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Eric Margan and the Red Lions

A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT At least, not yet. Northern Lights has had a hard go of things financially over the last few years, with the effects of a sagging economy taking a heavy toll on the concert industry. The club, which reportedly was on the brink of closing, got new life on Feb. 20 when it was sold to Upstate Concerts, Inc. Upstate Concerts is a new venture formed by veteran promoters Ted Etoll (of Step Up Presents, and Metroland senior account executive) and Stan Levinstone (of SLP Concerts). Via press release, Etoll said, “Times are tough all around and we cannot afford to lose another business to a declining economy. Northern Lights . . . is another piece of what makes the Capital District such a great place to live.” All previously announced concerts will go on as scheduled, with new announcements expected in the coming weeks. Visit or stepup for more info.

AVALANCHE! March 13 is shaping up to be a huge night for local music. First, at Valentine’s, a celebration of the long-awaited debut release from Metroland’’s 2008 pick for Best Band: Eric Margan and the Red Lions. Midnight Book was recorded at the Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, and sounds like every bit the labor of love it was for the 22-year-old Margan. The singer and multi-instrumentalist is joined by more than 20 musicians, and the resulting album is a total trip. It’s a song cycle about love and yearning, simultaneously recalling the torch songs of the 1930s and ’40s, and the baroque pop of the late ’60s: 45 minutes of Sturm und Drang, augmented by a full string section and brass quartet. This is an audacious and auspicious first album that calls for digestion in a single sitting. Though the official release date is March 17, fans can pick up a copy early at the March 13 show.

Margan and company will be joined that evening at Valentine’s by B3nson family bands We Are Jeneric and Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned; the latter will be kicking off their March tour, and reportedly have an EP of new music to offer as well.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE Singer-songwriter Tom McWattersatomicwaters, his debut solo release for The Rev Records, shows a softer side of the performer best known for leading balls-to-the-wall rock & roll quintet the Sense Offenders. The focus is squarely on the performer’s voice and guitar (or piano), and his love of pop songcraft (a la Elvis Costello and Elliott Smith) is on full display. Disclosure: I played on several tracks, as did miracle man Frank Moscowitz, who also mixed the record.

McWatters’ bandmate in the Sense Offenders, Terry McClain (who also leads his own rock outfit, Guiltless Cult), just released what he calls a “philosophical electronic-rock album that studies the longing for peace in a world full of hypocrisy, delusions and deception.” But Willett Comb, recorded under pseudonym The Realside, is more than just a bunch of conspiracy-theory gobbledygook: It’s an engaging rock record, with politically pointed lyrics couched in poetry and brought to fruit by McClain’s elastic voice and instrumental talents. Moscowitz, who’s been popping up everywhere lately despite having relocated to New York City last fall, also contributes to a few tracks.

Both discs will be celebrated at a pair of release parties: On March 6, McWatters and McClain will ply their wares for the espresso-fueled masses at the new Cohoes spot Bread and Jam Café. Then on March 13, they take their show to the beer-tanked masses at Tess’ Lark Tavern, where yours truly will join the fun, and celebrate the release of my own new CD.

That’s five new discs in one night, Capital Region. Get your beauty sleep.

—John Brodeur

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