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Breaking Benjamin

Northern Lights, Thursday

This show is sold out. We mention this up-front because it’s the most intriguing aspect to what should be an otherwise unremarkable evening out. Seriously, now—we are completely baffled as to how Breaking Benjamin, as meh a band as we’ve ever heard, could be so popular. Our money’s on repetition: The modern- and hard-rock radio stations seem to love them, having played their song (we’re not even sure there’s more than one) to death over the last few years. And science has proven that if you hear something enough times, you start to believe you actually like it . . . which explains James Blunt. Breaking Benjamin, with guests the New Rivals and College for Criminals, play Northern Lights tonight. (March 8, 7 PM, sold out, 1208 Route 146, Clifton Park, 371-0012)

Highland, Heath, and Holler

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Saturday

As the first of two Celtic music performances this week at the Troy Music Hall, Highland, Heath, and Holler will offer a prelude to St. Patrick’s Day with a holler, a reel, and a jig. For this international tour, the collaboration celebrate the musical and cultural heritage of Scottish and Irish immigrants who settled the southern Appalachia region. Fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas fuse their Scottish tradition with the Irish roots of fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill, while Appalachian native Bruce Molsky contributes his ancestral music with a fiddle, banjo and guitar. The performance on Saturday will feature spirited Celtic music ranging from melancholy ballads to rowdy jig songs. Get ready to get your green on. (March 10, 8 PM, $15-$28, 30 2nd St., Troy, 273-0038)


PHOTO: Uncle Earl

Uncle Earl, Carrie Rodriguez

The Egg, Saturday

With a mandolin, fiddles, guitars, banjoes, and clogs, Uncle Earl formed in 1999 to herald what some have called the neotraditionalist movement. At first a duo, now a quartet featuring Kristin Andreassen, Rayna Gellert, KC Groves, and Abigail Washburn, Uncle Earl embrace old-time musical traditions. Before joining Uncle Earl, each woman was an accomplished solo artist; Washburn’s solo album Song of the Traveling Daughter even features original songs in Mandarin Chinese. Uncle Earl’s national debut She Waits for Night showcases their appeal: crisp harmonies, charismatic performances, and highly energized music that’s traditional, but with a modern edge. Uncle Earl’s catalog of original songs and time-honored favorites has earned them critical praise for “breathing life back into dusty old mountain ballads.” Ironically, the producer of their new disc, Waterloo, Tennessee, is none other than John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin fame). Violinist Carrie Rodriguez will co-headline the show, performing songs off her Seven Angels on a Bicycle. (March 10, 8 PM, $22, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)

The Shemps

Valentine’s, Saturday

New York City-based “garage-y” band the Shemps have been doing their thing for a while now, outlasting a number of their spaz-pop peers along the way. And we think we know the secret to their longevity: a sense of humor. Check out “Flabbergasted” from their 2006 release Squeaky Clean for proof: They have the power to make three chords and some lyrics about fat people into pop-music gold. Plus, each of the band’s members plays in about 10 other bands, so we’re guessing they don’t get too burned out on the shtick, which is good. The Shemps play an all-ages affair at Valentine’s this weekend with To Hell and Back, Outta Commission, and A Pig to Die. (March 10, 8 PM, $8, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany, 432-6572)

Gomez

Pearl Street Night Club, Sunday

British five-piece Gomez are not excitable types. For all their warm homeliness, and their let’s-not-rush-this attitude, Gomez could be Modest Mouse without a disturbed lead singer. Their first album, 1998’s Bring It On, captivated the British music press, but seven albums into their career, Gomez have yet to tug at the heartstrings of the American audience and have not gone all Coldplay with their album sales. Although their prolific writing might indicate that the band are trying desperately to get someone’s attention, it seems more likely that they simply enjoy writing music. (March 11, 8:30 PM, $23, 10 Pearl St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-7810)

Sparta

Revolution Hall, Monday

Tonight, Spartans, we dine in . . . Troy! That is what Sparta will tell the brave 300 who show up for their show on Monday night. Remember the band At the Drive-In, whom you were told you were supposed to like in the late ’90s by all the hype machines? As it turns out, the band didn’t like that you were supposed to like them either, and they broke up. The real snooty members went on to form the more recent band you are supposed to like—the Mars Volta—while the rest of them went on to form Sparta. While Mars Volta went all Looney Tunes, Sparta have retained much of At the Drive-In’s hardcore-punk base while adding Radioheadish morose artiness. (March 12, 7 PM, $12, 425 River St., Troy, 274-0553)


Also Noted
Classics, both: Leon Russell and Johnny Winter team up for an evening of classic rock and blues tomorrow (Friday) at the Egg (7:30 PM, $28.50, 473-1845). . . . Also Friday, American Idol finalist and Curb Records recording artist Kimberley Locke will perform at Waterworks Pub in Albany (midnight, $10 before midnight; $15 after midnight, 465-9079). . . . A harbinger of things to come: Celtic duo Pipeline return to the WAMC Performing Arts Studio on Friday for an early St. Patty’s show (8 PM, $18, 465-5233 ext. 4). . . . All-girl American trio Red Molly will sing and strum at Caffe Lena on Saturday (8 PM, $12, 583-0022). . . . We sense a theme here: Irish-folk outfit Hair of the Dog will paint the town (Troy, that is) green this Saturday with an all-ages show at Revolution Hall (8 PM, call for prices, 274-0553). . . . The costumes are only half the fun: Evolution Revolution and some “surprise special guests” play the Lark Tavern on Saturday (10 PM, $5, 463-9779). . . . Yum! Clitorture, Sexcrement, Mucopus, and Animal Rampage bring the ewww to the downstairs stage at Valentine’s on Saturday (9 PM, $5, 432-6572). . . . Blink, and you might miss the fact that these guys are totally gay for God: The somewhat-secular Switchfoot will play Northern Lights on Tuesday, with special guests Copeland (7 PM, $20, 371-0012). . . . Yep, it must be about that time: Celtic-music superstars the Chieftains are at Proctor’s Theatre on Wednesday; the green beer can’t be far behind (8 PM, $29.75-$42.75, 346-6204).

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