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Northern Lights, Thursday

Try this if you’re in the mood for some chest-beating, sometimes- vulnerable hard rock. Canadian rockers Default came onto the scene seeming aptly named, as they sounded like a second- or third-rate Creed on 2001 debut The Fallout, which produced the chunderous hit single “Wasting My Time.” They’ve since followed the path of their fellow countrymen by maturing, more or less, into a Nickelback knockoff worth their weight in platinum. In fact, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger is credited with discovering the band, and cowrote their current single, “Count on Me,” so expect lots of big guitars, big choruses, and (we expect) a power ballad or two when Default play Northern Lights this evening. Also on the bill: Bif Naked and Hinder. (Dec. 1, 7:30 PM, $12, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

David Massengill

Caffe Lena, Friday

According to the music of Ap palachian dulcimer virtuoso David Massengill, a small town isn’t just a place to grow up in, it’s a place you grow old with. Living in New York City for nearly half his life seems to have only deepened his nostalgia for his younger years in the country town of Bristol, Tenn., and his songs tell the stories of the people he knew and the family he trusted. With the folk-storytelling tradition of his musical ancestors, Massengill delivers intimate tales that juxtapose the realities of life with humor. The result is a collage of memoir-driven songs, half-truth and half-fable, part history and part present. Perhaps you’ll hear “Jesus, the Fugitive Prince” (in which the Messiah and Santa Claus escape from an asylum on Christmas Eve) or “Frank Goodpasture Had a Pony,” the retelling of one of his father’s stories. Massengill will bring his baritone vocals and unique dulcimer technique to Caffe Lena tomorrow night. (Dec. 2, 8 PM, $12, 47 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, 583-0022)

margot and the nuclear so and so’s

Indie Rock Showcase

Red Square, Friday

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, whose brand of folk is what they call scarf-rock or folk sex, will be a featured act during a night of indie rock at Red Square tomorrow night. The So and So’s currently are touring in support of their debut album, The Dust of Retreat, which was released this year. The band, who typically play their live shows in groups of seven or eight members, is led by songwriter Richard Edwards, who develops inventive song arrangements with the help of band members Andy Fry (guitar) and Lee (cello), among others. The Harlem Shakes open the show; the Village Voice says that the New York City-based group “train for garage-hero status like Lou Reed drilling a guitar-armed new wave army.” Also on the bill: Lolita Bras and Jets and Snakes. (Dec. 2, 9 PM, $5, 388 Broadway, Albany, 432-8584)

Not Quite New Year’s show

Valentine’s, Saturday

In case you’re unaware, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Since apparently some people can’t wait another month for the event, they’re celebrating early with an all-night, two-floor show by local and regional pop and rock stars. Performers are: hard-rockin’ Kinderhookonians F Timmi, Scotia ska band Monkey Gone Mad, Berkshire pop darlings Hector on Stilts, funk-pop outfit Honeycreeper, rockers Charmboy, Jupiter Sunrise and the Day Jobs, young punk rockers Rory Breaker, singer-songwriter John Brodeur, Perfect Silence and Spouse. (Dec. 3, 7 PM, $10, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)

Martha Gallagher

Chapel + Cultural Center, Sunday

Martha Gallagher, better known as the Adirondack Harper, will ring in the holiday season at Troy’s Chapel + Cultural Center this weekend. Gallagher’s well-known love of seasonal music makes her holiday shows with her Celtic harp very popular. WAMC’s Wanda Fischer says that Gallagher “plays the harp with a sense of joy and energy rarely seen with this instrument.” Besides the holidays, she draws inspiration for her music from the mountains, lakes, valleys and rivers that surround her Adirondack home. (Dec. 4, 7 PM, 2125 Burdett Ave., Troy, 274-7793)

Phil Lesh and friends

Washington Avenue Armory, Sunday

The Grateful Dead (or their representatives) essentially lost their shit this week when they ordered roughly 3,000 live recordings removed from the Internet. We know this isn’t the news section, but this seemed like a good time to mention the item, as original Dead bassist Phil Lesh brings his long strange trip and all that to the Armory this weekend. Deadheads nationwide are pissed over the decision, which is part of an expected move to make the once-freely- traded recordings part of a pay service on the Dead’s official Web site. The last time area hippies got this worked up, the Palace Theatre ended up covered in graffiti. So, hippies, we implore you: Leave the spray paint at home. If you’re feeling angry at Lesh and company, hit him where it hurts—stop buying Dead-related products. But, if you’re willing to write this off as plain and simple commerce (which it is), check out Lesh this Sunday; he’ll anchor an all-star band including Black Crowes vocalist Chris Robinson, among others. (Dec. 4, 7:30 PM, $35, 195 Washington Ave., Albany, 476-1000)

Also Noted
hot tuna

The intimidating Ed Hamell, aka Hamell on Trial, returns to Valentine’s tonight (Thursday); like-scalped Moon Boot Lover Peter Prince warms up with a solo set (8 PM, $10, 432-6572). . . . Bringing the noise at Saratoga Winners tonight, it’s As I Lay Dying, Norma Jean, Madball, and A Life Once Lost (7:30 PM, $17, 783-1010). . . . The carnival pop of Rogue Wave will take center stage at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass. tonight; their latest Sub Pop release, Descended Like Vultures, is out now (10 PM, $13, 413-584-0610); tomorrow (Friday), the Iron Horse has the electro-pop of the Mobius Band, who will celebrate the release of their latest album, The Loving Sounds of Static (10 PM, $10, 413-584-0610). . . . Don’t call ’em a girl group: VH-1 commentators and Starbucks shills Antigone Rising play Northern Lights this Friday; Todd Wolfe opens (7:30 PM, $15, 371-0012). . . . Energetic folk-rocker Martin Sexton performs at Revolution Hall on Friday in celebration of the release of his new Camp Holiday CD; on the album, Sexton “sits fireside with his old Gibson acoustic and delivers timeless holiday favorites from the Adirondack wilderness” (9 PM, $25, 273-2337). . . . The Troy Victorian Stroll takes place throughout Troy’s historic downtown on Sunday afternoon; it’s your opportunity to, among other things, catch tons of free live music, both indoors and out (11 AM, free, 274-7020). . . . The legendary Hot Tuna will perform both acoustically and electrically, we’re told, at the Egg on Sunday (7 PM, $26, 473-1845).

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