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Deana Carter

Northern Lights, Thursday

“I love Nashville, I love the South, but on a professional level, I had started feeling smothered by the Nashville way of doing things.” This is how country siren Deana Carter now explains her move to L.A., and—after years of major-label frustration—her new association with the Vanguard label. Carter made a big splash in the late ’90s with her hit “Strawberry Wine,” from the album Did I Shave My Legs for This?; she’s back with a new disc, The Story of My Life, which she describes as “very Southern.” It’s also, in the best country tradition, drawn from her own life, which, aside from the SoCal move, includes a divorce, a failed relationship, a new boyfriend and a baby. (Whew.) She’s come through it all with new resolve. And the best evidence that her break with Nashville was liberating? She went back to her own natural brown hair. Also on the bill will be Children at Play and Roadhouse. (Aug. 4, 7:30 PM, $20, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

Three Day Threshold, Wiley Dobbs

Lark Tavern, Friday

There’s alt-country, country rock and even, once upon a time, cowpunk. But a bluegrass-rock band who put the punk back in fingerpickin’? That’s new. (Well, sorta new. Cut ’em some slack.) New or not, that’s the best way to describe the Boston-based Three Day Threshold. Their rambunctious songs vary from concise, under-two-minute punk ditties to longer, more expansive and nontraditional jams. Their lyrical concerns are simple, even homespun: you know, stuff like beer, madness and having a real good time. (Speaking of madness, their music has been used on the soundtracks of such TV train wrecks as The Real World and The Simple Life.) Opening this sure-to-be- festive program will be Wiley Dobbs, a collection of local fellows including Mandolin Bill. (Aug. 5, 10 PM, $3, 453 Madison Ave., Albany, 463-9779)

Backstreet Boys, the Click Five

Saratoga Performing Arts Center,Sunday

Backstreet’s back, alright! At first, we thought fans had launched some huge letter-writing campaign to get these guys—and they are guys, by the way; the “boy-band” tag seems grossly inappropriate for a group of dudes whose average age is around 29—back into action, but on second thought, it must be the money. It’s not like Nick Carter’s solo career ever really took off, and Brian Littrell actually postponed the release of his Christian-themed solo record by more than six months to reap the renewed benefits of being among the chosen (by Lou Pearlman) ones. (God, reportedly, is unhappy with this decision.) The latest Backstreet release—bullshittedly titled Never Gone—has been selling briskly since its June release, despite the group’s seemingly damning four-year layoff. We don’t get it, but the little girls understand. Surprisingly decent power-pop boy-band the Click Five open Sunday’s show. (Aug. 7, 7:30 PM, $49.50-59.50, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, 584-9330)

Gin Blossoms, John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band

Empire State Plaza, Wednesday

If ever two bands were meant to be together, these are them. Both of these bands’ stories are tragically funny. Not that we’re the type to laugh at others’ misfortune, but consider this: Gin Blossoms’ chief songwriter Doug Hopkins—the guy who wrote their first two big hits—offed himself after being canned from the group just prior to their breakout success, thus hanging a shadow over the band for the remainder of their unremarkable career; Cafferty and his band are known by more people as “Eddie and the Cruisers” than by their actual name . . . yet they muddle through somehow. Expect both bands to trot out their classic tunes (“Hey Jealousy” and “On The Dark Side,” respectively) when they headline the live-music portion of the 30th annual I Love New York Food Festival. Also performing: Barrence Whitfield and the Savages, and Rocky Velvet. (Aug. 10, 11 AM, free, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 434-2032)

Smog

Iron Horse Music Hall, Wednesday

You may have heard Bill Callahan’s music without realizing it. He’s never been the life of the party, but he has certainly brushed sleeves with the big dogs on occasion: One version of his “Cold Blooded Old Times” was featured on the soundtrack from the film High Fidelity, and his songs have been taken on by a number of indie-rock luminaries, from Spoon to Cat Power (her version of “Bathysphere” is chilling). Under the Smog moniker, Callahan has quietly released 12 albums in 15 years (including his latest, A River Ain’t Too Much to Love), each exploring the nooks and crannies of the human experience through his shifting personae and matter-of-fact performance style. Callahan’s current tour brings him (and whomever he happens to be playing with) to the area this week with special guest Feathers. (Aug. 10, 8:30 PM, $13, 10 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-0610)

Rock Never Stops Tour featuring Cinderella, Ratt, Quiet Riot and Firehouse

Palace Theater , Wednesday

It’s the classic Cinderella story: four bands met the prince at the ball at the height of ’80s hairspray decadence, thanks to their codpiece fairy godmother, only to be thrust into cock-rock obscurity when their evil, grunge-loving stepmother sabotaged their pumpkin coach. VH1 came a-calling with the slipper that fit, and Cinderella, Ratt, Quiet Riot, and Firehouse were swept off their leather-clad feet. While VH1 may not be willing to commit (they’re single and satisfied), they have certainly brought the bands back to the ball. So preen yourself up like you were going to an Atreyu show, and frizz your hair like it has never been frizzed before, cause don’t you know: It’s time to “cum on feel the noize!” (Aug. 10, 7 PM, $35-$45, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany, 465-3334)


Also Noted
JON MIKL THOR

Bodybuilder, performer, and Legendary Rock Warrior Jon Mikl Thor performs at the Flywheel in Easthampton, Mass. tonight (Thursday); we’re assured that both the power and the fury will be unleashed (8 PM, $8, 413-527-9800). . . . The one and only (four and only, actually) Pixies will play the Empire Center at the Egg tonight, but you already knew that—the show is very much sold out (8 PM, 473-1845). . . . Tomorrow (Friday), the Egg welcomes country traditionalist Patty Loveless (8 PM, $28, 473-1845). . . . Australian folk-pop trio Fruit will play the Agnes MacDonald Music Haven stage at Central Park in Schenectady Friday (7 PM, free, 372-5656). . . . It’s a night of both endings and new beginnings at Valentine’s on Friday night: Local hard rockers Shift will play their final show on the downstairs stage (9 PM, $5, 432-6572); upstairs, retro-R&B band the Decadent Royals will play their first show after a several-year hiatus, previewing songs from their soon-to-be-released new CD Swing On Sinners (7:30 PM, $7, 432-6572). . . . The chamber pop of Hem will soothe the masses at MASS MoCA on Saturday (8 PM, $17, 413-662-2111). . . . The “Open Ears” music series at Better Than Toast in downtown Saratoga has an impressive lineup on the way, kicking off a month of Sundays this week with Death Vessel and Tom Leach (3 PM, $3, www.thefarmtomarket.com). . . . On Tuesday, Franklin’s Tower hosts a Grateful Dead tribute night, in observance of the 10th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing; performers include Erin Harkes, Mother Judge, and (wait for it) the Deadbeats (8 PM, $5, 431-1920).


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