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Guster, Ray Lamontagne

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Thursday

Guster used to be called Gus. So, you’d be correct in assuming that at one time they were even more cute, cuddly and hippie than they are now. But they’re doing pretty well at keeping things lovey-dovey with their not-as-cute name. They recently held the Campus Consciousness Tour, where they fueled their bus with biodiesel and educated students about the environment. They even have a “rep program” where devoted fans personally peddle their albums. I know you must be getting as tingly in anticipation for the flowers-in-our-hair-half-baked-Ben & Jerry’s hoedown that will be occurring on the SPAC lawn on Thursday as we are, but we ask that you control yourself. Don’t start peeling off garments, rolling in mud and fornicating in public until Guster have taken the stage and have given you the official go-ahead. Portland, Maine-based crooner Ray LaMontagne opens. (Aug 17, 7 PM, $35, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs. 584-9330)



Bill Staines

Caffe Lena, Friday

Bill Staines is a perennial perfor -mer at Caffe Lena—for the last 40 years. Talk about longevity. Staines got his start in the Boston-Cambridge folk scene of the ’60s and has since crisscrossed the country, bringing his family-friendly stories and songs to the populace—and it’s worked. He’s beloved by folk fans everywhere. The Houston Press has said, “Bill Staines is one of our very best folk and country singer/songwriters. He’s a New Englander who dreams of open plains and vast, Western skies, and damn his soul, he writes better cowboy songs than anybody in the Southwest.” Expect him to mix some traditional folk tunes in with his many originals during his set tomorrow night at what we’re guessing is going to be a packed Caffe Lena. (Aug. 18, 8 PM, $15, 47 Phila St., 583-0022)

Leslie Gore, Cheryl Wheeler

Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Saturday

With a shining helmet of lac- quered red hair and enough attitude to equal an entire girl group, Leslie Gore was an early ’60s teenage pop dynamo. In the last 15 minutes before the British Invasion annihilated everything in its path—including any girl group who weren’t from Motown—Gore was a prefeminist heroine. She may have lost Johnny in “It’s My Party,” but she wasn’t going to be polite about her disappointment; Gore even got her revenge on that song’s boyfriend-stealing skank in “Judy’s Turn to Cry.” Then there’s her masterpiece, “You Don’t Own Me,” with Quincy Jones’ production enveloping her wail of independence in a swirl of guitars and strings. Gore will no doubt sing all three of these pop gems at the Mahaiwe Saturday night, along with songs from Ever Since, her latest album (the first in 30 years). Folk poet and comic Cheryl Wheeler is also on the bill; singer-songwriter Vickie Russell will open. (Aug. 19, 8 PM, $48, 14 Castle St., Great Barrington, Mass., 413-528-0100)

Dropkick Murphys

Northern Lights, Saturday

Oy! Oy! Oy! What more is there to say about Boston’s favorite punk Irish sons? Well perhaps, that they will be paying the Capital Region a visit before they embark on a tour of Canada with active-again celebrated punks Bad Religion. You could probably mention that the Murphys have been keeping it real in the punk scene for years now. They’ve been playing legendary St. Patty’s Day shows and showing wet-behind-the-ears punks like Good Charlotte that they have a lot of learning to do before they can possibly call themselves punk. On Saturday, the Dropkick Murphys will try to tear the roof off Northern Lights, and just like they do at most shows, they’ll sell hundreds of pints of Guinness, and inspire dozens of Mohawk-sporting hooligans to dance, and they’ll just be doing their jobs. (Aug. 19, 7:30 PM, $25, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)


Tanglewood, Sunday

They’re rock. They’re a capella. They’re Rockapella. You know ’em—besides being the “undisputed kings of a capella,” they were the guys who sang the theme song to the geographic children’s game-show Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? They’re a five-member group who sing all the hits, you guessed it, without music (hence the clever name). This weekend will mark the group’s last summer date, with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood. On Sunday, as a combined force, Rockapella and the Pops will present an evening of 1970s music. Fireworks will follow the concert. (Aug. 20, 8:30 PM, $18-$98, 297 West St., 413-637-1600)

Also Noted
It’s Gathering of the Vibes weekend at the Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville; acts like Bob Weir and Ratdog, Keller Williams, Martin Sexton, and the Yonder Mountain String Band will perform between tonight (Thursday) and Sunday ($150 weekend, $40 Sunday-only day pass, . . . To all you crazy bitches out there, here’s your chance to sing along to your theme song: Buckcherry will roll into Northern Lights tomorrow (Friday) night, with special guests Damone and Black Stone Cherry; both Neneh Cherry and Wild Cherry reportedly declined to appear on the tour (7:30 PM, $18, 371-0012). . . . Sub Pop recording artists Rogue Wave bring their Shins-ish sound to the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass. on Friday, along with FDR and Jennifer O’Connor (10 PM, $13, 413-484-0610). . . .The good, the bad, and the ugly: Decide which is which when 311, the Wailers, and Pepper play SPAC on Friday (7 PM, $25, 587-3330). . . . Downstairs at Valentine’s on Friday, catch Tough Black Swans, Lewis and Clarke and a reunion of Casio-pop superstars the Jamboyz (9 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Also on Friday, the Lark Tavern hosts the Conspicuous Study Hall Boners, Wiley Dobbs, and Guiltless Cult (10 PM, $5, 463-7875). . . . One more try: Hatebreed will perform a make-up date for their recently canceled show at Northern Lights on Sunday; Recon and Heal These Wounds are also on the bill (7 PM, $16, 371-0012).

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