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Michael Penn

Iron Horse Music Hall, Thursday

How’s this for irony: Singer-songwriter Michael Penn, best known for his 1989 hit “No Myth,” released two albums for RCA, a BMG label, before being dropped in the early 1990s. Epic, a Sony label, picked him up and released the excellent Resigned, but after one more record, they too left him by the curb. Then, this year, the Legacy label, part of the now-unified Sony-BMG company, calls Penn and says they not only want to remaster and rerelease his self-released 2005 album, Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947, but they want him to hand-pick and sequence a Best Of-style disc. Too weird. Anyway, the resulting Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea transcends the typical “hits” collection by interspersing Penn’s album tracks with unreleased and soundtrack material. Penn has mounted a short tour to plug the two discs, and he’ll play the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass., tonight (Thursday). The Last Town Chorus opens. (May 5, 7 PM, $23, 20 Center St., Northampton, Mass., 413-584-0610)

Artie Traum CD-release party

WAMC Performing Arts Studio, Friday

Guitar virtuoso Artie Traum will celebrate the release of his brand-spanking-new CD, Thief of Time (Roaring Stream Records), with a debut performance in the Linda Norris Auditorium at WAMC. A veteran of the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, Traum has had a long, renowned career in music, recording with dozens of artists, like the Band, Bela Fleck and Livingston Taylor, just to name a few, and producing dozens of albums with his bands and as a solo artist. For his WAMC performance, Traum will be joined by the illustrious cast from his CD for his band: Tony Levin on bass, Warren Bendhardt on piano, Gary Burke on drums, and Joe Flood on mandolin. There will also be some special guest performers, including Traum’s brother Happy. Bonus: The first 30 people who buy tickets will get a free copy of Thief of Time. (May 4, 8 PM, $23, 339 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233 ext. 4)

Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus

Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Saturday

“Amongst Ukrainians, the bandura is more than a national musical instrument: It is the voice of the Ukraine.” FYI: The bandura is a plucked string instrument, something like the zither. No one in the United States has a greater reputation for maintaining the legacy of bandura music than Detroit’s Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus. These singers, accompanied by (of course) bandura virtuosi, have a repertoire of more than 500 songs—so you’re bound to hear something stirring Saturday night at the Troy Music Hall, where the ensemble will perform in honor of the 100th anniversary celebration of Cohoes’ Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Church. Also on the program will be the New York City-based Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. (May 5, 7 PM, $35, $30, 2nd and State streets, Troy, 273-0038)

Susan Werner

WAMC Performing Arts Studio, Saturday

This Saturday, contemporary folk singer-songwriter Susan Werner will bring her charm and smart lyrics to the Capital Region when she plays at WAMC. She’s currently touring the east coast after her seventh album, The Gospel Truth, came out two months ago. The Chicago Tribune called her “a triply blessed artist,” but Werner, who was born and raised in Iowa, self-describes her new record as being something like the very first “agnostic-gospel” album. In the 11 tracks, while she strums along on her instruments, she questions the “role of the Church in contemporary American life.” If you never thought gospel music could be alternative, or if you dig gutsy female folk soloists, she’s definitely got something to show you. (May 5, 8 PM, $23, 339 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233 ext. 4)


ANNE FEENEY

Anne Feeney & Evan Greer

Sanctuary for Independent Media, Saturday

The Eighth Step at the Sanctuary for Independent Media brings us Anne Feeney, a woman who is equal parts musician and activist, and who is a self-described hell-raiser. A former trial attorney, Pittsburgh-based Feeney is super-involved in activism, especially anything that has to do with labor unions. She says, “If you’re on strike, or in an organizing drive, or doing community organizing for women’s rights, the environment, human rights, anti-poverty or anti-racist work, I want to be there.” Her music has been recorded by Peter, Paul & Mary, and she’s had songs used by Amy Goodman on her radio show Democracy Now! Evan Greer is a member of Riot-Folk!, an “anti-profit mutual aid collective of radical artists and musicians” who “make music to provoke, educate, heal and inspire, supporting movements that challenge all forms of oppression and that work to build a free and just society,” according to their Web site, riotfolk.org. Greer himself is a protest-folk musician who started writing music shortly after 9/11. This concert is part of Hudson Mohawk May Day 2007, a regional celebration of May Day, the international workers’ holiday. (May 5, 8 PM, $15, $13 with active union card, 3361 6th Ave., Troy, 272-2390)

 

Five for Fighting

The Egg, Sunday

Five for Fighting, aka John Ondra -sik, has embarked on a world tour to support the new single “World” off his most recent album, Two Lights (out last October). The album also features “The Riddle,” which has spent a bunch of weeks on the pop charts. Ondrasik wears many hats besides his musician one: He’s an avid sports and politics enthusiast (Five for Fighting, if you didn’t know, refers to a hockey penalty); he writes a monthly column for Sports Illustrated’s Web site (SI.com), and he’s a contributor to the political Web site hotsoup.com. Also, he does a lot of charity work (he recently donated the licensing of “World” to a breast-cancer three-day national TV and radio campaign, and he works with many charities, like Autism Speaks, Save the Music, Save the Children, and more); he recently launched a Web site called whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com, which is a music-video site that benefits charity with each download. Ondrasik will bring his charitable ways and socially conscious songs to the Egg this weekend; Canadian-born, classically trained pianist Chantel Kreviazuk will open the show. (May 6, 8 PM, $26, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)


Also Noted

Tonight (Thursday), eMPAC presents live sound projection by Norwegian composer Natasha Barrett at the RPI Playhouse in Troy; the performance sounds like a challenging (in a good way) listening event, and well worth checking out (8 PM, free, 276-3921). . . . Tomorrow (Friday) at Northern Lights, a bunch of hardcore heavies will unite to raise money for an education fund for Jameson Gregoire, the 2-year-old son of Mike Gregoire, a local guitarist who died suddenly this February; on the bill are Gregoire’s band Gunther Weezul, plus Flat Broke, Disciples of Berkowitz, Last Call and several more (7 PM, $20, 371-0012). . . . The Hammond B-3 will be in full effect when Grace Potter and the Nocturnals take the stage at Revolution Hall on Saturday; Peter Prince and Moon Boot Lover open (8 PM, $12, 274-0553). . . . Catch a “five-piece band with 20 lead singers” (seriously) when Guitar Hero heroes Bang Camaro make with the shout chorus at Pearl Street in Northampton, Mass. on Saturday night—or should we say ni-hi-hiiiiigh-tuh! (8:30 PM, $13, 413-584-7771). . . . “Overkill” is still one of our favorite songs: Former Men at Work frontman and all-around top-notch songwriter Colin Hay sets up shop at Club Helsinki on Sunday (7 PM, $45, 413-528-3394). . . . He’s kinda the Alec Baldwin of the solo-acoustic set, if you know what we’re saying. If you don’t, we’re saying this: He’s loud, he’s mean, and he’s very entertaining. Hamell on Trial will play Caffe Lena on Sunday (7 PM, $14, 583-0022).


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