electronic composer Joseph Reinsel—a BoneOil and SuppleMint member—will perform “From the Center Out,” his MFA thesis performance for RPI’s iEAR department at the Arts Center of the Capital Region; joining Reinsel is video and sound artist, and fellow iEAR student, Jason Steven Murphy, who will premiere “dissidence” (8 PM, free, 276-4829). . . . Pop-punk wünderkids F-Timmi [see Listen Here, page 24] will have their CD-release party Friday at Saratoga Winners; the Stryder, Coheed and Cambria and Prevent Falls will open (7 PM doors, $12, 783-1010). . . . Offbeat acoustic rockers the Kamikaze Hearts will play Skidmore College’s Falstaff’s on Saturday as part of WSPN Week; also on the bill are the Punishment Frock and Imanant (7:30 PM, free, 580-5787). . . . The Undead, featuring ex-Misfits member Bobby Steele, will play Valentine’s on Saturday; area bands Rory Breaker and Plastic Jesus will open (8 PM, 432-6572). . . . Townhall, a Philly quintet who boast that they play jazz, reggae, rock, blues, funk folk and Latin (what, no zydeco?) will play Saturday at Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass. (9:30 PM, $10, 800-THE-TICK)

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