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The intimate Club Helsinki stage will be packed to its limit when the 11-piece Aphrodesia comes to play this weekend. Since 2003, Aphrodesia, led by vocalist Lara Maykovich, have specialized in their own brand of “super Aphro beat,” an intrinsically rhythmic mash of African, Caribbean, Jamaican, and American music that has made them a band to watch on the world-beat scene. And they’re quite popular (in the blue states, mostly) for their politics: In 2004, the band set out on the Just Vote Tour, which took the San Francisco group on a voter- registration mission through swing states across the country and back in a vegetable-oil-powered bus—and got them on the cover of USA Today. Their latest disc, Front Lines, was prominently featured on National Public Radio, and was used as a springboard for the band’s February 2006 tour of West Africa.

Aphrodesia, with special guests Shokazoba, will appear at Club Helsinki (284 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.) this Saturday (April 22). Tickets for the 9 PM show are $15. For more information, call (413) 528-3394.

Findlay Cockrell

It’s hard to believe that pianist Findlay Cockrell is retiring after 40 years as a performer and teacher at the University at Albany; he’s such an important part of the local-music scene. When Cockrell performed Morton Gould’s Interplay with the Albany Symphony Orchestra last month, Times Union critic Joseph Dalton described the result as “a delight,” adding: “His performance alternated between a clanging charm and a silken elegance. The lanky 70-year-old practically skipped on- and offstage, but during the music he was decidedly nonflashy in demeanor, concentrating on those off-kilter accents and crunchy jazz chords.”

The Harvard grad (class of ’57) and former winner on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts has been as busy in his final year at UAlbany as he has ever been; in addition to the performance with the ASO, he has kept to his full schedule of solo recitals in the Performing Arts Center. His farewell performances are on Sunday and Monday nights, with a program called A Serious Time for Variations. He will play Mendelssohn’s Variations Serieuses, Brahms’ Paganini Variations, Book One and Tovey’s Diabelli Variations. Cockrell performed the latter work at his San Francisco debut 50 years ago, and so, according to the good folks at UAlbany, “it is a fitting finale” to his SUNY career.

Findlay Cockrell will perform Sunday and Monday (April 23-24) at 7 PM at the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall (UAlbany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany). Tickets are $8 general admission and $4 students. Call the PAC box office at 442-3997 for more information.

A Man of No Importance

A Man of No Importance, called “a mix of Irish music with a pinch of pop and showbiz dazzle” by Time Out New York, is a musical based on the 1994 movie starring Albert Finney and Michael Gambon, adapted for the stage by Terrance McNally, Stephen Flaherty, and Lynn Ahrens (the same musical team who brought Ragtime to the stage).

The play tells the story of Alfie Byrne (Duncan Morrison, pictured below), a 1960s Dublin bus driver, as he lives his life, reciting Oscar Wilde poems to his passengers, and directing community plays. The story involves lessons of self-acceptance, the need to love and be loved, and standing up for one’s self.

Home Made Theater will present this regional premiere of A Man of No Importance.

A Man of No Importance opens tomorrow (Friday, April 21), at 8:15 PM at the Spa Little Theater (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga Springs). The show will also be performed on April 22, 28, 29, and May 5 and 6 at 8:15 PM; and April 30 and May 7 at 2 PM. Tickets are $22 to $25. For more information, or to order tickets, call the Spa Little Theater at 587-4427.

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