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1st Friday

Not quite two years ago, 1st Friday began in Albany as a collaboration between three downtown galleries, and the monthly celebration of Albany’s art scene has grown nearly ten-fold since its inception. This month, 27 venues have teamed up to showcase an eclectic selection of Albany’s visual and performing arts.

Three galleries offer local retrospectives: among other exhibitions, the Albany Institute of History Art presents the 2008 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region; Upstate Artists Guild opens their annual members show, Reflections; and new kid on the block Albany Art Room celebrates their six-month anniversary with a show of works created in their open studio. A number of solo shows feature local artists working in mediums ranging from photography to fiber art.

The “After 1st Friday” series keeps things hopping after the galleries close, with a mix of live music and dance from tango to techno, and the growing After 1st Friday film series at UAG, which presents the work of local film makers.

1st Friday events will take place throughout downtown Albany tomorrow (Aug. 1) beginning at 5 PM. Access to 1st Friday venues is free, After 1st Friday events range from $5-$15. For a complete listing of events and a printable map of venue locations, visit 1stfridayalbany.org

Ballston Spa Film Festival

This one caught us by surprise: A press release over the transom about the new Ballston Spa Film Festival. A little research on the Internet (and a close read of said press release) revealed that this is an ambitious weekend-long event of over 30 short films, as well as parties and discussions.

Today (Thursday, July 31) there’s a party at 8 PM at Manna’s Restaurant (17 Low St., Ballston Spa). The cost is $10, or $5 if you’re dressed “like a movie star.” We suggest a monocle and top hat. On Friday (Aug. 1), there are free screenings at 7 PM at the Malta Avenue School Auditorium (70 Malta Ave., Ballston Spa) and 9 PM, outdoors at Wiswall Park (Front and Low streets). On Saturday (Aug. 2), there’s a filmmaker discussion at 3 PM at the Brookside Museum (6 Charlton St.); again the free screenings are at 7 PM (Malta Avenue School Auditorium) and 9 PM (Wiswall Park).

The award ceremony is Sunday (Aug. 3) at 4 PM at Coffee Planet (100 Milton Ave.)

For complete info about every nook and cranny of the festival, please visit bspafilm.com.

Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza is the Spanish word for hope, and how fitting, since this multi-lingual artist just may be hope for the future of jazz. Entering the music world at the young age of 15, Spalding began her career playing in a blues club in Portland, Ore. But when one of the musicians pulled her aside so she could “really learn something,” he spiked her interest in playing bass. It wasn’t long before Spalding had landed gigs as both a bassist and vocalist with seven different area groups.

Influenced by jazz bassists Ron Carter and Dave Holland, Esperanza’s style weaves together the best elements of old-school jazz and a more progressive sound. Dubbed an irresistible performer by the Seattle Times, this compelling vocalist, instrumental virtuoso, and composer incorporates the rich traditions of soul, pop, and world music into her musical universe.

Also on the bill: Cole Broderick, playing the Beatles songbook.

Esperanza Spalding will perform at Central Park’s Agnes MacDonald Music Haven Stage (Schenectady) this Sunday (Aug. 3) at 7 PM. The concert is free and open to the public. For more information call 382-5152.


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