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The 5 Browns

Virtuosity and pop-classical smarts are rare enough in the classical music game; the sibling act you know and love as the 5 Browns have both in abundance. They’re still five kids (three sisters and two brothers, getting older) playing five grand pianos on one stage. They show off their mad skills, yes, but keep the musical programming diverse and entertaining.

Their most recent album (released last fall) is Browns in Blue. The eclectic selections run the gamut from Paganini and Saint-Säens to Gershwin and Debussy (and Dean Martin), which should give you an idea of what to expect if you make the wise decision to spend Valentine’s Day evening with the 5 Browns.

The 5 Browns will perform Saturday (Feb. 14) at 8 PM at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $20-$38. For more info, call the box office at 346-6204.

Photo: Andrew Southam

The Gender Defenders

Leaving the toilet seat up (or not), talking about your feelings (or not), from Adam and Eve and The Taming of the Shrew to Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, the Battle of the Sexes (now available as a Peter Sellers comedy and a bawdy board game) has raged since the beginning of time. It’s not hard to imagine the first pair of legged amphibians hauling themselves from the primordial ooze, the male slogging off stubbornly on slimy stumps, the female chasing after him muttering, “We really should stop and ask for directions.”

This Valentine’s Day, four of the Big Apple’s big comedians are teaming up to throw their two cents into the chasm between male and female. Maureen Langan, Joe DeVito, Eric McMahon and Michele Balan have delivered laughs from New York to Vegas, on The Last Comic Standing, HBO and Comics Unleashed, at the Friar’s Club and Caroline’s on Broadway. And now, the Gender Defenders, as the comic quartet has been dubbed, invite you to “share a laugh with the other half,” as they argue their cases in Albany.

The Gender Defenders will hit the stage at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) on Saturday (Feb. 14) at 8 PM. Tickets are $32. For more info, call 465-3334.

Willie and the Wheel

It would be mighty easy for Willie Nelson to rest back on his haunches; live off his royalties, drop by the Opry on occasion, maybe even land himself a rhinestone revue at some Las Vegas casino. He could fix that hole in his guitar, cut his hair, write a couple sappy ballads for Faith Hill, and star beside Verne Troyer, Flavor Flav, and the dude who played Screech on MTV’s Surreal Life. That’s not the way Willie rolls, though.

One of the last heroes standing from country music’s heyday, Nelson has kept that biodiesel bus on the road from one forward-thinking project to the next, keeping his roots in the rearview all the while. After a surprisingly succesful collaboration with Wynton Marsalis, he joined forces with Asleep at the Wheel, modern masters of western swing, a style deep in country music’s DNA. The band’s repetoire, and the accompanying album’s track list, were handpicked by the late R&B producer Jerry Wexler just before he died. Expect slide trombones, clarinets, fiddles, lap steel and all the griddle-popping shuffle you can handle.

Willie and the Wheel roll into the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave., Albany) on Sunday (Feb. 15) at 7:30 PM. Tickets range from $35 to $65. For more info, call 465-3334.

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