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Nora O’Connor

Formerly of the Chicago-based alt-country group the Blacks, Nora O’Connor has put in her time among the greats of the genre. The Blacks’ debut album was produced by Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (former Blackheart, Del Lord and, since, producer to just about every insurgent country band you can name), and on her own she’s worked with the likes of Jeff Tweedy (heard of him?) and Andrew Bird. The singer-guitarist has been called upon to back soul legends like Mavis Staples, as well, so you know there’s some depth and spirit there in the gravel and twang. So, it’s fitting that on her solo debut, Til the Dawn, O’Connor hits the honky-tonks, and also throws in a couple of unexpected covers to keep you guessing: Quick, name another artist who covers both Fleetwood Mac and Kitty Lester. Sharing the bill with O’Connor will be Albany’s Brent Gorton and the Tender Breasts (which we assume is some reference to a deep-fried bar snack).

Nora O’Connor will play Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) on Monday (April 18). Also appearing, Brent Gorton and the Tender Breasts. Tickets for the 7:30 PM show are $6. For more information, call 432-6572.


Laugh Out Loud

Local wiseass—sorry, comedian—Greg Aidala apparently has had enough of the comedy-club circuit. Well, not really, but he has taken it upon himself to push things forward, to create a larger public awareness for our area’s comedy scene, and to cross-pollinate that scene with other local artists and musicians. Take this Saturday’s show at the Egg, the first under Aidala’s new production company, Radial Gage Entertainment. Laugh Out Loud, which is being billed as Albany’s “first comedy/rock show,” will showcase the funny stuff of Craig Gass (Sex and the City, The King of Queens), Jesse Joyce (Upright Citizen’s Brigade) and Aidala himself. And the “loud” part? Metroland’s 2004 pick for Best Rock Band, Super 400, will bring the live rock & roll.

Laugh Out Loud hits the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) this Saturday (April 16). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $20, and can be purchased at the Egg’s box office. Call 473-1845 for info.

Tying the Knot

Gay marriage. Some—like a certain breed of moderate Democrat—wish the issue to go away. Others—the Christian Right and their Republican tools in the U.S. Congress, for example—flog the issue to stir up their followers to vote those sodomite liberal Democrats out of office. (See the latest demonize-Hillary movement for reference.)

But gay marriage is, as an issue, here to stay. Principally, this is because gay folks don’t consider it too much to ask to be allowed the same legal rights as straight people.

Documentary filmmaker Jim De Sève has made a powerful documentary, Tying the Knot, that shows, wrenchingly, what happened to some people who found out just how awful things can get for nonmarried, nonstraight couples.

Reached by phone, De Sève recalled the genesis of the project: “I started about four years ago. . . . I was coming very much from the point of view that marriage is a bourgeois institution, and that gay couples who wanted to get involved with it were sort of barking up the wrong tree.”

De Sève originally got a grant to make a film about his own relationship. It was a summer trip to the Netherlands—where gay marriage is legal—that “started opening my eyes to what marriage really was.” The focus of the project shifted from just him and his partner to something much bigger: “So I went beyond the little scope of the film I got the grant to do, to making this big film about marriage.”

Tying the Knot tells the parallel stories of two people who suffered twice-over when their partners died. One, Mickey, loses her policewoman partner to a bank robber’s bullet; the other, Sam (pictured), an Oklahoma rancher, becomes embroiled in a bitter legal dispute over his own property with the cousins of his late partner.

“I didn’t realize how backward Oklahoma is. . . . There’s still cattle rustlers. Sam slept with a shotgun behind his door every night. I actually stayed there at the house with him for a week, which was quite an experience,” says De Sève.

De Sève, a Troy native, is coming home, first, to do a Q & A after the evening screenings at the Spectrum 8 Theatres tomorrow (Friday), and second, to make his home here again. He and his partner bought two houses in Troy, which they’re in the process of renovating.

Tying the Knot will premiere locally tomorrow (Friday, April 15) at the Spectrum 8 Theatres (290 Delaware Ave., Albany) and its run will continue through Thursday (April 21). De Sève will be at the Friday-evening shows for a Q & A following the screenings; he will also participate in a panel discussion following the matinee screening on Sunday (April 17) at the Unitarian Universalist Society (405 Washington Ave., Albany). For more info, call 449-8995.

—Shawn Stone

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