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John Pizzarelli

Amandla

Red Square, Thursday

Ween fans, take note: Claude Cole-man, Jr., the longtime drummer for New Hope’s finest, just so happens to front Amandla. And that’s where the similarities end. In fact, the music of Amandla (the Zulu word meaning “power”) bears little resemblance to the nitrous-influenced musings of Coleman’s “other” band, except in that it has the same disregard for the trappings of genre or style. Coleman, who plays all of the instruments on his recordings, has just released the second Amandla CD, The Full Catastrophe, which chronicles in part the 2002 car accident that nearly took his life, and the grueling recovery process that followed. He still performs through numbness and residual paralysis, making him a grade-A-certified rock & roll soldier. Catch the unbreakable Coleman and his touring band tonight at Red Square, with special guests Vomlette. (Feb. 1, 9 PM, $8, 388 Broadway, Albany, 465-0444)

 

The First Annual Unreasonably Awesome Show

Valentine’s, Friday

New local rock label the Rev Records is the mastermind behind this, a one-night concert featuring five acts from three cities. From Boston and New York City, the Grownup Noise and Fire Flies. From Albany: Scientific Maps, the Sense Offenders, and the Rev’s own artist, Jared Funari. Funari might sound familiar: He’s been playing in the area for almost five years and uses techniques—including various effects and looping pedals—that allow him to perform solo while replicating the sound of a full band. Funari is headlining the Unreasonably Awesome Show, which is the Rev’s first major event and first official “non-album endeavor” since launching in 2006 with the release of Laura Boggs’ Whiskey and Springtime last November. The concert is being billed as “a night of rock and roll so huge, you’ll have to walk up some stairs to get to it.” If that’s still not enough incentive to show up to the Unreasonably Awesome Show, think about the unreasonably low cover charge—(“You’re paying $1 per band for god knows how many hours of rock”)—and you really might not forgive yourself for missing it. (Feb. 2, 7 PM, $5,17 New Scotland Ave, Albany, 221-1363)

John Pizzarelli

The Egg, Friday

John Pizzarelli has recorded more than 20 albums in the past two decades. He’s been called a legend in the works, a contemporary Nat “King” Cole. He’s appeared on talk shows with Regis and Kelly, Jay Leno, David Letterman, and Conan O’Brien. But unless you’re a modern cabaret and lounge-jazz connoisseur, you probably only know him as the guy who sings the theme song for the Foxwoods Casino commercials. Tomorrow (Friday) night, Pizzarelli come to the Egg with the sounds of his sleek guitar and swinging tenor voice. Playing his interpretations of classic jazz standards, as well as his own compositions of swing, bossa nova, and modern jazz, he and his band will try to send audience members home with the “wonder of it all.” Also performing: Swing 7. (Feb. 2, 8 PM, $35-$45, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)

Freedy Johnston

Iron Horse Music Hall, Thursday; Caffe Lena, Friday

The guy with the “Bad Reputation” is coming to the area for a pair of intimate acoustic shows that should pique the interest of fans of literate, Americana-tinged pop music. Johnston is currently finishing a new record, Rain on the City, that will be his first album of new material since 2001’s Right Between the Promises. While that’s an awful long time to go between studio releases, Johnston claims it’s because he takes the Leonard Cohen approach to songwriting, working on his songs until everything is in the right place. Fans anxiously awaiting Rain haven’t gone empty-handed over the last six years, however, as Johnston has kept them occupied with a handful of live recordings, plus the demo-recordings collection The Way I Were. But if you’re looking for a sneak peek at what’s to come, this week’s shows should be a goldmine. (Feb. 1, 7 PM, $14, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-0610; Feb. 2, 8 PM, $15, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022)

Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men

Revolution Hall, Saturday

“Folk music wasn’t always about conservatories and politeness. At one time it was about getting rowdy . . . being somewhere you weren’t supposed to be,” says Grammy winner Dave Alvin. The rock veteran—Alvin first developed a following as part of early ’80s L.A punk band the Blasters—has evolved over the course of four solo albums as a more subdued roots singer-songwriter. But despite his acoustic tendencies, any over-ardent fan (or critic) will point out that Alvin is still capable of some “gut-wrenching rock and roll.” In fact, he’s famous for regularly injecting masterful electric-guitar work and blues into his concerts, leading to a mash-up of music that will, we suspect, either cause indigestion, or prove to be the perfect combination of styles (one critic called it “jubilant”). Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men come to town tomorrow (Friday), bringing some talented buddies along, like special guest James McMurtry and the Heartless Bastards. (Feb. 3, 9 PM, $22, 425 River St., Troy, 274-0553)


Also Noted

Columbus, Ohio, duo the Receiver and Washington, D.C.-based “songer/singwriter” Paul Michel are at Valentine’s tonight (Thursday), along with Albany act Skyway (8:30 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . In case you’re confused (we were), here’s what’s happening at Tess’ Lark Tavern this weekend: tomorrow (Friday), it’s Gay Tastee and Sad Panda (10 PM, $3, 463-9779), and on Saturday, it’s the Kamikaze Hearts (10 PM, $5, 463-9779). . . . Bluegrass? Yes, please: The Gibson Brothers perform at the Saratoga City Center on Saturday (6:30 PM, 581-1604). . . . Indie band-of-the-moment Grizzly Bear and the Dirty Projectors play the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass., on Saturday (10 PM, $14, 413-584-0610). . . . Another year, another “My baby left me”: Ernie Williams celebrates his 350th birthday with a show at the WAMC Performing Arts Center on Saturday; Professor Louie and the Crowmatix are also on the bill (8 PM, $18, 465-5233). . . . Singer-songwriters Josh Ritter and Stephen Kellogg team up for a show at the Egg this Tuesday (7:30 PM, $24, 473-1845).


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