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George Clinton

The colorfully coiffed George Clinton is best known as the frontman and master of ceremonies for Parliament-Funkadelic, a collective—and a category unto itself. You don’t describe what Clinton and his cohort do—though chucking around words like “psychedelic,” “funk,” and “flying saucer,” will get the ball rolling—you experience it. (Yes, flying saucer.)

Seriously, you should experience this—in whatever form and with whatever personel descend from the Mothership.

Formed originally as a doo-wop group in the late ’50s, the band grew up and soaked up the ’60s in a near omnivorous fashion: Combine protest politics, homebrew Age of Aquarius-style crackpot mythos, and virtuosic classical and jazz musicianship distilled through a blues-informed raunchy hedonism, and you’ve still got to dance yourself damp to be primed.

We could list the nicknames of its rotating cast of members and collaborators—Bigfoot, Bootsy, Catfish, P-Nut, Diaperman—or the titles of tracks—”One Nation Under a Groove,” “Dr. Funkenstein,” “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)”—but, again, we’re just hinting here at the mayhem that the creators can bring.

Their music is among the most sampled in rap, and it’s impossible to imagine the existence of performers such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Outkast or any of the G-Funk crew without acknowledging Clinton and/or P-Funk. Fortunately, there’s no need to imagine life without them, as they’re still going strong, and strange.

Ringleader George Clinton plays Northern Lights (1208 Route 146, Clifton Park) on Wednesday (Feb. 24). Tickets for the 8 PM show are $20. For more information, call 371-0012.

The Mikado

The sharpness of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic operas takes a turn for the literal in The Mikado, which deals with an unlikely executioner: Ko-Ko, a former tailor in a Japanese town, has been been sentenced to death for flirting, a degenerate act the Mikado (emporor) has decided to no longer tolerate. In a clever act of legislative loopholing, though, the authorities of the village appoint Ko-Ko, himself, to the post of Lord High Executioner—he can’t very well execute himself, now can he? This briefly stymies the Mikado’s desire for discipline.

And things get further complicated: There’s a prince traveling incognito, a lovely maiden, an older amorous lady and a love rectangle between—yep—a disguised prince, a beautiful young woman, a possessive old woman and a Lord High Executioner feeling imperial pressure to wet his blade. Thoughts of suicide, promises of marriage, threats of execution, deals for execution and threats of marriage. . . . It gets messy.

But in the wittiest way. The Mikado is one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s most performed and beloved comic operas—which is to say one of the most performed and beloved comic operas, period. Libbretitst W.S. Gilbert took great advantage of the exotic setting to satirize institutions and types in his native England. And very, very few could satirize so well—and with Sullivan’s expertise, so melodically—as Gilbert.

The Mikado is staged by C-R Productions at the Cohoes Music Hall (58 Remsen St., Cohoes) beginning tonight (Thursday, Feb. 18) through Feb. 28. For showtimes and tickets, call 237-5858.

Avalon String Quartet

It’s “a night of quartets” this Saturday at the Mahaiwe, courtesy of the good folks behind the Close Encounters With Music concert series. They’re presenting the acclaimed Avalon String Quartet, who are “impassioned and imaginative,” according to poo-bahs of The New York Times.

Their program will highlight the works of Beethoven, Arensky and Prokofiev, so be prepared for a long look into the Russian and German souls. The works selected all have a connection to the folk music of their respective countries of origin.

Close Encounters With Music will present the Avalon String Quartet on Saturday (Feb. 20) at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center (14 Castle St., Great Barrington, Mass.) at 6 PM. Tickets are $35. For more info, call (800) 843-0778 or (413) 528-0100.

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