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Ashton Shepherd

Ashton Shepherd

GE Theatre at Proctors, Thursday

Country-music radio station WGNA kicks off its new Rising Country Star Series tonight (Thursday) with a performance by 21-year-old Alabaman Ashton Shepherd. Shepherd, who’s been winning plenty of praise for her soon-to-be-released debut album Sounds So Good, claims she’s been writing songs since she was all of 5 years old. “As soon as I was big enough to write on paper, I was coming up with stuff. I’ve got notebooks where I was writing down songs when I couldn’t even spell correctly,” she says. Sounds So Good is the end product of a Cinderella story of sorts that found Shepherd winning a talent competition near her hometown, opening for country star Lorrie Morgan, getting discovered by a big-shot producer, and being invited to Nashville where the album was recorded—all within the course of 14 months. Can you say “overnight sensation”? We knew you could. (Feb. 7, 7:30 PM, $12, 432 State St., Schenectady, 346-6204)

Vampire Weekend

Williams College, Friday

Clap your hands, say Graceland: The much blogged-about Vampire Weekend will make a stop at the Currier Ballroom on the Williams College campus tomorrow (Friday) night. A quartet of Columbia University nerds, Vampire Weekend are just about the hipster-est band of hipsters on the market right now: They fancy African guitar and Western classical music, and claim to specialize in such styles as “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Upper West Side Soweto,” “Campus,” and “Oxford Comma Riddim.” (Really.) While this all sounds awfully precious, the band’s music is a fascinating blend of twee indie-pop melodies and world-beat rhythms; their self-titled debut disc, released last week on XL Recordings, is sure to be ranked among this year’s best. Catch them now, before the inevitable backlash sets in. Sam Buck Rosen opens. (Feb. 8, 8 PM, free, Williamstown, Mass., 413-597-2736)

The Doc Marshalls

WAMC Performing Arts Studio, Friday

With a fiddle, washboard, accordion and mandolin, the Doc Marshalls, a New York City-based quintet led by Texas native Nicolas Beaudoing, will bring their Cajun sound to life at a Mardi Gras Dance celebration tomorrow (Friday). With influences ranging from traditionalist (a la Johnny Cash) to more progressive influences (a la Dwight Yoakam), the rootsy Marshalls play at venues not often known for such performances, winning over those unsatisfied with mainstream country. At the end of last year, an advance copy of the band’s second album, Honest For Once—which wasn’t scheduled for release until 2008—found its way to the folks at country-music blog Take Country Back, who then included it in their Top 20 for the year. We’ll have to wait another 11 months to see if it can pull off a repeat; in the meantime, catch the band at the Linda, along with special guest Jesse Lege. (Feb. 8, 8 PM, $20, 339 Central Ave., Albany, 465-5233 ext. 4)

Joey DeFrancesco Trio

The Egg, Saturday

The Hammond B-3 organ is a monster of an instrument, and we’re not just talking bulk. Few men can claim to be masters of the B-3—John Medeski and Booker T. Jones come to mind—but Philly native Joey DeFrancesco is easily deserving of a spot at the top of the list. DeFrancesco has been rocking the keys for a few decades now—his debut release came out in 1989, when he was just 17 years old—and his work helped spark a renewed interest in the behemoth instrument through the 1990s. He earned five consecutive Critics Poll awards from Downbeat magazine (from 2002 to 2006), and he’s recorded and performed with the likes of Miles Davis, Elvin Jones and John McLaughlin, to name a few. Simply put, DeFrancesco’s a badass, and he’ll bring his trio—and his B-3, naturally—to the Egg this weekend. (Feb. 9, 8 PM, $24, Empire State Plaza, Albany, 473-1845)


Revolution Hall, Tuesday

They started as a Deftones cover band. Is that all you need to know about Temecula, Calif.-based hard-rockers Finch? Almost, but not quite. Their seemingly brief career is actually full of interesting factoids. For instance, the band had a well-publicized scuffle with Disturbed at a 2004 festival show, stemming from the following comment, made by Finch guitarist Randy Strohmeyer in a 2002 magazine interview: “They’re just cheesy. . . . [Their] music is terrible, and what they’re about, it’s just shit. Hopefully all that music will die out soon, and hopefully it will make room for the good music.” We couldn’t agree more (about Disturbed, anyway). Finch recently reunited after a two-year hiatus, and they’ll hit Revolution Hall this week, with guests Oh! Sleeper and Sound the Alarm. (Feb. 12, 6:30 PM, $15, 425 River St., Troy, 274-0553)

Also Noted

Jesse Stewart

Canadian power-poppers the Cliks return to Revolution Hall tonight (Thursday); last week’s Metroland cover models Ten Year Vamp will open (7 PM, $10, 274-0553). . . . Tonight’s also New Urban Blues night at Tess’ Lark Tavern, featuring music from J.V. and the Cutters (8 PM, free, 463-9779). . . . Tomorrow (Friday), the folks at Ground Zero (in the basement of RPI’s Nugent Hall) bring the improvisational goodness with performances by Little Women and Fly Starward (8 PM, $3, www.gzbase . . . Phoebe Henry will debut her new music video this Friday at Melville’s Mug, a new coffeehouse opposite the Palace Theatre (5 PM, free, 694-9991). . . . Also on Friday, catch the dub-reggae sounds of J-san and the Analogue Sons at Red Square; Skadee and Sugarproof share the bill (9:30 PM, $7, 465-0444). . . . The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Mass., presents a tribute to our favorite Muppets sideman this Friday and Saturday, lovingly titled Almost Heaven: Songs of John Denver (Fri at 8 PM, Sat at 2 and 8 PM, $25-40, 413-997-4444). . . . On Saturday, blues great Rory Block performs at the GE Theatre at Proctors for a show presented by the Eighth Step (7:30 PM, $21, 434-1703 or 346-6204). . . . Local country upstart Jesse Stewart performs at Caffe Lena on Sunday night (8 PM, $12, 583-0022).

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