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The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen may just be the best crappy bar band working today. We mean crappy as a compliment—in fact, the caption on the band’s MySpace site exclaims “Three crappy singers instead of just one!” so we doubt they’d take offense. Formed in 1999, the Gentlemen comprise Mike Gent of the Figgs, plus three-fourths of Boston’s beloved Gravel Pit (Ed Valauskas, Lucky Jackson, Pete Caldes). The results of their initial collaboration were laid out on display with Ladies and Gentlemen . . . The Gentlemen, a raucous, Heineken-soaked ode to the rock music of the post-bell-bottom jeans, pre-skinny-tie era. Two more albums have followed (Blondes Prefer the Gentlemen and Brass City Band), each louder and more rollicking than the last, indicating that this is more than just a side project. With Gent, Valauskas, and Jackson sharing vocals and songwriting duties, we have a feeling that, as long as the taps are flowing and the power doesn’t get turned off, the Gentlemen have enough fuel to go all night—you know, just like a crappy bar band should.

The Gentlemen will take the downstairs stage at Valentine’s (17 New Scotland Ave., Albany) this Saturday (May 6). Opening the 9 PM show are Boston-based garage-rockers the Downbeat 5. Admission is $5. For more information, call 432-6572 or visit www.valentinesalbany.com.

Hung-Sheng Lion Dance

“In Taiwan,” explain the folks at the Taiwanese American Cultural Society of the Capital Region, “the Lion and its dance represents fortune and prosperity. . . . The Lion Dance serves as a signifier for celebration.”

You can share in a celebration of Taiwanese culture tomorrow (Friday) night at the Egg, when the TACSCR brings the Hung-Sheng Lion Dance company to town for a special performance. Founded in 1988, the troupe are renowned for their skill and energy in bringing the traditional lion dance to audiences all over the world.

What is a lion dance? Highly trained acrobats and martial artists performing an intensely physical, folk-based choreography with large, intricately designed lion’s-head costumes. And there are drums, too—very large drums. Company director Cheng Yuan-zong started training in this form at age 12; his dedication was rewarded recently when the Taiwanese government gave him a Cultural Heritage Award “for folk art preservation.”

So, it’s entertaining and the real thing.

Hung-Sheng Lion Dance will perform tomorrow (Friday, May 5) at 8 PM at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $12 adults, $6 students and $3 children. For more info, call the Egg box office at 473-1845.

African Film Festival

The annual traveling African Film Festival, which got its start more than a dozen years ago in New York City, arrives in Troy tonight at the Sanctuary for Independent Media with a screening of Dôlè and African Middleweights.

Dôlè is Imanga Ivunga’s film about four street kids trying to survive in Libreville, the capital of Gabon (think Third World Dickensian). African Middleweights (Africains poids moyens) is a boxing drama set in the Belgian Congo in 1960, just before independence. The Afro-European Middleweight Championship pits the best Congolese fighter against the best Belgian; the colonial government wants the African to take a dive. The fighter’s brother wants him to take the dive for a bribe (where have we seen that before?), but the boxer is unconvinced.

The series continues on May 11 with The Golden Ball and Be Kunko; May 18 with Niiwam (based on a novel by Ousmane Sembene) and Rasò Ganemtoré’s Safi la Petite Mere; and concludes May 25 with The Colonial Misunderstanding—a look at Germany’s colonial past—and Seke Somolu’s Nkan Mii.

The African Film Festival begins tonight (Thursday, May 4) at 7 PM at the Sanctuary for Independent Media (3361 6th Ave., Troy). Admission is a $10 suggestion donation ($5 students, low-income people). For more information, call 272-2390.


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